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Insights into the Anecdotes: Isaburo Masui (1850–1910), Anecdote 16: “The Child’s Concern for the Parent”

The Anecdote (Summary)

When Isaburo Masui’s mother, Kiku, became critically ill, he returned to the Residence from Izushichijo Village and asked Oyasama to save her.

However, Oyasama replied, “I am sorry that in spite of your request she cannot be saved.” Isaburo excused himself from Her presence and went home. Yet he again returned to the Residence and begged Her. However, She replied again, “I am sorry, she cannot be saved.” When he was so told by Oyasama, he was convinced that nothing could be done and went home. Yet, when he saw his mother suffering, he could not bear to sit by and do nothing. So again he returned to the Residence.

Then Oyasama said: “The child comes for the sake of his parent to ask that the life, which cannot be saved, be saved at whatever cost. This is sincerity itself. If sincere, God will accept.”

Kiku, whose life was beyond salvation, was in fact saved and lived to be eighty-eight.

What Is the Sincerity that Oyasama Accepts?

by Koji Masui, Honbu-in

In order to deepen our appreciation of this anecdote, let us first look at the faith of Isaburo’s mother, Kiku.

In 1863, when Kiku was thirty-nine years old, her husband was suffering from asthma, from which he was showing no signs of recovery. Kiku was so religious by nature that she visited almost all the places of pilgrimage and worship within a radius of some ten kilometers (6.2 mi.) of their house in order to pray for her husband’s recovery.

However, he still did not get well. Then Sensuke Yaoi, a next-door neighbor, advised her to visit the God in Shoyashiki Village. She immediately went to the Residence and was admitted into Oyasama’s presence.

Oyasama said warmly, “I have been waiting for you, waiting for you.” Smiling gently, She added: “You have come the long way around. What a pity! You could have met all those gods if only you had come here.”

Aware that Kiku was worried that her husband’s asthma might not be cured, Oyasama taught her in simple words so that she could easily understand that any prayer would be answered if only one came to the Residence.

It is said that Kiku, upon hearing these words, realized that Oyasama was truly the Parent. Kiku was deeply moved by an inexpressible feeling of adoration that welled up in her heart. (See Anecdotes of Oyasama, no. 10, “The Long Way Around.”)

It is also said that, after that, Kiku became exclusively devoted to the path and visited the Residence regularly.

It was in the following year, 1864, that Kiku brought her fifteen-year-old son, Isaburo, to the Residence for the first time. Having seen how his mother adored Oyasama and came to the Residence regularly, Isaburo followed her example by helping with the farm work at the Residence. Their sincerity must have been noticed by Oyasama. Later, when Isaburo came to ask Oyasama to save his mother, he was granted an audience with Her.

After that, he continued to visit the Residence with his mother. It is said that he sometimes came to the Residence alone when his mother was not able to.

From this episode, we can understand the parental love of Kiku, who desired to convey Oyasama’s teachings to her son.

Although Oyasama Had Said Kiku Could Not Be Saved

The anecdote entitled “The Child’s Concern for the Parent” took place when Kiku became critically ill. Isaburo desperately wanted his mother to be saved. After waiting impatiently for daybreak, he walked the distance of about five and a half kilometers (3.4 mi.) from Izushichijo Village (now a section of Yamato-Koriyama City known as Izushichijo-cho) to the Residence and asked Oyasama to save his mother.

Oyasama replied, “She cannot be saved,” not only on his first visit but also on his second visit. Both times, Isaburo resigned himself to the fact that nothing could be done and went home. However, seeing his mother suffering in bed and recalling how much she adored Oyasama and how often she had visited the Residence, he could not help wanting her to be saved at any cost. Although Oyasama had said, “She cannot be saved,” Isaburo, as her child, could not bear to sit by and do nothing. Even though he had already made two round trips to the Residence and must have been exhausted, he came again to make a request of Oyasama.

When he arrived at the Residence, it was already dark. He was told that Oyasama had retired for the night, but he repeated his plea for Her to save his mother. Then Oyasama said: “The child comes for the sake of his parent to ask that the life, which cannot be saved, be saved at whatever cost. This is sincerity itself. If sincere, God will accept.” Thus, Kiku was saved although her condition had initially been described as hopeless.

Oyasama knows everything. She accepted the utmost sincerity with which Isaburo came to the Residence in order to ask that his mother’s life be saved at whatever cost despite having been told twice that it was impossible. The joy Kiku and Isaburo felt when Kiku was saved must have been inexpressible. Their delight strengthened their adoration of Oyasama, leading them to follow the path even more faithfully.

Seeds of Salvation

Living as we do in this day and age, what should we learn from the anecdote?

It teaches us that there is no path to salvation other than to rely on Oyasama, dedicate ourselves to Her with a mind of sincerity, and have Her accept our sincerity. This is still the guideline for our faith that we should bear in mind as Yoboku.

Oyasama’s intention is to save all humankind, Her beloved children. However, it is taught that She cannot save us if we do not have a seed for being saved. The “seed of salvation” in the anecdote is Isaburo’s mind, which is to say, his filial piety in coming to the Residence for the sake of his mother. Oyasama surely accepted that seed as sincerity.

Our filial devotion to our father and mother will be accepted as filial devotion to our original Parent, who is God the Parent—to whom our parentage can ultimately be traced back. In other words, filial piety is not only an important virtue for any human being but indeed a cornerstone in following the path.

Today’s Weakening Ties between Parent and Child

With today’s society in disarray, it is pointed out that the ties among family members are weakening. Unaware of the intention of God the Parent, people use their minds selfishly, thinking that all is well if it is well for oneself. This is weakening the parent-child relationship.

Have we forgotten our indebtedness to our parents, who nurtured and raised us from the time we were born into this world? We may be able to feel our indebtedness to our parents more strongly after we become parents blessed with our own children. Even so, one should not be negligent in practicing filial piety simply because one is still young.

Isaburo was guided by Oyasama from a young age and was taught the importance of filial piety. I think this teaches us that we should live our lives in a way that brings joy and satisfaction to our parents from an early age.

Feeling a sense of indebtedness to our parents can help us develop a sense of gratitude and joy in wider contexts. Further, if we show an example of implementing filial piety in our daily lives, our attitude will surely rub off on our children. Children tend to model themselves on their parents.

Children’s devotion for the sake of their parents is sincerity. Isaburo implemented such devotion. He must have realized that carrying out dedication focused on the parental heart of God the Parent and Oyasama is also sincerity.

Isaburo received Oyasama’s parental love from a young age and kept connected with Jiba, which made the Masui family what we are now. Deeply savoring our indebtedness to God the Parent and Oyasama, who provide us with daily blessings to enable us to live our lives so splendidly, I intend to follow the path of making repayment with a mind of gratitude and joy.

We may think that we are following the path earnestly and working hard for the path. Yet, if we live our lives in a way that brings no joy to Oyasama, we will not be able to have Her accept our efforts. We should firmly settle Oyasama’s intention in our minds and faithfully put into practice what She teaches us.

From Itsuwa no kokoro tazunete—gendai ni ikiru Oyasama no oshie, published by Tenrikyo Doyusha Publishing Company

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Category: Articles, Insights into the Anecdotes

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