152. Twice as Strong (bai no chikara)
It was rare to be admitted to an audience with Oyasama around 1884 as the police exerted very strong pressure in those days. On one occasion, Unosuke Tosa returned to Jiba with twenty-five or six followers. An intermediary told Oyasama, “He is here from Awa.” Oyasama appreciated Tosa’s effort and said:
“Welcome back from a distant province.”
Continuing, She said:
“Tosa, you are here from a distant place, but if you do not realize the true strength of God, you will feel uneasy in bringing back many followers. Why don’t you try God’s strength today?”
Oyasama told an attendant to bring a hand towel and, holding its border between Her thumb and index finger, She asked Tosa:
“Now try and pull it.”
After bowing respectfully, Tosa tried to pull it toward himself with all his might, but he could pull it no closer. Oyasama said, smiling:
“Now, pull it harder. Pull with all your might. Do not hesitate.”
Tosa pulled, his face reddening with the effort. However strongly he pulled it, he was unable to draw it close to himself. Tosa was a strong-armed man by nature, and proud of the strength which he had gained as a sailor, yet he could not draw the towel closer to himself. At last he bowed his head and said, “I am overwhelmed.” Then, Oyasama stretched Her right hand toward him and said:
“Try once more. Now hold Me by the wrist this time.”
Tosa said, “Pardon me,” and respectfully gripped Oyasama’s hand. Oyasama said:
“Now more strongly. More strongly.”
The more strongly he grasped, the more painful his hand became. So he admitted his defeat at last, and bowed deeply before Oyasama, saying, “I am overwhelmed.” Then, Oyasama said to him with a pleasant smile:
“This is God’s strength. Twice as strong as yours.”
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 124-125
Anecdotes no. 150 described Tosa Unosuke returning with 33 people in October 1884. Here, in Anecdotes no. 152, he returns with at least 25 people in an unspecified month in the same year. Since returning to Jiba from Awa (Tokushima) must have included at least one sea voyage, I can only imagine the kind of efforts that were required on his part to return with so many people with him on a regular basis. (Anecdotes no. 150 also reveals that he returned to Jiba “almost every month” during this time.)
Anecdotes no. 152 also happens to include another description of how Oyasama tested her strength with her followers. Earlier examples from Anecdotes of Oyasama include no. 68 “The Way Ahead is Long,” as well as nos. 118 and 131 (both entitled “On the Side of God”).
I feel perhaps the context of Anecdotes no. 152 is able to offer better insight than these earlier examples in terms of how it helps to begin to explain why Oyasama pitted her strength in this way.
Oyasama explicitly offers Tosa Unosuke to “try God’s strength” so he would feel less “uneasy” about bringing home so many people “from a distant place” such as Awa. After a show of her physical strength, Oyasama appears to imply that God responds to one’s sincere efforts to bring people back to Jiba by doubling the efforts one exerts toward the same goal. It also appears to be a subtle reminder that any achievement that we tend to attribute to our effort and power alone is possible because of God’s daily protection.
External links (Tenrikyo Online)