81. Now, Help Yourself
Sasuke Uehara, accompanying his sister Ishi, and his uncle Sakichi and his wife, returned to Jiba on May 14, 1881. They were happy to be granted an audience with Oyasama. Oyasama was very pleased. She Herself served to each of them small dishes containing bamboo shoots, young taro, and burdocks cooked in soy sauce, and then poured the offered sake into a sake cup that had the design of the moon and sun with a cloud.
“Now, help yourself,”
At that time Sasuke was a vigorous young man in his thirties. Oyasama, after explaining various things about the teachings to them, quickly and gently extended both of Her hands, grasped Sasuke’s wrists, and said:
“Try to shake them loose.”
Sasuke felt his body grow numb and all he could do was to bow deeply saying, “Mercy, please.”
His sister, Ishi (later Ishi Tsujikawa), in her later life reminisced, “Her solemn appearance at that time can in no way be expressed with words. I was awestruck and I instinctively bowed my head.”
Sasuke, who at that time had been personally shown the warm parental love and the power of Oyasama, began to hold a firm belief and strived for the single-hearted salvation of mankind.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 68
Translation of “Sawa’s note”
“From the first volume of Azuma Daikyokai shi (History of Azuma Grand Church). Sasuke Uehara was the first head minister of Azuma. His wife Sato became the first head minister of Kasaoka Daikyokai.”
I offer brief clusters of commentary on Anecdotes 81:
- Oyasama is described serving food and liquor to Sasuke Uehara and company. Koji Sato sensei mentions this selection from Anecdotes in his explanation of the Naorai (Post-Service Meal). It may give clues to what this Tenrikyo convention ideally ought to look like: While Oyasama may have offered nothing especially fancy, she does so with great love.
- Oyasama has a contest of strength with Sasuke, a theme appearing in several other selections from Anecdotes.
- The reminiscence offered by Ishi Tsujikawa gives one a sense of how much awe Oyasama inspired in some people. The sociologist Max Weber called this quality “charisma.” Sasuke’s encounter with Oyasama and her “warm parental love” (atatakai oya-gokoro) was apparently enough to inspire him make the resolve to help, to the best of his ability, to bring her single-hearted ambition to save the people of world into reality.
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.