The rest of Song Two is structured so that odd-numbered verses present a condition that is to be met before the blessing or type of protection mentioned in the next even-numbered verse can be provided.
Itsutsu / Izure mo / tsuki-kuru naraba
Five / Everyone in every situation / if [you] follow and come
Izure mo tsuki-kuru
Most commentators interpret “izure” as “each/any person.” But it also has the connotation of “despite the situation.”1
The compound verb “tsuki-kuru” (follow and come) is a variant form of “tsuite-kuru,” which was covered earlier in Song One, verse 9. It may be noted that the first part of “tsuki-kuru” is derived from the verb “tsuku,” which can mean “stick to.”
One commentator elaborates by writing:
“Just because a person is devout in their faith at a particular time, there is no guarantee this devout faith will continue their entire life. This is the reason why Oyagami instructed that ‘the path is path because it continues’ and ‘sincerity is to be unchanging and unmoving.’”2
When combined with verse 6, the following interpretations are possible:
- The root of rebellion will be cut if everyone is able to follow or remain true to the teachings.
- Oyagami promises to cut off the root of rebellion if we are able to remain true to the teachings despite any knots we may encounter.3
Although what is being followed here is not made explicit in the verse itself, most commentators seem to identify it as the path in general or Oyagami’s intention. One commentator sums up the verse as a directive to completely lean on (motare) on Oyagami’s intention.4
In the context of the Song, the verse may mean following and taking part in the delightful dancing (1), lively construction (2), and the rebuilding of the world (4).
· Song One, verse 9
· Song Three, verse 4
· Song Six, verse 4
· Song Nine, verse 5
· Song Twelve, verse 55
Mutsu / Muhon no nē / o kirō
Six / Rebellion’s root / allow [Kami] to cut
This term does not only refer to the various conflicts that arose in the historical context of late 19th century Japan — from the yo-naoshi movements mentioned in verse 4, uchikowashi riots initiated by disgruntled townspeople, to the trend of feudal domains such as Choshu and Satsuma flexing their muscles to engage in military actions separate from or even against the Tokugawa regime — but also actions that are against Oyagami’s intention in general. On a small scale, “muhon” (rebellion) may occur among family members or acquaintances and on a larger scale between nations and ethnicities.6
One commentator mentions lacking respect toward one’s parents can be considered an expression of rebellion and identified the root of rebellion as arrogance.7
Other commentators have explained the root of rebellion as follows:
- ‘Muhon’ represents the spirit of opposition, refusal to comply, arrogance, or the inability to meet others halfway. The act of insisting on one’s way piles up and accumulates to become the root of rebellion.8
- The root of rebellion is the eight dusts that accumulate in the human mind. If only these dust are swept away, the cause of all wars will be eliminated.9
There are many interpretations regarding what the hand motion for muhon, which is unique to this verse, symbolizes. Some say it represents pulling out a sword, others say a spear or a gun.10 One interesting interpretation speculates that the hand motions possibly represent taking out and squeezing out one’s animosity.11
The Ofudesaki further elaborates on the theme of “cutting off the root of rebellion” in a series of verses that I paraphrase as follows:
“Everyone in the world are brothers and sisters. (No one among you) ought to be called an outsider. Because no one knows the origin why this is so, Cosmic Space-Time feels nothing but sadness. Both the people living in the high mountains and people living in the low valleys: their souls are the same. It must also be said the instruments you use are things Cosmic Space-Time lend you. Not knowing this, in the minds of all human beings you hold the belief that there are the high and the low. Cosmic Space-Time by all means desires to have everyone in the world thoroughly acknowledge the truth of this matter. The root of rebellion will be cut off if only this is thoroughly acknowledged. Cosmic Space-Time merely has the sincere desire to settle the conflicts of the high mountains. How can this situation be settled? If only you come out to perform the Joyous Service…” (13:43–51).
These verses suggest that eliminating the root cause of rebellion is possible if everyone:
- Accepts the teaching that all human beings are brothers and sisters12
- Accepts that there is no high or low among people
- Accepts that everyone borrow instruments of the body 13
- Sets forth to conduct the Joyous Service
Since My intent is single-hearted salvation in all matters, I desire to cut off the root of rebellion quickly.
The present path is covered with dust. Take up a broom and do the sweeping.
These verses suggest the root of rebellion will be cut off when the dust in everyone’s minds are swept away.
