Tenrikyo Church Headquarters sponsored the University Division of the Students Spiritual Development Course from March 3 through 9 at the Home of the Parent so that young people could take advantage of their spring vacation to deepen their understanding of Tenrikyo and share the joy of faith with one another. This year, a record high of 406 university, junior college, and technical school students assembled from various parts of Japan to participate in this annual course. The participants were divided into 40 groups consisting of about ten students each to conduct group work, the most distinctive feature of the course. Each group was attended by two counselors, a male and a female, who had been trained for this course.
From the second day on, the students attended lectures, conducted group work, and practiced the dance and musical instruments for the service. In addition to the required lectures on the Joyous Life and world salvation, elective lectures were offered on Oyasama; the truth of a thing lent, a thing borrowed; the eight dusts of the mind; and God the Parent’s providence. On March 5, group discussion on “faith and society” was conducted based on a videotaped interview with a member of the National Diet.
On March 7, the students left for Osaka and Kyoto by train to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings, which was the main event for the entire course. In Osaka ten groups walked to Mitsu Grand Church and 15 to Senba Grand Church, while five groups walked to Oe Grand Church, which was newly arranged due to the increase of participants this year. In Kyoto ten groups walked to Keijo Grand Church. All these groups sang the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo while walking to their respective destinations. After lunch, they delivered roadside speeches to passers-by. They engaged in missionary work spiritedly for about two hours before returning to Jiba.
Mr. Michihiro Harada, a freshman at Kurashiki Sakuyo University, said, “Today I administered the Sazuke, the Divine Grant, to a complete stranger for the first time. I just did it with a fervent prayer that she might be saved.” After administering the Sazuke, he helped her go to a taxi stand.
On March 8, faith experience speeches were delivered by 16 participants at two sites, where each audience listened attentively to eight touching speeches. Ms. Mizuki Morikawa, a junior at Josai School of Medical Technology, said, “My life has totally changed since I came to know Tenrikyo two years ago.” She explained how she had gradually overcome her morbid fear of meeting people since she began to go to a church for advice and learn the teachings of Tenrikyo. She also shared with the audience her experience in this course. When she was worried about how to cope with the members of her group, the female counselor said, “You don’t have to do anything special when you’re with us. Just be yourself!” She felt that she finally found her place in her group. She concluded her speech by saying, “I made up my mind to help people who suffer from anguish like me by sharing my experience.”
During the closing ceremony, Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi delivered an address in which he asked the students to take what was taught by Oyasama as their guiding principle.