Participant giving a roadside speech in Osaka (Mar. 7)
The College Division of the Students Training Course was held at the Home of the Parent from March 3 through 9. The weeklong training course provides participants with opportunities to deepen their faith by learning and implementing the teachings together with fellow students, thereby raising their awareness of being Oyasama’s instruments for world salvation.
This year, a record 593 university, junior college, and technical school students (347 males and 246 females) assembled from various parts of the country to share in the joy of faith. Tenrikyo Students Advisory Committee, which organizes this course, attributes the increase in the number of participants to the Seminar for Successors and other seminars and courses, which have added momentum to the development of human resources who will carry the path forward in the next generation.
The participants were divided into 56 groups, which belonged to one or another of five houses, namely Nozomi (hope), Yoki (joy), Isami (spiritedness), Minori (harvest), and Tsunagi (joining). The 208 students who were participating in the course for the second time or more were all put together in either the Minori or Tsunagi house in order to encourage them to work together to take a step further in their spiritual growth. Each house had its own director, vice-director, advisers, and staff members who were able to work closely with the students. The course was supported by a total of 285 staff members, including a male and a female counselor for every group as well as the dormitory, general affairs, and nursing staff members.
The one-week training course started with the opening ceremony held on the afternoon of March 3, when Administrative Affairs Department Head Yoshiaki Uno encouraged the students in his opening address, saying: “Please feel confident that you can change the world because you are following this path. I hope you will enjoy this training course in high spirits.” This was followed by an address delivered by Students Advisory Committee Chairman Tadakazu Nishiura. He told the listeners: “You have been able to come here because of the guidance of God the Parent. Please try to perceive God the Parent’s message embodied in that guidance so that you can have a dependable guide in your life and develop the power of conviction.” After the ceremony, the participants and staff members assembled in the East Worship Hall for a prayer service.
On March 4, the course jumped into high gear with Tenrikyo Overseas Department Head Yoichiro Miyamori’s lecture entitled “As a Successor of the Path.” He said: “In the long life ahead of you, there will be crossroads where you must choose one path over another. At a time like that, I recommend that you choose the harder one because that path will enable you to make further spiritual growth.”
On the mornings of the 5th and 6th, the students were provided with a number of lectures to choose from. On the 5th, lectures designed to help them learn the teachings were offered under the following titles: “The Service and the Sazuke,” “Introduction to the Teachings of Tenrikyo,” “God the Parent’s Providence,” “Feeling the Everliving Oyasama,” and “A Thing Lent, A Thing Borrowed.” Lectures with emphasis on practicing the teachings were offered on the 6th: “Making Most of the Faith in Our Daily Life,” “Salvation Work for People Having Troubles and Problems in Modern Society,” “Tenrikyo Churches and Salvation Work,” “A Missionary’s Dream and Adventurous Spirit,” and “Followers in Overseas Countries.” 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 also provided.
The Shinbashira observed the students’ participation in lectures and other training programs on March 4. On the following day, the former Shinbashira also observed the participants during lectures.
Participants spreading the name of God in high spirits (Mar. 7)
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. March 7 was the day to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings in Osaka and Nara, which was the highlight of 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 outdoors. The 208 students in the Minori and Tsunagi houses, on the other hand, went to Saidaiji and Nara respectively to engage in door-to-door missionary work. At the end of the day, many of them had satisfied expressions on their faces.
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 from each house. One of the speakers, Misuzu Hayashi, who is now studying at Tenri University as an international student from Paraguay, shared her faith and explained how her family members have been involved in the overseas mission.
In the afternoon, Yoshihiko Takamoku, a Heian Grand Church follower who was one of the members of the Japanese pop band “Checkers,” gave a talk entitled “A Message for You Tomorrow.”
On March 9, at the closing ceremony, Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi delivered a congratulatory speech. After the ceremony, several students were interviewed. Rina Ninomiya said: “Before I attended this course, I was not able to find joy in anything. Yet, over the one week, I learned the significance of praying for others and skills in taking delight in what I am blessed with. I want to maintain the treasure in my mind and follow the path from now on.” Shinji Irizawa said: “Before I came here, I did not like Tenrikyo very much. I administered the Sazuke only one time before this course started. But now, I sincerely want to administer the Sazuke to those who are suffering from illness. This is the first time that I feel I want to follow the path.”