The Service (Otsutome)

by Yoshikazu Fukaya

During Her fifty years as the Divine Model, Oyasama taught us the path of single-hearted salvation in order to bring about the true salvation of the world. Oyasama taught the Service as the path of single-hearted salvation. She constantly sought to hasten the completion of the Service, and in fact She shortened Her physical term of life by twenty-five years in order to encourage its completion. When we hear the word "Service" in relation to Tenrikyo, perhaps the "morning and evening services" and "monthly service" most readily come to mind.

At the morning and evening services, we sit and perform the hand movements to the rhythm of the wooden clappers, cymbals, drum, and small gong. In the morning, we express our appreciation for being able to greet the day and for the wonderful body God the Parent lends us. In the morning, we also pray for the blessings that will allow the day to go smoothly and enable us to work cheerfully and spiritedly in good health. In the evening, we express our gratitude for the blessings that helped lead us through the day and offer our prayers for the next day.

When worshiping on an individual basis--e.g., outside the times designated for the morning and evening services--we often do the same "service," performing the same hand movements of the morning and evening services, although we do so without the accompaniment of the musical instruments. We also perform a "prayer service" in the same manner when praying for the resolution of an illness or other trouble (though the wooden clappers may be used in this case). It can be said that the way we pray to God the Parent predominantly takes the form of the morning and evening services.

As for the monthly service that we conduct at each of our churches, these services are not independent and separate events from the "Service of the Kanrodai" conducted at Jiba. Church monthly services have their significance only because they receive the truth of the Jiba, which connects the Service of the Kanrodai with these services.

Oyasama taught the means to save the people of the world through conducting the Service of the Kanrodai. The Service I mentioned earlier, which Oyasama tried to complete even by shortening Her physical term of life by twenty-five years, is none other than the Service of the Kanrodai.

The Service of the Kanrodai--Stand for the Heavenly Dew

The Service of the Kanrodai is conducted only around the Jiba-Kanrodai. Although there were two or three occasions when Oyasama gave special permission for it to be conducted in other places during Her physical lifetime (such as the Service for Rain), it has not been conducted anywhere else but the Jiba since then. Because the Service is conducted around the Kanrodai, it is also called the "Service of the Kanrodai."

The "Kanrodai," as I noted elsewhere, is the name of the stand that marks the Jiba of Origin (Refer to 5.58) as the very spot where humankind was originally conceived. It is absolutely impermissible to have the Kanrodai sit at any place other than the Jiba of Origin. The Kanrodai is six-sided and composed of thirteen layers put atop one another. Oyasama carefully gave the instructions that specify its overall shape and the exact dimensions of its individual layers; it is shaped so as to symbolize the truth of the creation and subsequent growth of humankind.

The word "Kanrodai" literally means the "Stand for the Heavenly Dew." Thus it is a stand that is built to receive the "heavenly dew" from God the Parent. The heavenly dew, also called the Gift of Heaven, will in turn be given by the everliving Oyasama to those who have lived up to Her intention.

Oyasama instructed Izo Iburi to build a model Kanrodai in 1873. Following the identification of the Jiba in 1875, this model Kanrodai was placed at the Jiba for the first time when a prayer service was conducted to pray for Kokan's recovery from illness.

Oyasama taught that peace would truly settle in the world if the Kanrodai was put in place. The construction of a stone Kanrodai began in 1881, but this construction came to a halt after the completion of two layers. The police then confiscated these two layers in May 1882. Following this incident, Oyasama began to urge the spiritual growth of humankind ever more strongly, declaring that the Kanrodai would only be completed when the minds of everyone in the world became purified.

When the construction of the South Worship Hall was completed in October 1934, a wooden Kanrodai was built according to the shape and dimensions specified by Oyasama, and presently the Service of the Kanrodai is joyously and spiritedly conducted with the Kanrodai as center.

As I mentioned, the Kanrodai is the stand to receive the heavenly dew from God the Parent, marks the Jiba, and serves as center when the Service of the Kanrodai is conducted. The Kanrodai also serves as the focal point for worship, but it must be made clear that this signifies that when we worship, we pray to God the Parent and not the Kanrodai itself.

The Kagura Service--Joyous Service

The Service of the Kanrodai is performed by ten dancers around the Kanrodai. The people who have been selected to perform the Service of the Kanrodai through the workings of God the Parent are called "Service performers."

The ten Service dancers each stand at their designated position, wear a kagura mask (one of two lion masks, four male masks, or four female masks), and enact hand movements that are specific to their respectively assigned role. The Service is also called the Kagura Service because kagura masks are worn during its performance.

We may ask ourselves: Why can't the Kagura Service be conducted at a place other than the Jiba? Why is it performed by ten dancers around the Kanrodai? Why does each of the dancers wear a particular mask and enact specific hand movements? Finally, how can all the people of the world achieve salvation through the performance of the Service?

We can find the answers to these questions when we come to understand the Story of Creation (or the Truth of Origin--Refer to 4.32, 7.3). We are taught in this story that humankind was originally conceived at the Jiba of Origin where the Kanrodai now stands. The world and humankind were then created through the ten aspects of the complete providence of God the Parent. Each aspect of the complete providence is given a sacred name and represented by one of the ten dancers of the Kagura Service, who enact the hand movements that help manifest the blessings to have human beings become spiritually reborn and in turn reconstruct this world into the world of the Joyous Life.

It is vital that the Service be conducted joyously and spiritedly, with everyone--especially the Service performers--having truly purified their minds and having melted into the intention of God the Parent. We are taught that God the Parent will also become spirited upon accepting the spirited Service performance completed in unity of mind, which will manifest God's free and unlimited blessings, creating a world overflowing with joy in which God the Parent and humankind dwell in perfect union. Because the Kagura Service is to be performed with such joy, it is also called the "Joyous Service."