The location is Japan, the time is the latter half of the 3rd century—it is the era of the 10th emperor of Japan, Emperor Sujin. An epidemic was going around the country and many people died. This is said to be the oldest record of a pandemic in Japanese history. In conjunction, many natural disasters happened one after another.
Emperor Sujin conducted a divination in order to determine what he should do. The divine revelation said that the two deities Amatsukami and Kunitsukami “should be enshrined at the best locations in Japan.”
In fact, from the first emperor Jinmu to the 10th emperor Sujin, gods had been enshrined in the same places as where the emperors lived.
Realizing that this was lacking in respect, the gods were relocated.
The first diety, Amatsukami (god of the heavens), refers to the ancestor of the imperial family, Amaterasu Omikami. This god was enshrined at the present location of Ise Shrine.
The second diety, Kunitsukami (god of the lands) is Yamatono Okuni Tamanokami, otherwise known as Otokonushino Okami. He is the diety that governs the land of Yamato.
If Amaterasu Omikami is the ancestor of the imperial family, the other Otokonushino Okami is the local deity of the Yamato region. In other words, he is the local deity that the emperor protects and entrusts to rule Yamato.
Do you know where Otokonushino Okami is enshrined? It’s at Oyamato Shrine. It was considered one of the oldest shrines in Japan and was given great authority.
One day in October 1874 (lunar calendar), two people went to Oyamato Shrine to ask about their deity. They were Gisaburo Nakata (44 years old) and Ichibei Matsuo (40 years old). Let me read from the Life of Oyasama manuscript edition.
One day in October, by the lunar calendar, 1874, Oyasama said to Gisaburo Nakata and Ichibei Matsuo,
Go to the Oyamato Shrine and ask about their deity.
They both went to the shrine at once and asked the priests about their deity as they had been instructed by Oyasama. A priest replied pompously that Oyamato was a historic grand shrine dedicated to one of the deities in the ancient chronicles.
The priests must have said that their deity was called Otokonushino Okami and he was a god that governs the land of the Yamato region and its origin is recorded in the Kojiki; Records of Ancient Matters and Nihon Shoki; Chronicles of Japan.
Back to The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo:
Then, what kind of protection does he bestow on us humans?” asked visitors. The priest could give no answer whatsoever.
I can totally see this. The priest must have been like “What?” Oyamato Shrine is the god that governs Yamato. He is the most venerable and respectful god just by being there. It is not a god to do any favors to humans in the first place.
Back to The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo:
Whereupon, a priest named Hara, after listening to Nakata and Matsuo, asked, “Who would express such foolish opinions? Maybe it is that old woman in Shoyashiki. Indeed it is absurd! Do you have anything to prove what you say?” “Yes,” replied the two, taking out parts three and four of the Ofudesaki, “ours is the Creator, the true and real God,” and they explained the various protections of God, repeating what they had been taught regularly at the Residence. Then the priest asked to see the volumes for a moment.
Why did they bring the Part Three and Four of Ofudesaki? Although there is no record of it, it is natural to assume that Oyasama made them take the precious Ofudesaki with them.
Then, what is written in the Part Three and Four of the Ofudesaki? When I read these parts again, keeping in mind the conversation at the Oyamato Shrine, I realized that there are astonishing verses in there.
The famous verse of the Part Three of the Ofudesaki would be:
This universe is the body of God.
Pounder this in all matters. (Ofudesaki III: 40)
This verse appears twice in the Ofudesaki.
This world is in the bosom of God the Parent. However, for the priest, the verse may have sounded like “This world is not protected by a god, Otokonushino Okami. Think about it!”
And in Part Three, the terms such as “high mountains” and “high places” appear. The priest would have clearly understood that the “high mountains” and “high places” refer to the national governing system, centering the emperor, and the gods of the shrines who authorize such governing body.
Now I would like to quote from Ofudesaki Part Three:
The high mountains are doing as they please with
the whole world, but they cannot see the future. (III:48)
The central pillar of the high mountains is that of Kara.
