Insights into the Anecdotes: Kichitaro Matsumura (1867–1952), Anecdote 190 “This Path”

The Anecdote (Summary)

In the summer of 1886, Kichitaro Matsumura returned to the Residence. In the eyes of Matsumura, who had acquired some education, the illiteracy of the people who gathered at the Residence and their very uncouth manners seemed questionable. He had even come to harbor a sense of contempt toward them.

One day, when he had an audience with Oyasama, She said to him: “This path is not the way of intelligence or knowledge. I do not say, ‘Do not come,’ to those who come. I do not forcibly say, ‘Come,’ to those who do not wish to come.”

Upon hearing these words, Matsumura realized his arrogance and repented from the bottom of his heart. Thus the preciousness of the truth of Jiba became deeply embedded in his heart.

A Person of True Sincerity” Who Sought the Divine Model

by Yoshiji Matsumura, Honbu-in, Head Minister of Takayasu Grand Church

Kichitaro was born the first son of his father, Eijiro, and mother, Saku, on February 10, 1867, in Kawachi Province’s Kyokoji Village (a section of what is now known as Kyokoji, Yao City, Osaka Prefecture). Eijiro was permitted to use a surname and wear swords by the Yodo feudal clan and served as the village head. He was a dominant figure in the village. Saku was from the Kohigashi family of Yamato Province’s Byodoji Village (a section of what is now known as Byodoji, Heguri Town, Ikoma County). She was the elder sister of Matsue, who was the wife of Shuji, Oyasama’s son.

The faith of the Matsumura family started in 1872 when Saku, who was suffering from a condition commonly called tachiyamai, began experiencing serious symptoms but was saved by Oyasama after returning to the Residence. (See Anecdotes of Oyasama, no. 23, “Saving from Tachiyamai Disease.”) After that Eijiro and Saku returned to the Residence at every opportunity and deepened their faith. When Saku suffered from a condition now known as rheumatism in 1882, Oyasama Herself came to help her in Kawachi. She stayed for three days and took care of Saku tenderly. Having received Oyasama’s deep parental love, Saku was cured completely. (See Anecdotes of Oyasama, no. 102, “I Myself Will Call on Her.”)

Turning from Doctors and Medicine to the Path of Faith

Kichitaro was often brought to Jiba in his childhood by his parents, who were following the path earnestly. After he completed compulsory education, he continued to study Chinese classics at a private school and started to work for the village office in Minami Takayasu at the age of seventeen. He was bright and argumentative by nature and turned his back on his parents faith, which his knowledge and intellect told him was irrational. He often won arguments against people coming from Jiba.

In 1886, when he was twenty years old, he suffered from pleurisy, a serious lung disease. Even though he was urged by his family members to embrace the faith, he believed in his doctor alone and firmly declined at first. Yet his condition continued to worsen until he felt he had no other choice. He said finally, “Then, I will give the faith a try.” At that time, a member of the fellowship in his village said to him: “Nobody would listen to you if you tried half-heartedly to persuade people to help you. The same applies to God. You would not receive a full blessing if you embraced the faith with a half-hearted attitude.”

These words firmly convinced Kichitaro. He dumped his medicine into a wastebasket and resolved to follow the path for the rest of his life. The members of the fellowship performed a three-day-three-night prayer service twice and he was blessed with a complete recovery. Thereafter, he followed the path earnestly. He returned to Jiba every Saturday afternoon after he finished his work at the village office. He engaged in hinokishin during the daytime on Sunday while learning the teachings at night. Then, he returned to Kawachi at dawn on Monday. This became his routine.

Oyasama Saw through His Thoughts

The anecdote appearing at the beginning of this chapter occurred soon after Kichitaro started to visit the Residence regularly as described above. At that time most of those serving at the Residence were poorly educated farmers who lived nearby. Apart from talks about the teachings, casual conversations that took place there seemed uneducated and uncultured to him so that he felt contempt for them.

Oyasama saw through Kichitaro’s feelings and said to him: “This path is not the way of intelligence or knowledge. I do not say, ‘Do not come,’ to those who come. I do not forcibly say, ‘Come,’ to those who do not wish to come.” Struck by these words, Kichitaro realized that those he had looked down on were the “leaders of the path,” who followed Oyasama’s words even if they were laughed at or ridiculed by others and who dedicated themselves to the Residence sincerely. At that time he started to pay attention to people’s inner qualities.

