The Service

What is the Service?

In a broad sense, this term refers to any sincere expression of gratitude and prayer for God the Parent's providence, including the monthly and daily services performed at local churches. In a narrow sense, the term refers to the Service that is performed at Jiba of Origin to repay God the Parent and pray for universal salvation. This Service is the most important rite in Tenrikyo.

The Service consists of two parts: the Kagura, the Service with the Masks; and the Teodori, the Dance with Hand Movements. The Kagura Service was taught by God the Parent with the intent to manifest once more the marvelous workings by which humankind and the world were created, this time in the cause of the single-hearted salvation of humankind. Ten Service performers--who surround the Kanrodai--wear their respective kagura masks representing the truth of human creation and symbolize by hand-gestures the principles of God the Parent's providence, moving in unison to the song and in harmony with the music of the nine musical instruments.

The Dance with Hand Movements, which is in praise of the Joyous Life, is conducted by six performers. They move in unison to the singing of the Mikagura-uta and in harmony with the music of the nine instruments, symbolizing by hand movements the harmonious union of God and humankind. Thus, universal salvation can be accomplished by the performance of the Service, which enables us to return to the intention of God the Parent.

*     *     *

When did the Service (the Service of the Kanrodai) start to be performed?

Oyasama started teaching the songs and the dance movements for the Service in 1866. The kagura masks were obtained in 1874, Jiba was identified in 1875, and Oyasama began teaching how to play the musical instruments in 1877. Thus, the Service was taught over a period of more than ten years.

Later, in connection with the "confiscation of the Kanrodai," which happened in 1882, the wording of the Songs for the Service was altered to the present form. It is not clear when Oyasama's instruction in the musical instruments was completed. However, it is thought that Her preparations for the Service had almost finished by the autumn of 1880.

The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo says:

On September 30, August 26 by the lunar calendar, [1880], the Joyous Service was performed for the first time with the full set of instruments. . . .

p. 111

*     *     *

What is the significance of the Service? Why is the Service so important?

The Kagura Service was taught as the most important means to enable humankind to receive the blessing of the Joyous Life, and it embodies the principle of God's creation of humankind and the world in a way that enables us to understand it clearly. The Service is performed to praise God the Parent's providence that created us, make repayment for the providence that gives us life, and pray for the Joyous Life of all humankind and for the further providence of God the Parent. Accepting the united minds of the Service performers, God the Parent will manifest the same providence as that exerted at the time of human creation. With the replacement of the minds of all people in the world, God will then grant us the blessing that allows us to savor the Joyous Life.

Thus, the Service enables us to return to the origin of human creation and renew our minds as the mind of sincerity and joy, thus allowing joyousness to fill the entire world. Then, responding to our joyous minds, God will manifest universal salvation.

*     *     *

What kinds of services are there in Tenrikyo?

First of all, there is the Service that is performed with the Kanrodai as the center. It consists of the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements and, in the primary sense, refers to the Service that calls forth universal salvation. In addition, however, there are eleven other Services taught for specific purposes, including the Service for Safe Childbirth, the Service for Germination, and the Service for Rain.

Next, there is the service that is performed in places other than at Jiba. This is sometimes called the "practice" service and consists of the seated service and the Dance with Hand Movements. It is conducted at monthly services and on other various occasions at local churches.

In addition, the morning and evening services are performed at Church Headquarters, churches, mission stations, followers' houses, and elsewhere to express gratitude for the providence of God the Parent and pray for God the Parent's continued guidance. These daily services involve playing the wooden clappers, cymbals, large drum, and gong. In addition, all worshipers join together in performing the hand movements for the seated service.

Thus, the services can be roughly categorized into the above three types.

*     *     *

Why is the Service called the "Kagura Service" and the "Service of the Kanrodai"?

The Service is called the "Kagura Service" because its ten performers wear kagura masks representing ten aspects of the complete providence of God the Parent. The name of the Service reminds us of God the Parent's complete workings that created humankind and of all ten aspects of God's complete providence, which enables us to be alive.

The Kagura Service is also referred to as the "Service of the Kanrodai" because it is performed with the Kanrodai as the center, with the performers who surround the Kanrodai moving in unison. Through the Service, we are able to reunite our minds with Jiba and God the Parent and melt into the mind of the Parent. We can then be blessed with universal salvation.

