God the Parent, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto

What kind of God is God the Parent?

God the Parent, whom we address as "Tenri-O-no-Mikoto" in our prayers, is God of Origin, God in Truth.

God the Parent not only created humankind and the world where there was no form but has also been nurturing and protecting all things with perfect and complete providence. In addition, God the Parent became openly revealed in the world through Oyasama as the Shrine in order to save all people throughout the world. Thereafter, God conveyed the truth of origin of this world and taught the path to the Joyous Life--the path that is grounded in God's work of universal salvation.

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What does "God of Origin, God in Truth" mean?

"God of Origin, God in Truth" is an explanatory term indicating certain aspects of God the Parent.

"God of Origin" means that God is the origin that created humankind and the world.

"God in Truth" is meant to imply that God not only created all things but also has unceasingly been nurturing them with wondrous workings and protecting them with warm blessings. Furthermore, God the Parent became openly and directly revealed in this world to help humans lead the Joyous Life in accordance with the purpose of creation.

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Why do you refer to God as "God the Parent, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto"?

We call God "God the Parent" not only because God is the Parent who created and has nurtured and provided for humankind and the world but also because God's parental love is so great that we can directly bare all our feelings--whether of joy or of sorrow--to God and completely rely on God. Furthermore, Oyasama taught us to pray to God the Parent by calling out the name "Tenri-O-no-Mikoto." Thus, we have put those two terms together and refer to God as "God the Parent, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto."

We may add that "Tenri-O-no-Mikoto" is the way we address God the Parent in sincere and earnest prayer and worship.

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Why is God the Parent variously referred to as God, Tsukihi (Moon-Sun), and Parent in the Ofudesaki, The Tip of the Writing Brush?

God the Parent, who had never before been openly revealed in this world, could not be fully understood in terms of the pre-existing conception of God. In order to facilitate understanding, therefore, the Ofudesaki first referred to God the Parent as "God"--a term widely used by the people of the day--while adding words of explanation in such expressions as "God of Origin" and "God in Truth" to convey that God the Parent is the true God. Next, the Ofudesaki called God the Parent by the name "Tsukihi (Moon-Sun)." Through the metaphor of the moon and the sun, which impartially shine all over the world, the Ofudesaki explained the providence in concrete terms to make people feel more familiar with God's existence and workings. Finally, it referred to God the Parent as "Parent" in order to clarify that God is the Parent on whom people could rely to help them in any matter.

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What are the "ten aspects of the complete providence of God the Parent"? Why is a sacred name given to each aspect?

The term "ten aspects of the complete providence of God the Parent" does not imply that there are ten separate gods. Rather, in order to help people easily understand the providence of God, who gives them life and keeps them alive, God the Parent has distinguished ten aspects of the providence and carefully explained each. The ten aspects are intended to encompass every function of the human body such as seeing and speaking, and God the Parent has given a sacred name to each aspect so that any function performed by the body may remind people of God's providence and thus help them lead a spirited life. Thus, when we ponder over our bodies and various facets of the world in accordance with the teaching of the ten aspects of the complete providence, we are able to truly perceive the warm parental love and the boundless blessings of God the Parent.

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What does it mean that "the Truth is God"?

It means that God the Parent governs the universe and humans with the Truth of Heaven. This world is permeated by the perfect and complete order of nature, but this is only possible because of the providence of God the Parent.

This is not to say that God the Parent is the natural order itself or some mechanical and deterministic natural law. God the Parent is the absolute being, who created and governs the order of nature and, moreover, provides blessings in ways that are beyond the natural order. Even the natural order, which we tend to take as absolute, is based on the providence of God the Parent. We should also understand that the Truth only comes from "Jiba."

God the Parent is not merely the natural order, or law, or some principle or foundation. God the Parent is not only immanent in everything but also is transcendent and personal in that God the Parent created and governs humankind and the world with divine will and has revealed the divine intention to human beings.

