Why is the Foundress of Tenrikyo called "Oyasama"?Followers began to call the Foundress of Tenrikyo "Oya-sama" when She was still physically present. The term not only indicates Her position as the Shrine of Tsukihi--that is, the Parent (Oya) of the Teaching--but also conveys that She is the Parent (Oya) who tenderly watches over us and gently guides us. Thus, we call Her "Oyasama" with a sense of respect as well as closeness. ("Sama" is a Japanese honorific suffix.)
We may add that perhaps it was natural for early followers to come to refer to Her as "Oyasama" because the Ofudesaki and the Divine Directions consistently refer to Her as "the Parent (Oya)" of humankind.
This Parent, who began human beings, lives. This is the truth.
If there should be another parent who began human beings, go and seek to find where.
What is the relationship between God the Parent and Oyasama?
Since God the Parent settled Oyasama as the Shrine of Tsukihi to become openly revealed in the world and bring about universal salvation, all Her words and actions were manifestations of the will of God the Parent even if Her outward appearance was human. Therefore, Oyasama's love for people was none other than God the Parent's parental love, which desires to save all people throughout the world, God's children.
That is to say, Oyasama is Tsukihi on earth, God the Parent in this world.
What is the position of Oyasama?Oyasama is the Shrine of God the Parent. God the Parent entered Her human body and conveyed the divine will through Her mouth and by Her writing brush. Through Her, God taught the Service and the Sazuke, the Divine Grant, as the means of salvation and laid the path for universal salvation.
Oyasama also demonstrated the intention of God the Parent and thus manifested the Divine Model for human beings to follow. In this sense, we refer to Her as "the Parent of the Divine Model."
Furthermore, even after She opened the portals of the Shrine of Tsukihi and withdrew from physical life, She eternally remains at Jiba, the Residence of Origin, so as to protect all humankind and work for universal salvation. This aspect of Her role is referred to as "the truth of the everliving Oyasama."
What does "the Shrine of Tsukihi" mean?Since "Tsukihi" is a term referring to God the Parent, to say that Oyasama is the Shrine of Tsukihi means that God the Parent has entered Her and resides in Her. A shrine is a place where a god resides. Therefore, although Oyasama's outward appearance was human, Her spoken words were direct expressions of God the Parent's intention. It also goes without saying that the Divine Model, which She demonstrated through Her own example, is a concrete manifestation of God the Parent's mind.
In this regard, the Ofudesaki clearly says:
These thoughts of Tsukihi are spoken through Her: the mouth is human, the mind is that of Tsukihi.
Listen! I, Tsukihi, am borrowing Her mouth wholly, and I, Tsukihi, am lending My mind wholly.
Are we right in thinking that Oyasama's position as the Shrine of Tsukihi is part of Her Divine Model for us to emulate?The Shrine of Tsukihi is a position only Oyasama--and no one else--can fill. Strictly speaking, we cannot even come close to beginning to obtain that position, which is only meant for Oyasama. In this sense, Oyasama's position as the Shrine of Tsukihi is not part of the Divine Model for us to emulate.
The Divine Model is the path toward the Joyous Life which Oyasama showed us by demonstrating the intention of God the Parent as the Shrine of Tsukihi in order to lead us to the world of the Joyous Life.
What does "the truth of the everliving Oyasama" mean?Oyasama withdrew from physical life on January 26, 1887.5 Although we can no longer physically see Her or listen to Her voice, Oyasama remains at the Residence of Origin--the place of the original conception--and is working for universal salvation day and night in the same way as when She was guiding people during Her physical life. The most decisive evidence of Her workings is the fact that instances of miraculous salvation appear all over the world through the truth of the Sazuke, the Divine Grant.
We refer to this aspect of Oyasama's role as "the truth of the everliving Oyasama," and this truth is consistently emphasized in the Divine Directions. We may note in passing that Oyasama remains alive forever at the Residence of Origin and that there is no rebirth for Her as there is for us.
Sah, sah, I am still living here. I have not gone anywhere, not gone anywhere. You must look at the path of daily life and ponder.
Osashizu, March 17, 1890
Sah, sah, you will have [My clothes] completed and then request that I change into them. For summer, they are to be unlined. In cold winter, they are to be lined. You are to make them for each season. I shall wear them and do My work. It is only My figure which cannot be seen. All is the same. It is only My figure which does not exist.
Osashizu, March 17, 1890
Sah, sah, if you ponder well and try, there is no danger. Although you cannot see My figure, you can see My working. Do not wonder whose words these are. It is the one who hid Herself twenty years ago. But I am working every day. There is no need to be anxious. If you undertake your work in high spirits, I shall work for you completely. You should not worry. Sah, sah, there is a reliable path you can follow.
