Mother Earth

Volume 9: The Dawn of Tamba

Chapter 12: The High Treason Affair

      Nao became seventy-five years old in 1910 (Meiji era 43), and Onisaburo became forty in the same year; that was, without cheating, their true age. Since Onisaburo had returned to Ayabe, the appearance of the Omoto cult was again changing every day, nevertheless, Nao did not alter a bit her customary life style. Two rooms which had been added to the northern part of the Garyu-tei (the House of the Sleeping Dragon), had been given to Nao and Yasuko Umeda. Yasuko lived in the room adjacent to Nao's room, and while she acted as her servant, she found that her life was worth living in such a sacred place. A few days ago, Nao had gotten up before 4 a.m., and had gone to the veranda outside, while it was still dark and she deeply sensed that an ill wind was blowing which, would do nobody any good. Then, after a wooden pail, filled with water, was given to her, she pulled her hair up and washed her face and hands very carefully. She combed her silvery hair with a wooden comb and tied it on her back with a twisted piece of paper. Her lips and limbs had lost their natural color because for four years, she had stopped to purify herself with water, according to the god's order.

      Nao prayed to the god for a very long time while sitting in the circular area on the floor in front of the altar. Meanwhile, Yasuko had put away Nao's bedding and had gone to the kitchen to lit the charcoal that remained in the stove. The only fuel they were using in the kitchen was brushwood, which the believers used to gather in the mountain. Nao had prohibited to use sumi (charcoal), saying that it was too good for daily use. But, Yasuko generally received some live charcoal from Sumi's kitchen and used to hid it under the ashes of a small hibachi (a charcoal brazier) in the founder's room. After finishing the prayer, Nao sat down in a formal posture beside the hibachi and extended her hands over the fire for a while. No one did look at her during that time. After the charcoal was burnt up, Nao transferred to the unheated room.

      In the very early morning there were sometimes live charcoals left in the kitchen. When that happened, Yasuko would apologize to Nao for it but, she would answer, "Don't mind. It is too good for me because I am not working, but for you it is all right because you are very busy in the kitchen, I dare say." Nao's meal would always consist of one kind of soup and a dish of fish or vegetables, besides rice, that is, the same meal as any believer would have. Yasuko used to bring it to her in a small discolored box-shaped tray. Nao had the habit of not drinking tea for economy's sake. She would take a serving of about one sake's cup of rice and let it macerate for a while in hot water before eating it. As she had little appetite, she would sometimes refuse to eat, even that much. As Yasuko could not see this without worrying, she would then say, "Founder, please take some food at least for your health." Nao would then answer, "The god told me that people would start to decrease if things keep going the way they are and when I asked the god to let people live and start to rebuild and re-erect the world right away, the god answered that despite Nao's request, the people would have to wade through the river even if it was with difficulty. So, I am praying that the people will get away with a small calamity instead of a great one. While I am sitting down here, I am able to see into the future, and my anxiety makes me unable to have any meal. The god even told me that Nao speaks the truth, in such precise detail that her words do not deviate in the smallest measure from reality."

      Nao pulled a piece of hair from her head and showed it to Yasuko. "Look at this wide of a piece of my hair. It is not different from even this wide, concerning with bad happenings." Tears came in Nao's eyes. "But, I must take some food to remain healthy," said Nao. "Well, founder, that is true," answered Yasuko who, at once brought Nao a bowl of rice just to cheer her up. Sometimes, Nao would tell Yasuko several old stories from the times when earning her daily subsistence was so difficult for her. "Despite the fact that I could not afford to eat every day, I kept going around buying waste paper and rags. It is a wonder that despite these hardships, I remained in good health. Although I did not understand anything, I was falling into the abyss because my soul was violating the rules of Heaven. Now, I know that I must serve the god in earnest, but, in those days my only wish was to be able to eat well once in a while." Nao laughed shyly. "let's take our meal together," she said to Yasuko while reaching for the small box-shaped tray. They were sitting face to face and Yasuko found that quite funny.

