Newpath Tenrikyo - Graphic Metaphors and Idioms  - MOONSUN


The innermost heart of everyone in the world
is all reflected to Moonsun.
Unaware of this, in the human mind,
everyone has only self-centered thoughts.

On October 26, 1838 Miki Nakayama, a housewife living in the farming village of Shoyashiki, Yamato Provence, while participating in a prayer ritual ("yosekaji") which was intended to cleanse the Nakayama residence of the evil spirits that were tormenting the Nakayama family with health problems and  during the course of which Miki, who as a matter of necessity was acting as a stand-in medium, underwent a truly remarkable transformation. As the story goes, the purification fire had been lit and the ritual commenced with the instruction given to Miki, acting as the medium, to empty her mind. Suddenly and unexpectedly Miki interrupted the ritual and proclaimed to have been invited to be taken as the Shrine of  God (Kami, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto, the God of origin, the Shogun of Heaven).  I doubt if anyone actually knows exactly what was said on that occasion but one thing is certain, after that episode Miki was changed and would never again the same. It was also said to be the case that absolutely nobody but Miki thought that becoming a shrine of God was a good idea.

The reaction of Zenbei, Miki's husband, was immediate and reasonable. Like his wife he was comfortable with the fact that gods and spirits were directly involved in the affairs of human beings but the thought of  his wife becoming a Shrine of God, which he understandably assumed would interfere with her position as wife and homemaker, caused him to suggest passing on the offer and returning to things as they were before the sudden and dramatic change. He soon found out that declining was not really an option. I am not aware of the reaction of Ichibei's Nakano, the highly regarded ascetic monk ("Yamabushi") who was conducting the ritual incantations but assume that he was not much impressed by the claim as he did not become a follower of the new God and his name drops out of the story of the opening of a model path of single hearted salvation from the start.

Right from the beginning then, since Miki's replaced mind no longer imagined the same things as her family and neighbors, communication with them concerning Her new mind was very difficult and on some topics bordering on impossible. I will simplify the obstacles without going into the details of the story. When we look at the long human story we find that in all cultures praying and making sacrifices, offerings and the like, talking to gods, oracles and spirits is thought of as acceptable behavior. When however one claims that a god or spirit talks back then the situation becomes more complex. Generally in a cultural setting only certain people are authorized to conduct two way communications with gods and spirits and those authorities also tend to keep a close watch over which gods and which spirits real and appropriate for their particular culture. In most cases housewives living in farming villages are generally not encouraged or allowed to have their mind replaced by a deity or spirit and they are certainly not allowed to name new ones.  Yet throughout our long history it has been done. In those cases there is an expectation that to establish one's credibility some kind of miraculous proof has to be demonstrated.

At the time that Miki's mind was replaced by the mind of the God of origin established authorities kept lists of authorized gods and spirits and Miki was coming up with some names,"Tenri-O-No-Mikoto" and "Moonsun" ("Tsukihi") for instance that were not on currently recognized lists. Continuing with pondering the long human journey we find that it is also common to suspect that people who move outside of community norms of behavior in this regard are, for those who know about demons, curses, spirits and the like, suffering from some kind demonic possession. For those who don't believe in such things it is common to suspect some kind of mental disability or breakdown. Miki was no exception and both views were at one time or another applied to Her sudden and unexpected change. Under the circumstances opening a path of single-hearted salvation by teaching the true origin and original cause of any and everything in detail was not going to be easy. However Miki was determined and was willing to offer a quick testable proof of the existence of the true God of origin.  Promising that anyone who followed Her instructions exactly as She gave them would be able to replace their mind, just as She had, and as a result would be able to enjoy God's free and unlimited workings and a joyous life.

Understandably when Miki spoke of Her replaced mind as the mind of the God of origin people who heard Her imagined whatever the word "Kami" (god) brought to mind. The power of our human imagination is such that as soon as She began to teach about the true relationship between the God of origin and the human mind She was misunderstood. The misunderstanding came in two types of response. The first type of misunderstanding being outright rejection of what She taught and the second type of misunderstanding resulting in sincere well meaning distortion by attaching  shallow, worldly common meanings to what She was teaching. An example of which would be the view that the God of Origin was a god ("kami") like other gods and spirits and could if it so desired perform works, either good or evil, on behalf of or against human beings.  

The tone of the exchange between the mind of the God of origin and the minds or imaginations of the people who wished to be saved can perhaps best be understood by pondering the word parent, ("Oya"). The use of the name Parent introduces the The Model of Parental Love that flows from Parent to child.  When pondered deeply and sincerely the model of parental love peels away much of the selfishness and  fear that has accumulated around the word "god" over the long journey of human kind. The tone of the relationship between the human mind and God's mind is intended to be clearly understood as one of unconditional, indiscriminate love for all human beings equally. In this respect we are taught that our original Parent will use "all means" to help anyone who wishes to do so awaken to the one truth of origin. It of course also implies lineage and in the case of our original Parent the fact that all human beings share equally in their relationship (all are brothers and sisters) and also have an equal affinity (all are equally loved children of the same original Parent) with our original Parent.

