What are we waiting for as members of the Tenrikyo (Heaven’s Truth Church)? How long must the world suffer? How long must the world believe in religions that hurt and kill people? We as Tenrikyo people must unite and spread the truth of the Book of Prophecy (Ofudesaki). How do we do this? We cannot expect that the world wear their Japanese ceremonial kimonos and perform 12 dances in a foreign language that they cannot understand. This is crazy.
We must first establish what prayer God accepts (Joyous Service). What is the purpose of our prayer? We must translate this prayer into every language on earth, and spread it like wild fire. Besides removing evil from our hearts, this Joyous Service becomes the primary impetus in God spreading our religion to the world. Remember, it is the religion to save all mankind. Please read our Book of Prophecy (Ofudesaki) in its original form. Spread the prayer that God has given us!
It is interesting that God revealed himself in a rural community using terms like crops (ryukei, ryuke), weeding, and fertilizing. These terms are familiar to the agricultural community. But suppose these words have different meanings that God wants to convey.
In agriculture, the process of weeding, and fertilizing is said to bring upon an abundant harvest of crops. In the Book of Prophecy (Ofudesaki) are the following:
The mind that causes depressed crops is pitiful.
Quickly become spirited so that the crops are not depressed. 1-13
Is God really talking about farming? Today, it would be difficult to believe that by being spirited (removing greed, arrogance, and self love), would bring upon an abundance of crops. But maybe the farmers at that time believed that this was God’s promise to them. Suppose these words have a different meaning. Suppose the term crops (Ryuke) represent people that understand the teaching or new members, the term weeding represents being spirited or having true sincerity, and the fertilizer is the Joyous Service. The following again is from the Book of Prophecy.
Truly let the mind be spirited and ponder.
Lean on God and perform the joyous service. 4-49
Do not wonder what this talk is about.
It is solely about the matter of the fertilizer. 4-50
This fertilizer, do not wonder what makes it effective.
True sincerity of the mind is what makes it effective. 4-51
Then if we perform the Joyous Service (fertilizer) while weeding our minds of greed, arrogance, and self-love, we can receive God’s blessing of new church members.
If you wish that the crops grow spiritedly,
perform the Kagura Service and the Teodori. 1-14
God made it easier for the early farmers to understand God’s teaching by comparing the abundance of crops, to the process of harvesting people that understand God’s truth of causality and the Joyous Life. It is with this importance of saving people that we must spread the fertilizer (Joyous Service) to the world, while weeding ourselves of greed and arrogance.
In our religion, there are many who are adamant that we return to Ojiba to give thanks to God. It is said that God and Oyasama live in Ojiba. Recently in the Tenrikyo Newsletter, the Bishop proposed a relationship between the umbilical cord, belly button, child, and mother and compared it with our attachment to Ojiba and the Kanrodai. He related this to how important it is for the world to visit Ojiba to give thanks to God. Please read this article in the newsletter.
In the Tip of the Writing Brush, there is no reference to the importance of visiting Ojiba. If anyone finds this reference please let me know. To my knowledge Jiba is the location where human beings were created. This is clearly stated in the Tip of the Writing Brush. The Kanrodai will be erected when all mankind is purified at this site.
In the Tip of the Writing Brush, the importance of understanding the “Origin” is referenced many times. More important it is the “moto naru” or the conditions before the origin (becoming origin) that is emphasized. This condition before the origin, I believe is referring to two conditions that existed before the creation of mankind. The first is God’s desire to create mankind to live a Joyous life. The second is the purity of mind of the instruments used in the creation and the purity of the mind of God. The Kanrodai and Ojiba represent these two concepts of the origin. It is these two important facts that we must understand for us to be saved. We must return to the conditions before the origin.
In summary, the Ojiba and the Kanrodai are very important. I believe that if we can, we should visit this important site. But if we cannot, like the majority of the world, we can understand what they represent. They represent the conditions before the origin. They represent purity of mind, and the hope of God for mankind. We all can return to this origin, even if we can not physically.
