九ツ こゝはこのよのごくらくや わしもはや／＼まゐりたい
九つ 此処はこの世の極楽や 私も早々参り（詣り）たい
Kokonotsu / Koko wa / kono yo no / gokuraku ya / washi mo / hayabaya / mairi-tai
Nine / Here is / this world’s / paradise / I too / quickly, swiftly / want to visit (worship)
Koko wa kono yo no gokuraku ya
As the phrase “hayabaya mairi-tai” (quickly want to visit/worship) comes in the latter half of verse 9, “koko” is usually interpreted to mean Jiba or the “Residence of Origin.”1 One commentator goes on to describe the “Residence of Origin” as the place where
- The Cosmic Providence that created human beings and the world we live in will be re-manifested through the Service and help being about and create perfect human beings
- The everliving Oyasama resides and works from for the cause of single-hearted salvation
- People who have received Oyagami’s wondrous protection lead the Joyous Life on a daily basis.2
However, it is more than possible to interpret “koko” as a state of spiritual uplift. One commentator offers the following paraphrase of verse 9: “This life is not one of suffering and this world is not a hell. I want quickly spiritually mature until I am able consider this world to be a living paradise filled with true enjoyment.”3
“Gokuraku” (paradise, literally “ultimate bliss”) was otherwise known as Amitabha’s Western Pure Land.4 Although various Buddhas had their own Pure Lands (jōdo 浄土), it was Amitabha’s Pure Land that eventually captured the imagination of the masses partially due to Eshin’s Ojoyoshu and the propagation efforts of monks such as Shandao in China and Ryonin, Honen, Shinran, and Ippen in Japan. The Western Pure Land was claimed to be the optimum environment where one could become a Buddha or attain enlightenment. Whereas “gokuraku” is a term that can be used to refer to a state of bliss, the prevailing belief was that Amitabha’s Pure Land could only be reached after death and that the best the devout could do was to aspire to be reborn in the Pure Land by chanting Namo Amitafo (Namu Amida Butsu).5
Various religious traditions offer differing views of the afterlife, including Hades, the Pure Land, purgatory, hell(s), and heaven(s). To compare, Oyasama taught us the potential to achieve an ideal, blissful state in this present lifetime. This is expressed with the phrase “kono no yo no gokuraku” (this world’s paradise or earthly paradise). The phrase “kono yo” (this world/realm of the living) stands in sharp contrast to conventional beliefs regarding “ano yo” (literally “that world”) or what we would call the afterlife.6 It may be worthy to note here that although the phrase “kono yo” appears frequently in the Ofudesaki, there is not a single instance of the phrase “ano yo.” One commentator elaborates that we are to achieve “paradise” or an ideal state for all humanity not in the afterlife but in this lifetime, on this Earth where our forebears lived and where our descendants are destined to live in the future.7 Another commentator writes that the world we live in can be an earthly heaven or hell on depending on the state of our heart-mind alone.8
“I too,” this phrase appeared earlier in Song Three, verse 8.
The spiritual uplift one gains after having the underlying cause of illness removed described in verse 8 and the knowledge that “koko” (Jiba/the Residence or this blissful state of spiritual uplift) is a living paradise arouses the motivation for one to “mairu” or make a visit and pay one’s respects.
One commentator writes that a pilgrimage to Jiba in Tenrikyo is not merely an act of worship (mairi) but an expression of gratitude and joy for returning to Oyagami’s side. One is to return with an expansive heart-mind and an inclusive way of thinking while forgetting one’s hardships and distress. He further cautions against straying far from Oyagami’s side.8
It may be noted here that it is presently a convention to refer to a pilgrimage to Jiba as an “o-Jiba-gaeri,” literally a “return” to Jiba. Followers usually use “kaeru” (return) instead of the verb “mairu.” By the way, there is only verse in the Ofudesaki containing the word “mairi.” To paraphrase it with the verse that precedes it: “You have traveled a long journey up until now. It is likely you have become quite weary as a result. At this time, a reliable place of worship (mairi-sho) has come into view. Be assured of it” (1:55–6).10
There is another pair of verses on the subject of returning to Jiba that I paraphrase as follows: “Whenever anyone returns, never think that it came to be because they intended it themselves. No matter who they may be, Cosmic Space-Time will have them return after being persuaded from the core of their being. Watch for this” (11:78–9).
