九ツ こゝはこのよのもとのぢば めづらしところがあらはれた
九つ 此処は此の世の元の地場 珍しい所が現れた
Kokonotsu / Koko wa kono yo no moto no Jiba / mezurashi tokoro ga arawareta
Nine / Here is / this world’s / original Jiba (locale) / extraordinary place has appeared
This place is the Jiba, the origin of the world. An extraordinary place has been revealed.
Koko wa kono yo no moto
This phrase can be seen as a combination of “koko wa kono yo no (Here is this world’s),” which appeared earlier in Song Four, verse 9 and “yo no moto (origin of the world)” from Song Three, verse 1. There are instances when the phrase “kono yo” (this world) can be taken to mean the entire universe in addition to the human world.1
(Moto no) Jiba
Although I have previously discussed the Jiba to some degree up until now (i.e., in Song One, verses 7 to 9; Song Three, verse 1; Song Four, verse 9; Song Five verses 2 and 8), this verse marks the first ever instance where “Jiba” is explicitly mentioned in Tenrikyo Scripture.2
Although “Jiba” is overwhelmingly written in kana in Tenrikyo literature, it is possible to apply one of two different kanji to write it.
First is “地場,” which means place, local, or locale. Applying this kanji makes the following literal interpretation of the first half of verse 9 possible: “This place is the locale that is the origin of the world.”
The second possible kanji, although admittedly unconventional, is “磁場,” meaning a magnetic field. It may be noted that the Jiba has a pull on certain followers that can be allegorically referred to as magnetic.
When Oyasama used “Jiba” it is not known how early followers understood the term. Did they understand it as referring to a particular locale or place? Was “Jiba” already used to refer to Oyasama’s Residence? Was it meant by Oyasama to be preordination of her identification of the Jiba (place) where the Kanrodai was to be set up she conducted in June 1875?3 It is unfortunate that there are no answers to any of these questions.
In any case, Oyasama taught that “moto no Jiba” is the original place human beings were conceived at the beginning of the world.4 One commentator explains the first half of verse 9 as follows:
“This place is the locale (Jiba) with the profound causality where Oyagami appeared with the arrival of the seasonable time and where Oyasama, as the Shrine of Kami, began the ultimate teaching for world salvation. Moreover, Oyasama remains at this Residence as the Parent of humanity, watches over us day and night, and works for the sake of world salvation. Hence this locale, this Residence is the original Parental Home of the whole world and the entire human race.”5
In the Ofudesaki there are three instances of a similar phrase “moto naru Jiba (original locale).” These verses can be paraphrased as follows:
“Because this place is the original locale, there is nothing unknown about the beginning (7:4). Cosmic Space-Time grants free and unlimited protection because of the original locale and original causality (8:47). Until now, no one knew the original locale of human beings where the world began (17:34).”
Mezurashi tokoro ga arawareta
“Mezurashi tokoro” can either mean an extraordinary, unprecedented place where wondrous salvation is granted and cannot be found anywhere else (verse 2) or where extraordinary, unprecedented salvation is granted (Song Three, verse 5). The corresponding dance motion for “mezurashi” here and elsewhere (see Song Six, verse 5) is the drawing of a small circle with both index fingers. This dance motion represents completion, splendor, and something that should be valued. The throw motions for “tokoro ga” represent the principle of an extraordinary place. The turning motion at “arawareta” is the same as that of “tasuke yuku” in verse 8, and can be thought of meaning making known all over the world and the appearance of a unique place that cannot be found elsewhere in the world.6
Dōdemo / shinjin suru nara ba / kō o / musubo ya / nai kaina
By all means / believing / if [you] will do / confraternity / form / won’t [you] do?
If you plan to believe by all means, won’t you come together to form a group for collective worship? The verse emphasizes the importance of building and maintaining a faith community.
