Tenrikyo Europe Centre
by Simon Patterson (Head of Tenrikyo UK Centre, Chief of Tenrikyo Mission Sakurai London)
As many of you know, at the Autumn Grand Service held at Jiba on October 26th last year the Shimbashira announced Instruction Four, marking the beginning of the 3 years, 1,000 days period leading up to the 140th Anniversary of Oyasama, to be observed on 26th January 2026. (Tenrikyo189)
The anniversaries of Oyasama are held every ten years to commemorate the day Oyasama gave up her physical being and withdrew from physical life in order to hasten our Spiritual Growth on January 26th 1887.
In Instruction Four the Shimbashira encourages us to ‘actively move forward on the path of single-hearted salvation by implementing the teachings with our sights set on the Divine Model’.
The Divine Model of our everliving Oyasama refers to the period of 50 years from the day Oyasama, Miki Nakayama, became the living Shrine of God the Parent on October 26th 1837 until she gave up her physical being, on January 26th 1887. Miki Nakayama was a 40 year old wife and mother before she became the living Shrine of God the Parent. From that day on, October 26th 1837, Oyasama began the 50 year journey we know as her Divine Model.
Oyasama began her Divine Model by falling into the depths of Poverty. I believe it is very important to realise what this actually means. Oyasama did not suddenly become poor as a result of becoming the Shrine of God the Parent. Oyasama came from a good family in a nice rural village called Shoyashiki. Her husband was regarded as the head of the village and they lived a very comfortable life.
However, when She became the living Shrine of God the Parent she wanted to show us human beings the importance of being grateful for everything that we have and experience. As a result the first thing that she did was give away all her worldly possessions to other people that needed them. She even dismantled the family house in order to show her neighbours and other people in the surrounding area that material objects are not important, and that helping other people and living a life of moderation is far more important than material success.
In the Life of Oyasama we read, in chapter three, ‘On The Way’;
First She gave to the needy the personal effects She had brought with her when she Married, the food, clothes, money and so forth, one after another.
In Her parental desire to save all humankind, Oyasama showed the world the model of the path through which one can attain salvation, by walking it Herself. She taught that by giving generously to the needy and renouncing attachment to material things, one will surely become brightened in mind and, once the mind has become brightened, the path to the Joyous Life will open up by itself.
Initially people, including her own family, thought that she must be mad or possessed by an evil spirit. However, Oyasama just smiled and said:
Whoever comes to this house shall never leave without being filled with joy. To me, the Parent, all human beings in the world are My children.
In order to show everyone in the village and surrounding area that she actually was kind, gentle and good natured, She started to teach sewing. The villagers gradually realised that she was not mad or evil after all. At that time her son, Shuji, also opened a private school and taught reading and writing to children in the village, further showing that the family were committed to helping other people.
In 1853, when Oyasama was 56, her loving husband, Zenbei who was 66, sadly passed away for rebirth. That same year Oyasama, sent her youngest daughter, Kokan, who was 17, and three others, to Naniwa city, near Osaka to spread the name of God by chanting in the street ‘Namu, Tenri O no Mikoto: Namu, Tenri O no Mikoto’ together with wooden clappers. This also, importantly, signified the beginning of spreading the Teachings of Tenrikyo.
The following year, in 1854, when Oyasama was 57, She began the Grant of Safe Childbirth. This was a highly significant moment in her Divine Model as women had often suffered in childbirth, and people began to recognise her divine powers, and started to listen to what she said. At this time Oyasama said:
You must forget all human concerns. Rely on God the Parent and have a delivery free from worry.
A few years later when Oyasama was over 60, Kokan one day informed her that there was no rice left. On hearing this Oyasama said:
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.
As the Shimbashira has written in Instruction Four:
Oyasama taught us to always feel a sense of gratitude for the boundless blessings of God the Parent in any situation as we walk the Path.
In our sacred books The Doctrine of Tenrikyo, and The Life of Oyasama we can read the full account of Oyasama’s Divine Model. of I would encourage all of you to read these important books again as we are in the three years, one thousand days season towards the 140th Anniversary on 26th January 2026.
During Oyasama’s 50 year Divine Model she taught us the path to the Joyous Life, that we now know as Tenrikyo. She taught the hand movements and the musical instruments of Service, the Truth of Origin, the 10 aspects of God’s complete Providence, the 8 Dusts of the mind, Joyous Acceptance, A Thing Lent -A Thing Borrowed, The Sazuke, Hinokishin and she wrote the Ofudesaki, Tenrikyo’s most sacred book. Perhaps most importantly, despite many years of hardship, and even imprisonment, Oyasama always remained cheerful and taught us to be thankful, and lean on God the Parent even in the toughest situations.
Moreover in Instruction Four we are reminded that Oyasama taught us that we should think of others before we think of ourselves, and that;
Through saving others, you will be saved
I was 26 years old when I became a Yoboku on the 15th January 1986, 37 years ago, just 11 days before the 100th Anniversary of Oyasama. I had attended my first 3 Besseki Lectures the year before just before my wife and I got married. That was the first time I returned to Jiba. I remember feeling that I really was home, and I can still remember the smell of the new tatami mats in the east and west halls at that time. The first time I attended Monthly Service at Jiba I remember the incredible atmosphere, being there sitting on the tatami floor together with hundreds of other people praying and singing the songs which Oyasama had taught. I really like sitting on tatami and used to enjoy sitting in Japanese ‘seiza’ style – something I can’t do anymore! During the Service my body started to ache from sitting on the floor for so long. Suddenly I felt someone massaging my shoulders, which helped enormously. I turned around to see who was doing it. No one was sitting up massaging me! Still to this day I believe it was Oyasama with her strong yet gentle hands.
I have returned to Jiba many times since then and I am always filled with gratitude for the warm parental love of God the Parent and Oyasama which feels strong there. The last time I returned was for the Spring Grand Service in January 2020, just as the Covid 19 pandemic was starting. I feel most grateful for God’s Blessings that we were able to visit our Kyokai, upper Kyokai, and Daikyokai, as well as Jiba just before the Covid lockdown. During the following 2 years at the UK Centre we had to deal with social distancing, do many Monthly Services via zoom, and trying to encourage and keep all the followers cheerful. Due to the pandemic I have not been able to return to Jiba for 3 years and I now have a great yearning go back. I am most grateful that we will be returning for the Autumn Grand Service in October, when a look forward to feeling the sense of warm parental love at Jiba and Oyasama’s Shrine again.
I also look forward to 26th January 2026, when I intend to be at the Spring Grand Service which will be Oyasama’s 140th Anniversary, and I will also celebrate being a Yoboku for 40 years! I hope many of you here will also be at Jiba on that day. I’m sure Oyasama will be very pleased if we are!
Thank you very much for listening.