Oyasama not only revealed the teachings of God the Parent by Her spoken word and by Her writing brush but demonstrated them in Her life. The life of Oyasama after She became the Shrine of God is indeed the Divine Model for all humankind to follow.
After October 26, 1838, when She was called to serve as the Shrine of God in Her forty-first year, She hastened to obey the divine command, "Fall to the depths of poverty," and began to give away the family possessions to the poor. Such an act was not understood by Her family, relatives, or acquaintances and, during the following period of over fifteen years, She suffered severe censure and vigorous opposition. While under such circumstances, Her husband passed away for rebirth in 1853 and the family fell further into the depths of poverty. However, that very year, in the midst of this large knot of suffering and grief, Oyasama, transcending the circumstances, sent Her youngest daughter, Kokan, to Osaka to spread the divine name Tenri-O-no-Mikoto.
For such uncommon devotion to the will of God, She was subjected to increasing scorn and alienation until, at last, no one came to call. Moreover, the family of three had to spend many a day without rice to eat. With his father gone, Shuji became the head of the family and sold vegetables and firewood for their support. But even in such hard times, whenever Oyasama saw people in need, She never hesitated to give them what little rice the family had managed to obtain.
During the autumn festival of the village one year, the young girls, dressed in their finery, were enjoying the festivities. Kokan, in the bloom of youth, not only had no finery but did not even have a change of clothes. Thus, she had to watch the festival procession from the shadows of their half-ruined wall.
In the summer they had no netting to ward off the mosquitoes. In the winter they scraped together twigs and leaves for a fire to warm themselves from the cold wind which streamed through their now dilapidated house. They spent many a night spinning thread by the light of the moon since they had little oil for their lamps.
Such severe circumstances continued for ten long years. But Oyasama, full of hope and delight, never stopped teaching the path to the Joyous Life. At times when they had nothing to eat but pickled vegetables and nothing to drink but water, She encouraged Her children by saying:
In this world there are those who are suffering, unable to eat or even to swallow water despite food piled high at their bedsides. If we think of them, how blessed we are, for when we drink water, it tastes of water. God the Parent has blessed us with exquisite gifts.
In this way, more than twenty years passed since Oyasama had become the Shrine of God. Then the Path started to spread wider and farther by the miracles of salvation shown through the Grant of Safe Childbirth. People began to come from neighboring villages in veneration of Oyasama as a "living goddess." Oyasama taught them that the origin of illness is in the mind and worked countless miracles of healing before their eyes. Even the so-called incurable illnesses were not incurable to Her--the blind opened their eyes at once and the insane completely regained their sanity.
Thus, the dawning of the Path came gloriously, but it was also the beginning of new trials. Jealousy, suspicion, and incomprehension gave rise not only to strong opposition but to violent attacks by men with drawn swords. Despite the troubles which beset Her day and night, She became even more spirited and taught the joyous Kagura Service and dance movements for the Teodori. Indeed, there is nothing contained in them that even hints at the suffering She underwent during those thirty long years, nor is there any indication of the days She had spent exposed to the danger of swords. There is only the desire from Her parental love to lead all humankind to understand the heart of God.
In addition, Oyasama took up Her writing brush to explain the truths about the Jiba, the place of origin, about the Kanrodai, the center for the Salvation Service, and about the Service performers. She also bestowed the Proof Amulet and the Sazuke of Breath and the Sazuke of Hand Dance. Thus, She taught the path of single-hearted salvation.
Meanwhile, She was made to endure imprisonment or detention by the authorities seventeen or eighteen times, even in the heat of summer and the cold of winter. But such hardships did not bother Her in the least, and She constantly strove by every effort, day and night, to enlighten those who were doubtful and slow to understand. She guided them at times with warmth and at times with sternness, depending on the circumstances and according to the individual.
Due to Her thorough guidance, the teachings spread through the province of Yamato, then to the districts of Gokinai, Tokai, Kanto, Sanyo, and to the island of Shikoku. Thus, the followers' adoration of Oyasama flamed with intensity, leading an ever greater number of people to return to Jiba. Meanwhile, in accordance with the will of God the Parent, Oyasama persisted in urging that the Kagura Service be performed.
However, the persecution had grown harsher with each year's passing. Each performance of the Service resulted in Oyasama's imprisonment. But wherever She might be taken, Her attitude never changed and She would gently thank the policeman sent to arrest Her, saying to those She left behind that She was "going out" or that She was "going to work."
The followers, inspired by this example set by Oyasama, resolved to follow Her Divine Model courageously in the cause of single-hearted salvation, discarding all concern for what might happen to themselves. However, they could not endure the thought of any further suffering befalling Oyasama, now quite aged. This situation continued and on December 8, 1886, there was a sign that Oyasama was not physically well. At the time, Oyasama said, "It is a sign that the world is going to move." Her disciples, filled with anxiety, wondered what the intent of God the Parent could be and discussed the matter earnestly for many days. Then they went to Oyasama with the problems they had found insoluble in their discussions, and made repeated inquiries concerning the divine will, pressing their requests for answers again and again, more than a dozen times. The divine intent revealed in response never varied--they were to hasten to perform the Service.
In a severe tone, it was implied that a grave moment impossible to evade was at hand:
But I say, "Now!" Because I say, "Now," you must do it now. Time is pressing. Do you understand?
Further, they were urged to commit themselves in response to Oyasama's physical condition:
Sah, sah, with each of you, to settle the mind is to settle the Service performers. If there are no difficulties, the mind cannot be truly set. It depends on your heart, on your mind.
Further, they were instructed on the state of mind they must keep:
Sah, sah, where there is sincerity, you shall receive sincerity. You may not know what My sincerity is. It is My providence--fire, water, and wind.
Sah, sah, you are to purchase My sincerity. Purchase My sincerity with your own sincerity.
The disciples clearly understood the divine will but they still did not perform the Service. While it might be said that their inability to commit themselves forthrightly was due to the frailty of human thinking, it was in fact due to their concern that Oyasama would be imprisoned.
The year came to an end. Then on January 25, 1887, Her physical condition became critical. When the disciples made an inquiry of the divine will, the reply was:
Sah, sah, I shall begin to level the ground completely. Sah, sah, with the portals opened, opened, I shall level the ground all over the world. Sah, I shall step out to level the ground. Sah, sah, shall I open the portals and level the ground? Shall I close the portals and level the ground?
Unable to understand the true meaning of the words, the disciples thought it would be brighter with the portals open, so they requested that the ground be leveled with the portals opened.
I shall open the portals to the whole world, open, open, open. Everything will be entirely changed.
The following day was the 26th. Not only because it was the day of commemoration for the beginning of the teachings but especially because God the Parent so urgently demanded that the Service be performed, the disciples felt that this was no time for hesitation and firmly resolved to act. Preparing themselves for the worst that might occur, they began the performance of the Service with the musical instruments included.
Oyasama, lying in Her Resting House, listened to the joyous sounds of the Service. She seemed greatly pleased. With Her head to the north and Her face to the west, She fell quietly into sleep. She was in Her ninetieth year.
Oyasama shortened the natural term of Her physical life by twenty-five years. Her presence cannot be seen, but Her soul remains at the Residence of Origin forever. Oyasama, everliving, watches over the spiritual growth of all humankind, Her children.
If there should be another parent who began human beings, go and seek to find where.
Ofudesaki VIII : 75
(This article was excerpted from The Doctrine of Tenrikyo, 35-42.)