Tenrikyo - The Reason of Heaven

     

This universe is the body of God.

Ponder this in all matters.


 

Book VI: 55-63

There is a break in the poems at this point and a notation indicating a fresh start on another day. Perhaps this is a good opportunity to take stock of what we have been taught thus far.

We know that it is God's intention to have us "see" and know the truth and origin of all things in detail through our own mind. And that as a result of that knowledge it is intended that live a joyous life free of illness, trouble and death.

We also know that in general there were two responses to the teaching of single-heartedness with God that flowed from this intention. There was a lack of understanding and a misunderstanding of God's teaching and intention. These two responses are characterized, on the one hand, by rejection and attempts to suppress the teaching and by misunderstanding while sincerely trying to follow the teaching on the other. Indeed the purpose of these poems is to address and settle those two states of mind.

Through the poems to this point we have also been shown a model of understanding and compassion for both our misunderstanding and our lack of understanding. We have been taught that the state and truth of our mind is immediately reflected in God's mind as the state and truth of our world. Indeed God recognizes that the contents of our individual minds are our own individual truths. In any one mind any number of truths may appear and will be sincerely and freely be reflected back to us as the state and truth of our world. God, like a "four fronted mirror" sincerely, that is truthfully, immediately and accurately reflects the free use of our minds back to us. That is to say that God constantly and accurately "shows" the truth of our mind and indeed all minds every instant in every time and every place. God does not teach that the truths of our individual minds are not true. God knows that they are true, as it is God, like a four fronted mirror in the hearts of all human beings, that makes them possible in the first place. What God does say is that if our intention in the way that we freely use our minds is joy and what we are getting reflected back is lacking in joy, then we are not using our minds correctly for the desired result.

To receive the joy that God intends for us human beings, God invites us to return to the one truth, the truth that yields joy in all circumstances and matters. This sounds appealing enough, but there is a problem. The contents of no two human minds are exactly the same. They are full of individual truths. Though there are general categories of agreement between groups of individuals there is no one universal self-centered truth known to all human beings at all times and in all places. How then are we to identify and sort out the one truth, the truth of origin that returns joy in all matters and circumstances, from all of the other truths that fill our minds? To show us the way God teaches us quite clearly that when we settle, sweep or set aside our individual self-centered truths what remains is the one truth, the truth of origin. Once again, God does not teach that our individual truths are wrong, they are simply in the way. It is really a rather straightforward trouble shooting strategy. One shuts down all dependant systems and works from the power source out to fix and straighten out any problems that exist.

From the point of view of the origin there is joy in all circumstances and matters. And originally so it is with our mind. However, when we mix in our self-centered truths one by one we can see the effect that they have on that joy. It is like pure water that gushes out from the bottom of a pond. As it gushes out pure it is gradually mixed with the mud and debris of the pond. Eventually it can become quite unpleasant and will require some care and maintenance to restore its beauty and usefulness as a medium of joy in the world.

So that is all there is to it. Every human being thinks that they have a mind and every human being has numerous truths in their mind. To awaken to the truth of origin and the joyous life we need only calm our self-centered truths and enjoy the one truth of origin that remains. It is the one truth for all human beings in all times and all places. It is the truth that is known through the mind like clear water. God invites us to calm our minds and test this assertion for ourselves. This is the "broad main path" of single-heartedness with God. Anyone can do this at any time and in any place.

Unfortunately there is still a problem. Most of us find it very difficult to calm our mind and settle our self-centered truths so that the one truth can be distinguished and identified. Indeed many sincere and intelligent people would say that it is impossible to do so. Once again God is compassionate and shows an understanding of our plight. To show us the way to return to the origin God taught and modeled ways to settle the truth of the mind by serving the truth of origin. Though there were many ways that were taught to suit the many kinds of minds that God was addressing, still there was only one way. Today we tend to refer to these various services as the Service. This then was the answer. In order to calm their self-centered truths God taught the way of service to the truth to settle the mind so that it could return to its origin and reflect that one truth back into the world as the joyous life. And so it was through the creation of the Service that God opened just a "narrow path" of single-heartedness with God. Yet once again there was a problem. This "narrow path" of single-hearted salvation was constantly being overgrown and choked by weeds and the Service was not being performed. The reason for this goes back to the two states of mind that we spoke of earlier. That is the misunderstanding and lack of understanding of what God's intention is in this teaching.

