Tenrikyo Dynamic Mission - REPLACING MY MIND -

From now, Moonsun requests you, everyone in the world,
to replace your mind firmly.
To explain what kind of mind it is to be:
it is none other than to save the world single-heartedly.

I woke up this morning with the thought that I had the choice of starting my day either as a "real" person, or as an "imaginary" person, or as a combination of  both a "real" and an "imaginary" person. I considered that choice to be a blessing because having such a choice wasn't always the case. I was born as a "real" person.

 I was born as a "real person" but over time I became almost totally an imagined person, that is to say a bundle of self images. Though I didn't know it in my early years a closer examination would reveal my imagined identity to be a  functioning self centered imagination superimposed over and bound to a body. So when I talk about replacing my mind what I talking about is replacing a mind that was limited to a self image with a mind that knows the difference between its original conscious source and the imaginings that appear within that consciousness.

This page is about how that realization came about. As a teen I gradually and without warning  became restless and dissatisfied with both the state of my mind and the state of my world as they were experienced and defined by those accumulated ideas of my self. In the back of my mind I always thought and had the hope of discovering "true ideas" both of the world and of myself. It never occurred to me that the world of ideas was in fact just the ever-changing world of my imagination and that the truths that were held in my imagination were all of a temporary nature. Thus it came to me as a liberating surprise when I found that the imagined truths of the world that occupy and entertain my self centered imagination are in fact the only obstacle to knowing and understanding the actual and original truth of self. The one truth that without me knowing it had been there at the core of my mind all along.

Up until I was about twenty-four years old I spent most of my waking hours lost in a self centered dream. When one afternoon while sitting in my living room and pondering my thought process - I don't exactly know why but a seed of self reflection had been planted and I had been attempting to familiarize myself with the dark interior of my mind through the practice of pondering and self reflecting on and off for some years- it became apparent to me that my thoughts, day dreams and self reflections were all functions and examples of my imagination.

 At age 24 I discovered that thoughts, dreams and imaginings were the same.From that realization came the awareness that what I had mistakenly taken to be myself was in fact a collection of self centered dreams. With that discovery many of those dreams dissolved never to return. In retrospect I might describe this first step of my progress as my self centered imagination identifying and acknowledging itself. Although identifying my thoughts as being the same as day dreams and imaginings was a big deal, my identity was still basically a collection of self centered dreams, though to be sure a much smaller set of self images; but that discovery was still to be only the first step in the work of self discovery that I had unintentionally embarked upon but which became all consuming.

Even though I was delighted with the discovery of my self centered imagination, I knew that something was still missing but I didn't know what, so my search for satisfaction and "true ideas" to feed to my self centered imagination continued. It never occurred to me then that what was in fact needed was what is now known in the world of computers as a "clean install", that is a complete replacement of the operating system, the foundation of thinking, a total replacement of mind. Though that fundamental replacement must be accomplished by returning the mind to where it is made, to its "manufacturer" so that it can be reset to its original pristine condition, before it imagined anything; at the time I  didn't know that.

Now ponder! From now you must replace your mind.
It will not do, not to ponder and resolve!

The identification of my self centered imagination changed me and I began to tell other people about what I imagined was the importance of that discovery. When I was perhaps twenty-eight years old, while pondering the question - the seed of which had been planted while I was still in high school and which was a recurring question for me - of how the universe could be a single being - my imagination suddenly and unintentionally became totally quiet. That settling lasted long enough for me to walk from one room to another and the state of mind, the state of being that was then revealed was so extraordinary that in my excitement I started to think about what was happening. Once I stated to think, or more correctly to imagine, about the state of mind that I had unintentionally stumbled into I found that it was gone. Not only was it gone but I didn't recall what I was doing that brought it on and I didn't know how to get it back. In spite of that, the memory of that clear and original state of being was in fact very powerful and a great and undeniable yearning had come over me to get back to it.

Shortly after that, from among the people that I spoke with about the importance of knowing that there is no difference between thinking and imagining, a friend gave me a copy of the "Ofudesaki" which he had acquired as a student at the Tenri Language School. He said that he couldn't make any sense of it but perhaps I could.

