156. The End of a Relationship (en no kiri me ga)
Saki Matsuda was born in Gojyono Village of Yamato Province. She had married once before but had divorced her husband, and later remarried at the age of twenty-three.
In 1883, at the age of thirty, she came to follow the path because of her convulsions. Sometime during the following year, a boil broke out on her right arm. The swelling had become so painful that she returned to the Residence and asked to be saved. She was received by Oyasama who said:
“The end of a relationship is the end of a life. You must not think of wanting to slip away.”
With these words, Saki resolved, “I will never slip away.” Then Oyasama breathed upon the boil three times. At that very moment, the pain in her right arm stopped and the swelling went down. Saki had been blessed with God’s marvelous providence.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 126-127
To briefly review, Anecdotes no. 32 has Oyasama saying: “After [the marriage] is settled, do not sever it. If it is severed, the one who severs it will be severed.”
In Anecdotes no. 125, there is an implication that Oyasama’s granddaughter-in-law suddenly lost her vision because God wanted her to reconsider her decision to divorce her husband who happened to be Oyasama’s grandson. When she tearfully reconsidered and repented after receiving Oyasama’s instruction, she regained her eyesight.
In Anecdotes no. 156, it described that Matsuda Saki happens to be a divorcée. When a boil broke out on her arm, she went to Oyasama for instruction. After resolving not to leave her husband, it is said that her boil was healed with Oyasama’s sacred breath.
Collectively, these three selections from Anecdotes of Oyasama (nos. 32, 125, and 156) appear to strongly discourage divorce. However, it must be said there is nothing in the Tenrikyo tradition that forbids it in the way other religions do.
One can also find the following passage in Tenrikyo Scripture:
You say that the relationship between a husband and wife has ended. Even if the marital relationship no longer exists, help them form a brother-sister relationship.
Osashizu, May 22, 1895
To elaborate, although a married couple may choose to dissolve their marriage, they will nevertheless remain siblings in the eyes of God. (i.e., the idea of universal brotherhood, a view that happens to be shared by traditions other than Tenrikyo). Therefore, a minister or missionary who finds him or herself counseling a couple who is dissolving their marriage must make an attempt to instill a degree of civility between them even after they have divorced.
Sato Koji, who teaches at Tenri University, has once noted:
There are times when a marriage ends up in divorce even when the couple loved one another and the union was desired by the people around them. The fact that the divorce rate for “love marriages” is higher than that of arranged marriages makes one think. This brings the mind-set of the two individuals involved into question.
There are multiple reasons and circumstances that lead a couple to a divorce, and each party can often make a case for him or herself. A common excuse is that the affection that was is no more, expressed with the word “sameta.” Several potential kanji can be applied to this word, either implying the love has “grown cold” (冷めた), “faded” (褪めた), or that one “opened their eyes” (覚めた) or “sobered up” (醒めた). Which of these things is the person feeling? It is possible that he or she is expressing all of the above.
Whatever the case may be, each party thinks the other is to blame. And while they may remember that they once vowed to be a couple for the rest of their lives, they have lost and forgotten the excitement they felt on that day when they made their vow.
There are those who may insist that they were not aware of their spouse’s shortcomings when they were still dating. However, that ought not to be the case, as they must have had a sufficient amount of tolerance that overlooked any shortcomings their partner may have had. While such may be the case as long as things remain cozy between the couple, in time they each begin to focus merely on their partner’s shortcomings.
Such issues are not just limited to married life alone. Yet it is important for each partner to make the effort to meet the other half way and constantly judge their matters as good or bad in the light of the [Tenrikyo] teachings (pp. 246-247).
Satō Kōji. 2004. Omichi no jōshiki. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.