Training Course Draws 526 College Students

Tenrikyo Church Headquarters sponsored the College Division of the Students Training Course from March 3 through 9 at the Home of the Parent, drawing 526 university, junior college, and technical school students (299 males and 227 females) from all over the country. The weeklong training course provides participants with opportunities to deepen their faith. The participants were divided into 46 groups, which belonged to one of four houses, namely Nozomi (hope), Yoki (joy), Isami (spiritedness), and Tsunagi (joining) houses. The 162 students who were participating in the course for the second time or more were all put together in the Tsunagi house in order to encourage them to take a step further in their spiritual growth. Each house had its own director, advisers, and staff members who were able to work closely with the students. The course was supported by a total of 241 staff members, including a male and a female counselor for every group as well as the dormitory, general affairs, and nursing staff.

The participants assembled in the Home of the Parent on March 3. At the opening ceremony held that afternoon, Honbu-in Kazuo Nagao encouraged the students in his opening address, saying: ” Young adults have a wealth of potential, a mind capable of learning new things, and an amazing ability to get things done. Over the next week, I would like all of you to experience how wonderful the teachings are, eagerly seek the truth that settles this world, and set about putting the teachings into practice.” This was followed by an address delivered by Students Advisory Committee Chairman Kiyoharu Kontani. After the ceremony, the participants and staff assembled in the East Worship Hall for a prayer service. On March 4, the course jumped into high gear with Honbu-in Takanori Nagao’s lecture entitled “Cultivating the Mind of Saving Others and Implementing Salvation Work.” He said: “Just thinking about ‘helping others’ does not mean you have implemented salvation work. Take action first, especially when you are young. To begin settling the mind to save others, I would suggest that you start talking with those close to you such as family members and friends.” The students listened intently to his lecture and many of them even took notes. On the mornings of the 5th and 6th, the students were provided with a number of lectures to choose from. On the 5th, lectures to facilitate learning the teachings were offered: ” Feeling the Everliving Oyasama,”Wonders Are God,” “Eight Dusts of the Mind and Causality,” and “Salvation through Teaching the Origin.” Lectures with emphasis on practicing the teachings were offered on the 6th: “Interface between Social Welfare and Salvation Work,” “Faith and Current Situation of Overseas Followers,” “Faith in Action at Work,” and “Struggle and Joy of Single-hearted Devotion to the Path.” On the afternoons of the 4th and 5th, several classes were offered for the participants to choose from, covering such areas as the dance, musical instruments, and rituals for the service, as well as the method of wearing the service kimono. For the benefit of those who were new to the teachings, a beginners class was provided. On March 5, the Shinbashira and his wife observed the students’ participation in lectures, group discussions, and training programs. After the evening services, time was allotted for “group sessions” so that the members of each group could become better acquainted with one another, reflect upon themselves, and discuss various topics to deepen their faith. By sharing their feelings and thoughts with one another, the bonds among them grew tighter. In some groups, members administered the Sazuke to fellow members while the rest of the group prayed alongside. March 7 was set aside as a day to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings, which is the main event for the entire course. The students taking the course for the first time went to Osaka to make roadside speeches and sing the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo in public. The 162 students in the Tsunagi house, on the other hand, went to the Nara City and Ikoma City to engage in door-to-door missionary work. The students assigned to go to Ikoma arrived at the roadside speech sites near the station at about 10:00 a.m. Wearing happi coats, they first worshiped in the direction of the Jiba. Then, after taking a few deep breaths, they started giving their speeches: “Hello! We are students who have faith in the Tenrikyo teachings!” Nearby, other students handed out leaflets to passersby. Heavy traffic drowned out their speeches from time to time. Some gave their speech in a quivering voice, others shouted their personal statement, and a few delivered their speech in sign language. Following that, the students spiritedly walked about spreading the name of God the Parent. After a lunch break at Ikoma Grand Church, the students went out in pairs to engage in door-to-door missionary work. Many were a little nervous despite the role-play practice they had undergone on the previous day. At each house, they would say: “This leaflet contains some hints on how to live with a joyous mind. It would be nice if you could take some time to read it.” At the end of the day, many of them had satisfied expressions on their faces. On their way back to Jiba, they exchanged comments such as, “It went by so fast!” and “Seeing others trying hard really encouraged me, and I started enjoying it.” In total, the students in the Tsunagi house visited 2,246 houses, distributed 2,741 leaflets, and administered the Sazuke 65 times. On March 8, 94 students attended the Besseki lecture, while others did hinokishin around the Main Sanctuary. This was followed by faith experience speeches given by five students. In the afternoon, all participants listened to a lecture entitled “A Message for You.” On March 9, Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi delivered a speech at the closing ceremony. He encouraged them by saying: “During this seasonable time leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, we are to make a decisive resolve and a determined effort to grow spiritually. Spiritual growth refers to the process of nearing the intention of the Parent as well as the steps you take in your efforts toward reaching goals. I would like all of you to incorporate what you have acquired over the past week into your steps toward spiritual growth.”

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