Song Four, verses 5–6

Verse 5

五ツ      いつもたすけがせくからに はやくやうきになりてこい

五つ 何時も救けが急くからに 早く陽気になりて来い

Itsutsu / Itsumo / tasuke ga / seku kara ni / hayaku / yōki ni narite koi

Five / Always / salvation / hasten / quickly / become joyous

Itsumo tasuke ga seku kara ni

I find it curious that the particle in this phrase is “ga” instead of “(w)o.” This gives the nuance that the “tasuke” (relief/salvation) is being hastened with a momentum of its own without a prime mover behind it.

In his discussion of this verse, one commentator defines “tasuke” as bringing manifold forms of salvation including relief from illness and other troubles as well as the blessings of good health, long life, rich harvests, and peace.1

The notion that Kami hastens salvation is reinforced in the following sets of Ofudesaki verses:

  • From this point on, [Kami] hastens the Service step by step and makes preparations solely for manifold forms of salvation. Day after day, Kami’s hastening is for the purpose of this salvation. What do you, one and all, of think of this? (2:21, 24).
  • If everyone has achieved genuine resolve in your heart-minds and do not turn away from what Kami says, salvation will be hastened as soon as Cosmic Space-Time has thoroughly accepted your [genuine resolve] (12:99–100).
  • I gave admonishments step by step because I solely hasten your genuine salvation. Once your mind has become genuinely purified, you will be quickly taught the arrangements to bring about your salvation (13:112–3).

Hayaku yōki ni narite koi

“Yōki” has been defined in scholarly literature as:

Ki, “vital force,” “material force,” is the dynamic principle vitalizing all life…. The number of expressions involving ki is virtually infinite, and they are used continually in completely secular settings as well as in religious circles. Ki can be of a yang 陽 nature, ‘yoki’ 陽気, or it can be of a yin 陰 quality, inki 陰気….

In the new religions whether ki is yoki or inki depends upon how it is cultivated. When it is cultivated well, it will be bright, ascendant, radiant, and powerful: yoki. When poorly cultivated, ki is inki, dark, sinking, dull, and weak.2

Yoki is the mental state that Kami aspires for all humanity to attain, the very same aspiration that led Kami to create humanity in the first place.

The reason [Cosmic Space-Time] began human beings was the desire to see you lead a joyous [existence].

14:25

There is a passage in the Osashizu that goes:

There is [Kami]-guided joy and self-serving joy. You cannot follow through with self-serving joy, even if you try to. Only when your joy brings joy to others, can it be called true joy. If you enjoy yourselves while causing others to suffer, this cannot be called true joy.

December 11, 1897

Although it is not explicitly mentioned, the second Shinbashira once offered Song Four, verse 5 as an example of a verse referring to the Tsutome (Service).3 It is possible the following verse from the Ofudesaki may have influenced the second Shinbashira:

Joy in everything is all by the Service. I shall teach you every kind of marvel.

7:944

One commentator consequently paraphrases verse 5 as: “Because (I) am always hastening single-hearted salvation, quickly reach the point where you are performing the Joyous Service (Kagura Service) that has been taught as a component of the path of single-hearted salvation. Then, work to have your heart-mind become joyous and radiant to the core that represents the harmonious union of Kami and humanity.”5

Another commentator offers the following paraphrases of verse 5, “May people perform the Service collectively in unison and attain the Joyous Life as soon as possible.”6

Yet another commentator defines “yōki” as the state of mind we have when performing the Service and further elaborates:

  • The heart-mind of Cosmic Space-Time. He further explains that the corresponding motions for “Tsutome”
  • A heart-mind united in collective effort
  • A heart-mind that is completely purified7

Verse 6

六ツ      むらかたはやくにたすけたい なれどこゝろがわからいで

六つ 村方早くに救けたい なれど心が分からないで

Muttsu / Murakata / hayaku ni / tasuke-tai / naredo / kokoro ga / wakaraide

Six / Villagers / quickly / wish to save / yet / heart-minds / do not understand

Murakata hayaku ni tasuke-tai

Whereas it is taught that everyone in the world is a child of Cosmic Space-Time that Cosmic Space-Time deeply loves (8:60, 16:31, 17:16) and solely wishes to save (8:4), there is another verse from the Ofudesaki that can be paraphrased as: “How (Kami) is rushing even more to save the “murakata” (villagers). Please ensure you ponder this quickly” (4:78).8 It may be noted that Oyasama is also quoted to have said: “I want to save farmers first, hired workers second, craftsmen third, and merchants fourth. I quickly want to save them.”9

One commentator notes that “murakata” was a term used in the Edo period to refer to people who lived in rural areas such as farming or fishing villages.10 In the context of Oyasama’s exemplary life, it refers to the villagers of Shoyashiki. In the context of Song Four, it potentially refers to the very same “hito” (people) who are talking in verse 111 in addition to “soba” (those nearby) who are told to keep watching in verse 312 and consider the Service noisy and bothersome in verse 4.13 The very people Oyasama expresses the desire to save first happen to be the villagers who slandered her as a madwoman or being possessed by a fox14 and complained that the taiko of the Service woke them from their summer naps. Opposition from the residents of Shoyashiki and nearby villages would continue for some time. A passage from The Life of Oyasama describing the situation in 1879 reads:

“[O]pposition remained strong among the villagers, who complained of the inconveniences caused by their relatives and friends who would come to the village due to their faith in Oyasama. When it rained, umbrellas would have to be lent. At mealtime, food would have to be served. When street stalls were set up, the village children would spend money. The villagers would say, ‘We are greatly inconvenienced by all this, and we wish you would stop the Tenri faith, or else give us compensation each year.’ Furthermore, when worshipers came to pray at night, villagers would sometimes throw sand on them or deliberately bump into them, pushing them into a stream.”15

Despite villagers’ ridicule, derision, and opposition, Oyasama wants to save them first. If this desire does not perfectly embody her compassion or “parental love,” I don’t know what does. In this sense, those of us who consider ourselves adherents of Oyasama that aspire to emulate her exemplary legacy cannot afford to hold grudges or become upset when others speak ill of us and voice opposition. One commentator writes that facing opposition affords us with the optimum opportunity to polish our faith.16

It may be noted that verse 6’s “hayaku ni tasuke-tai” (want to save quickly) reinforces “tasuke ga seku kara ni” (because salvation hastens) in the previous verse.

