Anecdotes of the Honseki Izo Iburi 27

27. Humility

People who personally knew the Honseki all agreed on how humble he was. He would greet everyone that he would meet. He even greeted a beggar on his way to the cemetery.

One may wonder about the source of the Honseki’s humility. But it could be that he constantly observed Oyasama’s teachings. For instance, one of Her teachings to Izo was as follows:

“Paying tribute establishes oneself. The merit gained from respecting others allows one to establish oneself. Always make sure to respect others and keep yourself from becoming arrogant. If you happen to find yourself in a position of leadership, it is important for you not have a “high” (i.e., arrogant) mind. If you are in charge of leading ten people, be sure to place your mind down low at the very bottom (i.e., be humble) when you work with them. If you are in charge of leading a hundred people, be sure to place your mind at the bottom when you work with them. It is the same when you are leading a thousand or ten thousand people, be sure to place your mind at the bottom.”

Because Oyasama had so painstakingly taught the above1 over and over, in later years the Honseki explained how he made it a point to observe Her lesson on humility.

A frequent visitor to the Honseki’s residence once said: “When I visited the Honseki at his residence and greeted him, I would bow and then raise my head, thinking I had bowed long enough. But then when I looked up, I saw that he was still bowing to me! I don’t know how many times I had made a fool of myself by having to bow once again.”

(Adapted from Shinpan Izo Iburi den pp. 126, 128, 140 and Ten no jogi pp. 146­–147)

*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.


  1. I present an alternate translation of the above quote. It is from the second half of the September 2006 Monthly Service Sermon at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters delivered by Headquarters Executive Official Toshimi Imamura on September 26, 2006:

    “By upholding the truth, your body will be upheld. Your body will be upheld by the truth of upholding others. Always uphold others and never uphold yourself. Even after you are given a position where you are upheld by others, it is of utmost importance never to use the mind of arrogance. When you are put above ten people, although you stand and work above ten people, keep your mind beneath all ten. When you are above one hundred people, although you stand and work above one hundred people, keep your mind beneath all one hundred.  It is the same with a position above a thousand people or a million. Keep your mind beneath all of them.”