The Oyasama Birth Celebration Service was conducted at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters on April 18 to commemorate the 206th birthday of the everliving Oyasama, our beloved Parent who guides us toward the Joyous Life for all humankind. Great numbers of followers, including many from overseas, returned to the Home of the Parent to celebrate this festive occasion.
At 10:00 A.M., the Shinbashira, accompanied by the other Service performers, arrived in the South Worship Hall after having paid respects to Oyasama in the Foundress’ Sanctuary. The Shinbashira then ascended the dais to deliver the Service prayer on behalf of all followers.
After expressing our gratitude for the many blessings God the Parent showers upon us, the Shinbashira acknowledged our indebtedness to Oyasama for Her Divine Model and for the workings She is continuing to provide by virtue of Her eternal life. He went on to pledge our commitment to building the world of the Joyous Life, saying: “Today, as we deepen our understanding of Oyasama’s boundless grace, we make a renewed pledge to respond to Her parental love by redoubling our efforts to work for the construction of a new world. Please accept the sincerity of this pledge and show us Your free and unlimited blessings according to our sincere minds so that we may help all people in every corner of the world to awaken to the precious teachings, live together in harmony as brothers and sisters, and bring about a true world peace.”
Following the performance of the Kagura Service around the Kanrodai in the Inner Sanctuary, the Shinbashira, his wife, and the former Shinbashira proceeded to the Foundress’ Sanctuary to serve Oyasama Her meal. In the meantime, the Teodori, the Dance with Hand Movements, was joyously performed in the Main Sanctuary.
The sermon was then delivered by Honbu-in Yaichi Nishiura. After summarizing the life of Oyasama, he emphasized that Oyasama is everliving and continues to provide us with Her workings, which we are able to personally experience through our salvation work and, especially, through the administration of the Sazuke, the Divine Grant, bestowed by Oyasama. Rev. Nishiura said that those of us Yoboku, who have received the truth of the Sazuke, are instruments of Oyasama and should, therefore, allow our minds to melt into Her mind and accord with Her intention, thus letting Oyasama work through us to accomplish God the Parent’s intention to bring about world salvation.
Rev. Nishiura cautioned against the tendency we might have to get caught up in whether or not our efforts produced tangible fruits. Citing, as an example, the task of sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and saving others, he warned that this tendency could lead us to get discouraged by results that we regarded as failing to come up to our expectations. He stressed that, in performing the tasks of the path, the most important thing was to be genuinely spirited and filled with joy. Quoting a Divine Direction that teaches that “God will ride the mind and work freely and unlimitedly” (Osashizu, October 2, 1898), he said that a discouraged or depressed mind could hinder God’s work. Rev. Nishiura told the listeners that it was vital to bear in mind that, whether or not tangible results conformed to our expectations, every effort made in the cause of single-hearted salvation would lead to true accomplishment and fulfillment so long as the effort was made with sincerity in desiring the salvation of others. He said that thus exerting our full measure of sincerity to emulate the Divine Model of Oyasama would enable us to sow the seeds of sincerity, which, when the season came, would be sure to sprout, blossom, and bear fruit. “When we devote ourselves to single-hearted salvation, finding joy even in hardships, difficulties, and inconvenience and taking delight in the invisible divine truth, we can rest assured that a reliable seed is being sown regardless of whether or not any tangible results are produced,” he said. “Without counting on the outcome or worrying about whether or not what we have done will turn out as we expect, we should make wholehearted efforts to become one with Oyasama’s intention of single-hearted salvation, and thereby we should attain spiritual growth which enables us to realize that the very act of sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings is a delight in itself and the very act of saving others is a joy in itself.”
Rev. Nishiura added: “During the second year [of the three-year season leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama], we should exert ourselves to follow the 50-year path of the Divine Model while keeping in mind the following verse from the Ofudesaki: ‘Ponder from your innermost heart to understand. Through saving others, you will be saved’ (III:47). Thereby, let us make ever greater efforts to nurture a mind that desires to bring joy to as many people as possible and implement salvation work. Exerting ourselves in this way will, I believe, bring the greatest joy to Oyasama and is what is expected from all of us who celebrate this auspicious occasion of Oyasama’s birthday today.”
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: “As the Parent of the Divine Model, You demonstrated undiminished brightness and spiritedness in whatever course of life You went through. Furthermore, out of the parental love to hasten the spiritual growth of humankind, Your children, You shortened Your life by 25 years, opened the portals of the Shrine, and stepped out to level the ground throughout the world. Since then, You have been working for single-hearted salvation as ever before by virtue of Your eternal life. We are truly grateful for Your loving care.” The Shinbashira ended the prayer with the words: “During this season for implementing single-hearted salvation, all of us are determined to redouble our efforts to work for the construction of a new world by whole-heartedly following Your Divine Model and striving to perform the Service with full awareness of the weightiness of the mission entrusted to us at the present time. Please continue to use us as Your instruments and guide us so that we may help all people in the world join together in harmony to reconstruct the world as the world of joyousness.”
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, including “O-uta 12: Path of the Divine Model” and “Oyasama’s Birthday Celebration Song,” to the accompaniment of music provided by students of Tenri High School and other Tenrikyo schools as well as members of Tenrikyo Institute of Music.