Song Five (expanded), verses 3–4

Verse 3

三ツ みづとかみとはおなじこと こゝろのよごれをあらひきる

三つ 水と神とは同じ事 心の汚れを洗い切る

Mittsu / Mizu to Kami to wa / onaji koto / kokoro no yogore o / arai-kiru

Three / Water and Kami / are the same / stains of the heart-mind / wash away completely

It may be noted that at the singing of “dasu” (from yurushi dasu) in verse 2, the dancer turns around clockwise and dances the first half of verse 3 with his or her back to the altar. None of the commentaries I looked at offered any suggestions or explanations on what this may represent.

Whereas verse 2 detailed physical forms of relief (safe childbirth and protection from smallpox), verse 3 covers the spiritual dimension.1 This verse says that Kami washes away the impurities of the heart-mind (namely the eight dusts).2 Just like how water is used to clean and wash, hearing Oyagami’s teachings has the potential to purify our causality3 in addition to our heart-mind4 so that it returns to its immaculate, original state. The reason we accumulate dust is because we were granted the free use of our heart-mind.5 The verse also teaches us the importance of using the teachings as well as attaining and sharing insight in order to sweep the heart.6

In Yamazawa’s 1881 Koki manuscript, it is written:

The venerable Kami can offer nothing but the teachings to wash away the stains from human minds.

About these teachings, both water and the venerable Kami are the same: they both wash and purify what is stained.

Salvation also depends on the heart-mind alone. Everyone, one and all, must quickly purify their heart-minds.

If only the heart-mind is promptly purified, our revered Parent will immediately grant gifts.


In the Ofudesaki:

What do you think this path is about? It is to cleanse the heart of everyone in the world.



This “mizu” (water) is not just any water, but just as the accompanying hand motions suggest, it is running, flowing water.8 The key here is for this “water” to be constantly renewed, symbolizing new sources of inspiration or a faith that constantly renews itself, fresh like a source of fresh water and unlike a body of stagnant, impure water.

In discussing this verse, a number of commentators have noted the extent of our indebtedness to water. For instance, living things cannot survive without it.9 Along with the water we drink, the food we eat contains moisture. Our bodies are 70% moisture. Water is used to clean our homes as well as wash our bodies and clothes.2 Water shortages have social and economic ramifications11 not to mention environmental and political impact. One commentator quotes the Japanese maxim, “Although we can repay our indebtedness to our parents, we cannot repay our indebtedness to water.” The same commentator associates “mizu” here with rain and its life-giving and cleansing properties.12

Others have noted that water represents a receptive mind, noting how it conforms to shape of the vessel that it carries it.4 Another commentator elaborates as follows:

In all matters, it is important to be conformable… A conformable person is less prone to disease… Water assumes the shape of its container, whether it is round or angled. When put into every available container there is, water conforms to the container’s shape without any argument, opposition, or complaint. Water is called Kunitokotachi-no-Mikoto, appearing as the Moon in the Cosmos, eyes and fluids in the human body.14

Yet another commentator states that no matter how stained something is, it can be made clean again by repeatedly washing it with water. He then writes that the Besseki is a place a person can wash and purify the heart-mind by repeatedly listening to the same set of teachings.15

Finally, neglecting from taking baths or doing the laundry causes a foul odor to emit from our body and clothes due to sweat and grime. An unclean home is neither pleasant nor comfortable to be in. In the same way, if we are not mindful of cleansing the heart-mind and do not occasionally reflect on or moderate our bad habits and temperament, it results in the accumulation of stains in our heart-mind, further leading to increasing discomfort on a daily basis, misfortune, and an unpleasant life.16

Verse 4

四ツ よくのないものなけれども かみのまへにハよくはない

四つ 欲の無い者無けれども 神の前には欲は無い

Yottsu / Yoku / no nai mono / nakeredomo / Kami / no mae ni wa / yoku / wa nai

Four / Greed / those who have none / there is no such thing / Kami / in front of / greed / there is none


“Yoku” (greed) is the only dust out of the eight dusts that is singled out by name in the Mikagura-uta. It is widely believed that “yoku” in the Twelve Songs does not specifically refer to greed per se but represents the remaining eight dusts and self-centered ways of using the heart-mind in addition to greed17 (namely miserliness, covetousness, hatred, self-love, grudge-bearing, anger, and arrogance).

One commentator elaborates as follows:

“Although everyone has yoku (greed), the issue is whether or not the amount of yoku we have surpasses a certain extent and we have much of it. For those whose yoku surpasses a certain extent, it causes disharmony in the family, estranges oneself from relatives and others, and finally leads one to fall into a life of isolation.

“When it comes to faith, Oyagami cannot accept it if we have this yoku. We can receive Oyagami’s workings when we make expressing our indebtedness our foremost endeavor in following the path.”18

To describe the corresponding hand motion for “yoku,” the dancer reaches out with both hands, makes a grabbing gesture, and pulls the hands toward his or her belly.19

Kami no mae ni wa yoku wa nai

“There is no greed in front of Kami.” One commentator writes that greed disappears when we lean on Kami.20 Another suggests that “Kami no mae” (in front of Kami) does not mean the outward behavior of worshiping Kami but acknowledging the existence of Kami and interacting with Kami in one’s heart.21 Yet another commentator explains this phrase as aligning one’s heart to the principles of the teachings.22

A person who sincerely bows and prays to Kami knows no selfishness but merely shows gratitude for and rejoices over his or her situation.23 Further, as long as we are focused on Kami, who washes away the impurities of the heart-mind, we will not succumb to self-centered manners of thinking.24

In the Ofudesaki:

Everything in this universe is all by [Cosmic Space-Time]. All human bodies are things lent by [Cosmic Space-Time].

If this truth is known all over the world, no one will remain selfish or greedy.


When we gain the insight that the body has been loaned to us, our heart will be swept clean of its own accord and there will likely be no one who remains selfish, greedy, or arrogant.26


  1. Kanenobu Takeya, cited in MST 192.
  2. Hirano 125.
  3. Yamamoto 142.
  4. Masui 155.
  5. Fukaya 125 E83.
  6. Hirano 126.
  7. Cited in Fukaya 126 E83; Nagao 127; Ueda C 59.
  8. Fukaya 125 E82; MST 191; Ueda A 401; Yamamoto 142.
  9. Hirano 124.
  10. Hirano 125.
  11. Ono 132.
  12. Tsutsui 58.
  13. Masui 155.
  14. Ando 99–100.
  15. Nagao 126.
  16. Ono 133–4.
  17. Keiichiro Moroi in MST 193; Nagao 127 E30 29.
  18. Ando 102–3.
  19. Keiichiro Moroi in MST 193; Nagao 128; Yamamoto 143.
  20. Masui 156.
  21. Kanenobu Takeya, cited in MST 195.
  22. Nagao 128.
  23. Ueda A 405.
  24. MST 193.
  25. Cited in Fukaya 127 E84; Hirano 127; Ono 136; Ueda A 405.
  26. Hirano 127.