In the Osashizu, we read:
I have told you that children up to the age of fifteen are provided for according to the state of their parents' mind and from the age of fifteen according to the state of their own mind.
Osashizu, August 30, 1888In Tenrikyo, the age fifteen is seen to be a major turning point in life. We are considered a "child" until the age of fifteen and are nurtured through our parents' sincerity: God the Parent accepts the mind-set of our parents' and blesses us accordingly. From the age of fifteen, we are regarded as an "adult" who is blessed according to the manner in which we have settled or used our minds; we alone are responsible for how our lives turn out. When it comes to an illness of a child, we are taught:
The child is not guilty of any offense, any wrongdoing, or any mistaken use of mind. Until age fifteen, it is a matter for the child's parents. . . .
Osashizu, July 5, 1895According to this passage, what is shown through children is their parents' state of mind, not the children's offense or wrong use of the mind. It is the parents who are urged to critically reflect upon themselves, repent, and resolve to settle the mind of sincerity. There is nothing more trying for parents than to see their children suffer from an illness or other trouble. We might say that children's illnesses and other troubles represent the most challenging training of the mind that parents can have. If parents contribute their sincerity for the sake of their children, God the Parent will accept this sincerity and show a joyful situation concerning the children. Such a response by parents to what happens to their children will result in their own spiritual growth. Amulets for children under the age of fifteen can be received by their parents in their place for this very reason (see "Proof Amulet" [5.88]). When children turn fifteen, it is also important for their parents to fulfill the responsibility of conveying to them the teachings given during the bestowal of their Amulets so they can settle these teachings in their minds. What I related above discusses the significance of the age of fifteen from the perspective of a parent. Yet we must add further thoughts when we consider this theme from the perspective of a child. For instance, there are people who must live with a lifelong disability caused by a childhood illness. Their parents will naturally greatly grieve and agonize over the situation. As we have seen above, the parents should reflect upon the manner in which they lived and used their minds--which has led to the present condition--and strive to awaken to God the Parent's intention and make spiritual growth. However, from the perspective of the children, to whom the disability can also be a lifelong source of suffering and agony, the question must be asked if their parents' use of mind was entirely responsible for the situation. The answer is that this is not necessarily so. God the Parent teaches us:
Everyone experiences various situations until age fifteen; repent for the causality from a previous life.
Osashizu, June 4, 1891Just as the relationships between parents and children come about because of causality from a previous life, that we have to suffer from an illness or another trouble may be something we have brought over from previous lives and may not necessarily be due to a cause from our current lifetime alone. Yet by settling joyous acceptance in the mind, leaning on God the Parent, and passing through the situation cheerfully and spiritedly, we can replace our causality from a previous life and allow ourselves to be guided toward a brighter future (see entries for "Causality" [5.13] and "Joyous Acceptance" [5.105]).