Yoboku ようぼく・用木, translated as (useful) timber in the English translation of the Ofudesaki, has been generally defined as a person “who comes forward to serve God the Parent.” The original meaning of the word Yoboku referred to a piece of wood to be used as material for a building or craftwork. It is happens to be one of several construction-related metaphors Oyasama used to refer to individuals who were to participate in the reconstruction of the world into the world of the Joyous Life.
The term Yoboku eventually came to be used to refer to a Tenrikyo missionary or, more specifically, a person who has received the sacrament of the Sazuke as a result of Tenrikyo’s post-war restoration effort to bring the religious organization and its practices closer to what Oyasama taught.
"Yoboku" as a category of Tenrikyo member
Tenrikyo once had the following three-tiered classification of its membership: 信徒 shinto (believer), 教徒 kyoto (adherent), and 教師 kyoshi (instructor). When The Constitution of Tenrikyo was revised in 1959, this classification system was replaced with 信者 shinja (follower), ようぼく Yoboku, and 教人 kyoto (lay minister). The classification of Yoboku thereafter came to be defined as a follower who attended the nine Besseki lectures and received the truth (sacrament) of the Sazuke.
According to A Glossary of Tenrikyo Terms:
- “It may be noted that this definition of the term ‘Yoboku’ was introduced purely for the sake of convenience. As far as the Ofudesaki is concerned, the significance of being Yoboku is to serve in God’s work of salvation as the instruments of Oyasama.”
“The Yoboku” happens to be the title of Chapter Nine of The Doctrine of Tenrikyo, which was first published in 1949.
Useful timber as mentioned in the Ofudesaki
According to the Ofudesaki chushaku (Annotations to the Ofudesaki), a Yoboku or (useful) timber refers to a person who serves God the Parent. The same work defines yogi as an alternate term for Yoboku, going on to define it as:
- “building materials for the construction of the mind and the construction of the world. It refers to a person who devotes him or herself as God the Parent’s hands and feet to the sacred task of single-hearted salvation.”
Appearances of “Yoboku” in the Ofudesaki
- Ofudesaki 03:049
- Ofudesaki 03:128
- Ofudesaki 03:129
- Ofudesaki 03:130
- Ofudesaki 03:131
- Ofudesaki 03:140–1
- Ofudesaki 15:060
Appearances of “yogi” in the Ofudesaki
- Ofudesaki 03:130
- Ofudesaki 07:15
- Ofudesaki 07:18
- Ofudesaki 07:22
- Ofudesaki 07:23
- Ofudesaki 12:014
- Ofudesaki 12:015
- Ofudesaki 15:059
"Yoboku" in the Osashizu
The only appearance of Yoboku in the Osashizu is a Divine Direction from September 27, 1900. It appears that the term is used in the context of an actual construction and not in the metaphoric sense of a person who serves as God’s building material for the Joyous Life.
(pages nos. refer to hardcopy equivalent)
- Entry "Yoboku" from Words of the Path by Yoshikazu Fukaya (pp. 100–1)
- Excerpt “Yoboku” from Growing Spiritually Day by Day by Zenye Nakayama (pp. 101–9)
- Excerpt from The Doctrine of Tenrikyo: "Chapter Nine – Yoboku" (pp. 66–71)
- 『おふでさき注釈』 Ofudesaki chusaku, p. 37.
- Weblio: 用木
- Other construction-related metaphors include Shinbashira and Toryo (master carpenter). See The Doctrine of Tenrikyo, pp. 7–8.
- A Glossary of Tenrikyo Terms, p. 482.
- This is only an educated guess of how these characters were read.
- 深谷善和 Fukaya Yoshikazu. 『お道のことば』 Omichi no kotoba, p. 199. For online English-equivalent, see “Minister (Kyoto).”
- The Constitution of Tenrikyo, third edition (2003), p. 8 (Article 46).
- Yoboku is written in the Ofudesaki as both よふぼく and よふほく. See 『おふでさき索引』 Ofudesaki sakuin, pp. 227–8.
- 『改訂 天理教辞典』 Kaitei Tenrikyo jiten, p. 931.
- Yogi is in written the Ofudesaki as よふき, よふ木, and よふ木゛. See 『おふでさき索引』 Ofudesaki sakuin, p. 227.
- 『おふでさき注釈』 Ofudesaki chushaku, p. 116.
- 『おさしづ索引』 Osashizu sakuin (index) vol. 3, p. 740/2710.
- The Divine Direction in question is Osashizu 1900-09-27 A.