The theme of Shinja Kokoronomichi Benkyōkai for September is etoku. Etoku is the morality that you can acquire by learning the teachings throughout the year and living life going with the flow of the time. It is a character, personality, and dignity that you will acquire by abiding by Kami’s teachings -Kami, Hotoke, Hito no Michi.
The “highly moral human beings” that Kami mentions have deep feelings of gratitude, “Kibō no Michi (*1)” manifests naturally, and they are protected by Kami greatly. They accept things with a wider view, harmonize with everyone, and get actively involved with others within their parameters. They gain the purpose of living by relating with others making the most of their strengths for others.
In addition, because they are feeling the existence beyond human understanding of Kami and Hotoke, they are humble. They do not think, “it is all about effort,” “money can solve anything,” “status matters,” because they understand that there is a limit to manpower and things with form.
Those who learned the Shinji every month must have gained lots of awareness and made them a part of you, should have accepted and gone with the flow of this year and honed your morality. This month, Kami teaches us the kokoro of highly moral etoku; dignity that gains respect and honor.
The Shinji of this month shows two “awarenesses” and an “understanding”. The First paragraph is the first “awareness.” Kami wants us to realize that;
Humanity is now living in the age of Shinkon.
Do the shinja really understand the significance of this truth?
Those (shinja) who do understand, have gained awareness from the teachings and begun to live guided by their unmei.
The person (shinja) whose learning is lacking and who does not understand the worth (the truth) of the teachings, does not perceive the principles because they see the church through knowledge and experience.
The age of Shinkon is the era that we can achieve kaiun. Tomomaruhime Sensei who had the unmei of Shinkon established the certain path of salvation so that each one of us is able to live a life guided by unmei without regrets; surface our good points and live a life filled with the meaning of life and happiness. Humanity is now living in the age of Shinkon, a blessed era. Kami is asking if the shinja really understand the significance of this truth, the reality.
Those (shinja) who do understand the truth and grasp the meaning, have gained awareness from the teachings as learning and begun to live guided by their unmei, without going beyond or less their parameters. That is how their life becomes filled with meaning and purpose.
In contrast, the person(shinja) whose learning is lacking and who does not understand the worth (the truth) of the teachings, might be experiencing ambivalence and anguish in daily life. If you are not learning the teachings at all or if you are learning but the teachings are not reflected on the way of your life, you will be consumed with your jittai (*2). You will rely on knowledge or experience rather than the teachings when you are in trouble. That will fall you into ambivalence deeper and you will not perceive the principles, or the natural order of things.
Now is the time to reflect on yourself and check if you are former shinja or latter shinja that Kami explains. If you think you are former shinja, deepen the learning of the teachings and ensure you achieve kaiun. If you are latter shinja and realize that you are on wrong focus, you need to correct the way of life and learn the teachings once again.
The next paragraph is the second “awareness.”
Knowledge without principles will be consumed by the flow of the times and disappear.
The goals they seek and the outcome they strive for will not endure.
This is the person in suffering and anguish, unable to have hopes and dreams in life.
This is the era that you can achieve kaiun. If you know the teachings, you should be aware of the reality of society. Society now is filled with knowledge without principles. The volume of information is overwhelming; some are confusing, incorrect or flawed. For example, even medical personnel argue; one says “this is good for health,” and another says the opposite, “that is bad for health.” False information is also floating around. Things without principle will be consumed by the flow of the times and disappear. Therefore, it is very important to see society with Kami’s teachings, the principles, and to be able to judge based on the principles.
Even if people know what they want to do in the future and have the goal they seek, if that does not match with their own unmei that Kami has given them and is driven by ego, the outcome they strive for will not endure. The outcome will endure if you live by the principles and make use of your unmei correctly. If you just follow a trend that does not match with your parameters, your existence will not shine, in addition, you will be in suffering. Your effort will not pay off. That is the person in suffering and anguish, unable to have hopes and dreams in life.
The last paragraph is “deep understanding.” It is not only realization, but the conviction that you have to adapt to the way of your life.
The shinja must deepen their understanding of the teachings and strive to live by the principle of the path.
That endeavor will draw out the strength of each person’s unmei.
The shinja must learn the teachings and strive to see society through the principles.
This endeavor will correct the jittai of each person.
The person (human being) whose kokoro feels the existence of Kami and abides by the path will achieve understanding through the kokoro of etoku; and kaiun will be granted.
Learn the teachings over and over again and realize important things, and strive to live a life that follows the teachings. There are many kinds of endeavor, but the endeavor to live by the principle of the path is the basic effort as human beings. Decide to live a life correctly.
If Kami tells us to maintain harmony with others, then we strive to maintain harmony. If Kami tells us not to behave selfishly, then we should not behave selfishly. The Shinji says that the shinja must deepen their understanding of the teachings and strive to live by the principle of the path. In other words, we should understand the teachings correctly and strive to adopt them in our life.
The endeavor will surely draw out the strength of each person’s unmei as a result. Your given strength, your good points, will surface and you will be helpful for others. You will be appreciated and delighted by them, and that turns to the meaning and purpose of living.
Followingly, Kami wants us to strive to see society through principles. If you see the movement of society through the teachings, you should see what is right and what is wrong. Even if what you wanted at the supermarket was cheap, it is wrong to buy more than what is necessary and just waste them. Even if a person was criticized for having strayed from the right path, it is wrong to criticize together with others. You just need not to do the same with other people, who go off the right path, as you can tell right from wrong.
We are in a society where what is right and wrong are mixed. People do not know what they should choose and what they should do. However, if you are learning the teachings, you will be able to judge things correctly. You can think simply, “I do not have to relate with this,” “I just need to do what is in front of me calmly,” “I do not have to worry about what has not even happened.” Then, you will not give in to avarice without waiting for the right time, you will not make an action in expectation of reward.
Learn the teachings and strive to live by them, you can correct the jittai. Because you can see society through the principles, you can judge what is right and what is wrong, what is needed and what is not. You will have less ambivalence.
As a result of the endeavor, your personality will be improved and shine. You will be loved and respected by others. You will be the person (human being) whose kokoro feels the existence of Kami and abides by the path. You will respect existence beyond human understanding and live highly moral way of life. Therefore, you can accumulate virtues and achieve etoku and kaiun will be granted, Kami states. Kami gives guidance on highly moral way of living. I would like you to adapt the way of living to your own life.
(*1) Kibō no Michi… The salvation shown by Kami to humanity. It will allow you to correct the jittai that is inherited from ancestors and parents, and to surface your given unmei and live a life without regrets.
(*2) Jittai… Personality, characteristic, and constitution. Those are inherited from ancestors. Life revolves around unmei-jittai. Unmei is each person’s good points, strength to be useful for society which is gifted from Kami. However, jittai has both the positive and negative aspects. It can prevent your unmei from surfacing if you do not correct the negative aspect of your jittai.