Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 130

130. Fine Dust (Japanese title: Chiisa na hokori wa)

It was around 1883 that Naokichi Takai, who was in his twenties, was sent by Oyasama to save a sick person who lived about twelve kilometers south of the Residence. When he was instructing the man about the cause of illness, the man challenged Naokichi, saying, “I have done nothing wrong in my life.” Naokichi said, “I have heard nothing from Oyasama about such a situation yet. I will go back at once to ask.” He then ran the twelve kilometers back to the Residence to ask Her, and She explained to him in this manner:

“I will tell you. Suppose you have a new house built and you seal up the windows so that no one can enter. The dust will still settle so thick on the floor that you can write a letter in it when you do not sweep it up for, say, ten or twenty days. You know that a mirror will stain. You sweep piles of dust when it is noticeable, but leave fine dust because it is hard to see. When the fine dust becomes embedded into a mirror, it will stain the mirror. Tell this story to him.”

Takai said, “I thank you very much,” and hurried back the twelve kilometers to the sick person. He conveyed Oyasama’s words saying, “I was just told this story.” After he was finished, the patient apologized to him, saying, “I now understand what you say quite well. Sorry, I was mistaken.” From that time the patient began to believe in God and was completely cured of his disease.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 107

Supplemental information from Taimo
“Takai Naokichi was born in Bunkyu 1 (1861) in Oihara Village, Shiki County, Kawachi Province (currently Oihara, Yao City, Osaka Prefecture). In 1880, he moved into the Residence with Miyamori Yosaburo and became one of the first live-in seinen (young men).

“In 1884, he received the Sazuke of Breath.”

“He assumed numerous positions of importance as an executive official of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters such as the superintendent of various dioceses.”

More supplemental information on Takai Naokichi (1861 – 1941)[1]
Takai Naokichi’s parents were Naoemon and Mino. His family was renowned for owning much land and his father was an important person in the village.

However, Naoemon suddenly passed away when Naokichi was three years old. He was then chiefly raised by his elder sister Nao and her husband Shogoro.

When Naokichi was still a child, a powder house exploded during the Battle of Toba-Fushimi and the resulting vibrations caused him to fall from a veranda and break his right leg. He was subsequently slightly handicapped as a result.

When his sister Nao had a difficult childbirth and suffered from its aftereffects, he had overheard from a salt fish merchant about a splendid living goddess in Shoyashiki Village, Yamato who bestowed blessings for any kind of ailment. Someone from the family went to make an offering and everyone prayed in the direction of Yamato and Nao made a complete recovery in two or three days.

Naokichi later went along with Nao and her husband as they made frequent trips to the Residence. It is said that he made his first pilgrimage to Jiba alone when he was twelve.

Naokichi was later prompted to move into the Residence. In 1879, he succumbed to a bad cold that spread in his village. Although 14 or 15 people who caught it passed away, he was blessed with a vivid recovery. He soon made a thanksgiving pilgrimage to Jiba and stayed at the Residence.

For about a year, Naokichi went back and forth between the Residence and his home in Kawachi. He paid for his meals during his stay, so he stayed and worked at the Residence until his money ran out. When it did, he went back to Kawachi to earn some more money for another stay.

About year passed when Oyasama’s son Shuji later approached Naokichi and said he would be willing to share his rice with him and convinced him not to return to “such a distant place such as Kawachi.” So, from 1880, Naokichi was a constant presence at the Residence.

My research / take
Later in life, Takai Naokichi has been quoted as saying: “When I share the teachings, I do not include even one of my own ideas. I say everything exactly as Oyasama taught me. Why would we, mere human beings, ever add any of our own ideas to what we share?”

The narrative in Anecdotes no. 130 suggests that Naokichi had at least an indication of having such an attitude when he was still in his 20s.

After he explained the metaphysical cause of illness to someone according to what Oyasama had taught him[2], the person retorts that he doesn’t remember ever doing anything wrong. Ueda Yoshinaru sensei mentions that it is quite common for people to become upset in such a situation and make a similar claim (1976, p. 42).