Acquiring the "Ofudesaki" poems set in motion a series of self centered imaginings that I will relate but first want to make sure that the tone set is not one of complaint but rather a rather one of a happy and satisfied commentary on the journey of my dissatisfied self-centered imagination toward the eventual replacement of my mind. Of course at that time I didn't know that I would eventually want to work at replacing my mind and instead thought that there was something, an exercise or "service" that would lead to some true ideas that could be learned and  that would inform my imagination and satisfy my yearning. Ofudesaki

Some of the "Ofudesaki" poems, even appearing in translation as prose, immediately captured my imagination and I was eager to learn the "Service" that would return my mind to that sought after perfectly clear condition. That state of mind which upon reflection I recalled and imagined to be a perfect match with the metaphoric "mind like clear water". The poems then spoke to me of the state of mind that I longed for and they appeared to me to have been written by a mind that not only knew of that state of mind but more importantly was a mind that had permanently settled in that state and could show the way for other minds to do the same. That was good enough for me and so I took steps that I imagined would help me to quickly learn how to return to that state of mind that I so yearned for.

Initially after my first encounter with the "Ofudesaki" I was attracted to the metaphoric name Moonsun ("Tsukihi") as it perfectly described the relationship between the original state of mind that I remembered and longed for and the ever changing self images that are reflected within it. It also occurred to my imagination that the metaphoric "Kanrodai" perfectly described what I imagined to be a mind that is settled and knows and understands its origin. I imagined that the setting up of the "Kanrodai" referred to the kind of stability of mind that I didn't have but longed for. Perhaps for me the difference between true satisfaction dissatisfaction both with the state of my mind and with the state of the world. I also imagined that the metaphor of "single hearted salvation" described the settled and naturally joyous state of a mind that had returned to its original settled, pure condition. Looking back I would say that I had ,without knowing it, become devoted to Moonsun and I spent a lot of time and sincere effort on that devotion.

The realtionship between Moon and Sun known and understood

 I was also aware of content in the Ofudesaki poems that I considered to be oriented toward engaging with village attitudes and beliefs from a particular time, place and level of spiritual maturity but I imagined that certainly by the late twentieth century the performance of the "Service" would have cleared those attitudes away and I imagined a community of people who had awakened to the truth of origin, the true origin of the human mind. So we quit our jobs, broke up our household and off we went to learn the "Service" and the Japanese language. Spiritual Development Course

As it turned out we were not accepted into the Japanese Language School. Which is probably a good thing as I am dreadful with learning language or anything that requires focused effort other than the effort of sincere self reflection. I did however learn enough of the "Service" to do the trick for me as well as some very useful lessons regarding what I had imagined to be the way of becoming a "Yoboku" or Timber to be used in the reconstruction of the world to one of joyous life for all.

Needless to say, my initial  experience of the Spiritual Development Course didn't conform to my imagined expectations. I imagined that other people would be as interested in "the mind like clear water" as I was and I was clueless about the actual interest in the spiritual causes of illness and trouble, the body as a thing borrowed and the expectations of miraculous healing that seemed to dominate the environment. Those topics are alive and well in the traditions learned in my childhood and that was a tradition that I had left behind. Because I lacked the maturity to understand what was happening from the point of view of a model of parental love my self centered imagination became agitated and argumentative. I am fond of relating this next bit as it was such a clear and powerful lesson for me. People familiar with the City of Tenri know that it is located in a valley backed by low mountains. The sight is one of very pretty scenery to be sure. One day in perhaps the second week of the Spiritual Development Course when my wife and I were walking up to class I suddenly stopped dead in my tracks. My wife asked what the trouble was and I answered that for the first time since our arrival I noticed the mountains even though we walked that same route every day. Of course anyone familiar with the Doctrine of Tenrikyo would recognize the accurate description of my mind up until that time to recall and paraphrase it as being "lost in the darkness of my self centered imagination without any sure guide to find my way out."