      Whenever the god wanted to dictate some sacred words for the Fudesaki, it seemed that He would always signal it to Nao before the morning service. "Today, I have received a signal that the sacred words will be written in the O-Fudesaki. Please rub down plenty of sumi(an ink stick), because I sense that much will be written," said Nao speaking to Yasuko and she added emphatically, "Do this with the uttermost care. I will use sacred water, purified water, water blessed by the god, for today's writing." Yasuko poured water from a round unglazed vessel that had been placed on the altar, on the ink stone and started rubbing the ink stick on the stone to produce a thick sumi that would not easily run on the paper.

      Nao changed her underwear and her clothes, and closed the fusuma (the Japanese sliding door) of her room, and then, she took a desk in front of the altar, which was enshrined on a small cabinet and sat down at it to start writing. Yasuko was waiting in the adjoining room, and was quite eager to know what the new sacred words in the Fudesaki would be. Sometimes, the fusuma would remain a little open although this was very rare, because Nao was extremely methodical. But, this time, it had remained somewhat open and Yasuko crawled on her knees to close it, but she could not resist the temptation of looking inside. Nao was sitting straight up, with her eyes closed. Suddenly, she lost her usually kind countenance and her face took a terrible expression, the very expression of the frightful male god. Yasuko continued looking at her with great curiosity and noticed that her hair seemed to be pushed back just as if she was facing a strong wind. Curiosity kept overcoming her fear and she got even closer to the fusuma to see better. Nao was now lifting her left hand towards a piece of the paper while grasping a writing brush with her right hand and dipping the brush in sumi with a splash. She was now writing with quick strokes until no sumi remained on the brush, then dipped it violently, over and over again in the sumi. She was doing this at an unbelievable and frightening speed. Yasuko pulled her head back and hurriedly joined her hands in prayer to apologize to the god for what she had done.

      Later, Nao said, "That is a great thing. Although the god was only attempting to remove a small obstacle, His power blew a person away for about ten meters! Do you understand?" After Nao had finished writing the Fudesaki, she put her hands on her knees and quietly called out to the adjoining room. "O-Yasu-san, new things have appeared in the Fudesaki, go and tell the Reverend about it." Lifting up the diamond-shaped board on which the leaves of written paper to be added to the Fudesaki had been placed, Yasuko brought them to Onisaburo. He calmly turned them over, one by one, and had them brought to the believers and the officials of the cult. That was an unwritten rule, he always followed. Nao said to Yasuko, "It may seem a luxury to use so much paper to write the Fudesaki. But, I am only complying with the god's will. Besides, when I write something, I am always worried about having misunderstood or misstated the words of the god. I want to leave clear words for the future." There had always been exchanges between Nao and the Divine Spirit. But, sometimes, these exchanges were violent and quite disturbing. Around midnight Yasuko heard a terrible noise in the room of the founder. She got out of her futon and opened the fusuma to look inside. Nao was glaring fiercely at midair with her silver hair erect, then she started staring with her piercing golden eyes at a paper-covered lamp stand that stood beside her. Nao shouted to Yasuko, who was standing in terror, in front of her, "Water! Water!" Yasuko ran through a long corridor to the kitchen and brought a cup of water to the room of the founder. While she was running with the cup in hand, she spilled half of the water on the floor. "That cup is much too small!" shouted Nao. Yasuko had never heard such a violent tone which sounded like a man's voice.

      When Yasuko was hurrying back to the kitchen, Sumi said to her, lifting up a candlestick, "Well use a larger vessel." "You fool, fool, fool!" Nao's voice was resounding all over the Ryumon-kan, despite the fact that her room was beyond the garden and at quite a distance. As Yasuko was paralyzed by fear and unable to find a suitable container, Sumi filled a deep bowl full with water and rushed it to Nao. Nao drank it without taking a breath. After she finished drinking, she turned her eyes upon Yasuko, who was trembling, and said in the same harsh voice, "O-Yasu-san, are you surprised at me? I have the power of the god now, but the dark powers of evil are going to besiege me. If I am defeated, an evil era will set in, and the situation will become desperate. I am praying hard that you too should not be defeated by the powers of evil."

