Body / illness / physical disorder (Mijo)

by Yoshikazu Fukaya

While a previous entry was dedicated to "a thing lent, a thing borrowed" (refer to [5.3]), the body that is lent to us by God the Parent is called "mijo" in Tenrikyo. The Chinese characters applied to "mijo" can have a number of potential variant readings, each suggesting a different meaning.

When these characters are read as "mi no ue," it implies a person's circumstances or destiny. When the same characters are read "shinsho," they take on the meaning of individual or family fortune in monetary wealth, treasure, or property. Further, when read as "shinjo," they refer to an individual's personal affairs, matters, good points, and redeeming traits.

Tenrikyo is unique in that these characters are read "mijo" in the majority of cases, and the term is used to refer to the body. The word is used in expressions such as "The body is something that is lent to us by God the Parent" (mijo wa Oyagami-sama no kashimono) and "The preciousness of God the Parent's protection of the body" (mijo go-shugo itadaiteiru arigatasa). Another term, "mi no uchi," is used in exactly the same manner.

Further, any disturbance in the body such as an illness or injury is described as "an affliction being shown on the body" (mijo ni sawari o o-mise itadaita) or "a physical ailment" (mijo no nayami). It was a natural progression for the term "mijo" to be used to refer to the illness or physical disorder itself, which one readily hears in phrases such as "I was given/shown an illness" (mijo o o-ate/misete itadaita) or "I received a blessing for my illness" (mijo o go-shugo itadaita).

However, the word "mijo" essentially does not always have a negative connotation. It is a word that also has a connotation of good health--embodying our gratitude and joy for the body that is lent to us and blessed with God the Parent's protection both profound and subtle. It is this sense of gratitude and joy that is conveyed by expressions such as "the body is a thing lent, a thing borrowed."