Life of the Foundress, Part 8

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. 36–40. 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 Ten.


In this way [Oyasama] returned safely each time, but on January 1, 1887 (12/8 by the lunar calendar), in the evening [Oyasama], coming out of bath, happened to stagger a little. Her attendants were alarmed and asked what was the matter with Her, to which She replied, “It is an omen that the world is going to move.”

Her attendants wondered what this could mean, and passed each day in anxiety, holding conference after conference, seeking to solve the statement. At last they came to Her, and begged repeatedly for an answer, and each time was given the instruction to perform the Service.

When they asked what they should do for Her complete recovery, God the Parent replied, saying, “I urge you to perform the Service,” but because of the weakness of the human mind they were not courageous enough to perform the Service, fearing that they would involve [Oyasama], who was 90 years old and in ill health.

They asked God the Parent if they could put off the performance of the Service until a kyōkai (church) or a kōshūsho (preaching school) was legally established and they could learn all the movements of the Service, but God the Parent would not consent to their request, and demanded immediate performance of the Service. By hearing the following words they gradually came to understand the will of God the Parent:

“Sah, sah, because [Cosmic Space-Time] exists, the world exists. Because the world exists, things exist. Because things exist, your bodies exist. Because your bodies exist, law exists. Although the law exists, to resolve your minds is primary.”1

“Sah, sah, where there is sincerity, you shall receive sincerity. You may not know what My sincerity is. It is My providence—fire, water, and wind.”2

On January 24, 1887 (lunar New Year’s Day), [Oyasama] was quite well and sitting up on Her bed and combing Her hair by Herself. She said contently, “Sah, sah, you have discussed thoroughly, thoroughly. For the first time since this Residence began, you have discussed thoroughly. It has been accepted fully.”3.

For about 20 days after that She was quite well. Sometimes She walked in the garden. Then on February 17 (lunar 1/25), Her condition took a sudden turn for the worse. She was in a critical condition. So they asked Izo Iburi who later became the Honseki, as the mediator between God and man, about the will of God the Parent. The revelation was given:

“Sah, sah, I shall begin to level the ground completely. Sah, sah, with the portals opened, opened, I shall level the ground all over the world. Sah, I shall step out to level the ground. Sah, sah, shall I open the portals and level the ground? Shall I close the portals and level the ground?”4

As they could not make out the meaning but thought it would be brighter to have the portals opened than closed, they replied they preferred to have them opened for levelling the ground. And then the fan in the hands of Izo Iburi flew open. That was a sign of God the Parent accepting their entreaty. In the meantime February 18 (lunar 1/26) dawned, which was the monthly festival day. Since [Oyasama] was ill, they resolved to perform the Service at any cost. They feared that the police might come again and take Her away, who was 90 years old and seriously ill.

So again they asked for a revelation and received a rebuke, “It is useless to hesitate. The Service must be performed at any cost. I have told you this many times before.”5

Her condition was becoming more serious. Then the attendants, making up their minds to perform the Service, set themselves to its preparation and after providing against every possible emergency, they publicly began to perform the Service to the accompaniment of musical instruments including a [tsuzumi], around one o’clock in the afternoon.

That day there were so many worshippers that the bamboo fences, set up on the east and south sides of the [Jiba], were broken to pieces. Even after the Service not one policeman came to the scene. Surely it was because God the Parent accepted the sincerity of the people and showed [God’s] grace.

Having thus successfully performed the Service and on the way to their room from the [Jiba], they heard the news of Her ascension. At this, they burst out crying, but soon sank into silence. In the silence of grief they spent an hour and a half with folded arms and bent heads.

Slowly getting up courage, they again asked Izo Iburi about the divine will concerning the departure of [Oyasama], and were given the answer: “Because of My love for you, My children, the Parent shortened Her life by 25 years to step out and save the world from now. Observe well. Observe well what the path has been and what the path will become.”6 replied, “When I asked whether I should open the portals or keep them closed to level the ground, you answered, ‘Please open the portals and level the ground.’ I have done as you wished.”7 Furthermore, [God the Parent] said, “Sah, there was a thing I had intended to give to My children but I was not able. I shall bestow this truth on you step by step hereafter.”8

They were greatly shocked and remembered the answer to God the Parent given in the previous day, which was now too late to retract. They wondered what [God] meant by shortening Her natural span of existence by 25 years. We are given a natural span of existence of 115 years; nevertheless we are apt to shorten the term by piling dust on ourselves through the wrong use of mind.

The people close to [Oyasama] did not expect to live to be 115, but they believed [Oyasama] was so free of dust or [causality] that She Herself would be sure to live to be 115. As it was, She left this physical life at 90. What must have been their amazement! But in fact it was not so surprising because while [Oyasama] remained in this world, there was always the threat that She would be taken away each time the Service was performed or a wonderful cure was manifested. Because of this [Oyasama], thinking of Her children, hid Herself from the world to save mankind at large, Her soul ranging the world day and night. So the way of faith spreads far and wide, and it is the proof that [Oyasama], still alive in the world, is forever protecting and watching over the growth of all the children. Realizing this, the people around Her felt at peace for the first time.

[Oyasama] hid Her physical existence, yet Her soul stays now and forever at the Original Residence to protect and save all the people in the world.

  1. Old translation: “God preceded the universe; the universe preceded all existing beings, by which man was preceded; and man preceded the law to which you allege obedience. However, what is most essential is your decision with which you transcend the law.”
  2. Old translation: “Listen! Only if you are sincerity itself, I will show you My omnipotence. But I am afraid you know not what sincerity is. My omnipotence shall appear as fire, water, wind.”
  3. Old translation: “Come now, let us train our minds more and more. Since the founding of this Residence you have done your best to train your minds, and I accept your efforts.”
  4. Old translation: “Hark! I will smooth over the whole world. I will level the earth, keeping the portals opened. I will step out to level the world. Which do you prefer, My opening the portals and going out to level the earth, or My remaining with the portals closed and leveling the ground from within?”
  5. Old translation: “This is not time for you to hesitate. I have already told you everything”
  6. Old translation: “Loving My children so much, I have decided to shorten My natural term of physical existence by 25 years and start to save the world. Watch well what I shall achieve as well as what I have achieved.”

    Further [God the Parent

  7. Old translation: “Shall I level the earth, keeping the portals open? Or shall I level the earth with the portals closed? You asked Me to level the earth opening the portals. I have granted your request.”
  8. “There was something which I wanted to give to My children, up to now I could not give. Now I will begin to grant the divine blessing.”