98. For Eternity
“I had you live in here, deciding that from now on you are the members of the one household and one family. Do not move for eternity. Do not be moved.”
Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 81
It was arguably an important part of Oyasama’s grand plan to have Izo Iburi and his family move into the Residence. A careful, faith-based reading of Tenrikyo’s early history helps one gain the sense that she was nurturing him to take over in a limited degree in the short term.
In 1875, Oyasama bestowed a Grant to Izo now known as the Sazuke of Speech (gonjo no sazuke) or Invocation of Divine Utterance (gonjo no yurushi). Speculation abounds whether or not he was the only person to ever receive this grant. But I have not come across any claims that name anyone after Izo who are said to have received it. With this grant, it is claimed that Izo began to deliver occasional pronouncements from God.
In 1880, Oyasama began to tell people seeking her insight regarding their mundane concerns to go to Izo for assistance instead. This also seems to be a preparatory step so followers would accept him as her successor. (Granted, it is somewhat of a stretch to call Izo Oyasama’s “successor.” Her role as a whole is impossible to replace in the tradition. Izo merely took over her tasks such as occasionally delivering Divine Directions and bestowing the sacrament of the Sazuke. He is in no way currently considered a holy being as Oyasama is.)
Izo and his children had a series of misfortunes in 1881, which eventually help persuade him and his wife Sato to finally follow through on Oyasama’s request for them to move into the Residence. While Sato and her two younger children Masae and Masajin move in in September 1881, it is not until March 26, 1882 when Izo and Yoshie do so as well. (It is presumed that it took the six months or so for Izo to take care of unfinished business, clear out, and sell his home.)
There was once a time during the tumult in the last years of the Tokugawa Shogunate when Izo, a carpenter by trade, had difficulty getting work. Yet one wonders if by 1881 things had settled down enough for him to make brisk business in the dawn of Japan’s modern period.
Several Tenrikyo sources claim that their neighbors tried to persuade the Iburis against making the move to Oyasama’s home. Even Oyasama’s own son-in-law at one point told them flatly that the prospect of making a decent living wasn’t very good.
Yet Izo and Sato nevertheless went ahead with following through with Oyasama’s request. This is an excellent example demonstrating the level of their faith in Oyasama.
Another important point I’d also like to add is that although I may have written elsewhere that no one had previously moved into the Residence, it is maybe more accurate to say that the Iburis were the first family to make this big step.
There were individuals such as Rin Masui, Yosaburo Miyamori, and Tamezo Yamazawa whose living and working at (or at least near) the Residence appears to have predated the Iburis by a few years. The idea and practice of living at a church (often called sumikomi) seems to have been established with Izo Iburi and these other antecedents.1
When Izo moved, he was 50, Sato 49, Yoshie 17, Masae 11, and Masajin nine years old (ages according to traditional count).
Insight from Rev. X and Yamochi sensei
To elaborate on this topic, I’d like to quote from an unpublished speech from a minister I’ll just refer to as Rev. X. But first, it is necessary to point out that “live in” from Oyasama’s words in Anecdotes 98 is a translation of fusekomi, a term I’ve covered elsewhere here on Tenrikyology.com.
As we are taught that this Residence is the field of God2, it is important for all of you to sow seeds of sincerity (fusekomi) whenever you are here in Jiba. Such sincere fusekomi at the Jiba is especially important for those of us who are prepared to walk this path for all ages to come.
If we search for the word “fusekomi” in the Three Scriptures, we find that it does not appear in the Mikagura-uta or the Ofudesaki. But according to the Osashizu sakuin (Index to the Osashizu), “fusekomi” appears in the scripture a total of 61 times as a noun and as a verb in 37 Divine Directions. As you may know, there are two different types of Divine Directions. The first type of directions is referred to as Timely Talks and the other type are God’s responses to questions made by followers concerning a wide variety of issues. Of the 37 Divine Directions that contain the word “fusekomi,” 34 of them are Timely Talks, or Divine Directions that were initiated by God the Parent. The content of all 34 of these Divine Directions in turn touch upon the subject of Izo Iburi and his family moving into and living at the Residence.
In Anecdotes of Oyasama 98, it is said that when Izo Iburi moved into the Residence, Oyasama said:
“I had you live in (fusekomi) here, deciding that from now on you are the members of the one household and one family. Do not move for eternity. Do not be moved.”
Thus we have another meaning of “fusekomi” in Tenrikyo. This is to live near the Jiba or a Tenrikyo place of worship like a church or mission headquarters. This does not simply mean to share the same living space. Just as the phrase “members of the one household and one family” implies, when you do “fusekomi,” you become a member of Oyasama’s family. We can go a step further and say that fusekomi means to become one with Oyasama and emulate Her Divine Model in our daily lives….
Everything we do for 24 hours each day we spend in Jiba as fusekomi are all part of a life that is dedicated to God. The purpose of our daily life in Jiba is not so that we can live, eat, and enjoy ourselves. A life in Jiba is lived for the sake of the world, for the people around us, and for the sake of the path. I believe that this is how those of us who follow in the steps of Oyasama’s Divine Model are supposed to live. This is what the phrase “members of the one household and one family” means.
Tatsuzo Yamochi sensei, former dean of the Senshuka special course at Tenri Seminary, has also written some of his views on Anecdotes 98.
