Great Construction

Proper Faith

     There is an aphorism of the great Chinese scholar Chu-hsi which states that doubt is the beginning of faith. This is truly an apt expression. I continually urge others to doubt faith as much as possible. Throughout the world there are various faiths, and most of them contain a good amount of trickery. Even if they are not complete frauds, many have as object of their faith a god or buddha or the spirit of some sort of animal such as a fox, a raccoon dog, goblin, or dragon. Very few indeed are religions that have as their objects of faith a proper deity. Therefore, when close investigation is made, as most religions include some sort of defect, if you are thinking of joining a faith, the best thing to do is to doubt as much as possible. It will not do to be bound by preconceived ideas. When you have doubted as much as you can and still find it to be a faith without shortcoming, you have no other choice but to believe. In this world, however, there are religions that state that you will receive benefit if you believe from the start, but this idea is greatly mistaken. Asking individuals to believe first before recognizing some kind of benefit is to ask them to deceive themselves. For this reason, in the beginning simply make contact and study, carefully observe, and doubt as much as possible. If throughout you find it to be flawless in doctrine, the theoretical aspects of faith, as well as in rational terms, then it certainly has value as a satisfactory religion worthy of joining. And then, there is the following kind of religion. The kind that dislikes intensely to have followers come into contact with other religions. This stance is also mistaken. Such an attitude speaks to a defect someplace or to a feebleness of power. If a religion of a high level, there should be no reason for another religion to be above it. Rather than being afraid of its followers coming into contact with other religions, such should be the cause for joy since the result of that contact will show recognition of the superiority of the religion one has faith in and should actually strengthen that faith.
     But activity of this sort also deserves caution. That is, when such a contact seems to demonstrate a substantial amount of benefits and miracles. Among gods and buddhas, as with human beings, there are differences in rank and quality, and distinction in power. Even a god or buddha of second rank or lower can manifest considerable power, so benefits and miracles will appear to a certain extent. Most individuals will find such benefits and miracles appealing and believe wholeheartedly. But in the long run, gods and buddhas of the second rank or lower will frequently be overwhelmed by evil forces, and misfortune in various forms will appear, so there will be occasions when the believer falls into conditions of distress. Believers find some kind of excuse for what they began firmly to believe, and not only can they not discern the lack of power of their god or buddha, they interpret their distress as a divine or mystic test or the purgation of their sins and impurities.
     Any believer will have the distress of sickness and misfortune and suffer for a while, but the proof of a god or buddha of higher levels is that after distress, the believer’s condition will be better than before the distress. In other words, the believer has improved spiritually as a result of having reduced sin and impurities. On the other hand, for the distress to be severe, to last a long time, or to be driven into despair is that the god or buddha lacks power and has been defeated by evil forces.
     To sacrifice in every possible way socially but in spite of the fervent faith with which prayers are offered, to not receive the benefits asked for means that what the believer wants is not within the power of these gods or buddhas to fulfill, and as much as they may want to fulfill such prayers, they cannot. In such circumstances, we often see examples of individuals who although they pray as hard as they can, fall even deeper into misfortune and as they find that their prayers are not answered, lose heart and think they have been left behind by their god or buddha. There are many examples where they discard their faith thinking there are no such things as gods or buddhas in this world, or plunge into desperation, or they gradually sink to a sad fate. And it is this very kind of faith in which practices are carried out such as fasting, continuous praying over a long period, and going without tea or salt, but these types are greatly mistaken. Even if the individual practices some sort of austerity, it is nothing but wasted effort unless the practice results in some sort of benefit to society and humanity. Any kind of god or buddha who would be pleased by such practices is of course one of the second rank or below or the spirit of an animal such as a fox, raccoon dog or goblin. Therefore, a true god or buddha will work to encourage efforts on behalf of the welfare of society and humanity, and as those efforts are seen to have borne fruit, benefits are bestowed as reward for the achievement.
     Another world of caution here. Since antiquity has been the proverb, “faith may come even from the head of a sardine,” but this is a tremendous error. The object of all faith should be a god or buddha of the highest levels. Benefits cannot be bestowed unless prayer is offered for a correct purpose directed toward gods or buddhas of higher levels, and it is through the respect and prayer of the human being that pure spiritual light is able to be received that sins and impurities are gradually lessened. To pray to and respect the head of a sardine or some other low object is nothing other than malignant miasma that comes from low spiritual vibration, so with the spirit impure, it is easy to become a human being who naturally commits mischief or evil. Members of the general public who do not know this fact are grateful to anything called a god or buddha, and believe it will grant their requests, not an unreasonable assumption. Not unreasonable because since long ago no one has received the education to be able to distinguish a high from a low and an evil from a true god or buddha. Even among such objects of faith as the spirits of foxes, raccoon dogs, goblins, and dragons, there are levels, differences of power and good and evil, but the leaders of these various groups are able to manifest astonishing power and can give a great amount of benefits, so believers maintain earnest faith. Most of these benefits are temporary. Ultimately, benefits alternate with misfortune, and eternal prosperity is not to be had. Accordingly, I exhort all, that in instances of faith, not be dazzled by temporary benefits and make no mistake in distinguishing levels.

Essays on Faith (Shinkō Zatsuwa), page 2, September 5, 1948
    translated by cynndd

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“Tadashiki Shinkō,” the second chapter in the Japan Kannon Church publication Essays on Faith (Shinkō Zatsuwa), September 5, 1948, page 2, was reprinted while Meishu-sama still alive in the first and only Sekai Meshiya Kyō anthology for the general public, Gospels of Heaven (Tengoku no Fukuinsho), March 25, 1954, page 4. “Tadashiki Shinkō” has previously appeared in translation. Citation is given below for reference.

“Right Attitude toward Religion,” Foundation of Paradise, 1984, page 289.

“True Faith,” A Hundred Teachings of Meishusama, no date, page 38.