The 53rd Meeting for Teachers Who Nurture the Mind was held in the Home of the Parent on August 7 and 8 under the theme “Connecting.” Drawing 397 teachers, former teachers, and others concerned with education from all over the country, the meeting comprised working sessions, small group discussions, and some lectures including one given by Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Yoshitaro Ueda. The participants enthusiastically exchanged opinions in pursuit of how to nurture the mind based on the teachings of the path in educational settings.
The meeting kicked off with opening remarks made by Mission Department Head Motoyoshi Tomimatsu, who emphasized, “In order to resolve various issues in modern society, it is essential for us to help rebuild the family.” Referring to the current trend where people are losing ties to each other, he continued: “There are more and more mothers who are struggling with parenting and could eventually have the risk of abusing their children. I believe it is important for us to actively reach out to those people.”
Director-in-Chief Yoshitaro Ueda then took the podium to give a special lecture entitled “Building New Ties in a Disconnected Society.” Referring to the weakening ties in the family and the community in recent years, he raised a concern by saying: “The ties between husband and wife and between parent and child seem to be falling apart, even though they should trust and support one another more than anybody else. This phenomenon is what casts a big shadow over the society.”
While talking about various issues that modern society is facing, he proposed: “Mutual help is the first key to realizing the Joyous Life, which can be described as the ultimate family togetherness. It is of importance for each of us to nurture and use the mind of saving others, thereby bringing about an endless chain of salvation as taught in these scriptural words: ‘Through saving others, you will be saved.’ Just as you don’t feel happy if anyone in your family is suffering, it cannot be said that you are truly happy if there is even a single person who doesn’t feel happy in society at large. But let us not be pessimistic about the situation here. Instead, let us be grateful for what we have and multiply our happiness by trying to save others, as well as help others do the same.”
He then shared with the audience his missionary experiences, in which he encountered some cases including juvenile delinquency and solitary death. He said, “It is our task as Yoboku to actively engage with those who struggle with marital relationships or parent-child relationships as well as those who may not benefit from government policies and social services.”
Regarding Tenrikyo followers’ involvement in foster care, he emphasized: “Many of them try to care not only for foster children but also for their biological parents. This is the kind of care Tenrikyo followers excel in providing.” To address the contemporary issues of child abuse and child neglect, he stressed the need to rethink what the parent-child relationship really is. “In essence,” he said, “the family should be a safe haven where the child can feel accepted unconditionally, embraced, protected, and healed.”
Toward the end of the lecture, Director-in-Chief Ueda turned his attention to the meeting theme “Connecting.” He stated: “New ties need to be woven in our increasingly fragmented society. According to the teachings, all of us human beings are connected through the ties of universal brotherhood. Therefore, it is crucial for us to convey God’s intention to those who have yet to know or are losing sight of these fundamental ties and to help them remain connected with the faith as the core.”
He concluded his lecture by saying: “It may be difficult for us to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and engage in salvation work straightaway. So why don’t we start with reaching out to and caring for those around us? If we find people in need, let us help them. If there are people who are struggling, let us listen to what they have to say. The accumulation of such small efforts will result in the true salvation of others.”
After the lecture, eight working sessions including “Learning How to Speak as a Teacher” and “Swimming” were organized for participants to choose from based on their own interests. In the session “Improving Your Skills in Organizing the Content of Your Class,” four participants conducted simulated classes individually and exchanged opinions about effective ways of praising and scolding students as well as how to treat children with developmental disabilities.
On the morning of day two, small group discussions were organized around the themes “Seeking the Path” and “Education.” In a group energetically discussing the issue of school refusal, a young participant spoke about her experience in which she dealt with the issue by communicating with students through text messages.
Other parts of the program included a lecture delivered by Norinohi Branch Church Head Minister Masayoshi Masuda, personal experience speeches given by two participants, and an exchange dinner.
Dr. Masahiko Okada, chairperson of the steering committee as well as professor at Tenri University, commented on the event: “We teachers of the path want to further strengthen faith-based ties with one another and make continuous efforts to keep our minds connected with God the Parent and Oyasama each day. At the same time, we’d like to reflect in society the kind of education that naturally conveys the truth of the teachings to others.”