The Dust of the Mind

What is the dust of the mind?

Through the metaphor of dust, Oyasama taught us about the use of the mind that is not in accordance with God the Parent's intention.

We often misuse the mind in our daily life without being aware that we are doing so. Oyasama likened the misuse of the mind to dust, which tends to accumulate even though its particles are so light and minute that we can sweep them away easily anytime we try. It is vital for us to always reflect upon our use of the mind and correct it, that is, to sweep away the dust of the mind.

As a means to help us reflect on our use of the mind, Oyasama cautioned us against eight dusts: miserliness, covetousness, hatred, self-love, grudge-bearing, anger, greed, and arrogance. In addition, She advised us to watch out for falsehood and flattery.

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What kind of use of the mind is dust?

Dust is the use of the mind that is not in accordance with God the Parent's intention. It is a self-serving and self-centered use of the mind, which prevents us from helping one another or living joyously.

Such a way of using the mind arises because we do not know the truth that our body is a thing borrowed from God the Parent, or because, even if we know this teaching, we fail to settle it in our mind. Such a condition can lead us to get caught up in a greedy and calculating attitude toward life. The misuse of the mind might thus lead us in the wrong direction in life and we should, therefore, make daily efforts to sweep away the dusts of the mind in the light of Oyasama's teaching of the "eight dusts."

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How do you sweep away the dusts?

Our dusts of the mind have a way of accumulating before we notice them. Often it is only when we meet undesirable situations or face unexpected difficulties that we reflect upon ourselves. In order to sweep away the dusts of the mind, what we should do first is to come into contact with God the Parent's intention through performing the service. We should also examine our daily use of the mind in the light of the teachings and firmly resolve to follow the path of Oyasama's Divine Model. These efforts will help us purify our mind, thereby allowing us to see things we could not see before and to rejoice in what we could not find joy in before.

Changing our orientation of the mind, however, is not enough to sweep away the dusts completely. What is also important is to let go of our selfishness and greed and sincerely implement salvation work for others. Implementing the teachings will enable us to settle their truth in our mind and to find a true way of living whereby we will not accumulate dust in our mind. This is what is taught by the phrase "God is the broom."

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Are there only eight dusts of the mind?

Since the dusts are uses of the mind not in accordance with God the Parent's intention, they are not confined to eight dusts. They also include falsehood and flattery, for example. In fact, we can say that there are countless numbers of dusts of the mind. However, they are all related to one or another of the "eight dusts of the mind." Based on the eight dusts, therefore, we should reflect on our use of the mind and strive to sweep away any dust we find within us.

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What kind of use of the mind will bring satisfaction to God the Parent?

We are taught that God the Parent created humankind and the world in order to see us lead the Joyous Life and to share in our joy. Therefore, it is of importance that we use our mind to realize the Joyous Life.

What we should do first is to settle the truth of "a thing lent, a thing borrowed" in our mind and play our roles and perform our tasks with the intention of making repayment for God the Parent's blessings.

The next important thing is to cultivate a frame of mind that allows us to find joy in contributing to others' happiness. Concerning the fact that we all work to make a living, Oyasama explained the verb "to work" (hataraku) as "to make things easier" (raku) for "those around one" (hata). Working in a way that truly contributes to others' happiness is, indeed, the basis of "helping one another," which God the Parent desires us to promote, and will provide the key to a vibrant life.

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Do you need God the Parent's help--expressed metaphorically as the "broom"--to sweep away the dusts of the mind? Is it not possible to do so by yourself?

If we are to be saved by God the Parent, we first need to make an effort to help ourselves be saved. In other words, it is vital for us to strive to sweep away our dusts of the mind. Yet, we may find it far from easy to completely sweep away the dusts, hard as we may try. We may also accumulate them without knowing that we are doing so. Thus, we need God the Parent's help to sweep away the dusts.

We, of course, need to put our utmost efforts into sweeping away the dusts of the mind; otherwise, God cannot provide us with any help. Nevertheless, if we think that we can sweep them away and polish our soul by relying only on our own strength, it has to be said that we have a degree of arrogance. Even if we promised ourselves, "I will spend the whole day today without getting angry," most of us would probably get angry anyway, perhaps even over something trivial. This shows us the weakness of our will-power. It is important for us to know the limitations of our human abilities, become humble, and ask and pray for God the Parent's help and salvation.

In the Ofudesaki we read:

Throughout the world, God is the broom for the sweeping of the innermost heart. Watch carefully.

Ofudesaki III:52

God the Parent tells us that God works, even serving as the "broom," to save us.

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Why does God the Parent allow human beings to use the mind freely, which may result in the accumulation of the dusts?

The reason God the Parent allows us to use the mind freely is to be found in the parental love that desires to have us lead and savor a happier life. If we had to use the mind in a predetermined way, we would be just like a robot or a computer, not human. No genuine joy would be possible. Since we are endowed with the freedom of the mind, we can choose a direction to pursue and decide on a way of living with our own free will. Thus, we take responsibility for the choices we make; in other words, we live as free and responsible beings.

Although we may use the mind in such a way as to accumulate the dusts, we can also reflect upon our misuse of the mind, replace the mind, and correct our unskillful behavior. It is through this process that the world of great hope and joy will open up.

The question is this: Which would bring greater happiness to us, a life without any freedom of the mind or a life with the free use of the mind though it might produce undesirable consequences? We might say that true happiness lies in being able to overcome misfortunes, which come from our own mind, by transforming the way we handle the mind, so that we can savor even greater happiness.

(This article was excerpted from Questions and Answers about Tenrikyo, 89-93.)