Tenrikyo - The Reason of Heaven
This universe is the body of God.
Ponder this in all matters.
Today we will move on to verses 51 through 57. First let's refresh our memories concerning the first fifty verses and perhaps in doing so wrap up some loose ends from verses 45-50.
In verses 21-23 we see that these poems are intended to use reason to correct the error, I assume, that keeps us from living a high spirited, joyous life. In this regard the poems address three types of error. First in verses 1 and 2 we are informed that it is natural that we do not know God's Heart and by extension, the joy that flows from that knowledge, because we have never been taught it. Verse 3 informs us that the remedy for that situation is at hand. Verses 6 through 11 promise to reveal the original cause of all things in detail and indicate that God' is in a hurry to reveal that truth. The Service is here provided as a way to accomplish this quickly.
The second type of error is addressed in verse 4, where we see that it is possible to be taught the truth of God's Heart and yet misunderstand it. Here, the remedy offered is an explanation of the truth of origin, the original cause and truth of all things in detail as it can be understood through understanding the relationship between man's mind, God's mind and the world. In acknowledgement of the difficulty in identifying the elements of this relationship, God also teaches the Service which purifies the mind so that this relationship can be clearly understood.
The third type of error is vigorously addressed in verse 42. This is the error of doubting and rejecting the truth of God's Heart as being false. The approach taken in response to this type of error is to compare the yield, fruits or crops of the path of doubt and rejection with the yield, fruits or crops of the path of single-hearted salvation. One way is found to cause depressed crops and the other vigorous high-spirited crops. In this way, an attempt is made to encourage deep self reflection and the eventual performance of the Service so that the mind can awaken to the truth of God's Heart.
Now in making this comparison God uses the terms "spirited" and "depressed". The spirited mind hears the truth ,awakens to the truth of the origin and is thus able to savor the joyous life. The depressed mind walks a rather unpleasant path of "flames" and "swords" etc. until such time as it can't take any more. The point here is that God is not trying to get us to walk the path of "flames" and "swords" and the like, God is trying to get us off of that path. The narrowing of the path of fears and hardships is that part of the path where we can no longer bring along any of the stuff that keeps us from understanding God's Heart. We have to leave it behind. There after we step out onto the broad main road of high spirits, freedom and joy.
Referring once again to the 3rd Shinbashira's quotation from Chapter 10 of THE LIFE OF OYASAMA:
"You have not listened to the words of the Parent from your innermost hearts. This is truly regrettable to the Parent. You think about things in terms of ordinary human understanding and have continued living in doubt. Just as you are doing now, you have not listened obediently to the words of God the Parent. You cannot become single-hearted from your innermost being. This is truly regrettable. If what God the Parent had said were false, would this Path have continued for forty-nine years, from 1838? Compare and ponder well which is correct, the path of God the Parent, or the path of common, human thought. If your level of spiritual growth is so low that you cannot understand, then the Parent may draw Her last breath."
Now, we have talked about God's intended timing for our awakening. Again from the 3rd Shinbashira's Sermon of January 26th 1986:
"It was because of us human beings that the path of single-hearted salvation did not proceed smoothly, and that, consequently, Oyasama Herself had to go through the 'steep mountains' and 'tangles of thorns.' Indeed, the words, thoughts, and actions of those who sought Her teachings, at whatever time and place, were not in complete accord with the mind of Oyasama."
So, though Oyasama is with us on this path of "steep mountains" and "tangles of thorns" it is not a path that she wants either Her or us to be on! Recalling now the truth that the state of our mind, becomes the state of God's mind, becomes the state of the world, we can see that Oyasama has no choice but to reflect the truth of our minds. When the truth of our mind is depressed that is reflected in God's mind as the world path of hardship and regret.
Now, I think that we can see that our depressed mind is reflected in Oyasama's mind and returned as the state of the world that can be characterized as a path of "tangles of thorns" and the like. However the 3rd Shinbashira further makes the point that though that path of regret and hardship is reflected in Oyasama's mind, it is not Oyasama's mind that is shown but our own minds reflected back as the state of our world. Oyasama's mind is "radiance, joy and elation"! That mind, Oyasama's mind, is here and now. The high spirited approach then is to affirm that truth now and return to God's Heart. The depressed approach projects a state of mind that keeps us on the path of hardships and regrets and which keeps us from becoming single-hearted with Oyasama's mind. If we say that single-heartedness is in the future then Oyasama will reflect the truth of that mind back into the world as a continuation of the path of "tangles of thorns." It is always appropriate to affirm what is true. If we are not now single-hearted with Oyasama it is because we currently misunderstand, doubt or reject Her teaching.
Oyasama intended for us to awaken quickly. Seeing our own misunderstanding and resistance gives meaning to the change of "Ashiki harai" to "Ashiki o harote". If I in fact want to understand but do not understand then what am I going to do about it. Again from the 3rd Shinbashira, "I have come to understand that the changes in the important Songs for the Service teach us what we should do first when we are faced with a "knot", or crisis." The crisis here being my awareness that I wish to understand and be single-hearted with God and am not so. "The Divine Model teaches us that, for each of us on the path of single-hearted salvation, the important thing is to sweep away the dusts from our heart and to purify our mind so as to be worthy of receiving the Gift of Heaven [single-hearted salvation]". The point here is that the process of awakening is the process of removing ignorance, doubt and rejection. There is nothing new to be learned. Analysis of the path of "thorns" and "narrow ledges" is only a way of staying on that path. It is like a man who takes his garbage out and later goes out and brings it back in to pick through it in case he has thrown something away that he needs. The path of anger and hardship doesn't have an end. If we ask when it will end. The answer is up to us. It will end when we sincerely decide to get off of it.
Now on to verses 51-57:
Until now, I have spoken solely about matters within.
Looking all over the world and through all ages,
Among all humankind, there is no one who is evil.
Hereafter, calm your minds and ponder.
Long have you wandered on your path until now,
Finally this time, a trustworthy place of worship
Here we return to the opening theme and to the condition of every man. These poems once again address the global condition of natural ignorance of God's Heart. Note that the tone is extremely tolerant and the expectation is that of removing a bit a dust not a lifelong mining project.
We are again directed to take care of the state of our minds. Particularly by calming them and pondering. But pondering what? I assume that if we stay within the context of Book I that we are to ponder the original cause and truth of all things in detail, the Heart of God. The remorse that is spoken of, again staying in context, is what will flow from either misunderstanding or rejecting the truth of the relationship between man's mind, God's mind and the state of the world.
Again the poems return to the metaphor of a path and this verse makes clear that the invitation is to get off of the path. And finally the trustworthy place of worship is of course God's Heart and the metaphor's shown in verse 4.
As an end note I should like to return very briefly to the exercise I offered last time. Certainly the metaphor of a mirror is appropriate enough considering the teaching of our mind, God's mind and the world. There were some questions about the metaphor of darkness. This is of course "innen" out of which our minds, bodies and the world are made. The story of creation I believe uses this same metaphor when assembling the instruments.
If it seemed a strange exercise I would quote the Shinbashira from his Spring Grand Service Sermon.
"I should like all of us to continue working with one another from all angles possible in order that the wish and actions to save others might emanate from all of us and keep on growing in as much as we are to serve as Yoboku for world salvation, leading our lives in a manner based on the teachings."
And from the 3rd Shinbashira: " our mission as instruments of Oyasama is to hasten missionary work, and salvation work, and that the goal as well as the path leading to the goal is to cleanse the mind of all people including ourselves."