May I express my sincere appreciation for the trouble you have taken to travel from various places within and outside this country to return to Jiba for today’s Autumn Grand Service. May I thank you most sincerely for the efforts you are devoting in your daily lives to the tasks of the path in your respective capacities. The Service having been duly performed, I want to take this opportunity to share some of my thoughts with you. May I have your attention for a while, please.
The first words ever spoken by God the Parent to humankind were as follows:
I am God of Origin, God in Truth. There is causality in this Residence. At this time I have descended here to save all humankind. I wish to receive Miki as the Shrine of God.
The Life of Oyasama
This passage is what is sometimes referred to as the declaration of the founding of the Teaching. Condensed into this concise passage are many cornerstones of the teachings such as the purpose of founding the Teaching and the causalities behind the founding.
The first sentence, “I am God of Origin, God in Truth,” indicates how God the Parent is to be understood. God the Parent is God of Origin, who in the beginning created humankind and the world in the hope of seeing our Joyous Life and sharing in our joy. In addition, God the Parent is God in Truth, who takes care of all things in the universe, providing such workings as fire, water, and wind in the world and warmth, moisture, and breath in the human body.
The second sentence, “There is causality in this Residence,” tells us that Jiba is the place of the original conception of humankind. This sentence refers to the promise made during the creation of humankind, a promise that, upon the arrival of the promised time, the ultimate teaching would be started at that place of origin. Also, by using the term “Residence,” which is a word referring to a place where people live, God the Parent seems to indicate that the causality of origin involves not only the geographical or physical location but also people residing at the Residence. In the Ofudesaki’s Part XI, we read:
The very beginning of this world was at Shoyashiki Village of Yamabe County in Yamato Province.
There, at the place known as the Naka-yama Residence, appear instruments of human beginnings.
These instruments are Izanagi, Izanami, Kunisazuchi, and Tsukiyomi.
Discerning this, Tsukihi descended and began preparations to train them in all matters.
These verses say that people who are causally related to the creation of humankind―such as Oyasama; Her husband, Zenbei; Shuji; and Kokan―have been drawn to the Residence of Origin.
The next sentence in the passage quoted at the outset, namely, “At this time I have descended here to save all humankind,” reveals the great purpose of founding the Teaching. The phrase “At this time” refers to the arrival of the promised time, which came after the passage of the years equal to the number of the first humans given birth in creation. The phrase “to save all humankind” means that God became openly revealed in order to save all people in the world without exception.
God the Parent goes on to say, “I wish to receive Miki as the Shrine of God,” indicating that God would enter the body of Oyasama to explain the divine intention through Her mouth. Thus, God the Parent makes clear Oyasama’s position as the Shrine of God. The fact that God specifically mentions the name “Miki” indicates that there was an underlying causality of soul that led to Her being settled as the Shrine of God.
God the Parent intends to save all human beings throughout the world without exception so that the world of the Joyous Life can be realized. This teaching was started for that very purpose. This means that, in accordance with that intention of the Parent, everyone aspiring to follow this teaching―even those who embraced the faith out of a desire to be blessed with a solution to their illness or other problems―is expected to maintain the mind of saving others, however imperfectly, and implement the teachings that will realize the Joyous Life.
In the past, those who embraced the faith were immediately told to go out to spread the teachings, and, apparently, those who had just completed the Special Course of Tenri Seminary would go out to spread the teachings basing themselves only on the teachings of the ten aspects of God’s complete providence and the eight dusts of the mind. Undoubtedly, those people must have been truly inspired to make repayment for the blessing of salvation from illness or other problems. They must also have been totally convinced of how wonderful Tenrikyo’s teachings were and how precious the faith in this path was. Although the circumstances have changed with the times, I believe we must not simply let their enthusiasm and passion become mere stories about old times.
Since its founding to this day, Tenrikyo has consistently remained a teaching that seeks to save all humankind. To achieve that goal, we must spread the teachings of Oyasama throughout the world. The path to world salvation has barely begun. In the Divine Directions, we read:
This path can hardly be considered a broad path as yet. . . . One cannot open a path while living in luxury. Understand well. Put on your workshoes, make untiring efforts of dedication, and thus build virtue earnestly. Only then will your work be effective.
Osashizu, November 4, 1898
Indeed, given that the vast majority of people in the world are not even aware of the ultimate teaching, we can hardly afford to slacken our efforts at this point. We must steadily continue making sustained efforts to extend and spread the path of single-hearted salvation.
