142. Narrowness Holds the Promise of Joy (semai no ga tanoshimi)
This is a story about Genjiro Fukaya, who had an undying gratitude for the teachings. He grew more spirited in his devotion as he walked over the land spreading the teachings and healing the sick. In those days, Genjiro had no spare clothes, no charcoal for the fire, nor even food for the day. Despite such narrow circumstances, he often returned to Jiba. Oyasama always said to him:
“Narrowness such as this holds the promise of joy. You should not be dissatisfied because things are yet small. As virtue is accumulated, small things grow great. Even a large pine tree was once small. Be happy with what is small. In the future, a great promising bud will sprout.”
Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 115
143. Children Are Dear (kodomo kawaii)
Whenever at a loss as to what to do, Genjiro Fukaya sought Oyasama’s instruction. One day, he asked Oyasama through an intermediary and received the following instruction:
“One year passes, and there is one year of virtue. Two years pass, and there are two years of virtue. When three years pass, one becomes a parent. Once one becomes a parent, children are dear. No matter what, treat your children with love and care. It will not do to hate your children.”
After Genjiro received the above instruction, he loved his followers with ever increasing affection. To welcome the followers on service days, he would prepare their meal, making sushi and rice cakes. Though these things may sound like trifles, in this way, with his sincerity, he raised his followers step by step.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 115-116
It is described that after Genjiro formed the Shido-kai (as described last time), his livelihood suffered, assumingly because he devoted most of his time “spreading the teachings and healing the sick” instead of tending to his blacksmith shop. It was in such a situation that Oyasama instructed him, “Narrowness such as this holds the promise of joy” et al in Anecdotes no. 142.
There is even a story that describes how Genjiro even pawned his blacksmith equipment and bedding. When four or five followers stayed the night at the Shido-kai, his wife Hana became flustered since she had no rice to prepare breakfast. Yet Genjiro remained calm, saying: “It’s alright, it’s alright. There’s no need to worry. God will make it so everything works out.” Subsequent events prove to be propitious for Genjiro (described in The Footsteps of Our Predecessors, Part 44).
To give examples how Genjiro guided followers in subsequent years, when a woman who wished to conceive approached him for advice, he told her: “You accumulated much merit (virtue) in your previous life. So that means you will not need to raise a fussy child in this lifetime. Just maintain your merit at its present level and go through each day filled with joy.” Hearing this pleased the woman very much, and in time, she was blessed with a baby girl.
When a person in the midst of a particular trouble came to him, Genjiro taught: “That’s remarkably splendid! That means God has big expectations of you. God wants you to become a great person by heaping dust on you. Heaping a lot of dust and refuse on the roots of a tree will help that tree grow into a giant. We need to have dust heaped on us. But even when dust is heaped upon us, it’s important not to let our core become rotten. People will come to rely on you more than anyone else. Be happy! Be spirited!”
At times, Genjiro was strict when he felt he had to be. When a particular church minister approached him, saying, “I have not received God’s protection due to my lack of merit,” he scolded: “What kind of greeting is that?! You say something like ‘lack of merit’ because you are thinking you can make the path grow by your own strength!”
In the next instant, Genjiro smiled and patiently explained: “You should instead say, ‘Thankfully, I have been given a chance to return.’ Whatever you do, never forget even for an instant that it is all due to the unseen workings of God the Parent and Oyasama. If you sufficiently realize this and rejoice, you will receive their protection. You neglect to be mindful of this and begin to believe you are doing everything on your own. This gives rise to discontent and anxiety. If you avoid feeling these two things and rejoice every day in God the Parent’s and Oyasama’s protection, in the future, you will receive their splendid protection.”
Lastly, Genjiro was often heard saying: “We cannot be blessed with God’s protection unless we bring joy to those who are ill. They cannot be blessed if we allow them to become depressed. God can enter where there is joy.”
In my discussion of Anecdotes no. 141, I mentioned that the words attributed to Oyasama there (“The seed of the Shido-kai [Confraternity]. . . is planted. Sah, sah, you cannot imagine how large it will grow from now”) seems to anticipate the tremendous growth of the Shido-kai in later years. In Anecdotes no. 142, we have another anticipatory message: “As virtue is accumulated, small things grow great. Even a large pine tree was once small.”
While it may be argued that these were self-fulfilling prophesies to begin with (or, if you choose to be even more skeptical, argue that Anecdotes nos. 141 and 142 were written after Shido-kai’s growth in membership), the expansion of the Shido-kai should be credited to Fukaya Genjiro and his painstaking efforts to nurture his “spiritual children.”
Fukaya Motohiro. 2010. “Itsuwa no kokoro tazunete: gendai ni ikiru Oyasama no oshie 18.” Tenri jihō No. 4170, p. 3.
Takano Tomoji. Disciples of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 106-109.
External links (Tenrikyo Online)