This is the prime cause of the anger of God. (III:57)
Know that the strength of God will be pitted against
the strength of those in high places from now on. (III:83)
You are thinking that the present path is at the mercy of the
high places, but you are mistaken. It will be as God pleases. (III:120)
Those in high places are doing as they please with all the world.
Do you not know the regret of God? (III:121)
Those in high places are thinking of the whole world
on their own terms,
but their minds are wrong. (III:124)
The trees which grow in the high mountains and
the trees which grow in the low valleys are all the same. (III:125)
All human bodies are things lent by God.
Do you not know the free and unlimited workings of God? (III:126)
What do you all think? For me, by reading these verses, I cannot help but to think that these verses are picking a fight with Oyamato Shrine.
Continuing in Part Four, the “Truth of Origin” appears.
The following verses explains “Ours is the Creator, the true and real God, who bestows each and every blessing.”
This is the Residence where I began human beings.
Because of this causality, it is here that I descended. (III:55)
The beginning of this world was a muddy ocean.
Therein were only loaches. (III:122)
What do you think these loaches were?
They were the very seeds of human beings. (III:123)
God drew them up and consumed them all, and through
providence brought them up into human beings step by step. (III:124)
From that time on, God’s providence has been
by no means an easy matter. (III:125)
I would like to return to the Life of Oyasama:
When they passed the volumes to him, he began to admonish them, saying: “You seem to be peasant. Well, on arriving home, get your old mother to plunge Her hands into boiling water. If she should dare to do so, I would present you with a magnificent shrine expressly built for you by the permission of the Tokyo government. If not, however, you had better return to your old business, farm it, and bend to it.” Then he struck another note of vehement censure: “I say it is in- excusable and open to criticism that anyone should assume a god’s name to be found nowhere in Kiki. The Isonokami Shrine itself is not exempt from censure, for it has allowed its own parishioners to advocate such a heresy for sheer want of adequate supervision. At any rate, I give you fair warning that we shall visit your place one of these days.
Doesn’t it sound like the Shinto priests had his pride deeply hurt and he was full of fury?
This event with the Oyamoto Shrine in 1874 was the trigger for the government to begin their repression because they viewed Oyasama to be a threat.
This includes things like five people from Isonokami Shrine coming to ask questions, an officer from the Tanbaichi Branch Police coming and confiscating the instruments, notices to appear at the Nara Prefectural Office, being called out to the Yamamura Palace to be interrogated, and the faith being suspended by the Nara Chukyoin, a government agency at the time. This all occurred within two months of the Oyamato Shrine event.
How did Oyasama respond to all of these repressive actions? Oyasama decided to wear her red clothes.
This time, as I have come out into brightness,
everything will be seen quickly.
What do you think these red clothes?
Tsukihi dwells within. (Ofudesaki VI:62-63)
She proactively showed that She represented the Truth that She is the Shrine of Tsukihi. The red clothes She would wear would then be distributed amongst the people as a Proof Amulet, and then the Grant of Sazuke was given.
First, I bestow the Grant of Breath to Nakata. Second, the Grant of Boiled Rice to Matsuo. Third, the Grant of Hand Dance to Tsuji, which is to be performed with an innocent heart like that of a three-year-old child. Fourth, the Grant of the Kanrodai-Teodori to Masui, which is to be performed in one accord, all firmly united.
In the Life of the Oyasama, it says “. . . solely from the parental love of God which intends to hasten the spiritual maturity of the children.”
Furthermore, concerning the questioning from the Oyamato Shrine, I would like to see this event through eyes of Gisaburo Nakata and Ichibei Matsuo who have fulfilled their duty to Oyasama.
There is history with the Oyamato Shrine where the was troubles with them. This event occurred ten years prior to 1874 which is the knot with Oyamato Shrine.
This was the day after the roof raising of the Place for Service, where the group was on its way to the Mamekoshi Village. Oyasama said “you may go but if you pass any shrines on the way, make sure to offer a prayer.” Thus when the group passed in front of the Oyamato Shrine, they repeatedly prayed with enthusiasm “Namu-Tenri-Ono-Mikoto, Namu-Tenri-Ono-Mikoto,” but they were detained for three days because it interfered with prayer at the shrine.
