The Anecdote (Summary)
It was around 1883 that Naokichi Takai, who was in his twenties, was sent by Oyasama to save a sick person who lived about twelve kilometers south of the Residence. When he was instructing the man about the cause of illness, the man challenged Naokichi, saying, “I have done nothing wrong in my life.” Naokichi said: “I have heard nothing from Oyasama about such a situation yet. I will go back at once to ask.” He then ran the twelve kilometers back to the Residence to ask Her.
She explained: “I will tell you. Suppose you have a new house built and you seal up all the gaps so that nothing can enter. The dust will still settle so thick on the floor that you can write in it when you do not sweep it up for, say, ten or twenty days. You know that a mirror will stain. You sweep piles of dust when it is noticeable, but leave fine dust because it is hard to see. When the fine dust becomes embedded into a mirror, it will stain the mirror. Tell this story to him.”
Takai thanked Her and hurried back the twelve kilometers to the sick person. He conveyed Oyasama’s words, saying, “I was just told this story.” After he was finished, the sick man apologized to him. From that time the man began to believe in God and was completely cured of his disease.
Life-Long Endeavor to Dig Up the “Root of the Teachings”
by Hisataro Takai, Honbu-in
Naokichi was born in Oihara, Shiki Village, Minami-Kawachi County (now a section of Yao City, Osaka Prefecture, known as Oihara), on January 19, 1861, the first son of his father, Naoemon, and his mother, Mino. In those days, the Takais were a farming family known for having a lot of rice fields, and Naoemon held a responsible position in the village.
When Naokichi was three years old, however, his father passed away suddenly. Thereafter, he was raised by his elder sister, Nao, and her husband, Shogoro.
Drawn to the Residence Because of His Elder Sister’s Illness
It is said that, when Naokichi was a child, a blast occurred at an explosives depot in Osaka during the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, with the vibration of the explosion causing him to fall off a veranda-like porch and suffer a fracture of his right leg. He was slightly disabled in his leg, perhaps partly because of the aftereffects of the injury.
The beginnings of Naokichi’s faith go back to the blessing of a cure that his elder sister, Nao, received. Nao, who had been caring for him as his own mother, was suffering from serious post-delivery complications at the time. Then one day, the family heard from a merchant selling salted fish that there was a great living god in Shoyashiki Village, Yamato Province, who could cure any illness.
The family members placed food offerings at once and prayed in the direction of Yamato. Then Nao was blessed with a complete recovery in a few days. Thereafter, Naokichi would often be taken along by Nao and her husband when they visited the Residence. It is said that Naokichi was twelve years old when he returned to Jiba alone for the first time.
Nicknamed “Lotus Root Digger”
Naokichi, who was drawn to the path in this way, was to move into the Residence several years later when he was still young. His move would never have happened without the generosity of Oyasama’s son, Shuji.
In 1879, when Noakichi was in his nineteenth year, he suffered from influenza, which was prevalent in the village. Although fourteen or fifteen villagers passed away because of it, Naokichi was remarkably blessed with a full recovery. Soon after that, Naokichi visited Oyasama to express his thanks and went on to stay there.
During the first year, however, he had to go back to Kawachi from time to time because, although he was a live-in follower, he was paying for his food. Thus, while his money lasted, he served at the Residence and, when it ran out, he returned to Kawachi to earn money for food.
Shuji, who was aware of Naokichi’s situation, said to him one day: “Nao-san, I feel sorry for you. Let us share my bowl of rice together. You do not have to return to Kawachi, which is far away from here.” Thus, from the following year, 1880, Naokichi served full-time at the Residence.
In those days, the Residence was under close surveillance by the authorities, and a steam bath and an inn were operated as expedients necessary to provide an outward pretense that allowed followers to gather at the Residence. This was during a period when Oyasama, Shuji, and senior followers serving at the Residence were subjected to great hardships.
How overjoyed Naokichi must have been when he received such kindness from Shuji—all this coming on top of the fact that years before he and his sister had been given the blessing of salvation! The way he devoted the rest of his life to serving at the Residence as a live-in tells us something about the depth of the joy he must have experienced.
His parents had passed away when he was still a young child. He had no steady job. He had no learning at all, not enough even to write. He had no wife, either. Presumably, there was no obstacle to him moving into the Residence.
