On March 26, Tenrikyo Church Headquarters conducted its Monthly Service in the Main Sanctuary with the Shinbashira presiding as chief officiant. It had been rainy and chilly in the Home of the Parent since a couple of days before the Service day. In the cold spring rain, followers held up a colorful array of umbrellas. Yet the sun occasionally shone through the clouds, illuminating cherry blossoms around the precincts.
Shortly after 9:00 a.m., the Shinbashira proceeded to the dais in the Main Sanctuary. In the Service prayer, the Shinbashira first expressed gratitude for the boundless blessings that God the Parent provides for us. He then said: “We Service performers as well as church head ministers and other Yoboku will strive to perceive all occurrences as embodying the Parent’s intention to guide us to the Joyous Life. We are resolved to work hard to correct our misuses of mind arising from human thinking, cultivate the mind of sincerity, and engage in missionary work and salvation work in high spirits, so as to be able to take steps forward in our efforts to attain the harmonious union of God and humankind.”
Following the performance of the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements, Honbu-in Yoshizumi Nakayama took the podium to deliver the sermon. He started off by quoting Ofudesaki verses, including, “Hereafter, I shall set out to make the whole world brim with joy” (Ofudesaki X:103). He then said, “I understand that these verses indicate God the Parent’s promise to bring about the world of the Joyous Life.”
He then moved on to talk about what followers ought to do in order to achieve the Joyous Life. In the course of his talk, he quoted a Divine Direction that says: “God will undertake not merely six tenths but seven tenths. Six to seven tenths will be taken care of by the fragrance [sprinkled by God]. From now on, three tenths will depend on the individual’s mind and seven tenths on the foundation” (Osashizu, October 1, 1898). In explaining the “three tenths” that human beings ought to be responsible for, he said: “I am sure that different people have different takes on what exactly ‘three tenths’ means. Today, I would like to look into the ‘Keys to the Joyous Life: gratitude, moderation, mutual help’ to tease out possible meanings of these ‘three tenths.’”
He continued: “Strictly speaking, ‘gratitude, moderation, and mutual help’ as taught in Tenrikyo take on different connotations from how they are generally used in the world. Since God the Parent and Oyasama are the foundation of all things, our ‘gratitude, moderation, and mutual help’ ultimately need to be firmly rooted in this foundation.” To demonstrate his points, he drew on episodes of a child in Tenri Elementary School and a Shuyoka student, both of whom in his view translated their sense of gratitude into action. He then posed a question, “What exactly does it mean to be connected with this foundation?” In answering the question, he quoted the following remark made by Oyasama: “When we drink water, it tastes of water” (The Life of Oyasama, chap. 3). He then elaborated on it, saying: “By savoring life in such ways, one expresses a type of gratitude that is connected to God the Parent and connected to the foundation. Expressing gratitude for being able to borrow a healthy body, for being able to drink water, and for being able to appreciate the gift of water itself are all examples of having a sense of appreciation that accords with the Divine Model. Indeed, this is exactly what it takes for us to achieve the Joyous Life.”
Next, Honbu-in Nakayama moved on to talk about what constitutes mutual help that is connected to the foundation. “We need to keep in mind that the meanings of the ideas expressed in the Keys to the Joyous Life are quite different than their counterparts in the world,” he said. “It is the implementation of ‘gratitude, moderation, and mutual help’ firmly connected to God the Parent and Oyasama that can inspire and cleanse the minds of all people in the world. Eventually, this will completely purify the minds of everyone in the world, thus leading to the construction of the Joyous Life World. We Yoboku must take the initiative to put into practice such forms of gratitude, moderation, and mutual help so that people in the world can see what they are like for themselves.” He added that such efforts will play important roles in promoting missionary activities and serve to ease the minds of non-Tenrikyo followers and attract them to the path. He also emphasized that the best place for us to guide those who are new to the path is Shuyoka, which he defined as a place where students can learn and implement the way to live the Joyous Life right beside God the Parent and Oyasama for a period of three months.
Honbu-in Nakayama closed his sermon by saying: “We should always bear in mind the spirit of ‘gratitude, moderation, and mutual help’ in all our daily encounters. What is critical is how we embody and implement these three keys. I believe that actions that are acceptable in the eyes of the Parent will reach heaven, as promised by the line ‘three tenths will depend on the individual’s mind and seven tenths on the foundation.’”
Spring Memorial Service Performed
The day after the Monthly Service, the spring memorial service was conducted at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. The proceedings began in the Main Sanctuary, where the Shinbashira, who presided, offered a prayer, which was followed by the performance of the dance to the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo and the Twelve Songs. The Shinbashira then proceeded to the Memorial Hall and delivered a prayer honoring the memories and achievements of deceased followers.