There are many people in this world who are proud of their religion. Some go door to door propagating their religions, while others wear distinctive apparel which reveals their religion. They appear proud of their religion, and are happy to share with others. Some believe that their religion is the true religion, and are fervent in their desire to propagate their views. There are many of us in the Tenrikyo religion who are silent in our own churches. There are a few who are vociferous about our religion when in the comforts of their church, but are well camouflaged when in public. Why is our church so hidden from public view? Out of 7 billion people on earth, we come closer to 0% (.04%) that are Tenrikyo members.
Are we embarrassed about our religion? Can we convey our teachings without people thinking that we are evil or foreign? Do we have the resources to spread the truth in America, or to the world? Where can we find this information?
I believe that the answer and solution to many of these questions is in the Tip of the Writing Brush. We must read this sacred book with an open mind, translating the original verses as accurate as possible. In the last chapter of the Sacred book, God quotes in verse 17-24
What do you think this talk is about?
If only the Tip of the Writing Brush begins to be seen.
To the administration of Tenrikyo, please read the Ofudesaki with understanding , and continue to help spread the truth to all corners of the earth.
I would like to share my views of the religion. I would like to hear from others who are devoted to this path in America, on how we can spread God’s truth to the world one day sooner.
The following verse from the Ofudesaki may apply to me, and to the older population of our religion.
Step by step, I shall nurture trees, starting with aged ones VII-19
And assemble them in preparation for the future.
I humbly apologize if I should offend anyone in expressing my views of the church. I am aware that I am only a neophyte compared to many of you who have accumulated much more merit in following the path of Oyasama and the teachings of the church. I ask for your kind patience in reading my views of the religion.
Since childhood I have attended Tenrikyo churches and participated in the monthly services. The services were about two hours of discomfort on my knees, and were without much significance due to my limitation of the Japanese language. The lectures after the service were often in Japanese, or “broken English”, often expounding the importance of performing the service without a single mistake and visiting Tenri, Japan for our salvation. Even though physically I participated in the prayers, unfortunately my mind was elsewhere. This has resulted in the continual accumulation of “dust” (paths of the mistaken mind).
What is Tenrikyo? “Look at me”, was one of the answers that a respected Tenrikyo Reverend was quoted. But to me, I see a Japanese person first, albeit a very good Japanese person. There are seven billion people on earth today, and only .04 % are Tenrikyo members. For this religion to be the final religion, it would need to present itself in a more prominent way to the world. Even if we believe that eventually all mankind will be purified, should we not hasten this salvation?
During the late nineteen century, our religion spread like wild fire. But now in modern times, our religion is stagnant. Why is this path obscure to the world now? To understand this dilemma, I have recently started to study the Ofudesaki (Tip of the Writing Brush) again. To me, the Tip of the Writing Brush is easy to read, yet it is sometimes difficult to interpret due to the element of time. For example, a century may be an eternity to us, while it may be a millisecond to God who created mankind millions of years ago. There are many references to the future events that are sometimes nebulous, requiring the reader to speculate on when an event will occur or when it had occurred.
My scrutiny of the Tip of the Writing Brush is not to find fault with church officials. Initially, I wanted to understand our religion. Then I wanted to find out if the current views of our church elders are in agreement with our most sacred book. Would errors in translation and interpretation of our most sacred book explain the slow progress of our religion? With any document, there are different interpretations depending on one’s prior experiences and beliefs. Setting aside these influences (including other documents of Tenrikyo), the Tip of the Writing Brush should be translated and interpreted as accurate as possible. If there are errors in these areas (translation and interpretation), it would be difficult for the teachings to be understood. I will comment on three of the verses from the Tip of the Writing Brush which are suspect to interpreting and translation errors. I believe that these unintentional errors delay our progress toward receiving God’s truth. For example:
As to the Service to be done, X-21
it is solely by the Service of the Kanrodai (Joyous Service).
