"Husband and Wife"

Tenrikyo attaches great significance to the husband-wife relationship, viewing it as a key element of human society. The Scriptures describe this relationship as having been essential to the creation and development of humanity. For instance, in the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Service, we find God saying: "Representing heaven and earth / I have created husband and wife. / This is the beginning of the world." The verse indicates that the husband and wife embody a fundamental principle of creation.

The same Scripture goes on to say:

Settle the minds of the two of you in one accord!

Then any and everything shall be realized.

Mikagura-uta IV:2

Husband and wife working together in hinokishin;
This is the first seed of everything.

Mikagura-uta XI:2

The verses stress that settling and uniting the minds of the husband and wife is of primary importance if any undertaking they carry out is to be successful. Because the husband and wife relationship is the basis of all human relationships, this unity is seen as the "first seed" or the primary factor that will enable the realization of the Joyous Life, which, as taught in Tenrikyo, is the ultimate goal of human existence.

Husbands and wives, who form the foundation of human society, are based on the models of man and woman that were established by God during creation. In the Ofudesaki, The Tip of the Writing Brush, we find God saying:

At the origin were a fish and a serpent in the muddy ocean. I drew them up and began the first couple.

Ofudesaki VI:32

The story of creation told in Tenrikyo says that God, who saw a "fish" and a "serpent" among many "loaches," summoned the two and, after discerning their single-heartedness, decided to make them into models of husband and wife. These models are the archetypes of men and women.

Next, God summoned an "orc," which is powerful and vigorous, and put it into the "fish," thereby establishing the model of man, the seed. God then put a "turtle," which plants its feet firmly on the ground and does not tumble over easily, into the "serpent" and established the model of woman, the seedplot. Then God--who is metaphorically referred to as the Moon and the Sun--entered these models respectively to exercise divine providence. We are told that the husband and wife were created in the image of heaven and earth. Men are likened to heaven, which symbolizes the providence of water and fluids, and women to earth, which symbolizes the providence of warmth and fire.

Men and women are thus endowed with opposite characteristics, and uniting the two as one through God's providence, which is metaphorically expressed as the "embrace of heaven and earth," is the foundation for establishing and maintaining the world and humanity. Such is the human world's fundamental principle referred to by the phrase "husband and wife." The principle embodies how we as human beings can live in accordance with the truth of heaven, often expressed as "oneness in two."

Incidentally, we were created by God in order to live the Joyous Life, and we continue to be provided for and sustained by God for that express purpose. It is for this same purpose that God's providence enables us to be united as husband and wife. On a concrete level, the establishment of this union also involves the causality of each individual concerned. We read in the Scriptures:

I have already commented on the relationship between husbands and wives. They all become husbands and wives through their causality, I say.

Osashizu, November 21, 1891

I bring you together according to the causality of your previous lives and protect you. This settles the matter for all time.

Ofudesaki I:74

A man and a woman, even if they still lack maturity, are united as husband and wife based on their causality so that they may help and complement each other and grow fully as human beings. Thus, the Divine Directions teach:

Husbands and wives are brought face to face with their causality in their daily lives. Listen and grasp well the causality you are shown as you go through life.

Osashizu, March 22, 1891

The one truth that should be in the husband-wife relationship is joyous acceptance, which should be practiced mutually, I say. If you firmly settle the one truth in your mind from now on, everything, whatever it be, will go as you wish, I tell you. The one truth indicates a stance of mind that will carry you forward into the future.

Osashizu, July 19, 1897

It is important for a husband and wife, who have opposite characteristics like heaven and earth, to recognize his or her own causality in the spouse, accept it for what it is, and address it within himself or herself. Such is joyous acceptance, and this is a step that needs to be taken if one is to achieve spiritual growth that will lead to the Joyous Life.

Making such spiritual growth, however, is often far from easy. Consequently, there are cases in which couples, though united through causality, end their relationship in divorce without fully realizing their causality. We are taught in this regard:

You say that the relationship between a husband and wife has ended. Even if the marital relationship no longer exists, help them form a brother-sister relationship.

Osashizu, May 22, 1895

The passage teaches us about the relationship between divorced spouses from the perspective of the truth of universal brotherhood.

Everyone has both good qualities and shortcomings. Consequently, every marital relationship will have its ups and downs, sometimes referred to in the Divine Directions as "sunny days and cloudy days" (Osashizu, July 7, 1897). In order for spouses to overcome their difficulties, nurture their personal and spiritual growth together, and allow for a settling for all generations to come, what they ought to do is taught as follows:

Regardless of whether or not things are happening as you wish, you must as husband and wife settle in your minds the truth that there is no other dependable guide besides the truth called God.

Osashizu, October 26, 1900

In addition to helping each other while remembering that neither is yet perfect, it is of paramount importance for a husband and wife to clearly recognize God's underlying providence, which is always at work to lead them to the Joyous Life, and to rely totally on God as they proceed through each day.

(This article was first published in the July 2006 issue of TENRIKYO.)