The 22nd Young Women’s Convention was conducted in the East Worship Hall on Nov. 3 under the sponsorship of Tenrikyo Women’s Association. The Women’s Association holds this convention once every three years for members who are between the ages of 16 and 25. This was the first convention presided over by the new president of the Women’s Association, Mrs. Harue Nakayama, who was installed on Oct. 10 to replace the former president, Mrs. Masa Nakayama, who had passed away in August. Responding to the convention slogan, “Let’s Return to Jiba, the Home of the Parent,” more than 18,000 young women came to Jiba to attend the convention.
Rain began falling during the morning service on that day, and before long it was pouring. That made it necessary to hold the convention inside the East Worship Hall rather than outdoors in the Inner Courtyard as was originally planned. Though the convention has been held 22 times, this was the first time that it had to be conducted indoors. After the East Worship Hall filled up, participants began to seat themselves in the North Worship Hall and West Worship Hall as well.
Shortly after 10:00 a.m., when fireworks signaled the start of the convention, Women’s Association President Harue Nakayama escorted the Shinbashira and the former Shinbashira into the convention site, where they were welcomed by a thunderous round of applause. After a moment of worship and some opening remarks, President Harue Nakayama took the podium to deliver her address. Referring to the association’s slogan for spiritual maturity, “Let’s follow the Divine Model and become the foundation for the Joyous Life,” she told the young women: “Oyasama taught us that we can lead the Joyous Life under any circumstances, however difficult they may be, depending solely upon how we handle the mind. She also taught us the path to make repayment for God the Parent’s blessings as well as the way of thinking and acting that brings joy to God the Parent. I believe that learning these and implementing them in our lives is what is meant by ‘following the Divine Model.’”
President Nakayama then reminded the listeners of the three activity guidelines for young women: l) Let’s visit our churches to worship; 2) Let’s do hinokishin; and 3) Let’s spread the teachings. She added, “We can implement these three guidelines naturally so long as we maintain our gratitude for God the Parent’s boundless blessings given to us day after day, as well as our sense of joy for being able to live as we do.” In regard to the third guideline, she said: “As for spreading the teachings, we tend to find this task to be impossible to do every day if we get caught up in tangible appearances. Yet, I believe that there are a variety of ways to spread the teachings. . . . For example, you can always share a smile and say hello and, as Oyasama always did, say some kind, loving words to people. And if your spirit of helping others and your high-spirited hinokishin manage to make people around you feel that there is something special about followers of the path and that this teaching must be a good teaching, then you will have sprinkled a good fragrance, which may take the form of radiance, loving-kindness, and warmth.”
President Nakayama went on to say that spiritual growth is the process of deepening one’s faith day by day, but cautioned the listeners that spiritual growth could be attained not through doing things just because one is told to do them, but through taking the initiative to get them done. She then closed her address by requesting that the young women take the initiative to implement the three guidelines in their daily lives, study the teachings and strive to become the sort of people who have the radiance and warmth that emit an attractive fragrance, and thereby make continued efforts to deepen their faith.
The Shinbashira then delivered his address to the young women. He began by saying: “I need hardly remind you that God the Parent intends to have us human beings savor the Joyous Life while still alive in this world. Oyasama thus became the Shrine of Tsukihi in full accord with God the Parent’s intention, taught us the Parent of Origin, and sought to reconstruct this very world as the world of the Joyous Life so desired by God the Parent. To accomplish this, She bestowed the truth of the Sazuke to save people suffering from illness as well as to relieve their anxieties, and She taught the Service to settle conflict and strife as well as ensure good harvests. Not only that, She showed by Her own example how to follow this path, thereby demonstrating the Divine Model. She then asked us to follow the path of the Divine Model with simple openness, that is, without entertaining any doubts, as well as with real honesty, which is to say, She wishes us to follow the Divine Model exactly as it was taught.”
