On October 27, the day after the Autumn Grand Service, Tenrikyo Young Men’s Association held its 86th Convention in the Inner Courtyard of Church Headquarters. Some 12,000 participants including association members from both within the country and from overseas assembled to attend the convention. This year, in order to reinforce the foundation of the association activities, directly supervised chapters held seminars for branch chapter chairmen. Then, leading up to the convention, which is the culmination of the association activities, leaders of directly supervised chapters made thorough efforts to encourage those chairmen and their chapters’ members to participate in this year’s convention.
On the morning of the convention day, rain sprinkled in the Home of the Parent until after the morning service. Despite being exposed to the cold wind, groups of association members began assembling in the Inner Courtyard one after another. As the time for the convention approached, clouds began to part and, soon, the Home of the Parent was blessed with a clear autumn sky.
Shortly after 10:00 a.m., the Shinbashira, who also serves as the president of the Young Men’s Association, escorted the former Shinbashira, Women’s Association President Harue Nakayama, and other distinguished guests into the Inner Courtyard to the accompaniment of music provided by Tenri High School Brass Band. The convention started with a moment of prayer. After the hoisting of the association flag and the opening declaration, the participants sang the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo in unison. Association Vice Chairman Isaku Nishida then presented the progress report on the activities of the previous year.
The Shinbashira then took the podium to deliver his address. He first spoke on the role of Arakitoryo as the pioneers of the path. Describing young men as being “likely to have less experience and knowledge and more imperfections than older people,” he emphasized the importance of having young people be fully aware that they are still in the process of growing spiritually and need to sow seeds of sincerity and seek the path. He also encouraged the members to firmly settle in their minds the intention of the Parent and cultivate the conviction of faith step by step.
He went on to say that Oyasama provided the 50-year path of the Divine Model of single-heartedness with God starting on the Teaching’s day of origin. After reflecting on the time when Oyasama withdrew from physical life, he said that the early followers understood the Divine Directions delivered through the Honseki to be “the proof that Oyasama was indeed everliving” and that, braced by that conviction, they continued to follow the path. “Between 1887 and 1907,” he explained, “. . . followers were guided by the timely directions, which provided appropriate guidance in each significant season, as well as by the directions given in response to people’s inquiries about a whole range of issues. Relying on Oyasama’s guidance provided by the Divine Directions, the followers discussed things with one another, helped one another polish their minds, and joined their efforts in unity of mind to follow the path while maintaining the spirit of single-heartedness with God and preventing themselves from drifting into common worldly ways.”
Next, he referred to the time when the Honseki passed away, cited several relevant Divine Directions, and explained that just as with Oyasama’s withdrawal from physical life, “the Honseki’s passing seems to embody the parental love that urged the spiritual growth of the children so that they could use the Divine Directions already delivered to achieve spiritual growth and stand on their own two feet.” He added, “Our predecessors sought Oyasama’s intention in the path of the Divine Model and in the journey guided by the Divine Directions, placed their entire trust in the truth of the everliving Oyasama, and, thereby, maintained the path, so that we are today able to follow this path.”
He stated that nowadays we can study Oyasama’s Divine Model by using The Life of Oyasama, find out how Oyasama guided the early followers by reading Anecdotes of Oyasama, and learn the essential teachings by reading The Doctrine of Tenrikyo. He went on to say: “[W]e can read the Scriptures anytime, anywhere, and thereby come into contact with the parental love of Oyasama, who speaks to us through them. This means that we can follow the path with the same peace of mind that was felt by the early followers who were directly guided by Her.”
Further, he told the listeners: “At present, we are fortunate enough not to have to defer to anyone or anything so that we can perform the Service in exact accord with the teachings. Also, the remodeling of the upper dais of the Main Sanctuary undertaken in the lead-up to the Centennial Anniversary of Oyasama made it easier to physically view the Kagura Service. Moreover, the completion of the East and West Worship Halls brought about a truly four-fronted form, centered on the Kanrodai. . . . [W]e can each have our own mind reflected in the Kanrodai, sweep our heart clean, and thus work at spiritual construction so as to be acceptable in the eyes of Oyasama.”
The Shinbashira then indicated that the essential attitude in this faith is to seek Oyasama’s parental love in all situations and emphasized: “For those of us who are walking this path, it is of paramount importance to turn our thoughts not only to the Divine Model of Oyasama but also to the journeys of our predecessors who maintained the path and handed it down to us. . . . It is vital for us to keep our minds connected with the mind of the everliving Oyasama wherever we are, seek Her intention in the Scriptures, and make the effort to nurture ourselves.”
Then, he quoted a Divine Direction that says: “You think you are the doer, but ultimately this path is God’s path. You can only follow the path because God works for you” (October 7, 1895). He continued: “Our path is not a path where human beings save other humans. The one who effects salvation is God the Parent, is Oyasama. Whether or not we can sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings as we hope and whether or not people will be saved as we pray will all depend on whether we can receive the blessings of God the Parent and Oyasama. The mission of pioneers of the path is to spread the intention of God the Parent and Oyasama to people throughout the world and thus contribute to realizing the world of the Joyous Life even a day sooner. In order to fulfill this mission, you yourselves first need to become fully convinced that there is no mistake in the teachings of Oyasama. You need also to make an honest effort to implement the teachings so you can fully receive the workings of the everliving Oyasama.”
In concluding his address, he expressed his expectations for pioneers of the path by asking the participants to keep their minds firmly connected with Oyasama and make proactive and spirited efforts to conduct association activities befitting young people in order to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and help others be saved.
In response to the Shinbashira’s address, Niigata Chapter Chairman Kiyohito Yoshizawa made a pledge on behalf of all the association members. To close the convention, the members recited the Guiding Principles of Arakitoryo and then joined together in singing the Tenrikyo Young Men’s Association Song.