Hinokishin is any action arising from the deep realization that life is bestowed on the human body through the complete providence of God. Such action, ultimately enacted with gratitude and without greed, is pragmatically selfless for it arises out of the awareness that the human body is "a thing lent, a thing borrowed," and is to be used for blissful living. It is action which arises from being single-hearted with God. In other words, it is the physical and spiritual response to and an expression of wholeheartedly relying on the blessings of God that are bestowed upon the body and the world by way of the complete providence. As such, anything can be considered hinokishin. In the Mikagura-uta, we are taught:
There is nothing so trying as illness;
A single word can be hinokishin.
Husband and wife working together in hinokishin;
I behold more and more people coming from the world,
Forgetting greed we work in hinokishin.
Hinokishin has been misunderstood at times as "voluntary labor," where perspiration and strength become the requisites for doing it. Yet muscles and blind faith are not the pivotal issues at stake. Hinokishin can be done by anyone, anywhere, and at anytime so long as there is the awareness of the beauty of life which exists in the world through the blessings of God. In other words, hinokishin signifies an attitude--the frame of mind that sees only gratitude for the blessings received here and now. The joy that wells up from such a perception, then, cannot but express itself in action; this is the true nature of hinokishin. Such action, however confined or grand it may be, will always draw us closer to the realization of the essential mode of being. In order for this to take place, moreover, it is necessary that this hinokishin spirit be constant--in both action and thought--so that not only does the person engaging in hinokishin express his or her spiritedness but those around that person may follow suit. This spreading from one person to another is certainly not the purpose of hinokishin, but such is a natural outcome of hinokishin done with pure perpetual sincerity.
From a broader perspective, the entire life of faith of a Tenrikyo practitioner can be coined as hinokishin, the daily action one does as testimony for the blessings received. Whether it be the performance of the service or the spreading of the teachings, if it is done with the sense of appreciation to God the Parent and without greed for oneself, then, it can be called a hinokishin activity. This principle is also firmly embedded in Tenrikyo missionary activity. One does not go about spreading the words of God with only oneself in mind, but rather, one always has the other in mind, as well as the sense of gratitude that s/he is able to do it precisely because the workings of God the Parent can be wholly perceived.