August 14, 1972 Reverend Soichiro Otsubo, Head Minister, of Konko Airaku Church, addressed the Chikusui conference for young adults. The script was made from tapes of the talk and published that autumn in Wa-Ga Kokoro Jidai o Tsukuru. Ten years later it was republished as the first chapter of The Dimension Beyond:Issai Shin Ai Ron. This is a translation of that chapter which was titledgWa-Ga Kokoro Gakuh.

The translation was completed during 1984 by three members of Airaku Church with great assistance from Alan Booth, Richard Craig and Rev. Carlos Codonhato. We deeply appreciate the blessings received from every contributor. Regretfully we haven't space to name all of them.

The deepest thanks goes to our Principle Parent Kami who has managed the whole process from start to finish. It was Kami Sama who arranged for the meeting of a Japanese Konko minister praying for a church in New York and a Japanese teacher of English brought up on Konko teachings and an American convert to the Konko faith. The meeting took place ten years before this publication. From then and continuing on this astonishing encounter has done much more than bless these three. The benefits are even beyond our imaginings. May they include you, too.

Studying Wa-Ga Kokoro

Salvation Through The Konko Faith

We naturally need to receive divine favor for true salvation. However, that depends on your Wa-Ga Kokoro, as is written in The Tenchi Kakitsuke:gIkigami Konko Daijin, Tenchi Kane No Kami, Isshin ni negae, Okagewa Wa-Ga Kokoro ni ari. ...h(Blessings are in the Wa-Ga Kokoro.) This, I feel, is the essence of the Konko faith.

There are many religious beliefs in the world. Even within the same faith there are various interpretations. Within the Konko religion, for example, there are the views of the Kurume Church, the Amagi Church and the Airaku Church. I think that is good and necessary. I feel we shouldn't just say,gthis must be the way,horgthat must be the way,hbecause the faith taught by Konko Daijin is so broad.

A few days ago I heard from a Konko minister about a church where many people were being helped. Most of these people wished to be cured of some illness. The minister of the church would ask the sick person who came what was wrong and apply something like finger pressure to that area. You might say he was healing through faith. In this way he miraculously helped many people. So when an important ceremony is held at his church a large number of people gather.

Another example is a minister who communicates with the souls of the departed. He encourages the holding of services for departed relatives of past generations who haven't been saved. Besides the saving of departed souls, businesses thrive and illness is cured in this way.

There's another minister who saves people through his power of prayer. So it seems salvation depends on holding services or offering prayers.

There are people saved just by going to worship; there are ministers who act like fortune-tellers. Indeed there are many ways to salvation which the faith taught by the founder does not necessarily exclude. After all, any means of salvation is possible.

If you want to be saved at all, you need to have a Wa-Ga Kokoro. The founder has clearly said,gpray that you can have a Wa-Ga Kokoro this very moment and blessings will be yours.h

However, that is not easy. It's difficult. Yet we should in the practice of our faith, strive for a kokoro of Wa (harmony, peace) and of Ga (cheerfulness, joy). This doesn't mean that you must wait for salvation until attaining the Wa-Ga Kokoro. Actually salvation is realized just through attempting this approach.

Establishing The Wa-Ga Kokoro Era

The objective of my speech is to establish the Wa-Ga Kokoro era. This is the theme of the Airaku Church this year. No! Not only for this year, but for as long as the Airaku Church exists. This will be our goal forever. Moreover, I'm convinced that this is not only the goal of Airaku parishioners, but also that of all those who believe in the Konko religion.

Unless we first experience how this thing calledgWa-Ga Kokorohaffects us, and prove how having a Wa-Ga Kokoro brings about divine favor, no one will join us, even though we might talk about establishing the Wa-Ga Kokoro era.

First of all, it must begin within your heart, then in your home, and then all around you.

If a campaign for the era of Wa-Ga Kokoro -- even just a small one -- is launched, undoubtedly the Wa-Ga Kokoro era will be established. This might come in five hundred years or a thousand years from now, but it will surely come.

Until we reach that stage, true peace and happiness throughout mankind cannot be realized.

In Wa-Ga Kokoro there is strength, and truth.