十ド このたびむねのうち すみきりましたがありがたい
到頭 此の度胸の内 澄み切りましたが有難い
Tōdo / Kono tabi / mune no uchi / sumi-kirimashita ga / arigatai
Ten, finally / at this time / innermost heart / has been completely purified / [I] am thankful
Kono tabi mune no uchi
Several commentators have expanded the meaning of “kono tabi” in Song Four in a variety of ways. One commentator writes that it means the moment when a person:
- Embraces the faith after receiving Oyagami’s guidance and hears the teachings for the first time
- Practices the Service dance and Narimono (musical instruments) night and day
- Devotes oneself exclusively toward bringing relief to others in response to the Cosmic Intention that hastens for world salvation11
Another commentator has expanded “kono tabi” as the moment when one:
- Has settled the heart-mind irrespective of one’s situation
- Strives to conduct the Joyous Service
- Practices mutual help while returning to the Jiba of Origin, the paradise on Earth.12
Commentators have equated “sumi-kiri” (complete purification of the heart-mind) with salvation itself.12 One commentator elaborates that the purification of the heart-mind is a greater blessing than having an illness or troubling circumstance resolved. Achieving purification of the heart-mind is a spiritual liberation and the attainment of bliss. Not only is reaching this spiritual state a perquisite to attain all forms of relief but it may be called the ultimate form of salvation.14
The Ofudesaki contains many verses that assert the importance of purifying the heart-mind. Some of the representative ones include:
- From now on, I ask you: Please make preparations to quickly purify your innermost heart (5:74).
- If everyone throughout the world becomes purified and lives having attained the state of yoki-zukume, Cosmic Space-Time will surely become spiritually uplifted and human beings will all attain the same spiritual uplift (7:109–10).
- If the innermost hearts of each person become purified in all matters, there will be no danger (13:83).
- Once your heart-minds have become genuinely purified, Cosmic Space-Time will quickly teach you the preparations for salvation (13:113).
- If only your heart-minds have become purified, there will merely be pleasure in all matters (14:50).
There is a passage from the Osashizu that reinforces elements from Song Four, verses 1 and 10 that goes:
To become angered at what others say, it cannot be said that the mind is pure if one is angered. If the mind is made pure, no matter what others may say, anger will not arise. That is the purified mind.
March 22, 188715
See Song Ten, verse 4 for a verse that combines and reinforces elements from verses 9 and 10 that have been discussed to this point.
One commentator explains “arigatai” as a sense of gratitude that acknowledges the body is a thing borrowed and that the workings of fire, water, and wind are responsible for keeping us alive, maintains our health, and allows us to work with the body we borrow that allows us to be blessed with money and material possessions.16
- Song Eleven, verse 10
Song Four Summary
Song Four is similar to Song Three in how it covers a variety of themes. To review Song Four by each verse:
- [1st verse] No matter what people may say, Kami is watching, so remain calm.
- [2nd verse] Settle the heart-minds of two people as your own. If this is done, anything is possible.
- [3rd verse] All of you close by, watch what Kami does and brings about.
- [4th verse] Night and day: Boom! Clang! The Tsutome (Service) is performed. Those nearby are sure to consider it noisy and bothersome.
- [5th verse] Because Kami always hastens salvation, be sure to quickly become joyous.
- [6th verse] How Kami wants to quickly save the villagers. But they lack understanding of this and about the “kokoro.”
- [7th verse] Strive for mutual help in all matters. Be sure to ponder this from your innermost heart.
- [8th verse] The root of illness will be completely removed. This will inspire your heart-minds to become uplifted step by step.
- [9th verse] This is this world’s paradise on Earth. I too want to quickly visit and pay my respects.
- [10th, Finally] At this time, my innermost heart has become completely purified. I am thankful for this.
Whereas some commentators identified the central theme of Song Four as “spiritual growth”17, it must be said that the Song also has a strong social dimension. More specifically, although faith is a personal matter18, it is not to be practiced in a vacuum. Although there are religious traditions that promote the ideal of removing oneself from society to practice one’s faith and discipline oneself spiritually such as religiously-inspired hermitic and monastic lifestyle, the ideal promoted within Tenrikyo is to be a “sato no sennin” or aspiring to be a hermit who embodies the teachings while being a fixture in one’s community. This ideal includes practicing faith on one’s own among non-followers and the faithful. The directive to “settle the heart-minds of two people” (Song Four, verse 2) and the fact that the Tsutome must be boisterously conducted with several dancers and people playing the musical instruments (verse 4) are clear indications that the faith Oyasama promoted is not to be practiced alone.