      When Nao finished praying to the god, she regained her gentle appearance and her usually clear voice. "Thank you, Yasuko, now have some sleep and take care not to catch a cold," said she. Nao's clothes were made of whole cotton, but they were worn down to the thread, although she always dressed carefully. Once, when she received the visit of Tsunejiro Umeda, Yasuko's husband, she was wearing a patchy and hand-woven cotton's kimono, and while she was carrying a diamond-shaped board on which the fruits were to be placed on the altar, she suddenly called out to Tsunejiro, and said, "I'd like to offer this to you." He was petrified, and did not know what to answer. "What is the matter with you?" said Yasuko, when Nao went towards him. In fact, he seemed to be quite charmed by Nao's personality and he muttered in surprise. "Oh, how noble her behavior is! Even Kikugoro and Danjuro, the famous kabuki actors, would not look better. It is quite unique," said Tsunejiro. He had always very much admired the charming figure of a geiko standing in her best kimono while she trained for the Japanese classical dance called Mai. Yasuko was very happy that her husband shared her admiration for Nao.

      Yasuko fully understood that although Nao was leading an austere life, she was also an affectionate and loving person. One day on which an unusual offering of sugar had been placed on the altar, a long train of ants formed between the garden and the diamond-shaped board on which the sugar had been placed on the altar, and the train of ants was crossing through the founder's room. Yasuko noticed it, and hurried to take the precious sugar away while brushing the ants aside, creating a great confusion among them. At the same time, Nao had gone to the garden and seemed to be doing something with great care. She was taking away all the obstacles on the ants' course. Yasuko was amazed at her behavior, but, Nao said, "Even those insects are endeavoring their work as well as they can. How charming it is to look at it!" On another occasion some officials had been planning to set up poisoned baits to exterminate the rats, which had recently been increasing. Hearing about their plan, Nao said quietly, "I am going to save my food for them and in the meantime, please, stop your plan to set up those poisoned baits." At some other time and while she was serving Nao, Yasuko seemed to wash away something that had been on her mind for a long time.

      Onisaburo was continually on the move, concentrating most of his efforts on proselytizing. Saijiro Yuasa and Motonori Nishida, complying with Onisaburo's wishes, did the same and the cult's influence gradually widened.

      On the 30th of June, 1910, the railway between Sonobe and Ayabe on the San-in line was inaugurated and opened to traffic. There were four stations on the new San-in line, Tonoda, Goma, Honjo and Yamaga, eleven tunnels, and the time required to go from Sonobe to Ayabe was one hour and twenty minutes. Up to that time people who wanted to go to Ayabe from Kyoto had to do so either via Osaka or via Fukuchiyama, but from now on, they could go directly from Kyoto to Ayabe passing through Sonobe. The social benefits that the new line brought about were threefold: 1. The line reduced the distance of the journey by 104 kilometers and the time by over four hours between Ayabe and Kyoto. 2. The fare for third class passengers was reduced by seventy-five sen between Ayabe and Kyoto. 3. The journey between Ayabe and Osaka via Kyoto could be covered in over one hour, the fare, in comparison with the former route via Fukuchiyama was reduced by six sen for third class passengers. This new means of transportation allowed the priests of the Ayabe church to directly visit people of local areas and the propagation of the teachings was greatly enhanced. The Omoto cult had long been awaiting this event and the opening ceremony was an occasion for considerable rejoicing.

      After the "Chokurei-gun", the cult's bulletin, had issued its No. 40, in June, it suspended publication. It had already ceased once to be published in December after issuing its No. 15. The announcement of the closing was stated as follows: "The Chokurei-gun had a circulation of one thousand for each number published. However, despite the fact that over then thousand people subscribed to it, only a few very faithful subscribers paid their fees. Only about thirty members offered their support at a time when increasing distribution of the bulletin to believers augmented the financial burden of the publishers. This is the reason why we cannot continue to publish the bulletin because I have become equivalent to distributing it free of charge, which we cannot afford. However, we wish to warn society of the danger that is lurking and wish to give the Omoto cult wide publicity. Most of the addresses of the cult had the same tenure and significance.

      At that time, the Dai-Nippon-Shusaikai (The Japanese Society for the Calming of the Soul and Conversion to the God) which belonged to the Omoto cult, initiated its activities and the number of adepts started to increase. But, neither Onisaburo nor the Omoto cult could break the spell of poverty which beleaguered them. They had difficulty providing even the daily allowances of the servants who worked on the field to support the cult.

