"Divine Directions" (Osashizu)

There are two senses in which this term could be used in Tenrikyo. First, in a broad sense it could refer to all the revelations of God that were verbally given by Oyasama, the phrase "by Oyasama" being understood to include the meaning of "through the Honseki, Izo Iburi," because as we are told the everliving Oyasama conveyed the divine intention through him. Second, this term could be used in a narrow sense to denote one of Tenrikyo's Three Scriptures, the one that was compiled from the transcriptions of those verbal revelations. The rest of this article is concerned with the second usage.

The second Shinbashira, Shozen Nakayama--in his 1960 paper entitled "The Various Forms of Verbal Evolution in Tenrikyo Doctrine," which he read at the 10th Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions held in Marburg--characterized the Three Scriptures by saying that the Ofudesaki "revealed the most important principles of the faith," that the Mikagura-uta "become[s] alive through singing or as the accompaniment" to the service dance, and that the Osashizu "gives concrete precepts by which the followers should reflect on their own conduct."

The edition of the Osashizu that is now in use was published between October 1963 and January 1966 in commemoration of the 80th Anniversary of Oyasama, which was observed in 1966. The original edition, on which the present edition is based, was published in thirty-three volumes over a six-year period between 1927 and 1931 and, subsequently, recompiled and published as a set of eight volumes to commemorate the "dual anniversaries," namely the 50th Anniversary of Oyasama and the 100th Anniversary of the Teaching, observed in 1936 and 1937, respectively. The preparation of the new edition involved, among other efforts, revising the punctuation of the text, which originally made use of only commas and no periods; applying Chinese characters wherever possible since the original transcriptions were written almost entirely in the Japanese syllabary (kana); and incorporating newly collected and authenticated transcriptions. The present edition, which is in seven volumes, records some 20,000 Divine Directions, delivered between January 4, 1887, and June 9, 1907.

The Divine Directions can be classified into two groups according to the nature of what prompted the delivery. One comprises those that God took the initiative to deliver as befitted the time and situation in order to bring about salvation. The other group consists of those that were delivered in response to inquiries made by individuals or groups about illness, natural disasters, other issues of various sorts encountered in the course of life, and ways of handling church affairs. The former is known as "Timely Talks" and the latter as "Directions in Response to Inquiries."

The two groups are also different in terms of content. "Timely talks and those in response to inquiries are totally different," says a Divine Direction (Osashizu, May 14, 1892). Timely Talks, delivered at times deemed appropriate by God (Osashizu, November 3, 1899), sought to urge the spiritual growth of those working toward the Joyous Life, which was the purpose of God's creation of humankind (Osashizu, March 30, 1898); to caution them against neglecting the tasks that specific seasons required them to perform (Osashizu, May 22, 1895); and occasionally to predict what lay ahead (Osashizu, August 16, 1888). On the other hand, the Directions belonging to the other group, that is God's responses to humans' inquiries, were addressing the workings of the inquirers' minds (Osashizu, May 14, 1892). This is not to say that they were intended only for the personal use of the inquirers. Rather, the instructions telling intermediaries to write down the Directions being delivered (Osashizu, April 6, 1890) and to share them with others indicate that specific, concrete inquiries were taken as opportunities to provide universal teachings. Furthermore, some Directions initially responding to humans' inquiries turned into Timely Talks in the middle. There are also Directions whose content effectively makes them Timely Talks, such as those given in response to inquiries about the illness of the Honseki.

As regards the procedures for requesting Divine Directions, inquirers did not personally approach the Honseki to inquire about God's intention. Rather, they approached intermediaries, who relayed their inquiries to the Shinbashira, who in turn relayed them to the Honseki, who was acting on behalf of Oyasama. The Divine Directions were quickly written down while they were being delivered, and the transcriptions were given to the inquirers.

The Divine Directions provide followers with nourishment for their lives of faith and concrete guiding principles for their practice of faith.

(This article was first published in the March 2007 issue of TENRIKYO.)