The following is a translation of Part 24 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the December 2004 (No. 432) issue of Taimo, pp. 34–35. This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.
Part 24: “Destined to Be Saved”
Kozaburo Murakami was born in a rich farming household in Izumi Province and was known for his honesty and his strict, hard-working nature. He was trusted by the people around him as a reliable man who never refused his assistance.
He lived a comfortable life until circa April 1880, when he became bedridden due to sciatica. His condition worsened by the day until he could no longer freely move his arms and legs; the pain was so severe that he did not have the appetite to eat. Every effort was exhausted to treat him but to no effect. Kozaburo and his family passed the days with their hearts mired in the depths of despair.
It was during this time when they learned there was a famous physician by the name of Kyu who lived in Jinnan Village, near Tatsuta, Yamato Province. Kozaburo was placed in a rickshaw in his disabled state and taken to Kyu’s clinic. Normally, the clinic was filled with patients from the Osaka/Yamato area. Yet when Kozaburo got there, he had the misfortune of visiting when the doctor was away.
The crestfallen Kozaburo then happened to remember hearing about “the living goddess of Shoyashiki Village.” One of the servants employed by the Murakamis had happened to hear from a neighbor about a “wonderful living goddess in Shoyashiki” while on home leave and suggested to Kozaburo to have faith as well. A merchant from Yamato who happened to frequent the Murakamis’ home also spoke similar tales. However, it was only until this moment which Kozaburo felt motivated to head to Shoyashiki Village with the single desire to be saved.
Kozaburo was able to meet with Oyasama upon his arrival in Jiba. She warmly welcomed and encouraged him, saying:
“You shall be saved, you shall be saved. You are destined to be saved.”
Kozaburo, whose illness had been considered incurable, felt as if he was spiritually and physically cleansed with these words. Oyasama shared the marvelous teachings of the path with him. When he left to go home, She also gave him some water and three manju (bean-jam sweets) placed on a piece of paper. Kozaburo felt refreshed, as if his body and mind had been washed clean as he embarked on the trip home.
When he reached home, he did not feel even the slightest amount of fatigue despite the long trip on rickshaw. On the contrary, he felt quite comfortable. He then took the water he received from Oyasama and applied it on his aching hip while chanting, “Namu Tenri-O-no-Mikoto, Namu Tenri-O-no-Mikoto.”
By the third day, the pain had disappeared as if he had awoken from a dream.
Kozaburo’s health improved each time he returned to Jiba and he celebrated his recovery at the next New Year (1881). His feet would naturally turn towards Jiba as he sought to express his inexhaustible appreciation. Upon returning to Jiba, Kozaburo asked Oyasama on what he could to do repay the favor of being saved. Her response was:
“It is not to be done through money or material objects. If you are happy that you were saved, the best way to repay God’s blessings is to go out to save others who are praying to be rescued. So be sure to go out and devote your utmost toward saving others.”
Kozaburo, who was earnest and honest by nature to the point of being uptight, felt each and every one of Oyasama’s words seeping to the marrow of his bones. He then made a firm pledge to follow Her words and strive forward on the path of single-hearted salvation.
Reference: Tenrikyo Sento Bunkyokai-shi 『天理教泉東分教会史』.
- Next installment in this series: 25. Under the Same Roof; On the Same Dirt Floor
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
Rev. Kozaburo Murakami 村上幸三郎 later became the first head minister of Tenrikyo Sento Shikyokai in 1892. It is currently a bunkyokai (branch church) under Takayasu Daikyokai (grand church) with 36 branch churches of its own.
Here we go again, the issue of how to translate the phrase “on-gaeshi” (“repaying God’s blessings): I am hoping the concept isn’t so hard; the problem is finding the right words to render it into English.
Further suggested reading
Refer to Anecdotes of Oyasama 72, “Destined to Be Saved” (pp. 62–63) for an alternative account of the story recounted above and 97, “Tobacco Field” (pp. 80–81) for another story involving the Rev. Kozaburo Murakami.