68. The Way Ahead Is Long
In 1874, at the age of nineteen, Tatsujiro Hirano of Sakai became sickly and for the following six years, he was on a diet of wafers. Then in 1879, when he was twenty-four years old, the fragrance of the teachings was spread to him by Risaburo Yamamoto. He listened to the teachings of God and received such marvelous divine providence that he discontinued the wafer diet and on that day he ate thirty small fish for one meal.
He returned to Jiba in his great joy for being saved. There he enjoyed a steam bath, and later he listened to the words of God related by intermediaries. After he returned home, Tatsujiro promptly enshrined God in his own home and began to strive fervently to spread the fragrance of the words of God and to save others. Thus, he often returned to Jiba.
On one such day, he had an audience with Oyasama, and She said:
“One who is called Tatsujiro Hirano of Sakai, is that you?”
Then She extended Her hand and said:
“Hold My hand.”
When Tatsujiro reverently held Her hand, She said:
“Is that all the strength you have? Put forth more.”
So he gripped Her hand with all his might. Oyasama gripped back with much greater strength. Tatsujiro was utterly awestruck and deeply impressed by the greatness of Oyasama. At that time he received the following words from Oyasama:
“How old are you? It is remarkable that you have followed the path this far. The path ahead of you is long. No matter what you may encounter, do not become discouraged in faith. The future is all well.”
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 59–60
Translation of “Sawa’s note”
“[Based on] the oral account of Yoshitaro Hirano in 1956 and the history of Sakai Daikyokai.”
A few very minor notes regarding the translation:
- “wafers” (fu 麩) happen to be translated as “dried bread-like pieces of wheat gluten” on ALC.co.jp. Wikipedia happens to have an article on wheat gluten.
- The original Japanese has “Tasaburo Yamamoto” (whozzat?) instead of Risaburo Yamamoto (who appears in Anecdotes 33). I’m not sure if this is an error in the original or with the translation. I would like to think that the error is with the original but it is more than possible there was a missionary named Tasaburo Yamamoto.
- The “small fish” here happen to be a translation of “iwashi” (sardine).
Tatsujiro Hirano’s recovery from a sickly condition that had lasted six years inspires him to “spread the fragrance” (nioigake) and “save others” (o-tasuke), a path of “expressing one’s indebtedness” (go-onhoji) that is just one of countless other such antecedents in Tenrikyo’s early history.
Anecdotes 68 also contains a description of Oyasama testing her strength with a young man. Anecdotes 61 is another example that has been previously covered. In these two examples, Oyasama seems to feel that it is sufficient to instill awe in the two men concerned, however, as we will see in upcoming selections from Anecdotes of Oyasama — such as selections 75 (This is Tenri, The Reason of Heaven), 118 (On the Side of God), 131 (On the Side of God), 152 (Twice as Strong), and 174 (If You Let Go Your Strength) — descriptions of Oyasama’s tests of strength become more elaborate in terms of what she teaches the men she happens to physically overpower.
Finally, just a note that Oyasama’s instruction to Tatsujiro to “not become discouraged in faith” is a gloss of “aiso tsukasazu,” which literally can be rendered as “do not allow your affability (aiso; also translated as “amiability”) to become exhausted (tsukiru).”
“Aiso o tsukiru” is also translated as becoming “disgusted” or “disaffected.” The following passage from the Divine Directions (Osashizu) is an instruction along similar lines as the one given above:
When you sufficiently stand upright and overcome in this way, by not becoming disaffected, by not becoming disaffected, you must have the merit you sown previously grow at the very place you have sown [your sincerity] until now. You must have it grow.
Osashizu, January 21, 1889
- Satō Kōji. 2004. Omichi no jōshiki. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.