He first claims that five people had previously moved into the Residence before Izo, including Izo’s apprentice Otokichi. This conflicts with other sources that claim that Yoshie stayed by her father’s side and did not move until he did on March 26, 1882.3
Yamochi sensei also interprets the term fusekomi as having the implication of becoming a member of Oyasama’s family. One of the more interesting interpretations he presents is the idea that Izo himself became a seed:
I assume that Izo Iburi was taken like an unhulled grain of rice4 and was sowed in the seedbed of Jiba/the Residence. There is a line in the Osashizu that says, “God did fusekomi at this Residence.” This can be interpreted to mean that Oyasama took Izo Iburi and sowed him as a seed at the Residence. Buds then sprouted from this seed.
He then expands upon this idea as follows:
The term fusekomi has come to take on a wide array of meanings. It is currently applied to refer to a variety of hinokishin activities done at Jiba. This implies not the act of sowing seeds at Jiba/the Residence, but rather becoming a seed oneself for Oyasama to sow, which will then bud and sprout to become the seedling of spiritual growth. I personally interpret the tasks of nioigake (sprinkling the fragrance) and o-tasuke (salvation work/administering the Sazuke) as taking these seedlings and planting them in the seedbeds throughout each region and country.
Epilogue / More personal insight
As I have noted in “The Life of the Honseki” series right here on Tenrikyology.com, life at the Residence for Izo and his family proved to be quite rough, just as he and Sato anticipated, maybe even more so. I remember reading somewhere that Izo did not give himself the luxury of sitting to eat but ate while standing close to the stove.
Sato had to deal with unmerited torment from Oyasama’s daughter-in-law, the recently-widowed Matsue. Yoshikazu Fukaya has also noted that since Izo and Sato diligently applied themselves to whatever work was necessary at the Residence, “people could not help but view Izo as someone who happened to be a servant for the Nakayama family.”
It is noted in several sources how Izo picked up a hoe to contribute to farming work despite being accustomed to such physical labor after being a carpenter for much of his adult life.
There are at least two stories about how he got a bad case of the runs during hoeing. One story (Anecdotes of the Honseki 21) describes how he kept on working when he could regardless of his condition, implying he didn’t want others to use his sickness as justification for complaining to Oyasama that he wasn’t contributing his share. In the other story (Anecdotes of the Honseki 23), his sudden discomfort is explained by Oyasama as God’s sign for him to refrain from such work.
I also remember reading about how some people complained that the Iburis brought three hungry mouths to feed, at least two who were not able to contribute much to work around the Residence since I’m pretty sure compulsory education for the populace (the Meiji indoctrination machine!) must have been firmly in place by 1882.
It may be notable that five years later, on March 25, 1887, Izo was “settled as the Honseki,” meaning that, by virtue of his ability to verbally communicate God’s Divine Directions (Oyasama had “hid from physical existence” on February 18, 1887 or 1/26 lunar), leading followers accepted his role of being Oyasama’s proxy as an occasional source of God’s revelation and the chosen one to bestow the sacrament of the Sazuke to the faithful.
Recently, I’ve allowed some of my simmering discontent about feeling stuck here to seep into some of my Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama posts. Contemplating over Anecdotes 98 has helped me realize that maybe my current situation isn’t as bad as I’ve been making it out to be. I think I’ll devote my attention toward making the best of out what I have at the moment and sucking it up for the time being (but hopefully not for eternity).
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
- Tenrikyō Dōyūsha, ed. 1997. Ten no jōgi: Iburi Izō no shogai. Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.
- Yamochi Tatsuzō. 1993 . Kōhon Tenrikyo Oyasama-den nyūmon jikkō. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.
- Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 87: Because People Like You
- The Life of the Honseki Izo Iburi, Part Six: The Sazuke of Speech
- The Life of the Honseki Izo Iburi, Part Seven: The Iburis Move Into the Residence
- Anecdotes of the Honseki Izo Iburi 14: Foretelling a Sister’s Passing
- Anecdotes of the Honseki Izo Iburi 15: “Give All Your Possessions to Others”
- Anecdotes of the Honseki Izo Iburi 16: “Six Shall Move In and Serve”
- Anecdotes of the Honseki Izo Iburi 73: Moving Into the Residence
External links (translations of articles from Yoshikazu Fukaya)
- Tatsuzo Yamochi has elsewhere written on this very subject as follows:
Currently, young people are often persuaded to “live in” (sumikomi) at a church. This actually has the significance of persuading someone to do fusekomi. The significance of becoming a live-in staff at a church does not come from being the head minister’s driver or helping out because there are not enough people who do so at the church. The significance of becoming a live-in staff comes from becoming a part of the head minister’s family. The family-like bonds created between the head minister and his or her live-in staff are precisely what allows the buds from the fusekomi to be planted in each region and country, becoming the basis of solid bonds between spiritual parents and children. Without the creation of such family-like bonds, there are only church lineages, which are fragile. A simple source of discontent toward one’s spiritual parents becomes the motivation to stop the faith altogether, creating more inactive churches. To do fusekomi is to become a family member. The fusekomi of Izo Iburi as shown to us by Oyasama can be interpreted as the first precedence for this. ↩
- Allusion to Song Seven, verse 8. ↩
- Yamochi, p. 427. ↩
- This appears to be an allusion to Anecdotes 29 and 30. ↩