Central Pillar (Shinbashira)

by Yoshikazu Fukaya

In the Ofudesaki, the book of revelation written by Oyasama, we read:

Truly, the hastening in the mind of God is to put in the central pillar quickly.

Ofudesaki III:8

To set up quickly the central pillar of God, who began this world, is God's single desire.

Ofudesaki III:118

"Shinbashira," of which "shin no hashira" is a variant form, was originally a term used in architecture to refer to the main pillar to be erected in the center of a building.

The term as used in the Ofudesaki has two meanings. First, it refers to the Kanrodai, which is the pillar that marks the Jiba, the birthplace of humankind. The Kanrodai, which is to receive the Heavenly Dew from God the Parent, serves as the center for the performance of the Kagura Service, which is the fundamental means of universal salvation.

Second, the term refers to the administrative and spiritual leader of Tenrikyo followers, who have faith in this path, as in the case of the first Shinbashira, Shinnosuke Nakayama, about whom Oyasama said in advance of his birth, "The child to be called Shinnosuke is destined to be the Shinbashira." The Ofudesaki contains a reference to the "Shinbashira, who is to settle matters within" (III:56).

In the Ofudesaki, there are many verses that seem to indicate both these meanings at the same time--the "central pillar" as the Kanrodai, which is to be set up to mark the source and center of world salvation, and the "central pillar" as the Shinbashira, who occupies the central place among those of us who have faith in this path as our spiritual leader. The following verse is a case in point:

If only the central pillar is quickly put in, everything will be settled firmly forever.

Ofudesaki III:67

The verse expresses a desire to hasten the establishment of the "central pillar," and for this to occur, says the Scripture elsewhere, it is of paramount importance to purify people's minds.

The year 1975 marked a full 100 years since the Jiba for the Kanrodai was identified in 1875. During those ten decades, Tenrikyo had to undertake many difficult journeys amidst storms of persecution and interference. Thankfully, however, the Kanrodai made to the measurements specified by Oyasama--though it was still a "model Kanrodai"--was installed at the Jiba in October 1934, which is to say fifteen months before the 50th Anniversary of Oyasama. Thereby, performing the Service of the Kanrodai in the way that Oyasama had taught--that is, performing it with the Kanrodai as its center--finally became possible. In addition, the first, second, and third Shinbashiras* have been guiding us--each as our spiritual parent and the leader of the path.

The "central pillar" refers, indeed, to the core of faith for us followers, our spiritual guide, and our true Parent.

Relying on this Parent, let's rise up spiritedly and advance on the path of single-hearted salvation with all our minds united into one.

*The original of this article was published in 1977. The fourth Shinbashira was installed in 1998.