Tenrikyo - The Reason of Heaven

     

This universe is the body of God.

Ponder this in all matters.


 

VII 13-19

However high the mountains, floodwaters will reach them.

Yet in the low valleys there will be no danger.

This is of course the opposite of what one would expect when thinking about dangerous floodwaters. On the face of it, the "high mountains" represent the authorities, religious and civil, who sincerely misunderstood God's purpose. As a result of that misunderstanding the "high mountains" sincerely believed it to be necessary to persecute and reject the path of single-heartedness with God because they feared it posed a threat to the established worldly common truths of their particular time and place. The "low valleys" then represent the villagers, who because of their fear and the influence of the "high mountains" hesitated to walk directly out onto the path to awaken quickly to the single-hearted salvation. Now there is no doubt that on their face these poems invite this strait forward reading of the "high mountains" and "low valleys" but is that all? I don't think so.

For one thing the comparison doesn't hold up to the promise. It is not the worldly common case that one social and economic class of people enjoys God's protection from illness, trouble, suffering and death while the other does not. To get to a meaning of this poem that does hold up to the promise that was made, I think that we will have to look at the way the poems are constructed. In every case Oyasama uses a small worldly common situation from the every day events in and around the Residence as the basis for a teaching that is, as poems tend to be, presented as a metaphor. Poetic metaphors are remarkable devices that lead and entice our imaginations to the edge of the ordinary meaning of words. At that point successful metaphors trip the imagination out of the ordinary flow of dialog and images into a mode of understanding that is greater that than the combined common meaning of the words that make up the metaphor.

We can, I think use the other metaphors that we have encountered in the poems to illuminate this metaphor of high mountains and low valleys as it relates to guaranteed safety from danger. Illness, trouble, suffering and death are the results of the "dust" of our self-centered imaginations "piled mountainously high". Our self-centered imagination is "a pond in the high mountains", which though originally rising from its origin pure has gradually become turbid with mud and debris. These then are the "high mountains" that are in danger of experiencing the return for the world of their own self-centered creation. It is the state of this kind of mind that cannot find God's protection and joy in the state of the world that it creates.

Then there are the low valleys. That is those minds that have dug up or are sincerely attempting to dig up the root , expose the core and return to the origin in the depths of their own innermost heart. It is this mind that is guaranteed God's protection against illness, suffering, trouble and death. It is this mind that can truly understand that the whole universe is the body of God and that our human bodies are things borrowed from God by our self-centered imaginations. It is the mind that has pondered deeply and returned to the origin that is capable of returning what is loaned and it is this mind that is close to God, so close as to be single-hearted with God, that is freed of Illness, trouble, suffering and death.

As it is Tsukihi who rules over all,

never say that this is large or that is small.

This verse addresses the way in which we ordinarily discriminate and make worldly common distinctions as opposed to the realization that everything is God and everything is what God does. So this verse goes in two directions first: It instructs and helps us to avoid reading worldly common distinctions into the teaching, for instance distinctions of high and low as social and economic classes. And second; it points us in the direction of the one truth of origin where the only distinction that is made is the distinction between the truth of origin on the one hand and the worldly common truths that rise up with the self-centered imagination on the other. Even then however, it is intended that the many truths of the self-centered imagination melt back into the one truth of the origin.

Even until now, from My desire for useful timber,

I have searched most everywhere.

This verse brings to mind verse one of Book One and the first verse of the present book. Tsukihi has entered one and from the one intends that one by one all awaken.

This time, in the low valleys

I see promising trees in abundance.

We have discussed the identity of the low valleys, perhaps we can summarize by saying that it speaks of those who wish to hear and will go to single-heartedness with the origin.

When Tsukihi enters these trees and brings them to

completion step by step, they will become pillars of nations.

What does it mean for Tsukihi to enter into the trees? In Oyasama we have a sure model that we can look to. What does it mean to be brought to completion step by step? When step by step our mind is made pure through the perfection of the service what remains is single-heartedness with God. What then of pillars of nations? The pillars are the framework and support of a recreated world of Joy that rests upon the totally secure foundation of the truth of origin.

Then, looking closely day by day,

Tsukihi will prepare for more timber.

It is Tsukihi's intention that each and every person be given the opportunity for realizing single-hearted salvation. The preparation is the perfection of the service through which the human mind can awaken from the dreams of the self-centered imagination to the one truth of origin.

Step by step, I shall nurture trees, starting with aged ones,

and assemble them in preparation for the future.

In speaking of God's tireless efforts and preparations to bring single-hearted salvation to all mankind we often refer to those efforts and preparations as being appropriate for the time, the place and the spiritual maturity of those who would seek single-hearted salvation. I believe that the "aged ones" refers to those minds that are of a state of maturity where God can use them as instruments of single-hearted salvation.

In the years after the founding of the teachings, Oyasama's most painstaking efforts were devoted to making the arrangements for the path of the Service of the Kanrodai. Performed with the Jiba of Origin and the Kanrodai at the center, this Service reenacts the workings through which God the Parent created human beings and thereby invokes the miraculous, free and unlimited workings of God the Parent. This Service was in fact the purpose for which God the Parent became revealed in this world and laid the path of single-hearted salvation. The sole desire in the mind of God the Parent is to save every person in the world without exception. In perfect accord with that mind of God the Parent, Oyasama underwent various hardships, but each and every one of these was for the sake of us human beings, who are the children. I should like you to ponder over this.

Sermon at the Spring Grand Service, January 26, 1990

The 3rd Shinbashira