Tag Archives: attitude toward other faiths

Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 170

170. Heaven is the Foundation (ten ga dai)

Among the words Shirobei Umetani heard from Oyasama were the following:

“At any shrine or temple of Buddha, pay your respects and then chant Tenri-O-no-Mikoto.

“People worshiping at a place will increase the authority of that place. Because people worship at a place, that place will be able to maintain itself. The place where Ubusuna-gami is enshrined is one of the places where man was given birth. Even people who worship Ubusuna-gami are returning their obligation to God.

“Each other place of worship, whether it be a shrine or temple, is like a single finger of your hand. This place of origin is like having both hands and each hand with all its fingers.

“The foundation of this world is heaven. The core of heaven is Tsukihi.* The core of the human body is the eyes. The core of the human being is the clear water of the mind, the clear eyes.”

* Tsukihi: literally, ‘Moon-Sun’; another name of God the Parent.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 137

Continue reading Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 170

Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 164

164. Deep Affection (kawaii ippai)

The following is from the notes of the words of Oyasama as recorded by Ihachiro Yamada on March 28, 1885:

“You say ‘God’ and wonder where God is. God is within the body. Then again there is no discrimination between those within the path and those without; that is, the people of the whole world are all children of God. Think of everything in terms of your own child. Everything is solely from deep affection.

A farmer prays for a rich harvest; God considers how best to do this.

Again, only if the mind of man is accepted, God will exert the utmost strength to protect man forever.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 131

Continue reading Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 164

Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 108

108.  The Roads to the Summit Are Many

Seijiro Imagawa had been suffering from a stomach ailment for many years. He was an ardent follower of the Hokke sect. He invited Buddhist priests to his home to pray for him and he himself also prayed all the time. Although others were saved by this, his own stomach ailment did not get any better. One day, the wife of a neighborhood bamboo dealer said to him, “Since you are devoted to Hokke you might not listen but there exists a wonderful god.” He replied, “I will listen to the talk once to learn what is taught.” Thus, it was arranged for him to listen to the teachings of the path. He then received the marvelous divine blessing through the three days and three nights of prayers, and recovered completely from the stomach ailment which had bothered him for thirty years. This was about 1882.

Thereafter, he completely ceased going to the Buddhist temple, and resolved to follow the path single-heartedly. He returned to Jiba and when he had an audience with Oyasama, he received these wonderful words:

“Do you know Mt. Fuji? Its summit is one, but the roads to the summit are many. Whichever road you take, it is the same.”

He was deeply moved by Her warm parental love.

Then, Oyasama asked:

“Did you come from Osaka?”

and, continuing, said:

“I understand Osaka has many fires. Even if a fire should get close, in some cases it will burn only so far and then it will stop moving any closer. The reason it stops is because the direction of the wind changes. Because the wind changes direction, a fire stops from coming.”

She explained with the gesture of drawing a line with Her finger.

Later, on September 5, 1890, at the time of the great Shimmachi Fire in Osaka, the fire burned furiously toward the Shimmei-gumi [Confraternity] at Itachibori. Everyone, beginning with Izutsu, the head of the [confraternity], performed the Prayer Service in earnest. Then, just as the wooden fence in the back edge of the lot was burned down, the direction of the wind changed and the whole area of the Shimmei-gumi [Confraternity] remained untouched. Seijiro, with deep emotion, recalled the words of Oyasama.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 91–93

Translation of “Sawa’s note”

“[Imagawa Seijiro was] a member of the Shinmei-gumi Confraternity. He was the first minister of Totsu Bunkyokai, affiliate of Ashitsu Daikyokai.”

My research / take

It ought be mentioned that the “Hokke” or Lotus sect must refer to one of the several Nichiren Buddhist branches that existed at the time. I also imagine that the priests most likely recited the Lotus Sutra on Imagawa’s behalf when they prayed for his recovery and that Imagawa himself likely chanted the daimoku.

Regarding the quote attributed to Oyasama (“Do you know Mt. Fuji? Its summit is one, but the roads to the summit are many. Whichever road you take, it is the same.”), one can almost imagine Imagawa “was deeply moved by Her parental love” because Nichiren Buddhism had a historical tendency to be highly sectarian1, insisting its practice was the only one that mattered, and its priests would most surely have been miffed when Imagawa converted to the faith Oyasama expounded.

