Taking the Shinbashira Seriously
When we seek an ideal for our own lives from the Divine Model of Oyasama, interpretations that we understand from it may differ depending on our individual situations: for instance, an interpretation from a child's point of view; an interpretation from a parent's point of view; an interpretation of someone who is following the path of single-hearted salvation; and so on. However any such interpretation is not wrong. We can gain understanding of the ideals for which we search by the way we direct our thinking in each of our situations. It can be said that in each case, we are looking up to Oyasama in adoration with our arms spread wide to receive Her saving grace. On the other hand, what would our thoughts be if we stepped into Her mind and looked at ourselves from Her point of view?
SAS - The 3rd. Shinbashira February 18, 1986
The paragraph above has had a deep impact on the way that I look at my own efforts to know and understand the truth of origin. It has also completely changed my understanding of the long journey of human beings from our very beginning until now. I think it deserves a close examination. Obviously my observations are limited to my own scope and depth of understanding and there are undoubtedly other interpretations and perspectives that I am unaware of.
An interpretation of someone who is following a path of single-hearted salvation:
The invitation to step into Oyasama's mind and look at ourselves from Her point of view is an invitation to become single-hearted with the truth of origin. The truth that is known through the mind like clear water. That is of course the goal of this teaching and all efforts are intended to be directed toward assuming that point of view. It is however something outside of our ordinary way of thinking and so the Model Path provides us with instructions on how to do this. We are to first identify our self-centered imagination (our mind's voice) and then muster up the sincerity to make that voice absolutely quiet. What remains then is the point of view of the truth of origin. The point of view of Oyasama's mind. If we sincerely persist and employ Oyasama's point of view in every matter we will then gradually and naturally replace the self-centered imagination as the foundation of our thinking and the free and unlimited joyous life will settle in our mind of its own accord. If you are ready, this then would be a good time to assume Oyasama's point of view.
Were you able to find and identify the voice of your mind, your self-centered imagination, without any trouble? Everybody has a self-centered imagination and although the contents are all different it is basically the same effect that generates them. Once identified, did your self-centered imagination allow you to assume Oyasama's point of view or did it keep wandering off to imagine all sorts of things? If you were able to stick with it and settle it then you know what the mind like clear water knows. If your mind's voice wouldn't settle then you have learned something important that perhaps you were unaware of before - you are not totally in control of your own thought processes. Yikes!
This very direct approach of consciously and directly going after single-hearted salvation by digging up the root of our problems and diving down to expose the truth of our origin at the core of our mind, though the way to awaken to single-heartedness with God quickly and something that everyone with a mind can do, is however not something that everyone wants to do. In general what we prefer is the satisfaction of our self-centered imaginings and not their removal. God our Parent understands this about us. After all it is the way we are made and not our fault that we do not know the truth of our origin. That our self-centered imaginings have led to a world, where for many, there is no joy is an unintended by product of the marvel that is the self-centered imagination and it is to correct that unintended result that single-hearted salvation is intended to do.
An interpretation from a child's point of view:
What is an actual child's point of view that makes it appropriate to characterize an adult interpretation of this teaching as an interpretation from a child's point of view? I think it safe to say that a child's point of view is long on energy and innocence but short on the knowledge and understanding that comes with maturity. When a child gets hurt he or she looks to their parent, the highest power in their world, to make things better. Adults who hold to what could be called a child's interpretation also look to a higher power to bring them relief from troubles that they are unable to cope with by themselves. For example: "On October 23, 1838 at 10:00 in the evening, in addition to Shuji's sore leg, Zenbei had trouble with his eyes, and Miki had a severe pain in Her back. Thus there were now three ailing persons under one roof. The following morning, Ichibei began an incantation using Miki as the medium. In the midst of the incantation, God the Parent descended and revealed through Miki: I wish to receive Miki as the Shrine of God." *
Ichibei was a shaman or practitioner of ritual magic of some reputation in the area. His art consisted of casting out evil spirits and placating gods who were bringing evil upon a person or a place. At the start of Ichibei's incantation, Miki and the members of the Nakayama family were holding to an interpretation from a child's point of view. They were sincerely looking for help from a higher power. By the time that Ichibei got to the middle of his incantation however, everyone present was still holding to a child's interpretation except Miki. Miki's sincerity was such that Her mind manifested the causality of origin. Miki had moved from an interpretation of a child to an interpretation that is single-hearted with God.
