Marukoto: The Teaching of Roundness

  • Introduction to Kurozumikyo

  • About the Founder

  • Activities in Japan and Abroad

  • History of Kurozumikyo

  • Sacred Places for Prayer

  • Poetry of the Founder

  • For further reading
  • sunrise

  • Introduction to Kurozumikyo
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        Kurozumikyo is a religion that worships the rising sun. We practice this worship every day, as from our hearts we feel gratitude and thankfulness that we are in truth sustained by the great generative power of the sun. The sun is simply irreplaceable. It is the most precious thing of all. We see in its mysterious work the quality of unselfish giving and sincerity. For this reason the sun has been deified in Shinto, a Japanese religious tradition, and called Amaterasu Omikami. (The word "Kami" has been traditionally used to indicate our object of worship. The word can be used by itself, or some proper noun may be used with it indicating the nature of that kami.) We try to live in harmony with one another and allow others to live in harmony as well. "Harmony" is joyful gratitude along with sincerity. We call this state of mind "Marukoto," "roundness of mind and heart," just like the shape of the rising sun.

        On the 11th day of the 11th month in 1814, which according to the lunar calendar then in use was the day of the winter solstice, Munetada Kurozumi, the Founder of Kurozumikyo, worshipped Kami through the rising sun, expressing his sincere gratefulness. At the that moment he felt Kami come down to him through a beam of light. He was overcome by inexplicable ecstasy in merging with the sun deity. We call this mystic unity "The Direct Receipt of the Heavenly Mission." The day is commemorated as the beginning of Kurozumikyo.

        Through this experience the Founder gained the firm belief that each of us has been given a divided portion of Amaterasu Omikami's spirit, called the "bunshin." The bunshin resides right in our mind and is working upon us constantly. The effect of the bunshin is like parents' love toward their children. This love urges parents to be warm and altruistic toward their children, even to the point of unconditional giving and sacrificing. We need to cultivate our mind to be warm, strong, broad, bright, joyful, and above all sincere to others, so that this roundness of mind will cure our troubled feelings. When we do this, we see our bunshin awakened within our minds, and we regain our original pure, and joyful state of mind. Attaining this condition leads us to the Opening Way of our lives. The everyday practice of worshipping the rising sun is the act that truly cultivates our mind afresh to reach the state of Marukoto.

        Kurozumi Munetada's spirit was deified at that time and was ever after in unity with Amaterasu Omikami. His spirit has been working upon us constantly and without ceasing, providing limitless blessing to us. It has saved many people who were in misery and suffering, and in need of salvation. Yet, no sooner does our won spirit come into unity with Amaterasu Omikami and with the Founder than we ourselves receive boundless blessings directly. Through our earnest prayers we may reach a state in which we feel nothing but gratitude and limitless joy. We can realize that we are given our very lives by that great generative power and sustained by it always. Its work for us is more precious than we can ever say. In the work of that spirit we see nothing but sincerity.

        Kurozumi Muneharu, the Sixth Chief Patriarch of Kurozumikyo, offers prayers day and night for people in society who may be in need of blessing. The prayers are performed in full sincerity. Beginning before dawn each day his prayers are given facing east toward the rising sun. His daily life, full of prayer and ritual, is dedicated to those who wish that Amaterasu Omikami's spirit and the Founder's spirit will become manifest within them, and, in a moment of unity and enlightenment, bring the Opening of the Way.

  • About the Founder
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    Munetada,the Founder(Kyoso)    Kurozumi Munetada was born on the 26th day of the 11th month in 1780. It was the day of the winter solstice according to the lunar calendar then in use. He belonged to a samurai household where members had served as Shinto priests for more than five hundred years. He was uncommonly kind-hearted and filial by nature. When he was around twenty years old he made up his mind to become a "living kami." He believed he could attain this goal by avoiding whatever his conscience judged to be wrong. This goal was before him through years of a constant quest to be truly filial to his parents. He strove hard to attain this goal until he was thirty years old, when his parents passed away one after another within a week form the same epidemic. His sorrow and grief were so deep that he finally contracted tuberculosis. His condition worsened during the next two years, to the point that he no longer knew whether he would live to see the next day.

        On seeing what his fate was. Munetada prayed to Kami through the rising sun. He reviewed his life up to that point, and then simply and humbly thanked Kami for allowing him to live until that day. Then, in that moment, a complete change of mind took place. It struck him that his attitude toward his deceased parents had been completely in error. Now he saw that his depression and the decline of his health were contrary to what his parents would have wished for him. This led him to at least try to have the thought of being joyful and happy so that their spirits would find pleasure at least in that. His prayer of farewell to life on this morning turned into one that returned his life to him. He felt a light of joy and gratitude, and from then on led a life of nothing but joy and gratitude. After that, it did not take more than two months before his seemingly incurable disease had been overcome.

