Song Two, verses 3–4

Verse 3

三ツ みにつく
三つ 身に付く
Mittsu / Mi ni tsuku
Three / Become part of [your] being

Mi ni tsuku

Literally meaning “to put/stick on the body,” the phrase “mi ni tsuku” has the connotation of learning or internalizing something to the point it becomes second nature or part of our very being.1 It may be noted that there is a passage from the Besseki lecture using the same phrase that maintains we are only able to internalize or settle any teaching in the mind by putting it into practice. Merely hearing it alone does not suffice.2

Some commentators explain “mi ni tsuku” by evoking the teaching of a thing lent, a thing borrowed.3 A pair of these commentators also emphasize the workings of fire, water, and wind in particular.

One of these commentators actually interprets “Mittsu” (Three) as the workings of fire, water, and wind4 and writes that human beings are kept alive by these three grand blessings. Life itself would not be possible if any one of these three grand blessings was lacking.5

The other commentator, in a rather lengthy discourse on the atomic composition on the human body and nutrition, mentions that the blessings of fire, water, and wind are ultimately responsible for all the food available to us.6 He maintains that the heart-mind must be uplifted in order for the body to internalize or be nourished by the food we eat. He argues that if we partake our meals with an uplifted frame of mind as represented in verses 1 and 2 with the adjectives “omoshiroi” (delightful) and “nigiwashi ya” (lively), this will promote the active secretion of digestive fluids such as our saliva and gastric juices, allowing us to internalize all the food we eat and guarantee to cure us from disease.7

Another pair of commentators touch upon how the phrase “mi ni tsuku” is used to describe how the food we eat becomes the flesh, blood, and bones of our body.8 With this in mind, it is possible to compare this process of physical nourishment to the process of internalizing any teaching or set of teachings. After coming across a teaching one may hear or read, we first must consider (the mental equivalent of mastication or chewing) and accept it (swallowing) before we can repeatedly put it into practice (comparable to how the stomach takes and further digests what we have chewed and swallowed) before we can say it has become second nature or part of our being and not merely information we have inputted in our heads.

Yet another commentator writes that faith is not an intellectual endeavor. Whereas we may be reluctant at first to “spread the fragrance” and engage in “salvation work,” once we become accustomed to these tasks we can do them calmly with courage and ease after repeating them until these activities become second nature.9

However, it must be pointed out that what becomes part of our being is not explicitly mentioned in verse 3 and is open to speculation. Nevertheless, the lone verse in the Ofudesaki containing this same phrase provides a clue:

Everything has been fully arranged (mi ni tsuku) for your happiness. Look forward to it!

2:4210

In this sense, Song Two, verse 3 most likely means that participating in the construction mentioned in verse 2 will allow one to attain or internalize the merit that brings about happiness and positive things.

One commentator identifies what we internalize as “the truth of effectiveness” (kōnō no ri 効能の理). Whereas this phrase is often used to describe the “effectiveness” of the Sazuke, the commentator explains that internalizing this truth of effectiveness brings us good health and allows our work to go smoothly and favorably, ensuring our prosperity.11

Yet another commentator notes that there are times when negative things can become part of our being in addition to positive ones. He suggests “mi ni tsuku” can also mean “mi ni sawari tsuku” or an affliction being placed on the physical body. In this sense, the phrase “mi ni tsuku” here may also be referring to the kayashi or “returns” mentioned in the Ofudesaki.12

In any case, the majority of commentators all seem to identify what we “mi ni tsuku” (internalize) as toku (merit) in some shape or form.13

Verse 4

四ツ よなほり
四つ 世直り(世治り)
Yottsu / Yo-naori
Four / World rebuilding

Yo-naori

The word “naori” in “yo-naori” suggests a variety of interpretations. One is “world-healing.” Another is “world-repairing” or “fixing.” A number of Tenrikyo commentators explain it as a rebuilding (tatekae 立て替え).14

Some non-Tenrikyo scholars have connected the mention of “yo-naori” here in Song Two with the so-called yo-naoshi movements that were prevalent in late 19th century Japan. Often translated as “world renewal,” yo-naoshi could be seen as a code word for, if not a complete revolution, at least actively making changes to unfavorable aspects of the status quo.15

