Life of the Foundress, Part 1

The following is an excerpt of “The Life of the Foundress” by Yoshinaru Ueda as it appears in Tenrikyo: Its History and Teachings (1966), pp. 14–8. Note that this excerpt has been slightly revised to reflect current translation styles.

The content below more or less corresponds what appears in The Life of Oyasama, Chapter One.


“I am God of OriginGod in Truth. There is causality in this Residence. At this time I have descended here to save all humankind. I wish to receive Miki as the Shrine of God.”1

Quite unprepared for any such revelation, Miki’s husband Zenbei Nakayama was amazed at it, as well as were all those present, his family, relatives, and the exorcist Ichibei who was at prayer. Needless to say, they knew of no such god as “[God in Truth],” so they could not readily consent to the demand to offer Miki as the Shrine of God. While at a loss what to do, Zenbei remembered a series of strange happenings which had occurred during the past year.


It began on 10/26, in the eight year of Tenpo (1837), when the eldest son Shuji, who was then 17 years old, was sowing barley as usual in the field with his mother. He suddenly felt a severe pain in the leg, so severe that he barely managed to get home, supporting himself on an agricultural tool.

Of course, Shuji, who was very dear to his parents, was at once put under medical supervision, but this did not seem to have any effect. Being advised to send for an exorcist they sent a messenger to the exorcist Ichibei in Nagataki Village and asked him to exorcize the pain of Shuji.

Upon doing so the pain miraculously left him, but the next day it began to attack him again. Again they sent a messenger to Ichibei to have him exorcize Shuji and again the pain stopped. On the third day with daily visits by Ichibei, the pain left him at last, and he was well for about 20 days, when once more his leg began to ache severely.

This time Zenbei went in person to Ichibei in Nagataki Village, and was advised to hold the exorcism ceremony called yosekaji at home. After holding a family conference, Zenbei called in Ichibei and Soyo of Magata Village and held the ritual in the house. Ichibei offered an earnest prayer and tried to effect a cure with Soyo as the medium, whose role was to sit holding two sacred staffs with paper cuttings hanging from them.2

Thereupon the pain in the leg left Shuji. But in about half a year, he began to suffer from the pain once more. So the ritual of yosekaji was held again and the pain was relieved. However, the pain returned and so it went on as many as nine times within a year.


It was at ten in the evening on lunar 10/23, in the ninth year of Tenpo (1838), when the three members of the family were attacked by severe pain, Shuji in the leg, Miki in the loins, and Zenbei in the eyes. They at once sent for Ichibei, who incidentally was visiting his relative by the name of Inui in the same village.

Ichibei came and was disconcerted to find things so serious. He was asked to offer incantations and prayers as soon as possible, but he needed time to make his preparations. So that night he went home and early the next morning returned to perform the ceremony. He asked for Soyo to become the medium, but she was out and no one knew where she was. There was no other way but to have Miki sit with the sacred staffs in Her hands and to offer prayers and incantations through Her, and Ichibei began his prayers.

Zenbei, reflecting back over these incidents, could not but feel that there was something behind all these events. However, they could not in no way give a ready consent to the demand made in the name of “[God of Origin]”, so he resolved to reject the demand, on the ground that there were many children to be brought up, and that he was so busy as a village official that he could not afford to offer Miki as the Shrine of God. If the God wished to save people in the world, He was requested to descend elsewhere, in some other favorable place.

At that time Miki was 41 years old, and Zenbei 51, both in the prime of life. The eldest son Shuji was 18, the eldest daughter Masa 14, followed by daughter Haru 8 and the youngest, Kokan, who was yet no more than 2.3

After this refusal, the pains of Miki became even greater, and the God would not withdraw. The ceremony came to a stop; Zenbei consulted with relatives who were staying at the house, and called a meeting of relatives and friends. Not one person advised him to accede to the demand.

So Zenbei went up to Miki who was sitting at the ritual place, and refused compliance on the grounds that his children were all too young, and that Miki could not be spared. At this reply, however, assuming a more solemn attitude, Miki said calmly in a persuasive tone, “It is natural that you are filled with anxieties at present, but after 20 or 30 years have passed, a day is sure to come when all of you will admit the truth of My intention.”4 But Zenbei and the others repeated the refusal confessing that they could never wait for as long as 20 or 30 years. They wished [God of Origin] to withdraw at once.

At the reply, Miki began to assume a wild appearance; the sacred staffs in Her hands were flung up and the paper on the staffs torn. Consulting again about what they should do, they refused repeatedly, but the God would not withdraw. They were compelled to consult day and night for three days, and at last the voice of the God descended, “I shall save all humankind if you will listen to Me; but if you should object to it, I shall destroy this house so completely that not a trace of it will remain.”5

At these harsh words, Zenbei and the others were frightened into deep silence once more. While Miki who from the beginning had taken no meal, sitting upright and solemn with the sacred staffs in Her hands, urged the people to accede to the demand. If this should continue, what would become of Her? Zenbei began to be anxious about Her and at the same time felt a possibility of conviction. For upset as he was, he could not but find in the words of God, expressed for the cause of [manifold forms of] salvation, a reasonableness convincing enough for him.

So Zenbei made up his mind to act upon his resolution, and gave his answer, with a firm determination, to offer Miki willingly as the Shrine of God. It was eight o’clock on the morning of lunar 10/26, in the ninth year of Tenpo (December 12, 1838).

As soon as the reply was made, Miki regained normalcy and at this moment Miki Nakayama became the Shrine of God the Parent [or Cosmic Space-Time]. The mind of God the Parent entered the body of Miki, and She came to establish the ultimate teaching for [manifold forms] of salvation.

As we are taught in the Ofudesaki, the Book of Revelations:

These thoughts of [Cosmic Space-Time] are spoken through Her: the mouth is human, the mind is that of [Cosmic Space-Time].6

Listen! I, [Cosmic Space-Time], am borrowing Her mouth wholly, and I, [Cosmic Space-Time], am lending My mind wholly.7

Ofudesaki 12:67–8

The mouth of the Foundress is not different from that of an ordinary person, but the words spoken through it are those of God the Parent, and therefore it is God the Parent that is speaking through the Foundress. Her outward appearance is similar to an ordinary person, but it is the mind of God the Parent that dwells in Her body. Therefore Her teachings, whether they are expressed in words or deeds, are the direct teachings of God the Parent.


  1. Old translation: “I am the Creator, the true and real God. I have the Preordination for this Residence. At this time I have appeared in this world in person to save all mankind. I ask you to let Me have Miki as My living Shrine.”
  2. Otherwise called gohei.
  3. The ages present here correspond to the Japanese traditional count.
  4. Old translation: “It is no wonder that you are so afraid. But the day will come in 20 or 30 years when you will all realize the truth of My demand.”
  5. Old translation: “Accept My demand, or house shall be destroyed.”
  6. Old translation: “What I think is spoken now through Her mouth. Human is the mouth that speaks, but Divine is the mind that thinks within.”
  7. Old translation: “Listen attentively to Me! For I have borrowed Her mouth, I have lent My mind to Her.”