Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 196

196. Maturing of the Child (kodomo no seijin)

Oyasama taught us again and again:

“It is not that the incorrigible child does not understand. It is that the teachings of the Parent have not reached him. If the teachings of the Parent reach every nook and corner, the maturing of the child can then be seen.”

Through the grace of Oyasama, the path was made in which those who could not understand would be able to understand, those who could not be saved would be saved, and those who were to suffer would not suffer.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 154

My research

I was lucky enough to discover that the quote attributed to Oyasama in Anecdotes 196 was first published no later than 1937 in a collection entitled Seibun iin. Interestingly enough, author Moroi Masaichi (1877–1903) places this quote much further back in time (1864 or 1865) than what its position in Anecdotes suggests (1886 or 1887). It is possible that the editors of the Itsuwa-hen (the original, Japanese edition of Anecdotes) concluded that Oyasama repeated these words often, perhaps from as early as 1864 and over the next 20 years or so. Yet, it is also probable Itsuwa-hen editors may have had felt it was more accurate to date this particular instruction toward the latter years of Oyasama’s physical life.

I present here a translation of the passage in question from Moroi Masaichi’s posthumous publication:

In 1864, the Honseki, Mr. Yamanaka, and Mr. Masui embraced the faith and, in the year after, Mr. Tsuji, Mr. Matsuo, Mr. Nishida, and others who embraced the faith gradually began to increase. As they all exerted their sincerity, Oyasama’s difficulties began to fade.

In 1865, the construction Oyasama instructed to be six foot square[1] was completed. Oyasama then had a partition put in the middle of the raised six-mat room. The three-mat space on the east side of the room was reserved for the altar while the three-mat space in the west was reserved for Her. She expressed no discomfort in this narrow space and actually slept there.

When She was not attending to Her duties, Oyasama always sat in a formal manner without attempting to ease Her legs nor did She fidget. From the moment She awoke each day until She went to sleep, She sat with Her hands on Her lap. Many people would be amazed and be filled with admiration that She conducted Herself in this way, and no one ever came away with the impression She felt any discomfort.

Although the people who gathered around Her grew fewer after the construction began the previous year,[2] Oyasama was not at all concerned, saying: “It is not that the incorrigible child does not understand. It is that the teachings of the Parent have not reached him. If the teachings of the Parent reach to the tips of the child’s fingers and toes, the maturing of the child can then be seen.” She would then kindly instruct those who gathered before Her. Whether She had to repeat something ten or twenty times or even a hundred and a thousand times, She remained patient and explained in a kind manner. Thus, even those who initially did not understand came to understand the truth, those who were considered beyond help were saved, and the numbers of new followers gradually grew.

Among the people who embraced the faith in 1865 were Nishida Isaburo of Ichieda Village and Matsuo Ichibei of Wakai Village. These families have served the faith diligently to this day. The wives and sons of these individuals are presently working for Church Headquarters. If we were to lose our patience and fail to kindly instruct people over and over after dismissing them as incorrigible or difficult to reason with, it will be impossible to pave the path. People cannot be saved.

Those of us who serve the path must take this resolution as an exemplary model to follow. In our effort help to save others and nurture follower households, we must keep in mind the thoughts Oyasama expressed accordingly: “It is not that the incorrigible child does not understand. It is that the teachings of the Parent have not reached him” (Moroi, pp. 55–57).

When the same quote from Anecdotes 196 is presented in this context, it somehow comes across as an instruction specifically targeted to ministers and other church leaders. I almost have to begin to wonder how many Tenrikyo ministers and leaders today actually embody this attitude in their day-to-day interactions. It certainly gives me reason to pause and reflect.


Ihashi Yukie. 1996. “Denshō shiryō no kakunin to kaishaku: ‘wakaran kodomo ga wakaran no yanai’ ni tsuite.” Ten-Ken 1, pp. 75–82.

Moroi Masaichi. 2002 [1970]. Seibun iin shō. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.

Further reading 

Sato Koji’s Omichi no joshiki: “It Is Not That the Child Does Not Understand”


[1] I.e., the construction of the Place for the Service. Oyasama initially instructed for the size of the structure to be “six feet square.” Yet after she had mentioned “Additions can be made depending on your minds,” followers discussed the matter and the structure eventually grew to be 21 x 36 ft. in size.

[2] This is an illusion to the first so-called “Oyamato Shrine incident” that took place the day after the ceremony celebrating the raising of the beam for the aforementioned construction.