Words of Gratitude
by Kazue Hayes

Words of Gratitude
Festival of Universal Salvation
May 5th, 1996
Representing all the followers of Shinnyo-en U.S.A., I, Kazue Hayes, would like to humbly offer these Words of Gratitude.
Since the day I encountered the Shinnyo teaching, I have received innumerable blessings.
I used to pity myself believing that I was the most unfortunate person in the world.
I held a grudge against society and could not place any trust in any people.
Despite the fact that I sued to be this kind of person, I was able to find the answer that I had been searching for in the Shinnyo Teaching which has the Mahaparinirvana Sutra as its canon.
My feeling toward the Teaching is well expressed by a sono-uta, which reads:
"Encountering the last teaching of the Buddha is like finally finding one's long-lost compassionate mother."" Upon finding the Teaching, I was able to shed tears of gratitude instead of tears of sorrow.
At the beginning, the more I made efforts in practicing the Teaching in order to become happier, the more I became perplexed and confused.
I expected that I would find happiness in my family life.
However, my family became dissolved. "This could not have happened." With these feelings, I would open the Path of Oneness.
Whenever I did so with prayer in my heart, I found it strange that I constantly opened to the same page.
There, I found how Shojushinin-sama felt when she had to see Kyodoin-sama passing away in order to establish the Shinnyo spiritual world.
When I contemplated on her sorrowful experience, I realized that I was so fortunate to have my children.
I became determined to nurture and guide them so that they would become youths who protect the Teaching.
I was told many times through spiritual words, "Shojushinin-sama is always with you!" Whenever I was almost daunted, I offered prayers to Shojushinin-sama asking, "How shall I be able to overcome this?" She always appeared in my dreams to encourage me or to admonish me.
I had an unusual experience when I returned to Oyasono this March to attend the Eternally Abiding Shinnyo founder's Festival in the 60th year of the Teaching.
I felt as if my body was strongly bound by something so that I could only move slowly and even breathing brought me pain.
I desperately chanted the Sandai. When I received sesshin about it, I was told that the spirits related to the Christian faith were closely following after me.
I realized that I had forgotten to have prayer toward them and I repented from the bottom of my heart.
During the Spring Higan Service, I offered prayer to Shojushinin-sama, saying in my heart, "May you extend salvation to these spirits."
I also promised her in my prayer that I would do my best so that I could meet her expectation.
Then, I felt that both those spirits and I were chanting the Goreiju and putting our palms together in Gassho out of joy and gratitude. I was baptized when I was a child and since then I practiced the Christian faith.
There were many people of the same faith that helped and supported me.
When I became able to feel truly grateful to those people for what they had done for me to make me as I am, I felt that my body became unbelievably light.
This enabled me to experience a manifestation of the power of shoju, the way to which was opened up by Shojushinin-sama together with Shinnyo Kyoshu-sama. These spiritual words were given to me, "Many people are suffering in their pursuit of happiness in this world. You have been entrusted with the mission to convey the Teaching to those people.
You have been given so many trials. It is because Shojushinin-sama believes that you are a person who can overcome any hardship, and she has expectations of you."
Before, I was in agony looking for happiness. By making efforts in the Teaching to over come these given hardships including the sorrow from my own divorce, I was able to gain a Buddha-centered strength.
I can now practice the Shinnyo Teaching with my daughters in joy and gratitude.
I owe this to Shojushinin-sama, who always watches over me and guides me out of her great benevolence and compassion by kindly and sometimes strictly demonstrating what a mother should be like. Looking back, I am overwhelmed by the blessings that have been bestowed upon me ever since I became a follower of Shinnyo-en.
I am more than grateful to Shinnyo Kyoshu-sama and Shojushinin-sama who established the Shinnyo Teaching by overcoming every possible hardship.
I also feel grateful to Kyodoin-sama and Shindoin-sama who have been extending the saving power of bakku-daiju to guide me to have a true faith.
In order to reciprocate to their Heart, I am determined that I will become a reinosha (spiritual medium) even one day sooner so that I can protect Shinnyo Keishu-sama, who now connects us with their Heart.
I also would like to offer my humble vow that I will strive in practicing together with my family members and my guiding children and become a well-rounded leader of society. Thank you very much.