Aloha, and thank you for presence at today’s Monthly Service. Even as we head into summer, we have been blessed with cool weather and it seems like every month our Service performance is becoming more and more spirited. Surely God the Parent is smiling down on us, seeing how we have matured during this important year of the 130th anniversary of Oyasama.
Time flies, as we are now half way through this significant year. Being that we have now entered the seventh month of the year, I thought I would speak a little about Song number VII of the Mikagura-Uta. I would like to ask for your kind attention for a few minutes.
As you may have noticed, each song of the Mikagura-Uta focuses on a certain topic or teaching. The Service performers who dance the teodori, might tell you that keeping in mind the theme of each song helps us memorize the hand movements of the songs. The contents of Song VII include the sprinkling of the fragrance, and the tending of fields. You may notice that the word denji, or simply ji, which means a parcel of land, appears in six of the ten verses.
To the lay person just reading through the translations, it seems to speak a lot about agriculture: the land, the seed, the fertilizer. However, as with so many of God the Parent’s teachings, Oyasama used metaphors to convey the essence of the faith in ways that the people of Shoyashiki Village could easily understand. And since farming was at the heart of people’s livelihoods back then, it seems natural that Oyasama chose such metaphors.
While it’s not directly mentioned in the lyrics, the theme of Song VII is “fusekomi” or sowing seeds of sincerity at Jiba, or dedicating ourselves to the path and to Jiba. You may have heard of this term fusekomi. Some of us have spent months or years at Jiba doing fusekomi by means of hinokishin and learning how to do the Service. Why is this important? We find out the answer at the end of the Song; however, let’s start from the beginning:
Like other Mikagura-Uta songs, the perspective changes back and forth depending on the verse. Sort of like a conversation between God the Parent and human beings; it’s not just God speaking all the time. We must recognize that this dialogue is taking place, to avoid misunderstandings.
Verses 1 through 4 are spoken from God’s perspective:
First, A single word can be hinokishin, I simply sprinkle My fragrance around. In other words, even saying “Hello” or “Thanks” can brighten someone’s day, and can be done by anyone, even by someone who is sick in bed. So anyone can do hinokishin.
Second, As My intention is so profound, so no one should prevent it. This verse can also be interpreted as God saying, “If your human heart/mind is deeply sincere, there should be no one who is able to hinder your progress.”
Third, There is no one in the world whose mind does not desire to own a field.
Fourth, If there is a good field, perhaps everyone equally will desire to own it.
Then the dialogue begins & Fifth is the response from man:
Fifth, It is the same with everyone. I, too, wish to own such a good field.
In this context, “I” is man, not God. And the desire to own a good field is not speaking about a greedy desire to accumulate assets, but rather about that person’s ability to secure a source of income. Good field => good rice => sustenance. Rice was the main form of currency for centuries. Transactions and debts were contracted in rice, which could be store for up to nine years. Due to the inconvenience of its bulkiness to transport for large transactions, metallic money slowly replaced rice as standard currency, but in some remote villages of Japan, rice currency survived up to the eve of World War II.
But I digress. Back to the metaphor of a good field being desired by farmers, in modern times, it might be referred to as a good store if you’re a retail merchant; a good office if you’re a businessman; a good studio if you’re an artist.
Sixth, I never compel you to do this or that. It is left to your own heart. (God)
Seventh, I wish to get the field by all means, no matter what the price. (Man)
Eighth, As this Residence is the field of God, every seed sown here will sprout.
This, of course, is God speaking and the Residence is the Jiba of Origin. Out of all the possible locations on earth, God the Parent chose this location, the Jiba, to begin the creation of human beings. So naturally it should be the most fertile and fruitful place on the planet. And God is saying that ALL seeds sown here will surely sprout.
We are coming to the end of the Song, and verse nine is again the response from man:
Ninth, Since this is the field of this world, I, too, will sow the seed devotedly.
This is referring again to Jiba, and this is why many young people elect to do Oyasato Fusekomi, like Sheigh Yap is doing now – the thought of all those seeds of sincerity from doing hinokishin every day, sprouting into full bloom someday in the future – it’s enough to make anyone want to go to Jiba and participate, right? Hold that thought….
To end the dialogue between God and man, God says:
Finally, This time, I am glad to see that all of you equally have come here to sow the seed. Those who have sown the seed shall reap a rich harvest without fertilizing.
So summarizing the entire Song, think about it like a parent having a conversation with their child.
First the parent prefaces the talk by sprinkling a fragrance of hope, and conveying a deep purpose for having this talk. The parent then says everyone in the world desires a field because it ensures good crops and provides income and nourishment for a lifetime. Furthermore, if there is a super good field, everyone will want it. Indirectly hinting that the parent knows how to obtain that type of field…like dangling a carrot in front of a horse.
The child jumps in as says, “I want good field like that.” But the parent tries to calm the child down saying they will have to do something to get the field; however, they won’t force the child to do that something.
The child gets more excited and says, “I’ll do anything to get a field like that. Just tell me what I need to do.” Then the parent reveals that this magical field, this field of dreams, can be found at the Jiba of Origin. And by sowing seeds of sincerity (not real seeds), those seeds will sprout into blessings without fail.
The child gets it and says, “I trust you, and if this is THE field of the world then I, too, will devotedly sow seeds here. Now that parent is happily content that the teaching has been conveyed and understood. Lastly, the parent promises the child that blessings will be received regardless of the future circumstances.
By now, everyone wants to go to Jiba, to do fusekomi, right? Those who have been to Tenri before know that special feeling when you “return” to the home of the Parent. But I want those who have not been, to seriously consider it. So we’re going to put our money where our mouth is and, effective immediately, Taiheiyo Church will be offering subsidies for new returnees to Jiba.
I hope this encourages you to do nioigake to your family and friends, to bring them back with you on your next pilgrimage to Jiba. I think there are some here today that have not been, so hopefully this incentivizes you to plan a trip!
And for those of us who want to go but for whatever reason cannot, please consider making a contribution to help fund this program. Thank you for your attention.