By Ruth Reiner
In last week’s item, Onisaburo started going through some mystical experiences. These experiences I would like to bring to you as were written in the book. (all the following you may find in chapter 4, “The Great Onisaburo Deguchi” .)
“According to his account, Kisaburo repeatedly sank into unconsciousness, experiencing a feeling of being sucked down, and when this had happened a number of times, he saw, In his semi-conscious state, a human figure in the shed with him. It was the figure of a man wearing Western clothes, and he began talking to Kisaburo.”
The next morning Kisaburo found himself sitting on a rock, in a shallow cave on the side of mount Takakuma (a mountain near his birthplace), with his eyes closed. The man who lead him the night before was gone.
“Kisaburo observed that some irresistible force was holding him upright and at the same time drawing him into a mysterious world… Now on the mountain, his powers took an enormous leap.”
Kisaburo prayed, went through ecstasy, meditated and fasted for one week while sitting on the rock. In later years he stated:
“After completing one week of discipline on the holy mountain of Takakuma near Anao in Tamba, I gained an understanding of the basics of clairvoyance, telepathy, communication with the divine and an understanding of karma…”
Returning to his home he behaved very strangely. He slept for several days and even sank into coma. The people around him were not certain of what had happened to him, and so:
“Decided that he had been possessed by a fox or badger, and they tried to exorcise the low spirit by burning red paper and pine needles and wafting the smoke up his nostrils.”
After a week Kisaburo got back to his former self, but decided to change his way of life, to leave his business, and from now on to study theology, spiritual research and practice meditation.
Eventually Kisaburo began to heal the sick with his spiritual powers. Kisaburo found he had many followers who saw him as a supernatural being.
Kisaburo then started traveling in the area giving lectures on how:
“The Japanese should promote their national character and develop independent thinking, cleansing their corrupt society and exalting moral awareness throughout the world”. (I have to note, how refreshing it is to find that such a main figure in a religion actually calls for independent thinking).
But actually the police didn’t find it so refreshing (I guess?!), and began interfering.
“On a day in late July 1898, when Kisaburo was praying at Obata Shrine, he received the following divine instruction: Make your way to the northwest without delay. Someone is waiting for you. Do not worry about anything, just get up and leave to Sonobe.” (Ch. 4)
So he left on foot, and after about five miles he stopped to refresh himself at a tea shop, in the shade of an old pine tree:
“As Kisaburo was taking a rest there, the mistress came over and spoke to him: ‘Excuse me, but what is your line of business?’ ‘I am an investigator of gods, ’Kisaburo replied.” (ch. 4)
(Can’t you just imagine this meeting? as I read it just sounded so simple and beautiful). She then continued:
“As it happens, my mother in Ayabe has suddenly been possessed by a god called Ushitora no Konjin, and many people have received divine virtue from this god. According to the god, a man able to establish his identity is to come from the east, and when that man comes, then we will understand why the deity is possessing my mother. That is why my husband and I have opened this tea shop offering rest and refreshment to travelers, just to look for this man my mother speaks of. I can’t help thinking it must be you. Won’t you please come to see my mother just once?” (ch. 4)
She also handed him some sheets of paper, which she said were some of her mother’s spiritual writings. They were written in very simple Japanese, but Kisaburo could see that there was much in common in the essence, with his own views. So he was in some way touched. Before leaving he replied:
“It is possible I will visit Ayabe sometime in the future.” (ch. 4)
On October 8, 1898 he finally arrived in Ayabe. At first, Nao the “possessed”, did not quite expect a “comical-looking” man like him, and so she found it hard to believe that he was really the person indicated in her spiritual writings. But, after they both went their own ways for a while it became clearer and clearer to both sides, that they were meant to connect, and so just as Onisaburo was realizing that the divine instruction he had to go to the northwest was to meet Nao, She found repeated references in the writings that it was him. And so, on July 3, Onisaburo returned to Ayabe and became a center figure in Oomoto, the religion that Nao founded. (ch. 6)
So, if now you are wondering what is Oomoto and why did Nao found it, all will be made more clear in next week’s item on “The Great Onisaburo Deguchi”!