Tenrikyo Newpath: Return to the origin and test it for your self
My name is John Lewis. I am currently living and working in San Francisco California USA. In 1969 a teacher of mine pointed me at the question of real versus imagined identity (self image). With his help I found that identifying my own imagined identity was rather simple and straightforward. Locating my real or original identity was however not so easy for me to do. I kept looking for it in my imagination and of course always ended up finding more and more imaginary features and speculations concerning my own self image.
By 1977 I was loaded with "search for enlightenment" stuff. I loved it all. The search was very entertaining but the fact remained that the search seemed to go on and on. No end was in sight. An honest evaluation of what I was doing always revealed that I was still unable to demonstrate to myself anything beyond my own imagined speculations and beliefs. There was no certainty. Just, I believe or I don't. What I had learned after a considerable effort was no truer or better or worse than any of the world's belief systems. I could ignore my dissatisfaction with that situation but I could not deny it.
One day just as I finished pondering a topic that was too large for my imagination and as I stepped from one room to the next my original self was there looking at the room. When I became aware of the change in my perception I got excited and began to think about how great it was and then it was gone. Though now it seems rather simple, simple that is if I can remember to go there, but back then I didn't know how to get back to that obvious and simple true original self.
Later in that same year a friend of mine gave me a copy of some poems (The Tip of the Writing Brush) that he had brought back with him from Japan. After reading the poems I was convinced that the author, Miki Nakayama, was writing about her own return to that same original mind that I had briefly awakened to and now had a great longing to return to. It also seemed clear from the poems that, unlike me, Miki Nakayama had settled in that original mind and was both willing and able to teach other people how to return and settle their minds at the origin too. My imagination was also captivated by the simplicity of the metaphor Miki used as a poetic name, MoonSun. The truth of the relationship between the self image and its origin is revealed in the relationship of moonlight to sunlight. Though it sure looks like two lights there is really only one.
One day in 1978 I stepped out of my place of work and looked up that the clouds. I wondered at how beautiful they were and also wondered why I had only just noticed them at that moment. I liked my job and I liked my coworkers but something was making me restless and dissatisfied. I began to wonder. If I wasn't seeing the beauty around me what was I seeing?
I wrote a letter to the Onomichi Branch of the Tenrikyo Church and asked if my wife and I could go to Japan and learn the Service that was promised in The Tip of the Writing Brush. We arrived in Japan in the Spring of 1979 and began a three month spiritual development program. Everything was great. There could be no complaint, our hosts really went out of their way to remove any obstacle that we might encounter. After a couple of weeks I was my old self and was deeply involved in my usual stuff. I was restless and dissatisfied but in spite of that I was also learning the service. One morning I dropped in on one of my teachers and was running a line of complaints when I asked him what the purpose was of some of the things that we were doing. He responded that the program was set up to give me the opportunity to see the truth of my own mind. A good answer I thought and so I didn't try to respond to it. I kept on practicing the service.
Shortly after that, while walking down the same street that I had walked down every day since my arrival there, I suddenly stopped and wondered at the beauty of the mountains that ring the back of the city. There it was again. I could hardly believe that it was the first time that I had noticed the beauty around me. This time it was easy for me to see. I had brought the same mind of restless dissatisfaction with me to Japan. In fact it was clear that no matter where I was in the world I was in the same place. Always more or less absorbed in my own imagination. Talking to my self about what I liked and what I disliked. I was not seeing the world as it really is but only as I imagined it to be. This was the truth of my own mind!
Then I knew what the service was for and how to return to the origin. The sincere performance of the service prepares the mind to distinguish between what is original and natural and what is imagined and superimposed on the original and natural. The way to make this distinction and settle in the origin is, I think, the greatest gift one person can give to another.