Despite the above verse and other verses in the Tip of the Writing Brush that specify the Joyous Service as the service that God requires for our salvation, parts 4 and 5 of the mikagura uta continues to be part of the monthly service. It is service dance difficult to master, even for a native Japanese person. The contents are important and reflect the Tip of the Writing Brush; but parts of it may be antiquated and not relevant to the modern world, such as the subjects of smallpox and farming. Another example is:
Some would say that we must perform the service without a single mistake if we are to receive God’s blessing in quoting verse X-34 from the Tip of the Writing Brush. They often quote this verse in advocating that everyone perform the service exactly as danced in nineteen century Japan (performed in Japanese and with all the ancient musical instruments).
If only the Service is done without error, X-34
the Gift of Heaven, also, will be given without fail. (Ofudesaki 6th Edition 1998)
The service performed without error will be a difficult task for a non Japanese person. Fortunately, the above verse may not be translated and interpreted correctly. The preceding verses X-32 and X-33 are about the completion of the Central Pillar (Kanrodai). The verse in question (X-34) can occur only after all mankind is purified and the Central Pillar is completed; and the two verses can be translated as:
If only this is surely completed (Kanrodai), X-33
there will be no failure in the monthly service.
If there is no failure in the Service, X-34
there will be no failure also, in the Gift from Heaven
By these two verses, God promises that when the Central Pillar is established, our prayers would be fulfilled and that the Gift of Heaven will be bestowed to the Parent of Mankind (establishing a joyous world). Verses 9-53, 9-54, and 9-55 support this translation.
About this Stand, I do not say when or how, 9-53
but when it is completed, the Service will be done
If only this Service is begun, 9-54
nothing will remain that cannot be realized.
Watch! God will surely bestow the Gift, 9-55
the Food of Heaven, without fail.
In summary, performing the service without error is not implied in verse X-34; but what are promised are God’s marvelous blessings to the world, and the Gift of Heaven to Oyasama when all mankind is purified. Considering our slow progression of spreading the truth, this is not likely in the near future. Another example of a misinterpretation is:
By performing the service, a mute will be able to speak.
This Service is the path of salvation for the entire world. IV-91
I shall enable even a mute to speak. (Ofudesaki 6th Edition 1998)
Since the preceding verse IV-90 is about God teaching the hand movements of the service, verse IV-91 can be translated as:
This Service is the path of salvation for the entire world. IV-91
Even a mute can pray for world salvation (by the hand movements only, this prayer can reach God).
These and a few other verses that are translated and interpreted may not convey the original messages that God intended for us to understand. We must be cautious to translate and interpret the verses in the context of the topic, by understanding the verses that precede and follow. Accurate translation and interpretation of the Tip of the Writing Brush is vital since it is God’s words.
Whatever I may say or write by the tip of my brush, VI-82
it is none other than directions from the mind of God.
From corruption and greed in politics and business, to religions that encourage violence and retribution of nonbelievers, the world is mired with many problems. How do we begin to fix this? As explained in the Tip of the Writing Brush, we need to attain God’s truth. Beginning with our own salvation by attaining God’s truth, we can generate momentum to save the world. But where and how can we receive God’s truth? I believe that we can find the answers in the Tip of the Writing Brush. We need to find these answers and spread these teachings to the world.
Today, you must explain my talks to others XIV-65
in detail step by step. The time has at last come.
There will be no understanding about anything XIV-66
unless you tell them. Tell them everything, all in detail.
