Toward the middle of July 1863, when Yoshimatsu, the eldest son of Chusaku Tsuji, was four years old, his face became pale and he was in danger of death. Oryu, Chusaku’s mother, came to pray, carrying her sick grandchild on her back. Oyasama saw them and said: “His parents should bring him instead.”
So Masu, Chusaku’s wife, carrying the boy on her back, came to pray. “I will save the child according to the parents’ minds,” was the teaching of Oyasama. The boy was completely restored to health in four or five days.
A “Stubborn Man” Who Followed the Path in Single-Heartedness with God
by Yasuyuki Tsuji, Honbu-jun’in
It was around March 1863 that Chusaku Tsuji began to follow the path at the age of twenty-eight. That was at a time when people were finally starting to gather at the Residence. Chusaku was, therefore, one of the earliest followers of the path.
People may be under the impression that Chusaku was an “exceptional person” since his name often appears in The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo and Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo, and since he listened to Oyasama’s teachings in the very early stage of Tenrikyo. In fact, however, he had a strong and obstinate temperament. He was exceedingly short-tempered and stubborn, and he hated to be outdone by others.
He Began to Follow the Path Because of His Younger Sister’s Illness
Chusaku Tsuji was born on January 27, 1836, in Toyoda Village (now a section of Tenri City known as Toyoda-cho), located due north of the Residence. He was the first son of a farmer, who was also named Chusaku, and his wife, Oryu. He was originally named Chuemon. When he was around twenty-three years old, his father passed away and, thus having become the head of the Tsuji family, he changed his name to Chusaku.
He was a hard worker by nature. In fact, the villagers nicknamed him “Sennichi-san” or “Mr. Thousand Days” because he would complete a thousand days’ worth of work in the span of a year, or 365 days.
Chusaku became a follower because of the mental illness of his younger sister Kura, who was then nineteen years old. He looked after her as though he were her father and earnestly desired her recovery. When he visited the Kajimoto family in Ichinomoto Village (now a section of Tenri City known as Ichinomoto-cho) on his way to Nara, where he intended to pray for his sister at the Nigatsudo at the Todai Temple, his aunt Kimi told him, “Why don’t you go to Shoyashiki Village instead?”
Nevertheless, Chusaku went ahead and visited the Nigatsudo, which was reputed to have the most efficacy in answering people’s prayers. There he performed cold water ablutions and offered sincere prayers for Kura’s recovery.
However, Kura’s condition showed no sign of improvement. Recalling what his aunt had said to him, Chusaku visited the Residence with desperate hope. Then, Oyasama said: “Here dwells the Supreme God of all directions, whose name is Tenri-O-no-Mikoto. Though it will not be cured as swiftly as an empty stomach is filled with rice, it will subside day by day.”
Feeling as if the sun had broken through the clouds, Chusaku returned home and fervently performed the service each morning and evening by beating the wooden clappers while repeatedly chanting, “Namu, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto! Namu, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto!” as he had been instructed at the Residence. However, Kura only got a little better before getting worse again, and the process repeated itself.
An inquiry was made of Oyasama through his aunt. The reply was, “The service is too short.” These words struck Chusaku. He was so impatient by nature that before performing the service he had purposely been breaking in half the incense sticks used to measure the length of the service.
Chusaku marveled at Oyasama’s words and apologized from the bottom of his heart. From then on he performed the service while using the full length of incense. Thereafter, his sister made a gradual recovery and was completely restored to sanity within four months.
Because He Hated to Be Outdone by Others
The anecdote appearing at the beginning of this chapter took place shortly after Chusaku embraced the faith.
In July 1863, Chusaku’s eldest son, four-year-old Yoshimatsu, suddenly went into convulsions. His face quickly became pale, and he ended up in critical condition.
Chusaku’s mother, Oryu, rushed to the Residence, carrying Yoshimatsu on her back. Oyasama said, “His parents should bring him instead.” So Chusaku’s wife, Masu, carried the boy on her back and visited Oyasama, who said, “I will save the child according to the parents’ minds.”
He was completely cured in four or five days. Chusaku and Masu must have made some resolution in terms of their practice of faith. Or the phrase “the parents’ minds” may have referred to Chusaku’s mother, Oryu, and Yoshimatsu’s mother, Masu.
