A Thing Lent, a Thing Borrowed

What does "a thing lent, a thing borrowed" mean?

In our daily life, we assume that we can get the body to work freely as we wish. Although it may seem we can, we cannot in fact use the body freely, as we will realize if we consider how things are when we suffer from illness. It is the mind alone that we can use freely as we wish. God the Parent lends us the body, which we can use as if it were ours as far as our state of mind allows. In a Divine Direction, we read:

With human beings: the body is a thing lent by God, a thing borrowed from God, the mind alone is yours. From just one mind, any kind of truth will appear daily.

Osashizu, November 15, 1889, supp. vol.

Describing the body as "a thing borrowed," God the Parent has taught us that we can only be alive thanks to God's providence.

We are only able to lead a healthy life because we are blessed with God the Parent's perfect and complete providence. Thus, it is of importance for us to live our daily life with a feeling of gratitude to God the Parent, recognizing health as a precious gift of God.

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Are there other things borrowed from God, besides the body?

The phrase "a thing lent, a thing borrowed" is used to refer to the body. However, all things are sustained, and we are kept alive, by God the Parent's providence. In this sense, everything we use to live--not just the body--is borrowed from God the Parent. It is probable that, because the body is so intimately connected to the mind, God the Parent has singled it out. We mistakenly think of the body as ours, thus often inviting misfortunes into our lives.

Oyasama emphasized the teaching of "a thing lent, a thing borrowed" because She desired to teach us that settling it firmly in our mind is vital if we are to know the truth of the world, lead a vibrant life, and change our destiny.

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What is meant by the teaching that "the mind alone is the truth of oneself"?

Our freedom of mind is only possible when the body is lent to us and allows life's activities to unfold. It is thanks to the freedom of mind that we can use the body--a thing borrowed from God the Parent--as if it were ours. Yet nothing is really ours except the process of experiencing the free use of the mind.

Whether this experience is satisfactory or not depends totally on the way we, the borrowers of the body, use the mind. Oyasama taught this by saying at various times:

"The origin of illness lies in your own mind."

"Suffering comes from your own mind."

"Free and unlimited blessings depend on your mind."

"Each way you have used your mind is reflected in this world."

These teachings are contained in the phrase "the mind alone is the truth of oneself."

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Why is it important to understand the truth of "a thing lent, a thing borrowed"?

Understanding the truth of "a thing lent, a thing borrowed" means to appreciate the preciousness of having been created and given the gift of life by God the Parent and to know the true way of living. Nothing is more important than understanding the truth of "a thing lent, a thing borrowed," for this understanding enables us to realize the preciousness of God the Parent's perfect and complete providence.

Out of the profound intention to have us lead the Joyous Life, God the Parent gives us life and lends us a body that works according to the state of mind of each person, so that we can savor great joy by working with the mind in our daily life.

Furthermore, if we understand the truth of "a thing lent, a thing borrowed," we can reflect humbly upon our unskillful or mistaken use of the mind and correct it. We will then come to have a sense of gratitude for the providence of God the Parent, who lends us the body and provides appropriate workings in accordance with our state of mind.

When we feel deeply indebted for God's blessings and pledge to make repayment for them, such a state of mind is accepted by God the Parent and becomes the basis that allows us to be saved from any suffering or trouble. Any action motivated by a desire to make repayment for God's blessings may be called hinokishin. Through engaging in hinokishin, we can be truly convinced of the truth of "a thing lent, a thing borrowed."

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Which is more important, the mind or the body?

Both the mind and the body are important. The degree of their relative importance cannot really be compared because their importance is different in nature.

The body is "a thing borrowed" from God the Parent, and we are all kept alive by God the Parent's providence. We should use our mind in accordance with God the Parent's intention so that the body will not be injured, damaged, or broken. We will then be able to live a long life in good health.

God the Parent teaches us that "the mind alone is the truth of oneself" and allows us to use the mind freely. The way of using the mind is of importance because it will influence the function and condition of the body and may result in illness. When our mind becomes truly purified and spirited with joy, our physical condition can be restored, and we will be able to lead a healthy life. On the other hand, if our mind becomes dusty and depressed, God's care and guidance may be shown on the body, which is a thing lent, a thing borrowed.

Consider this Divine Direction:

You may bring up your children with the utmost care and affection. No matter how much care and affection you might lavish upon them, however, they could not even be alive were it not for breath. The providence of breath alone is the one truth.

Osashizu, March 18, 1894

Without God the Parent's providence, our body would cease to function and the breath of life would stop.

The mind has the important function of realizing God the Parent's intention and responding to it. We might say that, if the body is likened to an airplane, the mind could be seen as the pilot.

(This article was excerpted from Questions and Answers about Tenrikyo, 81-85.)