On the one hand those minds whose truths saw God's teaching as something dangerous and evil moved to suppress and reject it. On the other hand, and in fact a more serious threat to the path, was the tendency by those who sincerely wanted to follow God's teaching to try and make God's teaching, the truth of God's mind, accord with their own self-centered truths. This, when in fact the actual path required that they make their mind accord with God's mind by sweeping and settling their own self-centered truths. This it turns out is a very easy error for a self-centered imagination, even one that is sincere in wanting to follow the path, to make.

In response to this problem God shows us a model path and model life that hastened going out onto the "main broad path" for all of the minds in the world equally. All the while simultaneously, patiently and compassionately tolerating the minds of those whose self-centered truths rejected and suppressed the path, both "broad" and "narrow". Also, in great detail and with great and tireless care, God entered into those self-centered truths that were causing the minds of those who sincerely wanted to follow the teaching but whose self-centered truths had become mixed with the teaching and were thus keeping them from understanding. And in so doing showed them the way, using the language of their own truths, that is in a way appropriate for time, place and maturity, to hold open the "narrow path" and show the way to single-hearted salvation through the sincere performance of the Service.

That brings us to the point that we are at in Book VI. The path is being rejected and suppressed by the minds of those outside and distorted and misunderstood by those inside. No one understands the "broad path" and though God is working tirelessly to hold open the "narrow path" the Service is not being performed.

As we continue on with our reflections and comments on the poems we might well wonder that since God has entered into the "muddy water"(the self-centered truths of human minds) to teach in a way that is appropriate for time, place and maturity; how will we be able to tell which part of the teaching is God's teaching and which part represents the self-centered truths of human minds? I believe that the answer to that is that every word and verse in these poems is God's teaching.

Like anything else, it is possible and as we have seen it is quite likely that a worldly common meaning can and will be attached to the words and verses of the Ofudesaki (indeed that was always the problem of the misunderstanding from within). However there is no need to be discouraged by this fact as it is also true that in every case there is also another intended meaning that surely and truly points the sincere mind to the one truth of origin.

Let's continue on with Book VI and see this model in action.

A talk from the 21st day of the 12 month

 

This is the Residence where I began this world.

Therein lives the Parent of human beginnings.

These opening verses bring to mind the opening verses of Book I.. As we human beings are used to understanding things in relation to one and other and ourselves, we can see here that God is setting up a relationship with the minds of the followers so that they will know how to regard Her and Her authority to teach. Recall that the problem in keeping open the "narrow path" is not that the followers were unwilling to regard Oyasama as a God among many others that they knew of. The problem was that they were not willing to sincerely perform the Service. So Oyasama must find a way to enter into their minds and form a relationship that will lead them to perform the Service so that they can go out onto the "main, broad path" of single-heartedness with God.

Discerning this, Moonsun descended

from the desire to teach about all matters.

Here we see the relationship extended so that there is Moonsun [Moonsun], descending from heaven and taking Miki as a shrine to teach about all matters. This is in fact a rather familiar relationship in the history of mankind. There is God, God's instrument of revelation and us. We can get a handle on this kind of relationship. It suits our way of looking at things.

Now, I don't want to do this for every verse but one could and in fact I think that one should in every case look beyond worldly common interpretations of these poems. As we discussed many times before there are approaches in the Ofudesaki that appeal to a particular time, place and level of spiritual maturity. There are also verses and instructions in the Ofudesaki that apply to all matters and all situations, in all times and all places. The verse at the head of this page is one of them. The verse at the foot of this page makes it clear that the intention of the verse at the top is unqualified. That is to say that there are no exceptions. Viewed from that point of view of those verses the topic here is one of identity and unity rather than relationship. However as that is not understood, relationships pointing to unity must be admitted.

Truly, the thought in the mind of Moonsun

is to receive the shrine of each.

Here in Book VI, God changes names from Kami [god] to Moonsun [Moonsun]. The purpose of this change is to hasten the understanding of the followers by revealing truths that our human reason can follow back to the truth of origin. The truths in the minds of the followers, as with most human beings at one time or another, saw these most important of objects in the sky as separate deities "kami", each with their own sacred names and qualities. It is significant that Moonsun chose a name both familiar and new. Familiar because everyone in the world knows the same moon and sun. New because the two are shown as being one. This was not a trivial matter. It gave the minds outside of the path cause to ban the name as being a grievous error. Though there were certainly two deities, moon and sun, each with their own sacred name and qualities there was no such deity as Moonsun in the ancient records. New also not just because the two names were joined together but because something new was being taught in doing so.

