Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 176

176. Person with a Pure Heart (kokoro no sunda hito)

On December 26, 1885, Oyasama spoke the following words to Gisaburo Nakata:

“I can hear the words of a person who has purified his heart. But I cannot hear the words of a person who has not purified his heart.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 141

My take

This is a selection from Anecdotes that amounts to a concise appeal to “purify the heart/mind” (kokoro o sumu), a religious theme that appears throughout the Tenrikyo canon.

Take for instance, the following Ofudesaki verses (it may also be noted that “water” is a common metaphor that stands in for the mind):

From now on, I shall speak in the metaphor of water. Be enlightened by the words “clear” (sumu) and “muddy.” (III:7)

Arrange to clear this water quickly. Purify it by using a filter and sand. Do not wonder where this filter can be found. Your heart and mouth are the sand and filter. (III:10–11)

There is nothing that I cannot teach, but there is no one who listens with a purified mind. If you quickly purify your mind and listen, I shall give you all of My teachings on everything. (III:20–21)

Though people speak about any and all matters, there is no understanding. From now on, please quickly make preparations truly to purify your innermost heart. As there are a great number of people in the world, to purify all of them will be difficult. However difficult it may be, see the truth through your own mind! When the mind is made pure and open to reason, the truth will be seen of its own accord. (V:74–77)

Day by day, your innermost heart will be purified and understanding will come. You will come to see the truth as you mature. (VI:15)

By this Service which teaches the path quickly, all minds in the world will be purified. (VII: 99)

If only your mind becomes truly pure, nothing at all will ever be in error. (VII:103)

In whatever matters, if the innermost heart of each of you is purified, there will be no danger. (XIII: 83)

Once your mind has become truly purified, I shall quickly teach you the means to salvation. (XIII:113)

If only the mind is purified completely, there will be nothing but delight in everything. (XIV:50)

Further, in the Mikagura-uta (The Songs for the Service), one can find:

This time, my innermost heart has become completely pure. How grateful I am! (Song Four, verse 10)

When your mind is completely purified, then comes paradise. (Song Ten, verse 4)

That Oyasama is quoted as saying, “I cannot hear the words of a person who has not purified his heart” may give a follower reason to pause if he or she happens to feel that God has not answered one’s prayers.[1]

I also feel these words from Anecdotes 176 also help make a case for my suspicion that Tenrikyo’s central prayer “Ashiki o harōte tasuke tamae, Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto” is not merely a petition to God to “sweep away all ills and please save (me).” I have reason to believe that a deeper meaning is contained therein. The prayer may very likely be an appeal from God that can be paraphrased as: “Come to Me saying, ‘please save (me)’ only after you have swept away the source of all misfortunes from your mind.”[2]

Lastly, it may also be noteworthy to mention that “purifying/clearing the mind” is an ongoing process. Every adherent is expected to be vigilant of unconstructive thoughts and ideas throughout one’s lifetime. Although it may be possible to attain a pure mind/heart through a sustained effort, this does not necessarily mean the mind will remain so. The Osashizu (Divine Directions) provides an excellent barometer that instantly informs me that much work is needed before I am able to make my own mind clear and pure:

It cannot be said that the mind is pure if one is angered. If the mind is made pure, no matter what others may say, anger will not arise. That is the purified mind. (March 22, 1887)

Further reading

Recent Questions no. 6: Explaining the Tenrikyo manner of prayer and the seated service 


[1] Also in the Mikagura-uta:

Never make an unreasonable prayer! Come to Me with a single mind! (Song Three, verse 6)

You make prayers thoughtlessly. The ways of My response are also a thousand. (Song Six, verse 6)

[2] Or in Japanese, “Ashiki o haratte kara ‘tasuke tamae Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto’ to tanomu yō ni se yo.” I admit this is an unconventional interpretation, but I came to this conclusion once taking into consideration that “harōte” is the past tense of “harau” (or haratte in standard Japanese).

I have good reason to believe that Oyasama’s amendment of this prayer from Ashiki harai to Ashiki harōte signified a shift from a primarily tariki (other-power) faith into a jiriki/tariki (self-power/other-power) paradigm. That is, human beings were now called on to make efforts to purify the mind on their part before seeking relief through God’s protection.