Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 148

148. To the Clear Place (kiyoraka na tokoro e)

As the Shido-kai [Confraternity] started functioning and the members of the Meisei-sha [Confraternity] withdrew one after another to join the newly established one, a senior of the Meisei-sha [Confraternity] directed someone to go to Genjiro Fukaya to persuade him to return, thinking that if Genjiro should return, all the others would follow him. When the messenger started to go down the stairs in order to leave, he suddenly fell to the floor and began to writhe in great pain. A doctor was called in at once and he diagnosed the man’s illness as cholera. The patient was sent to a hospital immediately, but he died on the way. A man named Fujita returned to Jiba and asked Oyasama about this situation. Oyasama’s words were these:

“Because, without repenting his previous innen, he was going to try to pull that one back into the muddy water, that one who had been pulled out of the muddy water to the clear place, so I cut him down.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 120-121

My take

The phrase, “I cut him down” comes across to me as one of the most severe words that have been attributed to Oyasama in the entirety of Anecdotes. A more accurate translation of this phrase would be something like, “God cut him down to eliminate him (Kami ga kiri harota)”.

When Oyasama gave her permission for Fukaya Genjiro and others to leave the Meisei-sha Confraternity to form their own faith group (as described in Anecdotes no. 141), she had said: “Sah, sah, sah, I accept your sincerity. I accept it. The seed of the Shido-kai [Confraternity], sah, sah, from today, sah, sah, is planted. Sah, sah, you cannot imagine how large it will grow from now. Sah, sah, make those of the [confraternity] understand this. Even if they do not, God is watching. Leave them alone, I say.”

Here, one can readily conclude that the man who was ordered to bring Genjiro back to the Meisei-sha apparently did not heed Oyasama’s words to “Leave them alone.” Further, her words suggesting that the man was “cut down” because he attempted to bring Genjiro back to the “muddy water,” where had been “pulled out” from into “the clear place” is quite suggestive of what Oyasama thought of the Meisei-sha.

In my discussion of Anecdotes no. 141, I had briefly mentioned that Oku Rokubei, the director of the Meisei-sha Confraternity, had started to act as a religious teacher in his own right. One could infer here that the Meisei-sha was becoming a heretical movement from Oyasama’s standpoint. It speaks volumes that she branded the confraternity as “muddy water” since water is used as a metaphor for the mind in Ofudesaki.[1]

Supplemental information on the Meisei Confraternity and Oku Rokubei

I found some information on the Internet about the Meisei-sha that I thought to share here in translation. (The original Japanese page can be found here.)

The Meisei Confraternity institutionalized and expanded in Kyoto mainly due to the efforts of Oku Rokubei. Pioneer followers included Matsutani Kisaburo, Nakano Masajiro, Fukaya Genjiro, Uno Zensuke, and others.

Oku Rokubei was born in a prominent family that operated a Nishijin textile business and was deeply learned. When he was 28 years old, he was sent to a branch household, the Okunos, in Furuichi Village, Kawachi. The Okunos were reputed landowners in the agriculture industry. Yamamoto Risaburo was a relative, and he spread the teachings to them circa 1873.

The head of the household, Okuno Ijuro met with Oyasama in 1878 and became the director of Jindo Kosha Confraternity. In 1881, he received a set of Oyasama’s red clothes and a rice bowl.

During his stay in the Okuno household, Oku Rokubei, saw Yamamoto Risaburo come and go to convey God’s teachings to Okuno Tsuru. Rokubei was greatly moved and decided to follow the path after he saw her illness cured with his own two eyes. He was led by Yamamoto Risaburo to Shoyashiki Village in Yamato and was directly instructed by Oyasama. He then returned to Kyoto and began his missionary efforts.

Oku Rokubei aimed to implement offering charity as Oyasama taught him as his primary missionary style. In 1878, he began holding monthly services in Kyoto.

The following quote helps illuminate the style of missionary work was done at that time:

“Gen-san, there’s a wondrous faith going around. It’s a truly joyous faith in which you bless people who are ill by singing and dancing. It is also a faith that saves people who are troubled. Won’t you join too?”

It was around the time when the Tenrin-O Meisei Kosha Confraternity came into being. Service practices were conducted virtually every night. Many men and women of all ages would joyously conduct the Service dance with folding fans with a sun in the middle.

After this was over, Oku Rokubei would give a sermon. People would be impressed with his speaking skills; his speech was both eloquent and pleasing to the ear. He would speak with a patient and calm demeanor about the profound parental intention of Tenri-O-no-Mikoto. Anyone with just a slight interest in faith-related matters would be captivated by what he shared.

Uno Zensuke listened attentively to each word when he first heard the Story of Creation as told by Oku Rokubei. He felt as if his heart was wondrously being thawed out like how the morning sun melted away a light snow. Although Zensuke listened to Shinto and Buddhist sermons on regular basis, when he learned about how the world was said to have begun and the purpose for human existence, he felt that this was the fundamental teachings that he had long been searching for. He went again the next day with his personal seal and joined the Meisei Kosha with the desire to follow God and learn until he fully understood its teachings.

Uno Zensuke then received from Oku Rokubei two tablets. One was inscribed with “Homage to Tenrin-O-no-Mikoto” [奉修天輪王命]. The other was a wooden tablet with the characters “Kyoto Meisei-sha” burned on the front and with his address and name inscribed on the back. Zensuke then went to thank Fukaya Genjiro and said, “Thanks to you, I heard a splendid talk last night and I feel exhilarated. With this, my wife and I are saved. I’m so grateful!”

Genjiro appeared to be full of life as well when he answered: “Really? That’s great! It has only been a month since I joined myself, but the more I learn, the more splendid I think God is. Up until now, I had been discontent about not having children. Yet after hearing the teachings of Tenrin-san, I learned that if I help save many people, they will all become my children. They call such children ‘spiritual children.’ They say that if you are blessed with spiritual children, they will be better to you than your own flesh and blood. Learning this has given me great hope for the future.”

Such are tales of how Fukaya Genjiro, later the founder of Kawaramachi Daikyokai, and Uno Zensuke, later the founder of Koshinokuni Daikyokai, are said to have spent the early days of their faith.

The Kyoto Meisei-sha began to grow between 1882 and 1884. However, in March 1884, a dispute arose on how to deal with the severe oppression from the authorities. The Meisei-sha membership was split concerning the prospect of temporarily applying for affiliation with a religious group that was already legally recognized. The faction led by Fukaya Genjiro and Uno Zensuke would form the Shido-kai. Thereafter, especially 1887 and beyond, the Meisei-sha would become a shadow of its former self.

The Meisei-sha later expanded into Tokyo, Yokohama, Kawasaki, and Chiba. In 1963, it gained recognition as an independent religion under the name Religious Corporation Meisei Kyodan with Wakabayashi Shinpu (Kamikaze?) as its first administrative leader.

At a administrative board meeting on February 6, 1983, it was felt that the organization should return to the spirit of its founding and the decision was made to rename itself the Tenrin-O Meisei Kyodan. The application for this change to the Agency for Cultural Affairs and Kanagawa Prefecture was recognized on September 26 that year and remains so to this day.

Further reading

Sato Koji’s Omichi no joshiki: “All’s Well”

The Footsteps of Our Predecessors, Part 36: I Dedicate My Life

External links (Tenrikyo Online)

Spiritual Parents and Spiritual Children


[1] Consider:

From now on, I shall speak in the metaphor of water. Be enlightened by the words “clear” (sumu) and “muddy” (nigori) (III:7).