36. Firm Resolution
On the morning of December 4, 1874, as Rin Masui tried to get up, she strangely felt pain. Both of her eyes had become badly swollen. They grew worse each day. When the consulting doctor diagnosed it as glaucoma, she became frightened. She received medical treatment, but finally lost her eyesight. This happened two years after her husband passed away.
The whole family was overcome with grief. During the year-end and New Year’s season, twelve-year-old Ikutaro, the elder child, heard the news of a god from a fellow traveler at Tatsuta. The traveler said, “The god ‘Tenryu-san’ at Shoyashiki in Yamato will save anyone from any sickness. One has only to offer prayers for three days and three nights.” Upon Ikutaro’s return, the parent and child promptly began praying for three days and three nights, facing toward Yamato, but there was no sign of improvement. So they sent a man-servant, Tamehachi, to Shoyashiki to pray for the family. He left Ogata early in the morning, and arrived at the Residence before noon. Tamehachi saw Oyasama, who was wearing the red garments, and he prayed to Her. He listened to the teachings from the intermediaries and asked to have the main points of the teachings written down on paper to take home.
As Ikutaro read aloud to Rin the notes that Tamehachi had brought home, Rin said, “Since we have thus received God’s teachings, I don’t care what happens to my physical body. For the sake of eliminating the family innen I will engage in the work of single-hearted salvation, not minding the severe cold and heat, and even if I have to walk with the aid of two canes. We three, mother and children, will follow the path with joy, even through fire and water.” This was the firm resolution of the whole family.
Not only Rin, but Ikutaro as well as eight-year-old Tomie poured cold water over themselves as a form of ascetic ritual. The whole family joined in a three-day and three-night prayer. Facing Jiba, they chanted, “Namu, Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto,” over and over, and prayed earnestly.
The dawn of the third day came. Rin had been sitting before the brazier throughout the prayer, and Tomie, who was sitting beside her mother, noticed a ray of light through a slight opening in the door. She said, without thinking, “Mother, it’s daybreak.”
Hearing her daughter’s voice, Rin turned toward the front door. She saw a gleam of light through a slight opening in the door. Thinking that it might be a dream, she quickly stood up, rushed to the front entrance and rolled open the sliding door. Outside it was glittering with morning sunlight, just as it had been years before. She had received a wonderful blessing and had recovered her eyesight completely.
Rin returned at once to Jiba to offer her thanks. She thanked Oyasama through the intermediary, Gisaburo Nakata. Oyasama said:
“Sah, sah, you lost your eyesight during one night. Sah, sah, it is an innen, innen. God has drawn you to this Residence. Welcome, welcome home. Sayemon,* please explain the teachings in detail to her. Please explain to her.”
Rin stayed over that night. The next day she heard the teachings from Nakata. While she was learning the hand movements for the morning and evening service, she received Oyasama’s words:
“Sah, sah, your soul has an innen. When it is the divine will to use a person in God’s service, God will draw that person to this Residence by any means. Be thankful and follow the path joyfully, no matter what you may encounter. Persons who are destined to be used as instruments in God’s service will be drawn to this Residence even by means of physical pain. Because I must draw you even by means of giving you suffering, what I do is different depending on the person. It is natural that there is difference. Because of My intent, you never got any better. It was only natural that you never got any better because I do things differently. Your eyesight never improved. Sah, sah, it is an innen, innen. Sayemon, please explain in detail. You could not see because it was as if God’s hands were in front of your eyes. Sah, she says she cannot see ahead. When the hands are removed you can see at once. You can see, can’t you? Sah, sah, take heart, take heart. You will not have any hardships, even if you wish to undergo hardships. It is all up to the individual’s mind.”
Rin stayed over again that night. The next morning, she asked Nakata to tell Oyasama that she was returning to Kawachi, and she again received Oyasama’s words:
“You just heard a bit of the teachings and you have returned from a far place, passing through mountain trails and valleys. Sah, sah, I accept your firm resolution. Look ahead with joy, with joy. Sah, sah, I will provide you with clothing, food, and spending money. Remember you are to serve God for a long time. Sah, sah, look ahead, look ahead, look ahead with joy.”
Rin was speechless and was moved to tears. Rin Masui was then thirty-two years of age.
* Gisaburo Nakata was the former Sayemon Nakata. In or about 1873, due to the Japanese government’s edict abolishing names ending in “-suke,” and “-yemon,” “Sayemon” was changed to “Gisaburo.”
Translation of “Sawa’s note“
“Ogata is [presently part of] Kashiwara City, Osaka Prefecture. It is roughly 20 kilometers to Jiba. [This selection is] from a [work entitled?] history of Ogata Chukyokai, 1932.”
Supplemental information from Taimo
“[Served as] Honbu-in (Church Headquarters executive staff member).