According to a pair of commentators, “dōdemo” means “dōdemo kōdemo” (by any and all means) and represents a devout faith.7
Song Five, verse 10 is unusual in how the verse does not begin with a gasshō hand motion but begins immediately with a nage (throw) motion danced to the taiko (large drum) being struck with the drumstick held by the right hand on two successive beats that continue from the end the previous verse. This dance motion gives an impression of a person aspiring to move forward in high spirits and that a special emphasis being made here.8
One commentator contends Song Five, verse 10 is different from Song One, verse 5 and suggests that the gasshō hand motion may have been omitted at the beginning because it appears later (shinjin). He then mentions it is also possible that verse 10 is not a separate verse from verse 9 but is merely a continuation; that “Dōdemo” (by all means) is meant to continue right after “arawareta”(appeared).9
I once wrote elsewhere that a kō (confraternity) was the dominant type of lay religious organization in pre-modern Japan. It is said that sometime between 1861 and 1864, Oyasama began encouraging followers to form confraternities.10
Koshiro Masui writes how his father Isaburo formed a confraternity dedicated to practicing Oyasama’s teachings in Shichijo Village as early as 1864 or 1865. During the services Isaburo held at his confraternity, the paper streamers from the gohei he received from Oyasama to use as a focal point of worship would spread outward like wings, thus giving Isaburo a visual sign of Oyagami’s spiritual uplift at the performance of the Tsutome.11 There is also evidence that the villagers of Shoyashiki formed a confraternity when Oyasama’s youngest daughter Kokan passed away in September 1875.12
Many other confraternities were established not long after Oyasama’s son Shuji formed the Shinmei-kō in 1878.13 By 1881, more than 20 of these organizations existed and were located not only in Yamato Province but also in nearby Kawachi and the cities of Kyoto, Osaka and Sakai.14
It may be noted that the confraternities of other religions generally grouped around:
- Worship of a particular deity or Buddhist figure
- Devotion to a particular pilgrimage site, and/or
- A form of religious devotion
Historical examples of the above include:
- Confraternities dedicated to the worship of Amitabha (Amida) or Kannon,
- Confraternities dedicated to pilgrimages to Ise or Mt. Fuji and
- Confraternities dedicated to the practice of the Nenbutsu or chanting of Amitabha’s name
It is possible to claim that Tenrikyo’s first organizations were similar to these other types of confraternities devoted to either a particular deity, pilgrimage site, or religious practice in the sense they were:
- Devoted to the worship of Tenri-O-no-Mikoto
- Encouraged pilgrimages to Jiba, and
- Focused on the performance of the Tsutome
Larger confraternities gradually became “kyokai” (churches) after Tenrikyo was legally recognized as a religious movement in 1888. Therefore, a few commentators from the first Shinbashira Shinnosuke Nakayama onward write that “kō” in verse 10 refers to kyokai.15
Other commentators note the difficulty of attaining spiritual growth on one’s own16 and emphasize importance of people sharing the faith to come together, give encouragement to each other17, and walk the path of spiritual maturity together.18 Coming together in collective worship further allows us to share the joy of faith and polish our heart-minds. If we fail to communicate, interact, or cooperate with others who share our faith, we risk delaying our spiritual progress.19
One commentator has described a kō as a gathering of brothers and sisters of the path, who, by having been saved by Oyagami, yearn for Oyagami and come together in unity of mind. These gatherings are both actual representations of the Joyous Life on earth as well as models for the world of the Joyous Life. There are numerous Tenrikyo churches and every one of them was established while centered on the truth of Jiba. This makes the essence of Tenrikyo churches and these gatherings of followers one and the same. Maintaining unity of mind is the life and soul of our faith.20 Commentators also have made use the phrase “tagai tasuke-ai” (helping one another) in their explanations of this verse.21
The corresponding hand motion for “kō o” is drawing a circle with both hands, a motion that appears elsewhere in the Twelve Songs. Still, it may be notable that one manual on the Service Dance instructs for the circle to be drawn a little larger in comparison.22 This same instruction is given for the circle drawn for “yasashiki” in verse 623, so this may be an implicit instruction for the people forming a kō to be kindhearted.
The corresponding dance motion for “musubo ya” is clasping the hands near the hips. This dance motion only appears here. There are commentators who maintain that these hand motions mean that people who share the faith ought form kō in all countries and regions.24
Song Five Summary
Song Five is a Song that has a focus on the Jiba. Verses in Song Five that cover the Jiba include verse 2 (This place where wondrous forms of salvation such as the Grant of Safe Childbirth and Amulet that protect children from smallpox are offered), verse 7 (This place exclusively dedicated to salvation), and verse 9 (This is this world’s original locale, Jiba. An extraordinary place has been revealed).25 There are also verses on places in general in addition to the Jiba, such as verse 1 (In this wide world there are many saving places) and verse 8 (Yamato and other countries and regions).
