100. You Are to Save Others
Sadakichi Konishi of Kambe Village in Yamato Province was a hard working man who could do twice as much work as others. From a minor cause he became consumptive, and was spending the days in despair for he was pronounced incurable by doctors. At the same time his wife, Iye, who had had difficulty during the previous delivery, was pregnant with her second child.
Around March 1882, the fragrance of the teachings was spread to Sadakichi by Jirobei Morimoto of the same village. In spite of his illness, Sadakichi returned to Jiba with his wife and she received the Grant for Safe Childbirth. At that time Sadakichi asked Oyasama, “Is this god a god of only safe childbirth?” Oyasama replied:
“It is not so. This God saves man from any illness.”
Sadakichi then asked, “To tell the truth, I am ill with consumption. Can I be saved?” Thereupon, he received these words filled with parental love from Oyasama:
“You need not worry. No matter what your illness may be, you can receive divine protection. You must throw away your greed.”
These words penetrated deep into his mind. Thus, Sadakichi made a firm resolution. As soon as he came home he gathered all his cash together and handed it to his wife. Then he confined himself in a room in a detached house, writing “Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto” on a sheet of paper which he hung in the alcove. He prayed intensely, chanting, “Namu, Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto, Namu, Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto.” The only time he left the room was to go to the bathroom. He had his morning and evening meals brought to his room and he continued to pray day in and day out. In so doing, the color marvelously returned to his face and his coughing ceased. Before long he was completely saved from the suffering of his long illness.
In addition to his marvelous salvation, Iye also was able to give birth to a baby boy without difficulty. Without delay they returned to Jiba to express their gratitude. From the bottom of their hearts, they thanked Oyasama, who was very pleased and said:
“Because you became single-hearted, you were saved.”
Sadakichi said, “There is no happiness greater than this. How can I repay this blessing?” Then, Oyasama replied:
Then Sadakichi asked, “What should I do? How can others be saved?” Oyasama replied:
“Earnestly tell others how you were saved.”
Then She gave him about half a pound of the sacred powder of roasted grain and said:
“This is a sacred offering. Have people take this with the offered water.”
Receiving this, he happily went home.
There were many sick people everywhere he went. Carrying the sacred powder with him, he went out to save others in the manner taught by Oyasama. They were all saved, one after another, and the number of followers increased.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 83–84
Translation of “Sawa’s note”
“Sadakichi Konishi is the first minister of Uda Bunkyokai (Shikishima lineage) in Nara Prefecture. He was born on 8/3/1856.”
Supplemental information/insight from Harumichi Fukagawa sensei
According to Harumichi Fukagawa sensei from the Oyasato Institute for the Study of Religion, Sadakichi Konishi is the second head minister of Uda Bunkyokai, not the first. He and the man that introduced Oyasama’s teachings to him, Jirobei Morimoto, were apparently important figures in the early years of the Shin’yu-gumi Confraternity. Sadakichi was also involved in the incidents that led Oyasama to be held at Tanbaichi Branch Police Station in the sixth lunar month of 1884 in addition to her “final Hardship” in the first lunar month of 1886.
Further, in a document later compiled by Sadakichi, there are details that somewhat contradict the narrative of Anecdotes 100. In this document, it says that Oyasama taught him the teaching that the body was a thing lent and prayed for him at the Kanrodai and conducted a three-day, three-night prayer.
In any case, Anecdotes 100 describes Oyasama telling Sadakichi that he was saved “Because [he] became single-hearted (kokoro-hitosuji ni natta).” While Fukagawa sensei notes that the phrase “kokoro-hitosuji” cannot be found in Kaitei Tenrikyo jiten (it neither can be found in the Scriptures), there is nevertheless a similar phrase “hitosuji-gokoro” that appears in the Mikagura-uta, Song Three, verse 6 (English equivalent underlined below):
Never make an unreasonable prayer! Come to me with a single mind!
