What is it to be human? What is our nature? Early philosophers believed the nature of human beings was to reason. Our ability to reason and make decisions based on extensive and complex reasoning sets us apart from other species in the animal kingdom. God has given us free use of our minds. Because of this, we can think in any way we desire, and can carry out actions accordingly. Such a powerful gift is what allows us to be unique as individuals and makes the world a very interesting place.
Earlier on in our evolution, our souls all went through cycles of being reborn as birds, beasts, and the like. During those cycles, it is likely that our ability to think and reason was limited. Rather than human nature, the nature of animals seem to be driven more by a survival instinct: Food, shelter, activity, rest, and reproduction. This survival instinct stayed with us as we matured over thousands of cycles of rebirth until we became the human beings we are today.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, the reasoning behind the need to survive came to be dominated by self-centered thinking: the feeling that “all is well if the present is well for the self alone.” This is a very narrow and short-sighted form of reasoning, yet from a very young age we learn to think in this manner.
Tenrikyo seeks for all humankind to return to the Origin, to our original nature and causality of living together in harmony, by helping one another. Rather than focusing on our own wants and desires, putting ourselves ahead of others, we should focus instead on bringing happiness and joy to the people around us. By doing so, our days will automatically become brighter, and we will be able to face each day as if we are going on a joyful excursion.
One by one, if we convert our minds in this way, soon there will be enough people thinking and acting in accordance with God’s original intention. God will then will look upon us and become spirited too. Blessings will then flow to the earth in the form of abundant crops, thriving economies, longer lives, fewer diseases, and a world free of natural disasters.