118. On the Side of God (Japanese title: Kami no hō ni wa)
Kunisaburo Moroi returned to Jiba for the first time on February 10, 1883. When he was granted an audience with Oyasama, She said to him:
“Put your hand down like this,”
indicating how by putting Her own hand on the tatami-mat with the palm down. When he did exactly as he was told, Oyasama bent her two middle fingers, and with Her index and little fingers, pinched the back of his hand, pulling up the skin. Then She said:
“Pull your hand. Try to free it.”
He tried to free his hand, but he only made it hurt. He finally said, “I am overwhelmed.” Then Oyasama said:
“Hold My wrist.”
She let him grasp Her wrist. Oyasama then grasped his. Clasping each other’s wrists, Oyasama said:
“Put your strength behind it.”
And She added:
“Stop if I say ouch, all right?”
Then he squeezed Her wrist, but the harder he squeezed, the more his wrist hurt. Oyasama said:
“You do not have any more strength, do you?”
His hand ached more and more as he clutched harder. So he said again, “I am overwhelmed.” Then Oyasama released Her hold and said:
“You really do not have any more strength? Twice as much strength is on the side of God.”
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 97-98
Translation of “Sawa’s note”
“It must be mentioned that there are two selections from Anecdotes that have the title ‘On the Side of God’.”
Supplemental information on Moroi Kunisaburo (1840 – 1918)
The Tenri jiho series I have been referring to in several previous posts offers the following background information:
Moroi Kunisaburo was born in 1840 in a farming household located in present-day Hiro’oka, Fukuroi City, Shizuoka Prefecture. At age 17, he went to Edo and served as an officer for a hatamoto (direct retainer of the shogun) and lived out the final years of the Tokugawa Shogunate as a samurai.
Kunisaburo, who was no longer a samurai after the Meiji Restoration of 1868, embraced the ideal of “national prosperity and popular welfare” (kokuri minpuku) and determined to make his mark in an agriculture-based industry. He returned to his hometown and began working in sericulture and silk thread/fabric production.
On October 14, 1882, one of his clerks brought home a young man he chanced to meet when on business in Hachioji. The young man, Kichimoto Yasoji, moved into the Moroi household as live-in help.
About two months later, a fellow live-in began suffering from a toothache. Seeing this, Kichimoto filled a teacup with water and offered it to the Moon. He said, “I’ve apologized to Moon-Sun (God) for you.” He then gave the water to the person who was aching. The pain then disappeared and the toothache had completely healed the next day.
Kunisaburo, who heard about this from his wife Sono, called Kichimoto and asked about this peculiar faith of his. Kichimoto told him that he had been saved of an eye ailment by Oyasama and was a follower belonging to the Shinmei-gumi in Osaka.
Kunisaburo was quite impressed hearing the teachings but expressed the sentiment that as a manager of a business, he had debts to pay and was not in the position to devote himself to such a faith. Still, he asked Kichimoto to heal others with the power of faith since there were many people in his village suffering from illness.
Seven or eight people were subsequently healed through Kichimoto’s prayers. But as the lunar New Year approached, Kichimoto matter-of-factly said, “There will be mochi-pounding at the Residence” and set out.
About 10 days later, Koshi, Kunisaburo’s two-year-old third daughter, fell critically ill with a throat ailment. Sono found a glimmer of hope and pleaded with her husband that “There was nothing left but to rely on Tenri-O-no-Mikoto sama.”
Despite his initial refusal to follow the faith himself, he was moved by Sono’s strong determination and made up his mind. They faced their home altar and prayed intensely, saying, “Namu Tenri-O-no-Mikoto, we resolve to believe together as husband and wife. Please save our baby from her condition.”
Koshi’s health then took a favorable turn and had been blessed with a vivid recovery three days later. It was February 1, 1883. Kunisaburo was 44 years old.
Kunisaburo later traveled six days to return on a thanksgiving pilgrimage to Jiba. He then had his meeting with Oyasama, which is described above in Anecdotes no. 118.
A comment on content
Content-wise, Anecdotes no. 118 is not very different from a few earlier selections where Oyasama is described having a contest of strength with a man younger than she. These earlier examples include nos. 68, 75, 80, and 81. Refer to the link below for an alternate account of the same story.
The Footsteps of Our Predecessors, 12: “God Has Twice the Strength”
Takano Tomoji. Disciples of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 118-123.
Moroi Michitaka. 2009. “Itsuwa no kokoro tazunete: gendai ni ikiru Oyasama no oshie.” Tenri jihō No. 4138 (July 12, 2009), p. 3.