Tenri-?-no-Mikoto (????) is the name of the single God and creator of the entire universe in Tenrikyo religion. The first two characters in the Japanese Kanji for Tenri-O-no-Mikoto are ??, where ? refers to heaven or divinity, and ? refers to reason or knowledge, thus "Tenri" (??) refers to divine or heavenly knowledge, and in a sense adds a divine nature to truth itself whereas "??" also means "natural law" or its pseudonym, "divine law." The English name most frequently used to refer to Tenri-?-no-Mikoto outside of ritual is "God the Parent"; in Japanese, the equivalent common name is Oyagamisama. In Tenrikyo, God has no gender.
Tenrikyo followers vary in their understanding of this creator, from the early understanding of spirit (kami, god/deity) through the underlying natural causality (Tsukihi, moon-sun) and eventually to an understanding of a parental relationship between the creator and themselves (oya, parent). This progression of understanding is a key teaching of Tenrikyo, where it is accepted that everything must proceed "step by step" -- by small stages of understanding instead of by great leaps of faith.
In 1880, in order to evade continuous persecution by the government, Tenrikyo placed itself under the administration of a Shugendo temple named Jifukuji. During this time Tenri-?-no-Mikoto was officially called Tenrin-?-Nyorai and the kanji of various other deities were changed, but by 1890 Tenrikyo was given approval by the Meiji government and the original names were restored.
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