Osashizu おさしづ (The Divine Directions) is one of Tenrikyo's Three Scriptures. In a broad sense, the term is used refer to all of God’s oral revelations that were delivered through Oyasama and Izo Iburi. In a narrow sense, “Osashizu” refers to the seven-volume collection that compiles nearly 20,000 revelations that were delivered between January 4, 1887 and June 9, 1907.
Analysis of the word “Osashizu”
It is a convention in Tenrikyo literature to write in “Osashizu” in hiragana, i.e., おさしづ. To break up the title “Osashizu” into its basic components:
- "O" is an honorific that represents the reverence Tenrikyo adherents have for this Scripture and the recognition that God or the everliving Oyasama ultimately conveyed its contents.
- “Sashizu” is a term that generally means “instruction(s)” or “direction(s).” (Hence its English title, “The Divine Directions.”)
Categories of Divine Directions
Divine Directions are generally divided into two general categories:
- “Timely Talks” (刻限のさしづ kokugen no sashizu)—Timely Talks (also translated “Timely Directions”), more often than not, refer to urgent revelations that were delivered spontaneously and without warning. These were revelations that were initiated from the side of God (Oyasama).
- “Directions in Response to Inquiries” (伺いのさしづ ukagai no sashizu)—were delivered in response to inquiries made by individuals or groups concerning illness, marriage prospects, church-related matters, and other affairs.
The first edition of the Osashizu was first published in 33 fascicles between 1927 and 1931. These fascicles were republished as a set of eight volumes to commemorate the so-called “dual anniversaries”—the 50th Anniversary of Oyasama (1936) and the Centennial Anniversary of Tenrikyo (1937). This edition of the Osashizu was later recalled due to government pressure in the years building up to World War II.
The most recent edition of the Osashizu was published between October 1963 and January 1966 in commemoration of the 80th Anniversary of Oyasama (1966). As the original edition had minimal punctuation (commas only) and was written almost entirely in hiragana, the new edition was revised to add periods and kanji. The newer edition also included additions of newly authenticated transcriptions of Divine Directions.
Of the 20,000 Divine Directions that were compiled for the current edition of the Osashizu, only four were actually delivered by Oyasama:
The remaining passages from the Divine Directions were all delivered through Izo Iburi. Although some transcripts of Oyasama's oral pronouncements exist (such as Bunmonki and Oyasama o-kotoba that were recorded by Ihachiro Yamada), they are not considered Scripture.
Years as covered by volume
- Volume 1 (January 4, 1887–1890)
- Volume 2 (1891–1892)
- Volume 3 (1893–1895)
- Volume 4 (1896–1899)
- Volume 5 (1900–1901)
- Volume 6 (1902–June 9, 1907)
- Volume 7 (supplemental volume)
Common misconceptions/Transcribing the Divine Directions
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Translator(s): Roy Forbes
Since the seven-volume Osashizu is often placed with the three-volume index (Osashizu sakuin) some people mistake that the Osashizu consists of ten volumes.
A more common misconception regarding the Osashizu is that it was physically written by Oyasama and/or Izo Iburi. The Osashizu is actually a written record of oral revelation. The following passages by Eitaro Imamura help clear up this matter:
- "Needless to say, the Divine Directions were recorded by writing brush as God's instructions were delivered through the lips of the Honseki (Izo Iburi). Unlike the Ofudesaki, it is not a Scripture that was directly written by God. And on top of this, the Divine Directions were transcribed by writing brush on rough rice paper. There were no tape recorders like we have today, and scribes who were in charge with transcribing God's words were not necessarily knowledgeable in shorthand techniques. Scribes simply transcribed quickly as God spoke. There were times when God the Parent was in extreme haste to get the message across. It would be natural for the Divine Directions to be delivered at a much faster pace in such cases. I am sure that even at a normal pace, it is nearly impossible to completely transcribe everything we say without missing a word or two. We can only imagine how even more it difficult was for our forebears, who were not very used to the exercise in the first place, to record what was said by writing brush. I always feel that just the fact we have what we have is an accomplishment that approaches a miracle.
- "I once heard that Rev. Shobei Masuno was the main scribe of the Divine Directions in 1887 and several years thereafter. It is unclear when the practice first began, but ultimately three ministers would always be on duty as scribes at the Honseki's residence. When the Divine Directions were delivered, the three scribes would each take a brush and record God's words. When the Direction was completed, they would read over what they had transcribed and identify any mistakes, words they may have misheard, or missing phrases and prepare a clean copy. Masajin Iburi (the Honseki's son) was the main scribe of the Divine Directions in the fourth decade of the Meiji era (1897–1906). One can say that typographic errors, missing phrases, and misheard words became fewer as a result of everyone becoming accustomed to the task. We can more or less recognize this by reading the Directions transcribed after 1897. However, the Divine Directions from 1887 and 1888 are extremely hard to understand. Many passages from this time do not make any sense unless we add the appropriate interpretation between certain words. This leads me to believe that there is a fair amount of missing phrases from these Directions."
Currently, there is no translation of the entire Osashizu. Its length is certainly one obstacle to its translation. Another obstacle is the difficulty of interpretation of particular Directions. Rev. Imamura noted that there are two main characteristics of the Osashizu that make its interpretation difficult: One is the fact we lack detailed information on the historical context of several Divine Directions. Second is that it has many terms that are unique to the Yamato dialect that was used in the late 19th century. The first issue is exacerbated by the fact that Divine Directions from earlier years often have places where there lines and phrases that were missed by the scribe, as indicated by Rev. Imamura above.
The following texts are the closest there are to an English version of the Osashizu:
- A Glossary of Tenrikyo Terms. "Divine Directions." pp. 71–3.
- Fukaya, Yoshikazu. "Osashizu." Words of the Path, p. 26.
- Online edition of Osashizu (Japanese only)
- 今村英太郎 Imamura Eitaro. 『おぢば今昔ばなし』 Ojiba konjaku banashi [Tales of the Jiba, past and present]. pp. 81–3.