“Born in 1843 in Ogata Village, Ogata County, Kawachi Province (Ogata, Kashiwara City, Osaka Prefecture). After her father and husband passed away for rebirth one after another in 1872, she succumbs to glaucoma (sokohi) in 1874 and loses her vision in both eyes. She embraces the faith after receiving vivid blessings [that restore her sight].
“She begins serving at the Residence circa 1877 and became Oyasama’s personal attendant from 1879 and was constantly by Her side. Since embracing the faith, Rin was bestowed the ‘Leading Needle’ (hari no shin), ‘Sazuke of Breath,’ and ‘Grant of Fertilizer’ (koe no yurushi).
“She passed away for rebirth in 1939.”
My take / research
Rin Masui is a figure who appears quite prominently in the pages of Anecdotes of Oyasama. (To be specific, she also appears in Anecdotes 44, 45, 46, 47, and 65.) Anecdotes 36 is a selection (possibly the longest of all 200) that describes the circumstances that led her to embrace the faith. It also includes the moving scene where she realizes that her vision has been restored and her first meeting with Oyasama.
Okay, let’s dig into content (and some background information) of this particular tale, since there is much to cover here.
First, in her late years, Rin recollected her experience of losing her eyesight as follows: “My children wanted to save me by all means. They poured their heart and soul, doing all that they could in desperation, but to no avail. For about two weeks the four of us did nothing but cry.”1 (Adding the information in Anecdotes 36, according to Yoshitsugu Sawai sensei, Rin had three children: Ikutaro — age 12, Tomie — age 8, and Eitaro — age 5.)
Her son Ikutaro then overhears about “the god Tenryu-san at Shoyashiki in Yamato” that was reputed to save people from “any sickness” following a three-day/three-night prayer. After coming home, Ikutaro immediately said he was conducting a prayer for three days and three nights while facing the east. He gathered his sister and brother and encouraged his mother to pray as well. Rin reminisced on this by saying: “I deeply felt the love my children had for me. I cried tears of joy. Then, from that night, the four of us prayed intensely for three days.”2
Even after praying toward Jiba for said amount of time, their prayers had not the slightest effect. Undaunted, Rin then sent a servant named Tamehachi to worship at the Residence in her place. (Just the fact that she had a servant at all says much of Rin’s social and financial status at the time.) Tamehachi then paid his respects to Oyasama, dressed in her red clothes. Yoshinaru Ueda sensei stresses that it is “certain” that Tamehachi had arrived just a few days after Oyasama began wearing red clothes3 (1976, pp. 36–37).
After hearing the teachings from intermediaries (toritsugi), Tamehachi had them write down the essential points on a piece of paper. He brought this home and Ikutaro read the writings to his mother. According to Rin’s recollections, these teachings included those regarding the aspects of God’s (complete) providence, a thing lent, a thing borrowed, the eight dusts, and (personal) innen.4
It also then noted in the writing Tamehachi brought home that one had to keep these teachings in mind when conducting a three-day, three-night prayer. Rin recollected on time as follows: “I silently listened to Ikutaro read. At the time it made sense to me, I clearly understood why merely praying ‘save me, save me’ did not result in a blessing.”5 I can only imagine that Rin realized that she had to focus on helping others instead of merely seeking salvation for herself.
One can conclude this from the following resolution (kokoro sadame) Rin is said to have made at the time: “For the sake of eliminating the family innen I will engage in the work of single-hearted salvation, not minding the severe cold and heat, and even if I have to walk with the aid of two canes. We… mother and children, will follow the path with joy, even through fire and water.”
Ueda sensei notes that at this point Rin herself was no longer praying for her eyesight to be restored. (Such is suggested with the phrase “even if I have to walk with the aid of two canes” that was stated in her resolution.) He notes that this was a resolution that embodied sincerity itself, for Rin received the blessing of her eyesight being restored despite that
- Rin had not returned to Jiba herself but had merely sent her servant in her place; and
- since there was no one in area to administer the Sazuke to her and because Rin and her children knew nothing about the Service, their only recourse was to immerse themselves in cold water and pray, chanting “Namu Tenri-O-no-Mikoto” while facing Jiba.6
Again, according to Rin’s recollections, in spite of the cold on a windy winter night, her children took their clothes off and went to the edge of the well. Ikutaro first poured water over himself as an act of purification, telling Tomie and Eitaro to back away since they might catch cold. But they pleaded that if it would help their mother regain her vision, they wished to do the same and stood by Ikutaro as he poured the ice cold water over himself.7 Then, on the dawn of the third day, in Rin’s words: “The light from outside struck my face, dazzling me. I could only utter an ‘Ah!’ and was at a loss to say anything more. My children, who had witnessed this, rose from bed, shouted loudly, and greatly rejoiced as they looked into my eyes.”8
Yoshitsugu Sawai sensei writes about this episode as follows:
This was a scene where a parent and her children felt a solid realization that they were being kept alive by God the Parent’s protection. Further, it was a moment in which they resolved to live a pure way of life which they entrusted themselves to God the Parent. The mother, Rin Masui, resolved to save others and then reflected this resolve into the minds of her children as she devoted herself toward salvation work (o-tasuke). Both the children and their mother witnessed wondrous protection before their very eyes, and keenly sensed the preciousness of God the Parent’s protection. It must be said that such a conclusion is essential in understanding this story from the viewpoint of the parent and children.5
Oyasama’s words to Rin on her first pilgrimage home to Jiba are quite straightforward in that it is hard to come up anything that would add to them. (Ueda sensei mentions that the fact so much has been recorded here can be attributed to Rin’s great memory.)
