The Anecdote (Summary)
The time was late in the spring of 1881. Kei Matsui had been spending her days and nights in tears for several years because honeycomb-like holes had progressed to the roots of her teeth and had reached the bone. One day the fragrance of the teachings of God was sprinkled on her by a tinsmith and his wife who happened to come to the village. As instructed by them, she poured water into a rice bowl, prayed, “Namu, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto,” and drank the water. The pain subsided instantly. After two to three days she received the marvelous salvation of complete recovery from the suffering that had lasted for years.
Walking a distance of about twelve kilometers from Kihara, where she lived, she returned to Jiba to express her gratitude and was granted an audience with Oyasama.
Oyasama noticed that Kei’s eldest son, eight-year-old Chusaku, had carried on his back a nine-pound round rice cake for offering, and She said: “Well! Welcome home! Oh, it is too heavy a load for a child!”
Chusaku took these words to heart and, remembering them throughout his life, endured all kinds of hardships while striving for the single-hearted salvation of humankind.
Open and Receptive Mind Allows for Single-Heartedness with Jiba
by Ryuichiro Matsui, Head Minister of Meijo Grand Church
Born in 1874 in Kihara Village, Toichi County (now a section of Kashihara City known as Kihara-cho), Nara Prefecture, Chusaku was the eldest son of Chushiro Matsui and his wife, Kei. Kihara Village, located at the western foot of Mt. Miminashi, one of the Three Hills of Yamato, was a small farming village with some thirty households.
Earnestly Seeking the Teachings
Late in the spring of 1881, Kei, then thirty-one years old, was suffering from a severe toothache that had been bothering her for several years. One day she heard about the “living God in Shoyashiki Village” from a tinsmith who repaired cooking utensils such as pots and pans when he and his wife happened to come to Kihara Village.
As instructed by them, Kei offered a bowl of water to God, chanted, “Namu, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto,” and drank the water. Then her toothache subsided immediately. Having received the vivid blessing, Kei promptly traveled to Jiba walking the distance of twelve kilometers (7.5 mi.) with eight-year-old Chusaku, who carried on his back a nine-pound round rice cake to be offered to God.
As we read in the anecdote presented above, Oyasama saw that Chusaku, although still a child, had carried on his back a nine-pound rice cake, and She said gently: “(I)t is too heavy a load for a child!” These words would lay the basis on which Chusaku later decided to devote himself exclusively to the path and follow the path carrying “heavy loads” throughout his life. Her words would lead to efforts that were eventually to culminate in the establishment of what is now Meijo Grand Church.
The Matsui family had been a well-to-do farming family. However, most of the family fortune was squandered in Chushiro’s time and, by the time Chusaku became the head of the family at the age of eighteen, the Matsuis had been reduced to penury. Chusaku’s three younger brothers were still young, so he worked very hard—doing whatever he could including peddling vegetables—to support his family and rebuild his family’s fortune.
Later, Manjiro, one of his younger brothers, went to Osaka at the age of fifteen to start his apprenticeship as a molder, which would result in contributing greatly to Meijo’s development in subsequent years.
While living in poverty, Kei and Chusaku steadily deepened their faith. They learned the teachings from Chusaku Tsuji in Jiba. As instructed by him, they also went to Kurahashi Village at night after work to learn the teachings from Ihachiro Yamada, who would later become the second head minister of what is now Shikishima Grand Church. In later years, they were also instructed by Gorohei Murata, who would later become the first head minister of what is now Meiwa Grand Church. It was said that Kei and Chusaku earnestly sought the path.
On November 19, 1894, Chusaku received the truth of the Sazuke. In 1899 he married Haruno. He earnestly engaged in missionary work in addition to helping out at the foundry that Manjiro started, where the other brothers also worked.
Chusaku established a gathering place in Kita Momodani, Minami-ku (now the southern part of Chuo-ku), Osaka City, in 1902. He was drafted for the Russo-Japanese War, which broke out in 1904. He barely escaped death and returned from the war, which gave him the opportunity to make a firm resolution to follow the path single-heartedly.
On June 11, 1908, he received permission to establish Meijo Mission Station and became its first head. It was twenty-seven years since he had embraced the faith, and he was thirty-four years old.
He Undertook One Big Task after Another
Later, Chusaku’s mission station became a sub-branch church as its membership grew and, subsequently, he was requested to cast rainwater collection tanks as part of the construction of the Main Sanctuary (now known as the North Worship Hall), which Church Headquarters was building in anticipation of the 30th Anniversary of Oyasama, which was to be observed in 1916.