So Naokichi had nothing. However, he had a deep sense of joy, knowing that he had been saved by Oyasama. He was also a man of great honesty and integrity. It is probably because he had nothing at all that he continued throughout his life to honestly and straightforwardly accept and implement the many instructions given to him by Oyasama. Years later, he recalled: “Other people knew how to write, so they were busy writing down what they heard but were not listening with their heart. Since I could not write, I listened very intently to everything She was telling me.” He also said, “When I talk about the teachings, I am not expressing my own thoughts. I only convey what I heard from Oyasama exactly as I heard it. How could we humans possibly formulate these teachings in our heads?”
These words are so characteristic of Naokichi, who could not write and who, if he did not understand something, would keep asking Oyasama, as well as senior followers serving at the Residence, until he understood—an attitude that earned him the nickname “Lotus Root Digger.”
Complete, Single-Hearted Faith in Oyasama
Naokichi’s simple and honest attitude was reflected in the way he engaged in salvation work. The anecdote appearing at the beginning of the chapter took place about three years after he moved into the Residence.
Naokichi, who at the time was in his twenties, was explaining the cause of illness to a man he was trying to help in his salvation work when this person countered, “I have done nothing wrong in my life.” Then Naokichi said: “I have heard nothing from Oyasama about such a situation yet. I will go back at once to ask.” He went back to the Residence and, after being taught by Oyasama, returned to the man to repeat exactly what he had heard from Her.
This story tells us much about Naokichi’s humble and honest character. The story also demonstrates his absolute faith in God—faith where human thought plays no role. I believe that the actions he took remind us of one of the most important things for us Yoboku to remember. Almost every night, he heard the teachings from Oyasama and put questions to senior followers about anything and everything. Naokichi, who for this reason was even nicknamed “Lotus Root Digger,” probably could have given a satisfactory response to whatever anyone said to him during salvation work. Yet, he did not offer his own answer on the occasion in question. This, I believe, is because he had settled the teachings deeply in his mind and knew very well the preciousness of the truth of the teachings.
Naokichi is not remembered for any outstanding achievement. However, it is noteworthy that he started living in the Residence at a young age and received guidance directly from Oyasama from the beginning of his faith, all the while basking in Her warm embrace. This is probably why he had complete, single-hearted faith in Oyasama and straightforwardly put into practice whatever he was taught by Her.
Only by Receiving the Truth of the Parent
What should we who live in this day and age learn from this anecdote? In the anecdote Oyasama says: “[You] leave fine dust because it is hard to see. When the fine dust becomes embedded into a mirror, it will stain the mirror.”
We, as followers, believe in God the Parent’s teachings, rely on Oyasama’s Divine Model as our only guide, and work for the path every day. In our daily lives, however, there is no telling how much of what we say is unsupported by the teachings of the Parent and how much of what we do fails to accord with the parental intention. It is almost as if we were piling up invisible “fine dust” without realizing it. We should make a conscious effort to reflect on ourselves and to see if we are getting the basics right.
In Naokichi’s biography, there is a story of how God’s blessings were shown one after another when he engaged in salvation work after he had received permission to do so from Oyasama whereas no blessing came at all when he did so without Her permission. Regarding this, Naokichi is reported to have said, “Without Oyasama’s permission, we cannot do anything.”
Naokichi was granted the “Sazuke of Breath” by Oyasama in April 1884. Around the same time, he also received red clothes from Oyasama. It is said that, on that occasion, Oyasama said to Naokichi: “Although I thought it might be a little premature to do so, I grant you the clothes now. When you go out for salvation work, put on these red clothes. Then you will be acting on behalf of Tsukihi, God the Parent.” Although Oyasama may have bestowed the red clothes in response to Naokichi’s singleness of faith, I believe that Her intention was that having the red clothes should help him maintain that singleness throughout the rest of his life. As we can see from Naokichi’s life journey, the basic attitude those of us who are Yoboku should have is always to talk and act by receiving the truth of the Parent, no matter what position or role we hold.
From Itsuwa no kokoro tazunete—gendai ni ikiru Oyasama no oshie,
published by Tenrikyo Doyusha Publishing Company