The fifth installment of part two of the “Savoring the Realm of the Mikagura-uta” lecture series, sponsored by the Oyasato Institute for the Study of Religion, was held at 13:00 on August 25. The lecturer was Akihiro Inoue sensei and he was assigned to discuss Song Nine (Kokono Kudari-me) of the Mikagura-uta. The title of the lecture was “Kami no kokoro ni motare tsuke” [“So lean closely on the mind of God”].
Here is the current translation of Song Nine:
First, Clapping around throughout the wide world, And cleansing human hearts once and twice, I will advance the work of salvation.
Second, Against any hardship I will protect you; So lean closely on the mind of God!
Third, Looking into all minds of the world, I find greed intermingled.
Fourth, If you have greed, cast it away! Because God cannot accept it.
Fifth, It is the same with everyone. Determine your mind and follow Me!
Sixth, I never compel you to go forth, Until you determine your own minds.
Seventh, Indeed, this time all of you equally Must ponder over it deeply.
Eighth, Even in the mountains, here and there, The Service of Tenri-O is performed.
Ninth, Though people are performing the Service here, No one understands My heart.
Now that you are calling the name of God, Come forth quickly to the original home!
Lecture Five “Kami no kokoro ni motare tsuke” (Song Nine) by Akihiro Inoue (translation of Tenri jiho article, September 6, 2009 edition, p. 4)
Note: Appearing in brackets are (1) my additions to the text (in my hope to ensure smoother reading), (2) Japanese equivalents to my translations of selected significant terms and (3) official English translations of Mikagura-uta phrases and verses being discussed.
It is important when interpreting the Mikagura-uta to approach it from both the aspects of its “lyrics” [ji-uta] and “hand movements” [te-buri]. In hermeneutics, the written word is referred as the text and any surrounding set of circumstances is referred to the context. Even with the Mikagura-uta, it is necessary to consider the text (lyrics) of a particular Song (Song Nine) in its a wider context (its place in the entire Songs for the Service, the second half of the Teodori, as a corresponding pair with Song Ten, within the Three Scriptures, etc.).
Song Nine is generally understood as a Song on the theme of “salvation work and missionary work” [o-tasuke and fukyo]. This is made clear in its first verse: “Hiroi sekai o uchi-mawari issen nisen de tasuke yuku” [“Clapping around throughout the wide world, And cleansing human hearts once and twice, I will advance the work of salvation”].
For instance, [the “sen” of] this “issen nisen” has been interpreted as being “cleanse/wash” [洗] as in meaning the purification of the mind and as the charity that is given to a missionary [銭]. Further, if one were to attempt another interpretation gained from even a wider context, Oyasama is quoted as saying in Anecdotes of Oyasama no. 168, “A Boat Ride,” that “I would like to go for a boat ride.” It is possible then to consider [the “sen” from Song Nine] as “boat” [船], the means [She chose to] travel to spread the faith overseas.
On the other hand, hand movements in general can be split into two categories, the first being evocative or representational movements that suggest something (such as fushin or construction, yama or mountain, and yamai or illness) and abstract movements that express abstract concepts (mind/heart or kokoro, isami or spiritual uplift, and hinokishin). In terms of the latter, the higher the level of abstraction, the higher for the tendency for a particular hand movement to take on multiple meanings.
The Songs are particularly considered to be “songs of truth” that are to be “danced to the truth,” so the hand movements that have multiple meanings are not few. For instance, the hand movement for “hinokishin” is also shared by “denaoshi” [“start anew”] and “isogu kara” [hasten because], phrases with different linguistic meanings. In other words, it is possible to interpret these three different actions that are given the same hand movement as encompassing the same truth [ri] on some level.
With this in consideration, I’d like to think about today’s theme: “fujū [or fujiyu] nakiyo ni shite yarō / Kami no kokoro ni motare tsuke” [“Against any hardship I will protect you; So lean closely on the mind of God”]. As for how this verse is interpreted: “[God] will make it so that all hardships (relating to [the act of] spreading the teachings) will disappear. So be sure to lean firmly on the mind of God the Parent (to make this possible).”
First of all, “fujiyu” is nearly the same in meaning as “nanju” and “nangi” [both rendered as “suffering”]. When we compare this verse with “nande mo nangi wa sasanu zoe” [“Assuredly I shall never leave you in suffering”] (Song Five, verse seven), “sasanu zoe” is danced with a “furi” hand movement that has a negating meaning while “nakiyo” [of IX:2] is done with hands in fists crossing the chest. Although both “sasanu zoe” and “nakiyo” are negating phrases, their hand movements differ.
Further, compare this with “Kami ni motarete yukimasuru” [“I will go single-heartedly leaning on God”] (Song Three, verse seven), in which [the dance motions] express the image of a person relying on God the Parent while having hands clasped in the gassho position. The “motare tsuke” [“lean”] [of IX:2 where the dancer] has both hands placed on the chest while dancing backward appears as a more active and powerful movement. In other words, I wonder if this verse is suggesting that the appearance of a continuing “condition of hardship” is due to human thinking [ningen shian] and that one can receive blessings by enthusiastically leaning on God the Parent.
In this way, by reading deeply into the lyrics from its wider context, taking hints from the hand movements, and actually doing the hand movements [of the dances], the complexity of how the Songs can be interpreted increase. Then, I feel that the world of Song will expand and one can savor the Mikagura-uta on a deeper level by maintaining contact with them in the midst of one’s own personal situation.
 Inoue sensei here is implicitly discussing a central issue in Tenrikyo hermeneutics — that since most of the Scriptures are written in kana, the interpretation of some verses can prove to be quite fluid. Although it is often said that Oyasama wrote in kana or “simple letters” so her teachings could be read widely by the less literate, it is also possible to argue that Oyasama deliberately made some verses ambiguous in meaning or opened them to multiple interpretations to avoid tendencies toward dogmatization regarding the faith system she was proposing.