Settling the Mind to Respond to the Divine Intention
Now I would like to elaborate on the idea of setting a common goal in relation to an anniversary of Oyasama.
The lunar calendar date of January 26, 1887, when Oyasama withdrew from physical life to hasten universal salvation, represents one of the most significant knots of the path. By receiving the truth of the day of origin of the anniversaries, we set aside a period of time for a decisive effort to conduct our activities more intensively than normal times so as to advance our spiritual growth. This is what the pre-anniversary seasons are about and why we work decisively for three years, one thousand days.
The 60th Anniversary of Oyasama was observed five months after the end of World War II. In anticipation of the 70th Anniversary, the plans and goals for the construction of the Oyasato-yakata building-complex were announced as part of the project to bring about the Home of the Parent in a concrete manner. Amid the growing momentum for reconstruction in Japan after the war, the construction at the Home of the Parent continued to make progress and helped to enrich the pre-anniversary activities for the 80th and 90th Anniversaries of Oyasama. During the pre-anniversary season that led up to the Centennial Anniversary of Oyasama, the construction of the East and West Worship Halls was announced. The “material construction” proceeded in pace with “spiritual construction.” In the conviction that their dedication to the Home of the Parent would become the basis for receiving the blessings for progress in their activities of single-hearted salvation, many Yoboku devoted themselves to the construction and engaged in missionary and salvation work in high spirits. Male followers, including the members of the Young Men’s Association, physically took part in the construction whereas those who belonged to the Women’s Association helped with the construction from behind the scenes by providing support such as by doing laundry. There were also some others who helped with the construction financially. Followers were well aware of their roles and assumed their responsibilities, thereby receiving the blessings of tangible results one after another including the completion of the buildings and the achievement of an upward trend in the development of the Tenrikyo community. With the completion of the construction of the East and West Worship Halls—which are actual parts of the Main Sanctuary—all followers felt a great sense of accomplishment and joy and became spirited.
Back then, Oyasama’s anniversaries were observed during the period of the 24 days between January 26 and February 18. Followers’ pilgrimages to Jiba were enthusiastically conducted, and the Home of the Parent was indeed lively, for pilgrims stayed longer than now in Jiba.
During the pre-anniversary season leading up to the 110th Anniversary of Oyasama, each follower was instructed to set aside a period of time for a decisive effort and give thought to how to prepare for the anniversary, thereby proactively implementing the preparations. There were some construction projects underway at the Home of the Parent, but it was no longer realistic to mobilize many followers for the construction as in the past because mechanization reduced the need for manual labor at the construction sites. It was necessary to seek alternative ways to conduct activities for the pre-anniversary season. This was also one of the consequences of the changes in society.
However, I can understand now that because we had gained a great sense of fulfillment from participating in the material construction until the Centennial Anniversary, it must not have been easy to change the focus of the activities. Also, the observance period of 24 days for Oyasama’s anniversaries was shortened to one day only. This was another change that followers had difficulty adjusting to. Conducting a group pilgrimage to Jiba during the period of 24 days was by itself regarded as part of the pre-anniversary activities, and returning to Jiba brought great joy to the pilgrims. With the observance period being only one day, it became difficult to arrange group pilgrimages to Jiba. There must have been a profound intention behind these changes but, to be honest with you, we had difficulty perceiving the intention.
Looking back on those decades, it is safe to say that the construction of the Home of the Parent and pilgrimages to Jiba had gradually become the main activities for the pre-anniversary seasons from around the end of World War II and remained so until the Centennial Anniversary of Oyasama. Then, as the Tenrikyo community embarked on another 100 years after reaching the significant juncture that marked the Centennial, all churches and followers were encouraged to proactively ponder and implement what they could do during the “three years, one thousand days” season in their decisive efforts to engage in single-hearted salvation, thereby enriching their faith-based activities and making progress in their spiritual growth. This is what I understand about the guidance we were given, and I think we have since been guided in the same manner.
Honestly speaking, however, without any construction work or any observance period–related group pilgrimages to become enthusiastic about, we were at a loss as to how to conduct our pre-anniversary activities. I think we gradually lost our awareness of even the weighty significance of the seasons leading up to Oyasama’s anniversaries as we observed the 110th and 120th Anniversaries of Oyasama.
Some head ministers often say to me, “Everyone can become spirited and exert the utmost strength if Church Headquarters sets forth an ambitious common goal for the entire Tenrikyo community.” However, I cannot agree with the idea, which I think misses the point. It is indeed beyond our imagination how significant events and periods coincide with one another. The season surrounding the Centennial Anniversary coincided with a major transition in Japanese society. I believe that this must have occurred through the guidance of God the Parent.
We should return our thoughts to a series of events in 1887 shown in the Divine Model—the day of origin of Oyasama’s anniversaries—and ponder as if we were there.
We are indeed very fortunate that the everliving Oyasama is continuing to work for us. What is most important for us is to settle our minds and seek to respond to Her parental love that continues to guide us. This will in turn bring peace of mind to Her.