Tenrikyo Women’s Association held its 89th convention in the Inner Courtyard of Church Headquarters on April 19, the day following the Oyasama Birth Celebration Service. The convention was attended by more than 46,000 members, including many from overseas, who pledged to take a new step in their spiritual growth during the three years leading up to the association’s 100th anniversary.
When the registration desks opened at 8:00 A.M., there were already long lines of members waiting to enter the venue. They soon filled the 8,980 benches that had been set up in the Inner Courtyard as well as in the areas in front of the South, East, and West Worship Halls.
At 9:30 A.M., Women’s Association President Harue Nakayama escorted the Shinbashira and the former Shinbashira as well as other distinguished guests into the Inner Courtyard to the accompaniment of music provided by Tenri High School’s brass band and a girls choir. The guests were warmly welcomed with a round of applause as they ascended the steps to take their seats on the stage.
After a moment of worship and opening remarks, the participants joined together in singing the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo. This was followed by a pledge given by a new member and a progress report delivered by a committee member.
President Nakayama then addressed the members. Reminding them that the Women’s Association would be marking its 100th anniversary in the year 2010, she announced that the convention that year would be called the “100th Anniversary Convention.” She encouraged the members to prepare themselves to meet that significant juncture by returning their thoughts to the association’s origin and thereby attaining a thorough understanding of the purposes, goals, and tasks that God the Parent envisioned for the Women’s Association. She drove the point home by citing the Divine Direction concerning the purpose for establishing the association and explained: “We must all discuss and help one another understand–in the light of Oyasama’s Divine Model–how we can bring our minds into accord with God the Parent’s intention as well as grow spiritually into Yoboku whom Oyasama can use as Her instruments.”
Touching on the association’s history, President Nakayama explained that the members had managed to go through every situation, however difficult, by maintaining a spirit of single-heartedness with God and by strictly adhering to the purposes for which the association had been established. She then asked the members to embrace that same spirit of single-heartedness with God so they could pass it down to the next generation. Emphasizing the need for the members to serve as the foundation for their families and churches, she closed her address by saying: “As for the next three years leading up to our association’s 100th anniversary, I want you to start off this year by inquiring into the ‘day of origin’ of your church and your family so that you can find out what sort of resolutions your predecessors and forebears made when they encountered knots and how they used their minds to get through those knots. Based on what you learn from that endeavor, please give some thought to what is involved in following the path of spiritual growth.”
The Shinbashira then delivered his address, in which he gave the members several pointers on how they, as people who are seeking the Joyous Life, ought to conduct their daily lives. He began by saying: “It is my conviction that whether or not we can make our daily lives enjoyable depends entirely on how we handle our mind. By that, I mean that whether or not our thoughts and actions are in accordance with Oyasama’s intention determines whether we can find joy and happiness in our lives.” The Shinbashira added: “No action that we perform based on our misuse of the mind will bring satisfaction to Oyasama, even if such an action receives much praise from others. If we are to bring our actions into accord with Oyasama’s intention, we must first notice that we have deviated from God’s intention in giving us the freedom of mind.” To explain the sort of thinking that is conducive to settling the mind, he told the listeners, “The important thing, I believe, is to correct whatever needs to be corrected about our way of thinking by asking ourselves what Oyasama would do in any given situation.”
With respect to the Service, the Shinbashira explained: “Even if we resolve to put our hearts into performing the Service–which is so important as to have been described as the means of universal salvation–our Service performance is not likely to call forth the blessings that we seek unless we understand the meaning of the Service and the key aspects of performing the Service and unless we appreciate and internalize the core of Oyasama’s parental love in teaching us the Service. Above all, we need to make a point of settling our mind in accordance with Oyasama’s intention–that is, we need to make sure that our thoughts and actions are grounded in the spirit of single-heartedness with God.” Regarding the means to cultivate the spirit of single-heartedness with God, he suggested: “One thing we can do, I believe, is to engage in self-reflection each day and try to see whatever is shown on our body as representing Oyasama’s guidance.” He then stressed the importance of using the Divine Model and the Ofudesaki as dependable guides for attaining spiritual growth and reminded the listeners that correctly using the freedom of mind given by God is the key to building the world of the Joyous Life.
Referring to the teaching concerning respecting and helping one another and the principle of unity of mind that is vital to the performance of the Kagura Service, the Shinbashira explained what it means to live in harmony. Maintaining that the ultimate cause of disharmony among humans could be found in our misunderstanding of God’s parental love in giving us the freedom of mind, he said: “Unfortunately, our misunderstanding of how to use this freedom of mind has resulted in our failure to use our mind in ways conducive to the Joyous Life. . . . Thus, we may say that what is hindering the Joyous Life is our misuse of the freedom of mind that was given to us specifically to enable us to find joy.”
In regard to Anecdotes of Oyasama, he said, “[T]his book repeatedly demonstrates that our way of engaging in salvation work, following this path, and pondering over things in the course of daily life should give priority to Oyasama’s thoughts, which provide the most reliable guidance for us. . . . Indeed, we ought to realize that Oyasama evolves Her way of guiding people as appropriate for their progress in spiritual growth.”
The Shinbashira closed his address by saying: “When we try to teach people how to overcome their illness or other problems, the key to receiving the blessing that is sought depends entirely on our state of mind and the words we use to convey the teachings. Please bear this point in mind and live each day fully, so you will have no regrets later as you head toward the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Association.”
Following the Shinbashira’s address, Heian Chapter Chairwoman Rikako Matsuo presented a pledge on behalf of all association members. The participants then joined together in singing the Women’s Association Anthem.
Following the convention, commemorative lectures were held at five venues, including Tenri City Auditorium, drawing a total of 10,980 participants. The theme for the lectures was “In anticipation of our association’s 100th anniversary, let’s inquire into the origin and become the foundation for our families and churches.” The lecture delivered by Chuki Chapter Chairwoman Hatsuno Hatabayashi in the auditorium of South Right Wing 1 was simultaneously interpreted into English, Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, and French for the benefit of overseas members.