199. Just One (hitotsu ya de)
Sei Honda, an official of the Heishin Shinmei-ko Confraternity, returned to Jiba in 1882 for the second time. She had chronic abdominal edema and her stomach was beginning to swell. Oyasama told her when She saw her condition:
“Osei, Osei, it must be very trying to carry that stomach. But this is not the dust accumulated in your present life. It has been carried over from your previous lives. God will surely save you. You must not change your heart. You must not let go of this string at any cost. Since you know nothing about your previous lives, just ask God for forgiveness and just thank God.”
From that day on, Sei could not stay still when she thought of all the dust that she had accumulated during her past three lives. Despite her swollen stomach, she went forth every day to do missionary work.
Sei poured water over herself even on the coldest days in winter before going out. As people gradually began to come to her in increasing numbers, she would offer water in the sake offering-bottle at the altar and then give it to them. By this means marvelous healings took place one after another. For several years, she went forth with zeal to do missionary work. But in the autumn of 1886, when she was forty-nine years of age, her abdominal edema became worse until she was in critical condition. She suffered so much that she alternately said, “Please let me sit up,” and, “Please let me lie down.” Hisakichi Hashida, who was the head of the confraternity, returned to Jiba. Through the arrangement of Gisaburo Nakata he was granted an audience with Oyasama, who said:
“Let me lie down. Let me sit up. You must have heard her wrong. What she meant was to enflame the confraternity with zeal. She will not die. Go back quickly and perform the service sincerely.”
So Hashida hurried back to Kobe. For three days and three nights, day and night, six times in twenty-four hours, he performed a special prayer service for her recovery.* The third day came but there was no sign of improvement. Another series of the special prayer service was performed for three days and three nights, but her condition became worse. From the sixth day on, she clenched her teeth and slept for twenty-eight days as if she had been dead. During this period she was given sacred water daily, and three sacred sugar candies were cooked and given to her through a bamboo tube three times a day.
The doctor refused to come, saying, “She will die this time.” However, during those twenty-eight days she urinated so frequently that it must have been over twenty times a day. On the morning of the twenty-eighth day, her younger sister, Sue Nadatani, was changing Sei’s clothes. Sue noticed that her sister’s swollen stomach had shrunk to its normal size. She was so astonished that she shouted out. Hearing Sue’s voice, Sei opened her eyes for the first time and looked around. Sue asked, “Can you hear?” Sei spoke for the first time, “How thankful I am! How thankful I am!”
A thin rice gruel was cooked and given to her. She ate two mouthfuls and said, “It is delicious. How thankful I am!” She then ate two bowls of the gruel with some pickled plums. She ate grated yam next. Day by day Sei regained her strength. But she was just like a baby, wetting the bed, and her memory was very short.
About a month later, Kichigoro Kataoka, another official of the [confraternity], returned to Jiba in her place to report it. He was granted an audience with Oyasama, who said:
“It is natural. It is natural. She is just one year old. She was reborn without having to die. She is still young. She is only one. She does not know anything yet. She will not know until she becomes two or three.”
Sei had lost her memory completely. When sewing a kimono, she would make mistakes in the measurement. She could no longer play the shamisen, she was that bad. But within two or three years she gradually began to understand things, and from the fourth year she was so blessed as to lead a normal life.
Thus, Sei was given a second life at the age of forty-nine, and she lived on for thirty years to the age of seventy-nine, devoting herself to saving others with yet greater zeal.
* This service consisted of the seated service and the entire teodori, and was performed three times during the day and three times during the night. As it was performed in this way for three days and nights consecutively, the performers went without sleep or rest.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 156–158