Tenrikyo Women’s Association held its 98th convention in the Inner Courtyard of Church Headquarters on April 19, the day after the Oyasama Birth Celebration Service. The occasion drew 41,000 members.
On the day of the convention, the Home of the Parent was blessed with clear blue skies. When the registration desks opened at 8:00 a.m., groups of members began to file into the Sanctuary precincts one after another, carrying chapter banners of their directly supervised churches. At 9:30 a.m., Women’s Association President Harue Nakayama escorted the Shinbashira, Successor-Designate Daisuke Nakayama, and other guests into the Inner Courtyard. The ceremony began with the singing of the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo. This was followed by a pledge made by a representative of new members and a progress report presented by Committee Member Miyoe Miyamori.
President Nakayama then delivered her address, in which she first offered her sympathies to people who had been affected by the series of earthquakes that struck the area around Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu.
Then, looking back on the pre-anniversary activities leading up to the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama, she said, “[I]t is imperative that you make full use of the skills and strengths you acquired while conducting the pre-anniversary activities by applying them to future activities, thereby taking a new step forward.” She emphasized that keeping their minds intent on making repayment to God the Parent and Oyasama is an indispensable aspect of daily life for all followers of the path.
Touching upon one of the guidelines for this year’s association activities, “Let’s sprinkle the fragrance and help save others, aiming for a million members,” she said, “I would like all of you association members to first have the awareness of being association members, sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings to people close to you, starting with just one person, and convey God the Parent’s teachings to that person, thereby gradually increasing the number of women who understand and agree to support the objectives of the association.”
President Nakayama moved on to speak about the qualities and abilities women are endowed with. Referring to the role of bearing and raising, she explained, “[T]his is not limited to the ability to bear children but includes your ability to nurture the people whom you guided to embrace faith in this path through sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and carrying out salvation activities.” She went on to say, “Let us be aware of the wonderful qualities and abilities with which God the Parent has endowed us, make full use of them in our efforts to bring a settling to our husband-wife relationship, our family, and our church, fulfill our roles in the tasks of the path, and nurture our children in accordance with the teachings of the path.”
In conclusion, she urged members to take pride and have confidence in having been guided to the teachings and to make progress in their spiritual growth so that they could bring joy to God the Parent and Oyasama.
Next, the Shinbashira took the podium to deliver his address. He began by referring to the Kumamoto earthquakes, saying, “I would like to offer my deepest condolences to people who perished in the earthquakes and sincere sympathies to all those who have been affected.”
Then, mentioning that the Oyasama 130th Anniversary Service had been duly performed, he said: “Taking this juncture as an opportunity to make a fresh start, we should make progress proactively along the path of spiritual growth toward the realization of the intention of God the Parent. This is what all of us should be doing today. Whether we can be blessed with God’s working that allows the path to continue through endless generations without error depends on the state of mind we have in following the path ourselves.”
He went on to say: “If we solely rely on the parental love of Oyasama, strive to understand God the Parent’s intention in the things that happen in our daily life, and base our ponderings on the teachings, we can overcome any adversity, however difficult it may be. . . . We should reflect upon our own mind with a sense of humility based on the mind of God the Parent. If we notice that there is an error in our way of thinking, we should repent it and correct it. It is important to make every effort to bring our mind into accord with the teachings by comparing our mind with Oyasama’s Divine Model with simple openness.”
The Shinbashira also pointed out that followers of the path should always base themselves on the intention of God the Parent. “The way you live with a firm resolve to follow the path that continues through eternity while taking Oyasama’s Divine Model as your own spiritual guide and trusting in God the Parent to provide blessings in daily life will nurture other people, and this is the best way to hand down the path to the next generation without distorting it,” he said.
He furthermore stated: “I would like you to aim at implementing this path of spiritual growth and discuss cordially with one another the way of thinking that accords with God the Parent’s intention. In this way, you should help one another grow spiritually and continue to walk along the path of single-hearted salvation. I believe this is what the Women’s Association was originally intended to be.”
He concluded his address with the words: “Please keep in mind that your attitude and how you carry yourselves in earnestly following the path are what raise and nurture the people who will shoulder the path in the future. I hope you will follow the path that leads to the Joyous Life in high spirits.”
After the Shinbashira’s address, Oe Chapter Chairwoman Junko Nakanishi delivered a pledge on behalf of all members. The members then sang “Tenrikyo Women’s Association Song.”
In the afternoon, as a commemorative event, directly supervised chapters held their own meetings. The participants had discussions based on the addresses delivered by the Shinbashira and President Nakayama at the convention. They also pledged together to further promote association activities along the guidelines.