PL Kyodan (Church of Perfect Liberty)

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

PL Kyodan, also known as the Church of Perfect Liberty (パーフェクト リバティー教団, Pāfekuto Ribatī Kyōdan), is a Japanese new religious movement that was founded in 1924 by Tokuharu Miki, a priest in the Ōbaku sect of Zen Buddhism. The core philosophy of PL Kyodan is encapsulated in the phrase “Life is Art,” which signifies the belief that every individual is born to express their unique individuality in all aspects of life, thereby creating true art.

Origin and Development

PL Kyodan’s origins can be traced back to the early 20th century, when its founder, Tokuharu Miki, was profoundly influenced by the teachings of Tokumitsu Kanada, who cured Miki’s chronic asthma through a sacred ritual. This encounter led Miki to become Kanada’s disciple, eventually establishing the new Tokumitsu Church in 1924. The church was later renamed Hito-no-Michi, meaning “the way of humans,” before adopting its current name, Church of Perfect Liberty, in 1946.

The church spread rapidly throughout Japan, Korea, China, and other Southeast Asian countries, gaining a significant following. However, during the 1930s, the Japanese Militarism Government suppressed Hito-no-Michi due to its teachings on individual freedom and world peace. This suppression led to its dissolution before World War II. Despite this setback, PL Kyodan was reestablished by Tokuchika Miki, Tokuharu Miki’s son, in 1946.

Teachings and Beliefs

Central to the teachings of PL Kyodan is the set of 21 Precepts, which were announced by Tokuchika Miki on September 29, 1947. These precepts provide a foundational guide for the followers of the church. Key among these precepts is the first one, “Life is Art,” emphasizing the importance of self-expression and individuality. Other precepts include ideas such as “God appears through one’s self,” “All humans are equal,” and “World peace is everything.”

The church does not have a holy book like many other religions; instead, it focuses on these precepts as guiding principles for its followers. Members of the church are taught the reasons for their problems and are guided in overcoming them by the Patriarch and church ministers.

Organization and Spread

Today, PL Kyodan claims to have over one million followers worldwide, with a presence in over ten countries. Most of its parishes are in Japan, but it has also established a significant presence in South America, the United States, Canada, and Oceania, with smaller communities in Europe. The church’s global reach is a result of active missionary work that began in the 1960s.

The spiritual leader of PL Kyodan is known as the Patriarch, or Oshieoya-sama (Father of the Teachings). The current Patriarch is Takahito Miki, who has continued to expand the church’s influence and teachings globally.

Global Presence and Activities

One of the most notable symbols of the Church of Perfect Liberty is the PL Peace Tower, a 600-foot-tall monument in Japan dedicated to all war victims, reflecting the church’s commitment to world peace. Additionally, PL Kyodan is known for organizing one of the world’s largest fireworks displays annually at its Japanese headquarters.

The church’s mission extends beyond traditional religious activities, as evidenced by its involvement in various cultural and social initiatives. For instance, the baseball group of PL High School in Japan has gained fame, often winning national championships.