A Humble Mind

The following is an excerpt from Omichi no joshiki [Tenrikyo Fundamentals] (pp. 32–36) 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.

A Humble Mind

Chuzaburo Koda 鴻田忠三郎, a learned man who successively held several agriculture-related posts, began to serve at the Residence in 1883. At the time, the police considered Oyasama’s teachings as an aberrant faith and they often summoned Oyasama for questioning or arrest. Chuzaburo was also once summoned with Oyasama in March 1884 to Tanbaichi Branch Station and was sentenced to serve ten days of imprisonment with Her at Nara Prison.

During this time, Chuzaburo was ordered by a prison guard to clean the toilets. When he returned from toilet cleaning, Oyasama asked him:

“What do you think of having been brought to this kind of place and even having been made to clean such filthy places as toilets?”

When Chuzaburo answered, “I think I am serving God whatever I do. Considering this, I am very happy,” Oyasama gave him the following instruction:

“You are right. If you do something with gratitude, no matter how hard or unpleasant it may be, your virtue will reach heaven. Virtue which is accepted by God will be turned to joy. But no matter how hard or trying the work that you do may be, if you do it complaining, ‘How hard it is, how I hate it,’ the complaints will also reach heaven and be returned to you in kind.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama 144, “The Virtue that Reaches Heaven”

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Chuzaburo was born in Kawachi, Osaka as a member of the Takaya family. When he was five years old, he was adopted by the Koda clan of Kita Higai Village (presently Higai-cho, a section of Tenri City) and later succeeded his adoptive father to become the head of the household. He practiced farming and his intelligent and studious nature led him to devote his efforts not only toward rice field cultivation but also toward disseminating agricultural knowledge and techniques along with developing new breeds of crops. His accomplishments were recognized, leading to his appointment to the Osaka Prefecture Agricultural Information Council and the Breeding and Agricultural Arts Committee of the Agricultural Society of Japan on top of his duties as a village head and village representative.

In 1881, at the age of 54, he was dispatched to the Agricultural Experiment Station in Niigata Prefecture as a tilling and cultivation instructor. When he returned home on his year-end vacation, he discovered that his daughter Riki, who suffered previously from an eye disease, was close to losing her eyesight. At this moment of family crisis, Chuzaburo was told about Oyasama by a neighbor of his and visited the Residence with his wife and daughter. They stayed at Jiba for seven days and Riki experienced a miraculous recovery.

Chuzaburo was moved to tears and resolved to devote himself to the faith. Although Chuzaburo sent a letter of resignation to Niigata Prefecture out of his desire to serve at the Residence to be near Oyasama, the prefecture officials refused to accept his resignation. Troubled at this situation, Chuzaburo went to Oyasama for Her advice. Oyasama then said to him:

“Along this Path God built a bridge over 800 kilometers long, and there is no one but you to cross it.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama 95, “The Path of Eight Hundred Kilometers”

Chuzaburo returned to Niigata in high spirits and engaged in salvation work on top of his daily duties. In only six month’s time, his efforts gave birth to more than 100 follower-households.

In 1883, Chuzaburo returned to Jiba and began to serve Oyasama at the Residence. He transcribed copies of the Ofudesaki and the Story of the Divine Record (koki-banashi). He also studied the teachings and wrote a commentary on the Mikagura-uta.

In the midst of severe persecution and interference from the authorities, he used his position on the Agricultural Information Council and devoted his efforts toward appealing the correctness of the teachings to society, once sending a petition to the Ministry of Finance. The bold and beautiful penmanship of this and other official documents attest to the level of his scholarship. We get the sense that Chuzaburo, who was deeply involved with farming, would fittingly be the person that would awaken to Oyasama’s teachings through the agricultural metaphors found in the Ofudesaki and the Mikagura-uta even more than his experience of having his daughter saved from an eye disease.

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Humanity has often found scholarship and reason as a stumbling block to faith. However, those who have deeply pursued the truth seem to recognize there is a “higher power” that upholds all reason. Chuzaburo, as we see in the aforementioned anecdotes, did not simply stop at acquiring knowledge but always possessed a humble mind.

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