Participants singing the convention’s theme songs in the Inner Courtyard of Church Headquarters (Mar. 28)
On March 28, the Students’ Spring Pilgrimage to Jiba, cosponsored by the Students Association and the Students Advisory Committee, was held in the Home of the Parent under the theme “Let us convey the intention of the Parent to all friends throughout the world–Now is the time to unite our minds!” Some 5,400 high school, technical school, junior college, and university students gathered together in the Inner Courtyard of Church Headquarters to attend this annual convention, honored by the presence of the Shinbashira and his wife, as well as the former Shinbashira.
Around 8:00 A.M., in the light rain and rather cold wind, the lines of participants began to file into the Inner Courtyard in high spirits, carrying placards and flags of their dioceses or directly supervised churches. The convention started at 9:00 A.M., when the Shinbashira, his wife, and the former Shinbashira were ushered into the site.
Following a moment of prayer and the singing of the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo, Students Association Chairperson Nobutaka Onishi made opening remarks. He said: “It is of utmost importance to take the Shinbashira’s words as precious pointers for us association members and translate his message into action. First, let each of us settle his words deeply in our mind and convey them to all friends throughout the world. Now is the time to unite our minds!”
The Shinbashira then took the podium to deliver his address. He first explained the fact that God the Parent has allowed us to use our mind freely and lent each of us a body. He went on to say: “God the Parent reflects our use of the mind in our surroundings and in the world. The important question is, therefore, how we use and work with our mind in our daily life.”
Further, quoting a Divine Direction that says, “I have told you that children up to the age of fifteen are provided for according to the state of their parents’ mind and from the age of fifteen according to the state of their own mind” (Osashizu, August 30, 1888), he stressed, “To become 15 years old means to have reached the point where you can ponder over and understand God the Parent and Oyasama’s intention, use your mind in accord with it, and take responsibility for your behavior.” He asked the listeners to have a conscious awareness of what is expected of them.
Based on the Ofudesaki, he then said: “Illnesses and other problems are divine guidance given out of God’s parental love. They are reliable guideposts designed to show us a safe path when we are about to wander onto dangerous paths. They are care and training provided to prepare us for the future.”
He then told the listeners: “Through the metaphor of dust, God the Parent teaches us about the misuse of the mind, which is not in accord with God’s intention and which causes illnesses and other troubles. . . . If the cleaning is done frequently, dust can be cleared away easily. Yet, if we are negligent and leave it for a long time, the dust will in time pile up to the point where its removal will become difficult. We must always reflect on our use of the mind and make a constant effort to sweep dust away.” He added: “As a means to help us sweep the dust of the mind away, God the Parent taught us the eight dusts. . . . We are taught that, after we sweep the dust of the mind, God will give us wondrous salvation.”
The Shinbashira went on to say: “God the Parent desires to see us lead the Joyous Life. It is almost impossible to imagine how many years it may take to actualize the Joyous Life for all human beings and the world. However, the path to the Joyous Life starts with our individual efforts to sweep our own dust of the mind.” He then said: “Oyasama taught us various ways of savoring the Joyous Life. One of them is to sweep our dust of the mind.” The Shinbashira closed his address by saying: “You have reached the point where you can ponder over God the Parent’s intention and Oyasama’s parental heart in a manner befitting the youth of the path. You may encounter difficulties in your student or family life. Yet, no matter what happens, I very much hope that you will make efforts to realize God the Parent’s intention and live up to the expectations of God the Parent and Oyasama.”
This was followed by three speeches given by association members. Yoshiaki Fukushima, who had been appointed to serve as the association chairperson starting on April 1, then made a pledge on behalf of all association members. He said: “I pledge that, by taking your words as the precious pointers for us association members, all of us students of the path will unite our minds and follow the path to the realization of the Joyous Life World in unity of mind.” The convention ended with the singing of the convention’s theme songs.
After the convention, the students participated in various programs organized by their directly supervised churches. On that afternoon, 413 students, including 108 first-timers, attended the Besseki lectures. Following Church Headquarters’ evening service, the “Spring Festival” was held on both sides of the South Gate, where the participants enjoyed food and beverages served at booths as well as various kinds of entertainment provided on stages.