Helping Offenders Replace the Mind

This is a translation of an article written by Yoshiji Tomita, head minister of Echizen Branch Church, for the Tenri Jiho newspaper’s column entitled “The Ofudesaki, My Companion along the Way.”

Whatever mind you may have had until now, replace it, even in the span of a night!

Ofudesaki XVII:14

Over the past 10 years, I have visited a prison once a month as a prison chaplain to convey the teachings of the path based on The Doctrine of Tenrikyo.

As it turns out, some of the inmates I met had previously come into contact with this path’s teachings. “When I was young, I once attended the Besseki lecture at someone’s suggestion,” said an elderly man one day, much to my surprise, about a month before he was to be released. “Can you make arrangements for me to attend the Besseki lecture again when I get out?”

Also, a young man once asked me to administer the Sazuke to him, so I ended up administering it in prison.

Among those who previously knew nothing about the teachings, some have wanted to find out more after hearing the teachings for the first time. One of them asked me, “What kind of punishment will God give me?” He seemed worried that he might face retribution for the crime he had committed.

“We are taught that God is the Parent of all humankind,” I said. “No human parents intend to make their children suffer through punishment; likewise, God does not intend to exact any retribution on humans, who are after all God’s own children. The only thing we need to remember is that the way we use our mind brings results for which we ourselves are answerable.”

“What should I do?” he asked.

“God wants you to replace the mind quickly, for your life is unfolding in accordance with your state of mind,” I said. “God also wishes you to have hopes for what lies ahead in life.”

As I said these words, his face relaxed, and it looked as if he was no longer worried or afraid.

My fervent hope is that those who have heard the teachings will not repeat their mistakes.

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