The Oyasama Birth Celebration Service was conducted at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters on April 18 to commemorate the 205th birthday of the everliving Oyasama, our beloved Parent who guides us toward the Joyous Life for all humankind. About 70,000 followers, including many from overseas, returned to the Home of the Parent to celebrate this festive occasion.
To commence the Service, the Shinbashira, accompanied by the other Service performers, worshiped at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and sang Oyasama’s Birthday Celebration Song with the entire congregation.
At 10:00 A.M., the Shinbashira arrived in the Main Sanctuary, where he read a prayer to God the Parent. After expressing our gratitude for the blessings we receive, the Shinbashira stated our resolution to follow the path laid by Oyasama who, ever since the founding of the Teaching, had spiritedly walked through various hardships likened to steep mountains, tangles of thorns, or narrow ledges. The Shinbashira concluded the prayer by saying: “I sincerely pray together with all present that You will enable us to see the advent of spring amid the current gloomy situation of the world so that new buds of hope may sprout here and there and, thereby, enable all people in the world to advance along the path to the Joyous Life.”
Following the performance of the Kagura Service around the model Kanrodai in the Inner Sanctuary, the Shinbashira and his wife as well as the former Shinbashira proceeded to the Foundress’ Sanctuary to serve Oyasama Her meal. Meanwhile, the Dance with Hand Movements was joyously performed in the Main Sanctuary.
The sermon was then delivered by Honbu-in Yoshikazu Yamamoto. Outlining the Divine Model of Oyasama, he explained the meaning of the Joyous Life. He said, “The Joyous Life cannot be realized by acquiring material things from outside ourselves, but rather it is what we have to build up inside ourselves.” He went on to say: “Before we complain about a shortage of material things, we ought to perceive God the Parent’s boundless providence, which enables us to be alive and savor the taste of water. If we align our minds with the intention of God the Parent, we can live brightly and joyously in whatever situation. That is surely what is taught by the words ‘When we drink water, it tastes of water.'”
Honbu-in Yamamoto also said, “Oyasama taught us that the path of single-hearted salvation is the path of natural spontaneity.” Employing the metaphor of rice cultivation, he explained the meaning of the path of natural spontaneity, saying: “Rice does not grow instantly. When spring comes, it is necessary to prepare the rice nursery to raise rice seedlings. After that, you plant the seedlings in your rice field. You need to weed your rice field often while the seedlings grow in the summer sunshine. Then, you can reap a harvest and thresh the reaped rice in fall. Reaping a harvest requires a great deal of time and labor. Such is the path of natural spontaneity. We should follow the path with the readiness to spend as long as necessary.”
Then, he urged the listeners to engage in salvation work, especially through administering the Sazuke. He said, “The experience of engaging in the salvation of people suffering from illness will surely help us savor the truth of a thing lent, a thing borrowed, or the truth of receiving the divine blessings in accord with our use of mind so that we can open the way to the core of faith.” He emphasized the importance of sowing seeds of sincerity during the seasonable time, saying, “Such seeds of sincerity sown during salvation work will surely sprout around us when the season is right. In order to receive the blessing of a sprouting of buds, we are to exert our utmost in sowing seeds of sincerity.” He concluded his sermon by saying: “Let us make a pledge that we shall grow spiritually ever further during this season leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama so that the everliving Oyasama will be pleased.”
Thereupon, the Shinbashira, accompanied by the former Shinbashira and the other Service performers, returned to the Foundress’ Sanctuary, where he read a prayer to the everliving Oyasama. In the prayer, he said: “We are truly grateful for Your unchanging loving care. We therefore wish to express our most sincere gratitude to You in addition to extending words of celebration for Your birthday.” The Shinbashira ended the prayer with the words: “When we consider Your profound intention to save all humankind, we realize that we still have a long way to go to fulfill Your intention. With this always in mind, we are dedicating ourselves as Your instruments to the cause of single-hearted salvation, while tirelessly following the path of the Divine Model in a unity of mind. Please guide us with Your generous parental heart so that we may receive the blessing of making progress along the path of single-hearted salvation amid this seasonable time.”
Immediately following the Service, a musical event called “Joyous Chorus” was conducted in the Inner Courtyard, where thousands of followers joined in singing a number of songs to the accompaniment of the orchestras of Tenri High School and Tenrikyo Institute of Music.