At this time, there were many followers that were still new to the faith that became afraid and left and did not return.
The Oyamato Shrine must have been a scary place for Gisaburo Nakata and Ichibei Matsuo.
These two traveled the same path during the same season as ten years ago.
When I think about the hearts of the two of them who went to Oyamato Shrine, there must have been a great amount of nervousness.
In Part Three of the Ofudesaki, we read:
After listening to the sermons of those on the high mountains,
Listen to the teachings of God in Truth and ponder. (Ofudesaki III:148)
As the two of them had been hearing the teachings of Oyasama, this must have occurred to them as they reflected inwards.
The two of them, leaning solely on the words of Oyasama, earnestly conveyed the teachings to the Shinto priests despite it falling on deaf ears.
When I imagine this moment, it touches my heart.
Two of them were bestowed the Grant of the Sazuke.
So, as we reflect upon the path of the Divine Model of Oyasama, I’d like to ask you all a question—During this past year of the Covid-19 pandemic, what have we as church head ministers done?
How many people have you conveyed the teachings, “Our God the Parent, is the God of origin, God in truth who bestows each and every blessing?”
To those who will not lend an ear to listen, did you stake your life on conveying these teachings?
Indeed, we have been told to stay at home and to refrain from going out. So, were you creative and come up with other ways?
I have a friend who runs a restaurant in Miyakonojo (a city in Kyushu). During the pandemic last year, he closed his business for a month last August, and again, in January of this year. During the closures, what did he do? He wrote letters to each of his customers, filled with words of cheer and encouragement. He wrote hundreds of letters.
Even if we can’t go out or gather, or if we are experiencing an economic downturn, what we have learned is that connecting to other people, is most important.
In the Divine Directions, we are taught:
There are seemingly small matters that are large, and because of the truth of small and large matters, it is considered a big matter. Daily efforts although seemingly small, are large matters. If you think it is nothing, it will be nothing. Matters that are nothing will be transported into precious truth. It is easy to measure this truth.
(Osashizu: June 23, 1890 / Unofficial Translation)
Though daily effort may seem small and insignificant, with the accumulation of true sincerity, it will become a great truth.
For example, the main sanctuary of this grand church looks big and splendid. Its essence is a condition derived from the accumulation of many small truths. Despite this, people tend to make light of it as a small matter, so the truth cannot progress into something large. What I mean by small matters are “daily contribution” and “daily effort.”
We have approached the one year and one month point until the commencement of the 120th Anniversary of Honjima Grand Church.
I have one more question for all of you, “Are you taking any actions by making some sort of resolution?”
For us, who go about life having to count our cash income daily, wouldn’t it be difficult if we were told to donate 10,000 dollars tomorrow?
However, no matter how small, if we begin to accumulate little by little daily, it will surely grow into a large amount.
Recently, the Corona Virus crisis has literally driven us into a corner.
In the Divine Directions, we are taught:
If you say it is difficult, no matter how difficult the state, no matter what is happening, the desire is for true sincerity. Even if it is an effort thinner than paper, if you accumulate true sincerity, even if a sword is pointed at you or cannon artillery is fired toward you, God will provide free and unlimited blessings.
(Osashizu: September 9, 1900 / Unofficial Translation)
It is saying, when you are feeling, no matter how I look at it, this is difficult, or in an impossible situation, what God the Parent desires is a heart of true sincerity that will do whatever it takes, “no matter what is happening.” That is, though it may be an effort thinner than paper, and seemingly insufficient, with steady accumulation, God the Parent will accept that sincerity and provide blessings of free and unlimited workings. The daily building of virtue is important. To do nothing and think first of making an excuse is out of the question.
The 120th Anniversary of our grand church is our next milestone towards spiritual maturity. We still have one year and one month.
Let us strive to excel in this path!
(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)