When we look at our extremely complex modern world, we cannot help realizing the necessity of developing the Wa-Ga Kokoro era.

The Tragedy of Materialistic Civilization

What do you think of things you read in the newspaper everyday ? Wars breaking out all the time around the globe; victims of fatal accidents everyday; pollution, violence, delinquency and so on and so on. We can add more and more. The list never ends.

How has such a state come about when everyone longs for world peace and happiness among men ?

There have been revolutions against poor government, the shedding of blood and the loss of lives, but after all this there has been no peace. Man has invented and discovered various things, thinking that material possessions would bring happiness. Yet, what do each of you think ? Have we found happiness ?

On the contrary, what we have acquired is self-centeredness, envy, hatred and distrust. In the contemporary world: doubt, communication gap, rivalry, pollution, racial prejudice and war. I would say materialism has produced these deformities.

Why has this happened ?

I don't need to point out that it's becausegkokorohhas been overlooked; its significance hasn't been recognized.

It's common knowledge that man cannot live by bread alone. But only knowing that, man hasn't grasped its importance. I believe this is the tragedy of mankind and the reality of the world today.

Man has endeavored to increase his provisions of bread. He has also explored how to improve the quality of it. Thus man could obtain both greater quantity and better quality. However, what has happened ? The result is that at the same time man has caused many of the troublesome problems mentioned earlier.

If this situation continues, surely man will drive himself down the road to ruin. But it is still not too late. People -- even one or two -- are needed to prevent mankind from rushing carelessly toward its ruin. This, I consider, should be the mission of young people like you to support the generations to come.

I hope that many will really be aware of and become awakened to this need for Wa-Ga Kokoro.

Thoughts On Wa-Ga Kokoro

So much time, money and human talent have been spent in the process of bettering our standards of living. Shouldn't efforts now be joined nationwide and worldwide for finding how to improve and enrich man's mind ? That is, how to achieve the Wa-Ga Kokoro ? I think that must be done.

I don't mean to say that we shouldn't be blessed with material things. That is also necessary. It is one of the conditions through which man can find a fuller and happier life. What I mean is that, while material well-being is necessary, at the same time we have to cultivate a spiritual way of life.

This is true of the pollution problem. Unless, in our hearts, we endeavor to be spiritually cleaner and purer, it's a problem which cannot be solved no matter how hard we try to restore clear skies amd clean water.

As long as we are satisfied, others don't matter; only taking care of ourselves; holding grudges against others; hating, envying and so on. Until efforts are made to eliminate these feelings, until we lead lives centered upon the Wa-Ga Kokoro, I don't think mankind will ever have permanent peace and happiness.

It is time that all of mankind, particularly religious leaders themselves, should exert their energy to transcend doctrines and denominations in order to carry out this great task.

First of all, within myself and then within all of you present today, a Wa-Ga Kokoro needs to be adopted. Then, when the excellence of this Wa-Ga Kokoro is felt, I hope you, like supporters, will extend the Wa-Ga Kokoro movement to those around you. This should be done not only with explanation and reasoning, but also by indicating real instances when you have received divine blessings.

In the Konko religion, Wa-Ga kokoro is not a type of moral training. As is clearly stated in The Tenchi Kakitsuke, blessings are in the Wa-Ga Kokoro. As long as you lead a Wa-Ga Kokoro life, divine favor will naturally be yours even without requesting or praying for it. A religion which is not accompanied by divine blessings might as well be dead. If you genuinely pursue a Wa-Ga Kokoro, divine favor will be abundantly bestowed.

The Dawning of Genuine Faith

I have maintained my Konko faith for a long time. A good many teachings I have heard. But I did not really apply them to my own life.

I was actually a merchant, and as a merchant I received many blessings. It is taught that business people should give careful attention to consumers and distributors. Also we are taught that what others sell for ten yen, sell for eight. Since one can sell many more this way one profits. Althought that is taught, when I sold a ten yen item for eleven yen I thought it was a blessing. That was my faith. Nevertheless it is a fact that I received blessings for a few decades. While learning so many of the teachings, I failed to put them into practice. I prayed with all my strength. I also did every sort of task for the church. But I really didn't try following the teachings; I never tried incorporating them in my daily life. Then, at the end of the war, I came to a turning point -- a crossroad or boundary -- in my religious life.

