The 77th Young Men’s Association Convention took place on October 27 in the Inner Courtyard of Church Headquarters, drawing some 18,000 members from both within Japan and overseas. The Shinbashira addressed the convention in his capacity as president of the Young Men’s Association. He spoke about the attitude appropriate for the members’ life of faith and instructed them to implement the teachings with a high-spirited mind, enthusiasm, and vigor.
The convention commenced with an act of worship shortly after 10:00 a.m. The opening declaration was then made, followed by the hoisting of the association’s flag and the singing by all participants of the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo.
Association Chairman Yoshiji Matsumura then presented his progress report, saying that the association had been working to get as many people involved in the association’s activities as possible so as to serve as a driving force behind Tenrikyo’s endeavors for world salvation. Thus this association, he said, had once again promoted the activity guidelines “Advancing Missionary Activities and Increasing Active Members.”
The Shinbashira then delivered his address. He first explained the role of Arakitoryo, pioneers of the path, which this association’s members consider themselves to be. He said: “Arakitoryo are pioneers in constructing the Joyous Life World, pioneers who go out to open up new pathways in yet unpioneered regions. That is to say, these pioneers are prepared to do everything in their power to make this path accessible to the many people who are yet unaware of it.” In addition, he emphasized the importance of the effort to make one’s own spiritual growth and to sow seeds of sincerity, saying: “Arakitoryo are also to go inward to work with their own mind. . . . It is important to advance both the efforts to go outward and to go inward at the same time.”
The Shinbashira then encouraged the members to take advantage of their youthful vitality, saying: “Rather than go outwards only after you have gained experience and knowledge, you can obtain experience through going outward. . . . Your true worth as Arakitoryo is, in fact, being able to carry out your undertakings with the vigor and vitality not found in older people and without being overly concerned about the outcome.” He noted that in present-day society, where material abundance enables people to acquire anything so long as they have money, there are people who, though appearing to be happy, actually feel very insecure and have little strength of mind. “We must direct our salvation activities toward those people,” he said. “This, I believe, represents part of the difficulty that we encounter in spreading the teachings in this day and age we live in.”
He went on to speak about the meaning of salvation. “God the Parent is constantly watching over us and nurturing us so that we might grow spiritually,” he said. “Whether or not we are able to grasp that parental heart depends upon whether we can feel and accept the blessings as the blessings they are.”
With reference to hinokishin, he said: “We ought to straightforwardly find joy in the workings of God the Parent and express our gratitude for them. Furthermore, we should make repayment for them. That is hinokishin.” He said that in this sense the efforts to spread the teachings and save others are also hinokishin. “In fact,” he said, “I even think these efforts are the hinokishin that brings the greatest joy to God the Parent.” He then told his listeners that though tangible hinokishin activities are no doubt important, what is essential is to always maintain the spirit of hinokishin during the course of daily life.
The Shinbashira also asked the members to stay focused on Oyasama’s Divine Model, which, he said, teaches that difficulties we encounter ought to be seen as opportunities for us to work toward true salvation. “Consequently,” he said, “we ought to meet everything squarely, make repeated efforts to ponder it in light of the Parent’s teachings, and discuss it with others over and over again.”
Describing the role of Yoboku as conveying this teaching to all people throughout the world, he told his listeners: “I want all of you, as pioneers among the Yoboku, to take the lead at the forefront of the work, exerting your full measure of energy. Taking advantage of your vigor and high-spiritedness, I want you to pioneer one new region after another …. I want you to advance as befits your role as Arakitoryo, putting aside your hesitation and all your worries about what has yet to occur.”
In response to the Shinbashira’s address, Ohara Chapter Chairman Chiharu Nakabayashi made a pledge on behalf of all the members. He stated, “We are determined to promote missionary activities ever more energetically with as many members as possible, sow the seeds of sincerity to receive God’s blessings in this season, and work hard together to make headway along the path of spiritual growth so that we young men may serve the path with zestful enthusiasm.”
The convention-eve festivities held in the areas on both sides of the South Gate following the evening service on October 26 included 53 food booths as well as a variety of entertainment provided on stages.