The notion in Tenrikyo that God guides people to the faith through illness (and its connection with the concept of innen) has been briefly discussed in previous posts in this Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama series.10. All events have their basis in God’s intention. What awaits us ahead is the colossal undertaking of building the world of the Joyous Life. It would be ideal for those who perceive themselves as having been called forth and drawn by God to take the initiative and set a good example for others by participating in the planning of this colossal undertaking” (p. 76).] (Specifically, I discuss the notion of divine guidance in Anecdotes 8 and its relation with innen in Anecdotes 11.)
However, I must admit I probably have not gained a full grasp on concept of innen in the Tenrikyo tradition; it is a concept that often defies understanding.
Yet I feel somewhat fortunate at this time to have come across some reading in recent days that helps to explain the concept of innen (often translated as “causality”) in straightforward language. Consider:
[G]iven our souls and the power to create causation, which in turn affects our own destiny, we also have the power to undo what we have created or to create new causation and thus change our destiny.11
Implied here is the sentiment that implementing Oyasama’s teachings allow us to sever the negative aspects of our innen/causality and build the foundation that will help us and our descendants live an enriching and fulfilling existence.
Anecdotes 36 is rich enough in content that I have a sense there may be yet more than meets the eye, especially when it comes to the lengthy instructions that are attributed to Oyasama here. But my intuition tells me to move on, or I’ll be working on this series for much longer than I anticipated.
- Saito, Colin. 2008. “Strengthening the Bonds of the Church Community.” In Tenri Forum 2006: New Frontiers in the Mission —Compiled Speeches & Summaries. Tenri, Japan: Tenrikyo Overseas Department, pp. 322–329.
- Sawai Yoshitsugu. 2009. “Oyako — 36 ‘Sadameta kokoro’.” In Itsuwa-hen ni manabu iki-kata 3. Tenri: Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, pp. 125–134.
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
- Tenrikyō Dōyūsha, ed. 1995. Ikiru kotoba: Tenrikyō kyōso no oshie. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.
- Tenrikyō Seinenkai, ed. 2007. “Oyasama: Yō ni tsukō to te hiki-yoseta.” Taimō 475 (July 2008), pp. 16–17.
- Ueda Yoshinaru. 1976. “Kōhon Tenrikyō Oyasama-den itsuwa-hen ni tsuite.” Michi no dai 65 (May 1976), pp. 26–43.
- Takano, Tomoji. Disciples of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 60–66.
- The Footsteps of Our Predecessors, Part 30: “I Accept the Mind You Have Settled” (an alternative account of the same events described in Anecdotes 36)
- Tenrikyō Dōyūsha, ed. Makoto no michi — Masui Rin. (Japanese only)
- Makoto no michi — Masui Rin, p. 151 (as cited in Sawai 2009, p. 129–130). Subsequent quotes from Rin Masui will simply present the pages as cited in Sawai. ↩
- Sawai 2009, p. 130. ↩
- See Anecdotes 35 for a lengthy discussion on the circumstances surrounding Oyasama’s decision to exclusively wear red clothes. ↩
- Sawai 2009, p. 130, 131. ↩
- ibid. ↩
- 1976, p. 37. ↩
- Although this is not the only account that depicts Oyasama’s followers pouring cold water over themselves (also known as “cold water ablutions”) a rite often (but not necessarily) associated with purification, the practice is no longer done today (at least to the best of my knowledge). Oyasama is later known to have taught a practitioner who was particularly fond of such ascetic practices, “On this path you must not torture yourself” (Anecdotes 64). This teaching appears to set the precedence for Tenrikyo’s attitude toward ascetic practices. See my translation of Sato Koji’s “Ascetic Training” for more on this subject. ↩
- Sawai 2009, p. 131. ↩
- ibid. ↩
- On Oyasama’s words “When it is the divine will to use a person in God’s service, God will draw that person to this Residence by any means,” the publication Ikiru kotoba elaborates as follows:
“Illness and other troubles are forms of God’s guidance; they are road signs [michi-ose or michi-oshie, literally, “path-teaching” ↩
- Saito 2008. ↩