Osashizu, May 17, 1907
Is the Causality of Oyasama's Soul different from that of others' souls? (If so, what is the difference?)Oyasama had the causality whereby Her soul was that of the model of woman, the seedplot (Mother), in God the Parent's creation of humankind and the world. Because of this causality, She was destined to become the Shrine of God the Parent, Tsukihi. When the years equal to the number of the first-born elapsed, God the Parent entered Oyasama at Jiba--the Residence of Origin, which had the causality of the place of original conception--and started to reveal the teachings in order to save all people throughout the world. Thus, the difference is obvious.
Why is Oyasama called "the Parent of humankind"?This is because of the mysterious causality by which the soul of Oyasama was that of the model of woman, the seedplot (Mother), when God the Parent created humankind.
As the Mother, She not only gave birth to humans but also watched over and nurtured them as they grew gradually through births and rebirths until She finally said, "Now that they have grown so tall, in time they will reach the height of human beings five feet tall (5 shaku)."
Because of this causality of the soul, Oyasama became the Shrine of Tsukihi, taught in detail the truth of God the Parent's creation of humankind and the world, and laid the path to save all people in the world.
Oyasama is not only the Mother who gave birth to and nurtured humanity but also the Mother who saves us as our true Parent.
This is the Residence where I began this world. Therein lives the original Parent of human beginnings.
Discerning this, Tsukihi descended from the desire to teach about all matters.
To begin teaching about all matters, one must be the Parent of Origin.
If there should be another parent who began human beings, go and seek to find where.
Why did Oyasama shorten Her term of life by twenty-five years?In this regard a Divine Direction says:
Because of My love for you, My children, the Parent shortened Her life by twenty-five years to step out and save the world from now. Observe well. Observe well what the path has been and what the path will become.
Osashizu, February 18, 1887
Thus, the reason for shortening Her term of life was that Her parental love desired to promote the spiritual maturity of all people in the world and hasten their salvation. More precisely, Oyasama urged people to firmly settle their mind in single-heartedness with God and accelerate their spiritual growth. In addition, Her parental love desired to allow God's salvation to reach throughout the world by removing the restrictions of God the Parent residing in the human body of Oyasama.
In fact, concerned for Oyasama's safety, the followers in those days could not perform the Service as Oyasama was urging them to do, because, should they do so, the authorities would take Her into custody. Oyasama desired that they be able to perform the Service exactly as She taught so that they could attain spiritual growth and enable all people in the world to be saved as soon as possible. Out of such parental love, Oyasama shortened Her life by twenty-five years and withdrew from physical life.
Is it true, as some people say, that Oyasama was born to meet the demands of the times (social upheaval)?It is true that Oyasama became the Shrine of Tsukihi at a time when Japanese society was going through a major upheaval in the mid-1800s. However, to think of Oyasama as a product of the times would be to make the mistake of getting caught up in outward phenomena to the point of not seeing the truth underneath.
Oyasama became the Shrine of Tsukihi based on the mysterious Three Great Causalities. Her role as the Shrine was thus predetermined by God's will, plans, and arrangements. Since Oyasama's words and behavior transcended Her time and place--which is to say, Japanese society in the era of the Meiji Restoration--She was subjected to ridicule, slander, and even the hardships of persecution. Of course, we might also think of God the Parent as having timed the historic turning point in Japanese history as well as in world history for that matter to coincide with the truth of the seasonable time.
Was Oyasama's teaching affected by pre-existing religions and beliefs?Some people say that Oyasama was influenced by several pre-existing faiths--such as Pure Land Buddhism, Shugendo of the Tozan Sect of Shingon Buddhism, and folk beliefs--and conveyed their teachings.
It is true that before being settled as the Shrine of Tsukihi on October 26, 1838, She subscribed to Buddhist and Shinto beliefs that were then dominant in Yamato Province. After becoming the Shrine of God of Origin, God in Truth, however, She conveyed the ultimate teachings of origin transcending those traditional beliefs. Her teachings revealed a completely new truth, which was free of any influence from the traditional beliefs.
Again, some may say that Tenrikyo shows some influence from Shinto. They say so presumably because they simplistically link the sacred names--which are applied to the ten aspects of the complete providence of God the Parent--with names of gods found in Shinto. In Tenrikyo's Scriptures, however, there is no influence from Shinto. Oyasama's teachings are the teachings of God of Origin, God in Truth, and are different from Shinto.
