Salvation of the Mind

The following is an excerpt from Omichi no joshiki [Tenrikyo Fundamentals] (pp. 36–39) 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.

Salvation of the Mind

These days, there are more people who have joined Tenrikyo upon being moved by its teachings. Yet when the faith first began, most of the people who came to Oyasama were those who wished to have their illnesses cured or their troubles resolved.

There were many people in particular who were drawn to the faith through the “guidance” of illness. This was a time before modern medicine and when the medical insurance system had not yet come together.

People who came to Oyasama often came in utter desperation after finding no relief for their illness from doctors, medicine, or from prayers to various deities. The accounts of those who were saved by Oyasama after being told their illness was incurable are too numerous to mention.

Yet the basis of this teaching is not to cure illness. It is the “curing of the mind” that is the origin of illness. If we were to take it even further, it is to clarify the foundations of life and find the solution to “illness, death, and weakening.”

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In 1882, Isa Yamamoto 山本いさ received the salvation of being able to stand after a long bout with a leg ailment at the age of 40. Her knee joints made loud cracking sounds when she stood.

Although Isa’s hands still shook and though it was not serious, it still was a source of deep concern for her. Two years later, in the summer of 1884, she met and asked Oyasama to cure her shaking hands. Oyasama then said:

“Your trembling hands seem of little inconvenience since you have already been saved from your serious leg ailment. Rather than being cured completely, it is better that you have some trouble left to be healed; then you will understand the causality of your previous lives and be continually reminded of it. This will lead to your true salvation. People tend to wish nothing but to be completely cured. But what is most important is to gain virtue that will lead to true salvation.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama 147 “True Salvation”

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Through experiencing an illness, we can learn the truth of “a thing lent, a thing borrowed” — which is the basis of human existence — and awaken to the reason God the Parent created humanity and the world. Illness is called “divine guidance” for this reason.

People are full of gratitude when they are first saved from suffering. Yet this feeling of appreciation fades as time passes, to the point it completely fades from memory.

If people are prone to forget this, how even more so when it comes to giving a second thought about the basis of human existence. Instead, people are able to remember the joy that they were saved and live their lives with God in mind if they had a slight inconvenience like Isa, whose hands still trembled.

Oyasama then said to Isa:

“I lend you this book. Have this book copied and read it every day.”

The book that Oyasama lent her was none other than the Ofudesaki.

Isa had her father copy the Ofudesaki and she continued to read it for the rest of her life. It is said that the trembling of her hands did not trouble her in the slightest ever since she began reading it.

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