One commentator attempts to summarize Song Four in the following manner: Instances of wondrous salvation are promised to those who can overcome opposition (implied in verses 1 and 4) with genuine sincerity. This genuine sincerity is in turn represented by the “heart-minds of two people” (2), “joyousness” (5), and mutual help (7), which results in the elimination of the underlying cause of illness (8) and bringing an ideal world into reality (9).19
Upon examining Song Four as a whole, it is notable that its verses contain more imperative statements relative to earlier Songs. Song One had two (verse 3’s “resolve and maintain a sanzai heart-mind” and verse 9’s “come and follow until this point”). Song Two’s verses come across as a list of suggestions and what one can expect to attain after carrying them out rather than a series of commands. Song Three has two imperative statements in verse 6 (“Do not make any wishes that cannot be granted. Instead, become of a heart-mind that is straight and unswerving”).
To compare, Song Four has five explicit imperative statements:
- “Be calm despite what people may say” (verse 1).
- “Settle the heart-minds of two people” (2).
- “Watch what Kami does and brings about” (3).
- “Quickly become joyous since (Kami) is always hastening salvation” (5).
- “Ponder from your innermost heart (and strive) for mutual help in every situation and in all shapes and forms” (7).
I would also include verse 4 as a verse that contains an implicit imperative statement. Whereas the word “Tsutome” is used to refer to religious ceremonies even outside Tenrikyo, it can also connote one’s “work” or “duty.” Verse 4 can thus be interpreted as an implicit directive to conduct the Tsutome night and day despite complaints from neighbors that it is noisy and bothersome.
The overarching theme of Song Four may be best described as a Song that presents ideal qualities of heart-mind followers should strive to achieve. These qualities of heart-mind are:
- Calm in situations one is prone to become emotionally worked up (1).
- A firm grasp on how our close companions approaches matters to the point where we can accurately predict and act in their place when they happen to be absent (2).
- Attention to what Kami does and brings about (3).
- A commitment to conduct the Tsutome night and day despite complaints from neighbors (4).
- Joyousness (5).
- A sense of urgency to save people in our community that Oyasama exemplified (6).
- An aspiration to practice multiple forms of mutual help in every situation (7).
- Spiritual uplift (8).
- A desire to visit Jiba and pay our respects (9).
- A purified “innermost heart” and gratitude (10).
What must we do to attain these qualities of heart-mind? I believe the implicit answer is to conduct the Tsutome and practice mutual help in every situation and in any way we can.
- Ando 94; Fukaya 114 E77; Ono 124; Ueda A 372; Ueda C 54. ↩
- Fukaya 114 E77. ↩
- Ono 125. ↩
- “極楽” entry, Digital Dictionary of Buddhism http://www.buddhism-dict.net/cgi-bin/xpr-ddb.pl?q=%E6%A5%B5%E6%A8%82 ↩
- Although the four Japanese monks I mentioned above all advocated the chanting of the nembutsu (Chinese: nianfo) as the path to salvation, it may be noted there were slight philosophical differences among them. To put it as simply as possible, Ryonin stressed the combined practice of individual and group chanting, Honen promoted the chanting of the nembutsu, Shinran emphasized the importance of faith (shinjin) in Amida, and Ippen maintained the very characters the nembutsu consisted of was the source of soteriological power and chanting it at one’s passing guaranteed one’s rebirth in the Pure Land. Ikkojin bessatsu kanzen hozon-han Bukkyo shuha nyumon 17, 19. ↩
- Ueda A 372. ↩
- Ueda A 372–3. ↩
- Ando 95. ↩
- Ando 95. ↩
- Cited in Ueda C 54. ↩
- Hirano 118. ↩
- Ueda C 55. ↩
- Ueda C 55. ↩
- Ueda A 378–9. ↩
- Cited in Fukaya 103 E69; Nagao 108; Ono 126; Ueda A 317; Ueda C 47; Yamamoto 119 fn. ↩
- Ando 96. ↩
- Fukaya 101 E68; Ueda A 312. ↩
- Ueda 314. This is described as the path of “ichimei ichinin” (the path of each individual, each person) in Tenrikyo theological jargon. ↩
- Ueda A 379. ↩