Following the evening service on January 4, the Shinbashira delivered his New Year’s address at Church Headquarters’ Assembly Hall, where the audience included Church Headquarters’ resident staff members, head ministers of directly supervised churches, diocese superintendents, members of the Assembly, committee members of Tenrikyo associations, and others. Below is a translation of the summary of his address that appeared in the Tenri Jiho newspaper:
On October 26, 2002, I announced Instruction Two, which marked the start of our drive to prepare for the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama.
In that Instruction, I stated that, just as our predecessors had considered the previous anniversaries of Oyasama as marking crucial stages in their quest for spiritual growth and conducted their anniversary-related activities aimed at accelerating their spiritual growth, so should we see the upcoming anniversary of Oyasama as a crucial season for making spiritual growth and advance along the path to spiritual growth, with all of us followers of the path orienting our minds toward that shared goal. We set aside a period of “three years, one thousand days” for our committed drive, which we have been conducting until now.
Properly speaking, however, spiritual growth is not something we should work at only during special periods leading up to anniversaries of Oyasama; rather, those of us who have faith in this path ought to be making a constant effort to grow spiritually in the ordinary course of daily life. I trust that all of you are aware of this point. Nonetheless, if we compare trying to grow spiritually by setting ourselves some sort of goal with trying to do so without any specific goal, we will naturally conclude that having a clear goal with a special period set aside for a decisive, committed effort will help promote our spiritual growth more effectively. For this reason, Tenrikyo has always taken Oyasama’s anniversaries as marking critical times by which to advance spiritual growth.
In Instruction Two, I urged that we bring to mind the intention of Oyasama, who withdrew from physical life in order to hasten our spiritual growth, and that we be more conscious about growing spiritually during this pre-anniversary season than in ordinary times. I indicated that our conscious efforts to this end would themselves be our own pre-anniversary activities. Speaking of making more conscious efforts than usual, we may say something similar about New Year’s as well.
We know that Oyasama withdrew from physical life on the lunar-calendar date of January 26, 1887, and we have a fairly good grasp of the circumstances leading up to Oyasama’s withdrawal. However, let us once again take this opportunity to go back to New Year’s Day of 1887. Although we now celebrate the New Year according to the Gregorian calendar, in 1887 New Year’s celebrations were based on the lunar calendar, as can be inferred from The Life of Oyasama. The Gregorian-calendar date of January 1, 1887, when Oyasama staggered momentarily as She came out of Her bath, corresponded to the lunar-calendar date of December 8, 1886. Thereafter, Her physical condition grew gradually worse. The followers repeatedly discussed the situation facing them as well as performed the Service. Far from feeling easy in their minds, they were full of worries and anxieties. It was under such circumstances that they welcomed the New Year of 1887.
I suspect that ordinarily this is hardly something that occupies our minds as we greet the New Year. However, this year being the year of Oyasama’s anniversary, I believe that it is important to change our perspective on New Year’s and bring to mind the feelings of our early predecessors who served at the Residence at the time.
With the 120th Anniversary just around the corner, some may be thinking that the anniversary-related activities have come to an end. Yet, it is not as if our quest for spiritual growth has been completed. Also, as we agreed before, we are considering this year as the year of Oyasama’s anniversary, and we are committed throughout the year to giving expression to the results of the efforts we have made in anticipation of the anniversary. I very much hope that you will fulfill your roles and positions in unity of mind without ever letting it slip from your minds that this year is the year of Oyasama’s anniversary.