28. A Comfortable Seat
The Honseki attended the entrance and graduation ceremonies of Tenri Seminary. Designated seats placed side by side in the front were always prepared for the first Shinbashira and the Honseki. But the Honseki would never sit at the seat designated for him at the front. He always chose to sit in the seat behind those designated for the Seminary instructors. People would then come to lead the Honseki to his designated seat. This was another example that clearly demonstrates the Honseki’s humility.
Truth be told, one could argue that this was unnecessarily time-consuming and bothersome for everyone to go through each time. But no one seemed to mind. Everyone was instead moved to see the Honseki’s humble act of always trying to sit in the back.
There was another time when the Honseki visited the first Shinbashira. There were two seats in the room like always, arranged for them to sit across from each other. But the Honseki instead sat to the side, which was considered a place for a person “lower” in position to sit.
The first Shinbashira motioned toward the seat prepared for the Honseki, saying, “Please sit here,”
But the Honseki insisted, “It would be too tiresome for me to sit there. It’s more comfortable for me to sit at a lower place. Please understand.”
The Honseki then bowed deeply, and apologized as if he had done something wrong. He stayed in this comfortable spot while joyfully laughing and talking about the old days.
(Adapted from Shinpan Izo Iburi den pp. 140–141 and Ten no jogi pp. 146–147)
- Next installment in this series: 29. Dialogue with the Everliving Oyasama
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.