In spring of 1873, Hyoshiro Kami married Tsune. Later, when she became pregnant, Hyoshiro returned to Jiba to receive the Grant of Safe Childbirth.
Oyasama said to him, “Take home as much of the washed rice as you want.” And She Herself instructed him: “Sah, sah, divide the washed rice into three portions. Have your wife take one portion after you get home, another when her labor begins, and the third one right after delivery. If you do as I tell you, your wife will not need a leaning post, special dietary restrictions or an obstetrical binder. Let her use a low pillow, and do as usual. Do not worry even a little. You must not worry. Never doubt. This place is the Residence where human beings were first created. This is the parental home. Be sure never to doubt. Once Tsukihi has said, ‘I grant it,’ you are surely granted it.”
What Was Taught through the Grant of Safe Childbirth
by Yoshikazu Kami, Head Minister of Tokai Grand Church
Hyoshiro was born on September 8, 1843, in Kasama, Asakura Village, Shiki County (now a section of Uda City known as Haibara-Kasama), located approximately fifteen kilometers (9.3 mi.) south of the Residence. He was the eldest son of Sojiro Kami and his wife, Tami.
Theirs was a relatively well-to-do farming household, which included Sojiro’s younger brother, Yohei, and his family. Although Sojiro had a good personality, he was a loafer who enjoyed drinking and lived in idleness. He did not get along with his younger brother, who was a very hard worker. Eventually Sojiro and his family were obliged to leave the house when Hyoshiro was six years old.
Traumatic Experiences at a Sensitive Age
Hyoshiro’s younger sister, Kiku, was born while the family was moving from place to place. Although they were becoming increasingly impoverished, Sojiro’s behavior remained unchanged. Tami worked hard from early morning until late at night to support the family. In the end, however, she gave up on her shameless husband and made up her mind to get a divorce. Tami took custody of Kiku while leaving Hyoshiro in Sojiro’s care.
Sojiro and Hyoshiro drifted from relative to relative. Each time, they were thrown out after a short stay. Eventually, they had no alternative but to return to their original home in Kasama. Yohei and his family, who were living there, could not force them to leave.
Just as it seemed Sojiro was settling down there, he went on a wandering journey. This happened when Hyoshiro was eight years old. Because his uncle told him that he should be taken care of by his mother, he walked about four kilometers (2.5 mi.) to visit his mother. Yet she had already been remarried and turned him back to Kasama.
The young Hyoshiro was sent back and forth about a dozen times. At one point he even tried to throw himself into a well. In the end, Yohei reluctantly took him in and had him babysit his children. It is said that when Hyoshiro slept he held a doll he had made with mud to relieve him of his loneliness. Later, Hyoshiro was apprenticed to a cigarette factory called “Sakasa” between the ages of ten and twenty-four. Abandoned by his parents, Hyoshiro had traumatic experiences at a sensitive age.
“Be Sure Never to Doubt”
It was in 1871 that Hyoshiro saw the light at the end of the tunnel. At the age of thirty-one, he married Tsune, the youngest daughter of Rippei Okumine of Mochi, Seishi Village, Uda County (now a section of Uda City known as Ouda-Mochi).
Shortly afterward, Tsune got pregnant. By that time, Hyoshiro’s younger sister, Kiku, who lived separately, had begun visiting him. Concerned about her sister-in-law’s first delivery, Kiku said, “There is a god in Shoyashiki Village who provides the blessing of safe childbirth.” She had already been following the path.
Thus, Hyoshiro visited the Residence for the first time to receive the Grant of Safe Childbirth. Oyasama told him, “Take home as much of the washed rice [for the Grant of Safe Childbirth] as you want,” and added: “This place is the Residence where human beings were first created. This is the parental home. Be sure never to doubt. Once Tsukihi has said, ‘I grant it,’ you are surely granted it.”
Nevertheless, Hyoshiro was skeptical whether it was effective and, wondering if it might contain some medication, he chewed some of the washed rice on his way home. However, having reminded himself that he had received it at Tsune’s request, he brought back the remaining rice and had his wife partake of it.
In due course, their daughter, Kimi, was born safe and sound. Even though he felt Oyasama’s wondrous compassion and warmth, he only returned to the Residence two or three times a year over the next seven years or so, partly because it was not as if his wife—or any other family member, for that matter—had been ill or been beset by any other trouble.
Each time he returned to the Residence, Oyasama told Hyoshiro: “This place is the original Residence where human beings were first created. This is the true parental home.” It seems, however, that he was not able to believe Her words. It is also said that one day he heard a Buddhist monk criticize the Grant of Safe Childbirth and talked to his wife about whether he should quit his faith in the path or not.