Another prominent theme in Song Five is “tasuke” (salvation/relief). The word is explicitly mentioned more times in Song Five compared with earlier Songs.26 In Song Five “tasuke” appears in verse 1 (many saving places), verse 2 (wondrous salvation), verse 7 (place exclusively dedicated to salvation), and verse 8 (going to other countries and regions to save).
Among the summaries of Song Five that have been offered by commentators, there are the following:
“Song Five is a Song on saving this wide world. It is a Song about washing and purifying people’s minds as well as embracing and saving them as brothers and sisters.27 It is a Song about being exclusively dedicated to salvation. It covers the wondrous salvation offered from the Parental Home of all humanity that cannot be found elsewhere in this wide world. This salvation then is extended to other places and the groups of people who experienced relief mobilize to form confraternities, which are earthly models of the ideal of the Joyous Life.”28
Lastly, it also should be noted how the verses between verse 3 and 6 are about the quality of heart-mind a follower of Oyasama ought to have. That is, there is no greed before the Kami (verse 4) that completely washes away spiritual stains in the same way water washes actual stains (verse 3). There is also an appeal to eliminate cruelness and a lack of empathy for others from one’s heart-mind and replace it with a peaceful and kind heart-mind (verse 6) brimming with joy and spiritual radiance (verse 5).
To paraphrase Song Five in its entirety:
[1st verse] In this wide world, there are many places that are in need of Oyagami’s helping hand and many places where relief is offered.
[2nd verse] Wondrous salvation is offered at this place through the Grant of Safe Childbirth and Amulet to protect children from smallpox among others.
[3rd verse] Kami washes away spiritual impurities in the same manner water washes actual impurities.
[4th verse] Although everyone has greed, before Kami who washes away spiritual impurities, there is no greed.
[5th verse] However long you believe, you will brim with joy and spiritual radiance.
[6th verse] Forget and cast away a cruel heart-mind, become one with a kind heart-mind.
[7th verse] You will not be left in suffering as this is the place exclusively dedicated to salvation.
[8th verse] This salvation is not limited to Yamato alone. Kami will go to other countries and regions to save you.
[9th verse] This is this world’s original locale. An extraordinary place has been revealed.
[10th, finally] If you intend to believe by all means, why don’t you form a confraternity?
- Ueda A 423. I highly suspect that Yoshinaru Ueda likely influenced translators of the current English edition of the Ofudesaki to render “kono yo” as “this universe” in Ofudesaki 3:40 and 135. ↩
- MST 205; Nagao 133. ↩
- MST 205. ↩
- Ueda C 65. ↩
- Hirano 133. ↩
- Keiichiro Moroi, cited in MST 202–3. ↩
- Fukaya 133; Ueda A 433. ↩
- MST 203. ↩
- Keiichiro Moroi, cited in MST 204. ↩
- As cited in Hirano 135; Ono 144; Tsutsui 65; Ueda C 66; Yamamoto 148 fn. This instruction of Oyasama’s is translated in The Life of Oyasama as “Form fellowships” (106). ↩
- Masui 162. ↩
- Anecdotes of Oyasama 43. ↩
- Hirano 135; Ono 145; Tsutsui 65; Ueda C 66; Yamamoto 149 fn. ↩
- The Life of Oyasama 118. ↩
- Shinnosuke Nakayama cited in MST 204; Nagao 133; Ueda A 434; Ueda C 66. ↩
- Nagao 134; Ueda C 66 ↩
- Nagao 134; Ono 145; Ueda C 66. ↩
- Hirano 134; Ueda C 66. ↩
- Hirano 134. ↩
- Ueda B 28. Hirano also makes mention of the importance of unity of mind (134–5). ↩
- Hirano 134; Ueda A 433. See Song Four, verse 7 for a discussion of a similar phrase, yorozu tasuke-ai. ↩
- Tametsugu Yamazawa, Otefuri gaiyō 126. ↩
- Yamazawa 119 ↩
- Fukaya 133 E88; Yamamoto 149–50. Hirano also states this without any reference to the dance motions (134). ↩
- MST 204–5. ↩
- Whereas Songs One and Two are arguably about various forms of relief such as the attainment of rich harvests and the elimination of the roots of rebellion (conflict) and illness, “tasuke” appears in neither of these Songs. The closest one comes is the word “sukui-agure ba” (rescue). Song Three has two instances of “tasuke” (verses 4 and 5) while Song Four has three instances (verses 5, 6, and 7). ↩
- Ueda A 382. ↩
- Fukaya 133–4 E88–9; Ueda A 436. ↩