Later when he received God’s care in the form of a health disorder, he made an inquiry on January 8, 1888, and received the following divine direction: “Tenri-O-no-Mikoto is the truth of sincerity revealed since fifty years ago. The basis of Tenri-O-no-Mikoto, here at this one place, is the single-heartedness with which mankind, who did not exist, was created. . . . She was just an ordinary person on a farm, a woman who knew nothing. She was no one special. But understand well the truth that it was She who taught the ultimate teaching. She never went anywhere to see things, never learned anything in particular. I entered the body of this woman and spread truth. Understand this well.” Thus, he was taught to believe in the teachings of Oyasama, who is the “Shrine of Tsukihi (Moon-Sun),” and follow the path in single-heartedness with God. Then through a series of divine directions that later followed, he was granted the “Sazuke of Water.”

In the same year, Kichitaro accompanied the first Shinbashira, Shinnosuke Nakayama, when he went to Tokyo to apply for the establishment of Church Headquarters. At that time, Kichitaro quit his job at the village office and became exclusively devoted to the path. He worked for the headquarters, mainly carrying out office work and taking care of public relations.

A Life Devoted to Single-Heartedness with God

One day in 1889 Kichitaro suddenly began to feel a burning pain at the corners of his eyes as a result of inflammation. Immediately he made an inquiry and received a divine direction that told him: “About the situation, you must settle the one truth in the place. You must have it settled. . . . About the one truth, if the situation settles and leads to a convincing insight, the truth of sincerity will also be clear” (Osashizu, January 26, 1889). All the intermediaries present there said: “Mr. Matsumura, this means that you should establish a church. God says that the one truth should settle in the place.” Yet Kichitaro could not be convinced. He did not think that he could establish a church because he had no followers. Besides, neither his father nor he had ever carried out any missionary work even for a single day.

Later, he made another inquiry and received the following divine direction: “Sah, sah, settling the one truth in the local community and contributing your sincerity to Jiba—settle these two in one mind. If you do so while following the path of the mind, your condition will clear up quickly” (Osashizu, January 29, 1889). Thus, he was instructed that he should both establish a church in the local community and work for Church Headquarters, thereby fulfilling his work of single-hearted salvation.

Kichitaro had neither guided anyone to become a follower of the path nor brought a fellowship into being by imparting the fragrance of the teachings to others. So he brought together fellowships that existed in Kawachi and that had some connection with the Matsumura family to establish Takayasu Branch Church. He became the first head minister of the church. After that, however, he continually faced various difficulties, perhaps, partly because of the unique background behind the establishment of the church. Among other challenges, he had to make considerable efforts to settle the church in unity of mind and was saddled with substantial debts resulting from the construction of the sanctuary.

Kichitaro wrote a pledge to dedicate himself to single-heartedness with God when he faced difficulties related to the establishment of the church. He always had the pledge with him and reflected every morning and evening on whether he was not breaking his pledge. Soon after Eijiro passed away for rebirth in 1889, Kichitaro suffered from dysentery, which led him to give up all the land and property of the Matsumura family. He engaged in various tasks at Church Headquarters—including those relating to Tenrikyo’s application submitted for sectarian independence in 1908—while dedicating himself to the growth of Takayasu Branch Church.

Having looked at Kichitaro’s journey, we realize how much he cherished Oyasama’s words “This path is not the way of intelligence or knowledge” in his life of faith. For a while, after he embraced the faith, he was unable to change his habits of thought and temperament. However, after he listened to those words Oyasama spoke, his way of thinking began to change and, as he received a number of divine directions after that, he gradually developed his true sincerity, with which he devoted himself to single-heartedness with God. I think that the reason why Kichitaro—who used to approach everything rationally—quit his job, threw away his family lineage and property, as well as his learning, and cultivated true sincerity was that he took the Divine Model of Oyasama to heart.

We are taught once again that, in any day and age, it is of prime importance in our daily lives—as well as at turning points in our lives—to let go of human thought and common sense, trust God the Parent and Oyasama completely, follow the path of the Divine Model in a spirit of simple openness, and put the teachings into practice.

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

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