42. By Saving Others
Early in April 1875, Eijiro Enomoto of Sugahama, Sando Village in Fukui Prefecture, visited the goddess of mercy of Hase, the eighth temple on the pilgrimage route through the western provinces. His purpose was to pray that his daughter Kiyo be cured of insanity. From the old woman of a teahouse he happened to hear that a living god resided in Shoyashiki Village. He then hurried to Shoyashiki through Miwa and visited the Residence. He asked an intermediary for an audience with Oyasama, who told him:
“You need not worry. Never! Go home quickly, as something wrong has happened in your home. Visit houses in your village one by one and save forty-two persons. Pray to God earnestly at each house, chanting, ‘Namu, Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto,’ and pressing your hands together in prayer. By saving others you yourself will be saved.”
Eijiro left Shoyashiki lightheartedly and, going through Kizu, Kyoto and Shiozu, arrived at Sugahama on April 23rd.
His daughter was hopelessly insane, but while he was praying, “Namu, Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto,” pressing his hands together in prayer, incredibly, she became calm by degrees. Then as Oyasama had instructed him, he visited every house in his village, spreading the fragrance of the teachings of God. He visited the homes of the sick repeatedly, praying for the healing of forty-two people.
Wonderfully, his daughter was completely cured. Also, people came from many homes to express their gratitude. Restored to sanity, his daughter married a man adopted into her family. Eijiro and the young couple returned to Jiba to offer their thanks and were granted an audience with Oyasama.
Later, they expressed their impression that Oyasama, wearing pure red garments and with Her snow-white hair plaited in the shape of a tea whisk, was a beautiful and noble figure.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 36–37
Translation of “Sawa’s note”
“[Based on the] oral account of Eijiro Enomoto’s granddaughter Haru in 1950.”
My take / research
I’ve covered Anecdotes 42 elsewhere in two different translations (See below, under “Further reading” for links) so I will refrain from going into too much detail in this post.
Regarding Eijiro Enomoto’s effort to save 42 people as Oyasama instructed, Koji Sato sensei writes:
In reality, it is not an easy manner to save 42 people. By starting such a salvation effort (o-tasuke), naturally one must forget about oneself. The family of Eijiro Enomoto and many of the people he helped save have continued the faith. The Hokuriku region has been called a Buddhist kingdom and thus the Tenrikyo faith was not easily transmitted there. It is imagined that the road to establish a church there was not an easy one. It need not be said that Enomoto exerted his efforts to establish a church as a staff minister (yaku-in) (2003, pp. 72–73).
Sato sensei further elaborates in an endnote (ibid., p. 79) that although many people learned of the faith due to the wondrous instances of salvation that was possible through Eijiro’s efforts, these people did not formally embrace the faith since Buddhism was deeply entrenched and widely practiced in the region. It was not until Eisa Sato began his missionary effort in the area and after Zensuke Uno embraced the faith that a confraternity (ko [講]) was formed. The descendants of Eijiro Enomoto have served as staff ministers of Sukama Bunkyokai, which was founded in 1923.
This would mean 48 years passed before the seed sown at Kiyo’s recovery from a psychological disorder finally bore fruit. This first of all indicates the difficulty Tenrikyo had, being a new faith, before it could make serious inroads in this particular region. It shows that, depending on the situation, even 43 instances of “miraculous/wondrous salvation” (fushigi na tasuke) — i.e., Kiyo’s + the 42 people her father helped save) — was not enough to overcome the social stigma attached to outwardly believing in a faith different from that was traditionally practiced. It also speaks volumes of the fortitude of Eijiro, Kiyo, and others to have continued the faith despite the strong Buddhist faith of the people around them. It is a revealing example that shows it pays not to give up, despite the odds.
Regarding the words attributed to Oyasama in Anecdotes 42 — “By saving others you yourself will be saved” — this is a very significant religious sentiment in Tenrikyo that is echoed in Scripture as well. Consider:
Ponder from your innermost heart to understand. Through saving others, you will be saved.
The mind of saving others is the real truth of sincerity alone and, by this truth of saving others, you are saved.
Sah, sah, what saves others is the truth of the mind of sincerity. Sah, sah, through your mind of sincerity toward others you yourself will be saved. All of you settle this truth in your minds. Then you will be saved.
Osashizu, August 9, 1888
Please refer to the links below for more on this religious theme and further details regarding this selection from Anecdotes of Oyasama.
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
- Satō Kōji. 2003.”Tasuke to shinkō.” In Itsuwa-hen ni manabu iki-kata. Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, pp. 69–81.
- _________. 2004. “Tasukeru ri de tasukaru.” In Omichi no jōshiki. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha, pp. 39–43. (See below for link to English translation)
- Omichi no joshiki: Saved by the Truth of Saving Others
- The Footsteps of Our Predecessors, Part 21: “By Saving Others, You Yourself Shall Be Saved”