        In that year, the 11th day of the 11th month in the lunar calendar, again fell on the day of winter solstice, traditionally regarded as the day when "spring returns with prosperity." It was also Munetada's birthday. Having in that year overcome the disease which had nearly taken his life, Munetada performed the morning worship of the rising sun with an exceptionally deep emotion. This led him to experience unity with Amaterasu Omikami, a mystic religious experience. It was an immensely precious spiritual awakening for him, providing him access to a new Opening Way. It is this we call "the Direct Receipt of the Heavenly Mission." We regard this day as the starting point of Kurozumikyo.

        After this, Munetada's life was filled with prayer day and night for those in need of salvation from suffering and hardship. He told them of the limitless virtue and grace of Amaterasu Omikami, whose precious presence resided in all of their minds, waiting to be cultivated. When they were enlightened, their gloomy and impure state of mind would be overcome and they would be saved. During his lifetime he already was regarded as living Kami and the founder of a religious teaching. It was on the 25th day of the second month of 1850 when he ascended to heaven (departed from his earthly form).

        The basis of a religious organization was already laid during his lifetime. He had several tens of thousands of followers. After his death, an extensive nation-wide promulgation of his teaching was conducted. It started from Kaminakano in Okayama City, which has been called "Omoto" since then, meaning "great foundation" in reference to his teaching and the great work done for the good of people. At the end of the Tokugawa Era when the ranking of Shinto Kami was still an important government concern, his spirit was given the highest ranking, Daimyojin, by the authorities. The Emperor Komei (father of Emperor Meiji) became one of the followers of his teaching and sponsored the Munetada Shrine in Kaguraoka, Kyoto as a place for prayers for the peace and prosperity of the people and the state.

        On October 27, 1974, seeking the grandeur of the rising sun, the Kurozumikyo headquarters was moved to the top of a mountain called Shintozan from the original site at Omoto. The fast pace of urbanization in Okayama had begun to make early morning prayers more difficult at the old shrine. In Omoto, however, there still stands the Munetada Shrine, established in 1885, where the Founder's spirit had been enshrined.

  • Activities in Japan and Abroad
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        The Kurozumikyo headquarters was moved from the original site at Omoto (Kaminakano, Okayama City), to Shintozan mountain (Onoue, Okayama City). This place is in the area called Kibi-no-nakayama where the ancient state of Kibi and its culture had flourished. The sole purpose of moving the headquarters was to have a better view of the rising sun at morning prayer, but it was a huge enterprise in which all the members and followers of Kurozumikyo participated.

        It was not an enterprise concerned only with the physical construction of new buildings, but involved a fresh and comprehensive movement toward encouraging our followers to return to the Founder's original religious experience made possible by the act of worshipping Amaterasu Omikami through the rising sun. Entering into this new "Era of Shintozan," and encouraging us to follow the Founder's experience, the Sixth Chief Patriarch presented us these "Articles of the Marukoto life."

    1. Let us worship Kami through the rising sun.

    2. Let us be very good to our parents and respect our ancestors.

    3. Let us use bright and warm words.

    4. Let us be kind and helpful to others, especially to those who are disadvantaged.

    5. Let us pray for others.

    Prayer at St. Patrick's Cathedral, performed by the 6th Chief Patriarch
    Prayer at St. Patrick's Cathedral,
    performed by the 6th Chief Patriarch
        This was also to encourage us to help us reform ourselves by working for others with innermost sincerity. In the spirit of these articles, Kurozumikyo has taken an active part in social welfare, in international and inter-religious cooperation, and in protection of the earth's environment.

    Volunteer activity at Asahigawa-jidoin, folding diapers
    Volunteer activity at Asahigawa-
    jidoin,folding diapers
        Our records show that the Founder raised up many children who had no parents. The Fifth Chief Patriarch helped orphans of World War II by establishing a facility to help them (the Tenshinryo). Later on, in 1965, this effort gave rise to a campaign to build a hospital for seriously handicapped children (the Asahigawaso). After it was built we carried on extensive volunteer activities centered around this facility. The circle of this effort broadened further when this hospital began providing opportunities for staff at similar facilities in East Asian countries, including Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, and South Korea, to come to Asahigawaso for training . This "welfare diplomacy" has had the fruitful result of extending intercultural exchange between those countries and the people of Okayama.

        In 1993 the 61st Grand Festival of Rebuilding was conducted at the Grand Shrine of Ise. The Shrine buildings were rebuilt on a site adjacent to the old one, and then the Kami of the Shrines were moved to their new dwellings. The festival is called Shikinen-Sengu. It is a very extensive festival traditionally conducted every twenty years. In 1985, we began to participate in this religious project as a way of deepening our sincerity. We hope that this effort to understand the many guises of the Shinto tradition more deeply will put us into position to understand better the traditions of other countries. We believe we will surely gain a capacity to be truly international.

