On March 28, some 5,000 high school, junior college, and university students participated in the annual Students’ Spring Pilgrimage to Jiba, organized by Tenrikyo Students Association with the support of the Student Advisory Committee. The pilgrimage–which had the theme “Let’s return to Jiba with friends: Now is the time to make great strides”–culminated in a convention held in the Inner Courtyard of Church Headquarters. The occasion was honored by the presence of the Shinbashira and his wife as well as the former Shinbashira.
Speaking at the convention, the Shinbashira encouraged the students to try to familiarize themselves with Oyasama’s Divine Model, which was intended to make it easier for people to follow the path. He advised them not to consider Her Divine Model as distant, unapproachable, or unrelated to them simply because times had changed since the end of Her physical life or because Her role was the Shrine of God. The important thing, he said, is to bear in mind Her parental heart that led Her to show us how to follow the path through Her own example. He then suggested that the students give thought to what aspects of the Divine Model they ought to emulate and how they ought to emulate them if they are to follow the Divine Model as their own personal path. He went on to caution them, however, that utmost care must be taken not to give priority to their own convenience, for that could lead to compromising the teachings.
Citing the teaching that “children up to the age of fifteen are provided for according to the state of their parents’ mind and from the age of fifteen according to the state of their own mind,” the Shinbashira spoke about the responsibility that the students carry as adults. Besides encouraging them to learn to perform the service, he suggested that they attend the Besseki lectures after reaching the age of 17 so that they could administer the Sazuke for the salvation of others. He asked the listeners to consider how they could help others be saved in the course of their daily lives, reminding them that they would be well advised to consult their church head ministers and parents in this regard.
In closing, he added: “What brings the greatest joy to Oyasama–and the path to spiritual growth lies in this–is to settle the teachings in our mind, savor the joy of being alive, maintain a sense of gratitude, and help one another in the course of living our lives. I sincerely hope that you will gain a clear understanding of this path laid by Oyasama and strive repeatedly to make faith second nature while giving full expression to your youthful vitality and enthusiasm.”
Two members then gave speeches to share their experiences in participating in the Students Association activities. In addition, Tenri University student Minoru Matsumoto, scheduled to be installed as chairman of the Students Association on April 1, addressed the members, expressing his commitment to fulfill his duties. He said that, although the members, inexperienced as they were, might sometimes let their spirits fall and lose sight of the path, they could take advantage of being members in helping one anther and making one another high-spirited. His hope, he said, was that the members would make an honest effort to live in accord with the teachings and share the joy of faith with as many people as possible.
Following the convention, the students attended programs organized by the directly supervised churches they belong to. They were able to deepen mutual friendships as members with the same church affiliation.
In the afternoon, nearly 500 members attended the Besseki lectures.
Following the evening service of Church Headquarters, the “Spring Festival” was held on both sides of the South Gate, enabling the participants to enjoy food and drink served at 76 booths as well as a variety of entertainment provided on stages.