Sixth Installment of “Savoring the Realm of the Mikagura-uta” Lecture Series, part 2

The sixth 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 September 25. The lecturer was Akira Kaneko sensei and he was assigned to discuss Song Ten (To Kudari-me) of the Mikagura-uta (The Songs for the Service). The title of the lecture was: “Kokoro sumikire gokuraku ya” (When your mind is completely purified, Then comes paradise.)

Here is the current translation of Song Ten:


First, The human mind cannot understand truth easily.

Second, Though I have been working miracles of salvation, This is the first time that I reveal Myself.

Third, This mud in the water, I wish you to take it out quickly.

Fourth, Greed is fathomless like muddy water. When your mind is completely purified, Then comes paradise.

Fifth, Forever this shall become the seed of stories.

Sixth, Though I have spoken such severe words, It is because of My haste to save you.

Seventh, Suffering comes from your own mind. So you should reproach yourself.

Eighth, Though illness is so trying, No one has ever known its origin.

Ninth, Until this time all of you equally Have been ignorant of the origin of illness.

Finally, This time, it has been revealed. The origin of illness lies in your own mind.

Lecture Six “Kokoro sumikire gokuraku ya” (Song Ten) by Akira Kaneko (translation of Tenri jiho article, October 18, 2009 edition, p. 4)

Note: Appearing in brackets are (1) my additions to the text (in my hope to ensure smoother reading) and (2) Japanese equivalents to translations of selected significant terms.

The central theme of Song Ten, [as embodied in the verse] “The origin of illness lies in your own mind” (verse ten) is thoroughly explained within the Song. Verses seven to ten especially are portions that teach and point to the conclusion that “the origin and true identity [shotai] of illness is the mind.”

[I’d like to speculate] here what “This time” (verse ten) refers to or when this conclusion becomes evident. Generally speaking, there is the historical and objective stance that regards [“This time”] as referring to the day of origin of the Teaching in 10/1838 or when Oyasama taught the Service. In light of this assumption, I personally feel it is ideal to interpret this subjectively and existentially; that it is further referring to the “here and now” when a believer sings and dances Song Ten for him or herself.

The term that occurs most frequently in both Song Ten and the Songs for the Service is “mind” [kokoro]. While Song Twelve does not have any occurrences, the term appears a total of 26 times in all the Songs (with it appearing in Song Ten four times). The terms “heart” [mune] and “innermost heart” [mune no uchi], which more or less has the same meaning as “mind,” appears a total of nine times.

Further, the subject of the mind that is being to referring to in the majority of these verses are human beings (believers). Verses that contain calls to reform the mistaken state of one’s mind — such as verses three and six from Song Five: “[God, the same as water,] Washes away the dirts from your minds” and “Forgetting away a cruel heart, [Come to Me with a gentle heart!]” — are not few.

With this in consideration, it can be thought that the state of one’s mind is precisely what happens to be most crucial when a believer lives his or her life based on the teachings. This is most likely the reason why the replacement of the mind is urged throughout the entire Twelve Songs.

Next, I would like to go into the main theme of this lecture, the interpretation of verse four: “Greed is fathomless like muddy water. When your mind is completely purified, Then comes paradise.” “Greed” [yoku][1] is the most representative of the dusts of the mind. It is the wellspring from where other dusts derive, especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships.

Just as water becomes turbid, making it hard to see what’s inside when it mixed with mud, the mind of greed creates the condition where one cannot distinguish things as good or evil and right from wrong.

It may be an unrealistic impossibility to completely eliminate greed. However, just as we are taught that “Before God there is no greed” (verse four, Song Five), when we perform the Service before God, the mind that is turbid with greed becomes clear. The effort must then be made to maintain this cleared or purified mind in one’s daily life.

Lastly, when we share the insight that “The origin of illness lies in the mind” to others in the course of our salvation work [o-tasuke], there is the tendency to attribute particular illnesses to a particular usage of mind. For those who are hearing the teachings of the path for the first time, this would merely be taken as “moral harassment” or “spiritual abuse” from the standpoint of modern human rights.

It is important for those suffering from a physical ailment [mijo] to firmly hear the teachings of the path and become wholeheartedly convinced of them. What is perhaps desired from those who share their insight ought not be limited to pointing out the consequences, i.e., the result of a mistaken use of the mind, but to explain it so that others will feel the parental love expressed through their illness and awaken to the purpose (or salvation) of God’s intention: to aspire for the Joyous Life.

This world is a realm of truths [ri]. The reality [shinri 真理] that encompass all these truths is referred to as the Truth of Heaven [Tenri/Ten no ri]. In the many truths such as physiology [seiri], law [hori], and others, rooted in the domain of the soul [tamashii] that believers especially have direct involvement with are the truths involving the mind (psychology [shinri 心理]).

While it is necessary to realize a state of mind that is aligned with the Truth of Heaven on our own, I believe the performance of the Service is indispensable in this regard.

The teachings conveyed through the entire Mikagura-uta are to bring the minds of people around to God and guide us to the construction of the world of the Joyous Life. Through the Service Dance [Teodori], is it not possible that God’s intention, in other words, the Truth of Heaven, is embodied during the very occasions it is sung and danced, allowing us to perceive and grasp it for ourselves?

Translation note

[1] I often wonder if “self-centeredness” is a more appropriate English gloss for yoku.