The Oyasama Birth Celebration Service was conducted at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters on April 18 to commemorate the 204th birthday of the everliving Oyasama, our beloved Parent who guides us toward the Joyous Life for all humankind. Great numbers of followers, including many from overseas, returned to the Home of the Parent to celebrate this festive occasion.
At 10:00 a.m., the Shinbashira, accompanied by the other Service performers, arrived in the South Worship Hall after having paid respects to Oyasama in the Foundress’ Sanctuary. The Shinbashira then ascended the dais to deliver the prayer. After expressing our gratitude for the blessings God the Parent showers upon us, the Shinbashira pledged our commitment to follow the path of spiritual growth by correcting our use of mind to accord with the ultimate teaching and by receiving the guidance of the everliving Oyasama, who is working now as ever. The Shinbashira went on to say: “In contemplation and adoration of Her precious path of the Divine Model, we are able to strengthen our determination to overcome all difficulties and strive along the path in single-heartedness with God. Please guide and protect us as ever before so that we may help people in every corner of the world awaken to the profound blessings and the warm love of the Parent, sweep away dust from their minds, strengthen harmony among people, and join together in constructing the Joyous Life World.”
Following the performance of the Kagura Service around the model Kanrodai in the Inner Sanctuary, the Shinbashira and the former Shinbashira proceeded to the Foundress’ Sanctuary to serve Oyasama Her meal. In the meantime, the Teodori, the Dance with Hand Movements, was joyously performed in the Main Sanctuary.
The sermon was then delivered by Honbu-in Tadaaki Yamanaka. After summarizing the 90-years of Oyasama’s physical life, he emphasized that Oyasama is everliving and continues to provide us with Her workings through the Service and the Sazuke. He said: “As people who administer the Sazuke and devote themselves to saving others, we must always remember that we accompany the everliving Oyasama. In other words, we serve as Her instruments in administering the Sazuke to others, but it is the everliving Oyasama who saves them. . . . In our role as Yoboku who have received the truth of the Sazuke, Oyasama enters into us, and through us She is able to hurry about the world to perform Her workings. Therefore, to enable the Parent to enter into us, we must keep our minds clear and pure as well as bright and spirited, and then, when we administer the Sazuke, that true sincerity of our mind will be returned to us in the blessings we seek. The Ofudesaki teaches this in the words: ‘If only the mind is purified completely, there will be nothing but delight in everything.'”
Honbu-in Yamanaka went on to say: “Thus we Yoboku, who are in a position to administer the Sazuke, ought to exercise moderation in both the body and the mind in our daily life so as not to accumulate dust of the mind. We should also remember to sweep away whatever dust we may collect as we proceed through each day.” Regarding the Sazuke, he also said: “It has been said that the Sazuke is able to trigger the transformation or replacement of the mind. Even if no miracle were to occur, some improvement in people’s conditions could help them feel the truth of the blessings being provided according to the mind, thereby serving to change the orientation of their mind. Indeed, this path recommends us to strive for the salvation of the mind rather than wishing for a miracle.”
He concluded his sermon by saying: “All of us Yoboku ought to familiarize ourselves ever further with administering the Sazuke, as well as rely on it more thoroughly. Working to spread the teachings in that manner will, I believe, enable us to lay the groundwork for our spiritual construction as we prepare ourselves for the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama.”
Thereupon, the Shinbashira, accompanied by the former Shinbashira and the other Service performers, returned to the Foundress’ Sanctuary, where he read a prayer to the everliving Oyasama. In the prayer, he said: “Due to the causality of Your soul, You were settled as the Shine of Tsukihi. Since then, over the long period of fifty years, You revealed the intention of God the Parent by Your spoken words and by Your writing brush. As the Parent of the Divine Model, You kept Your mind filled with brightness in whatever course of life You went through and taught us the path to the Joyous Life. Furthermore, out of the parental love to hasten the spiritual growth of Your children, You opened the portals of the Shrine and stepped out to level the ground throughout the world. Since then, You have worked as ever before by virtue of Your eternal life. We are truly grateful for Your loving care. We therefore express our most sincere gratitude to You in addition to extending words of celebration for Your birthday.” The Shinbashira ended the prayer with the words: “The world at present is unsettled, and people often have no access to any dependable guide for the mind. By giving thought to the happiness of being able to walk the secure and true path and by keeping in mind the joy of being used as Oyasama’s instruments, all of us will redouble our efforts to bring about world salvation. Please guide us with Your unchanging, warm parental love so that we may follow the path of spiritual growth in accordance with the divine intention.”
Immediately following the Service, a musical event called “Joyous Chorus” was conducted in the Inner Courtyard, where thousands of followers joined in singing a number of songs, including “O-uta 12: Path of the Divine Model” and “Oyasama’s Birthday Celebration Song,” to the accompaniment of the orchestras of Tenri High School and Tenrikyo Institute of Music.