I think that one of the reasons why Hyoshiro could not believe what Oyasama had said in the early stage of his faith was his painful childhood experiences. One day he asked Oyasama: “It is said that God created humankind to see us live the Joyous Life and to share in that joy. If that is true, why was I abandoned by my parents and forced to suffer the hardships I endured?” Oyasama answered, “Hyoshiro, you came to know of God because of the hardships.”
Nicknamed “Hyoshiro of Undried Walls”
It was around 1882 that Hyoshiro reached a profound turning point in his life. He heard that Isa Yamamoto, who lived in Kurahashi Village (now a section of Sakurai City known as Kurahashi), adjacent to his village of Asakura, had been saved from a serious disease by listening to the teachings of the “Tenri God.”
Hyoshiro was interested and visited the Yamamotos. There he was introduced to Ihachiro Yamada (who would later became the head minister of what is now Shikishima Grand Church), who happened to be there for salvation work. Hyoshiro listened to Ihachiro’s explanation of the ten aspects of God’s complete providence. He was impressed and went home.
After that, Hyoshiro conveyed the teachings he had heard to a person living in a nearby village who was having trouble with both hands. The person received a vivid blessing even before the night was over. Furthermore, a miraculous blessing was shown whereby a neighbor’s child was cured of an illness.
Thereupon, it seems that Hyoshiro realized that this path was the true teaching. In fact, he began to dedicate himself to salvation work and formed twenty-four fellowships in several years.
In 1885 both Hyoshiro and his eldest daughter suffered from an eye disease. At that time Oyasama taught him: “You must not think of yourself. If you single-heartedly turn yourself to the thought, ‘I must at any cost save others and have others be saved,’ then your illness will be completely cured” (Anecdotes of Oyasama, no. 167).
After this, Hyoshiro decided to carry out missionary activities in Ise. His work resulted in laying the foundation for what is today known as Tokai Grand Church. Having committed himself to single-heartedness with God, he received vivid blessings one after another in various villages he visited.
There is a story that tells us of his great vitality. Apparently, if a house was built for him in a village where he visited to engage in salvation work, it would happen that—even before the walls of the house were completely dry—followers in another village would ask him to come to their area by building yet another new house for him. Thus, he moved forty-seven times so that he was finally nicknamed “Hyoshiro of undried walls.”
The Mind That Completely Relies on God
Having looked at Hyoshiro’s journey of spiritual growth, we realize that Oyasama had showered him with unchanging parental love since he had first come to the faith.
The Grant of Safe Childbirth—which Hyoshiro received from Oyasama as mentioned in the anecdote appearing at the beginning of this chapter—originates from Jiba of Origin, where humankind was first conceived, and ensures safe childbirth. It is taught that a woman who receives this grant “might live quite normally after having given birth, with no need of observing the old customs such as the use of an abdominal band, the taboo on certain foods, the use of something to lean against, to say nothing of any fear of her being physically polluted for seventy-five days as was popularly believed by the people of that time,” as long as she remains free from any doubt and implements the teachings exactly as taught. It was this Grant of Safe Childbirth that opened the path to all miracles of salvation and enabled the teachings to spread in all directions.
When Hyoshiro received the Grant of Safe Childbirth, Oyasama said: “You must not worry. Never doubt.” However, he could not believe Her words completely. So She went on to tell him: “This place is the Residence where human beings were first created. This is the parental home.”
Having been taught by Oyasama on many occasions, Hyoshiro may have realized that what is important in the practice of the path is to trust in and rely on God completely and that the source of salvation lies in the Residence, which is Jiba of Origin, where human beings were first conceived. I also imagine that instances of miraculous salvation took place one after another because Hyoshiro conveyed these points to people in salvation work.
Contemporary society provides a much better environment for childbirth than in those days. Women used to risk their lives to have a baby, as may be inferred from the old saying, “Childbearing is a woman’s most arduous and dangerous duty.” Nowadays, it is almost taken for granted that a woman can give birth safely due to medical advances.
Nevertheless, recent years have seen a number of maternal deaths in childbirth in Japan partly because of a nationwide shortage of obstetricians and gynecologists. Even today, therefore, we should never take safe childbirth for granted. We should not forget that a new life is born only because of “the work of God.”
The same can be said of other things besides childbirth. I think that, no matter how times change and how societies change, it is important to take firmly to heart once again that we should rely on God the Parent and implement the teachings exactly as taught if we are to be completely saved from all suffering, whether related to illnesses or other troubles.
From Itsuwa no kokoro tazunete—gendai ni ikiru Oyasama no oshie, published by Tenrikyo Doyusha Publishing Company