For readers of the international edition of Divine Signposts

Divine Signposts is one of the sacred books of Oomoto.

In Oomoto there are two basic scriptures: one is Divine Revelations of Oomoto in seven volumes (written in automatic writing by DEGUCHI Nao, the Foundress of Oomoto, and containing the prophecies and warnings about the demolition and reconstruction of the world), and the other is Stories from the Spiritual World in 81 volumes (dictated by DEGUCHI Onisaburo, and containing the doctrine and plan of world salvation). Besides these there are two other sacred books written by Onisaburo: one is called Light on the Path and the other is Divine Signposts. To gain a sufficient understanding of Oomoto it is necessary to read the other scriptures along with this one.

Divine Signposts is a book which Oomoto believers should read quietly after morning or evening prayers or in their own homes; thus it has the character not only of a book of doctrine, but also of a guide to true faith.

Because this book is one of the holy scriptures, we have intentionally refrained from adding an “explanation”, and we have kept the notes to a minimum. Conventional explanations and commentaries we will keep for other books which we intend to compile on Oomoto history and Oomoto doctrine.

For the first-time reader of this book, however, it may be helpful to explain this book’s characteristics and the background against which it came into being, as an aid to understanding.

1. The birth of Oomoto

Oomoto was founded by DEGUCHI Nao (1837-1918) in Ayabe, in Kyoto Prefecture, in 1892.

Japan was then on the road to becoming a modern society: it had abandoned its 300-year isolation; its new government, founded at the time of the Meiji Restoration, had established a constitution in 1889; and was actively adopting European civilisation and capitalism.

The Foundress of Oomoto, DEGUCHI Nao, was a 55-year-old widow living in the depths of poverty when she was first possessed by the “God Ushitora” in February 1892. The God made the illiterate Nao take a writing brush and her hand moved automatically to write startling prophecies and warnings.

These divine revelations were called “Fudesaki” (the Japanese fudesaki means sacred scriptures), and the quantity of writings reached 10,000 volumes (one volume consisting of 20 sheets of Japanese paper) during the 26 years until the Foundress’s passing.

In the Fudesaki, at the beginning of Oomoto, the God Ushitora declares, “All worlds in the entire universe come into flower at once like plum blossom. I, Ushitora, have appeared.”

“After carrying out a great cleansing and purification of the whole universe, I will rule the world in peace as a divine world, which will last for all ages.”

“Know that the words of God will come true without any error, not even a hair’s breadth of difference. If it were not so, God would not exist in this world.”

These words of revelation are published in Divine Revelations of Oomoto.

The revelations go on to show clearly the purpose of the founding of Oomoto: “I will change the selfish and violent world and will build on earth a divine world, in which all gods and people will live in harmony and happiness, and which will last forever.” The Fudesaki extends over various subjects, such as the reconstruction of the phenomenal world, prophecies and warnings for the human race, the origin and destiny of Gods and gods, the relationship between God and humans, and the reason for the appearance of Oomoto.

2. DEGUCHI Onisaburo, the Co-founder of Oomoto

Oomoto has two founders, DEGUCHI Nao and DEGUCHI Onisaburo.

The Foundress explained that part of the doctrine which corresponds to the warp function (God’s plan for the future) and the Co-founder that which corresponds to the weft (earthly salvation).

DEGUCHI Onisaburo (1871-1948) was born in Kameoka in Kyoto Prefecture, and his childhood name was Ueda Kisaburo. He was regarded as something of a wonder-child; at the age of 26 he underwent a week-long spiritual and bodily asceticism on the holy mountain Takakuma, near his birthplace. There he received various divine teachings and spiritual powers, and became aware of his mission of world salvation.

In 1899, by God’s guidance, the Co-founder visited the Foundress DEGUCHI Nao in Ayabe; he joined Oomoto and worked as her helper in advancing the divine work. Later he married Sumiko (the Second Spiritual Leader of Oomoto), Nao’s youngest daughter, and changed his name to DEGUCHI Onisaburo.

The Co-founder enjoyed a wide reputation as a man of great spiritual power and as a prophet; meanwhile he wrote a very large quantity of doctrinal books, the chief one being Stories from the Spiritual World, and ordered the doctrine and organisation of Oomoto as the base for world salvation. These teachings have the potential to bring about major reforms in the world of existing religions, in their concepts of divinity and in their doctrinal systems; indeed, they have had considerable influence in the world.

