A belated Happy New Year 2009 (Year of the Ox), everyone!
Many thanks to all of you for visiting the site in 2008 and to those visiting for the first time. I am always humbled that to think that people take the time to visit this site considering there are a vast multitude of activities available to them on the web. If I actually had the luxury of spending as much time as I could on the web, I probably would be watching NFL and NHL games, learning another language, or trying out online guitar tutorials.
A big thanks once again for all your visits to the site. Now on to (at least the first part of) an overdue Post-26 Report.
Eighth Installment of “Savoring the Realm of the Mikagura-uta” Lecture Series
The eighth installment of “Savoring the Realm of the Mikagura-uta” lecture series, sponsored by the Oyasato Institute for the Study of Religion, was held at 13:00 on November 25. The lecturer in November was Shigeru Noguchi sensei and he was assigned to discuss Song Three (Mi Kudari-me) of the Mikagura-uta . The title of the lecture was “Kami ni motarete yukimasuru” (“I will go single-heartedly leaning on God”).
Again, just like October’s “Post-26 Report,” I didn’t write this November one for the longest time because I did not attend this lecture (and it took some time to get October’s out of the way as well). Once I skipped out on October’s lecture I found it difficult to attend November’s, and besides, I misplaced my attendance pass (which has a bar code they scan when I come in the door) and I have yet to find it. The area around my desk looks like a pigsty even after a year-end cleaning!
So because I didn’t attend the lecture myself, the only option left to me is a stab at another hasty translation of the article from Tenri jiho reporting the lecture. But before I dive into that, here is the official translation of Song Three for those of you who are not familiar with it or do not have it close at hand:
First, At Shoyashiki in the homeland of the Sun, This place for the Service is the origin of the world.
Second, This marvelous place for the Service, Though I ask no one to build,
Third, All gathering together from the world, The construction has been accomplished. How miraculous it is!
Fourth, With much effort, you have followed Me thus far; True salvation will begin from now.
Fifth, Always ridiculed and slandered, Still I will realize remarkable salvation.
Sixth, Never make an unreasonable prayer! Come to Me with a single mind!
Seventh, Whatever may happen, from now on, I will go single-heartedly leaning on God.
Eighth, There is nothing so trying as illness; So from now on, I, too, will devote myself to hinokishin.
Ninth, Though I have believed thus far, I did not know that You are the original God.
Finally, This time, You have revealed Yourself. No doubt You are the true God.
Lecture Eight: “Kami ni motarete yukimasuru” (Song Three) by Shigeru Noguchi (translation of Tenri jiho article, December 7, 2008, p. 4)
Whereas Songs One and Two generally explain the faith in a straightforward manner, Song Three clearly reveals what is “peculiar to” or “characteristic of ” Tenrikyo (Tadamasa Fukaya) and the essence of the teachings. This is because terms and expressions with great doctrinal significance such as “Tsutome no basho” (“Place for the Service”), “jitsu no tasuke” (“true salvation”) and “moto no Kami” (“original God”/”God of Origin”) appear in this Song.
Further, verse 10 (“No doubt you are the true God”) not only expresses a follower’s recognition of the existence of “God of Origin, God in Truth” who created humanity and the world, but also the joy accompanying this recognition with the phrase “sō inai” (“no doubt”).
The Song unfolds in the form of a dialogue. It begins with God the Parent’s words (verses 1 to 6) and the human response to them (verses 7 to 10). The use of the folding fans in this Song has been accounted for in various ways, ranging from being the “symbolic representation of the mind of Tsuki-Hi” (Keiichiro Moroi) to being seen as placing “emphasis on the sacred words” (Mikagura-uta no sekai o tazunete, edited by Doyusha publishing). Whatever the case may be, the use of fans here has extremely significant implications as we consider the meaning behind these particular verses.
The first half of Song Three where the folding fans are utilized enlighten us on the source of salvation with the “Place for the Service” (verses 1 to 3) as well as “salvation” (tasuke) itself (verses 4 and 5). The second half enlightens us on the faith (a mindset of gratitude, appreciation, and absolute trust) that allows us to receive true salvation (verses 6 to 8) and on “God of Origin, God in Truth” Tenri-O-no-Mikoto (verses 9 and 10).
Compared to the dynamism displayed by using the folding fans, the hand movements from verse six onward feel they have a delicate touch to them. Further, verse six gives off the impression of God the Parent gently speaking to human beings. From here, the Song moves on to the human response, or “pledge,” if you will, that happens to be the theme of this lecture, “I will go single-heartedly leaning on God” (verse 7).
Yoshinaru Ueda sensei presented his take on the meaning of verse seven as follows: “a life of faith first and foremost requires an unyielding resolve and determination, one that singly aligns itself to God the Parent’s intention and allows us to advance forward in exact accordance with it. Such resolve represents a mindset of spirited progress, the starting point of faith.”
Further, the hand movement for “motareru” (“leaning”) gives the sense of the “trust” a child has as she embraces her mother. As the only left-turning movement in the entire Teodori [note: the dance for the Yorozuyo and Twelve Songs], it has been said this leaning on God is an action “opposite of self-centered human thought” (Masayoshi Yamamoto) and gives us the sense of the “strong conviction” that comes from abandoning self-centered thought and aligning oneself with God the Parent’s intention.
Nevertheless, it only amounts to standing at the entrance of the realm of a profound faith for a follower to lean on God. When we take into consideration what God seeks from us followers living in today’s society that is confronted with a variety of problems, we must come to conclude that we must strive to spread the fragrance and engage in salvation work so as many people as possible may become convinced there is “no doubt” of the certainty of this path.
(end of translation)
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.