It Is Not That the Child Does Not Understand

The following excerpt is from Omichi no joshiki [Tenrikyo Fundamentals] (pp. 144–145) 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.

It Is Not That the Child Does Not Understand

It is a difficult task for a person who knows and understands something to explain and have it understood by another who does not. The one who understands does not understand why the other person does not understand.

There is a large gap between knowing something and being able to teach it. In the sports world, it is widely acknowledged that a famous player does not necessarily have what it takes to become a famous coach.

It seems simple enough to teach, explain, and get the point across to another, but it is not so easy. One reason may be that God the Parent’s teachings cannot be fully be explained through language. However, in a majority of cases, the level of understanding depends on how much virtue the person doing the explaining and the person doing the listening has.

Tokuzo Nakagawa was a pharmacist in Sakai, Osaka. He was saved from amnesia, returned to the Residence, and was granted an audience with Oyasama. Oyasama soon recognized that Tokuzo willingly gave money — whether it was a coin or two — to beggars in front of his store since he could not bear to sit idly by and do nothing. Oyasama then told him:

“Tsuki-Hi (Moon-Sun) in the heavens, is very happy, so happy to see a mind that gives a single coin or two to those in need and sends warmest thanks.”

Upon hearing these words, which were light like a song and yet filled with divine majesty, Tokuzo felt an inexpressible feeling of lightness in his body, as if the fog from his mind had completely evaporated.1

Before he received these words, it seems that an intermediary had taught him, “No matter how little others may understand, be sure to teach them with great care.”

It is said that Oyasama taught the following over and over:

“It is not that the child does not understand. It is that the teachings of the Parent have not reached him. If the teachings of the Parent reach every nook and corner, the maturing of the child can then be seen.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama 196, “Maturing of the Child”

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


  1. For a different account of this story involving Tokuzo Nakagawa, see Footsteps of Our Predecessors 20: “God Gives Thanks.”