Because of Oomoto’s doctrine of divinity, or because of the path of pacifism, internationalism and change taken by Oomoto, the government of the time, which was proceeding along the path of fanatical nationalism and militarism, subjected Oomoto to two suppressions, unique in modern Japanese history in their severity, in 1921 and in 1935. During the Second Oomoto Suppression of 1935-45, the government not only confiscated the sacred precincts of the organisation, but also destroyed all its installations and arrested more than 3,000 believers, of whom 16 died as a result of severe torture. DEGUCHI Onisaburo and his wife Sumiko were incarcerated for six years and eight months while awaiting judgment, but the affair was finally settled with the end of the Second World War.

DEGUCHI Onisaburo is well known as an artist who created outstanding works, of which the most famous are his yôwan (“scintillating bowls”). Throughout his life he revealed the doctrine of salvation of humanity transcending race, religion and nationality, based on the great love of God. At the same time, working both for cooperation with different world religions on the basis of the idea of the “common origin of religions”, and for the building of a spiritually and religiously united world in accordance with the idea that “all people are brothers and sisters”, he built a firm foundation for the realisation of a divine world (realm of heavenly beings), full of humanity, here on Earth.

3. Oomoto’s concept of divinity

Oomoto is a religion born by divine revelation, but its concept of divinity differs significantly from those of other existing religions. Because of this, it may well be that the reader could be confused by this book.

Each religion has its own concept of the divine, and these are generally classified into three categories: monotheism, polytheism and pantheism.

Oomoto’s concept of divinity has elements of all three types and incorporates them all in itself. In this lies Oomoto’s characteristic concept of the divine. It was a new concept but one that could be said to be more comprehensive and more complete. We may summarise it as follows:

a) As does monotheism, Oomoto worships the ultimate presence which is the original Spirit of the entire universe, as the one and only God, boundless and absolute, without beginning and without end (see paragraphs 81, 82 and 85 in the text). This God appears in this book under the name “GOD AMENOMINAKANUSHI” and “GOD ÔKUNITOKOTACHI”.

b) At the same time, the divinity (divine wisdom and love) of this universal and absolute God (hereafter simply “God”) immanently fills the entire universe, and all beings are regarded as manifestations of God, as in pantheism.

But because the doctrine of Oomoto says that all beings are in the bosom of God, they are not all regarded as God Himself. Moreover, although all beings are imbued with the character of God, their divinity is not homogeneous, because God endows human beings with a higher spirituality than other animals, and vegetables and minerals are endowed with a yet less concentrated spirituality.

c) Meanwhile, the Spirit of God manifests itself in a polytheistic way as many part-gods, each with its own individuality. These part-gods in turn give birth to part-gods and these give birth to yet more. Thus are born limitless numbers of part-gods. To these countless part-gods God gives fixed fields of activity and tasks to perform. Thus is the boundlessly vast universe ruled in an orderly and systematic fashion.

That is, the one and only absolute God Himself is one only and absolute, and yet at the same time He charges His part-spirits with different roles appropriate to each one; and thus He rules the entire universe. When we view the function of the absolute God comprehensively, He is one and only; but when we view it analytically, He becomes many gods. Consequently, the one and only God and the many gods are essentially of the same body (see paragraphs 104-9 in the text).

To sum up the above, it can be said that: God is one and only, but if we look at Him in His various functions, He becomes many; if we regard Him in His immanent aspect, every being is the final point of the inflowing nature of God and is a piece of God.

We can say therefore that although Oomoto is a religion with a concept of the divine based on monotheism, it also contains elements of polytheism and pantheism.

To express this characteristic Oomoto concept of the divine, we have taken special care in this book with regard to the writing of divine names. On this, see the foreword (3-1) (About the spelling of names of God), where you will find a detailed explanation of the meaning behind the various ways of writing, such as the difference between God and god.

4. About the God Ushitora

Let us here discuss the God Ushitora, who possessed the Foundress, DEGUCHI Nao.

The God Ushitora is the Forefather and ruler of the earth. He caused all beings to grow. In the Japanese classics he is called the God Kunitokotachi.

According to the Fudesaki, in the ancient Divine age, this God was feared by many gods because of his power and, as a result, he abdicated and suffered some tens of millions of years in the land of Japan, situated in the north-east (ushitora) of the world. During this period he secretly guarded the world to prevent its destruction. Hence the name, God Ushitora (see no. 5 immediately below).

