The following is an excerpt from Omichi no joshiki [Tenrikyo Fundamentals] (pp. 15–18) by Koji Sato 佐藤浩司, assistant professor at Tenri University and instructor at Tenri Seminary. Note: This translation is tentative and may require further revision.
“Please Allow Me”
Yosaburo Miyamori 宮森与三郎 joined the faith because of a pain in his arm. Because the pain would recur when he went home and would mysteriously disappear whenever he visited Oyasama, he began to live at the Residence when he was 23 years old. When Yosaburo returned to the Residence for the first time, Oyasama said, “I want a superfluous person with a good heart.”1
By a “superfluous person,” Oyasama meant someone who wasn’t the heir of his or her household. Yosaburo was the third son and was honest and unpretentious. After listening to the teachings from Oyasama, Yosaburo further refined his predisposition as a “person with a good heart.”
After he began to live at the Residence, Yosaburo silently undertook a variety of tasks each day: sweeping the entrance; cleaning; preparing the steam bath and meals for the inn that was established to allow followers to worship; working in the fields; cutting grass in the mountains.
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Both industriousness and resourcefulness are indispensable in making life comfortable. The extent to which a person makes his or her livelihood cultivating fields, raising livestock, selling merchandise, or developing new products largely depends upon his or her knowledge and ability. For this reason, when things go well, it is human nature to become caught in the habit of putting ourselves before everything else, thinking, “I did that” and “That was my idea.” Those who get too caught up in this way often run the danger of destroying themselves.
Yet once we come to realize that we are protected and kept alive by God the Parent’s blessings, even a human mind filled with greed and susceptible to arrogance can become humble, allowing our humility to be reflected in our words and actions. Furthermore, once we recognize God the Parent’s protection, we no longer can ignore people who are suffering from adversity and hardship. We cannot help but consider their matters as our own and act accordingly.
Oyasama regularly said to Yosaburo:
All the work that you consider your own matter becomes your own. All you the work that you consider someone else’s matter belong to someone else.
When we are able to consider another person’s matter as our own, our attitude changes from “I’m doing you a favor” and “I’m doing this for you” to “Please allow me to do this for you.” This is how our faith in this path ought to be.
Yosaburo was well known for his faith that embodied this attitude of “Please allow me.” Yosaburo began living at the Residence when the authorities began their strict surveillance of the Residence grounds. The police warned Oyasama and Her followers that they would not allow people to gather and stay overnight at the Residence. The steam bath and inn were established as an expedient to protect the followers who came to visit Oyasama.
Oyasama’s son Shuji felt that the main reason for the persecution and interference was that Her Teaching was not an authorized religion. He decided that he needed to obtain legal protection and departed for Jifuku Temple located at the foot of Mt. Kongo to make a petition to establish a church. Oyasama expressed Her severe opposition against such a measure, saying,
If you do such a thing, God the Parent will withdraw.
Yet when Shuji thought of Oyasama and Her followers, he went to Jifuku Temple with the resolve that there was no turning back from this decision. Although Shuji’s young wife Matsue implored, “Can someone please accompany my husband?” everyone was naturally apprehensive at hearing that God the Parent would “withdraw” if such a measure were carried out.
Yosaburo certainly must have considered Shuji’s situation as his own matter, for he could not bear to see Shuji to go alone with a limp in his leg. Yosaburo volunteered to accompany him. The year was 1880.
A Buddhist rite to commemorate the opening of the church was held that same year. Shuji passed away for rebirth the following year (1881) at the age of 61 and Matsue passed away for rebirth the year after that (1882) at the age of 32.
Yosaburo was resigned that he would pass away next and left the Residence, going north to engage in salvation work. After building the foundations for Umetani Grand Church 梅谷大教会 and Tahara Branch Church 田原分教会, Yosaburo returned to serve at the Residence until the day before the 50th Anniversary of Oyasama (1936), when he passed away for rebirth at the age of 80. I imagine that he lived to such a ripe age because his faith embodied the attitude of “Please allow me.”
Reference: “Miyamori sensei no ohanashi.” Michi no tomo, July 1917.
- Next installment in this series: “Fools are Desired by God”
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.