一ツ ひとがなにごといはうとも かみがみているきをしずめ
一つ 人が何事言おうとも 神が見ている気を鎮め
Hitotsu / Hito ga / nanigoto / iwō tomo / Kami ga miteiru / ki o shizume
One / People / no matter what [they] say / Kami is watching [over] / remain calm
This verse is telling us not to get emotionally worked up or to worry over what others may say about us in our efforts to align ourselves with the Cosmic Intention.
Hito ga nanigoto iwō tomo
The phrase “Hito ga nanigoto iwō tomo” (no matter what people say) itself has a neutral meaning. Yet the command to “ki o shizume” (remain calm) at the end of the verse implies that this “nanigoto” most likely refers to unflattering or abusive language1 and most commentators tend to interpret this phrase in this manner.2 Such an interpretation evokes “always laughed at and slandered” in Song Three, verse 5.3 However, it is also possible to apply verse 1 toward situations where we take something a person says the wrong way as well.
In any case, people across all cultures are inclined to gossip. It has been proposed by social scientists that gossiping functions to keep people in line within small social units.4 One commentator writes that the aspect of the Cosmic Providence given the sacred name Kashikone-no-Mikoto grants us the blessings that allow us to speak and is also responsible for wind in the world. In this sense, any abusive remarks we are subject to can be likened to a sudden gust, an adverse wind, a rainstorm. Even though we may be exposed to such inclement conditions, the words we speak in response should be like a favorable breeze, words that are kind and calm which help warm and comfort others.5
Kami ga miteiru
I consider the phrase “Kami ga miteiru” (Kami is watching) as a metaphor. Since the body of Kami is the Cosmos itself (Ofudesaki 3:40 & 135), it is not necessary for Kami to have physical eyes to see with. In fact, the very idea that Kami has any physical eyes to begin with is absurd.
The doctrine of the body being a thing lent, a thing borrowed maintains Kami lends us the material that composes our very being. In this sense, because we are composed of atoms that ultimately derive from the Cosmos, Kami is with us at all times. Therefore, Kami is conscious of our joys and sorrows. It can thus be said that the sum of our day-to-day experiences are experienced by the Cosmos itself.
In this sense, Kami is metaphorically watching us at all times. This idea is reinforced in Song Six, verse 3 (The hearts of everyone in the world are reflected to the Cosmos like a mirror) and several Ofudesaki verses.6 So, we are encouraged not to become upset over anything someone has said about us. Although we might feel justified at being upset from a human perspective, there is no justification for becoming upset from a Cosmic Perspective. Neither do we gain anything constructive from worrying over or getting angry about what others may say.
That Oyasama once posed to Shirobei Umetani, “Is the focus of your faith the people around you or Kami? Your focus should be on Kami.” 7 is brought up in a number of commentaries discussing this verse.8
Ki o shizume
There are several verses in the Ofudesaki that contain a similar phrase, “kokoro shizumete” (calm the heart-mind)9, but it has been noted that this has a difference nuance from “ki o shizume.”1 This phrase in verse 1 has a connotation of calming the emotions that have been stirred by what people have said. It is a directive cautioning us from harboring grudges and succumbing to anger without explicitly identifying these dusts.11
One commentator writes that we cannot follow the path if we allow ourselves to become upset or become concerned with what people say and associates the verse with the directive “Kami desires a fool.”12
In explaining this verse, some commentators bring up another teaching that has been attributed to Oyasama that goes: “If someone speaks ill of you, you should worship that person from behind. Then the person will help remove your causality, and you will be indebted to him or her.”13
One of these commentators elaborates on this teaching from the oral tradition by writing that if someone speaks ill of us, it is constructive to conclude we must have said many bad things about this person in a previous life. If we can clasp our hands in prayer and express our gratitude for being allowed in this lifetime to make up for what we did in a previous lifetime, this will help cancel our negative causality and amount to expressing joyous acceptance. Expressing joyous acceptance in turn amounts to repenting for the negative causality we have accumulated in previous lives.14
Further, this same commentator also happened to serve as the Mikagura-uta lecturer at the Head Minister’s Qualification Course on a number of occasions, and during each session he served as a lecturer, he asked his students to write a short essay on what verse impressed them most and why. Between 10 to 25% of his students, many of whom were women, picked Song Four, verse 1.15 This provides some anecdotal evidence of the degree to which this particular verse has comforted and encouraged followers16 as well as the tendency for Japanese followers to consider this verse as words of consolation rather than a warning. I recall learning that my own grandmother, the first of my forebears to embrace the faith, was particularly fond of this verse as well.
二ツ ふたりのこゝろををさめいよ なにかのことをもあらはれる
二つ 二人の心を治めいよ 何かの事をも現れる
Futatsu / Futari no / kokoro o / osame iyo / Nanika no koto o mo arawareru
Two / Two people’s / heart-minds / settle / all kinds of matters / will also appear /
Futari no kokoro o osame iyo
While there are commentators who strictly interpret “futari” (two people) as husband and wife17, others have interpreted it to mean a pair of people intimately closely involved with one another 密接にかかわり合っている 18, a pair of Yoboku who do not necessarily have to be husband and wife19, and 相交わる立場のお互い and not necessarily limited to two people.20
Consequently, I feel it is possible to apply it broadly as possible to include every kind of human relationship one can think of in addition to that of a married couple — parent and child, siblings, a master and a disciple, a teacher and a student, a Yoboku administering the Sazuke and the recipient and so on.21
One can even go as far as to interpret “futari” as oneself and the everliving Oyasama. An admittedly unconventional way to interpret “futari” in verse 2 is to associate it with the two people Cosmic Space-Time selected to become Shrines who were to be given a separate room (Ofudesaki 9:5).22
Despite who we choose to interpret “futari” as, verse 2 may be understood as an expression of Kami’s desire for everyone to have the same heart-mind.23 The verse can either be interpreted within the context of the previous verse (“settle a calm heart-mind” that is not disturbed by what others say) or as a message urging us to settle the heart-mind of at least another person as our very own.
