The Shinbashira led the July Monthly Service at Tenrikyo’s headquarters on the 26th, which was the first fine day after a very wet week. In attendance, among others, were many young boys and girls who had come to participate in the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba scheduled to start that afternoon, as well as many volunteers to help manage the 11-day pilgrimage.
The Shinbashira began the Service by delivering a prayer, in which he referred to the Children’s Pilgrimage and said: “I pray that these children [who will take part in the pilgrimage] will nurture the openness and richness of their hearts by receiving Your warm parental love and that they will learn the attitude of mutual help and build friendships by participating in a range of pilgrimage events. May this pilgrimage, in this way, be not only enjoyable but also worthwhile and meaningful. I also ask for Your blessing upon all people involved in this undertaking, including those taking care of children in the hot weather, so that they will be able to fulfill their roles in good health and high spirits.” Then with reference to the heavy rains that had resulted in disasters in many places, he stated: “I am painfully aware that all of us must accept these disasters as our own concern and that, based on thorough self-reflection, we must find a way of bringing peace of mind to You. I ask that You will accept our sincerity and guide us as we endeavor to advance in accordance with Your intention.”
The prayer was followed by the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements, which were joyously performed. Members of the congregation joined in singing the songs for the Service.
The sermon was then delivered by Honbu-in Kazuo Yamada, who focused his remarks on child-rearing based on the teachings of Tenrikyo. Explaining two Divine Directions that he quoted, Rev. Yamada said: “Our faith in the path needs to be correctly imparted to our children from the time they are very young. . . . If we nurture children properly, they will grow up to be fine people. If we don’t, they will not. This . . . is an important point that should not be taken lightly and must serve as a constant reminder of the weighty importance of nurturing children.” He said that it was to be regretted that many parents might not be mature enough to take this advice of God seriously. Honbu-in Yamada stressed the need for parents to reflect humbly and critically upon themselves, bearing in mind that the Besseki lecture teaches that before the age of 15, one’s illnesses, misfortunes, and calamities are the effects of one’s parents’ dust of the mind. He said that since problems involving children arise from their parents’ lack of spiritual growth, parents would do well to correct what should be corrected about the way they lead their lives before any problem arises. “This will involve exercising moderation in thought and trying to understand the teachings and have them inform our thoughts and actions, instead of being opinionated and basing ourselves on self-serving thinking. In other words, we need to change the way we use our minds,” he said. Rev. Yamada asked young parents, in particular, to recognize their lack of maturity and strive to grow spiritually as befits parents who are following the path, parents to whom moderation, compassion, and loving-kindness are second nature.
He went on to say, “No matter how things may change, children will continue to be nurtured primarily by their mother, whom we refer to as the ‘foundation of the path.'” He expressed his respect and admiration for the great maternal love that leads women to persevere in nurturing and caring for their children regardless of any difficulties they encounter, and he spoke of “God-given abilities to bear and rear children.” Then he requested that women give full expression to their abilities and talents to make sure that children are brought up on the basis of the teachings and the Divine Model of Oyasama at all Tenrikyo churches and families, rather than on the basis of human thinking or reasoning.
Rev. Yamada also mentioned that the Young Men’s Association had organized the International Hinokishin Corps between July 18 and 24, drawing a large number of members from 10 countries. He concluded his sermon by expressing his appreciation for these members’ sincere efforts in six languages, saying: “Thank you. I appreciate your efforts.”