Because the Service is intended to call forth universal salvation and to realize the world of the Joyous Life by making our minds joyous and filling the world with joyousness, Oya-sama also called the Service the "Salvation Service" and the "Joyous Service." Using these terms to refer to the Service, She taught us the significance of the Kagura Service.

Many verses in the Ofudesaki refer to the importance of the Service.

*     *     *

What is the difference between the Kagura and the Teodori, the Dance with Hand Movements?

The Kagura is the Service performed by surrounding Jiba of Origin, where God the Parent conceived humankind, and represents God's wondrous workings that created us. The Service is intended to enable us to return to the origin of life and creation, melt into the intention of God the Parent, and fully realize how we are kept alive by God the Parent.

On the other hand, the Teodori, which is also called the "Joyous Teodori," is a dance that expresses the Joyous Life, in which God and humankind dwell in harmonious union. Its dance movements, which are serene and joyous, express the process leading to the world of true joyousness--a process that is only possible when we implement the teachings with simple openness, reflecting on and correcting our use of the mind in the light of God's teachings and guidance embodied in the songs that accompany the Teodori.

Although both the Kagura and the Joyous Teodori are important elements of the Service, we are not allowed to perform the Kagura at any place other than Jiba. On the other hand, we are allowed to perform the Joyous Teodori at any place including each local church.

*     *     *

How does the Service of the Kanrodai differ from the service performed at local churches?

An indispensable requirement for the Service of the Kanrodai is, as the name indicates, to perform it with the Kanrodai as the center. It is, therefore, not possible or permissible to perform it at any place other than Jiba. Incidentally, this Service is sometimes referred to as the Main Service.

At local churches, where God the Parent is represented and salvation is conveyed, it is the seated service and the Dance with Hand Movements that are performed as the "practice" service. In the sense that the seated service receives the truth of the Kagura Service, each local church's services have an undiluted significance as a foundation for salvation.

The difference outlined above indicates that our local churches cannot exist separately from Jiba and that the "truth of a church name" can only manifest itself when the church stays connected to the truth of Jiba and receives the truth of the Kagura Service.

*     *     *

Some people say that wars and misfortunes do not seem to be disappearing even though the Service is performed. Can we really bring peace and happiness to the world through performing the Service?

Wars and misfortunes in the world are ultimately attributable to human minds--which is to say that they come from the dust of the mind. The purpose of the Service is to help us humans clean the dust off our minds and let go of any "cruel thoughts" so that our minds may be renewed as the truly sincere mind that wishes to work for the salvation of others. The Service can help us connect our minds to God the Parent and attain spiritual maturity providing that we help one another in accordance with the teachings. This, indeed, is the "seed of everything," which will eradicate wars, bring peace, and enable us to overcome all misfortunes, thus reconstructing the world into a world of happiness where all people will help one another.

God the Parent will accept our true sincerity in praying for true salvation and peace--that is, the Joyous Life--and respond to the Service by granting us the blessing of eradicating wars and misfortunes.

The Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Service, says:

If you keep your mind determined,

Peace shall reign everywhere.

Mikagura-uta II:9-10

As these verses imply, what is important is for human minds to come into full accord with God the Parent's intention. This done, the Service will call forth the blessing of true peace, that is, the Joyous Life.

It is, of course, not an easy task to bring our minds into full accord with the intention of God the Parent because of the mind's dust and causality that we have accumulated in the course of human history since being trained in wisdom. Thus, there may still be a long way to go before true peace can be achieved.

Nevertheless, we will surely be able to receive that blessing if we make repeated and earnest efforts to attain spiritual maturity and continue to perform the Service.

*     *     *

How does the Service differ from other religious rituals or ceremonies?

The Service is performed at the place of original human conception by using hand-gestures that represent the principles of the ten aspects of God's complete providence that was exerted at the time of creation. It is intended to reunite us with the original providence of creation at the place of human conception and thereby to manifest once more the wondrous workings by which humankind was created, in order that we can receive God's free and unlimited blessings for universal salvation. Thus, the Service is different from other religious rituals or ceremonies.

(This article was excerpted from Questions and Answers about Tenrikyo, 53-60.)