85. Too Heavy a Load for a Child
The time was late in the spring of 1881. Kei [Matsui], then thirty-one years of age, had been spending her days and nights in tears for several years because honeycomb-like holes had progressed to the roots of her teeth and had reached the bone. One day the fragrance of the teachings of God was spread to her by a tin-smith and his wife who happened to be passing by. As instructed by them, she poured water into a rice bowl, prayed, “Namu, Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto,” and drank the water. The pain subsided instantly. After two to three days she received the marvelous salvation of complete recovery from the suffering that had lasted for years.
Walking a distance of about twelve kilometers from Kihara of Miminashi Village in Shiki County, she returned to Jiba to express her gratitude and was granted an audience with Oyasama. Oyasama noticed that Kei’s eldest son, eight-year-old Chusaku, had carried on his back a nine-pound round rice cake for offering, and She said:
“Well! Welcome home! Oh, it is too heavy a load for a child!”
Chusaku took these words to his heart and, remembering them throughout his life, endured all kinds of hardships while striving for the single-hearted salvation of mankind.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 70–71.
Translation of “Sawa’s note”
“From the history of Meijo Daikyokai (grand church).”
I can only imagine what it feels to have “honeycomb-like holes progress to the roots of one’s teeth.” It sounds absolutely horrible.
Thus, it is possible that Kei Matsui, in her elation at having the pain from such a condition subside, didn’t fully recognize that the rice cake she was offering to Oyasama may have been too heavy for her eight-year-old son to carry. Then again, Shiki County was considered mountainous country even by the land-owning peasantry of central Yamato (see this note from Anecdotes 84). All the kids from Shiki may have been raised to be tough and resilient.
In any case, Oyasama’s expression of concern became a source of inspiration for Chusaku Matsui for the rest of his life. (He later went on to become the first head minister of Meijo Daikyokai.)
Reading Anecdotes 85 reminded me of a quote attributed to the African-American writer and poet Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Granted, however, Tenrikyo adherents pour much effort into remembering, passing on, and preserving what Oyasama said and did. Oyasama’s words and deeds are considered holy from 10/26/1838 (lunar calendar) onward, and her life from this date is revered as the Hinagata (Divine Model) by the faithful.
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.