When preparing for this post, I serendipitously came across The Religions of Man from Huston Smith, professor of religion and philosophy, who, in writing on Hinduism, illustrates a religious sentiment not unlike what Oyasama expressed in Anecdotes 108. I give a rather lengthy citation (from a section that happens to be entitled “Many Paths to the Same Summit”):

That Hinduism has shared her land for centuries with Parsees, Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians may help explain a last idea that comes out more clearly through her than through any other leading contemporary religion; namely, her conviction that the various major religions are alternate and relatively equal paths to the same God. To claim salvation as the monopoly of any one religion is like claiming that God can be found in this room but not the next, in this attire but not another. Normally each individual will take the path which leads up life’s mountain from his own culture; those who circle the mountain trying to bring others around to their paths are not climbing. In practice India’s sects have often been fanatically intolerant, but in principle they have remained notably open. The Vedas early announce Hinduism’s classic contention: the various religions are but the different languages through which God has spoken to the human heart. “Truth is one; sages call it by different names.”

It is possible to climb life’s mountain from any side, but when the top is reached the pathways merge. As long as religions remain in the foothills of theology, ritual, or church organization they may be far apart. Differences in culture, history, geography, and group temperament all make for different starting points. Far from being deplorable, this is good; it adds richness to the totality of man’s religious venture.2

It may also be worthy of note that while Oyasama is described revealing a sympathetic view of other faiths, statements attributed to her in Anecdotes 10 subtly hints Jiba is superior to other places of worship.

As for the summit of Mt. Fuji, Akio Inoue sensei has written that it symbolizes the realm of spiritual insight (satori) where the Joyous Life will come into view. He writes, “It is said that once one begins to see the image of Mt. Fuji as a full representation of the concept ‘if one saves others, one shall be saved,’ one will understand there are several roads that lead there.”3

Anecdotes 108 also seems to imply that Oyasama foretold the fire of 1890 and that the Shinmei-gumi Confraternity would be spared, functioning as another feather to her cap (holy reputation).


  • Inoue Akio. 2006. “Shinkō to michi: ‘108 Noboru michi wa iku-suji mo’.” In Itsuwa-hen ni manabu iki-kata 2. Tenri: Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, pp. 177-207.
  • Nichiren Shōnin. 2003. Writings of Nichiren Shōnin: Doctrine 1, translated by Hori, Kyōtsū and edited by Sakashita, Jay. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
  • Smith, Huston. 1958. The Religions of Man. New York: Harper Colophon Books.


  1. The sectarian character of this Buddhist school that emerged in Japan stems from the fact that Nichiren, the monk who founded the sect that bears his name, was highly critical of other Buddhist sects.

    Nichiren had proclaimed that “Shingon Buddhism is the evil dharma that destroys the country, the nembutsu is the teaching that leads people into the Hell of Incessant Suffering, Zen is the teaching of heavenly demons, and Ritsu priests are national traitors (Writings of Nichiren Shōnin, p. 273).” He also referred to Pure Land, Shingon, and Zen as “the three calamities” (ibid, p. 219), “derogatorily calls such masters as Kukai, Ennin, Enchin, Annen, Genshin and Honen parasitic worms in one’s bosom” (p. 187) and that the convention of assigning priests from many of the established Buddhist schools to protect the nation was “as useless as feeding coarse food to elderly persons and hard rice to children” (p. 259).

  2. Smith, p. 76.
  3. Inoue, p. 184.

Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 27

27. Happy Day

On the morning of the tenth day of Oyasama’s visit to the Matsuo residence in July 1872, Ichibei and his wife went to Oyasama’s room to extend their greetings. Oyasama asked:

“Would you like to have God enshrined?”

Ichibei replied, “Yes, I would like to have God enshrined, but where would be the best place?”

“Over there,”

Oyasama said, pointing Her finger to where the Buddhist altar was. It was so unexpected, like a bolt out of the blue, that Ichibei and his wife were speechless, thinking of their ancestors enshrined in the Buddhist altar. The couple exchanged glances and silently nodded their heads in approval. Ichibei asked, “Then where shall the Buddhist altar be moved?” Oyasama said:

“The ancestors will not be angry, nor will they oppose the move. Set it in a similar place in the other room.”

