The following is a translation of Part 32 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the August 2005 (No. 440) issue of Taimo, pp. 34–35. This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.
Part 32: Vivid Instances of Divine Protection
In 1888, Yone Suzuki began to listen to the teachings of Tenrikyo after her child succumbed to illness. While her faith grew, her child’s condition did not completely improve. She was then encouraged to have faith together with her husband, so her husband Hanjiro also lent his attention to the teachings, six months after the fragrance was transmitted to her.
The doctrine of “a thing lent, a thing borrowed” left a strong impression on Hanjiro. After being told that the cause of a child’s illness was the responsibility the child’s parents, Hanjiro thought back on what he could have done to have caused his child’s illness, repented for everything in his past, and made a resolution to follow the path. Then, in June 1889, the Suzuki family returned to Jiba, led by Saichi Inoue 井上佐市, and received the Proof Amulet.
Hanjiro was originally from Ishida in O’oka Village in the province of Suruga (presently, O’oka, Numazu City in Shizuoka Prefecture). When he made a return visit to his home village, an accident occurred some days later on October 26 during the ridge beam-raising ceremony for the worship hall of the village shrine. A hand axe fell from above and struck the head of a young man helping below, seriously injuring him. A gash split wide open on the man’s head, which threw the festive occasion into utter turmoil.
Hanjiro, who was at the scene, rushed home and brought a sheet of sacred paper.1 After administering the sheet on the wound, he prayed frantically, chanting “Namu Tenri-O-no-Mikoto” in a loud voice. The injured man soon received the wondrous blessing of having his bleeding and pain vividly subside. The villagers’ astonishment at both Hanjiro’s abrupt change from the demeanor they knew him for and at the vivid miracle that unfolded before their very eyes could not be expressed in words.
The villagers were astonished once again when the young man came to the construction site the next day with his head in bandages. People came in droves to attend the ridge beam-raising ceremony and this sight served to spread the fragrance far and wide. The reputation of this wondrous faith spread within the village and out to neighboring villages in a series of waves.
Remarkable cures such that of a neighbor who had her gynecological ailment cured with the sacred paper and goku2 led people to come in an unending stream to request cures for their ailments. Within a month of Hanjiro’s return home, instances of salvation were not only limited in O’oka Village itself but had spread to further neighboring villages with the help of his relatives and acquaintances.
Tenrikyo’s reputation grew through testimonials such as: “There is a remarkable new faith in Ishida. You will be immediately cured with a missionary’s prayer.” People spontaneously sprinkled the fragrance even further out of their joy of being cured. Instances of God’s miraculous protection kept increasing together with the number of followers, to the point where Hanjiro was so busy receiving visitors that he did not even have the luxury of sitting down for a meal.
Reference: Gakuto Daikyokai shi, vol. one.
- Next installment in this series: 33. The Faith of Yoshi Nakagawa (1 of 3)
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
Rev. Hanjiro Suzuki 鈴木半次郎 (1854–1924) later went on to become the first head minister of Gakuto Shucchosho 嶽東出張所 (“branch office” or “center”) in 1892. Now known as Tenrikyo Gakuto Daikyokai 天理教嶽東大教会 (grand church), it currently oversees 168 bunkyokai (“branch churches”) and 120 fukyosho (“fellowships” or “mission stations”), including Eldorado, Hokuyu Brasil, Monte Bras, and Sul América kyokai in Brazil. Former branch churches of Gakuto Daikyokai include Numazu and Abashiri grand churches.
- See the endnote from Footsteps Part 29 for info on the sacred paper. ↩
- I assume the goku (“sacred gift”) here are sacred konpeito candies but goku were also known to come in the form of hattaiko (sacred roasted barley flour or powder). Goku today in most cases come in the form of sacred rice. Translations of entries from Tenrikyo jiten, and Omichi-no-Kotoba from Tenrikyo Online offer more info. ↩