This section introduces some of Konkokyo's key vocabulary and religious beliefs.
The Name "Konkokyo"
"Konko" means golden light and "kyo" is a suffix which means religion. The name signifies Konkokyo's desire to shine a bright light on humanity with teachings of the Universe. In English, "Konkokyo" is translated as "Konko religion" or "Konko faith."
Tenchi Kane No Kami
This is the deity whose workings are felt throughout the entire universe and in the very lives of all human beings. This is the name of the deity that Konkokyo believers worship.
Tenchi Kane No Kami is the parent Kami of all humanity. This Kami's love and grace has and continues to envelope all of humanity and all other forms of life, regardless if they are dead or alive.
Although the workings of Tenchi Kane No Kami extend throughout the Universe, Kami is also fostering and watching over humanity as well as other living entities. Kami's wish is for all living things to accept and perform the role that has been allocated to them, during their lifetime and after.
The Founder (Konko Daijin) also called Tenchi Kane No Kami as "Tenchi No Kami-Sama," "Oyagami-Sama," "Kami-Sama," and "Kami." In English, our deity is called "Divine Parent of the Universe," "Principle Parent," "Parent Kami," "Kami-Sama," or "Kami." Although a male pronoun (He) is used for linguistic convenience, it does not signify the gender of the deity.
In normal language, the word "universe" refers to the cosmos, Earth, outer space, nature, etc. In Konkokyo, this word also signifies the function to enable everything in heaven and earth to live and exist in order. It is a universe which functions and operates eternally for the benefit of living things. The Founder saw this universe as a deity named Tenchi Kane No Kami. The universe is this deity's body.
People's Divine Parent
Konkokyo believes that Tenchi Kane No Kami is the parent of all people. All people are allotted both physical bodies and a piece of Tenchi Kane No Kami's heart and spirit upon birth. People are therefore all children of Tenchi Kane No Kami who, as the parent, strives to support and protect us.
People Ignoring Their Divine Parent Connection
When humans live in peace and tranquility, they tend to forget about Tenchi Kane No Kami, the Universe which sustains and protects life. People become arrogant and think they can live according to their own volition while disregarding the Universe. They seek to alter and control nature and use science and technology for their own convenience. However, such benefits have come at the cost of environmental pollution and destruction, economic disparity, and other problems.
The Founder said that people must be humble and accept the ways of the Universe, listen to the teachings of the Universe, and reform one's selfish and self-centered ways.
Helping and Saving Others
Helping and saving people are central precepts in Konkokyo. The foremost wish of Tenchi Kane No Kami is to help and save people. But He can do so only through people. By helping people, one performs the work of this benevolent deity. This deity is thereby brought to life by people. The person essentially becomes an extension of this deity. This deity therefore depends on people for its existence, and at the same time, people depend on this deity for their existence and happiness.
Interdependence (Aiyo kakeyo)
There is a mutually dependent relationship between Tenchi Kane No Kami and people. People cannot exist without Tenchi Kane No Kami, and Tenchi Kane No Kami cannot exist without people. With air, water, food, and other blessings of the Universe in Tenchi Kane No Kami's body, people can live and work. In return, Tenchi Kane No Kami asks that people help and save others, live according to the ways of the Universe, and make the world a happy and peaceful place to live. By fulfilling Tenchi Kane No Kami's wishes, people bring Tenchi Kane No Kami's work to life. Through this mutually reliant and interdependent relationship, both Tenchi Kane No Kami and people can continue to exist and work together to make the world happy and peaceful.
Becoming an Ikigami (Living kami/deity)
Since all people are born with a part of Tenchi Kane No Kami's heart and spirit, everyone has the latent ability to become an ikigami ( a living kami/deity). By embodying Tenchi Kane No Kami's intentions and carrying out His wish to save people, anyone can become an extension of Tenchi Kane No Kami, and therefore an ikigami. An ikigami is not an exalted being or someone with mysterious, spiritual powers. It is the ideal human being who strives to save people from suffering and problems and to make the world a happier place to live in.
Tenchi Kane No Kami is invisible, but His work is visible through the efforts of people striving to become an ikigami. And only through such people can Tenchi Kane No Kami come to life in the real world.
"Toritsugi" means mediation. In Konkokyo, Toritsugi (Mediation) is performed to establish a communication link between people and Tenchi Kane No Kami. It is performed on a one-to-one basis by a Konkokyo minister in a Konkokyo church. A visitor enters the church, sits in front of the minister, and says whatever is on his or her mind. It can be a request to resolve a problem or a word of thanks. The minister then relays the visitor's words through Ikigami Konko Daijin to Tenchi Kane No Kami who then speaks through the minister. By following Tenchi Kane No Kami's teachings and advice, the visitor can attain solutions to problems and live a happier life.
