Insights into the Anecdotes: Komakichi Komatsu (1865–1934), Anecdote 103 “Without Erring”

The Anecdote (Summary)


Komakichi Komatsu, who lived in Osaka, returned to Jiba for the first time in July 1882, led by Tokichi Izumita, his spiritual guide, in order to offer his gratitude. This was soon after his recovery from cholera and the beginning of his faith.

When Komakichi was granted an audience with Oyasama, She personally handed him an amulet and spoke these gracious words: “I appreciate your return from the bustling town of Osaka to the remote countryside. You are eighteen and still young. Go through life without erring. As long as you do not err, in the end, your happiness will exceed all bounds.”

Komakichi kept these words as his lifelong motto and followed them throughout his life.


An Honest, Upright Life

By Hatsuo Komatsu, Head Minister of Mitsu Grand Church


Our grand church is currently situated in Shimanouchi, Chuo Ward, Osaka City, only a ten-minute walk from bustling Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori. Komakichi was born on February 15, 1865, in Kawarayamachi, a little east of Shimanouchi. His father was a carpenter. The family of three, father, mother, and Komakichi, lived in a tenement house.


Saved from Cholera

In 1882 cholera was prevalent in Osaka. In the Meiji Period, when medical science was in its infancy, cholera was feared as an “incurable disease.” Impoverished villagers could not receive any treatment but rather had to be nursed at home. It was common that a piece of yellow paper on which “cholera” was written would be posted on their front doors. In the tenement where Komakichi lived several people were infected with cholera so that the area around it was roped off and was under surveillance by police officers.

In June of the same year Komakichi also suffered from the disease. One day, after he returned home from a neighborhood meeting, his face became pale, and his whole body felt tired. He went to bed immediately and fell into a coma at night.

A pushcart vendor selling steamed sweet potatoes who came to the Komatsu family’s home every day in order to obtain water from the well visited the house just at that time. The vendor, nicknamed “Potato Bear,” was Tokichi Izumita.

Tokichi had already embraced the faith. Having seen Komakichi in his sickbed, he immediately offered water to God, made a prayer, took a mouthful of water, and spayed it over Komakichi all at once. Then he performed cold water ablutions beside the well and offered earnest prayers at Komakichi’s bedside. How many times he must have gone back and forth between the bed and the well! Thanks to his sincere salvation work, Komakichi regained consciousness and by the end of the day had received a vivid blessing.

Komakichi was overjoyed that he had been cured without taking any medications. Therefore, even though he was still physically weak, he visited Tokichi’s house the following day with his father, Seikichi, bringing a small portion of white rice and a pack of sugar candy called konpeito. Tokichi, however, refused to accept them, saying: “I did not save you. It is God in heaven who saved you.” He went on to say, “Offer your gratitude to God!”

Since Komakichi had no idea what he should do, he asked Tokichi, who replied, “Offering gratitude to God is to make repayment through saving others.” He then instructed Komakichi in the dance movements for the Twelve Songs and lent him a copy of the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Service. Komakichi was impressed by the teachings, which he had never heard of before, so that from the following day he began to visit Tokichi’s house after he finished his work for the day and went out at night to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and do salvation work. At that time Komakichi was eighteen years old.


Because of His Sincerity and Earnestness

Thus, as we read in the anecdote appearing at the beginning of this chapter, Komakichi, guided by Tokichi, returned to Jiba in July, when the rainy season was about to end, in order to express his gratitude.

At the Residence he received Oyasama’s words: “I appreciate your return from the bustling town of Osaka to the remote countryside. You are eighteen and still young. Go through life without erring. As long as you do not err, in the end, your happiness will exceed all bounds.”

It is said that, when he heard these words, he did not understand them at all. He asked Tokichi what She meant after they reached their accommodations. Tokichi replied, “Because you are still young, She was probably telling you to take care not to be swayed by love affairs.” Osaka flourished as a hub of the regional waterway network in those days. It was the second busiest town after Tokyo and had various attractions and temptations. Perhaps this was why Tokichi said what he said to the young Komakichi.

I cannot help but feel that Oyasama’s words had a deeper, divine meaning. Part of the reason for saying this has to do with Komakichi’s character. A carpenter by trade, he did not know how to read and write before he began to follow the path. In order to learn the teachings of the path, however, he earnestly studied reading and writing by using a newspaper. He wrote his notes so neatly that it looks as if he was faithfully copying a newspaper typeface as he wrote each character and letter.

Here I am reminded of another story about him. After being appointed as an accountant in Osaka Diocese in later years, he recorded literally all expenditures including the cost of everyone’s packed lunch. One day when an Osaka City official came to check the accounts, Komakichi showed him all the details including sundry expenses. It is said that the official left with a satisfied laugh, saying: “The cost of the tea that was served for me today, as well as my name, will undoubtedly be recorded. There will be no problem with the accounts, which are managed by such a meticulous person.”

