“A Thing I Intended to Give My Children”
Oyasama hastens the performance of the Service
In February 1886, during the harshest Yamato winter in 30 years, Oyasama was imprisoned at Ichinomoto Station for 12 days. But despite such oppression by the authorities, Oyasama continued to hasten Her followers to conduct the Service.
The followers, led by Shinnosuke, Her grandson and the first Shinbashira, were hesitant to comply as they were afraid its performance would attract the attention of the local police and thus compromise Oyasama’s safety. Once Gisaburo Nakata, who was detained at Ichinomoto at the same time as Oyasama, passed away for rebirth in June 1886 from illness, one could imagine how strongly the followers desired to never have Oyasama undergo such hardship at the hands of the police ever again.
However, on January 4, 1887, Oyasama’s physical condition appeared to become critical. Through Izo, the followers inquired of God the Parent regarding Oyasama’s illness. God’s words (which presently comprise the opening passage of the Osashizu) were as follows:
Sah, sah, the time is fully ripe and pressing. I have already told you everything but you have not understood at all. No matter how much I explain, there is no one who understands. This is My regret. You must reflect deeply on the life of doubt which you lead. Sah, if the words of God were false, this path would not have continued for forty-nine years until now. What I have told you until now has been shown. With this in mind, reflect. Sah, shall I withdraw? Shall I end it all?
Osashizu, January 4, 1887
As soon as this revelation was completed, Oyasama stopped breathing for a moment and Her body turned cold. The followers who were present were greatly shocked. They resolved to conduct the Service from the night of the 5th to apologize for not responding to Oyasama’s urgings, albeit secretly. For the next several weeks, a tense series of Divine Directions were given to the followers with Shinnosuke as their representative.
Oyasama’s withdrawal from physical life
February 18 was 1/26 according to the lunar calendar. That morning, followers returned to Jiba as they often did on each 26th. Those who were in charge at the Residence feared that the local authorities would take notice so they were at a loss on whether or not they should conduct the Service. When they inquired of God about the situation, the Direction came:
I instructed you to do [the Service] immediately. Sah, now, at this time, I am in haste. Some of you say, “Respond to God’s will at once.” Others say, “Be prudent.” Still others say, “Wait awhile.” Sah, sah, concerning the one thing, do you fear the law, the law? Do you fear God or do you fear the law? It is useless to hesitate. The Service must be performed at any cost. I have told you this many times before. I am not instructing you in something new at this time. Which path will you take? Do not ask Me such a question. You should understand by this one instruction.
Osashizu, February 18, 1887
The followers, led by Shinnosuke, responded to this urgent Direction by gathering those who were prepared to risk their lives to conduct the Service. Among the Service performers were Izo’s son Masajin, who danced the Kagura, and Yoshie, who played the shamisen.
Oyasama listened to the spirited sounds of the Service with joy. Yet as soon as the last line of Song Twelve was sung, Oyasama’s condition suddenly changed. After taking three sips of water, Oyasama quietly withdrew from physical life as though She had fallen asleep.
As soon as the follower who had conducted the Service were informed of this, they let out a single despairing cry, which was followed by complete silence. The Life of Oyasama reads, “Her followers felt as if the very ground on which they stood had crumbled away, as if the sun and the moon had ceased to shine, as if the world was enveloped in darkness” (p. 239).
Once the devastated followers were momentarily able to gather their composure, they inquired for Divine Directions through Izo. Then came the following words:
Because of My love for you, My children, the Parent shortened Her life by 25 years to step out and save the world from now. Observe well. Observe well what the path has been and what the path will become… Sah, there was a thing I had intended to give to My children but I was not able. I shall bestow this truth on you step by step hereafter. Remember this well.
Thus it was explained that Oyasama cut short Her physical life by 25 years in order “to step out and save the world.” By shortening Her term of life by 25 years, Oyasama also reminded followers of the great importance of the Service, which allows the workings of God the Parent at the creation of the world and humankind to be manifested for the purpose of world salvation.
The words “There was a thing I had intended to give to My children but I was not able. I shall bestow this truth on you step by step hereafter” referred to the Sazuke. Because of the oppression of Oyasama and Her followers by the police, She did not have the opportunity to bestow the truth of the Sazuke on most followers during Her physical life. Through the above Divine Direction, Oyasama promised that She would remain everliving, and that She would gradually begin bestowing the truth of the Sazuke through Izo.
- Next installment in this series: Part Nine: Izo Becomes the Honseki
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
- Imamura Toshimi 今村俊三. “Fusekomi: Honseki-sama no michisugara ni manabu.” Arakitoryo 215 (Spring 2004), pp. 104–131.
- Nakayama Shozen 中山正善. Hitokoto-hanashi 『ひとことはなし・その一』, pp. 187–194, 230–243.
- Nakayama Yoshikazu. My Oyasama, volume two, pp. 129–133, 168–217.
- Okuya Bunchi 奥谷文智, ed. Honseki-sama 『本席さま』, pp. 106–121, 124–131.
- Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyusho [Oyasato Research Institute, Tenri University], ed. Kaitei Tenrikyo jiten.
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. The Life of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 176–178, 193, 205–242.
- Tenrikyo Doyusha 天理教道友, ed. Ten no jogi: Honseki Iburi Izo no shogai 『天の定規―本席飯降伊蔵の生涯』, pp. 49–54.
- Ueda Eizo 植田英蔵. Shinpan Iburi Izo den 『新版飯降伊蔵伝』, pp. 76, 78–80, 92–104.
- Yamochi Tatsuzo 矢持辰三. Kohon Tenrikyo Oyasama den nyumon jikko 『稿本天理教教祖入門十講』, pp. 442, 446–448, 496.