Insights into the Anecdotes: Rin Masui (1843–1939), Anecdote 45: “Wrinkles of the Mind”

The Anecdote

 

Oyasama did not waste one sheet of paper, not even an old scrap of paper. She carefully smoothed the wrinkles even out of the paper that had been used as gift wrappings and placed them under Her cushion to be used again. Oyasama taught: “If wrinkled paper is left as it is, it can be used only as toilet paper or as paper to blow one’s nose, but if its wrinkles are carefully smoothed out, it can be used in many ways. Once it is used as toilet paper or paper to blow one’s nose it cannot be retrieved and used again. The saving of a man also follows this principle. It is to smooth the wrinkles of man’s mind with the truth of the teachings. When the mind becomes completely wrinkled, it becomes like the toilet paper. Saving such minds, rather than discarding them, is the principle of this path.”

Once when Rin Masui came to see Oyasama and asked for permission to copy the Ofudesaki, Oyasama said, “Do you have any paper?” When Rin answered, “I will go to Tambaichi and buy some,” Oyasama said: “It will be late if you do so. Let Me bind some for you.” She then took some sheets of paper out from under Her cushion and disregarding the difference in their sizes, She selected those that had no writing on them, and bound them Herself. Then saying: “Sah, I will read it to you. Write it on this,” Oyasama read the Ofudesaki.

Rin picked up the writing brush and wrote. It was a copy of Part V[1] of the Ofudesaki, and to this day it is preserved as it was originally bound, with the paper irregular in size.

 

 

Smoothing the Wrinkles of the Mind with the “Truth of the Teachings”

by Masataka Masui, Head Minister of Ogata Grand Church

 

Rin was born on February 16, 1843, in Ogata Village, Ogata County, Kawachi Province (now a section of Kashiwara City, Osaka Prefecture, known as Ogata) as the only child of the Masui family.

When she was nineteen years old, she was married to Sozaburo Hayashi, who thus entered the Masui family. Two years later they were blessed with their first son, Ikutaro, whom the Masui family had long awaited because no son had been born to the family for a number of generations. The couple was blessed with two more children subsequently; they were blissfully happy.

However, a turning point took place in 1872, when Rin was thirty years of age. Her father, Zenji, and her husband, Sozaburo, passed away within three months of each other. Rin felt at a loss as she had to take care of her young children alone.

Furthermore, Rin suffered from gallstones the following year. Although she visited a number of famous doctors and prayed to various gods, in the end she was diagnosed as having less than three years to live.

 

A Gleam of Light in the Darkness

The next significant event in her life is described in detail in Anecdotes of Oyasama, no. 36, “Firm Resolution.”

On October 25 (December 3 by the Gregorian calendar), 1874, Rin was making a lined kimono until late at night. On the following morning, when she tried to get up, she felt a sharp pain in her eyes, which became badly swollen.

Her condition worsened day by day. After consulting a doctor, she was diagnosed as having glaucoma. She received every possible type of medical treatment but finally lost her eyesight.

About one month later, when twelve-year-old Ikutaro was coming home from Tatsuta, Yamato, a fellow traveler told him: “The god at Shoyashiki in Yamato will save anyone from any sickness. One has only to offer prayers for three days and three nights.”

Upon his return, Rin and her children promptly began praying for three days and three nights, facing toward Yamato, but there was no sign of improvement. So they sent a man-servant, Tamehachi, to Shoyashiki to pray for the family. He was granted an audience with Oyasama, who was wearing the red garments. He had intermediaries write the main points of the teachings on a piece of paper, which he took home.

The notes that Tamehachi had brought home contained such teachings as the body being a thing lent, a thing borrowed; the eight dusts of the mind; and causality. The notes also included the instruction that they should be sure to settle these teachings in their mind before offering prayers for three days and three nights.

Rin made a firm resolution: “Since we have thus received God’s teachings, I don’t care what happens to my physical body. For the sake of eliminating the family innen [causality] I will engage in the work of single-hearted salvation, not minding the severe cold and heat, even if I have to walk with the aid of two canes. We three, mother and children, will follow the path with joy, even through fire and water.” Then the whole family joined in a three-day and three-night prayer.

The dawn of the third day came. The daughter said, “Mother, it’s daybreak.” When Rin turned toward the front door, she saw a gleam of light through a slight opening in the door.

Rin returned at once to Jiba to offer her thanks for the blessing. She was granted an audience with Oyasama, who said: “Sah, sah, your soul has an innen. When it is the divine will to use a person in God’s service, God will draw that person to this Residence by any means. Be thankful and follow the path joyfully, no matter what you may encounter.” She also told her: “Remember you are to serve God for a long time. Sah, sah, look ahead, look ahead, look ahead with joy.”

Rin was then thirty-two years of age.