This is clear from the fact that God the Parent spoke to people in the first person at the time of the first revelation--saying, "I am God of Origin, God in Truth"--and, subsequently, revealed the divine intention and conveyed God's parental love to the people, while using the terms "God," "Tsukihi," and "Parent" to refer to God.

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What is meant by saying, "God the Parent is transcendent and personal"?

God the Parent is the eternal and absolute being who far transcends the world and humans. Yet, in order to save all people throughout the world, God the Parent became openly revealed in this world through Oyasama as the Shrine based on the Three Great Causalities and conveyed the divine intention in a personal way.

God the Parent spoke in a personal way to humans--who are endowed with the freedom of the mind and thus the ability to make free and responsible decisions and choices--and asked them to be responsive to the revelation. Thus, God is the subject who reveals the divine intention through the I (God) and You (humans) relationship. God the Parent is, thus, both transcendent and personal.

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Is God the Parent paternal or maternal?

God the Parent is both transcendent and absolute. To consider whether God the Parent is paternal or maternal in terms of human gender differences might be to reduce God to our level and result in trivializing God.

Nonetheless, insofar as God the Parent is the Parent of human beings--who are God's children--God may at times show us paternal aspects and at other times work in such a way as to make us strongly feel God is maternal, as the occasion demands. In a sense, God the Parent is both paternal and maternal, and yet neither paternal nor maternal. Remaining beyond all such concepts, God works freely and unlimitedly as the Parent to provide for us.

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If God created humankind, who created God?

This question has often been asked since ancient times, mostly by people who do not believe in God.

God is creator not created. If you think of God as something that was created, you are imagining something different from God. God is the ultimate creator and initiator who created and has constantly sustained and provided for humankind and the world.

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How did Oyasama teach people about the reality of God?

Oyasama said: "If you say that God exists, then God exists. If you say God does not exist, then God does not exist. Yet you can perceive God in the blessings that appear when you pray with a truly sincere mind."

Her words mean, to begin with, that no amount of reasoning would enable anyone to understand the reality of God's existence. The next important point is that when people wholeheartedly trust in God, pray for blessings, and make an effort to bring joy to God the Parent, they will certainly receive the blessings that will impress upon them the reality of God the Parent. In fact, we are kept alive by God, freely using the body which is a thing lent by God, a thing borrowed from God. Moreover, this universe is the body of God. Thus, the existence of humankind and the universe may in itself be seen as the most decisive evidence of the reality of God the Parent.

The existence of God the Parent is also clearly proven by the fact that Oyasama served as the Shrine of Tsukihi. The revelation through Her mouth and Her fifty-year Divine Model plainly indicate that God the Parent became openly revealed in this world and manifested the parental love that desires to save God's beloved children, that is, all people in the world.

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What is the difference between God the Parent and idol gods and between God the Parent and anthropomorphic gods?

Idol worship involves creating an idol and worshiping it as a god. It goes without saying that faith in God the Parent has nothing in common with that. We do not worship any statue or picture as God the Parent. What is set up in the center of the Main Sanctuary is the Kanrodai, which serves as a focal point for worship. At no Tenrikyo church is any statue or picture worshiped as God the Parent.

God the Parent is also completely different from any anthropomorphic god. Anthropomorphic gods are gods who are considered to have a human form. Examples of these gods are found in Greco-Roman and Japanese mythologies. They are human-shaped, and they live their lives, cry, and laugh as humans do.

God the Parent is God of Origin, God in Truth, who created humankind and the world and gives life to and provides for all creation. God the Parent is the absolute God, who transcends humankind and the world.

On the other hand, God is brimming over with love for humans just as parents are full of tender love for their children. Out of single-hearted parental love for humankind, God the Parent entered the human body of Oyasama to become Tsukihi on earth, who worked through human words and actions to convey the teachings and save people. In this sense, God the Parent might seem to have certain anthropomorphic aspects, especially considering that God and humankind are taught as being related to each other as Parent and children. Nevertheless, God the Parent is not an anthropomorphic being but the transcendent and immanent God, who created and constantly sustains humankind and the world.

(This article was excerpted from Questions and Answers about Tenrikyo, 13-20.)