On March 28, the Students’ Spring Pilgrimage to Jiba, cosponsored by its steering committee and the Students Advisory Committee, was held in the Home of the Parent under the slogan “Let’s spread the Parent’s intention to our fellow students in the world: Setting out from Jiba!” A key component of the event was a convention held in the Inner Courtyard of Church Headquarters. Honored by the presence of the Shinbashira and his wife, as well as the former Shinbashira, it was attended by some 5,300 association members including high school, technical school, junior college, and university students from all parts of the country.
Many groups of participants were carrying their flags and banners as they made their way to the venue on that chilly day during the cherry-blossom season. The steering committee members and some 80 supporting staff members enthusiastically welcomed the participants to the venue.
In preparation for the event, the members of the steering committee, which was formed with some 30 association members in mid-February, were divided into several groups and spent a month performing their respective tasks. In addition to the concrete preparations, they also focused on uniting their minds for the event by attending the morning and evening services together at Church Headquarters.
The convention began with the singing of the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo. Greetings were then given by Steering Committee Chairwoman Ikumi Kawanishi, who said, “Let’s set out from Jiba to take a fresh step toward the Joyous Life while keeping the Shinbashira’s words in mind.”
Next, the Shinbashira took the lectern to address the participants. He started by mentioning what Tenrikyo Students Association was for and urged each member to once again settle the objectives of association activities in their minds. Referring to school work, he expressed his expectations for the participants, saying: “It is important for you to strive to settle the teachings ever more deeply in your mind by drawing on what you have learned in school. The first step toward spiritual maturity is your effort to proactively settle Oyasama’s teachings in your mind. I want you to continue to work on your spiritual growth so that people around you will acknowledge that your words and deeds are appropriate for the students of the path.”
He then touched on early followers who were saved and guided by Oyasama and spoke about their devotion to bringing themselves into accord with the intention of God the Parent and Oyasama in any situation. “What we can learn from them,” he said, “is the spirit of single-heartedness with God, which enabled them to think, make decisions, and take action with firm determination based on the teachings and Oyasama’s Divine Model, no matter what kind of insults, opposition, or harassment they met with from society at large. In other words, [we should emulate] their sincerity in bringing themselves into exact accord with Oyasama’s parental heart, which is focused on single-hearted salvation as embodied in Her Divine Model.”
Basing himself on the Ofudesaki, the Divine Directions, and The Doctrine of Tenrikyo, the Shinbashira explained the steps Yoboku might take to make progress in their spiritual growth as instruments for world salvation. “You are at the stage where you should polish and nurture yourself to become useful for any tasks that may be required of you,” he stressed. He went on to shed light on the mind of saving others by saying: “Some of you have not received the truth of the Sazuke due to your age being under 17 or some other reasons. However, you are capable of saving others. If you have the passion to save them and actually put it into action, I believe you can do a sufficient job as if you were serving as Yoboku despite the fact that you have yet to receive the Sazuke.”
To conclude his address, he touched on the slogan and said, “So as not to let it be merely a catchphrase, I would like you to walk your path with the self-awareness and pride of being the children of the path who are making efforts to follow the Divine Model that Oyasama left for us.”
Daisuke Sugano, who was appointed to serve as the association chairman starting on April 1, then made a pledge on behalf of all association members.
After the convention, the participants strengthened their bonds while enjoying various programs organized by their directly supervised churches, some of which provided them with opportunities to do hinokishin or sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings as a way of implementing the teachings. For instance, those affiliated with Asakura Grand Church went out to Nara City and passed out about 200 Tenrikyo pamphlets to passers-by in Nara Park, which was filled with tourists. Those affiliated with Sanyo Grand Church cleaned their followers dormitory as part of the preparations for accommodating followers returning for the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Association. Later, they also spread the name of God the Parent in Tenri City.
After the evening service at Church Headquarters, the “Spring Festival” was held in the areas on both sides of the South Gate, featuring 78 food booths as well as live music and dance performances. Also, 401 students, including 120 first-timers, attended the Besseki lecture earlier on this day.