What is hinokishin?

It is thanks to God the Parent's immeasurable providence that we can be alive and live in peace and safety day after day. When we truly feel grateful for this providence, we cannot help but express our gratitude through our selfless attitudes and actions. We call such expressions of gratitude "hinokishin."

In our daily life, it is very common that we express our thanks to our benefactors by offering at least small gifts that we think may please them. Similarly, we should show our gratitude to God the Parent for the loan of the body in such a way as to bring joy to God.

What brings satisfaction to God the Parent is to exert ourselves for world salvation, which the everliving Oyasama has been endeavoring to advance tirelessly day and night. We can help Oyasama, for instance, by playing a part in the work of our churches or by serving at the Home of the Parent, which is built around Jiba of Origin, the source of universal salvation. We are taught that, no matter how trivial our action may seem, it can be a contribution that will bring delight to God the Parent.

We can also bring utmost joy to God the Parent by helping one another as God's children. In the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Service, we read:

Helping each other in any and everything,
Ponder over it from your innermost heart!

Mikagura-uta IV:7

In the Ofudesaki, we also read:

If you are truly of a mind to save others, there is no need for the persuasion of God.

Ofudesaki III:32

If all the world comes to help one another, Tsukihi will accept all your minds.

Ofudesaki XIII:38

Thus mutual help may be regarded as one of the most significant expressions of hinokishin.

We may also say that hinokishin is a key to promoting God the Parent's world salvation. Perhaps hinokishin may even be seen as the way of life of everyone who has faith in this path.

There is nothing so trying as illness;
So from now on, I, too, will devote myself to hino-kishin.

Mikagura-uta III:8

A single word can be hinokishin.
I simply sprinkle My fragrance around.

Mikagura-uta VII:1

Husband and wife working together in hinokishin;
This is the first seed of everything.
I behold more and more people coming from the world,

And bearing straw baskets in hinokishin.

Forgetting greed we work in hinokishin.
This becomes the first fertilizer.

Mikagura-uta XI:2-4

How remarkable this carrying of earth is,
When it serves as a contribution to God!

Mikagura-uta XI:7

*     *     *

What is the difference between hinokishin and volunteer activities?

Hinokishin is a "daily contribution" grounded in faith that expresses gratitude for God's providence through which we are able to borrow our body from God the Parent and be alive. It can be performed in a variety of forms, including not only the activities we carry out for Jiba and local churches, which receive the truth of Jiba, but also the efforts we dedicate to the local community. Hinokishin comes from living each day with a sense of gratitude to God the Parent. It involves expressing that gratitude by sowing seeds of sincerity at Jiba and at churches as well as by working to bring joy to others in society.

By contrast, volunteer activities are motivated by a sense of duty or responsibility to society, regardless of whether one has religious faith or not. It often seems to be those who are materially affluent or, at any rate, have time and money to spare that conduct volunteer work out of sympathy and brotherly love. These activities are very noble and extremely important. There may be no clear distinction between hinokishin and these volunteer activities on the surface. However, the former is a faith-based activity aimed at making repayment for God the Parent's blessings, whereas the latter is an act of charity that does not require the presence of religious faith.

Hinokishin may be described as the very way of life of everyone who has faith in the path. As such, it is performed day after day, regardless of whether or not one has any social position or wealth, or whether or not one has time to spare. We carry out hinokishin, not because we have the time to do so, but because we wish to express our joy of being kept alive by God. We try to perform hinokishin anywhere and anytime, for it is our way of life.

There are many people in the world who have no food to eat and are starving. Relief work, therefore, is one of the important and indispensable activities that we should implement from the perspective that all people are brothers and sisters.

However, we should not be complacent about relief efforts alone. Monetary and material support is more like first aid than complete medical treatment. The whole point of health care is to help people strengthen their health so that they do not become ill in the first place. The same thing can be said of salvation work. It is vital for us to make sure that people obtain fundamental salvation, rather than merely receive temporary relief. In other words, we ought to help all people throughout the world purify their minds, achieve spiritual rebirth, and cultivate a spirit of mutual help. When the world is reconstructed through the attainment of spiritual maturity, all people in the world without exception will be blessed with fundamental salvation. In this sense, missionary work can be said to be a true relief effort because it aims at bringing about fundamental salvation by helping people come to know the parental love of God of Origin and strive to grow spiritually in response to the parental love.

Our work is to try to help others make personal growth, create a better destiny, and attain spiritual maturity. Then, when all people in the world achieve personal development and improvement, and grow spiritually, we will surely be blessed with the world of the Joyous Life.

(This article was excerpted from Questions and Answers about Tenrikyo, 149-153.)