Izo Becomes the Honseki
In 1887, because followers believed Oyasama would live to a 115 years of age, they did not even have a gravesite ready when She withdrew from physical life. Leading followers gathered to discuss the matter and decided to have Oyasama’s physical remains temporarily interred at Zenpukuji, the Nakayama family’s parish temple, until they could build a cemetery dedicated to Her. Oyasama’s funeral was held on February 23 (lunar 2/1) and it has been said that 50,000 followers gathered for the ceremony.
The following day, Izo delivered the following Divine Directions:
Sah, sah, you do not understand, you do not understand. You do not understand anything at all. One 115 years old, 90 years old… You do not understand this either. Twenty-five years short: this you do not understand either. I have taught you My will but you did not understand anything at all. Therefore in order to hasten the salvation of the world I shortened Her life by 25 years. I opened the portals and stepped out to level the world. Were I not God, I would not be able to do such free and unlimited workings. No one will be able to stop Me. God never tells you anything untrue. Listen and understand well. From now on, whatever you hear and whatever you see will fill you with delight. Indeed delightful! Understand well. I shall give you timely talks gradually.
Osashizu, February 24, 1887
On March 4, the following Divine Directions were delivered:
Sah, sah, no matter what happens, no matter what disorder the body develops, do not be concerned. It is God that enters, it is all God’s work.
A week later, on March 11, Izo took to bed after saying that he felt fatigue and severe chills. Soon, he developed a high fever where his lips swelled and perspiration beaded on his forehead. When Sato or Yoshie, who nursed him, wiped this sweat from his body, it formed sticky threads. Then, the ribs on the right side of his body broke one after another; the same then occurred on the left side of his body. Izo later described the experience as follows:
“My ribs broke one by one. After each rib broke, it felt as if there was boiling water in my chest. After a while, another rib would break. After all the ribs were broken on the right side, those on the left side broke also, one by one. Then, the ribs clicked one by one and were restored to their original state. The whole time the pain was indescribable.”1
Izo’s family could not bear seeing him suffer in this manner. One night, Sato asked Jonosuke Terada and Kaji Nakata to look after Izo as she went to a neighbor’s home with the pretense she and Yoshie would take a bath there.
Once out of sight, Sato hugged Yoshie and cried: “What shall we do if Father dies from this illness? We can never go back to Ichinomoto. We’ll all go to Kawachi (Osaka). Even if we have to resort to becoming beggars, we can’t possibly stay here in Yamato.”
Izo’s mysterious illness ended when the Shinbashira Shinnosuke Nakayama came to visit him on March 25, 1887. The Divine Directions on that morning went as follows:
Sah, sah, over here and over there; you will not understand from bits here and there. You must listen carefully or you will not understand. God, who appeared, is not a god who intends that you should suffer or worry. This is not something I have to tell you now. There must have been days until now when you might have realized this. There were those near and far whose sincerity I have accepted. Deep is My regret that I was not able to give them what they deserve. Oh, the regret of My regrets. If I say, “Now, God will descend, now, God will appear,” you may not accept it. In this Residence, God worked from the time when nothing was understood. Sah, if you understand this basis, sah, I shall tell you. If you accept it, I shall tell you. If you are unable to accept it, it will remain just as it is. Sah, what is your reply? I shall not compel you to accept.
Those present replied, “We fully accept.” Then God stated:
Sah, sah, listen carefully. He has been called a carpenter and moves his workplace from here to there. He is able to do only his own work. In the past ten or 20 years there have been many whose sincerity I have accepted. Among them are those who have been long in the path and those who have just begun. I have seen the workings of their minds and have accepted those who are sincere. So there are many on whom I wish to bestow a gift. If I bestow the gifts through him in his present workplace you may think you have received it because of your intimacy with him. This gift is a gift from heaven and there are various kinds. There are those who have received the gifts in various ways. In order to bestow this gift, I wish to end his present position [i.e., the “workplace”] and settle him as the Honseki. As it is now, it is regretful, regretful. Sah, sah, will you accept this? Sah, is it agreed?
Shinnosuke then offered Izo to God the Parent so that Izo could become the Honseki and promised he would take on the responsibility of looking after Izo’s wife and children. God then said:
I have a small request. I said to settle him as the Seki but I do not tell you to do anything special for him right now. There are three people, five people, ten people whose positions are the same as his. But he is the one on whom I put silk over his brocade. Other words will follow.
Due to God’s profound intention, at age 55, Izo Iburi became the Honseki, the “Main Seat.” From this day onward for the next 20 years, his role was to bestow the truth of the Sazuke and deliver the Divine Directions — which include both Timely Talks and answers to inquiries made by followers.
A Sazuke bestowal past midnight
At around midnight on the very night Izo was settled as the Honseki, he suddenly told Sato to summon Yahei Nishiura of Sonohara Village. It was the middle of the night and Sonohara Village was four kilometers southeast from the Residence. It was an impossible request, thought Sato. But the Honseki pressed, “Quickly, quickly.”
When she and Yoshie opened the door of the South Gatehouse, they saw someone outside kneeling in prayer at the Jiba (marked at that time with a pile of pebbles). They wondered who it could be, at such an hour. They looked closely, and it was none other than Yahei Nishiura, who the Honseki so urgently wished to see. (There are two accounts explaining why he happened to be there. One was that he was praying for Izo’s recovery from his strange illness and the other claims Yahei was there praying for his own eye disorder.)
When Yahei came inside the South Gatehouse, the Honseki pronounced in a majestic voice,
Sah, sah, I bestow on you the Sazuke.
Yahei was astounded, for this was completely unexpected. He prostrated himself before the Honseki and received the truth of the Sazuke.
With this, Oyasama’s promise — “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” — began to be fulfilled. As the truth of the Sazuke was bestowed ever more widely, the path grew exponentially.
- Next installment in this series: Part Ten: Izo As the Honseki
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
- Masui Koshiro 桝井孝四郎. Osashizu katari-gusa (vol.1), pp. 191–194.
- Okuya Bunchi 奥谷文智, ed. Honseki-sama 『本席さま』, pp. 135–171.
- 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. 54–61, 69–71.
- Tenrikyo Kyogi oyobi Shiryo Shusei-bu 天理教教義及資料集成部 (Tenrikyo Department of Doctrine and Historical Materials]) ed. Kohon Nakayama Shinnosuke den 『稿本中山眞之亮伝』, pp. 51–57, 112.
- Tenrikyo Overseas Mission Department. Selections from the Osashizu (revised edition), pp. 15, 17–18.
- _________. Tenrikyo: The Path to Joyousness, pp. 15–18.
- Ueda Eizo 植田英蔵. Shinpan Iburi Izo den 『新版飯降伊蔵伝』, pp. 106–110, 112–118.
- Tenrikyo: The Path to Joyousness, p. 15. ↩