 

Serving Oyasama as a Personal Attendant

After Rin had an audience with Oyasama, she was spiritually reborn as someone devoted to working for the salvation of others. She energetically engaged in missionary activities in Kawachi and, when trying to save those who were suffering from serious illnesses, she walked thirty kilometers (19 mi.) to see Oyasama regardless of the time of day or night.

One day, when she was walking to return to Jiba, it was snowing heavily. While she was crossing a bridge on the way, a sudden blast of wind struck her. She crawled, clinging to the bridge and chanting the name of God. Thus, she barely managed to return to the Residence with her life. When she went into the presence of Oyasama to pay her respects, Oyasama said to her: “You had a hard time, slipping at many places. However, you were joyful. Sah, sah, God the Parent accepts fully, fully. Whatever you ask, it is accepted. God protects you. Enjoy it, enjoy it, enjoy it!” So saying, Oyasama grasped Rin’s cold hands with both Her own. (See Anecdotes of Oyasama, no. 44, “A Snowy Day.”) Later in life, whenever Rin talked about that day, she said in a tearful voice, “I will never forget the warmness of Her hands or Her parental love.”

In 1877 Rin started serving in a ten-day shift at the Residence. She joyously worked from early morning until late at night, performing all sorts of tasks including ones that others were reluctant to do—such as cleaning the restrooms and taking care of chickens. She also went to help save people using every spare moment.

Having thus dedicated her utmost sincerity to the Residence, she was appointed in June 1879 to serve Oyasama as a personal attendant. After embracing the faith, she always adored Oyasama and relied on Her words. Rin followed the path in single-heartedness with Jiba for sixty-five years until she passed away for rebirth at the age of ninety-seven.

In her later years, Rin made it a habit to sit in the corridor adjacent to the Church Headquarters Staff Quarters in the evening after completing her work for the day and earnestly offered a prayer facing the setting sun. She adored “the sun” as “Oyasama” from the bottom of her heart and, as far as she was concerned, she was watching Oyasama as She retired for the night. It is also said that after passing the age of ninety, whenever Rin was asked her age she would reply, “Ninety years old,” because she felt that she should not live longer than Oyasama, who withdrew from physical life at the age of ninety.

 

The Meaning of “Wrinkles of the Mind”

The anecdote appearing at the beginning of this chapter took place several years after Rin had embraced the faith. In a number of other anecdotes, we find that Oyasama says things similar to what She told Rin. The message of Her words to Rin may be one of the core parts of what Oyasama always conveyed to those who came to the Residence in those days.

Through the anecdote under discussion, Oyasama teaches the importance of taking good care of things and says: “The saving of a man also follows this principle. It is to smooth the wrinkles of man’s mind with the truth of the teachings.”

What does the phrase “wrinkles of man’s mind” truly mean? I think that we can find a clue in Rin’s life before she embraced the faith.

Having lost her father and husband in quick succession, Rin had been raising her three children by herself. Soon, however, she was diagnosed as having a fatal disease and then suffered from blindness as well. Having fallen into the depths of unhappiness, she despaired and spent her days in tears worrying about her children. I think she was unable to have a positive outlook on life. Her mind was probably all over the place. Perhaps her mind was heavily “wrinkled” and had become “like the toilet paper.” Later, she heard of a living god in Yamato and offered a three-day and three-night prayer facing toward the Residence. Yet she did not receive any blessings.

In later years Rin said, “It is understandable that those who have only recently embraced the faith sometimes become disillusioned with God.” Her words must have been based on her own experience when she was unduly eager to receive a blessing but could not.

What enabled Rin to receive the blessing was some of the core teachings written on the piece of paper that had been brought home by the man-servant who had visited the Residence on her behalf. Rin firmly settled these teachings in her mind and made a firm resolution to “engage in the work of single-hearted salvation.” I believe that she was able to receive a vivid blessing because she smoothed out the wrinkles of her mind with the “truth of the teachings” and made a firm resolution in accordance with the intention of the Parent.

From this perspective, I feel that the anecdote teaches an important attitude for us Yoboku to keep when engaging in salvation work.

Oyasama placed used wrapping paper under Her cushion to smooth out the wrinkles so it could be used again. Similarly, when we try to save others, it is essential to be totally supportive to those suffering from illness and other problems and exert our full measure of true sincerity as we convey the teachings to them patiently in the spirit of trying to smooth out the wrinkles of their mind, however long it may take.

A piece of calligraphy that Rin created at the age of ninety-five has been preserved by the Masui family. She wrote the word “sincerity” on a piece of paper out of which she had carefully smoothed the wrinkles although some lines remained. Her calligraphy tells us something about the faith of Rin, who closely followed Oyasama’s teachings for her whole life.

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

[1].  The English translation of this anecdote, published in 1977, has “Part IV.” The editor has, however, updated this part based on the revised version of the Japanese original.

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