    Shinto International Workshop on Global Survival and Peace
    Shinto International Workshop
    on Global Survival and Peace
        In November, 1990 the Shinto International Workshop on Global Survival and Peace was conducted at our headquarters on Shintozan. Leading figures from religious, political, scientific and mass media groups participated. Its purpose was mainly to let people from other countries know more about the core of Japanese culture and its true goodness.

    Culture Diplomacy
    Culture Diplomacy
        On the diplomatic side, we have donated fifty representative Japanese ceramic works from all over Japan, with the cooperation of the artists, to each of several museum. These museums are Located in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. The purpose was to introduce Japanese art to the people of these countries, so they can appreciate the true Japanese spirit. It was an effort in "culture diplomacy."

        At home on Shintozan we have implemented a water purification system that makes it possible to recycle water used at our headquarters, and to use it on the mountain. We have also started to plant saplings of trees such as pausania, oak, and camphor, at the rate of 10,000 a year. The purpose is to restore the ancient forest that once grew on the mountain. In doing this we are following the spirit of a declaration made at the Shinto International Workshop on Global Survival and Peace.

    Volunteer work in Kobe, preparing the meals
    Volunteer work in Kobe, preparing the meals
        At the site of our former headquarters in Omoto one of the buildings was transformed into a martial arts exercise hall, and another into an office for the Okayama Life-Line telephone center. Both are provided free of charge, making our organization more open to the public. Soon after the great disaster of the Hanshin Earthquake, we embarked on comprehensive volunteer work in Kobe city. We prepared 2,500 breakfasts and 2,500 dinners every day for fifty days, beginning on the 23rd of January 1995. We called this effort the "Candy Fluff Operation."

    14th Dalai Lama's visit to our Headquarters
    14th Dalai Lama's visit
    to our Headquarters
        In the spring of 1995 we invited His Holiness The Dalai Lama XIV to come to us from his home in exile India. This was to promote interreligious and inter-denominational dialogue for better mutual understanding and for common cooperative activities. We have also taken part in the Religious Summit for World Peace held in Assisi, Italy, and we are one of the members of the Japan Committee for the World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP) and the Japan Religious Committee for World Federation. We took an active part in the Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Chicago in 1993 and in Cape Town in 1999. Having widely recognized the activities as such, Kurozumikyo assumed the role of coordinator for the Japanese delegation for the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders held at the United Nations in August, 2000.

        It is our firm belief that the Founder always wished us to foster the spirit of Marukoto, the vigorous feeling of gratitude and sincerity, and that he still wishes us to do this. Our commitment inevitably guides us not to cling to the Founder's teaching in a way that disregards other religious traditions. It should always be our aim to throw off denominational egoism and to respect the teachings of others. In doing this, we should also pray for the greater harmony of the world and for all people's happiness.

        We must also not merely make this prayer, but also put its spirit into action, starting on the land on which we stand.

        Our main annual festivals and rituals include New Year's (January); Setsubun (February); the Lunar New Year (February, at the Munetada Shrine in Omoto); the Grand Ritual for the Founder; the Procession of Kami (in April, starting at the Munetada Shrine in Omoto); the Festival for Health of Children and the General Meeting of the Kurozumikyo Women's Group (May); the Great Purification Ritual (June); the Gathering of the Young at the Marukoto Summer Camp (August); the Commemorative Festival for Moving the Headquarters to Shintozan (October); the Winter Solstice Festival, which also celebrates the birth of our Founder and the Establishment of Kurozumikyo (December).

        We have 361 branch churches in Japan. We publish a monthly periodical called Nisshin (Renewal of the Sun).

