The Students’ Spring Pilgrimage to Jiba, cosponsored by the Students Association and the Students Advisory Committee, was held at the Home of the Parent on March 28. Under the theme “Let us return to Jiba with friends, while taking to heart the intention of the Parent,” over 4,800 high school, technical school, junior college, and university students gathered together in the Inner Courtyard of Church Headquarters to attend this annual convention, where, having listened to the address delivered by the Shinbashira, they took an oath to advance their spiritual growth in anticipation of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama by seeking and following the path in a manner befitting students.
That day, the Home of the Parent was blessed with a cloudless blue sky. No sooner were the gates opened at 8:00 A.M. than the participants poured into the Inner Courtyard, quickly filling all the benches that had been set up for the occasion. Many were excited and overjoyed about meeting each other again.
Honored by the presence of the Shinbashira and his wife, as well as the former Shinbashira, the convention started at 9:00 A.M. with a moment of prayer, and the singing of the Yorozuyo. Opening remarks were then delivered by Tenrikyo Students Association Chairman Minoru Matsumoto, who told his fellow students: “Some of us may feel embarrassed while implementing the teachings in our daily lives, but let us allow this joy we feel at returning to Jiba to give us courage, and with that courage, let us walk the path of spiritual growth hand in hand during these years leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama.”
The Shinbashira then addressed the participants. After explaining the Divine Model of Oyasama and the day of origin of Oyasama’s anniversaries, he encouraged the students by saying: “You may be taking Oyasama’s anniversaries as something irrelevant to you since you are still students. Instead of thinking in that way, please try to ponder and seek a way of following the path that is appropriate for you, so that you can advance your spiritual growth even a step further during this season.”
He also referred to the construction for the westward expansion of the Sanctuary precincts as well as the construction of South Right Wing 2 of the Oyasato-yakata building-complex, both of which are currently underway. While talking about the significance of the construction of the Oyasato-yakata building-complex and reflecting on its 50-year history, he said: “It is human beings who use buildings. Since the atmosphere of a building is determined by how those in the building use their minds, we need to construct our mind to accord with the intention of God the Parent in such a way that it keeps pace with the construction of the building. All of you present here are no exception.”
Furthermore, while making it clear that the path as a whole is in the midst of making a concerted effort to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and save others, the Shinbashira went on to say: “Sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings is to convey the teachings of God the Parent and the Divine Model of Oyasama to those who have yet to know the path. Being able to emit the fragrance of the path in a natural manner cannot be explained by mere rational thinking. It can only come naturally to you when you try to carry it out little by little in everyday life, starting with anything near at hand.”
The Shinbashira closed his address by saying: “I very much hope that all of you present here will make spiritual growth by dedicating yourselves to doing what you should do as students of the path, consciously aiming to become people who can appreciate and rejoice over the blessings of God the Parent without taking everyday matters for granted, and who can feel close to the warm parental heart of Oyasama.”
Following this, two association members gave speeches regarding the joy of faith and friendship, which they have savored and cultivated by participating in the association activities. Kazuhito Ueta, who had been appointed to serve as chairman of the association starting on April 1, then addressed the members to express his commitment to fulfill his duties as chairman. “Our steps may be small,” he said, “but I believe that Oyasama, upon seeing us connect our minds with one another, will lead us along with Her parental love, thereby bringing about a greater potential for our activities. Let us first take this deep emotion we feel today back home with us, so that we can share it with our friends throughout the country, and go forward in unison during this season for spiritual growth.”
At the end of the convention, the participants sang the “Oyasama 120th Anniversary Song” and two other songs, to musical accompaniment provided by Tenri High School Evening Course Brass Band.
After the convention, the students participated in various programs organized by their directly supervised churches. That day, 438 students attended the Besseki lectures in the afternoon. Following the evening service of Church Headquarters, the “Spring Festival” was held on both sides of the South Gate, where the participants enjoyed food and drink served at booths as well as various entertainment provided on stages. The Shinbashira and his wife joined the students in the festivities.