Happy New Year. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to you for working on various tasks of the path last year.
I announced Instruction Four last year in preparation for the start this year of the “three years, one thousand days” activities leading up to the 140th Anniversary of Oyasama. As we are now in the new year, we are entering the period where we are to make decisive efforts toward the anniversary of Oyasama.
Making decisive efforts means devoting ourselves to the work of the path with our focus set on a goal represented by Oyasama’s anniversary. This period is the season where we put more efforts than usual into making spiritual growth.
All of you here already know what we mean by the phrase “spiritual growth” in this faith, but I hear that there are people who have a materialistic way of thinking and dislike the idea of growing spiritually. I am sure that none of you here think that way. For us, spiritual growth is crucial, and Oyasama left us with the Divine Model for the express purpose of helping us with it. In Instruction Four, therefore, I am asking everyone to walk the path with the Divine Model as our guide. Whether we can receive blessings through the performance of the service and whether people will come to understand what we have to say about the teachings will largely depend on the degree of our spiritual growth.
We have performed Oyasama’s anniversaries with the understanding that they serve as milestones or junctures on our journey toward our ultimate goal, the realization of the Joyous Life World desired by God the Parent. The path to the Joyous Life is the path of human beings’ spiritual growth. When you think about it, we have an extremely long way to go. If we have no short-term goals, we may inadequately relax our efforts or even forget about the ultimate goal. That is why we set up milestones to help us make concentrated efforts toward it. I believe that we need to work on the tasks of the path while ensuring that a bud will sprout at each milestone, which is to say, at each key juncture.
There are many types of junctures. The churches to which you belong each have different junctures in their history. We each have junctures in our own lives. There are many types of junctures for individuals and groups, but Oyasama’s anniversaries represent junctures for the Tenrikyo community as a whole. If the entire Tenrikyo community walks the path with a firm understanding of the significance of Oyasama’s anniversaries, the actual number of people who follow the path in that manner will be larger. The concerted efforts in unity of mind will then be greater than the joint efforts of those who already know the significance, and we can advance the path of spiritual growth to that extent.
In order to ensure a thorough understanding of the significance of Oyasama’s anniversaries, we are currently conducting the “Visits by Church Headquarters Officials.” Nevertheless, I think that, in addition to such visits, we need to continue to take a variety of approaches to let people understand the significance of Oyasama’s anniversaries. All of you in responsible positions in your churches and departments are expected to pay close attention to that need.
The period leading up to the anniversary is when the entire Tenrikyo community must be united in mind. What is to be the core, or center, in our unity of mind? What should we unite our minds with? It is Oyasama’s parental love and intention that we should unite our minds with. Even though we may be playing a central role in our churches, facilities, and departments, we are no different from others when it comes to uniting our minds with the core, or Oyasama’s intention, as we perform our tasks. I would like each of you to fulfill your duties so that you can respond to Oyasama’s parental love.
The pandemic has not completely come to an end yet, and the world is in an unstable state due to things like wars. We are now about to enter the “three years, one thousand days” season in these circumstances, but I hope that this year will allow us to make a good start. I would like, in this regard, to sincerely ask for your concerted efforts.
With this, I want to conclude my address at the beginning of the new year. Thank you very much.