The question arises, how do we “tell them” or spread God’s teachings to the World? The world is more receptive to what is familiar. When Tenrikyo was flourishing in the late nineteen century, the customs and ceremonies were similar to the Shinto Religion which the inhabitants in Japan were very familiar with. For example the altars we pray to, are similar to the kami-danas in the Shinto religion. To make it easier for the people to understand the teachings, even the first couple was named after the Shinto mythical figures. Today, the appearance of our religion is foreign, especially in America. This makes it difficult for those who want to introduce this religion to others. When discussions about religion are discussed, I feel uncomfortable. Our first strike is when we tell people that our religion is Tenrikyo. The initial response is “Is that a Japanese religion?” We are on a back track to justify why the ceremonies are performed wearing Japanese attire and performed in Japanese. How do we explain why we are praying for abundant crops this season or about the salvation against small pox when we perform the teodori? Before we can tell them the essence of our teachings, they have a negative view of our religion; and we often end up causing “dust”.
I believe that if we are to hasten the dissemination of the teachings of our religion, we must take the foreign influence and the miscellaneous old rituals out of our religion. These familiar aids were once helpful in spreading the teachings, but now hinder our progress in the modern world. We must go back to reading the Tip of the Writing Brush (Ofudesaki) and understand God’s words. We must distinguish what is important. The importance of the Joyous Service is emphasized in this sacred book. For many of us, we chant “Ashiki o harote tasuke tamae” without realizing what we are asking God to do. In contrast to the other services (teodori and osazuke), this prayer (Joyous Service) is the most important for the salvation of mankind. Our priority should be to share this prayer with the world. The importance of this prayer will be expounded below.
As was once stated, we have the truth in a container (Tip of the Writing Brush and the Joyous Service), but are we going to share it with the world? The date January 26, 1887 is a significant date in history. This was the date Oyasama withdrew from physical life, but it was also the date that the portal was opened to save the world. Is this portal only partially open now because of the traditionalists who place more emphasis on old customs and rituals than the words of truth contained in our teachings? Have the weeds grown thick and is the path now obscure to the world again?
Many followers have difficulty distinguishing the core of the teachings from the “weeds” that may accompany them. They have a sense that this religion is good, and continue to participate in the church activities; but they may not know how to receive God’s truth. The ceremonies, the attire, and the pilgrimage to Ojiba do not guarantee us God’s truth. They may facilitate our prayers in receiving God’s truth (especially in the past), but by themselves are only events and memories in our lives.
There are some that have attained God’s truth, but are reluctant to spread the teaching for fear of what families, friends, or the world may think of them. This fear arises from our perception of how difficult it would be for the world to understand God’s teachings under the present structure and appearance of the church. The teachings that lead to God’s truth are partially buried under the miscellaneous rituals and ceremonies of the past which the traditionalists insist are important for our salvation. Because of these impurities, it becomes difficult for people to recognize and acquire God’s truth or blessings at our churches.
Where can we refer an English speaking acquaintance who seeks God’s truth today? I am ashamed to say that I am not comfortable to direct that person to any Tenrikyo church at this time. There is too much information that the novice has to filter out, before “digging up” God’s truth (blessings). This is why we need changes in our existing churches. We need places that directly convey God’s truth.
What do you think this talk is about? II-16
I am hastening for the places where God’s truth is conveyed.
These churches that convey God’s truth show people how to receive God’s blessing. God’s blessings are not revealed by perfunctory long ceremonies, incantations, magical rites, psychic manifestations, or prayers for miraculous healings, which some in America have attempted to emphasize in their zeal to spread the religion. Our blessings are received by our daily and monthly sincere prayers for world salvation. It is this simple prayer that will provide God’s blessings (God’s truth), and eventually will settle the world. It is also this prayer which makes the osazuke (healing prayer) effective. And finally, it is this prayer that will someday resonate throughout the world.
Solely by the Service (prayer), everything will be revealed (blessings) XV-85
Praise should be given to those who tread the path for salvation in America. Many have worked unselfishly in spreading the truth in America. Even though confronted by a different culture, they go forth by the knowledge that they carry God’s truth. But the container that carries the truth may be foreign to most Americans, and will likely remain unopened. Some may wonder if the efforts of these missionaries are in vain; and if there is an easier way to spread this truth that will settle the world? I believe there is a way. This path is explained in the Tip of the Writing Brush (Ofudesaki).