The following is a translation of an excerpt from the writings of Eitaro Imamura (1894–1969), who held several positions throughout his career as a Honbu-jun’in (senior official of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters), such as superintendent of Aomori, Akita, Iwate, and Wakayama dioceses, president of Doyusha, head of Publications Approval Office, and first head minister of Jibun Bunkyokai.
70. A Bale of Rice and a Sack of Charcoal
Our family moved into the Residence from Osaka about the year 1891. When my mother went to the kitchen the next morning, she found a bale of rice and a sack of charcoal. No one had the faintest idea about who had brought the items. Sato came by at about ten in the morning and asked, “Iye-san, did you find the rice and charcoal?”
When my mother answered, “Yes,” Sato smiled and said, “I brought them first thing this morning, thinking that you wouldn’t know where to buy anything coming from a thriving place like Osaka to the inconvenient countryside. I thought if you had rice and charcoal, that would keep you covered for the time being.”
My mother would often later say again and again, “I cannot forget how happy I felt at the time.”
The type of thoughtfulness shown by Sato is only possible by those who experienced difficulty in their early years.
Oyasama often said, “I cannot watch others go through difficulties without stopping to save them.”
Because Oyasama felt this way, She naturally approached others with utmost compassion. Those who find themselves in a desperate situation will always remember the compassion people show to them. Also, it is impossible to measure how a show of compassion is able to bring the best out of people. Finally, acts of true compassion are inconspicuous, and are never patronizing, nor do they make others feel uneasy.
It is relatively well known that Oyasama gave away rice, clothes, and other items quietly without being noticed. Sato, who learned directly from Oyasama’s example, also implemented the principles of “inconspicuous work” and “sowing seeds of sincerity” into action.
When the Honseki was still a carpenter working in Ichinomoto, he would quietly fix broken bridges and rough patches of road at night. When word spread that it was Izo who was doing these anonymous good deeds, he admitted to one of his close friends that he was troubled over the newfound attention he was receiving.
In the Ofudesaki, God says, “I bring you together according to the causality of your previous lives and protect you” (1:74). So I cannot help but feel that the Honseki’s wife, Sato, also shared his deeply ingrained inclination to do inconspicuous good deeds.
- Next installment in this series: 71. “God Is Taking the Day Off Today”
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.