Hearing the phrase “to save all humankind and realize the Joyous Life World,” some people may think that this is such a huge goal that it sounds as if it had nothing to do with them personally. However, if we lose sight of our ultimate goal and get wrapped up in our immediate concerns, we run the risk of deviating from the path without even being aware of doing so, and we may end up with totally unforeseen consequences. Our steady efforts to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and help others be saved―working with whomever we can―will contribute to spreading the teachings and expanding the circle of the Joyous Life. At the same time, it is also important to take every opportunity to make sure that we are moving in the correct direction in the light of the ultimate goal.
Speaking of spreading the teachings, I am sure you know that it is not easy to find people who are willing to listen to the teachings when we go door to door to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings. However, our predecessors in the past were thorough in going out to seek people they could save in the face of much more difficult circumstances arising from the authorities’ oppressive measures and people’s misunderstandings. I think we ought to take to heart that we are only able to follow today’s path thanks to our predecessors’ efforts.
In our present-day society, which is often characterized by a lack of social ties, there are more than a few people who have no one to confide in when they have troubles and who end up trying to bear them alone. There are also cases where a lack of a truly dependable guide for the mind results in confusion, anxiety, and even conflict. In our present-day society, there are present-day problems and sufferings. There are many people who need help and salvation. Given this situation, I believe we must nurture and train as many people as possible who can genuinely spread the teachings.
At the root of our effort to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings, there is, I think, the desire to have people around us be happy and be saved. Because we live in an age when so many people are indifferent to others, I would like to suggest that we start by thinking about people around us and showing them that we care.
This, in fact, is not merely limited to how we should reach out to others but indicates an attitude that we must maintain in our relationship with our own family members and other relatives, as well. There seem to be increasing numbers of families in which members do not talk to each other or even see each other although living in the same house. Nowadays, moreover, we frequently hear blood-chilling stories of families with very serious problems.
There shouldn’t be any worries like that when it comes to Yoboku families. Even so, I hope that we Yoboku try all the harder to make sure that we show our love for one another and talk to one another in our families. Families whose members love one another and help one another will not suffer a breakdown; moreover, such families can serve as a model for their local communities. Yet that is only possible when these families are centered on God the Parent and Oyasama.
Isn’t it true that the most important form of sprinkling the fragrance and saving others is to impart our faith to our children and relatives and try to help them grow spiritually? There may well be cases where, thanks to what they learned in a family life centered around faith, our children are able to think twice before taking a step that might cause them to deviate from the path. There may also be cases where they can use the teachings to help them overcome challenging situations that life has in store for them. Thus, working with our own family members is something that we really ought to make a point of doing. In fact, going outward to spread the teachings and conveying our faith to our own family members are not at all two separate things.
A while ago, I said that our predecessors went out to spread the teachings relying only on the teachings of the ten aspects of God’s complete providence and the eight dusts of the mind. Not only are these teachings reliable, but they also systematically explain the immense providence that is given both within the human body and in the world at large every day. Moreover, these teachings provide us with clues as to how to ponder over the meaning of knots of illnesses and other problems that we experience. In particular, I cannot help but be overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude for God’s parental love behind likening our mistaken uses of the mind to dust and teaching us that this dust can be swept out by reflecting critically on ourselves in our daily lives.
These teachings are very closely related to our everyday lives. I think that it is because our predecessors directly experienced and were convinced of the truth of these teachings that they wanted to convey them to others in the hope that those people might also learn them and internalize them.
At a time when Tenrikyo was not allowed to convey the teachings exactly as Oyasama taught them, our predecessors sought the teachings, implemented them, and did everything they could to convey them to others. Considering the tremendous difficulties they must have faced in following the path, I believe we must redouble our efforts to study the teachings, internalize them, and live in a way that is grounded in the teachings because we live in far more fortunate circumstances.
When we are beset by illness or some other problem, we tend to get wrapped up in trying to be cured or otherwise find a solution. However, especially at those times, we have an opportunity to notice and become aware of God’s complete providence, which we are constantly receiving each day, although ordinarily we give little thought to it.