In any case, Chusaku seems to have deepened his faith to some extent through his son’s illness. However, he was not yet a “true follower.” Chusaku seems to have considered “the God in Shoyashiki” as a God for safe childbirth and the prevention of smallpox.
In the following year, 1864, when Chusaku suffered from a severe toothache, he was cured after relying on incantation and medication. Forgetting that his sister and son had been saved by Oyasama, he kept away from the path for about two years. Nevertheless, it seems that he came to pray from time to time because he took responsibility for contributing roof tiles for the construction of the Place for the Service.
Around that time, Oyasama started bestowing the Sazuke of the Fan, the Sazuke of the Gohei, and the Sazuke of Fertilizer on devoted followers.
Gisaburo Nakata, who was also a resident of Toyoda Village and had begun to follow the path around the same time as Chusaku, was granted these three kinds of Sazuke. Hearing of it, Chusaku felt as if he had been outdone. He went straight to the Residence, where Oyasama told him, “This place is the source of universal salvation.” At this, he realized for the first time that Oyasama provided blessings not only for safe childbirth and the prevention of smallpox but for all the miracles of salvation.
After that, he visited the Residence to worship every day, saying, “If Sayomi (Gisaburo) goes, I will go, too, no matter what anyone says.” This episode portrays how he hated to be outdone.
Chusaku was later granted the Sazuke of the Gohei and the Sazuke of Fertilizer.
Days of Conveying God’s Teachings
Having started to visit the Residence regularly, Chusaku followed the path faithfully. He worked hard during the daytime and, as soon as he had finished his supper every evening, he came to the Residence and heard the teachings directly from Oyasama.
Chusaku was always near Oyasama. In fact, he was detained in prison together with Her at one time and pressed by the police to give up his faith at other times. Nevertheless, he continued to walk around trying to help save others, always keeping a few spare pairs of sandals tied to his waist sash. In the end the police told him: “Then continue your belief with all your might. We shall use all our might to stop you.”
Suffering from a severe illness in 1886, Chusaku took that opportunity to hand over his family business to his son and became exclusively devoted to the path. He started to stay at the Residence all day long and conveyed God’s teachings to visitors. His way of conveying them was very famous. When people came to the Residence, he would rush over to explain the teachings to them. Chusaku was so enthusiastic to talk that he would keep moving forward while pushing a small desk that served as a lectern. As he sprayed saliva through his passionate talk, his listeners would move backward. Then, Chusaku would move further forward. Thus, it is said that it was not unusual for them to go all the way around the room before they knew it.
Later in his life he was stricken with paralysis and confined to bed. It is said, however, that he conveyed the teachings of God to those who visited him until the very last moment when he passed away for rebirth.
He Trusted in Oyasama Sincerely and Completely
Having looked back at Chusaku’s life as we have, we can build an image of Chusaku Tsuji that we could not do by only reading the anecdote presented above.
In the early days of his faith, Chusaku forgot that his younger sister and son had been saved by Oyasama—as goes the saying “Once on shore, we pray no more”—so that he suffered from illnesses from time to time. I think that he was so human that even those of us who are living in this day and age can feel close to him.
Not everyone can earnestly follow the path in single-heartedness with God soon after embracing the faith. Like Chusaku, we may stray away from the path or worry at every turn because we have a human mind. Therefore, I find it interesting that the instructions Chusaku received from Oyasama soon after he began to follow the path included the teaching that blessings are received according to the mind.
After Chusaku started visiting the Residence regularly, Oyasama often taught him how to settle the mind. Once Chusaku and others said to Oyasama, “When we are asked whether Tenri-O-no-Mikoto’s form exists, how should we reply?” She responded: “If you say that it exists, then it exists. If you say that it doesn’t exist, then it doesn’t exist. The blessings you can see from the sincerity of mind with which you pray are the form of God.”
Chusaku must have completely believed these words of Oyasama with child-like innocence. Later in life, therefore, he always stayed at the Residence and earnestly conveyed the teachings of God that he had heard from Oyasama.
To have faith is to trust. Although Chusaku had a strong temperament, he never let it sway him in terms of this one point—that is, to trust in Oyasama. In later years Chusaku said, “Because I am stubborn, I have been able to follow the path up until today, even though I have been laughed at and slandered by others.”
From Itsuwa no kokoro tazunete—gendai ni ikiru Oyasama no oshie, published by Tenrikyo Doyusha Publishing Company