The story of the Foundress

The Path Originated with an Ordinary Woman


Oyasama, Miki Nakayama, was born on April 18, 1798, in Sanmaiden Village, Yamabe County, Yamato Province, Japan.

In Her thirteenth year Miki married into the Nakayama family of Shoyashiki Village of the same county (now Mishima in the city of Tenri). As a housewife, Miki served Her husband well and was dutiful to Her parents-in-law. She also applied Herself diligently to the family occupation and was sociable with the neighbors. She was indeed the model of a virtuous housewife.

The Beginnings of the Teaching
Miki was settled as the Shrine of Tsukihi on October 26, 1838, in accordance with the revelation of God the Parent. She was in Her forty-first year. This settling meant that God the Parent now resided within the body of Oyasama, and that Her words, therefore, emanated from the mind of God the Parent. That is, Her mind was now that of God the Parent.

Plunging into Poverty
After being settled as the Shrine of Tsukihi, Oyasama sought to plunge into poverty by casting off Her possessions and those of the Nakayama family, giving these to whoever was in need. Her family and relatives, however, did not understand Her conduct and, consequently, protested vigorously and rebuked Her severely.

In 1853, as the family continued its gradual decline toward the depths of poverty, Her husband, Zenbei, the mainstay of the family, passed away. Undaunted by his passing, however, Oyasama carried on plunging deeper into poverty and, in addition, sent Her youngest daughter, Kokan, to Osaka to proclaim God’s name “Tenri-O-no-Mikoto.” During this period She also had the family’s main house dismantled. On the occasion of its dismantling-which would certainly appear a sad event to human beings-She treated the laborers to some sake and a bite to eat, saying: “Now I shall begin to build a new world. Celebrate the occasion with Me!” Herein we find an example of having risen far above the common, human perception of things and living in exact accordance with God the Parent’s mind, which is singly intent on saving all people in the world.

Her resoluteness and conduct, being far beyond the comprehension of ordinary people, aroused ridicule among them and, during the following ten years or so, not one person came to visit Her family. During this period, the Nakayama family lived in such penury that at times it did not have any food to eat. Even in such conditions, however, Oyasama was quick to give whatever rice the family happened to have to anyone in need that came Her way since She could not bear seeing anyone suffer.

The Grant of Safe Childbirth
Such, in brief, was the way Oyasama spent more than twenty years after becoming the Shrine of Tsukihi. Thereafter, however, the marvelous salvation shown through the Grant of Safe Childbirth resulted in opening the path, and people began to come to Oyasama to seek Her help. Sufferers were saved by Oyasama from any illness, and more and more people, from throughout the neighboring districts, came to Her, calling Her a living goddess.

Intervention and Persecution
This, however, began to invite a new form of hardship upon Oyasama. As She became increasingly renowned for Her ability to fulfill the wishes of worshipers, jealousy and incomprehension gave rise to strong opposition by priests, yamabushi exorcists, and other such practitioners. Nevertheless, Oyasama continued with dignified composure to teach Her followers the path to the Joyous Life, the ultimate purpose of human existence.

The Path of Universal Salvation
In 1864, Her followers constructed the Place for the Service as an expression of their gratitude and joy. This was Tenrikyo’s first construction. In 1866, Oyasama began to make arrangements for the Service by teaching the Mikagura-uta, the Songs for the Service.

Concerned that we forget what we hear, She began to write the Ofudesaki,The Tip of the Writing Brush, in 1869, taking Her writing brush in hand to record the very core of the teachings. In 1874, She bestowed the Amulet and the Sazuke, the Divine Grant, for the first time and, in the following year, identified the Jiba, the place of origin where humankind had first been conceived. Further, in 1877, She taught the women’s musical instruments used in the performance of the Service. Thus, the arrangements for the Service-which was taught as the path to universal salvation-made steady progress.

As the path advanced, however, the authorities’ oppression intensified. By 1882, it had come to the point where the authorities even took Oyasama into custody periodically. Nonetheless, without giving in to the pressure in the slightest, She resolutely continued Her teaching, ever intent on saving the world, and urged the followers to perform the Service, which had now become the primary target of the authorities’ suppression. Whenever the police came to arrest Her, She would tell Her followers that She was going out to the fore or that She was going out to do Her work and, gently thanking the policeman, She would depart readily and cheerfully. Yet, the followers-fearing that the hardships of arrest and imprisonment might affect Her health-could no longer bring themselves to perform the Service as Oyasama directed, since this might result in further hardships befalling Oyasama, now quite aged.

Her Withdrawal from Physical Life
In 1887, when Her physical condition became critical, Oyasama demanded more urgently than ever that the Service be performed. The followers felt that this was no time for hesitation and, having firmly resolved to act, they performed the Service boldly. However, while She was listening contentedly to the joyous sounds of the musical instruments for the Service, She fell quietly into sleep, withdrawing from physical life. It was two o’clock in the afternoon on January 26, 1887, and She was in Her ninetieth year.

The Everliving Oyasama
Desiring our spiritual maturity and ever intent on hastening salvation, Oyasama withdrew from physical life, shortening the natural term of Her physical life by twenty-five years. Yet, She remains at the Residence of Origin forever and, everliving, watches over our spiritual growth, constantly guiding us, all humankind.

Ever since 1838, Oyasama has taught us the intention of God the Parent. Out of Her parental love, which is singly intent on saving all humankind, Her children, She spiritedly passed through indescribable hardships in the course of demonstrating the Divine Model of how to realize the Joyous Life-a model which, when followed, will guide anyone toward salvation. Moreover, though having withdrawn from our sight, She continues to work, everliving, for the salvation of all humankind.