Members Pledge Redoubled Efforts for 120th Anniversary

Some 17,000 members of Tenrikyo Young Men’s Association, who had come from both within Japan and overseas, assembled in the Inner Courtyard of Church Headquarters on October 27 for their 79th annual convention and renewed their commitment to fulfilling their role as “pioneers of the path.” The convention, held under clear sunny skies, came a day after the Autumn Grand Service, in which all followers had brought their minds together in rededicating themselves to sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and helping others be saved through their continued drive to prepare for the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, scheduled for January 2006. Addressing the convention, the Shinbashira, who is the president of this association, told the members: “I want you . . . to spend these three years maintaining your enthusiasm and true sincerity as pioneers of the path as you focus on living up to your slogan, namely, ‘To increase the number of people who attend the Besseki lectures.'”

The convention, attended by the former Shinbashira, Women’s Association President Harue Nakayama, and other guests, commenced shortly after 10:00 A.M. with a brief act of worship, the flag hoisting, and the opening declaration. Following the singing by all participants of the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo, Association Chairman Tomoyuki Itakura presented his progress report, summing up the past year’s activities with emphasis on the association’s role in the anniversary-related activities.

Chairman Itakura said: “At the 78th Convention, President Zenji Nakayama . . . urged us to ‘unite in taking on the role of showing the world the high-spiritedness of this path by taking advantage of our vitality and enthusiasm that befit Arakitoryo, pioneers of the path.’ . . . With the intention of increasing the number of members who can sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and engage in salvation work, . . . we have set forth the same guidelines as last year’s: ‘Enriching the Substance of Chapter Activities and Consolidating the Strength for Missionary Work.’ In addition, we announced our intention to promote the increase of people attending the Besseki lectures as one of our pre-anniversary activities, and we paid a visit to the directly supervised chapters to ensure a thorough understanding of this endeavor.”

Mr. Itakura then reported on some of the activities implemented by the association. He said that the association had held the Missionary Campaign Week for All Chapters in order to have members of all chapters actually sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings. Regarding its overseas activities, he said that 11 young missionaries had been sent to their respective mission centers and posts as members of the seventh group of the association’s “Human Resource Overseas Dispatch Program.” The chairman also described the association’s publishing activities aimed at helping the members prepare for the 120th Anniversary.

In reference to promoting the increase of people attending the Besseki lectures, Mr. Itakura told the members: “Let us promote our activities so that we can rejoice in the progress of the path not only at the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama but also at succeeding anniversaries, when we will be able to say, ‘We have advanced to this extent, because we exerted ourselves to the utmost back then.'” He ended the report by calling on the members to demonstrate their energy and vitality befitting the “pioneers of the path.”

The Shinbashira next took the lectern. Commenting on the association’s slogan, “To increase the number of people who attend the Besseki lectures,” he cautioned the members: “If you are complacent about merely achieving a numerical goal in bringing people to the Besseki lectures, perhaps they themselves will not be able to perceive any sincerity on your part.” What is vital, he said, is the true sincerity in wanting to help others be saved and sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings on them.

The Shinbashira stressed that Tenrikyo was right in the middle of the “three years, one thousand days” season designated for decisive efforts to prepare for the 120th Anniversary. He said that walking this path does not involve doing anything difficult but consists simply and solely in following the path of the Divine Model demonstrated by Oyasama, taking it as an actual model of how to live one’s own life. Then citing a Divine Direction, he told the listeners that Oyasama understands that if we are told to follow the entire fifty-year Divine Model, we might feel it to be beyond our capacity. She therefore suggests, he said, that we set apart three years as a special period when we commit ourselves to being deeply conscious of the Divine Model as we go through each day. He thus urged each and every member to make a real effort to grow spiritually during the current season leading up to the 120th Anniversary. He added: “I want you to understand that what I expect of you is to rouse yourselves, engage in your activities high-spiritedly, and achieve a new level of spiritual growth, which will come from your genuine implementation.”

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