七ツ なにかめづらしこのふしん しかけたことならきりハない
七つ 何か珍しい此の普請 仕掛けた事なら切りはない
Nanatsu / Nanika / mezurashi / kono fushin / shikaketa koto nara kiri wa nai
Seven / how / extraordinary / this construction / once it is begun/ there is no end to it
This verse touches upon the concept of “endless construction” on one commentator which writes:
We are taught that “spiritual construction,” or “construction of the mind,” is the basis of all construction in this path. As our minds draw closer to the intention of [Oyagami] step by step and the Parent’s mind becomes settled in our minds, we shall also be rewarded with the joy of material blessings. The construction of our minds will lead to material construction. Or, if we set about on some material construction, it will encourage us to reflect on our minds and refine our minds, and will thus lead to our spiritual construction…. Yet this spiritual construction through which we refine and polish our minds may never be complete. The time will probably never come when we can say, “This is enough.” Just as spiritual construction continues without end, material construction will also most likely continue without end. This is taught with the expression “endless construction.” 1
八ツ やまのなかへとゆくならバ あらきとうりやうつれてゆけ
八つ 山の中へ行くならば 荒（新）木棟梁連れて行け
Yattsu / Yama no naka e to yuku nara–ba / araki tōryō tsurete-yuke
Eight / Into the mountains / if [you] go / the rough (new) lumber master / take with [you]
Yama no naka
The phrase “Into the mountains” was covered in verse 8 of Song Eight and Song Nine. “Going into the mountains” traditionally had the meaning of looking for construction materials in the mountains.2
The “ara” of Arakitoryo can potentially be written with the kanji for “new” (新) and “rough” (荒). In either case, Arakitoryo here likely refers to a missionary who goes into a geographical area distant from Jiba where the teachings have not yet reached to find new Yoboku or human resources to be utilized for the construction of the Joyous Life.
九ツ これハこざいくとうりやうや たてまへとうりやうこれかんな
九つ これは小細工棟梁や 建前棟梁これ鉋
Kokonotsu / Kore wa / kozaiku tōryō ya / tatemae tōryō / kore / kanna
Nine / This is / fine work master / framing master / this is / planer
A “fine work master” is one who works with a chisel; makes notches in wood. Otherwise called a “sashimono daiku” or “master joiner carpenter”3, which according to Wikipedia is a type of carpenter that cuts and fits joints in wood without the use of nails, screws, or other fasteners.
A “framing master” is a carpenter who builds the framework of a house. Otherwise known as a tobi.4
A planer is a tool used to shave wooden surfaces smooth. Both carpenters that do joint work and build the framework would likely use this tool. It is unlikely there were carpenters called “planers” who exclusively did such work. It is just another word for the tool usually called a “plane.”
十ド このたびいちれつに だいくのにんもそろひきた
到頭 此の度一列に 大工の人も揃い来た
Tōdo / Kono tabi / ichiretsu ni / daiku no nin mo soroi-kita
Ten, finally / this time / one and all / numbers of carpenters / have been fulfilled
I find it interesting that both the MKU and the Osashizu end with a description of a prospective construction. Also, the final verses or passage in all three Scriptures can be said to describe a beginning:
I earnestly request each and everyone of you to ponder deeply over these teachings.
Lastly, “soro” are the same hand motions for fufu sorōte, this can be said to symbolize the ideal for the carpenters to be united in spirit as husband and wife ideally are.
Song Twelve Summary
To give my summary of Song Twelve
- (Verse 1) As the first step the carpenter comes to consult the divine will. He has been entrusted with making all the decisions regarding the upcoming construction.
- (Verse 2) If you are to embark on this construction, give instructions after consulting the divine will.
- (Verse 3) Be sure to sprinkle the fragrance to the carpenters who come one after another from the world to contribute to the construction.
- Verse 4) If you find good, capable masters, bring them immediately to Jiba, (5) for ultimately, four of them are needed. Then quickly make a request for instructions (Divine Directions).
- (Verse 6) I will not force to bring these four masters to come against their will. Still, ultimately, the time will come when they will embrace and follow the path.
- (Verse 7) This construction is ever so remarkable; there will be no end to it once it has begun.
- (Verse 8) When you go out into the mountains to gather construction material, take the wood master with you.
- (Verse 9) Then, the fine work master and framework master can take these materials and shave their surfaces smooth with a plane.
- (Verse 10) At this time, all of the carpenters who will work on the construction have assembled.
Song Twelve has a close thematic connection with Song Eight (construction, looking for construction materials, people/carpenters from the world coming one after another [3:3; 8:3; 12:3])
As I promised, I will conclude by discussing the meaning of the phrase “four masters” in verse 5. First of all, it must be noted that this phrase can either be taken literally or metaphorically. It could literally be pointing to four masters. More likely, it may be metaphorically referring to four kinds of masters.
The four masters in verse 5—who are they?
Most commentaries more or less agree on the identity of three masters as
- the wood master,
- the fine work master, and
- the framework master.
There are several different hypotheses on the identity of the fourth master:5
- Ukagai toryo, “invocation master” or “master who consults the divine will.” Izo was called this according to Ten no jogi (22), but one would like to see confirmation from additional, authoritative sources. One commentator (I forgot which) argues against this hypothesis since verse 1 explicitly mentions it being a carpenter (daiku) that is consulting the divine will, not a master (toryo).
- Kanna toryo, “master who uses a planer.” This seems to be unlikely since both the fine work master and framework master would use the planer.
- Yoki toryo. There allegedly was an axe-like tool called 与岐 (yoki). Yet when considering the hand motions for yoki (the taira ni en o kaku movement, which the index fingers draw a circle in front of the belly/stomach), this interpretation becomes unlikely.6 If it really did refer to this tool, the hand motions ought to reflect this, i.e., a motion similar to “fushin” (construction). Ono interprets Yoki toryo as “the master among masters” who oversee the construction work.
- Either referring to how two out of the four masters are to share one of the three tasks: (1) finding construction material, (2) doing the joint work, and (3) building the framework) or
- Four masters all exchange the three tasks among them 7
Another possible interpretation I personally came up with: The “four masters” refer to people who are entrusted the four potential combinations of the three tasks:
- A master who (1) goes to find construction material and (2) does the joint work
- A master who (1) goes to find construction material and (3) builds the framework
- A master who (2) does the joint work and (3) builds the framework
- A master who does all three tasks
- Yoshikazu Fukaya in Words of the Path, 134–5. ↩
- MST 343. ↩
- Keiichiro Moroi in MST 345 ↩
- Keiichiro Moroi in MST 345. ↩
- MST 350 ↩
- Other places this motion is done are Jiba (Y:4, 5:9) Ri o fuku (1:5) Yoji ga (7:4) Hiroi (5:1; 8:1; 9:1) (arawareta 3:10; 10:10) Hinomoto (11:1) mokko (11:3) mezurashi (11:7; 12:7) jubun (11:10) ↩
- Hirano in MST 350. ↩