World Religions


Tenrikyo also known as Tenri, is a religion of Japanese Shinto origin with some Buddhist influence. It was founded by a female peasant, Nakayama Miki, who underwent revelatory experiences from 1838 onwards. After this date she is referred to as Oyasama (lit. Honoured Mother) by followers. Tenrikyo is estimated to have about 2 million followers world-wide with 1.5 million of those in Japan.
The focus of the religion is to attain yoki yusan or yoki gurashi, the 'joyous life', on Earth through charity and abstention from greed, selfishness, hatred, anger and arrogance.
Adherents believe in a single god, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto, "Divine King of Heavenly Reason (the term is used as a name-label rather than as a description), who is defined as the creator and caring parent of all mankind. Continuing reincarnation is part of the religion, but is not a major emphasis. Key teachings include: Moto-no-Ri - the principle of origin; Kashimono-Karimono (a thing lent, a thing borrowed) - the nature relationship between the human body and God; Hinokishin - voluntary effort (often charitable or public-service); Tanno (true acceptance) - a constructive attitude towards troubles, illness and difficulties; and Juzen-no-Shugo - ten principles or providences involved in the creation which exist in Futatsu Hitotsu (two-in-one relationships).
In Tenrikyo there are three successive levels of understanding of the nature of God: the first is Kami which is God as understood in every day terms, the second is Tsukihi (lit. Moon Sun), or God as the creator of nature and natural laws, and lastly Oya (Parent), or God as the parent of human beings. These terms refer to three successive levels of people's understanding of one single God as they grow in spiritual maturity.
Many metaphors from building and carpentry are used in Tenrikyo teachings, which view the construction of a better, joyous world as a step-by-step process in which people can make small steps towards progress through working together collaboratively.
The spiritual center of the religion is in what was formerly Shoyashiki Village, now part of Tenri city in Nara Prefecture. The main shrine complex centres around the Jiba, believed to be the central point of the creation.
This teaching was started by Mika Nakayama in 1838, after she and her family suffered illness and poverty. Her family thought that she was being possessed by a spirit, hiring a shaman to exorcise the house.
The senior religious leader is referred to as the Shimbashira (lit. Main Pillar).
Tenrikyo teachings, despite emphasising group effort, allow for a significant degree of individuality among different followers - differences are seen as complementary, and the overall organisation is subdivided into many different groups with common goals but differing focus. These range from different regional Daikyokai (lit. Great Teaching Groups), to disaster relief corps, medical staffs and a hospital, a university, an extensive museum, one of the largest libraries in Japan, various schools and several others.
Tenri Judo is renowned as a successful competition style of Judo that has produced many champions, and there are also other sporting and arts interest groups within Tenrikyo.
The history of Tenrikyo is turbulent, having been established during a time of great change within Japan. Some of the modern ties to Shinto can be explained through an understanding of the persecution that early followers underwent.
While Tenrikyo may be considered a religion, it is considered by some followers as a teaching about the universe and does not necessarily interfere with other religious beliefs. It is quite normal for a Tenrikyo follower to also be a Christian, for example, however Tenrikyo is antagonistic towards other major Buddhist sects that it considers "rivals," such as Nichiren Shoshu and the Soka Gakkai.
The relationship between the Tenrikyo organisation and the Christian church is quite good, and much Christian symbolism can be seen in the English version of Tenrikyo's main instructional text (Ofudesaki, lit. Tip of the Writing Brush), due to the aid provided by Christian missionaries in the work of translation.
Tenrikyo utilizes gagaku music (the ancient classical Shinto music of the imperial court of Japan) in its services.

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