The name "Tsukihi" (MoonSun) first appears in Book VI of the poems collected as "Ofudesaki" (the Tip of the Writing Brush). Those Poems were written in December 1877 when Miki Nakayama was "an old woman of 77 years". Prior to that time Miki used the words "Kami" (god) and "Oya" (Parent) in the Poems to indicate the original cause of all things in detail, the one truth of origin and the original parental heart of all human beings equally. That the Poems interchangeably use different names for the one original truth is instructive for the success of our task as we set out to find the meaning of the various metaphors used in the poems.

At this point let's take a step back and ask why it was necessary for God the Parent to communicate such an important teaching through the use of poetry and poetic metaphors, the meanings of which a first glance may seem difficult to sort out. Recall that Miki Nakayama awakened as the Shrine of "Tenri-O-no-Mikoto", yet another name for God the Parent (perhaps understood as meaning the "Shogun of Heaven") on October 26th, 1838. Having awakened to the truth of origin and with the intention of sharing that truth to all of the minds of the world, Miki rapidly discovered that the vocabulary necessary for communicating the previously unknown truth of origin did not exist among Her family and neighbors, nor when looking around the world through all ages did it seemingly exist anywhere else in the world. That situation is described in the opening poem of the Tip of the writing Brush:

Looking all over the world and through all ages,
I find that no one who has understood My true Heart. 

The intention of these poems is to rectify that situation and show the way to bring the understanding of God's true Heart to all of the minds of the world regardless of time or place. To do that as the Shrine of  the God of origin Miki Nakayama made exhaustive efforts over an almost fifty-year span of time just as our original Parent continues to do so today. The task is not an easy one as the teaching is not delivered to a blank slate as might be expected when introducing something new and interesting to  a child, but rather to a huge array of apparently reasonable preconceived notions and expectations that have been accumulated over time. Which means that for every detail of the teaching that is intended to reveal the truth of origin there exists an innocent, natural and deeply understood contradiction. Those contradictions are said to be the reasonable and logical results of worldly common, shallow thinking. It is those worldly common, shallow misunderstandings that are the dust clouding the human mind - piling up as the "regret" of Moonsun - and acted out by us as a path of unintended hardship. Note that that dust in our mind is the regret in Moonsun's mind. In the absence of that dust or regret our mind and Moonsun's mind are in truth the same and that is the mind of single hearted joy.

 Recall that the intended meaning of the name "kami" (god) was made clear by the phrase "God of origin" and the meaning of the name "Oya" (Parent) was made clear by telling us that our our own parents provide the intimacy of the model of parental love.  The addition of the name "Tsukihi" Moonsun further clarifies the intended meaning to go beyond the idea of a relationship and expose the truth of identity. We shall see that in truth  any and everything is "Tsukihi"  (Moonsun) and that that truth can be known and understood  by replacing the foundation of the imagined idea of a totally separate self  with the original foundation that is the cause and total support of a self centered imagination that enjoys free and unlimited workings in a world of joy.

No matter how I try to tell you the truth by words,
there is no one who understands.

This is a world constructed on reason.
So I shall press upon you everything with the reason in verse.

The Poems then set out to demonstrate, promote and realize a way of reasoning that is entirely different from the ordinary way of reasoning used by people who come to seek help and inquire into the truth of origin. Our ordinary worldly common thoughts and reasoning have as their foundation the idea of a separation between God and human beings and between human beings and nature. We call that idea of separation the self-centered imagination. Our self-centered imagination is who we imagine our self to be. Our self image then is a very natural and powerful collection of ideas and self images.

Ordinarily when we seek the help of a higher power such as a god, saint or spirit we are doing so with the reasonable expectation that we will receive satisfaction or relief for that one instance of illness or trouble and that everything else about our self will remain the same. When we look at the Model Story ("Hinagata") of Miki Nakayama we can clearly see that prior to the replacement of her mind with the mind of the God of origin, she often sought help through prayer, bargaining and ritual incantations as the reasonable actions of a self-centered imagination according to the norms of a particular time and place. After Her mind was replaced by the mind of the God of Origin however, Miki's worldly common reasoning was replaced by the free and unlimited workings that flow from the reason of heaven. When we look at the dialog between the reason of heaven and the worldly common expectations of those who came to seek and inquire in the Model Story we can see clearly that there was only worldly common reasoning and expectations in the minds of those who came to seek and inquire as well as  in the well intentioned, according to worldly common reason, actions of those who continually tried to bring Miki, sometimes by force, back into the worldly common consensus.

