The June Monthly Service was performed in the Main Sanctuary of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters on the morning of the 26th. The Service began with the Shinbashira’s prayer in which he offered heartfelt thanks for the boundless providence through which God the Parent became openly revealed in the world in order to teach the true path that would bring a settling to the world and lead humanity to the Joyous Life. He then said: “Having designated this year as the year of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, all of us Yoboku, including the church head ministers, are endeavoring each day to ensure a lively atmosphere in the Home of the Parent throughout the year by building on the work we did over the three-year pre-anniversary period. This endeavor includes the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba, which will begin in late July. We are making an effort to be blessed with many more participants in the pilgrimage than ever before as befits this anniversary year. I ask that You guide us through this effort, as well.”
The Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements were then joyously performed while the congregation spiritedly joined in singing the songs that accompany the Service.
Following the Service performance, Honbu-in Motoyoshi Tomimatsu delivered the sermon. Recounting several stories contained in Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo, he drew the congregation’s attention to the attitude Oyasama demonstrated while saving others. “In that attitude,” he maintained, “we can find the prerequisite for being successful in our salvation work. When we set about helping others be saved, our first concern must be to understand their sufferings and sorrows, and their pains and anxieties. Without that, we cannot really be effective in our salvation work. Only when we have tried to understand their sufferings and sorrows will they open their hearts to us and be courageous in taking a decisive step forward. Showing understanding for people’s troubles often serves as a catalyst in getting them to take that first step toward their spiritual rebirth. That is because it enables us to establish a firm relationship built on trust.”
Regarding how one should go about understanding other people’s sufferings and sorrows, he explained: “If you don’t know how people feel, get them to tell you about it. And be sure to hear them out till the end. When you listen to people talk, you might find yourself wanting to disagree with some points or wanting to set them straight on something, but I would suggest that you show restraint and let them finish. You should also be prepared to accept whatever they are saying, without judging it.
“Next, you need to focus on praying for their salvation,” he advised. “Focus on it day after day, and pray with all your might. When you have done that, an inspiration–which may be regarded as divine–will spontaneously arise in your mind. When you get this inspiration, you will know what to do. If an inspiration is not forthcoming, your desire to have the person be saved is probably not strong enough. And when you get an inspiration, you must be sure to let go of all human thoughts and worries. It is also necessary to commit yourself to going the whole distance with them, without giving up in the middle.”
Honbu-in Tomimatsu went on to say: “Salvation work is, I believe, something that anyone can do. All it requires is to listen carefully to what is troubling people and to commit ourselves to go through it together with them. The rest will be done by God the Parent, who–out of the profound divine intention and deep parental love–will assuredly provide the blessings that will make us glad and grateful and guide us to the Joyous Life. Showing kindness and gentleness when interacting with other people’s minds can be seen as the fundamental stance of mind that should be embraced by everyone doing salvation work. Oyasama makes a point of teaching this in Her Divine Model.
“In order to understand people’s sufferings and sorrows–the prerequisite for saving others–those of us engaging in salvation work must have receptive minds. We must be particularly sensitive to people’s agonies. We must be constantly interested in people’s minds, not just in their social positions and backgrounds, or their words and actions. That is the quality of kindness and gentleness that comes from caring about others. Oyasama said: ‘Become a person with a gentle heart. Save other people. Change your habits and temperament.’ With these words, She teaches us the basic stance of mind for all who engage in salvation work.”
Referring to the air of liveliness that is being maintained at Jiba every day during this year of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, he commented: “Let us respond to Oyasama’s love by stepping up our efforts and devoting ourselves sincerely to sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and engaging in salvation work and thereby ensure that as many people as possible will return to Jiba, the Home of the Parent and the home of all humanity. Although great numbers of people will be making pilgrimages to Jiba this year, let us try to make each and every pilgrimage a meaningful and rewarding experience for its participants. ” He suggested that each church give thought to what sort of pilgrimage will bring joy to Oyasama and then be creative in finding ways to implement it.
Before concluding the sermon, Honbu-in Tomimatsu referred to the Children’s Pilgrimage to be held between July 26 and August 5. “For this year’s ‘Oyasama 120th Anniversary Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba,'” he said, “we have set our sights on having 100,000 more participants than we had last year. The Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba is a time for sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and an arena for salvation work. I hope that all head ministers and Yoboku will go out to invite more and more children to participate in the pilgrimage, while looking forward to the day when those children become promising Yoboku.”