Eight delegates of Tenrikyo attended the International Meeting of Prayer for Peace held in Barcelona, Spain, from October 3 to 5. The delegation included Rev. Masahiko Iburi, president of Tenri University; Rev. Noriaki Nagao, vice head of Tenrikyo Overseas Department; Rev. Yoshinori Tanaka, head of Tenrikyo Europe Centre; and Mr. Hideo Yamaguchi, head of Dai-Roma Mission Station, which is located in Rome. Co-organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio―a lay Catholic group headquartered in Rome―and the Archbishop of Barcelona, the meeting drew some 350 religious leaders and government officials from across the world.
The International Meeting of Prayer for Peace is a gathering in which prominent religious leaders from many parts of the world discuss what needs to be done to achieve world peace as well as pray together for it. In 1986, world religious leaders were invited to gather in Assisi, Italy, by the late Pope John Paul II. From the following year, 1987, the International Meeting of Prayer for Peace has been held annually in different parts of the world under the leadership of the Community of Sant’Egidio. This year marked the second time the meeting was held in Barcelona, the last time being in 2001. Tenrikyo has been formally invited to participate in this meeting almost every year. Last year’s meeting, which was held in Krakow, Poland, marked the first time the Shinbashira and his wife attended.
This year’s meeting was formally entitled “Living Together in a Time of Crisis.” The meeting started with the Opening Assembly held on the first day, and working sessions were held under various themes including “Alms-Giving and Justice” and “Migration and Future” on the second and third days.
Rev. Iburi Delivers Speech in Working Session
The delegates from Tenrikyo attended a working session on the theme “Religions in Asia and the Value of Life,” which was organized on the third day of the meeting. Rev. Masahiko Iburi participated in the session as a speaker together with representatives of other religious groups including Tendai Buddhism and Rissho Kosei-kai.
In his speech, Rev. Iburi first explained the teaching of the Joyous Life―the ultimate purpose of human creation by God the Parent. He then said: “Making spiritual growth is an effort to near, or the process of nearing, God the Parent’s intention in creating humanity; thus, growing spiritually represents the greatest value of living as humans.”
After going over what he spoke about at last year’s meeting, Rev. Iburi went on to discuss various issues surrounding contemporary Japanese society. “In our society, where interpersonal ties such as between husband and wife and between parent and child continue to weaken and deteriorate, we have seen the emergence of abnormal, distorted phenomena such as domestic violence, child abuse, and the issue of the unaccounted-for elderly,” he said, adding: “We need to humbly accept that such distortions in society are reflections of the use of mind of those who have lost their dependable guide for the mind. We must take a fresh look at our own state of mind and our way of living.”
He then touched upon the teaching of the eight dusts of the mind so as to explain a concrete way to achieve spiritual maturity. In stressing the importance of making daily efforts to sweep away the dusts of the mind and thereby purify our mind, he said: “It is obviously important for people of great wisdom and intellect across the world to discuss peace, explain the importance of peace to others, and take action aimed at helping establish peace. Yet, without each individual’s effort to purify the mind and grow spiritually, humankind will not achieve world peace or the Joyous Life World.” In concluding his speech, he said, “I believe that the effort to grow spiritually―an effort that characterizes a way of living based on our teachings―will indeed lead to world peace and security.”
In a question and answer session that followed, a variety of questions were raised from the floor, including: “Is there any theological meaning in the fact that the foundress of Tenrikyo was a woman?” and “Is there any divine intention behind atrocities such as instances of genocide that have happened in human history?” Rev. Iburi answered these questions based on the teachings.
During the Meetings of Prayer held on the evening of the third day, the Tenrikyo delegation including Rev. Iburi performed the seated service and the first half of the Dance with Hand Movements to the accompaniment of musical instruments. At the Final Ceremony, Rev. Iburi, Rev. Nagao, Rev. Tanaka, and Mr. Yamaguchi went up to the stage. Representing Tenrikyo, Rev. Iburi joined other religious leaders in lighting the “candle for peace” and signed the Appeal for Peace 2010.