We may think we own our bodies because, generally speaking, we can use our bodies in any manner which we desire simply by thinking and moving our muscles. But when you really think about it, that’s about ALL we can control with our bodies. Each conscious action – standing, sitting, bending, stretching, walking, running, lifting, carrying, and lying down – is done by moving different muscles in a certain way. More subtle movements such as writing, typing, gripping, playing the piano, and all the other intricate things we do with our hands involve moving smaller muscles in a more specific fashion. Still smaller muscles are used to control eye movement, speaking, eating, and drinking. These conscious, voluntary movements of the body allow us to enjoy all that life has to offer.
But aside from the contracting and relaxing of muscles, is there anything we do that keeps our bodies alive and working properly each day? The involuntary actions – our breathing, heartbeat, blinking, blood circulation, digestion & metabolism, waste elimination, cell division & cell termination – are the things that are absolutely required to survive, yet we don’t control any of that; they just seem to occur automatically. But these are, in fact, the workings of God.
From a scientific perspective, the miracle of being kept alive for just one day is tremendous. All the things that need to go on, from the conversion of oxygen to energy, to regulating constant body temperature regardless of our environment, is mind-boggling. Yet God works these miracles daily, for everyone in the world, and has done so for the hundreds of millions of years of our existence. If we think of this, how grateful we should be for the exhaustive efforts of our Creator, as well as to be borrowing such an exquisite gift during our lifetime.
When wake up each morning feeling refreshed with new energy, we should immediately give thanks for God’s continuous workings while we were asleep, and for being able to rise and enjoy another day. This is one of the reasons Tenrikyo followers perform two services each day (morning & evening); to thank God for the daily blessings of being kept alive.
“So long as you remain unknowing that the body is a thing borrowed, you can understand nothing at all.” (Ofudesaki, III-137)
As this verse from the Ofudesaki (the Book of Revelations) tells us, the acknowledgement that our bodies are things lent to us is paramount to pursuing the Joyous Life. When we are truly thankful for borrowing our body, then we will want to use our body in accordance with God’s intention which, of course, is to mutually help, inspire, care for, and save, one another.
So what happens at the end of life? We simply return our borrowed bodies to the earth, and our souls are returned to the bosom of God the Parent where we remain until the proper time when we are reborn into the world as babies with renewed energy and new borrowed bodies.
In this sense, one’s lifetime can be compared to a single day in our lives. We wake to start our day (our birth); then we work hard in our various occupations during the day (living our lives); at night we rest our bodies and fall into a deep sleep (passing away & returning our bodies); the next morning waking up again (rebirth with new bodies).
Oyasama taught that there is no afterworld – we return as human beings back to the earth. This raises a lot of questions about what happens to the “good” and “bad” people of the world. Future blogs will provide answers to these questions, so please visit again. Mahalo for reading!