Seventy thousand followers, including many from overseas, were at the Home of the Parent on April 18 to attend the Oyasama Birth Celebration Service, which was led by the Shinbashira, the leader of Tenrikyo. The festive occasion marked the 208th birthday of the everliving Oyasama, “our beloved Parent,” who guides all humankind to the realization of the Joyous Life, which Tenrikyo teaches is the purpose for which humankind was created.
Shortly after 10:00 A.M., the Shinbashira, accompanied by the other Service performers, arrived in the Main Sanctuary of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters after having paid respects at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall. He went on to ascend the dais and delivered the Service prayer to God the Parent on behalf of all followers.
After expressing gratitude for the many blessings that guide us along the path to the Joyous Life, the Shinbashira said, “We Service performers as well as the church head ministers and Yoboku, pledge that we will constantly bear in mind the precious path of the Divine Model, and, taking to heart our great indebtedness to Oyasama, we are committed to deepening our understanding of the teachings so as to measure up to Your intention and to exerting our utmost sincerity to carry out our mission as Yoboku in high spirits in accord with the Truth of Heaven.” He ended the prayer with the words: “Please provide us with Your blessings to help us powerfully impress upon all people in the world the truth that ‘Because Tsukihi exists, the world exists.’ I pray that, by Your blessings, we will be able to leave behind our confusion of human thoughts so that we may live in complete accord with the intention of the true Parent and rely single-heartedly on You in the face of any great difficulties as we take spirited steps along the path to the Joyous Life.”
The prayer was followed by the Kagura Service, which, reenacting God’s creation of humankind and the world, seeks to call forth the blessing of universal salvation. After the Kagura Service, the Shinbashira, his wife, and the former Shinbashira proceeded to the Foundress’ Sanctuary to serve a meal to Oyasama. Meanwhile, the Dance with Hand Movements was joyously performed in the Main Sanctuary.
After the conclusion of the Dance with Hand Movements, Honbu-in Yoshikazu Terada delivered the sermon. He started out by saying that, although Oyasama’s Divine Model spanned a period of 50 years beginning in 1838, Her course of life before that also contained many poignant examples of how to deal with life’s challenges and difficulties. Citing some of those examples from The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, he illustrated the need to “perceive other people’s feelings at all times and show loving concern for them while doing everything possible to lend them a helping hand,” as well as the importance of practicing filial devotion to one’s parents, using kind words when speaking to others, and being patient and steadfast when devoting sincerity to helping others.
Turning to the path that Oyasama laid after being settled as the Shrine of God, he described it as the path that leads all humankind to the Joyous Life, the very goal for which human beings were created, and as the path of single-hearted salvation, which is grounded in the profound parental love that desires to save all of God the Parent’s children without partiality for one child over another. He went on to say, “For us followers of the path who have come to know the intention of the Parent, our dedication to conforming to the Parent’s wishes by helping one another as true brothers and sisters is the ultimate expression of our filial devotion to the Parent.”
With regard to the truth of the Sazuke, the Divine Grant, which Yoboku have received from Oyasama in order to save others from the pains of illness, Rev. Terada emphasized the importance of administering the Sazuke with the mind of sincerity and exerting our full measure of sincerity to have people saved by all means. “Helping someone be saved may take years,” he continued. “At those times, it is important to recall Oyasama’s example, so that we can continue persevering with patience and unchanging sincerity.” Rev. Terada went on to explain that Oyasama taught us the Service as the means to settle every problem facing us human beings. Reminding the listeners that the services at churches are performed by receiving the truth of the Service performed at the Jiba, he encouraged them to maintain the conviction that those performances would contribute to advancing the path of world salvation. “What we ought to be focused on at the present time,” he said, “is placing our complete trust in the path that Oyasama taught us and devote the full measure of our sincerity to carrying it out.”
After touching on the Oyasama 120th Anniversary Service, which was performed on January 26 of this year, Rev. Terada closed his sermon by asking the congregation to pledge their efforts to take a further step in “cultivating the mind of saving others” and “implementing salvation work,” the very tasks they had worked on during the “three years, one thousand days” season leading up to the 120th Anniversary and to take powerful steps in a unity of mind toward the great goal of achieving the Joyous Life for all people throughout the world.
Following the sermon, the Shinbashira, accompanied by the former Shinbashira and the other Service performers, returned to the Foundress’ Sanctuary, where he read a prayer to the everliving Oyasama. In the prayer, he congratulated Oyasama on Her birthday and then said: “Moreover, out of Your deep parental love that sought to hasten the spiritual growth of Your children, You shortened Your term of life by 25 years to open the portals of the Shrine and step out to level the ground throughout the world, and You are continuing to work for world salvation, now as ever before, by virtue of Your eternal life. The more we think about it, the more grateful we feel for Your parental love and care. We would like to express our gratitude to You, as we celebrate Your birthday on this good day.”
“Since this year is the year of Your anniversary,” he continued, “we Service performers as well as church head ministers and Yoboku are trying to bring You joy by returning here to Jiba to show You the fruits of the efforts we made during the past ‘three years, one thousand days’ season so that You may grant us the blessings whereby we can advance the path of salvation in high spirits.” He ended the prayer with the words, “Please take care of all of us who return here, yearning for You, our Parent, and continue to guide us so that we can follow the path of spiritual growth in high spirits.”
Immediately following the Service, a musical event called “Joyous Chorus” was conducted in the Inner Courtyard, where thousands of followers joined in singing a number of songs, including “Oyasama’s Birthday Celebration Song,” to the accompaniment of music provided by students from Tenrikyo high schools.