74. Following God’s Path
Oyasama vigorously urged the performance of the Service in the autumn of 1880. When people were hesitating to comply with Her words because it was a period of strict vigilance and interference by the police, Oyasama sternly urged them to comply through this Timely Direction:
“Crushing God’s path by excessive concern for man’s obligations is not the path at all. The true path consists in standing up for the path of God, not for the path of man. Sah, will you crush the principle of God and stand up for the principle of man? Will you not stand up for the principle of God rather than the principle of man? Now answer one of these.”
After discussing the matter, everyone decided to make a firm resolution to perform the Service. However, there was no definite assignment as to who was to perform the Kagura Service, although they had been practicing the dance movements individually. They decided to ask Oyasama about this matter.
Oyasama already had chosen the performers for the women’s musical instruments. They were Yoshie Iburi for the shamisen, Naraito Ueda for the kokyu and Tomegiku Tsuji for the koto. However, the men’s musical instruments had not been practiced either individually or as a group. Since it was so sudden, they discussed what should be done. It was clear that they would not be able to choose the performers themselves, so they decided to ask Oyasama about this matter also. They received the following words from Oyasama:
“Sah, sah, musical instruments, musical instruments. For the present, even if you play ‘two’ in the place of ‘one,’ or ‘three’ in the place of ‘two,’ God will forgive. God will accept the harmony of the hearts of the performers. Understand this well.”
Everyone was relieved to hear this, and they all performed joyously. Tamezo Yamazawa danced all twelve chapters.1 It took place in the eight matted room just south of the north raised room in the building called the Place for the Service.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 64–65
In my previous post discussing Anecdotes 73, I noted that Shuji’s establishment of a religious confraternity (called the Tenrin-O-Kosha) under the legal patronage of a Shingon temple on September 22, 1880, did not ultimately provide the protection that he sought.
Nevertheless, it may be argued that this patronage still allowed for the first ever performance of the Service that included all the musical instruments (narimono) about a week later on September 30 (or 8/26 according to the lunisolar calendar). Anecdotes 74 happens to be an account describing events leading to this historically significant performance of the Service.
It may be notable that Part Fifteen of the Ofudesaki in particular is said to be quite urgent regarding hastening the performance of the Service.2 This part is said to have been written in 1880, the same year when the events being discussed here took place.
Regarding the first set of instructions attributed to Oyasama in Anecdotes 74 — “Crushing God’s path by excessive concern for man’s obligations is not the path at all,” — a Tenrikyo publication entitled Ikiru kotoba (Living words) explains:
This faith is the path of “single-hearted salvation,” the true path that was paved when God the Parent entered Oyasama. Any hesitancy and reservation that emerge out of deference to the ways of the world result in crushing the path…. Now that the persecution and interference our forebears experienced has largely disappeared, we must not fail to exert efforts to ensure the path continues as Oyasama taught.3
Regarding these same instructions, Tatsuzo Yamochi sensei writes:
We can paraphrase Oyasama’s instruction as follows: “People tend to suffer excessively over human obligations and emphasize them at the expense of upholding the principle of God. Is this what the path about? (No.) While upholding the principle of God may prove counterproductive when it comes to fulfilling human obligations, it is vital to thoroughly implement and embody the principle of God.”4
- The steps/arrangements (dandori) or course (michi-suji) of the salvation (protection) that God taught about and,
- “The principle/truth of single-heartedness with God” = the teachings that came directly from God.6
Horiuchi sensei also writes to “stand up for7 the principle of God” means to “settle in the mind and believe that this path (Tenrikyo) comes from God (the Origin/Source). It is to implement God’s will, convinced that ‘the principle’ of God is the ‘Source’ of salvation and peace.”8
In regards to the second set of instructions from Anecdotes 74, according to Yamochi sensei:
While Oyasama hastened for the performance of the Service, the performers still not had fully assembled. Smaller churches today frequently find themselves in this position. Even in the case of mission stations and those who are engaging in solo missionary work, there will never be enough performers for daily and monthly services if people do not gather. Nevertheless, we must consider that it is greatly reassuring that Oyasama told us, “God will accept the harmony of the hearts of the performers.” They are words expressing Her profound parental love for us who are in the process of attaining spiritual growth.9
In Ikiru kotoba:
No matter how much a single person may improve on one’s individual skill, this alone will not amount to a pleasing harmony of the whole. What God accepts at all times is “the harmony of hearts” and “a mind of sincerity.” This does not only apply to the Service itself but to any effort toward a shared goal.10
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
- Horiuchi Midori. 2006. “Kami ichijo no kokoro: 74 ‘Kami no ri o tateru.'” In Itsuwa-hen ni manabu iki-kata 2. Tenri: Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, pp. 1–19.
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
- Tenrikyō Dōyūsha, ed. 1995. Ikiru kotoba: Tenrikyō Oyasama (kyōso?) no oshie. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.
- Yamochi Tatsuzō. 1993. . Kōhon Tenrikyō Oyasama den nyūmon jikkō, second printing, second edition. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.
- 2007 Spring Grand Service Sermon, first half / second half
- Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 18 and 19: The Songs of Truth/Children Playing Shuttlecock
(selections describing Oyasama teaching the “women’s musical instruments”)
- Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 52: Learn the Koto
- Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 53: From This Residence
- Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 54: Play It with All Your Heart
- Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 55: Kokyu, Kokyu
- “Twelve chapters” refers to the Twelve Songs (Juni kudari). The composition of the Twelve Songs is the main theme of Anecdotes 18 and 19 ↩
- The Shinbashira, Zenji Nakayama, in his sermon on January 26, 2007, commented: “In the Ofudesaki, it is Part Fifteen that urges the implementation of the Service in the strongest terms.” I imagine that a representative series of verses from this part of the Ofudesaki would be:
From the time I began this world until today, I have not yet told the real truth.
Today, I shall begin to tell you the real truth. Please understand it clearly.
This talk is solely about the great test from forty-three years ago.
What do you think this test is about? It is solely about the preparations to hasten the Service.
What do you think about this Service? Prepare for the performers including the musical instruments.
Ponder over this Service, whoever you are. If you dare to stop it, your life will be stopped.
- Ikiru kotoba p. 19. ↩
- Yamochi, p. 361. ↩
- “Kami no ri” is more frequently glossed as “God’s truth.” See, for example, this translation of an excerpt from Yoshikazu Fukaya’s Omichi no kotoba (now available in English as Words of the Path: A Guide to Tenrikyo Terms and Expressions): “Upholding human obligations at the cost of neglecting God’s truth (ningen no giri o tatete Kami no ri o kaku)” (pp. 117–118). ↩
- Horiuchi 2006, p. 9. ↩
- “Stand up for” is a gloss of the word “tateru,” which has also been translated as “uphold” in other contexts. Other possible glosses for this verb are “respect” or “revere.” ↩
- ibid. ↩
- Yamochi 1993, p. 362. ↩
- Ikiru kotoba p. 90. ↩