What is more important, the soul or the physical body? Many will say it is the salvation of the soul that is the most important. Yet, many religions place more emphasis on the physical or tangible assets of society. Food banks, donations, and disaster relief are all examples of improving the physical world. In the Tenrikyo religion, the term “hinokishin” is used as a term of helping others. It is said that a smile, or a kind word can also be called hinokishin. The Tenrikyo (Heaven’s Truth) religion is noted for their disaster relief assistance in Japan. Major religions, like the Christian religion is also known for their charitable work in helping people in times of physical need.
But how does helping the physical world save the soul or the spirit? Could these kind acts serve as beacons or light towers to others to our churches? Possibly influencing these unfortunate individuals to visit our churches later. I believe that there are many religions that believe this to be true. But spiritually, these acts may only influence the giver, and not the recipient. If we believe in Heaven as a final destination, then we add to our resume; if we believe in reincarnation, we build a better future in our next lives. Philanthropy may be a process of saving the soul of the giver, but not of the benefactor.
So the question arises, if we want to truly help others, what takes priority? Is it the spiritual or physical aide that is the most important? In the Tenrikyo religion, it is said that hinokishin is an important part of our religion. So one may presume that it is a religion that believes that our kind deeds will influence others to our faith, like a beacon or a lighthouse. Yet the word hinokishin translated means a precious timber (hinoki) and truth/original mind (shin). One can say the hinokishin is a messenger (hinoki) that spreads God’s truth (shin). Hinokishin is not the helping of others physically, but of helping others spiritually by praying (joyous service) and spreading God’s truth.
Some will ask why question the motives of our churches. Why question what help others. But I ask, what is the quickest method of saving the soul? Is it through giving individuals God’s truths, or through helping them in their physical needs? Or is it a combination of both? Which effort brings upon the most members to our churches? Something to ponder over.