Anecdotes of the Honseki Izo Iburi 75

This is an excerpt from the 2006 September Monthly Service Sermon by Honbu-in Toshimi Imamura (All have I done here is post the excerpt here. I have no knowledge of who did the actual translation of this sermon.)

75. At the Garden of Koriyama Followers Dormitory

Toward the end of the Honseki’s life, Rev. Narazo Hirano, who adored the Honseki from the bottom of his heart, came up with the idea of showing appreciation for the hardships that the Honseki had undergone. Knowing that the Honseki loved gardens, Rev. Hirano built an outstanding garden at Koriyama followers dormitory. He invited the Honseki to the garden’s completion ceremony, and gave him a heartwarming reception. Soon the time for the meal came, and a full-course meal with second and third entrees was set out before the Honseki. I am sure that the wide variety of delicacies served to the Honseki were the fruits of true sincerity dedicated by Koriyama followers from all parts of Japan.

However, the Honseki sat motionlessly for a long time and did not attempt to touch the feast with his chopsticks. Rev. Hirano and the staff ministers were gravely concerned that they had offended him in some way. Being unable to withhold himself any longer, Rev. Hirano asked the Honseki if there was something he found offensive. To this, the Honseki answered: “Absolutely not! Being treated to such delicacies and such a lavish reception, how could I possibly find anything unpleasant about it? I am overjoyed, overjoyed. But while being treated with such delicacies, I cannot help thinking about what it would have been like if Oyasama had been able to enjoy such delicacies back then. Thinking of Oyasama and feeling undeserving of these wonderful things in such abundance has choked me up.” Seated in front of the feast, the Honseki was shedding tears. And everyone at the reception hung their heads and wept. Not a single person uttered a word.

The Honseki knew Oyasama’s hardships very well. Following the Oyamato Shrine incident, when no one else visited the Residence, the Honseki had seen first-hand the hardships, loneliness, and alienation at the Residence. He was all too aware that everything was well for him at the present moment precisely because of the hardships that Oyasama had gone through. The more lavishly he was treated, the more he thought of Oyasama, and that made his heart overflow with gratitude, thus making it impossible to bring himself to take even a bite of the delicacies served to him. Being able to understand how he must have felt, I cannot help but have utmost respect for him.

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


Well…  this is the final post for this “Anecdotes of the Honseki” series. A big thanks to everyone who has read it since last year when I first began.

While I have still yet to fully focus my attention on anything to replace this as a regular feature, I hope to start on my next major project before 2008 ends. I suspect it won’t really come into full swing until next year. Until then, I expect to post more and more Footsteps translations on a regular basis in the weeks to come.