Nanatsu / Nanjū o / sukui-agure ba
Seven / Those suffering / if [you] rescue
Nanjū o sukui-agure
The word nanjū 難渋 refers to anyone suffering from disease, misfortune, destitution, and agony.14
The hand motions for sukui-agure reflect the fact that “scoop up” 掬い上ぐれ and “save/rescue” 救い上ぐれ are homophones. The first Shinbashira wrote that the phrase here means “to rescue the masses by conveying Oyasama’s saving graces.”15
One commentator writes that so long as there are blessings of a rich harvest, the issue of providing everyone with food, clothing, and shelter can be resolved if people’s heart-minds are focused on helping one another.16
Another commentator explains that “sukui-agure” (rescue) does not merely refer to lending a hand to someone in need:
“‘Nanjū o sukui-agure ba’ means to have people hear and understand Oyagami’s teachings so they are never bogged down by adverse circumstances again. It is have them be thoroughly saved both in body and mind.”17
Yet another commentator writes:
“Although relief may include giving charity to those who are short on money and providing daily necessities for those who need food, clothing, and shelter, this merely amounts to a palliative and temporary form of relief. I believe ‘sukui-ageru’ means to provide relief over a lifetime and endless generations.”18
In the Besseki lecture there is a passage that relates how a sincere wish to save others from distress and discomfort conforms to Oyagami’s intention and that this sincerity amounts to being the “truth of heaven.”19
Finally, in the Ofudesaki:
Ponder from your innermost heart to understand. Through saving others, you will be saved.
Yattsu / Yamai no / ne o kirō
Eight / Illness’ root / allow [Kami] to cut
Ne o kirō
Also appearing earlier in verse 6, “ne o kirō” is usually interpreted as Oyagami promising “Allow Me to cut.”21 But it can also be understood as an appeal to us to make the efforts to cut away the root of rebellion and illness.
The hand motions for “ne o kirō” are the same movements done by the dancer representing Taishokuten-no-Mikoto during the 19th, 20th, and 21st repetitions of the first section of the Kagura Service.22 That this hand motion is only done for the last three repetitions represent the ideal that cutting should not be done indiscriminately but be reserved for situations where a cutting will eventually lead to a joining (symbolized by the number three) to a favorable situation.
Yamai no ne
One commentator writes:
“Whereas ‘yamai’ primarily refers to physical disorders, there are many other things that ail people — gambling addiction, alcoholism, pathologic sexuality, kleptomania, ongoing financial problems, chronic fatigue, chronic failure, or having the bad luck of constantly encountering accidents and mishap — the list is practically endless.”23
Some commentators associate the “root of illness” with negative causality.24 One commentator writes:
“Those who abandon self-absorbed thoughts and exhaust their genuine sincerity to save others from suffering are able to sweep their hearts, cancel their (negative) causality, and attain splendid merit for themselves.”25
Yet another commentator writes, “If we help those who are suffering and cut our (negative) causality, this will lead us to a true Joyous Life.”26
See also the following for more on the topic of “yamai” (illness):
- Song Three, verse 8
- Song Four, verse 8
- Song Seven, verse 10
- Song Ten, verses 8–10
- Song Eleven, verse 10
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication. Most recently revised on September 3, 2015.
- Hirano 82. Hirano sensei further cites Ofudesaki 1:47–50 in his explanation of this verse (83). ↩
- Ono 74. ↩
- Ono 75. ↩
- Ueda A 194. “Motare” (Lean on/surrender) is a term that will be covered when discussing Song Three, verse 7. ↩
- Verses from the Ofudesaki that contain the compound verb “tsuki-kuru” and its variant “tsuite-kuru” include:
I do not force you to come along if you do not wish to, but if you should, you will be blessed forever.
Today is the beginning of marvelous things. All of you will come along with Me because of the original causality.
Ponder and come follow Me with firm resolve. There is a path of hope in the future.
- Fukaya 75 E52. ↩
- Hirano 84. ↩
- Ando 51. ↩
- Ueda A 198. ↩
- MST 131. ↩
- As explained by a Shuyoka instructor, circa June 2013. ↩
- A pair of commentators mention the teaching that everyone in the world are brothers and sisters when explaining verse 6 (Fukaya 76 E52; Ueda A 195–6). ↩
- Verse 13:46 is likely evoking the Nine Instruments of the human body. ↩
- Kanenobu Takeya, cited in MST 133. ↩
- Cited in MST 133. ↩
- Ueda A 201–4. ↩
- Ono 77. ↩
- Hirano 85. ↩
- This is a paraphrase of a citation from Ueda C 35. ↩
- Cited in Ono 78; Ueda A 207; Ueda C 35. ↩
- Ono 79. ↩
- Keiichiro Moroi, cited in MST 132. ↩
- Ono 78. ↩
- Fukaya 78 E54; Ono 79. Ono also mentions the cancellation of negative causality when discussing verse 6 (75). ↩
- Hirano 86. ↩
- Ando 53. ↩