A personal example that may shed some light on how Tenrikyo followers think.
I have a six-month old infant son. The other day my wife and I noticed that a portion of flesh near the nail of his left thumb was green. I first thought was: Oh no, my son is turning into the Hulk. I then imagined how amusing it would be to see my little baby Hulk wrecking havoc throughout Tenri. I quickly snapped back into reality, however.
My wife took little Bobby to the nearby clinic that day and the diagnosis was what we suspected: an infection. But it seems such infections are fairly common in infants Bobby’s age. So she got some cream and pink powdered medicine that tastes somewhat like Pepto-Bismol.
In Tenrikyo, we are taught that any physical disorder of a child up to age 15 is guidance from God to the child’s parents to correct their state of mind. Although it is ideal for the child’s parents to discuss the matter—since Bobby’s condition wasn’t deemed serious, we as parents weren’t compelled to do so.
Nevertheless, it still pushed me to do some self-reflection. I considered myself lucky that Bobby has been growing up healthy so far despite the grumpy manner which I have acted recently. As I helped my wife to have Bobby take the noxious pink concoction, I came to an “A-ha” moment and awakened to the possible divine message behind his condition.
I actually had purposely refrained from taking my medication for three days (my condition: nephritis or kidney inflammation). I was having and still hold a grudge against my doctor and resented being her guinea pig. She added another set of pills recently, which tripled the monthly cost of my medication. I don’t really trust doctors in the first place and the fact that I don’t really like the kidney specialist I see exacerbated my instincts. (To be frank, she’s a total beeyotch as far as I’m concerned)
Although taking the pink medicine was certainly not a pleasure for Bobby, he was nevertheless being a good sport about it. I decided that I should be a good sport about taking my medication as well. While nephritis has no real outer symptoms or complications, I still have incentive to get better, because if I don’t, I could end up in a position where I would need routine kidney dialysis.
I certainly needed a reality check, not only for my sake but for my wife and child. I don’t and cannot live for my own sake anymore (as if that was ever true to begin with), I have a family that I am responsible for caring after. I thanked God for the reality check.
I then administered the Sazuke (the “Divine Grant,” a prayer petitioning God and Oyasama to work extra blessings for a physical disorder) on Bobby with a renewed commitment to take my medication. The next day, the infection was gone. Some may attribute this to the medicine, but I would argue that even God’s protection is needed for medicine to be effective.
As for my nephritis, however, that’s another matter altogether. I imagine there is still a lot of spiritual development on my part that’s needed before it can be settled.
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.