While this God tolerated his seclusion, however, the earthly world was ravaged under the rule of selfishness and violence. Considering that not only the human race but also all living things would perish if he were to leave the world in its present state, he reappeared in 1892, through the body of the Foundress DEGUCHI Nao, as the ruler of the earthly Divine world (see paragraphs 756-59 in the text). Thus Oomoto was founded.

5. About the Spirit of Mizu

The Spirit of Mizu is that which possessed the Co-founder DEGUCHI Onisaburo.

In the terminology of Oomoto “the Spirit of Mizu” means the Saviour God or Divine function.

Let us discuss this in somewhat more detail. When the greater universe was created, the original God, one and only and absolute, passed from the inactive state of absolute unity to an active and creative state. He then necessarily manifested Himself in the functions of opposite poles, plus (positive) and minus (negative).

These bipolar functions we call “the Spirit of Izu” and “the Spirit of Mizu”. The Spirit of Mizu which is referred to in this book is, therefore, one of these.

Table of the bipolar functions of God
name meaning of the Japanese Divine functions governed
Izu rigorous and majestic spirit sky positive fire fatherhood
Mizu fresh and beautiful matter earth negative water motherhood

The name “Spirit of Izu” is used also as a general name for all gods1 who belong to the system of Izu in the Divine realm, and the name “Spirit of Mizu” as the general name for all gods who belong to the system of Mizu.

Further, if we look at the Spirits Izu and Mizu from the viewpoint of differentiation of function, the Spirit of Izu is the God who fulfils the Divine plan through the material and spiritual worlds, and in the material world principally puts into practice physical reformation; while the Spirit of Mizu is the God who is charged with salvation through the material and spiritual worlds, and in the material world principally carries out moral reformation. The Foundress DEGUCHI Nao is the prophet and implementer of the Divine plan according to the inflow (inspiration) of the Spirit of Izu. The Co-founder DEGUCHI Onisaburo is the prophet and implementer of world salvation according to the inflow of the Spirit of Mizu.

To sum up, the Spirits Izu and Mizu are the God and gods carrying out the Divine plan, the Spirit of Izu through the fatherly function, full of Divine majesty, and the Spirit of Mizu through the motherly function of salvation and redemption, full of compassion. This is the reason why in this book DEGUCHI Onisaburo is referred to as the Spirit of Mizu and as the saviour-in-chief of the earthly world (see paragraphs 63, 64 and 150 in the text). In addition, the name of the God Ushitora which appears in this book is another name given to the Spirit of Izu or the God Kunitokotachi who possessed the Foundress; the God Hitsujisaru is another name given to the Spirit of Mizu or the God Toyokumonu who possessed the Co-founder, and who is the wife-God of the God Ushitora.

To further facilitate the reader’s understanding, let us add that the Japanese meaning of “Oomoto” is “origin”, “source”, “centre”, “base”, or “foundation”; that is, it means the most important part in all things. The object of worship of Oomoto is the Master-God (the one and only God) of the entire universe. Besides Him, Oomoto enshrines the Spirit of Izu (the God Kunitokotachi), ruler of the earth, the Spirit of Mizu (the God Toyokumonu) and many other good gods. To all these Oomoto prays by the overall name “Oomoto Sume Ômikami”.

6. About kamigakari (spirit possession)

Since its founding, there have been in Oomoto abundant instances which bear witness to the actions of gods or the manifestations of spirits (spirit possession).

In the possession of the Spirit of Izu, the Foundress DEGUCHI Nao wrote the extensive Divine Revelations (Fudesaki), as has already been mentioned; likewise, the Co-founder DEGUCHI Onisaburo, in the possession of the Spirit of Mizu or the inflow of its Divine nature, wrote a large quantity of doctrinal and instructional books, examples of which are this Divine Signposts and Stories from the Spiritual World.

Here let us discuss kamigakari (spirit possession) and “inflow”. So-called “spirit possession” is a temporary phenomenon brought about when a spirit or god (good or evil) occupies a human being, and after the spirit’s departure the possessed person immediately returns to his or her normal state. “Inflow” (flow into a human being) is such that the nature of a spirit or god (good or evil) constantly flows into the human heart, although that person’s body remains at all times in its normal state. Particularly, spirit possession is regarded as an extraordinary phenomenon, because the state of possession is manifested in the person’s outer behaviour, speech and actions. For those who recognise the existence of God or spirits, however, it is in no way an incredible or mysterious thing.