As if deprived of everything, I was repatriated to Japan from Peking. Then I first became aware that my faith had been misdirected. At the time, funerals were held one after the other for my brother and two brothers-in-law. Upon each of those occasions it seemed that I obtained new insight into my faith. Then I actually comprehended and began to apply the teachings of Konko Daijin. That saved not only me, but all of those around me were helped.

How is it in your case ?

I think to have real faith is to actually put the teachings into practice. There are so many Konko teachings. Recently I've had the feeling they all have the purpose of leading us to the Wa-Ga Kokoro.

I do feel the excellence of the Wa-Ga Kokoro! This is why I am confidant today that there is no need of shame wherever it is spread in the world.

Total Acceptance

Now I'd like to tell you how I have reached this point.

After the war I returned from Peking and started in business in Fukuoka City. My business thrived easily, but for a short time. Then everything reversed and what occurred was the complete opposite of what I had expected.

So I tried to follow various practices of prominent leaders. However, difficulties still overwhelmed me. Nevertheless at the time I glimpsed something of the goodness of faith.

That is when I requested the head minister of my church to convey my feelings to Kami.

gReverend, from now on I will stop asking Kami for this or that favor. I think it is certain that Kami hasexpectations even of someone like me. In order to achieve the expectations Kami has for me, I will never complain or feel dissatisfied, no matter what the consequences are. I'll accept whatever happens. Therefore, from now on, please pray that Kami's will be fulfilled.h

Since then I felt my faith completely changed. Various things happened after that. More and more people came to my home at Kabame to hear what I had to say and many more of them were saved. Those were quite hard but great times.

For instance, people coming for the first time requested a loan or asked for money.

I turned over all the money in the offering box to them. Or I loaned it to them. But not once did any of it return. Money wasn't the only problem. There were about a dozen people sick beyond hope or somehow mentally deranged. Anyone and everyone who came asking for help I welcomed. I also accepted each and every circumstance that arose.

Thinking about it now, it's really marvelous to have been so thoroughly engrossed. If I really considered how troublesome it was and why I must look after such people, it would be quite out of the question to ddo so. But whether Kami brought goodd on bad upon me, my acceptance of everything was truly amazing, because even in the summer I was ready to wear padded winter clothing. Moreover, without a thought about what would happen to me I kept on continually accepting everything.

Four and a Half Years of Spiritual Training

I maintained this way of life for four and a half years. Then, right after this four-and-a-half-year period, I received a message from Kami. In my inner eye I saw spinach -- the stuff that Popeye eats. When it's eaten, it makes him powerful. It certainly does. I feel that meaning was also implied in the message.

Since the spinach plant was just dug up, it still had dirt on it, roots and some wilted leaves. Kami, then, provided an explanation for me:

gThe last four and a half years were like eating this spinach without removing the roots, covered as it is with dirt and with its wilted leaves. However, since this is going too far, from now on pull off the roots, clean off the dirt, tear off the dead leaves and take in only the nourishing part.h

Such was Kami's message after four and a half years.

Well, that was the end. At Kabame, people no longer came to borrow money or ask for handouts. No longer were the sick brought in to be looked after. The only ones who joined me were those who really wished to take up the faith. Now, thinking back, it seems that during that period of four and a half years Kami was testing my faith.

From that time I spoke at Kabame about respecting the process of life, and how I valued each event that came into my life. However, I had still not noticed that such a way of living leads to genuine faith. As I received Kami's blessings day after day, I came to realize how it conformed with the will of Kami.

Well, there has been many problems, but every one of them was a blessing.

Genuine Faith is . . .

This is something I have recently come to understand. When worshiping Kami, we usually just say prayers and show reverence to the kamis on the family shelf or the offering stands. But, if we don't respect the very workings of Kami, then we lose sight of a good half of Him.

Just praising Kami but overlooking His work itself is taking Kami too lightly, isn't it ?

I mentioned earlier about Kami's expectations of me. He has expectations not only of me, but of each and every human being. Faith depends on whether you recognize this or not. From the moment you recognize this, you begin to develop a faith which complies with Kami's will. And you begin to seek more and more to understand Kami's inner depths.

