The following is an excerpt from Omichi no joshiki [Tenrikyo Fundamentals] (pp. 137–142) 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.
The Truth That I Do Not Tell and Cannot Tell
There are times when people are able to understand each other without saying anything out loud. In a majority of cases, it is likely an unspoken agreement to help one another, ala, “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” There is also the Japanese proverb, “The eyes speak as much as the mouth.” Words between lovers can often seem unnecessary.
However, the general trend today is to avoid such discretion. The present is an age where self-assertiveness is valued, where people who do not say what they feel are told they are at a disadvantage.
There are times when we cannot bring ourselves to say things we must say or want to say. There are various reasons behind why certain things are difficult to say. In most cases, it is because we are giving much thought to the possibility that by saying what is on our minds, we will cause trouble or ruin our relationship with other person.
There is no happier development than when a person figures out and knows what we want to say but cannot bring ourselves to. This is even more so when we placed in charge of overseeing the work of others.
I shall not tell you anything difficult. I do not tell you to do this or that. Understand the truth that I do not tell and cannot tell.
Osashizu, February 26, 1889
God is saying that if we firmly settle this teaching of “the truth that I do not tell and cannot tell” in our minds, we will come to understand. This is the instruction we are given in the Kakisage which we receive when we receive the truth of the Sazuke.
There is a story on one of Oyasama’s disciples, Chusaku Tsuji, which goes as follows. Chusaku Tsuji’s eldest son succeeded him in taking over his farm in Toyoda Village (presently a section of Tenri City). His younger son ran a hardware store in Nara. One day when the year was coming to a close, when Chusaku came home from morning service at the Residence, he found his eldest son in front of the fire with his hand on his forehead.
When Chusaku asked, “Are you not feeling well?” his son answered, “There’s nothing wrong with me.”
When he asked, “Is there something on your mind?” the reply was, “No, it’s nothing.”
When he said, “Well then, since it’s a nice day outside, why don’t go you out to work the fields?” the only answer he got was, “Yeah, maybe,” and his son remained in front of the fire with his hand on his forehead. As a father, Chusaku could not ignore his son’s situation and pondered about what it could be. He felt that there was no mistaking that his son was troubled over making his payments that were due on New Year’s Eve Day.
Chusaku then left to ask his younger son to loan the money and briskly walked the eight-kilometer road to Nara. When he got there, his daughter-in-law was putting water in a water cushion for his son, who suffered from a severe headache from morning.
“Actually, I’m here because your brother is worrying over his overdue payments for this year. Although he hasn’t told me anything, it looks like he is short 100 ryo in gold. Could you loan him the money?” It was not much to tell, but Chusaku could not bring himself to say it.
Instead, he said to son, “Be sure to fully rest up.” He turned to his daughter-in-law and said, “Please take good care of him” and left home without saying another word.
When he got home, he found his eldest son sleeping. Chusaku then went to Nara a second time. His younger son’s headache had gotten worse. The water cushion was not enough as he was now cooling his head with an ice pack. Chusaku was unable to bring himself to say anything once again and now found himself sitting in front of the fire with his hand on his forehead.
As he sat there buried in his thoughts, a messenger came from Nara with an envelope from his daughter-in-law. Thinking it was a letter informing him that his son’s condition was now serious and imploring him to come right away, Chusaku instead found 50 ryo inside. It need not be mentioned how delighted he was.
Due to the attentiveness of his daughter-in-law, his two sons recovered their health and were able to celebrate a wonderful New Year. Chusaku Tsuji’s experience speaks to us the meaning of the teaching, “If you should understand the truth that I do not tell and cannot tell, all truths will become clear.”
Reference: Kamikawa Yonetaro. “Osazuke to shikan.” Michi no tomo, May 20, 1934.
Another story about Oyasama’s disciples, Rin Masui, which also attests this. One day, a follower brought a large fish to the Residence as an offering. Rin was asked to prepare and cook the fish. Because she but could find not a carving knife to clean the fish, she asked Shuji where it was. He answered, “Rin, are you looking for a carving knife? There is a large vegetable knife in the kitchen. Use that to prepare the fish.”
Because Rin thought it was rather inconvenient for the Residence not to have a carving knife, one day she asked to have the day off and returned to her home in Kawachi, Osaka. She bought a carving knife, a thin knife to cut sashimi, a pair of scissors, and other useful household items. She returned to the Residence and presented them as gifts.
Shuji and his wife Matsue were so delighted that he said, “Such nice things! I want to show them to Grandmother. Rin, come along with us.” When they approached Oyasama, Rin thanked Her for the day off. Oyasama accepted the presents and was very pleased, saying:
“Rin, you have given thought to everything from this to that. Thank you.”
It costs money when the churches we are connected to plan to embark on a construction project or hold a special commemorative service. It is in precisely such times when we see the head minister’s day-to-day conduct reflected in the results.
Nevertheless, like Chusaku Tsuji, it is not an easy task for the head minister to ask for money. It is here when it is ideal for everyone involved to awaken to “the truth that I do not tell and cannot tell” and act accordingly.
- Next installment in this series: “I Am Tenrikyo”
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.