One commentator elaborates on this idea as follows:
“Settling the heart-mind of two persons is no different from when we settle the heart-mind on our lonesome. Rather, it can be said it is important we settle the heart-mind of two people when we are by ourselves. Even if the other person is on a trip and is absent, by considering what he or she might say if they were actually present, we can determine how to proceed with matters. That someone has passed away for rebirth merely amounts to a long-term absence. It is vital that we always decide on how to go about various matters after remembering their intention and think to ourselves, Yes, this is surely what the person would say if he or she were still alive.”24
I personally feel that this part of verse 2 can be interpreted as a message for us to take into consideration the opinions/feelings of at least one person in addition to our own. It is especially vital in this day and age when we are bombarded from every direction with information of questionable importance that we maintain a level of communication with the people most dear to us to the point we know their heart-mind as intimately as we know our own. There is something about the modern experience that has simultaneously increased our potential to reach a greater number of people than ever before and the danger of alienating ourselves from society. Although people living in the past did not even have a fraction of the options we presently have at our disposal to choose to spend our time, I have a feeling they had the luxury to know the people in their lives on a more intimate basis compared to those of us living today and took full advantage of it.
Nanika no koto o mo arawareru
“Matters of all kinds will also appear.”
Astute readers may remember Song One, verse 7 had the term nanikani (anything and everything). “Nanika no koto” merely means “any and every matter” or “matters of all kinds.” There is an Ofudesaki verse containing the same phrase that can be paraphrased as, “Step by step you will see matters of all kinds. いかなる Whatever path you find yourself on, be sure take pleasure in it all” (4:22).
Whereas there is a tendency to interpret this “nanika no koto mo arawareru” (matters of all kinds will also appear) as positive developments25, the phrase itself is neutral and can equally include developments both good and bad. The ideal state of mind to have is to rejoice in whatever results may turn out. Since we are taught that Kami blesses us in accordance with the state of our heart-mind, everything that manifests around us is arguably based on how the heart-mind of two people are settled or to the extent which we have successfully settled the heart-mind of another as our own.
I noted in my summary of Song Three that it was significant for each of the followers who made major contributions toward the construction of the Place for the Service — Izo Iburi, Gisaburo Nakata, Isaburo Nishida, Chusaku Tsuji, and Chushichi Yamanaka — were drawn to embrace Oyasama and her teachings through the illness of either their spouse or a sibling. In this sense, when their spouse or sibling gained relief from their suffering, their gratitude was equal to that of two people’s. Their natural response was to express their appreciation in some form, ultimately leading to the construction of the Place for the Service. Consequently, it is possible to paraphrase verse 2 as: “Settle gratitude in the heart-minds of the two of you. Then everything and anything is possible.”
- MST 165. ↩
- Fukaya 102 E69; Hirano 106; Ono 106; Yamamoto 119. One commentator writes that it is clearly evident that people are making derogatory remarks (Ueda A 316). ↩
- Nagao 106. ↩
- Michael Shermer in How We Believe, ^. ↩
- Ueda A 317. ↩
- See for instance, 8:51, 13:98, 16:59, and 17:29. ↩
- This is my paraphrase of the Japanese “Hito ga medo ka, Kami ga medo ka? Kami-san medo ya de.” See Anecdotes 123 for the standard English translation. ↩
- MST 166, Nagao 107 E30:26; Ueda C 47. ↩
- Verses 1:19, 1:54, 1:69, 2:26, 4:84, 4:92, 5:35, 6:1, 6:3, 10:97. ↩
- MST 165. ↩
- Commentaries mentioning grudge-bearing and anger in particular include Ando 81; Ono 106. ↩
- Fukaya 103 E69. Masui expresses similar sentiments (132). ↩
- This translation is from Mind That Attracts Happiness 12. Japanese original cited in Ono 107; Ueda C 47; Yamamoto 120. ↩
- Ono 107. See also Masui 132. ↩
- Ono 107–8. ↩
- Ono 106. ↩
- Masui 134; Keiichiro Moroi cited in MST 168; Shinnosuke Nakayama, cited in MST 167. Yoshinaru Ueda presents an extended explanation elaborating on this presumption (A 322–30). Fukaya even goes as far to suggest verses 1 and 2 evokes the experience of Iburi and Sato Iburi without citing historical examples that help back his claim (103–4 E69–70). ↩
- Ueda C 48. ↩
- Hirano 108. ↩
- Ono 109. ↩
- Ono offers most of these examples and more (109). ↩
- These two persons are traditionally identified as Oyasama and Kokan Nakayama. (Ofudesaki chushaku 142.) ↩
- Ando 82. ↩
- Ueda A 330–1. It should be noted that while Yoshinaru Ueda wrote this explanation with the full presumption that “futari” refers to a married couple, I have translated it in a manner so that the main idea can be applied to other human relations. ↩
- Ando 82, Fukaya 104 E70 interprets it as meaning the appearance of various instances of Oyagami’s wondrous protection. ↩
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