      "Having to work in the mountain, while being hungry, is something I can't stand," grumbled someone after receiving, for sole breakfast a watery gruel. Onisaburo was feeling the same way and he said to his younger brother, Kokichi Ueda, "You are a good walker! Why don't you ask Shika-han of Nishi-machi to find you some employment as a telegram messenger." It just happened to be that one of the telegram messengers had left town around the same time, and Shikazo was able to find a temporary position for Kokichi as a telegram messenger. One of the post-office clerks told him right away. "You must be able to cover eight kilometers in an hour." He was being paid eight sen for every four kilometers he walked, and got ten sen whenever he had to take a mountain path. Before the day was over, Koukichi had been assigned to go to the Oku-Kanbayasbi which was 20 kilometers away. He had been running to his destination and after waiting a while for a copy of the answer to the telegram he ran back, being quite absorbed in thought. Sumi bought 4.5 liters of rice with Kokichi's wages, and as a result all the members became able to take two meals a day. "Now, thanks to Ko-han we can eat rice twice a day. It has been a long time since we have been able to afford that," said the members in a joyful tone. When Kokichi was not working as a telegram messenger, he was employed at the building site of Gunze silk mill which was developing and constructing some amplifications of its facilities. He made arrangements of a livery coat, a breast-pad and some other working clothes in debt. He was now able to pay his debts, little by little, and to save some money to support the kitchen of the Ryumon-kan.

      Gennosuke Fukumoto and Mitsujiro Chikamatsu were floating the untied timber of a raft down the Yura River. "Hey you, go buy oil," said Shikata, the old man, and he gave two sen and seven rin to Mitsujiro. Mitsujiro objected, "This money does not go very far, you know." But, Shikata replied, "Supply the rest yourself." This was the way they used to talk to each other every day. Mitsujiro was also ordered to buy some soy. "I'd like to buy some soy for Konjin-san." Mitsujiro told the store clerk. He was discretion made man, and he gave him some dark soy which looked the water that remains on the bottom of a barrel after cleaning it, but it was too salty. That was the soy for Konjin-san. The members collected some grass, mixed it with their gruel and sighted, "When the bad era, which is due here soon, arrives all the people of this country will have to eat such a thing." The Yuasa family which had moved there from Ayabe, had rapidly fallen into poverty. It could not be tolerated that only the Yuasa family would live in luxury. Yuasa was extremely sparse in his living expenses, and he devoted all the money he could save to the cult. It was a secret pleasure for a propagator to be able to eat better rice when outside than when taking his meal with the others in the cult. When going out to the field for proselytizing, he was certainly blest by the god. On these occasions, he accepted donations wherever he went and was able to fill his purse quite well.

      When the propagator, Jinsai Yuasa cheerfully returned to the church after a few days of absence, Onisaburo came out meet him at the door, and despite the fact that no news about the success of Yuasa's mission had preceded him, he said, tending out his hand to him, "You have done a fine job and you are returning just in time. I am now asked to pay for the furnishings of the hall in front of the altar. You should just have the right amount of money that is needed." Onisaburo, even when remaining in the church at Ayabe, could predict, what sum of money, however small it was, a propagator would bring back. The money was then used to cover odd ends here and there. The more the religious order expanded its activities, the more money was needed. Nevertheless, Jinsai and his wife, Kohisa took pride in their work because they thought that they were useful to the strengthening of the Omoto cult, even under the most difficult conditions. Sumi was also facing the most extreme difficulties to keep the kitchen of such a poor cult open to the believers. The shrine was completed, but, a considerable part of the money that had been needed, was still left unpaid.

      Tsunejiro Umeda got a new love, Maki, and he left for Kyoto never to return. Before leaving, he said to Sumi, "Do whatever you please," Onisaburo also left quite suddenly, allegedly to propagate the teachings of the cult. Sumi was so busy that she could never take some time to relax or to look after her three infant daughters and or even to take part in solving the numerous problems the believers were facing. Adding to this, the duns were focusing their attention only on her. She had often be able to overcome the crisis because she could think quickly and had a gentle character and a natural gift for smiling.

