The following is a translation of Part 63 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the March 2008 (No. 471) issue of Taimo, pp. 34–35. This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision
Part 63: “Record It In Your Mind”
A Mankichi Miyoshi lived across the street from the home of Tokichi Ueda, the head of a Tenrikyo confraternity in the section of Imadezaike in Kobe. While Mankichi’s vision was incapacitated for 18 years, he regained vision in the corners of his eyes due to Zenkichi Tachibana’s salvation work (o-tasuke).
When Zenkichi Tachibana visited Mankichi’s home to continue his o-tasuke, the head priest of nearby Wadamiya Shrine, a chief minister of a Kurozumikyo church, and three Kurozumikyo followers came demanding answers to their questions. They were apparently suspicious at how Tenrikyo’s reputation had grown so much in so little time.
Tosuke Maeda, from Anryu, Osaka, who was known as “Tane-ichi,” also happened to be there but was so frightened by the priests’ brutal questioning that he had run off before anyone had noticed. Thus Zenkichi Tachibana took on the brunt of the group’s questioning alone. Yet since he had converted to the faith out of the joy at being saved and not because of a theological dispute, he found himself in quite a predicament at not being able to answer all their questions. He ultimately escaped out the back door on the pretext of wanting to go to the toilet, and took an early boat back home to Osaka.
Zenkichi Tachibana was so consumed over his failure that even after he returned to Osaka, he did not fully report to his confraternity head about what had happened. He decided to return to God’s side. When he arrived in Jiba, Gisaburo Nakata saw him and said, “Tachibana-san, you really had a bad time yesterday in Hyogo, didn’t you?”
Zenkichi was absolutely stunned. “What!? Who told you about that?”
“Oyasama mentioned it this morning.”
Oyasama had already known what had happened, as She sees and knows all. When he met with Oyasama and explained the situation to Her, She said:
“Tachibana-san, this time, do not leave after recording what I say in a notebook. Only go after you record it in your mind.”
Oyasama then warmly taught Zenkichi how to answer potential questions that the priest might ask him. Zenkichi felt recharged and immediately went back to Hyogo. The following that had been built up to that time had quit in an instant, as news that “Tenrikyo is hopeless since they lost in the debate” spread throughout Hyogo. Only Ueda the confraternity head and Kane Miyoshi, wife of Shigehachi, had stuck unchangingly to their faith.
A week later, Zenkichi Tachibana was about to begin a home service in Mankichi’s home when the head priest of Wadamiya came once again.
“What do you think you’re doing? You ran away because you couldn’t answer my questions. What gives you the right to do a service dedicated to Tenri-O?”
“Please ask me your questions one more time.”
“I’ll ask them as many times as you wish.”
The priest began his questioning in an intimidating voice. However, the Zenkichi Tachibana who was present that day was not the Zenkichi Tachibana who was there the other day. He readily gave a clear answer to each question posed to him. Strangely enough, the priest’s questions came in the form and same sequence as Oyasama trained him. This was the main reason Zenkichi was able to answer so smoothly.
The head priest was so impressed by these clear answers that he finally said, “I shall also pay may respects to Tenri-O-no-Mikoto and continue to serve Tenri followers.”
The residents of the area were moved once again at this turn of events and the congregation of the local confraternity grew ever larger.
Reference: Takano Tomoji. Gozonmei no koro.
Next installment in this series: 64. “People Are Treasures, People Are Important”
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
Further suggested reading
- Refer to Anecdotes of Oyasama 94, “Tea Is Ready” (pp. 78–79) and 115, “Devote Yourself Single-heartedly to Saving Others” (p. 96) for two more stories involving Rev. Zenkichi Tachibana 立花善吉.
- Tokichi Ueda 上田藤吉 is mentioned briefly in 82 “Yoisho” (p. 69).
- Tosuke Maeda 前田藤助 appears in 13 “Sow the Seed” (pp. 8–9).