When a person has a problem, often times he or she becomes too obsessed or preoccupied with the problem and loses sight of the overall picture or the things that are more important. Toritsugi (Mediation) helps the person put the problem into proper perspective and find solutions from within.
Tenchi Kane No Kami uses people to voice His words and to make people become aware of their relationship with the Universe and the ways of the Universe. And by working within the framework of this Universe instead of going against it, people can avoid common pitfalls which lead to pain and suffering. While Toritsugi at churches is performed by ministers, lay members are encouraged to perform Toritsugi in their daily lives. When they meet suffering people, they listen to their problems, tell them about the faith, and pray for them. Kami wishes for all people to become a mediator.
Ikigami Konko Daijin
Ikigami Konko Daijin is the divine name that the Founder Konko Daijin received from Kami in 1868. This name has meant Konko Daijin himself and later the function to mediate between Kami and people, which is an everlasting function for the salvation of human beings.
Kami gave divine names to those who fulfilled Kami's wish by promoting faith and carrying on the task of helping people. Ikigami Konko Daijin was the last of the divine names that the Founder received from Kami, beginning with "Bunji Daimyojin," then "Konshi Daimyojin," "Konko Daimyojin," "Konko Daigongen," and finally "Ikigami Konko Daijin."
Ikigami or a living god is a human who lives in the world as an incarnation of the wish and work of Kami to save mankind. It is the goal for all humans to be totally saved. Konko Daijin said the path to becoming a living god is open to everyone.
"Konko Daijin" means a human who has incarnated the "golden light" or divine virtue of Tenchi Kane No Kami. The divine name of Konko Daijin was also given to the disciples of the Founder, Saito Juemon and Kataoka Jiroshiro.
It is said that the Founder prayed to Kami chanting "Ikigami Konko Daijin sama, Ikigami Konko Daijin sama." He advised the worshipers, "When you are in distress, pray to Kami chanting "Ikigami Konko Daijin sama."
Tenchi Kakitsuke (Divine Reminder)
This is a piece of paper written with a message that is the essence of the Konko faith and the starting point for all Konkokyo activities and endeavors.
Called the "Divine Reminder" in English, it is translated as follows:
This Divine Reminder urges people to give requests to Tenchi Kane No Kami for all things through Ikigami Konko Daijin's toritsugi mediation, to awaken the kami or deity in oneself, and to embrace Tenchi Kane No Kami in daily life. It serves to remind believers that blessings and happiness are found within one's heart..
The Divine Reminder was first written by the Founder in 1873. He wrote it on pieces of paper and gave it to his followers. He said that it was a talisman for one's heart and a reminder to practice faith every day. He stipulated that it be displayed in plain view.
Today, a framed copy of the Divine Reminder is the centerpiece of the altar in Konkokyo churches. It is also prominently displayed in Konkokyo facilities and in the homes of believers. A small copy can also be carried in one's pocket. When believers open their hearts to Tenchi Kane No Kami or request help from Tenchi Kane No Kami, they recite this Divine Reminder / Tenchi Kakitsuke message or look at it and read it in their hearts. During services and ceremonies, the Divine Reminder is recited.
Konkokyo holds memorial services to thank our ancestors for giving us life and protection. At the services, living descendants also pray to have their ancestral spirits join hands with Tenchi Kane No Kami to bestow even more blessings. Since the ancestral spirits and the spirits of the living all came from Tenchi Kane No Kami, we are all related. By giving thanks to ancestral spirits, we also give thanks the spirit living within our hearts. Ultimately, we celebrate the spirit which links past life and future life. That is, the life of the living.
No Heaven or Hell
According to Konkokyo beliefs, there is no Heaven or Hell upon death. Konkokyo believes that each person is allotted a part of Tenchi Kane No Kami's spirit upon birth. Each person therefore has the latent ability to act as a divinity. Thus, a person is already a spirit even while living.
When a person dies, his or her spirit rejoins Tenchi Kane No Kami's for eternity. This fate is not based on Tenchi Kane No Kami's decision nor on one's beliefs or behavior (the committing of sins, etc.) during life. It is guaranteed to all. All living and deceased things are part of Tenchi Kane No Kami's body and they can never be apart from this body. Death is the melding with the heart and spirit of Tenchi Kane No Kami and the continued existence with Tenchi Kane No Kami for helping people and their world for eternity.
Heaven or Hell can exist only in the mind and heart of those who have such beliefs. Konkokyo also does not believe in transmigration or reincarnation.