My position is to accept all that happens to me with pleasure. Therefore there are no problems for me. gExamine the nature of the problemhis often said, but there is really nothing at all for me to do.

Through having problems, and thanks to each problem, I've been able to progress in my faith. Since problems are the food for faith, there isn't a single problem. Upon reaching this level, it's possible to have a problem-free life and a society free of problems.

There it is. Each of the many problems that occur to each and every one of us is provided by Kami for our spiritual training. Accepting problems as such is the way to respect the process of life.

Lately I've become more and more convinced of this. Though it is said,ggenuine faith! genuine faith,htrue faith is when we respect Kami and look up to Him more and more. I feel recently I can say with conviction that genuine faith is, in a manner of speaking, not just honoring Kami by making offerings to Him but also appreciating the very workings of Kami.

The Nature of the Universe

The founder expounded on the importance of emulating the nature of the universe. So we should, of course, make earnest efforts to do that. Let me now present my own interpretation.

The heavenly nature of the universe is characterized by inexhausible generosity; it is a natural, limitless giving. This is what I think the heavenly nature of the universe is.

The earthly nature of the universe is to accept everything calmly; it's to keep silent like the surface of the earth. No matter how filthy things are, the earth doesn't say,gI hate foul smelling things like thishorgSuch dirty things are out.h It doesn't just keep silent, but it takes such things in for self-nourishment. Such is the earthly nature of the universe.

Finally, the orderly nature of the universe\there is nothing more faithful(*) and exact(**) than this. Wouldn't we be in trouble if the sun said something like: gI'm a bit tired today, so I'll take a break.h Three hundred and sixty-five days a year without any rest, it's working without losing a minute or a second. This faithfulness and exactness characterizes our solar system. Therefore there is nothing more precise to compare with the orderly nature of the universe.

Since the importance of emulating the nature of the universe is being taught, that it's of vital importance must, of course, be clearly felt.

At first I didn't notice respecting the process of life means to follow the nature of the universe, but I just kept pursuing it. Now I am aware this is the very way to emulate the nature of the universe.

      (*)  faithful, sincere, truthful  (jitsui)
      (**) exact, conscientious, meticulous (teinei)

Sacred Sexual Desire

Recently in the church I have again been using a new phrase which isgall is sacred.h That is to attach sacredness to any and every thing. Even in an unfavorable situation, we should consider it sacred, because it is provided for us by Kami. This idea has done wonders.

At first, to fulfill the expectations Kami had of me, I unconsciously accepted every single thing that happened to me as spiritual training. I did that only for my spiritual development. Now I've come to see this was significant. Contrary to being training, I have come to realize that it is foolish not to accept it gratefully.

For example, when we think of sexual desire, per se, we feel somehow guilty or that it is something obscene. However, when we consider it sacred, any obscenity about it will vanish.

At first, without knowing what to do, I just continued to accept every single thing that happened to me, because I believed that in this way I would realize Kami's will. For my spiritual development, I accepted everything without any objection. Reflecting on this now -- wow! -- I can see how close I have come to the nature of the universe. Somehow or other I have managed to reach what our founder said is so important.

So since it is clear all things that happen are the workings of Kami, it is not enough to regard them as mere happenings or just everyday occurances. My faith seems to have been raised to where I cannot help but consider all things holy.

Well, the first minister of the Konko Amagi Church said,gThings are holy.h He wouldn't even make light of a single fallen twig or leaf. He taught such indeed are the sacred things of Kami.

Likewise, even seemingly needless matters, when they arise or when we're aware of facing them, we should receive reverently. I feel this is the way of true faith.

Kami's Wish for the Era of Wa-Ga Kokoro

Recently I've been sayinggthe ultimate in faith is here,hthat is, to establish the Wa-Ga Kokoro era. This is being done not by me. It is the wish of Tenchi Kane No Kami. It is what Kami is working on.

No matter what the problem is or how difficult it is, it is better to focus on how to face it with a Wa-Ga Kokoro, how to bring about a Wa-Ga Kokoro from it. If you don't know how, it's better to really devote yourself to your spiritual life until you do.

