The Scriptures and The Doctrine of Tenrikyo (Genten to kyoten)

by Yoshikazu Fukaya

In Tenrikyo there are Three Scriptures: the Ofudesaki (The Tip of the Writing Brush), the Mikagura-uta (The Songs for the Service), and the Osashizu (The Divine Directions).

Although each of the Three Scriptures will be covered in detail in an entry of its own, it must be noted here that they are written records of God the Parent's intention and thus all represent the primary sources on which our faith in the path is based.

After the Meiji Restoration (1868), the government authorities enacted severe persecution and interference over Tenrikyo. Along with stopping followers from coming to the Residence to worship and performing the Service, law enforcement also paid close attention to the Ofudesaki, which was written by Oyasama Herself. The first Shinbashira, Shinnosuke Nakayama, once took it upon himself to hide it when government officials expressed a desire to burn it. Following Oyasama's withdrawal from physical life, government interference over the content of the teachings became even more severe so that there was a time when the Scriptures had to be kept secret. Our predecessors of that time, beginning with the first Shinbashira, protected the Scriptures with their lives.

It was the second Shinbashira, Shozen Nakayama, who undertook the publication of the Scriptures as his life work while weathering the fierce storm of an authoritarian state. Thanks to his tremendous efforts, the Scriptures are now close at hand, and we are able to read God the Parent's intention for ourselves at any time.

The Doctrine of Tenrikyo is based on the Scriptures and was compiled in such a way as to help us better understand and familiarize ourselves with the fundamentals of the teachings. The second Shinbashira authorized the text on October 26, 1949. As we read the Doctrine thoroughly and repeatedly, we can savor in our minds God the Parent's intention as revealed in the Ofudesaki and the other Scriptures in an organized, systematic manner. Through the Doctrine, we can also create a foundation that helps us familiarize ourselves with the Scriptures themselves and savor their content and meaning. With this in mind, the Doctrine can be described as an important handbook that acts as an entrance into our further study of the Scriptures.

Before The Doctrine of Tenrikyo we have at present, there was once another "Doctrine" compiled in 1903 (generally referred to as the "Meiji kyoten"). Although Tenrikyo gained legal recognition as a religion in 1888, Church Headquarters was placed under the jurisdiction of the Shinto Honkyoku (Shinto Central Bureau), which propagated doctrines that were completely different from ours, and the government utilized this situation to continue its repression of Tenrikyo. Our predecessors put a great amount of effort into having Tenrikyo become an independent religious organization. This effort is known as the "drive toward sectarian independence" and one of the conditions our predecessors needed to meet was "doctrinal development." This meant the formulation of a Doctrine that complied with the guiding principles of the state.

Because the Meiji kyoten was created under such conditions, there is a significant difference in purpose between that kyoten and the present Doctrine, which is based solely on the intention of God the Parent. With this in mind, we may say that the Meiji kyoten reflects the utmost efforts made by followers during a time when they had no choice but to tread the only path that was offered to them.