Q: In an article describing the centennial of the mission headquarters in South Korea, the Shinbashira is quoted as saying, “The mission headquarters must act as the core that helps tend to and foster followers, allowing them to assemble, unite their minds, and inspire one another irrespective of the fact that they happen to be affiliated with different church lineages” (emphasis added).I can only imagine this “church lineages” is referring to the way Tenrikyo churches are organized, but could you elaborate on this and explain how the mission headquarters fits into this organizational structure? How did this type of organization originate?
submitted by Wrinkled Rose (real name withheld)
A: I figured it was only a matter of time I would get a question regarding Tenrikyo’s organizational structure.
Geez, where do I start? Maybe with a condensed history lesson on how these church lineages came to be. Continue reading Question No. 7: How are Tenrikyo churches organized and how did this system come to be?
Q: I happened to live at a local Tenrikyo kyokai while on a study abroad program in Japan (or what’s called “home stay”). I was always curious about what was going on during the daily services: Why clap four times during prayer? Isn’t four a bad luck number in Japan? What is going on when they are bowing their heads down? What do the words and gestures of the daily services mean? Is there any significance behind why the first song is repeated 21 times, the second one done just once, and the third one is repeated in three sets of three?
submitted by Freshly Made Friends (real name withheld)
A: Hey Freshly, you’re asking at least five different questions there! You only get to ask just one…. Maybe two at most!
I’m kidding. Your questions are somewhat correlated, so I’ll be more than happy to answer them. But I will start by explaining how kyokai sanctuaries are set up for those of you out there who’ve never been in one before.
Continue reading Question no. 6: Explaining the Tenrikyo manner of prayer and the seated service
Q: Recently I had the opportunity to pass through Tenri City. (It was quite a nice place.) As we drove past the Foundress’ Sanctuary , my teacher—a Zen monk—told me that there is a television in the sanctuary in case Oyasama gets bored. Is this true? More generally, what is believed to go on in the sanctuary, and is it meant to resemble Kukai’s sanctuary at Koyasan?
submitted by Avery M.
A: Thank you for the interesting questions, Avery! Only designated individuals are allowed inside what is called the “Foundress’ Residence” portion of the Sanctuary, so while I haven’t seen this with my own two eyes, because Oyasama is treated as though She is still physically alive there, she allegedly gets the daily paper, she is served cooked meals, her bath plus bedding is prepared every evening, and I have heard she does have a television.
I am not sure how her attendants can tell whether she is “bored” or not or even know what kind of programming she enjoys, but whaddya know?
Continue reading Question no. 5: What goes on in the Foundress’ Sanctuary?
Q: I grew up assuming that Tenrikyo is monotheistic, believing in one creator God. Yet when I once opened The Doctrine of Tenrikyo and read Chapter Four, I see a list of ten Shinto deities. So what gives? Is Tenrikyo a monotheistic or polytheistic or what?
submitted by No Scope in the Morning (real name withheld)
A: Wow, another complicated question, to say the least. I think one way to answer this question is to quote the late Tenrikyo theologian Yoshinori Moroi from his critique of Henry van Straelen’s work The Religion of Divine Wisdom (hold on, this is going to be long):
Continue reading Question no. 4: Is Tenrikyo monotheistic or polytheistic?
Q: I once read an article suggesting that the divine name of God in Tenrikyo was inspired by the Indian wheel-turning king, Tenrin-O. Is this true?
submitted by Full Colored Kings (real name withheld)
This is a complicated question. First of all, I would assume that most Tenrikyo followers have never heard of the mythical wheel-turning king. I would imagine the vast majority of followers take it for granted that God the Parent’s “divine name” was always Tenri-O-no-Mikoto and it was not until God the Parent became “revealed” through Oyasama, the “Shrine of God,” that it came to be known for the first time. From an adherent’s standpoint, we may safely assume say the answer would be “No.”
Continue reading Question no. 3: Was Tenri-O-no-Mikoto originally a Buddhist deity?
Q: Being that Tenrikyo is a religion from Japan, how is it categorized? Is it a Buddhist or Shinto tradition?
submitted by Paradise Plastic (real name withheld)
A: Great question, Paradise Plastic! I get similar ones all the time. Anyone who asks is understandably curious since Tenrikyo appears to share many elements with Buddhism and Shinto.
Continue reading Question no. 2: Is Tenrikyo a Buddhist or Shinto tradition?
Q: Could you, in a nutshell, describe the basic teachings of Tenrikyo?
submitted by Popcorn for Geronimo (real name withheld)
A: Geez, Geronimo, you might as well tell me to bungee-jump off the Empire State Building or something. I’m kidding. I’ll do the best I can.
The basic teachings of Tenrikyo include:
- The purpose of creation was for humanity to live the Joyous Life, a life where everyone in the world lives in harmonious existence, helping and respecting one another.
Continue reading Question no. 1: What are Tenrikyo’s basic teachings?
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