PL Kyodan (Church of Perfect Liberty)

A Japanese new religious movement emphasizing individual expression and global peace through the philosophy that “Life is Art.”

The Church of Perfect Liberty (PL Kyodan), a Japanese new religious movement, was originally founded as the Hito-no-Michi (The Way of Humankind) in 1924 by Tokuharu Miki, a priest in the Ōbaku sect of Zen Buddhism, and evolved from the teachings of Tokumitsu Kanada. Kanada’s teachings had a profound impact on Miki after he cured Miki’s chronic asthma through a sacred ritual. The movement, initially called Hito-no-Michi Kyodan after being established by Miki, underwent significant transformations, facing suppression by the Japanese government which led to its temporary dissolution.

Re-established in 1946 by Miki’s son, Tokuchika Miki, as PL Kyodan, the movement espouses the philosophy “Life is Art,” emphasizing the unique potential and self-expression of individuals in all aspects of life. This philosophy is anchored in a set of 21 precepts revealed by Tokuchika Miki in 1947, which serve as a guiding framework for its adherents to live creative, fulfilling lives and strive for personal and communal harmony. These precepts include principles like “God appears through one’s self,” “All humans are equal,” and the prioritization of world peace.

The Church of Perfect Liberty does not rely on a holy book, but instead, focuses on these precepts and the teachings of the current spiritual leader, known as the Patriarch or Oshieoya-sama (Father of the Teachings), a role presently held by Takahito Miki. This leader continues to provide new interpretations and guidance, maintaining the dynamic and adaptive nature of the church’s teachings.

PL Kyodan has expanded globally, establishing a presence in over ten countries including significant communities in South America, the United States, Canada, and Oceania, with smaller groups in Europe. This international spread is credited to active missionary efforts that began in the 1960s, resulting in a following that exceeds one million members.

Culturally and socially, PL Kyodan extends its influence through various initiatives. Notably, it has made contributions to peace with the PL Peace Tower in Tondabayashi, Osaka, built in 1970 as a monument to war victims and a symbol of the movement’s commitment to world peace. Furthermore, the church organizes one of the world’s largest fireworks displays annually at its Japanese headquarters. Additionally, it has made its mark in sports, particularly through the baseball group of PL High School in Japan, which has achieved national recognition by winning several championships.

Overall, the Church of Perfect Liberty exemplifies the unique blend of religious, cultural, and social elements characteristic of Japan’s new religious movements, continually promoting individual freedom, creative expression, and peace on a global scale.

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