In 1874 Oyasama sent two followers to the Oyamato Shrine to have them ask about the deity to whom the shrine is dedicated and, later, when asked about God the Parent by priests from the Isonokami Shrine, She replied:
I wish to teach the world of things not to be found in learning, ancient things extending over nine hundred million and ninety-six thousand years.
The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, p. 88
There are also people who say that Oyasama's teachings contain religious doctrines found in both the West and the East (especially with regard to the story of the Truth of Origin). Even if this were so, it would not follow that Oyasama was influenced by them.
Oyasama's teachings are the final and ultimate teachings. They not only include all doctrines and beliefs that predated Her but also go beyond them. Given that humanity's cultural, religious, and other resources derive entirely from God the Parent's care and guidance that were given to humans in accordance with the level of their spiritual maturity, it is no wonder that we find Western and Eastern religious doctrines in Oyasama's teachings.
Furthermore, some claim that Christianity had some influence upon Oyasama. They say so because Oyasama's teachings are greatly different from traditional beliefs, either Shinto or Buddhist, and started with the revelation of God, who is the transcendent and absolute creator. However, regardless of any similarities on the surface, the essence of Her teachings is fundamentally different from and has no relationship to Christian beliefs.
Can anyone become a shrine of Tsukihi like Oyasama if he or she acquires "the mind of saving all people"?In terms of the Causality of the Soul, it is apparent that people cannot become the Shrine of Tsukihi no matter how hard they may try. The thought that anyone can easily acquire "the mind of saving all people" comes from the kind of religious faith that relies on one's own strength too heavily. If we practice such faith, we will inevitably start to forget about praying to God or asking for salvation and eventually end up worshiping humans instead.
No matter how hard people may strive to acquire "the mind of saving all people," they cannot actually manage it by themselves. Therefore, they pray to God, who transcends humans and provides true salvation, and ask God for salvation. In fact, it often happens that people who cannot cultivate "the mind of saving all people" lead a self-centered life instead and therefore find themselves in conflict with others.
Becoming the Shrine of Tsukihi was based on the Causality of the Soul, and Oyasama alone fills that position.
Is it true, as some say, that Oyasama secluded Herself in the storehouse after becoming the Shrine of Tsukihi in order to evolve from a human into God or to engage in dialogue with God?Oyasama became the Shrine of Tsukihi on October 26, 1838; thereafter, Her mind was that of God the Parent even though Her outward appearance was as human as that of other people. The reason why She secluded Herself in the storehouse was that God the Parent was finalizing how to convey the divine intention to humankind.
God the Parent entered the body of Oyasama, and thereafter She had no human mind. Therefore, it would be wrong to think that Oyasama had to evolve into God. She had no need to talk with God, either, let alone to perform any ascetic practices, because Oyasama's mind was the very mind of Tsukihi.
Rather, we may say that Oyasama secluded Herself in the storehouse to convince people that She was the Shrine of Tsukihi and to ensure that they did not look at Her in the same way as before. Since Oyasama's outward appearance was no different from what it had been before She became the Shrine of Tsukihi, people kept thinking of Her as the housewife of the Nakayama family due to their familiarity with Her. Therefore, to help them understand that Oyasama was now the Shrine of Tsukihi and God the Parent on earth, She secluded Herself in the storehouse and kept away from others' daily lives. While in seclusion, She also pondered over how She should convey the intention of God the Parent. Actually, it was very difficult to convince people that She was the Shrine of Tsukihi, and indeed it took a long time for them to realize it.
We may also say that Oyasama was concerned that Her family members might become worried, confused, and even frightened by the revelation of God the Parent, which to them was so mysterious and far beyond human understanding. Therefore, She secluded Herself in the storehouse, where She pondered how to convey the intention of God the Parent.
It is said that the everliving Oyasama has been providing blessings for us and going ahead of us to save all people throughout the world since She opened the portals of the Shrine. How do we know that this is so?A Divine Direction says:
You say that I am living, everliving. Because I am living, there are workings day after day. Because of these workings, there is this One Path.
Osashizu, February 4, 1896
Keeping the portals open, Oyasama remains alive forever and works to provide blessings to all people throughout the world, always showering warm parental love on all humankind.
Since She opened the portals at Jiba and shed Her human body, She has been working in the whole world with the same mind as that of God the Parent.
She has been providing wondrous blessings out of Her parental love throughout the world, no matter how great the distance from Jiba may be. In the miraculous blessings shown through the Proof Amulet and the truth of the Sazuke, for example, we can see the workings of the everliving Oyasama.