Despite having already traveled 12 kilometers (7.45 miles) from the Residence to help this man, Naokichi is modest and honest enough to say he did not know how such a situation could be accounted for and goes to Oyasama for further instructions. He then returns to the ill man’s side to share what Oyasama explained to him. It is said the ill man is profoundly convinced with the explanation that illness stems from wrongful uses of the mind that have been overlooked and this allowed him to make a full recovery.

“Dust” is often used in Tenrikyo Scripture and other writings as a metaphor to describe thoughts that run counter to the fulfillment of God’s purpose for creation (the so-called Joyous Life). The explanation that dust naturally accumulates even when one seals up a newly-built home so nobody or nothing can enter suggests that having thoughts that hamper one from attaining the Joyous Life are a natural part of living life.

Dust is considered a natural byproduct of a mind that is given free reign. A Tenrikyo publication entitled Ikiru kotoba (Living words) explains, “We are not told to keep dust from piling up but rather told of the importance of taking the initiative to sweep these dusts away” (p. 140).

Such a sentiment offers credence to the claim that there is no concept of “sin” in Tenrikyo and echoes an oft-cited Ofudesaki verse.[3] Nevertheless, although God is said to harbor no ill will or blame against humanity for collecting dust of the mind, it can be argued that people who ought to know better will be held accountable if they lack the vigilance required to keep this dust at bay.

Further, as mentioned in the explanation attributed to Oyasama, people tend to notice and sweep away (correct) the major sources of dust while overlooking what is difficult to see. Thus, it is this fine dust that has the most potential to “stain” one’s mirror of perception.

It must be mentioned that the mirror described in Anecdotes no. 130 must have referred to one made from bronze or some other metal (Inoue 2003, p. 184; Fukagawa 2006, p. 169) since those made from glass were not yet commonly in use at the time. Such a mirror had to be wiped or polished frequently or it would stain and become unusable.

To close on a minor note, I have been linking to Sawa’s blog so readers could refer to the Japanese originals if they wished but with I’ve caught up and surpassed him with this post. The only other place online I am aware of that has the Japanese Anecdotes of Oyasama in its entirety is the website of Washimisu Bunkyokai.

While this is a great site for anyone who can read Japanese (it has the entire Osashizu online among other offerings), there is the drawback that selections from Anecdotes do not each have a web address of their own but are offered in chunks of 20 at a time. Here is the link for Anecdotes no. 121 to 140.


Fukagawa Harumichi. 2006. “Shinkō to rinri: 130 ‘Chiisa na hokori wa’.” In Itsuwa-hen ni manabu iki-kata 2. Tenri: Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, pp. 163-175.

Inoue Akio. 2003. “Uchigura no danji-teki kaishaku.” In Itsuwa-hen ni manabu iki-kata, pp. 151-196.

Takai Hisatarō. 2008. “Itsuwa no kokoro tazunete: gendai ni ikiru Oyasama no oshie 5.” Tenri jihō No. 4089 (July 27, 2008), p. 3.

Tenrikyō Dōyūsha, ed. 1995. Ikiru kotoba: Tenrikyō kyōso no oshie. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.

Tenrikyō Seinenkai, ed. 2006. “Oyasama: chiisa na hokori ga shimi konde.” Taimō 450 (June 2006), pp. 16-17.

Ueda Yoshinaru. 1976. “Kōhon Tenrikyō Oyasama-den itsuwa-hen ni tsuite.” Michi no dai 65 (May 1976), pp. 26-43.

Further reading

Sato Koji’s Omichi no joshiki: Sweeping Dusts

Takano Tomoji. Disciples of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 79-82

[1] Information from this and the first paragraph of the next section have been paraphrased/translated from Takai 2008.
[2] Assumingly, Naokichi must have said something along the lines of how the source of all illness comes from the mind/heart (Mikagura-uta Song Ten, verse ten; Ofudesaki I:24).
[3] Consider:

Among all humankind, there is no one who is evil. It is only a bit of dust stuck on (I:53).