The Shinbashira went on to say that the Joyous Life is a way of living that flows from the mind that finds joy and delight in whatever we hear and that responds positively to whatever we see. It flows, he said, from our loving-kindness that is always brimming with warmth. “The Joyous Life World,” he continued, “is a world of harmony and mutual delight and friendliness. It is the harmonious atmosphere that is found in a gathering of people whose minds are peaceful and friendly .”
With regard to interpersonal relationships, he told the young women: “We are all too familiar with the feelings that result from misunderstanding remarks others have made and the feelings we feel when our actions are misunderstood by others. What can we do to replace those feelings with the feeling of joyousness that accords perfectly with Oyasama’s teachings? I would suggest that you visit a church.” He went on to explain that churches are places to learn how to lead the Joyous Life, places that reflect the way we are, and places where we can learn how to settle our mind and how to act.
The Shinbashira then said: “We can acquire the skill to lead the Joyous Life depending solely upon the state of our mind, and that will enable us to spend the rest of our lives with perfect delight. As you learn how to lead the Joyous Life through overcoming one difficulty after another and getting over one doubt after another, you can also make the truth of the teachings self-apparent to those who have yet to know the path. When this occurs, you will have sprinkled the fragrance of the teachings. So you see, spreading the fragrance of the teachings is not restricted to the act of walking around passing out pamphlets. What is important is to make the path known to others through the fragrance you emit.”
Focusing on challenges facing young women in today’s world, he said: “Contrary to the way things used to be, it is now taken for granted that women have the option of going out and getting a job in society. Even among people who were born and raised in churches, therefore, I imagine that many feel that they are able to fulfill their duties by simply making monetary donations out of their salaries. I don’t mean to criticize that. What is worrying, however, is that the resolve to keep connected with and dedicate oneself to the churches may weaken, and the effort to bring oneself into accord with Oyasama’s teaching may slacken, and before one notices it, one might stray from the path as well as from one’s church.”
The Shinbashira then shared his thoughts regarding Oyasama’s daughter Kokan, whom the young women of the path have long been looking upon as their exemplary model. “The way Kokan trusted Oyasama’s words with simple openness and made an honest effort to stay faithful to Her words,” he said, “is indeed a model for you young women of the path to emulate. . . . Being the first one to go out to spread the teachings was not Kokan’s only accomplishment. She trusted in Oyasama, relied on Her, and carried out everything Oyasama told her under whatever difficult circumstances she was in. She also did not stray away from the path just because she was not happy with the way things were going. These are the things we need to pay more attention to.”
The Shinbashira closed his address by saying: “Besides visiting your churches and doing hinokishin, I hope you will thoroughly study the foundation of the teachings and implement it in your lives, as well as acquire the skill to lead the Joyous Life, so that you may sprinkle the fragrance of the path of joy and harmony and impart to people troubled by anxieties and sufferings this marvelous path that enables them to find joy. I hope you will thereby spiritedly follow the joyous path of single-hearted salvation, bringing your youthful energy and vitality into the path. And I hope you will transmit the joy of following the path to those who will follow in your footsteps.”
Member representatives then made a pledge on behalf of all the young women belonging to the association. To bring the convention to a close, the participants joined together in singing Suteki na anata ni.
On that afternoon, from 1:00 to 3:00, commemorative events for the young women were conducted in Tenri University Gym #1. Entertainment included a performance by Oyasato High School’s Japanese drum team and baton twirling club as well as dances performed by members of Tenri High School’s baton twirling club and by a troupe of young women members.
This was followed by two faith experience speeches delivered by young women members: Yumi Nakai from the Nakashiro Chapter and Yumiko Hirosawa from the Honriyo Chapter.
Honbu-in Motoo Matsuda then delivered the commemorative lecture. Drawing upon his experiences in receiving blessings for physical ailments, he emphasized that “what is important in faith is not how much we know about the teachings, but rather how well we are able to implement what we know.”