On March 28, Tenrikyo Students Association, with the support of the Student Advisory Committee, held its annual convention, “Students’ Spring Pilgrimage to Jiba,” on the theme “Let’s return to Jiba with friends, brimming over with joy.” Over 4,700 high school, junior college, and university students gathered in the Inner Courtyard of Church Headquarters to attend the convention, which was honored by the presence of the Shinbashira and his wife.
After the participants sang the Yorozuyo, Tomoyuki Takamura, chairman of Tenrikyo Students Association, spoke to the students, saying: “All of us have been drawn here today through the intention of God the Parent. Although still immature, let us students walk the path together while bearing in mind the words of the Shinbashira, which we are about to listen to, and maintaining the joy we shared in our hearts today.”
The Shinbashira then took the podium to deliver an address. He cited school regulations as an example familiar to students to illustrate his point: “There is a tendency for us to regard school regulations and the law as a nuisance when they do not suit us. In fact, however, they often protect us. Even if you feel them to be unreasonable, you would do well to ponder why such regulations came into being and act accordingly before passing judgment on them.” He also pointed out: “It would be selfish for you not to follow rules when they are against your wishes, while insisting on your right to receive benefits provided for by the rules. I cannot help but think that in our present society there is a prevalent tendency to think that ‘all is well if the present is well for oneself alone.'” The Shinbashira went on to say: “To be faithful to the teachings of the path is one prerequisite for becoming a good Yoboku. The path gives us no formal rules to observe in our daily lives. To be faithful to the teachings signifies that one puts into actual practice what Oyasama taught. What is important in following in the footsteps of Oyasama is not merely to try to imitate Her deeds, but rather to ponder Her mind behind them.” The Shinbashira concluded his address by saying: “God the Parent and Oyasama are longing for our spiritual growth. I would like you to be honest and straightforward in being faithful to the teachings and strive to attain spiritual growth by making the best use of your youth so that you may become people who accord with the divine will.”
After listening to presentations made by two members, the participants joined in reciting the association’s Three Pledges for Spiritual Growth: “Let us thank God the Parent for being kept alive,” “Let us convey the wonderfulness of the teachings to others,” and “Let us take it upon ourselves to visit our churches.”
Then, Yoshihiro Harada, appointed to serve as chairman for the next term, expressed his resolution, saying: “What a joy it is to have been able to return to the Home of the Parent with my friends, and what great hopes for tomorrow this experience has given me! Drawing on these gifts from God the Parent for my strength, I will do my best for the path together with my friends, making a new start today.”
Following the convention, 638 students, including 170 first-timers, attended the Besseki lectures, and the rest participated in activities organized by their directly supervised churches. After the evening service, the “Spring Festival” was held on both sides of the South Gate. The participants enjoyed food and drinks served at 80 booths as well as a variety of entertainment provided on stages.