72. Destined to Be Saved
From around April 1880, Kosaburo Murakami of Izumi Province, in the prime of his manhood, began to lose the use of his hands and feet due to sciatica. The pain was so severe that he completely lost his appetite. He went to see doctors and sought as many various kinds of medical treatment as possible but he found no effective cure. His whole family, as well as he himself, lived from day to day in deep depression, feeling as if they had fallen into an abyss of misery.
Out of his ardent desire to be cured, Kosaburo went to Jinnan Village near Tatsuta, as he had heard that a noted herb doctor lived there, but was disappointed because the doctor was not home. At that moment he remembered his servants and the route merchants often speaking of the living god of Shoyashiki and so he decided to return to Shoyashiki Village since he had come thus far.
Thus he returned and was warmly received by Oyasama, who said:
“You will be saved, will be saved. You are destined to be saved.”
Oyasama further told him the teachings which he had never heard before. Then, at the time of his departure, he received three sweet bean dumplings placed on a sheet of paper, and some sacred water. Kosaburo, refreshed with the feeling that his body and mind were cleansed, left for home.
Although he had ridden in a rickshaw over a long distance, he was not tired at all when he reached home; on the contrary, he felt delighted. Then praying, “Namu, Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto, Namu, Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto,” he rubbed the water he had received from Oyasama on his aching hip. As if in a dream, the pain disappeared on the third day.
For the next half a year, each time he returned to Jiba his condition improved a little more, and in January of the following year, 1881, he held a celebration for his recovery. Kosaburo was forty-two years old. Feelings of gratitude naturally made his feet turn toward Jiba.
Returning to Jiba, Kosaburo immediately asked Oyasama how to repay Her for the favor. Oyasama replied:
“It is neither money nor material things. If you are happy because you have been saved, then with that joy go out to save people who are praying to be saved. That is the best way to repay the favor. Strive courageously for the salvation of others.”
Kosaburo firmly pledged to strive for the path of single-hearted salvation of others by following Oyasama’s words.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 62–63
Translation of “Sawa’s note”
“Kozaburo Murakami was from Higashi-Toki Village, Senboku County. While he received the fraternity name Shinsei-ko [真誠講], it was later merged with Takayasu Daikyokai. [His confraternity] was the beginning of Tenrikyo Sento Bunkyokai.”
The current (fourth) Shinbashira, Zenji Nakayama , has previously quoted Oyasama’s instruction as attributed to her in Anecdotes 72 in an address to the Tenrikyo Young Men’s Association in 2002. Regarding Oyasama’s response to Kozaburo Murakami’s inquiry on the best way to “return” his indebtedness (go-on) for having been saved, the Shinbashira said:
So the way to advance along the path toward spiritual maturity is to settle the mind in such a way that we can move from faith that is focused on wanting to be saved to faith that is focused on helping others be saved.1
It is possible to argue that Tenrikyo grew so quickly in such a short period of time2 because of the missionary efforts of people who dedicated themselves to “return” or “express” their indebtedness of having been saved from illnesses that could not be cured by the medical treatment that was available at the time.
- Arakitōryō Henshūbu. 2002. “Oyasama go-nensai o moto ni kyōshi o furikaeru, dai-ichibu: Oyasama ichi-nensai kara Oyasama sanjū-nensai made.” Arakitōryō 209 (Fall 2002), pp. 8–71.
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
- _________. 1996 . The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo — Manuscript Edition (third edition). Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
- Tenrikyo Overseas Department. 2006. Sermons and Addresses by the Shinbashira 1996–2005. Tenri: Tenrikyo Overseas Department.
- An alternative account of same story outlined above can be read at The Footsteps of Our Predecessors 24: “Destined to be Saved”
- (More reading on “go-on gaeshi/go-on hoji“)
- The Footsteps of Our Predecessors 54: Repaying His Indebtedness to God
- Omichi no joshiki: This World is a Place Where We Express Our Appreciation and Indebtedness
- Fukaya Yoshikazu. 2009. “Expressing gratitude for God the Parent’s blessings (go-onhoji)” (online version). InWords of the Path: A Guide to Tenrikyo Terms and Expressions, pp. 91–92.
- Tenrikyo Overseas Department 2006, p. 221. ↩
- Just to give an idea how rapid Tenrikyo’s growth was, in 1881, a membership list that was compiled following the inauguration of the Tenrin-O-Kosha (which I plan to discuss next time for Anecdotes 73) listed the names of 1,442 followers (The Life of Oyasama, p. 111). In 1896, the Tenrikyo institution collected membership fees from 3,137,113 followers, or roughly eight percent of Japan’s population (Arakitōryō Henshūbu 2002, p. 38). The Home Ministry of Japan was threatened enough by Tenrikyo’s explosive growth by issuing a directive in the same year to force a revision of its doctrine and ritual procedures in addition to increased police surveillance throughout the country, which made missionary efforts all but impossible for the next several years. ↩