This is a very important moment in human history. Though, as is shown by this story, it is possible to become single-hearted with God through the totally sincere perfection of a child's interpretation, it is indeed a very rare occurrence. And at that, as is pointed out in the Timely Directive of January 13, 1890 and in the Kakisage that one hears and is given a copy of after receiving the "Sazuke"; it is an occurrence, that can come unbidden and the significance of which can be missed or not appreciated and thrown away.
The point I wish to make here is that prior to Miki's awakening as a Shrine of God the interpretation of a child with its rather random results was the only interpretation of God's intention available for most if not all human beings. With Miki's awakening all human beings equally have been given the opportunity to quickly and directly access a path of single-hearted salvation. The means that the guesswork and randomness can now be taken out of the task. Miki's awakening marks a potentially huge change in the human condition. Prior to 1838 we could only access paths of belief that from time to time manifested true sincerity. The events were however random to us as we could not see or understand the causality of true sincerity. In other words results were seen but the real cause was unknown. After the events of 1838 that can all change. Oyasama, being one with the truth of origin knows how to show all the rest of us how to get there. How to become single-hearted with the truth of our origin. She is no longer a believer like the rest of us but rather knows and understands the one truth. A sure guide, She knows exactly how to get to that truth and is willing to teach everybody else the way to quickly realize single-heartedness with God. Oyasama is offering us all the opportunity to consciously follow a step by step path that leads to certain knowledge and understanding. As children of the one true Parent it is expected that we will gradually mature and naturally leave our child's interpretation behind. Oyasama is tested proof that the time for human beings to mature and embrace an interpretation of single-hearted salvation has come. Now the truth of origin can be purposely sought out and quickly known and understood with certainty by anyone who wants to do it.
But that didn't happen, there was a problem with it right off the bat. Many of us are really quite fond of the interpretation of a child and are not willing to give it up. Then there are some that think that they have matured out of the interpretation of a child but instead have just embraced it in a different form. Still others would like to give up the interpretation of a child and mature but find that they are unable to do so. Their efforts to mature have demonstrated to them that they are mentally addicted to one or the other of the many forms of an interpretation of a child. As the Shinbashira points out, the interpretation of a child is not wrong but it also might not be the interpretation of someone who is following a sure and quick path of single-hearted salvation. What to do? Enter an interpretation from a parent's point of view.
An Interpretation from a parent's point of view:
What is it about a parent's point of view that makes it a characterization that appropriately describes our efforts to seek an ideal for our own lives from the Divine Model of Oyasama? I think that we can agree that in its perfection, a model of parental love has no other intention other than to ensure the happiness, well being and success of the children. Oyasama's response to our slowness in maturing and our hesitance to embrace the quick and direct path of single-hearted salvation was to show us a perfect model of parental love. Oyasama was and remains willing to do what ever it takes to open the minds of the children to the reason and truth of heaven.
Just as we were invited to assume Oyasama's point of view and go directly to an interpretation of single-hearted salvation we are now invited to bridge the gap between a child's interpretation and a single-hearted interpretation by trying to copy Oyasama's actions and attitudes as shown in the perfect model of parental love. Our sincere efforts to do so returning the kind of mind that gradually realizes single-hearted salvation through the perfect understanding of Oyasama's model of parental love. By saving others we can save our self.
Some of the elements of the model of parental love that come to mind are:
That said, the invitation is out for anyone who feels that it is time to make a real difference in their own life and in the state of the world. I am eager to open a new path of single-hearted salvation in North America. If you have pondered the reasoning presented here and feel that it is a path for you then perhaps we can play in this universe together.
Drop me a line at:
* Quoted from Reference Materials for The Life Of Oyasama, Translation Section, Tenrikyo Overseas Department Teni Nara Japan, Tenri Jihosha, 2000 A nice little reference book. I am into it much more often than I would have first thought.