However, I personally get the sense that the two terms — yo-naori and yo-naoshi — are pointing toward different things. One scholar of Japanese history has once noted that:

“Yonaori and yonaoshi are often used synonymously. Usage depends partly on regional variations within Japan. There is a distinction between them in the sense that yonaori connotes the normal changes of rural life, not the radical departures brought about by natural disasters such as floods, famines, or earthquakes as well as social upheavals. The revitalization process embedded in the idea of yonaoshi is much more active than the cyclical changing of the ‘times of this world’ conveyed by yonaori.”16

Noting that yo-naori has the nuance of “the normal and cyclical changes of rural life,” “world rebuilding” may be the best translation for this phrase.

One Tenrikyo commentator notes that although various intellectuals, scholars, and politicians have made their attempts at yo-naoshi, the actual historical record has no instance where their ideals were successfully implemented and suggests that it may be impossible to create an ideal society with human ingenuity or effort alone.17

Another commentator interprets “yo-naori” without making any reference to Japanese history. He associates yo-naori with peace and happiness made possible through the emergence of new products and the rise of trade and commerce between different parts of the world. He explains:

“If we labor to make products that people adore and help make life more convenient and send them to others, they will in turn send us unusual items that we are lacking. If we help one another in this way, life will become filled with abundance. Once this happens, we will all find delight in our work. The gloom everyone had felt until a moment before will disappear as if it were a dream.  Everyone’s days will then be filled with smiles and enjoyment. This is yo-naori.”18

This same commentator describes the dance motions as a 360 degree spin that symbolizes turning away and leaving discontent, dissatisfaction, and hard times behind and to turning toward true appreciation, satisfaction, and prosperity.19

Combining verse 4 with verse 3, yet another commentator writes:

“When one internalizes merit, the way one views or thinks about the world changes…. Although there is no change in the world one sees and hears, internalizing merit changes the way how the world reflects in the mind of a person. The world that was perceived until now as a world of suffering and troubles is instead perceived as a world of delight. This represents yo-naori, or the rebuilding of the world.”20

Further, whereas verse 3 suggests the attainment of happiness on an individual level, this eventually compounds and results in yo-naori or the rebuilding the world into a world of joyousness.21

*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication. Most recently revised on September 3, 2015.

References/notes

  1. Regarding this subject, one commentator writes, “One thing we must ask ourselves is whether our motivation for studying the teachings is perhaps not misdirected. It is not uncommon for people to study the teachings merely because they know they will be expected to explain them to others. The truth of the matter is that we ought to be studying the teachings for our own benefit. The teachings exist for our own spiritual growth and, unless we have that as our motivation, it is not likely that we will be nourished to the point where the teachings become our own” (Nagao E29:59).
  2. Cited in Nagao 80–1; Ueda C 33.
  3. Ando 48; Ono 72; Ueda A 179.
  4. Ando 44.
  5. Ando 45.
  6. Ueda A 182.
  7. Ueda A 184.
  8. Nagao 80; Ono 70.
  9. Tsutsui 28.
  10. Cited in Hirano 80; MST 128; Ueda C 33.
  11. Fukaya 73 E51.
  12. Keiichiro Moroi, cited in MST 128–9.
  13. Ando 46; Hirano 180–1; Masui 100–1; Ono 70–2; Ueda A 186; Yamamoto 86. Toku 徳, which I usually translate as “merit,” is sometimes glossed as “virtue” in English Tenrikyo literature. “Spiritual capital” (as opposed to financial capital) is another possible yet unconventional alternate gloss I have considered using.
  14. Fukaya 74; Hirano 81; Kanenobu Takeya, cited in MST 129; Yamamoto 87.
  15. See MST 171–2 for an explanation on the historical phenomenon of yo-naoshi from a Tenrikyo perspective.
  16. George Wilson, Patriots and Redeemers in Japan: Motives in the Meiji Restoration, 147 fn 22.
  17. Yamamoto 87.
  18. Ueda A 188.
  19. Ueda A 190.
  20. Ono 72–3. There are sentences toward the beginning of Chapter Eight in The Doctrine of Tenrikyo that present a very similar message. See also Yamamoto 87 fn.
  21. Ueda C 33.

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