Have you wondered why we perform some of the ritual of our religion? What are we asking for when we perform the Joyous Service? Why do we have to return to Ojiba for our salvation? I would think that God is omnipresent. Why are we wearing Japanese attire, and praying in Japanese? Is this what God demands of us for our salvation? If this is the case, Tenrikyo is like all religions, depending on faith that our early members relied on. It is human nature to place their faith in teachings that originated long ago, often making the information in them to be fact, and incontrovertible.
What makes Tenrikyo so different from other religions? We have the sacred book called the Ofudesaki. Unlike other religions, where the writings are recollections of what others remember, the Ofudesaki are verses directly from God. Through the hands of Oyasama, God has given us the instructions to attain the Joyous life for all mankind.
How many of you actually have read the Ofudesaki? Most of us depend on our clergy to decipher and tell us how to attain salvation. But are they correct in their translation and interpretation of this most sacred book? Even the children of Oyasama had a difficult time understanding the teachings. Look at the suffering that Shuji and Kokan endured. Did they ever understand the teachings at that time? Are we in the church, understanding the Ofudesaki? What do we need to understand? In the first verse of the Ofudesaki, God tells us that we do not understand the heart (mune). What is the heart?
In the Ofudesaki, mune or heart is mentioned 71 times. God is telling us how important it is to understand the heart. It is not God’s heart as translated by church headquarters, but it is our own heart (mune) that we must understand. Let us discuss this heart that God tells us we do not understand.
We know that our bodies decay when we pass away; but many of you will agree that there is something in us that continues after our physical demise. Many will call this entity the soul, spirit or heart. I believe that it is the soul that God calls the heart (mune). Many who believe in reincarnation will believe that this soul will ascend to heaven, and eventually return back to earth. In essence, the soul is who we are, and our bodies are borrowed from God.
What does the soul contain? In the Ofudesaki, God tells us that the soul is the sand. It collects our demerits (evil actions) and stores them to be distributed back to us as obstacles or sufferings (fate). We reap what we have sowed. Many people believe, that it is God that punishes us for our sins, but it is actually our own souls that serve as nature’s justice. Remember, in the Ofudesaki God tells us that he/she has been on the sidelines since the creation of mankind.
What else does the soul contain? I believe that the soul also helps to transport our pattern of thoughts from one lifetime to another. Of course our memories are erased, but our thought patterns of greed, arrogance, regret, miserliness, and self-love are transferred. These are the thought patterns that we have acted upon to create the demerits (fate) that the soul collects and stores, and eventually releases as our fate. Therefore the soul contains our fate and thought patterns.
How does understanding the soul help? God tells us in the Ofudesaki that the mouth and our bodies are the filter. If we do not act upon the evil thoughts in our minds when our souls deliver our fate, we can purify our minds. When our minds are purified, the soul only distributes positive fate or the Joyous life.
Wow, we can actually have a joyous life without believing in God! Yes this is true; but wouldn’t you like to share the truth of the soul with others to make their lives better? God tells us we can do this if we purify our minds first by calming our minds and pondering what the soul brings forth (mune no uchi yori) daily in our lives. With our minds purified, what do we do next?
We must tell people about the soul. We know it is almost impossible to convince people to understand a concept that is unfamiliar to them like the soul. This is where God will help us. God has given us instructions on how to share the truth of the soul to the world. These are the instructions:
- to purify our own minds by understanding the soul
- to spread the concept of the soul to others (hinokishin and niogake)
- to perform the Joyous Service asking God to sweep evil from the minds of the people we have spread the truth to. God may place temporary illness as guidance to these people to help them understand the soul.
- To heal these people when they come to our churches and help them purify their minds by understanding what comes forth from their souls.
I hope I have helped you understand a little more of the Ofudesaki, and God’s teachings. I encourage you all to participate in the Tenrikyo Ofudesaki Study Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/458471844742952/