  • History of Kurozumikyo
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    The Patriarchs
    of Kurozumikyo
    Munetada,the Founder(Kyoso)
    the Founder
    2nd Patriarch Munenobu
    2nd Patriarch
    3rd Patriarch Muneatsu
    3rd Patriarch
    4rth Patriarch Muneyasu
    4rth Patriarch
    5th Patriarch Munekazu
    5th Patriarch
    6th Patriarch Muneharu
    6th Patriarch
    1780Birth of the Founder at Kaminakano (also called Omoto) in Okayama City
    1803Munetada's first pilgrimage to the Grand Shrine of Ise (he made six pilgrimages in all)
    1814Direct Receipt of the Heavenly Mission, the establishment of Kurozumikyo
    1846Rules of the Koka Era (establishment as a religious organization)
    1850Founder's Ascension to Heaven; the Seven High Disciples begin an extensive promulgation of the teachings
    1856Permission to entitle the Founder's spirit as Daimyojin
    1862Establishment of the Munetada Shrine in Kaguraoka, Kyoto
    1865Emperor Komei designates Munetada Shrine as the only entrusted temple for prayer for his people and the country
    1872Officially recognized as Kurozmi-kosha (religious organization)
    1876First religious group to receive officially recognized status as an independent religious body
    1885Munetada Shrine established in Omoto, Okayama
    1886First Procession of Kami Festival in Okayama
    1888Pilgrimage to the Grand Shrine of Ise with ten thousand followers (conducted four more times during the Meiji Era)
    1895Publication of official group magazine begins
    1899Completion of Daikyoden Prayer Hall in Omoto
    1909First general meeting concerning the teachings of Kurozumikyo; publicationof Kurozumikyo Kyosho, containing the Founder's teaching based on his letters, poetry, and articles
    1914Grand Festival commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Founder's Direct Receipt of the Heavenly Mission
    1929Festival commemorating the 150th birthday of the Founder
    1950100th Grand Ceremony commemorating for the Founder's ascension to heaven
    1952Resumption of Procession of Kami after World War II (conducted every year since then)
    1964Grand Festival commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Founder's Direct Receipt of the Heavenly Mission
    1965Working for establishing the Asahigawaso for severely handicapped children
    1974Completion of the new Daikyoden Prayer Hall on Shintozan and the relocation of the headquarters
    19796th Chief Patriarch participates in the 3rd Conference of the World Conference on Religion and Peace, and offers "prayer for great harmony" (St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York City)
    1980Pilgrimage to Grand Shrine of Ise with ten thousand followers (also in 1984 and 1994)
    Festival commemorating the 200th birthday of the Founder
    Culture diplomacy to New Zealand
    1981Welfare diplomacy starts with Asian countries
    Culture diplomacy to Australia
    1985Conference on Kurozumi Shinto held in Dayton, Ohio, USA
    1988Culture diplomacy to Florida, USA
    1990Shinto International Workshop on Global Survival and Peace held at Shintozan
    1994Pilgrimage to Ise Grand Shrine with one thousand children
    1995At the time of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, carrying out the "Candy Fluff Operation" for 50 days
    Visit of the 14th Dalai Lama

  • Sacred Places for Prayer
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    Daikyoden Prayer Hall at Shintozan
    Daikyoden Prayer Hall at Shintozan
    Area in front of Kami alter in Daikyoden Prayer Hall
    Area in front of Kami alter in Daikyoden Prayer Hall
    Munetada Shrine at Omoto in Okayama
    Munetada Shrine at Omoto in Okayama
    Founder's Memorial Hall in Omoto
    Founder's Memorial Hall in Omoto
    Munetada Shrine, Kaguraoka, Kyoto
    Munetada Shrine, Kaguraoka, Kyoto

  • Poetry of the Founder
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    People who know
        no more than the feeling
            of Gratitude
    Hold today as precious.
        The Nowness in their hearts.

    A sense of gratitude 
        along with feelings of wonder
            and joy
    Will, if we maintain all three,
        bring us true sincerity.

    Being delighted 
        and also being saddened
            comes from the heart;
    So why not, then, feel delight 
        in everything around you?

    Since there are oceans
        as well as many mountains
            in this world of ours;
    Oh, people, don't keep clinging
        to such narrowness of heart.

    It is a tremendous guilt
        to take something as your own;
    All things in this world 
        Belong to heaven.
    [another reading:]
        Whenever we are 
            taking something as our own,
                it brings us great guilt.
        Everything in the world
            really belong to heaven.

    There is nothing more
        valuable than self;
    Yet it is by valuing the self
        that the self is lost.
    [another reading:]
        Of all things we have,
            nothing is more valuable
                than our self itself;
        To value the self aright
            is to lose our little self.

    Standing before you, 
        others hold up mirrors 
            as their own hearts;
    And there within, you can see
        Your own heart being reflected.
             [as given in Opening Way 57]

    In this world of ours
        we have all come together
            to form a circle [Marukoto];
    Let us pray to be joined
        by the Heart of all our hearts.

    True Sincerity
        is the one thing we must be
            most thankful for; 
    With Sincerity alone
        the Earth can be a family.

    Whenever the heart
        of Amaterasu and 
            a person's heart
    Are joined together as one,
        --This is the Abiding Life.

    It is our wish to have 
        Amaterasu's goodness
            be known to all
    The people of the world
        Soon and without exception.


  • For further reading
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    For your further inquiry, please contact the following:

    For further reading:

    Helen Hardacre. Kurozumikyo and the New Religions of Japan.
    Pinceton: Princeton University Press, 1986.

    Tadaaki Kurozumi. The Opening Way, trans. Julie Iezzi et al. Ed. Willis Stoesz.
    Lanhm. MD: University Press of America. 1994.

    Willis Stoesz. Ed.. Kurozumi Shinto: an American Dialogue. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996; Chambersburg. PA: Anima Publication. 1988.

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