The final Monthly Service for the year 2000 was performed on December 26 in the Main Sanctuary of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. The Service commenced with the Shinbashira’s prayer, in which he stated: “We designated this year as a ‘year for implementation’ and thus joined together in making a decisive effort to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and expand our salvation activities.” Citing the Women’s Association’s 90th anniversary and Tenri Seminary’s 100th anniversary as major events observed during the outgoing year, the Shinbashira said that we had taken advantage of these occasions to return our thoughts to the origin as well as to pledge that we would take action and make progress with renewed minds. “On the other hand,” continued the Shinbashira, “this year was also a year in which we received stern guidance through the unexpected incident involving the Kanrodai on June 26. Reawakened to Your deep parental love that hastens for our spiritual growth and reflecting deeply on the way we had been conducting ourselves, we replaced the Kanrodai in July and solidified our commitment to respond to Your intention.” To close the prayer, the Shinbashira expressed our resolution for the new year, saying: “All of us, head ministers and Yoboku alike, reflected upon the steps we took during this year, and we are now fully prepared to meet the new year by radiating the light of sincerity with added intensity so that the decisive action we take will bring sure progress.”
The Home of the Parent was exceptionally cold from early morning on that day, with the minimum temperature reaching as low as 0.7°C. Despite the chilly winds sweeping through the precincts, the followers who had assembled from all parts of Japan as well as from overseas enthusiastically joined together in singing the songs that accompany the performance of the Kagura and the Dance with Hand Movements.
The sermon was then delivered by Honbu-in Yoshitaro Ueda, who began by reminding the congregation why the year 2000 had been designated as a “year for implementation.” He explained that, in 1998, the Shinbashira had announced Instruction One and, in the following year, 1999, the “District Lectures for Yoboku: Action and Progress” had been held to impart the spirit of that Instruction to each and every Yoboku. Consequently, he said, the year 2000 had been designated as a year to implement the spirit of Instruction One, which we had all taken to heart during the previous year.
To explain what the spirit of Instruction One is, Rev. Ueda said: “The true intention in founding this Teaching is to save all people in the world without exception, and what is thus expected of everyone who has taken that intention to heart is, first and foremost, to attain the ‘mind to save others’ and to implement ‘actions to save others.’ ” He added: “In the latter part of Instruction One, we are strongly urged to take courage in conveying God’s intention to people in the world, where the growing tendency to think that ‘all is well if the present is well for oneself alone’ has left people with no dependable guide.”
Next, Rev. Ueda examined the meaning of the terms “saving others” and “being saved.” “In this path,” he said, “saving others is not simply a matter of delivering people from external or physical circumstances that are undesirable or that bring them anxiety and suffering. Such tangible forms of salvation only serve as catalysts for releasing people from undesirable states of mind or other intangible circumstances that are undesirable, such as forces of causality that have been transmitted through generations or from previous lives.” He went on to explain that, according to the teachings of Tenrikyo, “saving others” is ultimately focused not so much on releasing people from an undesirable state as on guiding people toward a desirable mind state. “A desirable state of mind,” he continued, “is one that exhibits qualities of kindness, moderation, humility, generosity, and the like. Foremost among such desirable states of mind is the ‘mind to save others.’ Consequently, any effort to guide people to attain the ‘mind to save others’ is genuinely an act that results in salvation. To be able to accomplish this requires us to settle the truth of the teachings in our own heart.”
Continuing with this line of thought, Rev. Ueda pointed out: “If we ponder over the miracles of salvation, we will realize that even the most miraculous healing amounts to no more than restoring the body to its previous, natural condition. I mean, it is not as if one is suddenly going to fly. Understanding this is important, because it gives us a profound appreciation for the complete and perfect providence that we are normally blessed with and enables us to live each day of our lives with gratitude and joy.” Rev. Ueda closed his sermon by saying: “In order to bring ourselves into accord with God’s intention, let us fully rejoice over the providence we receive day after day and give expression to that joy by devoting ourselves to saving others.”