The following excerpt is from Omichi no joshiki [Tenrikyo Fundamentals] (pp. 80–84) by Koji Sato 佐藤浩司, assistant professor at Tenri University and instructor at Tenri Seminary. Note: This translation is a provisional one at the moment and will most likely require further revision.
We have been kept alive by God the Parent’s constant protection ever since human creation. Beginning with the protection that sustains our bodies, there is also the protection that sustains nature and the immediate world around us.
On top of this all-pervading protection, we find reference in the Ofudesaki to a special kind of protection described as “workings” or “work” (hataraki).
These “workings” can be roughly categorized into two types. The first type is the protection God proactively provides for us. This includes God making preparations ahead of time and informing us of something through our dreams. The second type are God’s “workings” that respond to the use of our minds and our behavior, which are called “returns” in the Ofudesaki.
When God in Truth begins to work, the minds of all in the world will be purified.
What are your thoughts concerning My workings? I shall give returns when I accept your minds.
What do you think these returns are about? They will reach you though you be a thousand leagues away.
Whatever you may say or think, I shall give returns as soon as I accept your minds.
Do not wonder what these returns are about. I shall give returns for both good and evil.
Whether you speak good or think evil, I shall give returns at once as you deserve.
From now on, whether you do good or evil, I shall give you a return at once accordingly.
These verses describe how God the Parent will accordingly give us a good return for good thoughts and actions, a bad return for bad thoughts and actions. Though the majority of these returns are given in response to the way we use our minds, there are times when we receive returns for things we say that may not necessarily reflect the way we think and feel.
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Oyasama‘s third daughter Haru married Sojiro Kajimoto, a blacksmith who lived in Ichinomoto (presently a suburb of Tenri City). Sojiro had a reputation of being kind and gentle that he was called “Sojiro the Buddha” by his fellow villagers.
However, at one village meeting, perhaps because he had a bit too much to drink, he turned to face Haru and said, “Someone like you is better off dead,” without actually meaning it. Then, Haru passed away not long afterward.
When a dumbstruck Sojiro went to Oyasama to inquire why this happened, She is known to have said,
“All I did was but make your words come true.”
This story cautions us that we should not even think of breathing any “cutting words” or “words of rejection” that end up hurting others.
In this way, God gives us an immediate return for our thoughts and behavior, good or bad. In the Ofudesaki we find many instances of two types of returns: “returns in response to a mind that seeks to save others” and “returns of regret.”
These “returns of regret” refer to the unfortunate situations such as when the authorities came to stop the teachings being spread or when those close to Oyasama hesitated to implement what She taught out their concern for Her safety.
This regret on God’s part primarily is due to God’s wish to hasten the salvation of everyone in the world. Meanwhile, the “returns in response to a mind that seeks to save others” refers to returns directed to a mind of someone who does what God the Parent desires, and that is to pray diligently out of a wish to save a person they cannot bear to see suffering.
These returns will manifest “at once,” “in a span of a night,” or “within three days” in terms of time and “will reach you though you be a thousand leagues away” in terms of space. Though it surely depends on the kind of suffering it is, a diligent prayer will show its effectiveness regardless of distance and within a relatively quick period of time.
- Next installment in this series: A Person Who Exemplifies the Truth of the Teachings / A Convincing Example
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.