The other room was the old guest room. A carpenter was called at once to draw up plans for God’s altar in accordance with Oyasama’s directions. Preparations were made for the relocation of the Buddhist altar. The Buddhist priest was strongly opposed to their proposal, but they asked him to offer the prayer against his will. The relocation of the altar was completed that night without trouble. The following morning four carpenters came to build God’s altar.

“If you do not hurry you will not finish in time,”

Oyasama said to speed up the work. It was completed on the evening of the twelfth day of Her stay. The next morning, the couple went to Oyasama’s room to extend their greetings, but She was not there. When they went to the other room, they found Her sitting silently before the newly completed altar.

“You did well. This will be fine, this will be fine,”

Oyasama said, and then She went to the sickroom of their eldest son, Narazo, who was unable to move from his bed. As Oyasama sat beside him, She said:

“Your head must itch.”

She took Her own comb and began to comb Narazo’s hair slowly. Oyasama said as She returned to Her room:

“Today is a nice day, a happy day, because today God is to be enshrined,”

and She smiled happily. The couple was wondering how the enshrinement was going to be done when they heard someone at the front door. Haru went to greet the visitor and it was Shuji, Oyasama’s son. As soon as Shuji was escorted to Her room, Oyasama said:

“Arrangements for the enshrinement are complete, so please make the gohei, the sacred staff.”

When it was completed, Oyasama personally took the staff to the altar and offered Her prayers to sanctify it.

“God is going to be here also from today. How happy! This is truly wonderful,”

Oyasama said, overjoyed.

“I am returning home now,”

She said, and She returned to the Residence.

The Buddhist altar was completely removed from the home at a later date.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 21–23 Continue reading Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 27

Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 10

10. The Long Way Around

In 1863, when Kiku Masui was thirty-nine years old, her husband, Isaburo, caught a slight cold. It developed into a stubborn case of asthma. Kiku was so religious by nature that she visited almost all the places of pilgrimage and worship within eight or twelve kilometers of their house in order to pray for her husband’s recovery. Still, he did not get well.

Then, Senkichi Yaoi, a next-door neighbor, advised her, “Kiku, you seem to have been to various places of worship one after another. Now, why don’t you go to the god in Shoyashiki?” Kiku felt as if she were being drawn to God by an invisible string, and she hurried to Jiba* at once. The seasonable time had come for her.

When Kiku was admitted into Oyasama’s room, Oyasama said warmly:

“I have been waiting for you, waiting for you,”

as if welcoming Her own child who had come home from afar. Then Kiku said, “I have been to so many places to pray until now.” Oyasama said:

“You have come the long way around. What a pity! You could have met all those gods if only you had come here,”

and She smiled gently. When Kiku heard these words, she felt that Oyasama was truly the Parent. She was deeply impressed and moved by an inexpressible feeling of adoration which penetrated into her heart.


* The Residence

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 5–6. Continue reading Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 10

The Core of Heaven is Tsukihi

The following is an excerpt from Omichi no joshiki [Tenrikyo Fundamentals] (pp. 113–115) by Koji Sato 佐藤浩司, professor at Tenri University and instructor at Tenri Seminary. Note: This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.

The Foundation of This World is Heaven; the Core of Heaven is Tsukihi

It is my assumption that like in the past, many people even today were adherents of other faiths before they were guided to the path. There were even predecessors taught directly by Oyasama who were former followers of Buddhism or Ubusuna-gami. People at that time often visited several reputable places of worship to make prayers to receive blessings and benefits. Among our predecessors were people who, during their visits to such places of worship, heard the reputation of the “living goddess of childbirth,” before deciding to go.

Continue reading The Core of Heaven is Tsukihi

A Mind Like Cotton

The following excerpt is from Omichi no joshiki [Tenrikyo Fundamentals] (pp. 106–110) by Koji Sato 佐藤浩司, professor at Tenri University and instructor at Tenri Seminary. Note: This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.

A Mind Like Cotton

Oyasama taught us how we ought to use our minds with a variety of metaphors. Continue reading A Mind Like Cotton