"Sincerity" (Makoto)

"Sincerity" is the word most frequently used to translate the term "makoto." Another word often used is "truth." Depending on the part of speech involved, the term may be translated by using an adjective such as "sincere" and "true" or by using an adverb like "truly."

This term refers to an extremely important aspect of Tenrikyo's teachings. The Ofudesaki and the Divine Directions--particularly, the latter--are full of references to it. The Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Service, however, contains no instance of this term. The instances of the term found in the Ofudesaki can be roughly classified into three types:

(1) The term is used in the sense of "being true or real" (Ofudesaki III:23, IV:82, VI:129, VIII:24, 37, 39, 76, XI:62, XII:163, etc.). Consider, for example: "Though I speak in this way of unknown things step by step, it is the truth [makoto]" (Ofudesaki VIII:76).

(2) The term indicates a state of mind that is free of falsehood or hypocrisy and marked by genuineness (Ofudesaki III:39, IV:51, V:44, VII:102, XI:8, XIII:71, XIV:80, etc.). For example, we read: "Words of flattery are unwanted. If only there is sincerity [makoto] in the core of your mind. . ." (Ofudesaki III:39).

(3) The term is used adverbially in the sense of "truly" or "sincerely" (Ofudesaki V:66, IX:14, 51, X:23, XI:42, XII:54, 159, XIII:64, XV:83, etc.). An example is: "What do you think I shall say from today on? The mind of Tsukihi truly [makoto] hastens" (Ofudesaki IX:14).

On the basis of the above, it is worth making some further remarks on the first and second types in particular. First, this term seems to emphasize the truth of God the Parent's teachings and workings. It is often implied that, though hitherto unfamiliar to humanity, God's teachings and workings are certain to be recognized as true in due course. The following verse is a clear example:

Though I speak solely about such things that do not exist, watch the future: everything is the truth [makoto].

Ofudesaki XI:62

Second, the term refers to a state of mind that accepts this truth of God the Parent with simple openness. Consider this verse:

If you believe this to be true [makoto], everything will be in accord with the mind of true sincerity [makoto-shinjitsu].

Ofudesaki VII:102

Further, if one has the "mind of sincerity," one is guaranteed that God the Parent will grant salvation, no matter what the circumstances are.

If your mind is truly sincere, there will never be a failure in any salvation.

Ofudesaki XIII:71

God the Parent's workings and teachings, which are true and sincere, flow "solely from My single desire to save you" (Ofudesaki VII:26; cf. VIII:4, XII:78, XIV:35, XVI:65, XVII:51, etc.). Thus, our mind of sincerity that can accept them is also, essentially, "a mind to save others single-heartedly" (Ofudesaki III:38-39). A Divine Direction says:

Single-hearted salvation is the truth of sincerity alone. The truth of sincerity alone is the truth of heaven. Because it is the truth of heaven, I accept it at once and give a return at once: this is the one truth.

Osashizu, April 17, 1890

Another Divine Direction tells us:

Sah, sah, what saves others is the truth of the mind of sincerity. Sah, sah, through your mind of sincerity toward others you yourself will be saved.

Osashizu, August 9, 1888

We may say that sincerity is an important channel of truth connecting human beings to God the Parent. The Divine Directions put it succinctly as: "Sincerity is the truth of heaven" (Osashizu, June 22, 1888; December 25, 1888; etc.). We also read:

There is nothing stronger than true sincerity. True sincerity is the truth of heaven. If it is true sincerity, the world will be convinced.

Osashizu, June 2, 1888

In the context of interpersonal relationships, sincerity is capable of inspiring and motivating others in wider and wider circles.

If there is even one person in a country who has the truth of sincerity, a bud will sprout from that source, I tell you. You should not think that there can be a huge accomplishment in a short time. Yet, if there is truth in even one person, a bud will sprout therefrom. It will grow large gradually over a year or two.

Osashizu, December 22, 1888

The path to be followed with such a mind of true sincerity is called the "path of sincerity." It represents one aspect of the "path of the Divine Model" demonstrated by Oyasama (Osashizu, November 7, 1889) and is linked to the "path of single-heartedness with God" (Osashizu, May 21, 1888; April 20, 1890). Like a "side road" or a "back road," this path may not seem easy to follow (Osashizu, May 21, 1888), but those who follow it are assured of their freedom from any danger whatsoever (Osashizu, October 19, 1898). A similar point is made in this Divine Direction:

A narrow path is easy to follow; a broad path is difficult to follow. . . . A broad path is the path of the world. A narrow path is the path of the mind. The path of the mind is sincerity. Sincerity is the truth of heaven. As the truth of heaven, it will bring Gifts, I say.

Osashizu, April 6, 1890

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