The late Tenrikyo theologian Tadamasa Fukaya wrote in his Commentary on the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Tsutome that “hitosuji-gokoro” is “the meek (sunao) unchanging mind which would try to align itself completely to the will of God the Parent.”1 Fukagawa sensei then writes that if we consider “kokoro hitosuji” and “hitosuji-gokoro” to be the same, to have an accepting/compliant (sunao) or sincere mind holds the key to salvation.
When Sadakichi asks Oyasama about how he could repay the favor of having been saved from consumption, she tells him: “Save others.” In Anecdotes 72 she tells someone in a similar situation, “If you are happy because you have been saved, then with that joy go out to save people who are praying to be saved.”
When Sadakichi asks what he could do to “save others” Oyasama explains, “Earnestly tell others how you were saved.” Other selections from Anecdotes describe her similarly instructing others “to go here and there and talk of Tenri-Ō” (Anecdotes 13) and that “The saving of a man… is to smooth the wrinkles of man’s mind with the truth of the teachings” (Anecdotes 45). Oyasama also instructs Sadakichi to have people partake the sacred powder of roasted grain (hattaiko; usually barley flour) with water that had been offered to God. He then goes on to help save others in the manner he was instructed.
Fukagawa sensei goes on and offers a grammatical/semantic analysis of the terms tasukeru (“to save”; a so-called transitive verb) and tasukaru (“to be saved”; a so-called unaccusative verb). Grammar was my worst subject in school so I am unqualified to make any attempt to summarize his analysis short of touching on the theological theme that claims efforts made to “save others” leads to one’s salvation. Such a theme has already been covered and briefly discussed in Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 42.
It may be worthy to briefly discuss the Japanese term “tasukeru” (usually written as 助ける in kanji). Although often rendered as “save” in Tenrikyo literature, the verb arguably has a wider meaning than save — other possibilities include: help, assist, rescue, and provide relief.
Fukagawa sensei’s own research uncovers that “tasukeru” means the act of joining forces to accomplish or complete a matter that cannot be done so on its own; to provide or lend support for a matter to progress in a positive way. One would imagine such a meaning is less weighty than those associated with save/salvation.
While this information is somewhat peripheral to the story, I nevertheless found it intriguing that Sadakichi is described writing the divine name as “天理王尊” instead of the kanji that is overwhelmingly used to write ” Tenri-O-no-Mikoto”: “天理王命.”
Supplemental information from Iwane Matsui sensei
The 2006 April Monthly Service Sermon at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters by Honbu-in (Church HQ executive staff member) Iwane Matsui, briefly touches on Anecdotes 100 and supplies the following information:
A history of the church that Sadakichi subsequently established tells us that the amount of money he handed to his wife was about 2,000 yen. In those days, that was a fairly large sum of money.
Anyway, the history of his church goes on to say that Sadakichi made five three-day prayers, which is to say he spent 15 days praying fervently. He felt considerably better on the morning of the 15th day. The next day, therefore, he set out for Shoyashiki Village, while holding on to his wife’s shoulder, in order to thank Oyasama. By the time they came to Sakurai Village, which is about half way on their journey, Sadakichi no longer needed his walking stick.
Years later, when he was 94, Sadakichi recalled that, when he first met Oyasama, She explained the teaching of a thing lent, a thing borrowed. Another source suggests that Oyasama explained ten aspects of God’s providence as well. In any case, Sadakichi is reported to have said: “I was convinced of the truth of Her teaching after hearing it just once. The teaching She explained was the teaching of a thing lent, a thing borrowed, which you are quite familiar with these days.”
Thus, after hearing the teaching of a thing lent, a thing borrowed, only once, Sadakichi understood it and became convinced of its truth. Herein lies the basis, I think, for receiving a wondrous blessing.
- Fukagawa Harumichi. 2000. In Oyasama no oshie to gendai — Oyasama go-tanjō nihyaku nen kinen kyōgaku kōza shirīzu 1998 nen. Tenri: Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, pp. 77–95.
- Fukaya Tadamasa. 1978 . A Commentary on the Mikagura-uta, the Songs for the Tsutome (revised edition). Tenri: Tenrikyo Overseas Department.
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
- Fukaya, p. 61. ↩