The teaching yesterday morning wasgIf you want to meet Kami you have but to go out and look around you. The sky above is kami and all beneath is Kami.h Well, one could say this is the concept of Kami in the Konko religion.

Another teaching isgAlthough it is impossible to see Kami, one exists as if walking through the very midst of Him. Whether you are fertilizing a field or passing along a pathway, the Hiromae (Hall of Mediation) of Tenchi Kane No Kami fills all of the world.h This is the impression the founder had about Kami.

It's this sensation: There is a rustling sound and my feet are soaked as I brush past the bamboo leaves and grasses which are dripping with morning dew. This is what is expressed bygone exists as if walking through the very midst of Him.h

Our founder lifting his eyes upwards when praying to the universe, saw all of creation, every single part of it, as the presence of Kami, the parent of the universe. He also would hear every single sound as Kami's voice. I think his communication with Kami and with the whole universe was like that.

Therefore faith is not just the understanding that the universe is Kami, but it must be developed until one can feel the universe in that way.

I would say a life of faith is living in tune with the rhythm of the universe.

Whether for good or bad, a life following that rhythm will really be a joy, a blessing. Those whose faith leads them to be happy beyond measure are the ones I consider to have realized this.

All Your Past Becomes Meaningful

If we follow the faith of Konko Daijin, there should never be a problem in our past which was unnecessary or troublesome. Those who didn't make the best of a problem must probably be sorry and angry, while saying,gif such a thing hadn't really happened years ago.h

I think to have faith is to believe that your entire past is filled with blessings. After all this is just how everything is. Therefore, sincegthis is a blessing and that is a blessing as well,hfrom now on we can accept each moment as a blessing from Kami, in other words, as an expression of Kami's love.

Even if you are struck and in pain, it becomes something to be thankful for when it can be accepted as if Kami was doing it Himself.

Of course, from the beginning you can't do that much. But by practicing the real thing, you will come to understand the point more and more. About this the founder taught,gIgnore your physical eye and open you inner eye.h As blessings are accepted, you inner eye gradually awakes and you become aware of the actual state of reality. While looking with your physical eyes, this or that is seen as sickness or a miserable problem, but through your inner eye, they will be nothing but divine gifts to be grateful for.

I don't think you can become awakened at once. However, this must be the point of practicing. When you aim for a Wa-Ga Kokoro or focus on it, I am certain of your enlightenment.

Through encouraging a Wa-Ga Kokoro within yourself, then in your family and then throughout your surroundings, each and every one of you will demonstrate that such a blessing can be attained.

Miraculous Blessings Through Wa-Ga Kokoro

A thought I had recently was that both Buddha and Christ would have really been saved through the mediation of Konko Daijin.

Through practicing austerities, one who devoutly follows Buddhism can discard cares and worries, just like the proverbial self-righting toy(***), until he eventually feels he wants for nothing. He comes to have the feelinggone knows only satisfaction,has inscribed on the stone basin at Ryuanji Temple.

However, even though this is achieved, one relieves but oneself. In the case of Wa-Ga Kokoro, as also stated in The Tenchi Kakitsuke, it brings divine blessings with it.

Some people take Kami's blessings lightly or dispise them. Well, you can do that if you like. But if you ever ask each and every one for their honest opinion, is there any sick person who would not wish to be cured ? Is there any poor person who would refuse a fortune ? Is there really any person entangled in human relations who would not like to have a peaceful life ? One of the teachings of the founder is:

gAll people living in the universe are Kami's children. When you are not healthy, you cannot do your work properly. Pray for your own welfare, prosperity and for all things that affect the welfare of the children of Kami.h

What love and benevolence overflows in these words !

It's our human nature that we cannot help but make requests of Kami. Being human we can't budge even one inch without Kami's blessings. Even so, faith must not be only for getting blessings.

Wish with sincerity, wish earnestly, for a Wa-Ga Kokoro, as written in The Tenchi Kakitsuke, we must wish earnestly.

With Wa-Ga Kokoro, there is a law of nature whereby blessings will follow you even without asking or wishing for them.

