Some 80,000 followers, including many from overseas, converged on the Home of the Parent in the city of Tenri on April 18 to celebrate the 211th birthday of the everliving Oyasama, adored as “our beloved Parent,” who is guiding all humankind to the realization of the Joyous Life, the goal of human existence.
The Oyasama Birth Celebration Service started shortly after 10:00 A.M., when the Shinbashira, the leader of Tenrikyo, arrived in the Main Sanctuary after paying respects at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall. He first ascended the dais to deliver the Service prayer to God on behalf of all followers.
After expressing gratitude for God’s “profound and unchanging parental love” in “guiding us through any and all situations,” the Shinbashira said: “To make repayment for Your blessings, we are committed to devoting ourselves to the tasks of single-hearted salvation with our minds spirited. This day today marks the auspicious day when Oyasama was born into this world in 1798. From now, therefore, we Service performers will conduct the Oyasama Birth Celebration Service by spiritedly performing the Kagura and the Dance with Hand Movements with our joyous minds in unison.”
The Shinbashira ended the prayer with the words: “We are determined to convey how great the teachings are to those who are wandering without a solid, dependable guide by showing them an example of living a life based on the teachings and to keep nurturing them until they join us in walking this path. Please accept our resolve and grant us Your free and unlimited blessings in response to the sincerity of our minds. We also humbly ask You to bless us with the ever more vigorous growth of the path and to continue guiding all humankind to the world that is filled with joy, where all people in the world respect and help one another with cheerful and bright minds. Together with all present, I pray that You grant us these blessings.”
The prayer was followed by the Kagura Service, which Oyasama taught as the path to universal salvation. Reenacting God’s creation of humankind and the world, the Service embodies the divine intention to reconstruct the world as that of the Joyous Life, the world as God originally intended it.
After the Kagura Service, the Shinbashira, his wife, and the former Shinbashira proceeded to the Foundress’ Sanctuary to serve a meal to Oyasama. In the meantime, the Dance with Hand Movements was joyously performed in the Main Sanctuary, with the followers spiritedly singing the Mikagura-uta, the Songs for the Service.
Following the conclusion of the Dance with Hand Movements, Honbu-in Kunihiko Kajimoto delivered a sermon. After summarizing the life of Oyasama, Rev. Kajimoto emphasized that Oyasama is everliving. He said: “The followers learned through a Divine Direction that Oyasama would work for world salvation as ever before, even though She had withdrawn from physical life. . . . Their conviction that Oyasama was everliving and working for world salvation came from the fact that Izo Iburi, who would become the Honseki, began bestowing the truth of the Sazuke on behalf of Oyasama and conveyed the Divine Directions, which were seen as the words of the everliving Oyasama. In the Divine Directions, Oyasama repeatedly teaches us that She is actually working as ever before, even after Her withdrawal.” Then, basing himself on the Osashizu, The Divine Directions, he said, “As Yoboku, we take it upon ourselves to administer the Sazuke, but the blessings of salvation are shown only because the everliving Oyasama is going ahead of us and working to provide for us.”
Rev. Kajimoto then spoke about the predecessors’ efforts to hand us down the teachings of Oyasama in the face of difficulties and hardships during the period known as the Adjustment. He stated: “Despite this difficult situation, our predecessors maintained their faith and handed Oyasama’s intention down to us. Let us take this opportunity to reflect upon our own faith in the light of our predecessor’s faith. It was the ultimate teachings that Oyasama demonstrated to us through the Divine Model by undergoing indescribable hardships. Our predecessors went through and tolerated those difficult circumstances to make it possible to hand down those ultimate teachings to us. If we, living in this day and age, do not follow the path and do not implement the teachings, we will be letting down the everliving Oyasama, our predecessors, and the followers in the future.”
Rev. Kajimoto concluded the sermon by saying: “The true gift we can give Oyasama on Her birthday is the joy we bring Her by implementing the teachings, starting with anything we can. Let us strive to fulfill our tasks as Yoboku so that the day will soon come when all human beings throughout the world will return to the Home of the Parent to celebrate our Parent’s birthday together.”
Following the sermon, the Shinbashira, his wife, and the former Shinbashira were joined by the other Service performers in the Foundress’ Sanctuary, where the Shinbashira read a prayer to the everliving Oyasama. “Upon the arrival of the promised time, You were settled as the Shrine of Tsukihi. Subsequently, You spent 50 long years conveying God’s intention to us through Your spoken and written words,” he stated. “As the Parent of the Divine Model, moreover, You cheerfully went through a path filled with hardships, demonstrating through Your own example the path that leads to the Joyous Life. You have thoughtfully guided us, Your children, along the path of spiritual growth.”
The Shinbashira concluded the prayer by saying: “We are all determined to deepen our joy of being allowed to serve as Your instruments in the precious work of single-hearted salvation. We will follow the path of the Divine Model straightforwardly in every situation so that we can draw closer to Your mind. Moreover, we are resolved to devote ourselves to single-hearted salvation in bright and high spirits so as to respond to Your intention. Please continue to guide us, now as ever before, so that we can follow the path of spiritual growth in accord with Your intention. Together with all present, I pray for these blessings.”
Immediately following the Service, the “Joyous Chorus” took place in the Inner Courtyard, where thousands of followers joined together in singing a number of songs, accompanied by an orchestra comprising musicians from Tenri High School and other Tenrikyo schools as well as Tenrikyo Institute of Music. The songs included “O-uta 12: Path of the Divine Model” and “Oyasama’s Birthday Celebration Song.”