Because Oyasama expressed this desire to save people in her community, it would be expected that those closest to her were saved first. Yet if one examines Tenrikyo’s history, this was not necessarily the case. Tenrikyo’s first branch churches were established in places outside present-day Tenri City such as Koriyama, Kobe (Heishin), Shizuoka (Yamana), Osaka (Senba and Ashitsu), Tokyo (Azuma), and Kyoto (Kawaramachi).

One may ask, Why? The latter half of verse 6 provides the answer:

Naredo kokoro ga wakaraide

“Yet heart-mind(s) do not understand/is not understood.” “Kokoro” (heart-mind(s)) here can potentially refer to the heart-mind of Kami, that of the villagers’, or perhaps both.17 It is safe to presume the word “wakaraide” refers to the villagers’ lack of understanding. Taking this into consideration, the following interpretations of this verse are possible:

  • The heart-mind of Kami is not being understood
  • There is no understanding in the villagers’ heart-minds about Kami’s (Oyasama’s) desire to save them first

Yet another possible interpretation is the villagers do not understand because their heart-minds have not been purified. The commentator who presents this interpretation further writes it is best to sum up all the possible interpretations as “there is no understanding in the villagers’ heart-minds about Kami’s heart-mind.”18

As for the phrase “kokoro ga wakaraide,” one commentator interprets it to mean a lack of understanding that all misfortunes result from our “kokoro” (a foreshadowing of Song Ten, verses 7 and 10).19 Another commentator explains “wakaraide” as not being able to distinguish between zen and aku (good and evil/right and wrong).20 The same commentator notes that that salvation depends not on geographical proximity but on whether one is close to Oyagami’s intention.21 He also notes how people from Nazareth were slow to accept Jesus and Mohammed initially had a similar experience in Mecca.22

Yet another commentator provides the succinct insight that “Finding acceptance or acclaim tends to be harder in one’s own community.”23 This observation holds true even outside religion. Although Jimi Hendrix is now considered a local icon in his hometown of Seattle, it was only after he left the United States and became active in the London music scene that he finally received critical acclaim for his groundbreaking musicianship.

One commentator notes the fervent efforts of followers to return to Jiba from distant Hokkaido and Kyushu eclipse that of those living in Tenri or within Nara Prefecture.19 The same commentator also writes that it is possible to interpret “murakata” as people born in Japan.25 The faith of Tenrikyo adherents from distant Brazil, Colombia, and Congo as well as South Korea (a country comparatively close to Japan yet whose citizens were not as free to visit Japan until quite recently) are often observed as being more devout than their American, Canadian, and Japanese counterparts.

Yet another commentator offers the following as his explanation for this tendency:

“One would think that those nearby are quick to spiritually mature because they are blessed with the opportunity to breathe the same air as the Parent and hear the voice of the Parent compared to those who are far away. Yet because those nearby are comparatively accustomed to the daily comfort being at the Parent’s side precisely due to their proximity to the Parent, all they do is dote on their Parent’s love, have less appreciation of it, and do not sufficiently express their indebtedness. This often results in a delay in their spiritual maturity. In turn, those who are far away have a deep yearning for their Parent due to their physical separation from their Parent. Since the hardships of coming up with the traveling expenses and taking the time to return to their Parent’s side is profound, so is their emotional uplift at returning to their Parent’s side. The profound emotional uplift in turn quickens their spiritual growth.”26

References/notes

  1. Ueda A 346.
  2. Helen Hardacre in Kurozumikyō and the New Religions of Japan, 20. http://books.google.co.jp/books/about/Kurozumikyo_and_the_New_Religions_of_Jap.html?id=bUDrOotqKpoC&redir_esc=y
  3. Zoku Hitokoto hanashi sono ni 131.
  4. Cited in MST 175; Ueda A 346.
  5. Ono 115.
  6. Fukaya 107.
  7. Ueda 346.
  8. Cited in Ueda A 353; Ueda C 78.
  9. Yamamoto 62.
  10. Ueda C 51.
  11. Ueda A 315–6, 349–50.
  12. Ono 110; Ueda C 48.
  13. Ono 112.
  14. Arguably, “kitsune-tsuki” or fox-possession was regarded by some as a form of madness.
  15. The Life of Oyasama, Chapter Seven, 108. Yoshinaru Ueda mentions the same complaints voiced by the villagers here (A 350). Fukaya’s commentary on the first half of verse 6 closely resembles Ueda’s (109 E73).
  16. Ueda A 315.
  17. Commentators are equally split when it comes to interpreting kokoro. Some interpret it as the heart of each and every person (Ueda A 354) or as Oyagami’s heart-mind (Fukaya 108 E73; Ueda C 51).
  18. Keiichiro Moroi, cited in MST 177.
  19. Ando 88.
  20. Ueda 354–5.
  21. Ueda A 354.
  22. Ueda A 350.
  23. Nagao E30:27.
  24. Ando 88.
  25. Ando 87.
  26. Hirano 112–3.

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