I imagine that, because Komakichi was such an earnest and sincere person, Oyasama purposely told him to go through life “without erring.” Having been saved from a hopeless physical condition, he must have resolved to keep Oyasama’s words in mind for the rest of his life.

Indeed, after Komakichi returned to Osaka, his faith became even more fervent, leading him to enthusiastically sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and do salvation work. Within only one year of embracing the faith, he became the head of Chapter Five of the Ten’e Fellowship in April 1883, when he was still nineteen years old.


Sowing the Seeds of Sincerity at the Residence

Just during that period, the persecution of the path by the police was intensifying, and Oyasama was undergoing repeated hardships of arrest and imprisonment. Police surveillance was increased in Osaka, as well, and Komakichi was taken into custody several times. At first, he could not eat meals while in police custody. Yet he became spirited when he thought about the courageous manner in which Oyasama was going through hardships. It is said that whenever he performed the service he was always wearing two layers of long johns and tabi socks in case he was arrested.

Incidentally, as often appears to be the case with craftsmen, Komakichi seems to have been short-tempered. After Oyasama withdrew from physical life on the lunar calendar date of January 26, 1887, some followers who did not understand the divine intention in Her withdrawal left Komakichi’s fellowship. Moreover, the intervention of the police became severer so that he found himself in a situation where he was following the path alone. Although he clouded his mind with dissatisfaction at one time, he reflected on his use of the mind after receiving a divine direction through the Honseki, Izo Iburi. It is said that the following day he received the truth of the Sazuke and made a resolution not to get angry for the rest of his life.

On February 6, 1888, another divine direction was delivered to Komakichi, who, at the time, was feeling rushed to do whatever was necessary to rebuild the fellowship: “It depends on your mind. If you have a spirit of true sincerity and if there is a buried root, it will sprout.” He reasoned that he should deepen his understanding of the teachings in order to rebuild the fellowship. Thus, he stayed in Jiba and began to learn the teachings from Chusaku Tsuji.

During his stay in Jiba, permission was granted to establish Church Headquarters in Tokyo, and construction started including extension work on the Place for the Service. He worked hard in hinokishin during the day and earnestly learned the teachings at night. During the period, his first daughter, Ai, who at the time was two, suffered from a disease of the throat. Having requested and received a divine direction, he placed total reliance on God and pledged in front of the Kanrodai to continue working until the construction was completed. Soon afterward he received the news that his daughter’s illness had been cured.

He devoted half a year to this construction work in Jiba. The hinokishin he did became the seeds of growth for his fellowship, which continued to grow, benefiting from the teachings that he learned and treasured. Eventually—as predicted by Oyasama when She said, “[I]n the end, your happiness will exceed all bounds”—he was able to establish what is now Mitsu Grand Church.


How to Go through Life without Erring

Looking back on Komakichi’s life journey, we find that he always kept Oyasama’s words in mind and earnestly took steady steps to achieve spiritual growth. When he almost lost his way, he was guided to the right path by the deep and warm parental love of God the Parent and Oyasama.

Considering this, I cannot help but think that Oyasama instructed him to go through life “without erring” because, looking ahead to his future, She wanted to make sure that he followed a path befitting his virtues and character without being swayed by various worldly desires.

How, then, does Oyasama want us to live so that we do not err? I think we can find pointers in Komakichi’s honest, upright life.

It is said that Komakichi disliked the word “unfilial.” He often said, “No one can possibly be ‘unfilial’ because being ‘unfilial’ is simply something one must never be.” So he used the expression “not in accord with one’s parents’ wishes” to imply the same meaning.

In his later years, Komakichi always felt grateful from the bottom of his heart for even the most trivial things in life and expressed his gratitude by saying: “What a blessing! Too good for me!” It is said that he also often told his church’s followers: “How splendid! Please feel joyous!”

Based on the above, I think that to “go through life without erring” is to always follow the intention of God, be grateful for whatever happens around us, and maintain a sense of joyous acceptance as we live our lives. This does not apply to Komakichi alone. Those of us Yoboku who live today also need to keep in mind this important cornerstone of faith.

Even if we understand in our heads the great blessings that we receive daily, don’t we tend to forget them in the hustle and bustle of our lives? We would do well to settle in our minds the truth of God’s workings behind what is visible by awakening to the world of divine truth and accept whatever happens as it is. We should see ourselves for who we really are, realize our virtues and limitations, and never forget the sense of gratitude as we take steady steps toward spiritual growth.

I think that the anecdote appearing at the beginning of this chapter conveys Oyasama’s message that we should not seek what is beyond our virtues but rather build the foundation that allows us to receive what we seek as we follow the path each day without taking a wrong turn.

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

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