Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 116

116. Come Alone (Japanese title: jibun hitori de)

When people came to listen to Oyasama‘s talks, saying to others, “Come, let us go and listen to Her, come along,” Oyasama was never pleased. Oyasama said:

“If you truly desire to listen to my talks, do not involve other people but come alone. The desire to listen must come from your own heart.”

When people came singly to visit Her, Oyasama would take great pains to teach them. Furthermore, She would tell them:

“If there is anything you do not understand, please ask.”

And when they asked, She would instruct them kindly.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 96

My take
I was admittedly confused regarding the reason why Oyasama was said to be unhappy when someone brought others to come along to listen to her speak. One would presume, the more the merrier, right? Wasn’t spreading the word considered a good thing?

Yet the reason for Oyasama’s displeasure is revealed in Anecdotes no. 116 itself. It appears that Oyasama sought to have her followers to come listen to her speak on their own volition.[1] Spreading what she taught and coming to listen to her direct talks seems to have been considered two different things. For when people did come alone to hear her speak it is described she took “great pains to teach them.”

Insight from Sawai Yoshitsugu sensei
Sawai Yoshitsugu sensei from the Oyasato Institute for the Study of Religion surmises Anecdotes no. 116 is describing what had occurred between 1880 and 1883 and that she must have expressed the sentiment that — “If you truly desire to listen to my talks, do not involve other people but come alone. The desire to listen must come from your own heart” — on more than a few occasions since no one specific is named as the receivers of said instruction.

He writes that Oyasama’s instruction here reveals the importance of each person who walks the path to take the initiative and make independent efforts to pursue one’s faith. He also mentions faith is a personal matter that involves how one lives one’s life and ought not to be continued due to social obligations or driven by an incentive to keep up appearances (2003, p. 56).

Sawai sensei suggests that those who had the desire to listen from their own heart would less likely have their attention be distracted in any way. He then presents a story where Oyasama is actually described inviting people to hear her speak by saying, “I’m going to talk, so please come, everyone.” Though 20 to 30 people showed up, she revealed no signs that she was really going to talk for five or six nights.

Oyasama followed up on her promise after the majority left in frustration and when only three or four people remained. Sawai sensei notes that while there was nothing unreasonable for the majority to have become upset in this way, he surmises that Oyasama did so to test who truly had the desire to listen to her speak (ibid, p. 58).


Sawai Yoshitsugu. 2003. “Hito o aite ni sezu ni: 116 ‘Jibun hitori de’.” In Itsuwa-hen ni manabu iki-kata. Tenri: Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, pp. 53-68.


[1] Although not rendered in the translation, the original Japanese has a term “i-awaseta” that suggests to me Oyasama was not pleased by the practice of people arriving and inviting others who happened to be there to come along and hear her speak. The implication being, if these people who were already there had the volition to ask Oyasama to instruct them, they would have already gone ahead and done so. I speculate that she found displeasure in having to speak to these unmotivated followers who made the trip to Jiba but had no motivation to hear talks directly from her.