62. East from Here
In December 1878, Togoro, father of Toshiro Yamamoto of Kasa Village in Yamato, came down with a serious eye disease. The father’s condition gradually grew more serious and became beyond the doctor’s help. Even incantations proved to be ineffective. Toshiro, having no other course opened to him, was in a state of deep despair when he heard from his friend, “In Shoyashiki there is a god who saves man from illness.” Toshiro’s only thought was to have his father get well at any cost. Because of weakness from the long illness and the eye disease, it was difficult for his father to walk. Therefore, Toshiro carried him on his back and walked about twelve kilometers of mountainous road. Thus he returned to Jiba for the first time.
They were received by Oyasama, who spoke these words:
“Welcome home ! Soon he will be saved. Out of respect for your devotion to your father, he will be saved.”
They lodged at the house called Inada in Shoyashiki Village and stayed at Jiba for a little over a month. During that time they worshiped day and night and listened to the teachings taught by the intermediaries. The father, even with such a serious illness, received the divine providence and began to recover slowly but steadily each day, and finally recovered completely.
In the summer of 1880, Toshiro’s wife, Shyu, was cured of a stomach ailment and then Kozaburo, his second son, from convulsions; Toshiro continued to follow the faith more fervently.
Also, one autumn when he returned to pray for the salvation of a sick person to whom he had taught the teachings for the first time, Oyasama said:
“Yamamoto from Kasa, how faithfully you always come to worship! About the illness there is no need to worry.”
Upon receiving these words of Oyasama he returned home and found that the sick person already had been cured.
As he continued his devotion in this way, he came to know Chuzaburo Koda quite well. Koda, who admired Yamamoto’s steadfast faith, spoke about it to Oyasama. The words of Oyasama were:
“East from here, at the remote village of Kasa, there shall be worshipers from all directions. Go at once.”
Thereupon Koda went to Kasa Village with Chusaku Tsuji and conveyed these words of Oyasama to Yamamoto. Thus Yamamoto became all the more ardent in spreading the fragrance of the word of God and saving others.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 54–55
Translation of “Sawa’s note”
“[Based on] the oral biography of Kozaburo Yamamoto (second son of Toshiro) in 1955. Toshiro was the first head minister of Kaminogo Daikyokai.”
My research and take
First, I’d like to go on a tangent here: “Incantation” is a gloss for “kaji-kito.” According to Hitoshi Miyake sensei (a scholar specializing in Shugendo and shugenja, practitioners of Shugendo):
The word kaji is often combined with kitō (“prayers”) to form the compound kaji-kitō, and in the popular mind this is believed to be the most common activity or function of shugenja. However, kaji and kitō are not the same. Kitō refers to the prayers offered to a deity as a form of request in ceremonies…. Kaji, on the other hand, refers to the identification (ka) or the shugenja with the deity in order to realize (ji) a certain purpose. Therefore kaji is a religious ritual wherein the shugenja achieves identification with the deity and manipulates the power thus obtained in order to gain certain benefits.1
Although the difference between kaji and kito may be a little too technical and esoteric for the purpose of our discussion here, I thought to mention that there was a difference just for the heck of it.
In terms of our understanding of Anecdotes 62, it is sufficient to be aware that someone from the Shugendo tradition appears to have been summoned to pray for Togoro Yamamoto, but to no avail.
Togoro’s son Toshiro then hears of the miraculous cures attributed to “a god who saves man from illness” in Shoyashiki Village. This prompts him to carry his father 12 kilometers on his back.
Oyasama’s words — “Soon he will be saved. Out of respect for your devotion to your father, he will be saved” — imply the depths of Toshiro’s filial piety (oya-koko) that led him to carry his father on his back to Jiba would allow Togoro to be saved by God’s blessings.
The practice of filial piety is highly valued in Tenrikyo (as it is valued in many other Asian religious traditions). Its importance is explained as follows:
Filial piety is an important aspect of the path, given that we are only alive now because of our parents. The word “parent” naturally brings to mind our own parents to whom we were born. Yet, if we trace our parentage back to the very beginning, we will find that God the Parent, who created humankind where there was no form, is the Parent of Origin of humanity and is our real Parent, who is daily providing for us even by working within our bodies.
It is in this connection that our piety to our parents is accepted as piety toward God the Parent and is an important aspect of the teachings.
Kariseki, Post-Bestowal Lecture 1
Epilogue / Insight from Tatsuzo Yamochi sensei
Anecdotes 62 then describes events after the initial “guidance/care” that leads Toshiro to the faith. His wife and son are later afflicted with illnesses and cured, causing his faith to deepen. He then becomes friends with Chuzaburo Koda (1828–1903).2 When Chuzaburo speaks his admiration of Toshiro’s faith before Oyasama, she says: “East from here, at the remote village of Kasa, there shall be worshipers from all directions. Go at once.”
Chuzaburo then goes to relate these words to Toshiro, who becomes even more motivated in his missionary efforts. While this may be a case of a self-fulfilling prophesy, it is nevertheless intriguing to note that the dedication ceremony of Kaminogo Shucchosho’s sanctuary in April 1895 drew roughly 1,500 people, a crowd that his small village in Kasa had never seen the likes before.3 Circumstances then lead him to be installed as the third head minister of his parent church Shikinori the following year.
The mind of Tsukihi hastens day after day, but I cannot tell of it in words, even should I so desire.
That is why I put the fragrance even into your dreams. Quickly ponder over it, please.
Yamochi sensei writes:
The things that Oyasama spoke of came across like it were the stuff of dreams or the stuff of fantasy. It is possible to interpret that Oyasama sprinkled the fragrance by not actually showing dreams but speaking about things that were the stuff of dreams….
The Residence was a rather modest place in 1878 or 1879. Her claim that, “In time, there will be many people walking back and forth beneath a corridor here at the Residence,”4 was like something from a dream or utter fantasy. It is possible to conclude that Oyasama sprinkled the fragrance in a big way by making such fantastic claims for the future.
[Regarding Oyasama’s words “East from here….”] These words of Oyasama are also beyond the realm of human thinking. It is a story that shows how Yamamoto Toshiro received a great amount of blessings when he took Oyasama’s words to be the truth.
I believe that the message in the Ofudesaki, “That is why I put the fragrance even into your dreams” and Oyasama’s reason to for frequently speaking of things that came across as the stuff of dreams in 1878 and 1879 was to bring about salvation. Here, we can sense Oyasama’s parental love through Her hastening for our salvation.5
- Miyake Hitoshi. 1993. “Religious Rituals in Shugendō: A Summary.” In Religion and Society in Modern Japan: Selected Readings. Edited by Mullins, Mark R., Shimazono Susumu, and Swanson, Paul L. Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press, Nanzan Studies in Asian Religions.
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
- Yamochi Tatsuzō. 1993 . Kōhon Tenrikyō Oyasama den nyūmon jikkō. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.
- Miyake 1993, p. 38. ↩
- Chuzaburo Koda (who embraced the faith in 1882) does not appear in Anecdotes of Oyasama until 95 and 144. For more reading on him, please see The Footsteps of Our Predecessors 3: “I Placed a Bridge That Leads Eight Hundred Kilometers Ahead” and The Lives of Our Predecessors: A Humble Mind. ↩
- Tenrikyo jiten, p. 922. ↩
- See Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 61: Beneath the Corridor. ↩
- Yamochi 1993, pp. 340–341. ↩