In response to our pleas for help and in order to get us to in fact return our minds, doing so for our own good, it is  necessary for our original Parent to have a talk with us concerning the worldly common nature of our sincere complaints, expectations and misunderstandings.  Patiently  reasoning with us in an effort to overcome our rather firmly held objections to totally calming our and replacing our minds. Quite frankly most of us are quite willing to do all sorts of things but turning off our self-centered imagination even for a moment is not something that very many people want to do. I wouldn't even mention it but I would expect that anyone who  has read this far either wants to know how to realize and prove the original cause of all things or is currently engaged in daily exercise to calm and sweep their self centered imagination so that their mind is prepared for returning and understanding the one truth of origin.

There are a number of different ways in which our Parent of origin has tried to help us to understand the way of reasoning from the truth of origin. We have briefly touched upon God "Kami" and the clarification that flows from God of Origin as opposed to just one more god among many gods. We have noted that the name God the Parent  further clarifies our original Parent's intention through pondering and understanding the universal "model of parental love" In both of the previous case the name of God shows a model of relationship between human beings and their origin. The existence of two can reasonably be understood.   There is God and there is me. A minimum of two separate entities.

I think that we are aware by now that God our Parent works tirelessly to help anyone who wishes to learn and leaves anyone who isn't interested in learning alone. Likewise the test for the proof of the truth of origin doesn't require any outward worldly common change on our part. The Path of single hearted salvation is completed within our own mind.

This talk is not someone else's concern. It is a matter
of your own and your single-heartedness with God.

However difficult it may be,
see the truth through your own mind!

We are free to use our imagination in any way that we like before we take the test for proof and we are also free to use our imagination in any way that we like after we have returned and proven the truth of origin, the original cause of all things in detail. The only difference is that the mind that has returned and proven the truth of origin can distinguish between the original and the imaginary and the the mind that remains just a worldly common self centered imagination cannot.  The teaching that reveals the truth of origin sets up a confrontation, a choice to take the test for proof and know and understand the truth of origin or not take the the test for proof and continue doing something else. That confrontation takes place entirely within one's own mind and is not the kind of worldly common confrontation that tries to change the world through worldly common thinking.   

So let's finish up with our examination of the metaphoric name Moonsun ("Tsukihi") and while we're at it take the test for proof and finish up with that too. After all that is the purpose of all of this and if now isn't the time to wake up, when is?

The name Moonsun is a pairing. There are a number of pairings that appear in the poems. Generally the pairings represent the relationship between the mind of God and the mind of human beings and include in the poetic theme in which they appear a metaphoric tool for distinguishing or separating them so that they can be clearly known and understood. The intention in modeling the pairings is to hasten and encourage us to quiet or settle our individual point of view and in so doing know and understand the point of view of God so that it can be settled as a new permanent foundation for our thinking and imagining.  From my point of view the Moonsun metaphor is the perfect poetic metaphor for demonstrating the original mind of God.

There was of course a very large problem with the name "Tsukihi" (Moonsun). Most if not all human cultures have recognized the importance of the Moon and the Sun and most if not all had at one time or another sacred names that deified them both. In the case of Yamato at the time that the poems were written both the Moon and the Sun were already recognized as deities among other recognized deities. The was also the Great Sun Buddha just down the road  in Nara that attempts to reconcile the one with the many. Most cultures also have or had an understanding of the original human pair and an original location for the founding of the human species.

All human cultures have had to deal with three basic questions: Where did I come from? How should I conduct my daily activities? And what happens to me when I die? Each culture has answers to those questions that are contained within  creation and foundation stories and moral, ethical tales which are transmitted to children as fundamental truths.  In that respect such stories are universal and common throughout the world. They are the basis for a large array of worldly common truths and in most cases are very deeply ingrained in any given culture from the childhood of its members.

By introducing the name Moonsun our Parent of origin is demonstrating that the usual pairings do not apply when the truth of origin is known and understood. Though the Moon or human self centered mind appears to be entirely separate, shining by its own light, the truth is that it is actually a reflection of the one original light of consciousness, metaphorically the Sun.  When the truth of origin is known and understood that understanding is Moonsun. It is the truth of all things in detail. It is intended that the knowledge and understanding of of the one truth of origin can then be applied to a new self image (replacement of mind) that like the one truth is free and unlimited.   The poem below hastens us to practice that replacement of mind in all matters.

This universe is the body of God.
Ponder this in all matters.

Please take a moment to think about when the last time was that the verse above was deeply and sincerely thought about in a quiet mind. Doing so now provides a sure guide to the path that quickly leads to the truth of origin, the mind of Moonsun and the knowledge and understanding of God's free and unlimited workings that flow into the world as the intended joy and parental love .



Back to Metaphors