157. These Are Good Hands (ē te ya nā)
Whenever Oyasama was tired, granddaughter Hisa Kajimoto would say, “Please let me massage you.”
“Please give me a massage,”
Oyasama would say. So Hisa would massage Her. When she was finished, Oyasama would take Hisa’s hands and say:
“These are good hands,”
and would gently stroke them. Oyasama also used to say as if She were singing:
“You do not need any money to be devoted to your parents. Just give them a massage to make them happy.”
Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 127
Supplemental information from Taimo (translation)
“Kajimoto Hisa: She was the second daughter of Haru and Sojiro. She was born in 1863.
“Circa 1880, when Hisa was about 17 years old, she was drawn to the Residence to serve her grandmother Oyasama full-time. In 1886, Hisa accompanied Oyasama during Her final Hardship at Ichinomoto Branch Police Station.
“In 1887, Hisa married Yamazawa Tamezo. She became an executive board member of the Tenrikyo Women’s Association. In her later years, she exclusively served at the Foundress’ Sanctuary. She passed away for rebirth in 1932 at the age of 70. “
The phrase “devoted to your parents” in Anecdotes no. 157 happens to be a gloss of oya-koko, which is often rendered elsewhere as filial piety. Although filial piety is considered one of the highest virtues in Confucianism (and it may not have to be mentioned that Confucianism has influenced Japanese culture to a considerable extent), I would imagine one would be hard pressed to find any culture in the world that does not value the notion of loving and respecting one’s parents.
I find that Tenrikyo’s take on filial piety happens to be best expressed in the Kariseki or “Post-Bestowal Lectures” (a set of three lectures delivered to newly minted Yoboku or recipients of the sacrament known as the Sazuke):
Filial piety is an important aspect of the path, given that we are only alive now because of our parents. The word “parent” naturally brings to mind our own parents to whom we were born. Yet, if we trace our parentage back to the very beginning, we will find that God the Parent, who created humankind where there was no form, is the Parent of Origin of humanity and is our real Parent, who is daily providing for us even by working within our bodies.
It is in this connection that our piety to our parents is accepted as piety toward God the Parent and is an important aspect of the teachings (Kariseki, Post-Bestowal Lecture 1).
Anecdotes no. 16 is a story that many ministers allude to in their sermons. It describes a young Masui Isaburo who visits Oyasama three times out of his desire to save his mother Kiku from an illness. Although Oyasama informs Isaburo that Kiku’s condition was beyond God’s help, the desire to have his mother be saved causes him to go back each time.
On his third visit, Oyasama is described saying: “The child comes for the sake of his parent to ask that the life, which cannot be saved, be saved at whatever cost. This is sincerity itself. If sincere, God will accept.”
Anecdotes no. 62 is a story describing how Yamamoto Toshiro carried his ill father Togoro on his back in hopes of having him be saved by Oyasama. Her words upon their arrival were: “Welcome home! Soon he will be saved. Out of respect for your devotion to your father, he will be saved.”
The notion of filial devotion in Anecdotes no. 104 may not be as obvious as these two earlier examples. Yet it describes a man named Tomita Denjiro who returned on a thanksgiving pilgrimage to Jiba with his 76-year-old mother Fujimura Jun.
Yet an astute commentator has suggested Denjiro would not have brought his mother along on if he had not been sufficiently devoted to her. One also must take into account that a pilgrimage from Hyogo to Yamato would have been a considerable undertaking for someone living in that day and age.
Oyasama must have recognized Denjiro’s devotion to his mother Jun to have given him the following instruction: “Faith in God is to believe in God just as you do in your own parent who gave you birth. Then your faith will become genuine.”
It can be heartening to know that Oyasama is described teaching in Anecdotes no. 157 that one does not need money to be filial or dutiful to one’s parents and that even giving massages is sufficient.
Granted, one’s parents may fall anywhere along a spectrum of being easy-to-please and excessively demanding. I somehow doubt that “tiger momma” Amy Chua would agree that offering a massage can be a sufficient expression of one’s parental devotion.
Tenrikyō Seinenkai, ed. 2007. “Oyasama: oya ni kōkō wa, zeni kane iran.” Taimō 466 (October 2007), pp. 16-17.
Further reading (Kajimoto Hisa)
“Filial piety” by Fukaya Yoshikazu