Tenrikyo: Return to the Origin and put the joy back into your life

Verses VI: 1-8

This time, I shall begin to tell you something marvelous.

Calm your mind and please listen.

Everything is what God says or does.

I shall never cause trouble to you who are close to Me.

All of you, please calm your mind

and become truly convinced of this talk.

Book Six opens with a promise. If we calm our mind and listen we will be told something marvelous. Perhaps, in our excitement we rush ahead in the poem hoping to gain what is marvelous, to hear, without first calming our mind. Unfortunately, what is promised can only be heard by the mind that is truly and sincerely calmed. The fact that the mind that is not first calmed cannot hear the marvel that is promised is not because what is promised is withheld but because what is given cannot be heard through the noisy chatter of our everyday thoughts.  

Verse two can be viewed in the context of Miki's problem in communicating with the expectations of her family and the villagers around her. In this context "everything is what God says or does" can be viewed an attempt to respond to the perception that she, Miki, was unbalanced in her mind and had no authority to speak of such matters as the gods and the origin of human beings. Such gods and truths having already been established for the villagers in a long tradition of belief. On the flip side there were folks who were willing to accept that Miki was a  god (Kami) and who believed according to tradition, just as Miki had once believed, that there were gods and spirits that could and would cause all sorts of problems for human beings. In this context we are assured, at least for those close to God the Parent, that there is nothing to worry about.

Then there is a view of verse two that can be heard in the mind that is calmed. From that point of view "everything is what God says and does" is the marvel understood. From the point of view of this understanding there is no trouble at all. As one moves closer to this understanding the quieter the mind becomes and the less open to being troubled. As one moves farther away from this understanding the more agitated the mind becomes and the more open the mind is to being troubled.

Verse three repeats the importance of calming the mind and is both a closure for verses one and two and an introduction for verses four through eight.

What do you think this path is?

It is the true path that will settle this world.

When the distinction between fire and water in the high places

is made, joyousness will settle of its own accord.

Know that the distinction between fire and water will be made

by the performance of the Joyous Service at this place.

I shall do marvelous things,

the same as My beginning of this world.

I shall begin a Service which has never existed since I began

this world, and assuredly settle the world.

Verse four asks a question. The answer given is that the path is the true path to settle this world. But what path is it that is the  true path to settle this world and what does it mean to settle this world? Apparently when we look at verse five the true path is seen to be the path that distinguishes between "fire and water in high places". But what is "fire and water" and what are "the high places". Verse six doesn't tell us what fire and water are but does tell us that the distinction between them "will be made by the performance of the Joyous Service at this place". Again the poem remains dense and questions are raised. What is the performance of the Joyous Service and what is "this place"? Verse seven adds another unknown dimension by referring to "marvelous things, the same as My beginning of this world." Verse eight is no less astonishing in the assertion that the author of these poems is the creator of the world!

Let's sort this all out.Verses one and two promise something marvelous to the mind that is calmed, settled. What is promised is the understanding that everything is what God says or does and the freedom from trouble that that understanding brings to the mind. Unfortunately there are perhaps many minds that are unable to settle sufficiently to enjoy this understanding and freedom from trouble. To help those minds settle a path has been crafted. So the answer to the question " What do you think this path is?", is that it is a path to settle the mind so that it can be aware of the marvel that everything is what god says and does and experience that understanding as freedom from trouble or the natual joy of the settled mind.

What then is the significance of the "fire and water" metaphors? On a small scale the combination of fire and water produces smoke or steam. On a grand scale the combination of the sun and the ocean produces clouds and wind. The clouds and wind rise up because of the association with the fire of the sun. The sun is the origin of the transformation but is not effected by it. On the human scale both "fire and water" are present even now as one reads this. Water is the mind and fire is its origin. Out of the association, thoughts, a voice and pictures rise up and transform. Constantly changing like wind blown clouds.  Similarly their origin is unaffected by the transformations that it gives rise to. In all of these examples the transformation involves a rising up. Settling is of course just the opposite. These metaphors then are tools for deep self reflection. We are asked to distinguish both fire and water in our own minds. It is not difficult to identify the ever transforming water. We often find settling it considerably more challenging.

Now on to the "high mountains" metaphor. Recall that these poems were written in Japan. Though it may be different elsewhere there should be no question in Japan that the high mountains rise up out of the dark and muddy ocean. The grand scale metaphor here is that the dark and muddy ocean is the origin before name and form out of which rises up the human form and its awareness of the world. On the individual scale a human mind is metaphorically a pond that rises up in the high mountains. Its nature is one of pure settled water and of the origin and not of the gross thing-ness of the mountain.

Returning to the questions that were raised. The Service then is the way to distinguish between the mind in its original condition , the origin and the mind that is stirred up and transforming, the active self centered imagination. Though we perform the Service using our bodies and voices the distinction is made in our mind. The place where the Service is performed is the Origin, the place where human beings were created. That is where both they and the world rise up.

Continuing then, we have the promise, the obstacle to receiving the promise and the solution to the problem

Take a moment now and identify that part of the mind that is speaking and changing. Now look through it from the point of view of "fire". Both are always present. One never changes and the other is constantly changing.