With spirit possession and inflow, however, gods2 who come to possess, and spirit-natures who flow in, range from the lowest to the highest on an extremely wide scale. To regard these as all the same would therefore be to invite serious misunderstanding and confusion. The word kamigakari (spirit possession) is a very Japanese expression: although it uses the word kami, this does not mean that the possessor is always good; gods both good and evil can enter (see paragraphs 486-9 in the text).

In Oomoto spirit possession is classified into three kinds, that is, possession by God, possession by angels and obsession.

Possession by God is when the original God or a part-spirit thereof possesses a human being in the material world out of the need especially to communicate the Divine will. Cases of this are, however, very rare.

Possession by angels is when just or good gods in the Divine realm possess a human being out of the need to communicate the Divine will or to save and guide the material world. This occurs, though infrequently.

Obsession is the state in which evil or malicious spirits, lower animal spirits and others steal their way into selfish or mentally debilitated humans, or humans who are in such states. Nearly all cases of spirit possession which occur among us can be classed as belonging to this kind.

When spirit possession occurs, it is necessary to use caution: even in the case of obsession by a spirit with a twisted character, it can on occasion appear in the guise of a higher spirit and often deceives people with oracles or healing. At first sight, then, it is not easy to tell the good gods from the evil (see paragraphs 582-6 in the text).

Consequently, with spirit possession it is very important to have “Saniwa” (judgment of possessing spirits: see paragraph 34) in order rigorously to examine the possessor and see if it is good or evil, just or unjust, noble or base. Because in principle the possessing spirit controls those whose character is similar to its own, it is necessary to be in the habit of carefully observing the character of the one possessed. Besides, one is likely to make a mess of one’s life, sullying one’s spirituality, if one continues to maintain relations with a malicious or lowly spirit such as causes obsession.

Nowadays, following the advice of Master DEGUCHI Onisaburo, spirit possession is not encouraged at Oomoto, because of the danger of excessive curiosity leading to a person becoming the plaything of a malicious spirit and deviating from correct faith. Oomoto’s guidance to its believers is therefore that they pleasurably serve in the holy work, receiving inflow of Divine nature through correct faith, that is, through heart and deeds full of longing for Divine love and wisdom.

7. Important points for understanding

To avoid misunderstanding the following points may be worth noting by readers.

a) This book is a work produced by Master DEGUCHI Onisaburo during his early period after joining Oomoto, in which he explains simply and clearly the fundamentals of Oomoto’ teachings based on the nature of correct faith.

b) Part of the Master’s motive for writing this book seems to have been that he wished, aiming at new believers at a time when education was still not widespread, to correct the concepts of religion and God which they had previously held, and also to remedy the situation in which they tended to pursue only their own this-worldly profit or to absorb themselves in narrow-minded faith and spirit possession, thereby deviating from the true faith. Consequently, in many places in this book there are to be found teachings and admonitions which reveal such considerations on the part of the Master.

c) In this book there are also some passages critical of other religions, but these do not deny other religions or those whom they worship as false.

Basically Oomoto asserts the common origin of all religions, as the following verse by Master Onisaburo illustrates:

In all countries,

changing His name,

appears God

the highest

for the world’s salvation.

That is, the one and only God (the Master-God) carries out the work of salvation of humanity, descending in various places for various peoples and in various times, changing His name and His spirit-nature and revealing various teachings, as the occasion demands. This is Oomoto’s view. And yet it cannot be denied that in many religions instances can be seen where “the true teachings have withered” (see paragraph 424) or “churches are...exploiting God” (see paragraph 30).

This book warns against such weaknesses as these, to which religion often succumbs.

On the other hand, there are often to be found in this book the expressions “devil” or “evil god”. These do not in any way refer to the Gods of other religions; they only indicate the state in which cruel and malicious spirits spread themselves over the earth in all fields, including politics, economics, and religion, wounding and damaging the souls of human beings regardless of whether they profess a faith or not.

d) The text of this book is that which was previously assembled in book form from the original 14 volumes. Consequently, there is much repetition. In the process of compiling this international edition, therefore, we removed repetitious passages as much as possible. We could not, however, omit those repetitions which serve to emphasise important points or to explain points in detail in order to convey the message unerringly.

e) The text of this book was written for the believers of 100 years ago and contains many allegories which would have been familiar to people of the time; there are therefore some passages which may strike modern readers as unusual.

Nevertheless, we feel that this book clearly presents universal truths for the new, global age, and that in it, simply expressed, the true resource of human life flows freshly as water from an inexhaustible spring.