The moon and sun were once regarded as two separate deities each having its own light and qualities. For the sun the are the qualities of fire (transforming energy, heat, illumination and life) and for the moon the qualities of , water (cold light, darkness, change, reflectivity and life) to mention two, which were known to providentially impact on the earth and its people. In the name Moonsun however, it is taught that though it appears as if there are two separate sets of qualities in fact all are qualities of the original and only one. Though it is the case with the actual moon and sun in the sky that where there appears to be two lights there is really only one light reflected, it is not that truth the Moonsun is interested in teaching. The intention is for us to find that truth as well as all the other qualities that the name Moonsun brings to mind not in the sky but within our own mind. Please take a moment and compare this interpretation with the verse heading this page. Each and every time the name Moonsun appears and each and every time it is uttered this truth can be pondered and understood in greater and greater depth.

Now we know that Oyasama is the Shrine of Moonsun and in this poem we are told that it is intended that each of the instruments is also intended to be received, that is brought back to the origin, to unity, each as a shrine. As Moonsun was at this time hastening the performance of the Service I think that it can be said that this reunification of the instruments with the origin was intended for the performers of the Service. We each of us is after all composed of those same instruments that were present at the time of the creation.

Then I would teach exactly as I wish,

freely and unlimitedly at any time.

To the mind that returns to the origin is given the truth of any and everything in detail.

Even until now, though having firmly received the

Shrine of Moonsun, I have been keeping still.

At the time that this verse was written many years had gone by since Miki was taken as the Shrine of Moonsun. At this time there was a great deal of activity at the Residence to hasten the completion of the Service so that, through the Service performers as they awakened to the one truth of origin, God could open the "main path" of single hearted salvation all over the world.

This time, I shall surely reveal Myself openly

and tell you the truth of all matters.

Again this is establishing relationship while the second line guides us to the unity of mind were the truth of all matters is understood.

Until now, since I kept Myself behind a bamboo screen,

nothing was able to be seen.

This time, as I have come into the brightness,

everything will be seen quickly.

What do you think of these red clothes?

Moonsun dwells within.

In common terms I believe that one could say that it was traditional in the area for the deity to be hidden and not directly viewed. With Oyasama that all changed, God came out into the daylight and the followers were able to see a God with their own eyes. The red clothes being a way of drawing attention to the fact that Oyasama was the Shrine of Moonsun.

That said I think it will serve us to recall that Oyasama never taught anything that had a worldly common meaning. Indeed God is hidden from us. It is as if we are standing enthralled with the beauty of the changing phases of the moon totally unaware of the source of its real light behind us. Certainly, through Oyasama, God has come into the brightness. In fact God is the brightness. God is the light by which everything is seen. God is also the darkness that in association with the light appears to move and change. Together they are Moonsun the one and all of the creation. I think it is true to say that God is all that is seen and all that sees and that without even saying those words that is what the mind like clear water understands as the truth of origin.

Oyasama's red clothes announce to the world that the fire and light that shines through the dark and muddy ocean at the creation, giving name and form where there is nothing burns and shines in full awakening from within Oyasama. As always it is our task to find that truth within ourselves. We are taught to calm our mind of its self-centered worldly common truths and make the distinction between fire and water clear in our own mind.

What does it mean to "receive the truth of the Service"? I understand it to mean that, just as the instruments received the providence of God the Parent by performing their respective roles in human creation, we should make efforts to receive blessings by obediently putting Oyasama's teaching into practice and by humbly melting into Oyasama's mind.

The 3rd Shinbashira, October 26,1990

In the divine direction spoken on February 2, 1899, Oyasama tells us:

I began by telling you of the Four-fronted Mirror Residence. The Mirror Residence; what image is reflected in it? The Mirror Residence, the Mirror Residence. From where ever you look, never is it clouded: that is the Mirror Residence.

Another Direction, on the other hand, addresses the actual state of the path at the time.

I have taught you about the Mirror Residence. So long as resentment persists in the Mirror Residence, it will be unbearable depressing. Listen and understand well. Originally, in the beginning, there is only the One Truth, the truth of One Mind. In the world, every sort of manifestation also appears. But for Me to help you along, a settling must somehow take place there. For this I have waited and waited, wondering when it would come. But little by little, you have upset everything and mixed it all up. Because of your human minds, you lack God's truth. This makes peace of mind difficult to settle.

Osashizu, June 11, 1898