Practice (Manabi)

by Yoshikazu Fukaya

The word "practice" (manabi) is found in the Divine Directions (February 20, 1891) that were delivered in response to an inquiry relating to the Fifth Anniversary of Oyasama. Oyasama had intently hastened to bring the Service to realization in the midst of increasing hardships and urged its completion to the point of shortening Her physical life by twenty-five years. Because the Fifth Anniversary was to be the first anniversary conducted to commemorate Her withdrawal from physical life since Tenrikyo Church Headquarters gained its official recognition and the first to be conducted by followers of the path without outside interference, there was a desire on everyone's part to bring joy to Oyasama by performing the Kagura Service magnificently before Her. Thus our predecessors requested permission to relocate the Kanrodai toward Oyasama's Resting House (a building comparable to the present Foundress' Sanctuary). The answer was:

The Kanrodai is the one thing which exists at no other place. You must not move it to any other ground.

This Direction clearly indicated that the Jiba-Kanrodai could never be moved, even within the same Residence or even brought before Oyasama. Even though they were told that the Kanrodai could not be moved, they again inquired if they could at least perform the Kagura Service somehow in the presence of Oyasama. The answer they recieved was, "Sah, sah, practice, practice."

This response made clear that the Kagura Service was to be performed only around the Kanrodai and that it was not to be conducted away from Jiba for any reason. Permission to perform the Service was given with the condition that it was to be a practice.

The Japanese word "manabi" originated from "manebi," meaning "imitation" or "mere form." Because it referred to doing something in outward appearance alone and not in a formal manner, the word took on the meanings of "practice" or "exercise" and also came to be used to mean "learning" or "study" as in imitating the technique of one's senior or master.

However, the Service performed at the Fifth Anniversary ought not to be called a mere practice. It was a Service our predecessors performed with the single sincere desire to have Oyasama see it performed magnificently in the exact manner that She had taught them. Although it was not sanctioned as having the truth of the Kagura Service or Service of the Kanrodai, it was not a mere practice but a Service performance they put their entire heart and soul into. Here we see the first clear historical reference to a "practice" in Tenrikyo.

Presently at Church Headquarters, two songs of the Teodori are performed before Oyasama after every morning service, and this is called a "Teodori practice." Such practices are done after morning services at local churches as well (or after evening services at some churches).

On the occasion of local annual conventions or monthly meetings of the Women's Association or Young Men's Association, the seated service and the Teodori are performed in the same manner as a church monthly service. At some churches in Japan, there are monthly events known as "initiation services" and "sermon days" where the service is performed. But these services are different from church monthly services in that they have not been granted the truth of the Jiba. Today, we call these services "practice services."