What we call knots of illnesses and other problems may only be due to some interference with a tiny part of the boundless providence of God. Yet, to the people concerned, this miniscule change to the way the providence works can be experienced as a great distress. We often say that we can only appreciate the preciousness of health when we get sick. However, through such bodily disorders, not only should we feel a renewed sense of gratitude for the great providence we are constantly receiving, but we should also realize that the most precious thing is that we are given the opportunity to ponder over the divine intention embodied in the knots and to replace our mind.
One of the truly precious things about having faith in this path is that, knowing the great providence that is given to us each day, we can maintain a sense of gratitude as we proceed through our daily life. We do not merely rejoice in our safety and security. The reason we are free of worry is not that we have no problem to worry about but that we know that we are enabled to be alive while being embraced in a world that is pervaded by complete and perfect providence. Even when we are shown the knot of an illness or any other problem, we can express our gratitude to God for guiding us splendidly through our daily lives. We can ponder over and awaken to the meaning of the knot being shown as well as correct the orientation of our mind. Through making repeated efforts such as these, we are able to change the direction of our life, transform our individual causality, and thereby move closer and closer to the Joyous Life.
In addition, even if we ourselves have no problem, we are taught, “Whatever you see is your causality and whatever you hear is also your causality,” and, “The world is a mirror.” Thus we are encouraged to take the illnesses and other problems happening to people around us as our own concerns so that we can let those occurrences help us reflect critically on the way we live our lives. Moreover, we are taught the path whereby we can work for the salvation of those people suffering from illnesses and other problems and, thereby, experience even greater joy and build virtue.
Indeed, every day is filled with joy and gratitude for those of us who are aware of the preciousness of the providence being given to everyone each day―providence that most people in the world are taking for granted. When we face a challenging situation, we do not see it as a cause of suffering or trouble but as guidance that comes from the parental love so that we can work to have new buds sprout from the knot.
Hinokishin is a spontaneous outpouring of our feeling of gratitude. Hinokishin can take a variety of different forms and, indeed, any action that flows from a feeling of gratitude toward God the Parent can be called hinokishin. Given that God the Parent’s providence does not stop even for a fraction of a second, our sense of gratitude and our attitude of hinokishin must also be constant day after day.
Historically, we may say that the 1864 construction of the Place for the Service was the first construction that was undertaken through hinokishin. That construction arose from Izo Iburi’s desire to express his gratitude for his wife’s salvation from complications following childbirth. As a token of gratitude, he offered to make a shrine. Then Oyasama replied: “There is no need for a shrine. Start building something small.”
With regard to expressing gratitude for the blessing of salvation, Anecdotes of Oyasama indicates that, when people who were saved from serious or difficult illnesses asked Oyasama how they could repay their indebtedness, She encouraged them to help save others. From that perspective, then, trying to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and helping others be saved out of a desire to make repayment for God’s blessings can also be a form of hinokishin.
Gratitude is a spontaneous feeling. It is something that wells up spontaneously from a mind that finds joy in God’s providence.
In families where the faith has been handed down through a number of generations, there may be many people who do not have a strong feeling of having been saved, a feeling that must have been keenly felt by first-generation followers who were themselves saved from certain death. Yet we must not forget that we can only be what we are today because the first-generation followers in our families were saved.
In addition, we should bear in mind that it is thanks to the faith having been handed down through generations that we are able to appreciate and rejoice in the great daily providence, which most people are unaware of or taking for granted.
I think that a significant difference will arise in the long run between those who always find joy in and feel grateful for this complete providence in daily life and those who are unaware of it, take things for granted, and focus only on what they regard as inadequate, thereby filling their minds with dissatisfaction in the course of daily life.
Thinking along these lines, I cannot help thinking that we ourselves still do not fully feel or appreciate God’s providence for what it is. I think that we may not be responding properly to the providence. From this perspective, also, I hope that we redouble our efforts to do hinokishin in our daily lives. As we make efforts of hinokishin in our daily lives, however small they are, high-spiritedness will well up within us, thus enabling us to acquire a positive fragrance befitting someone following this path.
We cannot sufficiently express our gratitude to God the Parent for the boundless providence given to us daily, however hard we try. Our joyous awareness of God’s providence manifests itself as the spiritedness with which we perform hinokishin and leads us to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and help save others in the hope of contributing to fulfilling the intention of the Parent.
On this day of origin of the Teaching, as we return our thoughts once again to the origin of our faith, I invite all of you to join me in pledging our best efforts to respond to the divine intention in the days ahead.
I want to conclude my remarks by asking all of you to continue working spiritedly. Thank you for listening.