Regardless of my initial misunderstanding, performance of the Service, in my case a combination of "sweeping" and "pondering deeply", gradually reintroduced "the mind like clear water" through which the questions regarding the spiritual cause of illness and trouble, the body as a thing borrowed and the universe as the body of God were all resolved to my complete satisfaction.

Ponder this: no matter how clear the water may be,
if you put mud into it, it will become turbid.

 We settled into the oft described timing of the Spiritual Development Course as having a mind agitated and dissatisfied for the first month, gradually settled in the second month and wondering why we ever lived any other way in the third month.

Life long friendships and bonds were forged at that time and one of my dear friends explained to me that the reason why I didn't meet anyone else with the same interpretation of the poems that I held to was because for most for most followers the "Ofudesaki" poems only have one message and that is to perform the "Service" according to the limited meaning and expectations related to the performance of the "Service" as it was at the time and perhaps still is understood to be. That the poems contain a teaching of a "Service" or "work" that is intended to prepare the mind to return to its original pristine condition by "pondering deeply" was news and good news at that, for my friend. 

In those early years after returning from the "Spiritual Development Course" and the "Minister" and "Head Minister" courses as they were called at the time, I imagined that the content of the teaching that is the "Reason of Heaven" had  settled on what I imagined to be the unimportant background village point of view of the teaching to the exclusion of what I knew, based on the "test" of the "mind like clear water", to be the Single-Hearted point of view.

That rather troubling and uncomfortable situation changed for me in 1986 when, for the second time, having tossed it aside after my first shallow reading, I reread the Shinbashira's CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY OF OYASAMA Sermon on February 18, 1886. I will quote from it below:

When we seek an ideal for our own lives from the Divine Model of Oyasama, interpretations that we understand from it may differ depending on our individual situations: for instance, an interpretation from a child's point of view; an interpretation from a parent's point of view; an interpretation of someone who is following the path of single-hearted salvation; and so on. However, any such interpretation is not wrong. We can gain understanding of the ideals for which we search by the way we direct or thinking in each of our situations. It can be said that in each case, we are looking up to Oyasama in adoration with our arms spread wide to receive Her saving grace. On the other hand, what would our thoughts be if we stepped into Her mind and looked at ourselves from Her point of view?

From that time on I imagined myself as being a part of a team effort to spread and promote a single-hearted interpretation of the teaching of our original parent. As such I started to take seriously the hastening and instructions of the Shinbashira both past and present and settled myself as a pioneer (Arakitoyo) attempting to find and develop new paths of single-hearted salvation. With time and the awareness of the importance of differing interpretations my understanding as hastened in the "Ofudesaki" poems deepened and I soon naturally found that every aspect of life would call forth and bring to mind an appropriate hastening and instruction. Even so it became necessary for me to work at finding new ways to engage with the minds within my contemporary village. Always remaining aware of the fact that engaging with the minds of the villagers is not the same as embracing and endorsing that point of view. Rather is it the work of finding appropriate ways to settle and purify the mind, making it the mind like clear water, so that the obstacle to awakening can be uprooted and the truth can be exposed at its heart and core.

My self centered imagination continues to be overactive and wants to run continually. Thankfully, its manufacturer has entered into it and is working on repairing and replacing it. That I am today consciously able to choose to allow those repairs and the replacement of  the limitations and dissatisfaction of being just an "imaginary person" (a self centered imagination bound to a body) and can instead enjoy being a combination of a "real person" (original immortal consciousness) and an "imaginary  person" (a self centered imagination reflected in that original consciousness, and that knows the true origin of the light it reflects, and that uses a "borrowed body" as a temporary "residence") is a tremendous gift, the gift of heaven as the knowledge and understanding of the mind of Moonsun (multiplicity of imaginations illuminated by a single source or "Heart"). The original cause and truth of all things in detail.A couple of Timbers

Though I have related this journey of "replacement of mind" in the first person I had lots of patient help and support from a number of people and particularly from my wife who is a much more effective "Timber" than I.

If by some chance someone reading this would like to step into the role of being an instrument to be used in the recreation of a life of joy for all equally, the field is wide open for new paths of single-hearted salvation. Take it and use it as your own.


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

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