25. Seventy-Five Days of Fasting
This episode occurred in 1872 when Oyasama was seventy-five years of age. During a period of seventy-five days of fasting, She visited the home of Ichibei Matsuo for the purpose of saving people in Higashiwakai Village, north of Tatsuta. Before leaving the Residence, She had three small cups of sweet rice wine and three round pieces of raw eggplant.
“Let us start on our trip,”
She said. “Please go on a litter,” someone pleaded. She replied:
“Remember that this is a test,”
and, so saying, began to walk briskly. When She arrived at the Matsuo residence, Ichibei and his wife were so overjoyed that they were close to tears. Assuming that Oyasama was tired and exhausted after walking about sixteen kilometers while fasting, they had a hearty feast prepared for Her.
“What a tempting dinner! Thank you very much. I accept your kind thoughtfulness, and it fills my stomach. Please take away the dishes now, and bring me water and salt instead,”
She said. Ichibei’s wife, Haru, thought that the dishes might not have been to Her liking, so she inquired about it.
“Each one of them is my favorite. They all look delicious,”
Oyasama replied. Whereupon Haru said, “But you haven’t touched anything. You ask for just water and salt, but I cannot do that.”
“I am now fasting in accordance with God’s will. My stomach is always full. I understand how you feel. Well, then why don’t you take those chopsticks and try to feed me?”
Haru was pleased and she moved the tray in front of Oyasama. Haru picked up the bowl of rice in one hand and, using chopsticks, took some rice from it. Just as she was about to move the chopsticks toward Oyasama, who was waiting to be served, Haru’s knees began to shake. The rice on the chopsticks, together with the bowl, suddenly dropped upon the tray. Bowing deeply before Oyasama, Haru humbly apologized. She withdrew the tray from in front of Oyasama, who was smiling, and brought another tray that she had prepared.
“Thank you very much for your trouble. Are you going to feed Me again?”
Oyasama said, opening Her mouth wide. Haru again picked up the bowl and took some rice with the chopsticks. As Haru moved her hand toward Oyasama’s mouth, Haru’s right thumb and index finger twitched painfully, and the chopsticks and rice fell on Oyasama’s lap. Feeling deeply ashamed, Haru apologized for her repeated carelessness.
“I am thankful for your kind thoughts, but it will be the same no matter how many times you try. God has stopped you. So please take away the tray of dishes quickly,”
Oyasama said tenderly to console her.
So Oyasama continued to fast during Her stay, and news of this reached the Residence. On the fifth day, three persons — daughter Kokan, Iburi, and Yohei of Ichieda — came from the Residence. Kokan asked Oyasama to have some food.
“You all think that I am not eating of my own accord, but it is not so. It is just that I cannot eat. If you think otherwise, try and feed me,”
Oyasama said. Kokan tried to feed Her, but the chopsticks jumped up and hung in the air. Witnessing this, everyone was convinced. So Oyasama’s fasting continued to the day of Her return.
Shuji came to take Oyasama home, and Ichibei decided to go with Shuji to borrow a litter from the Kohigashi family of Byodoji Village. They asked Oyasama to ride in the litter, and when they came to Tatsuta, Oyasama said:
“I feel dizzy.”
So they respected Her wish, and Oyasama began to walk. Oyasama explained:
“God has said, ‘Do not ride in a litter. Walk.’ “
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 18–20