Believing that “casting is our God-given vocation,” Chusaku accepted the request in high spirits and decided to offer the tanks, although it was a big task for which nothing in his experience had prepared him.
The rainwater collection tanks were cast by his younger brother Manjiro and bore the word “yosui”—meaning “water resource”—which was colored gold and was based on a calligraphy work by the first Shinbashira, Shinnosuke Nakayama. The completed tanks were carried from Matsui Foundry in Ryuzoji, Osaka City, to Jiba on the night of August 15, 1913.
The following episode occurred on that occasion. When the party came to the Taka Bridge over the Saho River in Yamato Nukatabe, the bridge started shaking because the tanks were so heavy. Chusaku then went down under the bridge without a care for his own safety and encouraged the others by saying, “Pull harder!” They responded saying, “Help the head minister!” and managed to cross the bridge.
As he continued his dedication to Jiba, he received permission to construct the sanctuary of his church at 8 Ryuzoji, Higashi-ku (now the north-eastern part of Chuo-ku), Osaka City, in 1921. The construction was completed in April the following year. The church was elevated to the status of a branch church on June 6, 1923.
During the construction, Chusaku was requested to establish five new churches in three days as part of the double-the-membership drive related to the 40th Anniversary of Oyasama. It was said that Chusaku and Meijo’s other members performed a three-day-three-night prayer, put forth their utmost efforts, and managed to respond to the parental intention.
In 1929 Chusaku decided to start another missionary endeavor and went to Tokyo with some others. In fact, Meijo had already been conducting active missionary work in Tokyo with some success. Chusaku, however, tried a new style where missionaries worked together as a unified group. He took the lead in this effort and inspired the others. It was said that he was totally absorbed in missionary work.
At the time of the Showa Construction, Chusaku donated six rainwater tanks for the Foundress’ Sanctuary and eight others for the South and North Worship Halls. These donations were based on his resolve “to receive all rainwater falling in Jiba.”
Thus, Chusaku undertook one big task after another and, each time, his faith became stronger. As Meijo’s membership grew and expanded, his church was elevated to the status of a grand church on February 10, 1940.
Chusaku continued his missionary work during and after the turmoil of the war and passed away for rebirth on July 28, 1951, at the age of seventy-eight. The life of a missionary who carried “heavy loads” came to an end peacefully. Yet his strong faith has been passed down through the generations.
His Attitude to Carrying “Heavy Loads”
Having looked at Chusaku’s life journey, we can see that throughout his life he kept in mind Oyasama’s words “it is too heavy a load for a child”—which appear in the anecdote presented above.
When he received these words from Oyasama, he was still eight years old. Yet, to thank Oyasama for saving his mother, he had walked the long distance of twelve kilometers along with her, carrying on his back a nine-pound rice cake. It must have been very tough for him. For that reason, however, I imagine that he felt all the greater joy when he received Oyasama’s gentle words. Kei must have told him of the joy of faith on the way back home as well as on each of their subsequent pilgrimages to Jiba. I think this highlights the importance of parents’ conveying the teachings to their children in following the path.
The “heavy load” Chusaku felt on that day must have gained a new meaning as he grew spiritually while cultivating an open and receptive mind, which, over time, seems to have developed into an unshakable conviction of faith.
As noted above, he donated rainwater tanks for the two construction projects in the Taisho and Showa eras and also managed to establish five new churches in three days. These efforts can be said to be good examples of how he sought to carry “heavy loads.”
Later in his life Chusaku said: “If we are willing to accept any task, God will entrust us with work. Anybody would happily accept an easy task. Yet sincerity lies in accepting a task that everybody wants to shirk even if you have to perform it alone.”
As we deepen our understanding of the anecdote appearing at the beginning of this chapter in light of how Chusaku lived his life, we find some pointers that are important for those of us who live in this day and age.
When Oyasama noticed that young Chusaku had carried a nine-pound rice cake, She said, “[I]t is too heavy a load for a child!” Her words were filled with parental love. I also think that She was saying, “I never let My children carry heavy loads that they cannot cope with.”
Knots such as illness and other troubles that we face in our life as well as any task entrusted to us Yoboku are all given out of parental love by God the Parent and Oyasama, who desire to help us grow spiritually. In other words, any “heavy load” that God gives us is intended to serve as “nourishment for our spiritual growth” and, although we may see it as a difficulty, we are certainly able to handle it.
I think that an important attitude that helps us carry a “heavy load” is exemplified by Chusaku’s open and receptive mind, which can be considered his core of faith and which allowed him to be single-hearted in his devotion to Jiba.
From Itsuwa no kokoro tazunete—gendai ni ikiru Oyasama no oshie, published by Tenrikyo Doyusha Publishing Company