The following is an excerpt from Omichi no joshiki [Tenrikyo Fundamentals] (pp. 123–126) by Koji Sato, professor at Tenri University and instructor at Tenri Seminary. Note: This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.
Offering With a Sincere Heart
We human beings are able to enjoy life because God the Parent works without a single moment of rest to provide us with divine protection. No amount of gratitude we have for the Master Lender is too excessive.
Offerings are a common way people express their gratitude in both Buddhist and Shinto traditions in response to answered prayers are and protection from the gods.
Offerings can come in a variety of forms, from treasures such as gold and silver, to the fruits of harvest or wild game hunted in the mountains or caught from the sea. Sometimes offerings are monetary donations that come from a person’s salary.
Although the gods do not actually eat these food offerings or use the money, they are offered with the belief that they will accept the sincere heart of the person making the offerings.
In Anecdotes of Oyasama, there is the following story:
The following occurred around the time the Nakayama household fell to the depths of poverty as God the Parent instructed. One day at the end of the year, a follower brought some small, beautifully made rice cakes (ko-mochi) in a fine set of boxes and said, “Please, offer this to Oyasama.” Kokan, Oyasama’s youngest daughter, promptly took it to Her. Oddly, Oyasama only said,
“Oh, is that so?”
and did not seem to be particularly pleased.
About two or three days later another follower came. She brought out a package wrapped in a plain cloth and said, “Please, will you offer this to Oyasama?” In it were only a few sweetened rice cakes in a bamboo wrapping. Kokan as usual took it to Oyasama. Thereupon, Oyasama said,
“Please, offer it to God the Parent at once,”
and seemed very pleased.
It later became known that the follower who had brought the finely made cakes was well to do. She had made some rice cakes for New Year’s, and as there were some left over, she took them to the Residence as an afterthought.
The follower who had brought the plain cakes was poor, and barely able to make enough rice cakes for New Year’s. However, her family said, “This is also the blessing of God the Parent. First of all, let us make an offering.” They took the first freshly made rice cakes to the Residence.
Oyasama had known what was in the heart of each of these two persons.
There were many such incidents. Later, many followers began to bring the rare seasonal foods grown in their localities to Oyasama when they visited Her. Oyasama always appreciated the sincere heart with which the followers brought these offerings more than the offerings themselves.
Further, when things were presented to Her with arrogance, She often gave them to those nearby. When, on occasion, She did eat them, She said:
“It has no taste at all. It tastes as though we are forcing ourselves to eat when we do not want to eat.”
Anecdotes of Oyasama 7, “Offering With a Sincere Heart”
Even a Divine Direction says:
Sah, offer to Me your minds filled with promise, filled with promise. Then I shall accept, I shall accept. If you do it with tears, with tears, God cannot accept. Do not bring Me things worth a million. It is the sincere mind of a single cent that I accept.
Osashizu, July 20, 1902
An offering that seems possible but happens to be impossible is an offering from a sincere heart. I once heard that the Rev. Kuraji Kashiwagi (the first head minister of Higashichuo Grand Church), who well-known for his cheerfulness and being a master of salvation work, told his followers, “Bring me your offerings, even in tears. When I take them to God, I will offer them with a smile.” Fitting words from a master of salvation work.
- Next installment in this series: Work
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
I doubt that the Rev. Kashiwagi would have gotten away with this line of reasoning in the States. It comes across as a little calculating to me, but there is no arguing with the results of his missionary effort, for he happens to be one the last Tenrikyo missionaries who was born a non-follower and established a daikyokai or grand church from scratch. Higashichuo Daikyokai currently has 65 bunkyokai or branch churches and 49 fukyosho (fellowships/mission stations).
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