Today I would like to dedicate this blog to Roy Forbes who recently passed away. Unfortunately, Roy and I never met, but communicated through the Internet. Roy encourage me on my website, heaventruth.com. He was a very good source on the history of Tenrikyo. We exchanged ideas early in the development of my website, but for unknown reasons have not communicated in recent years except for acknowledging our birthdays on Facebook. I don’t know very much about him, but I felt a close connection to him, as we were both interested in our religion Tenrikyo.
I became aware of his kidney problems when he once wrote an angry blog on his website complaining about his sufferings at the hospital. I remember that he removed the blog from his site quickly, but it gave me a lasting impression of our struggles understanding God. I truly hope he found some sort of peace before he passed away.
I remember he joked that he might have been the only person who read all of his Master thesis that he has on his website, tenrikyology.com. When I cursorily read the contents (about 200 pages) the first time, I thought to myself how thorough it was, but it did not really affect me.
A few days ago, I got a notice from Facebook to acknowledge his birthday. I was curious to see how he was doing, and was shocked to find out that he had passed away. I remember receiving a birthday salutation on my birthday from him in April of this year.
His death left an empty feeling. I thought by reading his master thesis again would help me understand him better. I am not sure what affect his master thesis had on the church. I am not even sure if anyone in Tenrikyo administration has read it. The major topic is the splinter groups that have formed from the church, and the excommunication of these groups from the church.
If I were to summarize his paper, I would say that prophets like Christ and Oyasama were messengers of God; and their messages were from God and true. In the early stages these prophets gained many followers through their miracles and teachings. Some would say that these early groups were like cults, and not established religions that grew rapidly. But to become established as a religion or institution, one needs to have rules and regulations. Unfortunately many times these rules and regulations are man made and not from God. For example, Christianity with its rules and regulations was not established until thousands of years after the death of Christ. Even the concept of reincarnation, which was accepted when Christ, was alive, was declared invalid by law. In our religion, regulation to attain the grant of the sazuke was fabricated after Oyasama passed away, with rules and regulations of the besseki lectures. These regulations are certainly not in the Ofudesaki, which we believe is from God.
The establishment of a religion with all its man made regulation, besides giving credence to its establishment, also provides the church the ability to excommunicate members from their churches who have different opinions. This assures the church of no major disruptions, and takeover from any outside group; and the continual growth of the church. Roy gives three examples of splinter groups formed from Tenrikyo.
In summary, it becomes difficult to filter what is from God and what is man made. This is especially true of religions formed thousand of years ago. Fortunately our religion was formed less than 200 years ago; and we have only one sacred scripture of over 1000 verses. The compilation called the Ofudesaki is said to be from God. God tells us how to purify our minds, and also gives us instructions on how to spread this truth to the world. We must go back to the basics; the Ofudesaki will set us free!