174. If You Let Go Your Strength (socchi de chikara o yurume tara)
Hidenobu Nakano, who had been in charge of horses for the Koizumi feudal clan in Yamato, was also proficient in jujitsu and kendo–fencing. He returned to Jiba one day and was granted an audience with Oyasama. Oyasama said:
“Nakano, you are known as a strong man in the country. Now try and remove your hands,”
and She took hold of both his wrists. Nakano at first exerted only a little strength and tried to free his hands, but She would not let go. So he became serious about it, and with a shout, tried with all his might to pull both hands free. But the venerable Oyasama remained steady with perfect composure.
Nakano, who was still in the prime of life, tried, with his face flushing, again and again with all his might to pull free his hands, shouting each time, “Ya! Ya!” But Oyasama retained an awe-inspiring calm, and continued to smile pleasantly. He could do nothing.
Not only that, the most astonishing thing was that the more he exerted his strength, the more strongly his own wrists were gripped. Finally, they started to feel as if they were being ripped apart. Powerful as he was, Nakano could not bear the pain any longer. “I am overwhelmed. Please release my hands,” Nakano conceded to Oyasama. Then, She said:
“You need not apologize at all. If you let go your strength, God will also let go God’s strength. If you exert strength, God will also exert strength. This applies not only now but always,”
and She quietly released his hands.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 139-140
Here is yet another selection from Anecdotes of Oyasama in which Tenrikyo’s founder is portrayed testing Her strength with a man much younger than she was. Earlier examples include Anecdotes 68 (“The Way Ahead is Long”), 118 (“On the Side of God”), 131 (also entitled “On the Side of God”) and 152 (“Twice as Strong”).
Although I already made several attempts to explain the significance of these descriptions, it has only recently come to my attention that the “Acknowledgements” section prior to the Table of Contents in Anecdotes of Oyasama actually contains the following statement:
The several episodes involving contests of strength were a way of showing that Oyasama was truly the living Shrine of God the Parent, in a manner that was simple and effective.
If I only had noticed it earlier! It certainly would have saved me some trouble. Well, better late than never!