All that has to be done is to focus on manifesting a Wa-Ga Kokoro.

Wa-Ga Kokoro means that which will provide all the conditions for human happiness. This is what is called Wa-Ga Kokoro in the Konko faith.

I would like to have people from every country of the world know about this wonderful concept of Wa-Ga Kokoro and understand it. If I could be permitted I have the urge to walk around with samisen and drum propagating it.

      (***) A self-righting toy returns to a standing
            position no matter how it is koncked over,
            as if free of cares and worries.


The Greatest Principle: Wa-Ga Kokoro

I feel that a field of study is needed in Wa-Ga Kokoro living. I almost feel that courses in Wa-Ga Kokoro living should be a systematic part of learning and be included among the compulsory subjects of the curriculum.

Whether that is done or not, I hope you will clearly understand that human happiness doesn't come from such things as money, possessions, intelligence, nor any talents.

Isn't it really wonderful that this has been noticed by some eminent modern scholars ?

Certainly man has made it all the way to the moon by human knowledge and ability, but he has noticed that happiness isn't attained that way. The scholars have began to point to one's heart as the answer. By indicating just the heart, that is not the way to happiness. It must be a heart which accumulates divine blessings.

This is the Wa-Ga Kokoro. The founder alone mastered it through experience. Wa-Ga Kokoro may well be the greatest principle behind Konko teachings. I also feel it's no exaggeration to even say that all the teachings of the founder are for developing this Wa-Ga Kokoro.

I think we must seek more and more for a Wa-Ga Kokoro and do further research about it. And I consider it vital to make it a part of ourselves.

This kokoro of Wa is different from its usual meaning of peace. What Wa stands for, the founder has taught, is something unbreakable, not fragile; whatever problem arises this kokoro of Wa is not shaken in the slightest.

Naturally the founder has spoken about the kokoro of Ga as joyous celebration. It is like celebrating by fixing red-bean rice, a cheerfulness that is merry and full of life and wanting to express real congratulations.

While practicing your faith, aim for the Wa-Ga Kokoro and you'll be surprised at what you can do.

No wonder the founder has said:

gPeople call Konko Daijin, Ikigami,ea living kami.f However, not only Konko Daijin, but all of you can receive this divine favor and becomeea living kami.fh

In this way I think all mankind must aim to beeliving kamisfand establish the Wa-Ga Kokoro era. The founder has said that anyone aiming for it will be able to get this divine gift.

Wa-Ga Kokoro Day

We must realize that man cannot become truly happy unless he has a Wa-Ga Kokoro. Yesterday I was talking about Mother's Day celebrations and wearing red carnations. As such practices have spread around the world, wouldn't it be good to have even just one day out of the three hundred and sixty-five as a day to commemorate Wa-Ga Kokoro or Wa-Ga Kokoro Day ? That'd be good, wouldn't it ?

It might take five hundred or a thousand years.

But I feel it necessary for followers of the Konko faith to devote themselves to praying for such a great and marvelous purpose.

For this aim, first of all, from the believers, or from the members of the Konko religion, a movement must be made to proceed with it. That, I feel, is just what Tenchi Kane No Kami desires; in other words, it's Kami's wish.

For achieving this divine plan, each and every one of us must be burning with desire to be used as the hands and feet of Kami. We must raise our faith to where Kami's wish and our wish become one.

The founder taught with the words,gKonko Daijin prays single-heartedly to Tenchi Kane No Kami.hgSingle-heartedlyhdoes not mean to pray with fervor; it means to pray for the same thing as Tenchi Kane No Kami, namely to act always with His same heart and mind.

That, I feel, isn't the sole right of the founder. I think each person following the faith must come to pray single-heartedly to Tenchi Kane No Kami.

To illustrate, each of our prayers is like one drop of water. It flows down a stream, into rivers and then to the sea. When just one drop of water falls into a stream, it becomes stream water. If it flows into a river, it's river water. When joining the sea, it's no longer a drop, but it has become part of the sea.

When we have the same heart and mind as Tenchi Kane No Kami, we flow together in the same way as the waters of the sea. Thus those leading a life of genuine prayer are guided by its bright light and achieve divine favor naturally, without any effort.

- End -

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