Principle of the season (Shun no ri)

by Yoshikazu Fukaya

In Tenrikyo we have the expressions "shun no ri" or "tokishun no ri," meaning "the principle of the season" or "seasonable time."

In the dictionary, the word "shun" has the following meanings: "the season or time when certain fish, vegetables, or fruits are considered to be ripe and at their peak flavor. By extension, it refers to the appropriate time to do a certain task or activity" (Kojien). This word is widely used in such sentences as: "It is the season for pike," or "It is the season for matsutake mushrooms." In farming, too, there is the season for sowing seeds and a time for reaping and harvesting. This is the sight of nature at work. It need hardly be mentioned that the nature is managed by the intention and protection of God the Parent.

God the Parent likewise provides various seasons in our lives. There are times at which it is absolutely imperative for certain things to be done. God the Parent has expectations for us to do things that are appropriate to each time and season.

God the Parent instructs as follows:

Sow a single seed. If you sow each seed in accord with the principle of the seasons, it will all bear fruit. If you sow seeds after the season is over, they will be washed away. Delay will achieve nothing. . .

Osashizu, July 31, 1889

Do not miss the season. Begin the work. You must not miss it. If you miss the season, you will accomplish nothing.

Osashizu, May 21, 1907

While we will be provided with a great harvest if we sow the appropriate seeds in the seasonable time, it will be impossible to savor the joy of the fruits of our efforts if we mistakenly prepare the rice fields for planting in the middle of summer or plant sweet potatoes in the autumn. On the other hand, we are taught: "If the season is right, even something one thinks is impossible will become possible. It will come to be despite any opposition you may encounter" (See Osashizu, April 16, 1901).

God the Parent has a particular intention for us in the various seasons on our path of life, seasons that can be metaphorically called a season to sow seeds, a season to apply fertilizer, and a season to harvest crops. The divine intention embodied in each season is referred to as "the principle of the season" or "the principle of the seasonable time." Thus, it is important that we fully perceive God the Parent's intention for us in each "season" and repeatedly dedicate efforts appropriate to the "principle of the season."

Further, as God the Parent points out to us, just because we plant seeds today, it does not mean that they will immediately sprout buds. Buds will sprout when the season comes. No matter how much care one puts into tending the seeds, their flowers will not bloom nor will their fruit grow until the season comes (See Osashizu, June 20, 1890; May 15, 1891; March 28, 1898). We are also taught, "Every seed sown here will sprout" (Mikagura-uta VII:8). These are instructions that we need to fully take to heart.