Song Three, verses 9–10

Song Three, verses 9–10

九ツ      こゝまでしん/\゛したけれど もとのかみとハしらなんだ
九つ  此処迄信心したけれど 元の神とは知らなかった
Kokonotsu / koko made / shinjin shita keredo / Moto no Kami to wa / shirananda
Nine / until here / believed have done but / the original Kami / did not know

十ド このたびあらはれた じつのかみにはさうゐない
到頭 此の度現れた 実の神には相違ない
Tōdo / Kono tabi / arawareta / Jitsu no Kami ni wa / sōinai
Ten, finally / This time / appeared / true, actual Kami / there is no mistake

Shinjin

Shinjin happens to be a special soteriological term in True Pure Land Buddhism. It is a term that appears elsewhere in the Twelve Songs and has the nuances of “placing one’s trust in,” “entrust oneself to” (a meaning that evokes verse 7) and “have faith in.” It can be interpreted to merely mean “believe.”

I feel verse 9 is again Oyasama expressing the typical reaction of a follower at the time when she was just gaining a reputation as a miracle worker and living goddess of safe childbirth. Hearing of her reputation, people placed their trust in Oyasama out of their desire to be saved or to save someone close to them without realizing that she was the Shrine of Cosmic Space-Time, the voice of “Moto no Kami” (the Cosmic Origin) and “Jitsu no Kami” (Source of life’s sustenance).

See also:

  • Song Five, verses 5 & 10
  • Song Six, verses 7 to 9

Moto no Kami, Jitsu no Kami

These two phrases are like two sides of the same coin. “Moto no Kami” means the Kami that was there at human conception, birth, and development is here today. Further, creation does not only refer to one particular moment in time but part of an ongoing process. “Jitsu no Kami” means a Kami who offers tangible benefits and blessings necessary for our daily survival.1

I highly suspect the meaning of these expressions can only be fully appreciated in the cultural-historical context of pre-modern Japan. “Kami” was a generic description of superhuman beings, spirits of deceased persons, or any awe-inspiring phenomenon in general.

Japanese thinker and scholar Norinaga Motoori (1730–1801) described the notion of Kami as follows:

“Speaking in general, however, it may be said that Kami signifies, in the first place, the deities of heaven and earth that appear in the ancient records and also the spirits of the shrines where they are worshipped. It is hardly necessary to say that it includes human beings. It also includes such objects as birds, beasts, trees, plants, seas, mountains and so forth. In ancient usage, anything whatsoever which was outside the ordinary, which possessed superior power or which was awe-inspiring was called Kami.”2

It is presumed that with the phrase “Moto no Kami,” Oyasama was making a distinction between the object of the faith she expounded — Tenri-O-no-Mikoto — with the manifold deities that were worshiped in local temples and other sacred places. It must be noted that it was not common practice in the late 19th century among the populace in Japan to worship deities associated with the creation of the world and/or human beings. Most people in Oyasama’s day and age prayed at shrines and temples to express gratitude or petition for specific benefits a particular shrine or temple was reputed to have. Even Oyasama was for some time merely considered a living Kami who could provide the blessings of a safe childbirth.3 One commentator mentions that even now, those who do not know otherwise tend to consider Tenrikyo as a faith that worships a Kami that cures illnesses.4

Further, I suspect with the expression “Jitsu no Kami,” Oyasama asserted that Tenri-O-no-Mikoto was an “genuine Kami” that was not carved from wood or stone.5 Consider:

“There is no way for Kami to be able to speak by entering a Buddhist image made of wood, metal, or stone placed at this Residence. Kami took the soul of the Parent at creation, caused her to be born in a human body, and discerned her mind from heaven.”6

When one takes the definition of Kami Norinaga Motoori offers to its logical conclusion, the expression “Moto no Kami” can mean the awe-inspiring forces that were responsible for the origin of the Cosmos and bringing human beings into existence whereas “Jitsu no Kami” refers to the awe-inspiring empirical forces that continue to sustain life as we know it.

Kono tabi arawareta

“Kono tabi” (at this time) has been interpreted by most commentators to mean 10/26/1838 or the date Oyasama was settled as Shrine of Cosmic Space-Time.7 Adopting this interpretation results the following paraphrase of verse 10, “The Kami revealed on 10/26/1838 is truly a Kami capable of offering real protection.”

However, it must be noted that the subject of “arawareta” (appeared) is not explicitly stated. Whereas the majority of commentators presume the subject to be Kami, one particular commentator writes that “Kono tabi” does not mean when Tenrikyo began but “at this time when Kami’s protection is revealed.”8 This interpretation presumes the subject of “arawareta” as Kami’s protection or blessings, which I believe sets up the second half of verse 10 quite well, so the entire verse can be paraphrased as, “At this time, it has been revealed — Kami’s protection — there is no mistake that this is an actual Kami at work.”

One commentator explains “kono tabi” as follows:

“Kono tabi (at this time) is not an expression we can merely assign a certain month, date, hour and minute. Why? If we really think about it, the arrival of the Promised Time, 1838, is ‘at this time.’ Yet today is also ‘at this time.’ Furthermore, ‘at this time’ also represents the moment when Kami’s intention is revealed; the moment Oyagami appears in the real world. This instance of ‘at this time,’ in addition to referring to 1838, the arrival of a particular point in the history of the human race, it also continuously refers to when each individual is saved in the process of Oyagami’s endeavor of single-hearted salvation as well as a living ‘at this time’ referring to today. ‘At this time’ should not be simply concluded to mean a moment in the past.”9

References/notes

  1. The remainder of this section is mainly derived from the entries “God of Origin” and “God in Truth” from the Tenrikyo Resource Wiki.
  2. Quoted in H. Byron Earhart’s Religion in the Japanese Experience: Sources and Interpretations, 10. Dickenson Publishing Company: Encino, CA (1974).
  3. Fukaya 97 E64; Ueda A 285. See also Anecdotes of Oyasama 100.
  4. Ueda A 292.
  5. A similar sentiment is expressed in Ando 77.
  6. Oral tradition, as documented by Masaichi Moroi (Quoted in Yamochi Tatsuzo’s Kohon Tenrikyo Oyasama-den nyumon jikko, 24 and 39).
  7. Ando 79; Fukaya 99 E66; Nagao E30:25; Ono 103; Yamamoto 114.
  8. Keiichiro Moroi, cited in MST 162.
  9. Ueda A 294.

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