The first session of the Seminar for Successors was held between August 28 and 30, drawing 994 participants from various regions across Japan. The seminar is designed for successors of the path who are between the ages of 20 and 40. The organizers are especially encouraging the attendance of all children of head ministers and those children’s spouses as well as current head ministers and their spouses who fall into the specified age bracket. The seminar seeks to provide opportunities for participants to learn the basics of the teachings, discuss various topics with their peers, and heighten their self-awareness of being successors of the path during this season in which the entire Tenrikyo community is heading toward the next milestone after having commemorated the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama last year. Tenrikyo Church Headquarters is scheduled to sponsor a total of 30 sessions of the Seminar for Successors in Jiba through April 2008.
Prayer Service Before the Start of the Seminar
On August 25, the Shinbashira led a prayer service in the Main Sanctuary, which was attended by the lecturers and staff members for the Seminar for Successors. Following the prayer service, the Shinbashira gave a talk, in which he explained that, while it is common to use the term “successors” in a limited sense that refers only to people who are to become head ministers in the future, this seminar is using the term in a broader sense that refers to “people who have embraced faith in the path.” He also stated that it was necessary for everyone to follow the path with conviction so that we will continue to receive the blessings that will allow this path to continue for endless generations.
The Shinbashira further explained that while the seminar targets a specific age bracket, it is not meant to imply that the term “successors of the path” only applies to people within that age bracket, or that there is some specific age when one stops being a successor of the path and starts taking on the role of passing the faith down to the next generation. He then mentioned that the number of participants in this seminar was expected to exceed the number who participated in the previous Seminar for Successors, which was held 10 years ago. Suggesting that this might reflect an increasing awareness of the significance of participating in the seminar, he said that it also entailed a greater responsibility in ensuring that the seminar would be a success.
Content of the Seminar for Successors
The Seminar for Successors began at 11:00 A.M. on August 28 with a performance of the seated service in the East Worship Hall. Director-in-Chief of Religious Affairs Zentaro Tanaka greeted the participants and gave them pointers on the frame of mind they should embrace to make the seminar a valuable experience. After being divided into 34 groups, participants listened to “Lecture One: God the Parent’s Providence” in classrooms in the east wings of the Oyasato-yakata building-complex. A discussion on the same topic followed. Although nervous at first, participants gradually opened up and earnestly exchanged their thoughts.
On the morning of the second day, the 29th, participants attended “Lecture Two: The Parental Heart of Single-hearted Salvation,” which presented the 50-year path of Oyasama’s Divine Model and touched upon how She continues to guide us through Her everliving presence and parental love. This was followed by a tour of the historical buildings, such as the Place for the Service, located behind the Foundress’ Sanctuary.
The afternoon program began with a video entitled “Guided by Oyasama: Part 1,” which showed the efforts of our predecessors, who followed in the steps of Oyasama. A second discussion was conducted between the video and “Lecture Three: The Path to Spiritual Maturity,” which was delivered by Honbu-in Seitaro Yamada in Dining Hall 3. Rev. Yamada shared his own experiences while speaking on the importance of the service and the effort to pray for others by administering the Sazuke.
The third and final day of the seminar began with the video “Guided by Oyasama: Part 2,” in which followers in the same age bracket as the participants told how they had managed to implement the teachings in their own lives. After another discussion period, the Shinbashira gave an address in the Foundress’ Hall. The Shinbashira spoke on the necessity of sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and engaging in salvation work. He then expressed his hope that the participants would incorporate what they gained through this seminar and make daily efforts to straightforwardly and steadily walk the path of the Joyous Life that Oyasama paved. The seminar came to a close with a thanksgiving service in the East Worship Hall, in which all the participants pledged their resolve to continue their efforts to attain spiritual maturity.