      On the 1st of November, Onisaburo Ueda adopted his younger brother. Kokichi as his son and renouncing his position as head of his family decided to dedicate himself to public office. Kokichi succeeded him as head of the house of Ueda. If a normal state of affairs had prevailed, it would have been his second younger brother, Yoshimatsu, who would have succeeded him as head of his house, but Onisaburo was apprehensive of his inclination for gambling.

      On the 29th of December, Onisaburo took the necessary steps to be adopted into the Deguchi family, and from that time on, he called himself, in public, Onisaburo Deguchi. On the 3rd of January, 1911, Onisaburo, accompanied by Fusataro Takehara, visited the Izumo-Taisha-kyo (cult) in the Shimane Prefecture. Onisaburo changed the name of his cult to the Mitake-kyo and the Taisei-kyo one after another, but, he was unable to escape the attention and surveillance of the police. He hoped that the shrine of the Omoto cult would be authorized by law as a local shrine of the Izumo-Taisha-kyo. His visit to the Izumo-Taisha-kyo was the second, since he had gone there, ten years ago, that is, in 1901, for the service of the fire of Izumo. The Omoto cult took the god Susanou-no-mikoto very seriously, because that god had been related to the Izumo-Taisha-kyo through the god of the Izumo-Taish-kyo, the god Okuninushi-no-mikoto who was himself related to the god Susanou-no-mikoto in the Japanese mythology. On the 26th of the same month, Onisaburo was given permit by the Izumo-Taisha-kyo to designate the shrine of the Omoto cult as the official headquarters of the Hongu church of the Taisha-kyo.

      Just after he had returned from his visit to the Izumo-Taisha-kyo, Onisaburo formally registered his marriage to Sumi with the Ayabe town office and in the same act, he completed the registration of his three children, Naohi, who was ten years old, Umeno who was eight and Yaeno who was three; all of them were now official members of the Deguchi family. Although Onisaburo had been married for eleven years, it was too late to register his marriage in the Deguchi family register. This reason was that the name of Onisaburo could not possibly be deleted from the register of the Ueda family because he was the head of that family. That provoked the anger of Yoshimatsu who was nursing great expectations of succeeding to the house of the Ueda family in the future. The letter that Yoshimatsu wrote to Onisaburo, which was dated in February, 1911, is still extant.

      It reads as follows:

      __Dear Sir,

      If you have designated Kokichi to succeed to the house of the Ueda family and are calling yourself, Onisaburo Deguchi under those circumstances, you have the obligation to take the necessary steps to put my house in Anao in good order. When you came back to Anao, three years ago you boasted that you would build a new house for Yoshimatsu. My mother and I are loosing face with society and we can't go on under such conditions. Moreover, you are bringing shame on yourself and on the name of the Deguchi family who has adopted you. My mother is quite angered by the change of your family name and she always says "No, no, this cannot be!" Go and do as you like if you wish, but first make the necessary arrangement to have the house in Anao repaired and in good order. My house now, is much too small and I am not able to put anything in it. The lavatory is falling to pieces, the pillars are barely standing and the roof is leaking. I cannot find out any place to store wood for the stove or even place a bucket to substitute for the unusable lavatory. Remember that even when the circumstances had turned for the worst, I endeavored to nurse your younger sister, Yuki for one year and a half. I have practically nothing in my house now. Please understand the seriousness of my situation and pay attention to the needed repairs that ought to be done at the house of Anao.

      After the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), the capitalist class of Imperial Japan developed very rapidly due to the expansion of its markets in the occupied territories. The struggle between the proposed anarchism of Shusui Kotoku (the ideological leader of the movement) and the socialist, who were both opposed to the Imperial government, and the conservative forces of the establishment intensified.

      The dissolution of Japanese Socialist Party, which had been the first legally constituted socialist party in Japan, was ordered to break up by the government in February, 1907. During a party held to celebrate the release of the convict a socialist Koken (real name, Yoshizo) Yamaguchi at the Kinki-kan Hotel in the Kanda district of Tokyo on the 22nd of June of the following year, rioting erupted as the police clashed with the attendants at the party. This incident was later called "The Red Flag Event". The central figures of the Kotoku group, Toshihiko Sakai, Hitoshi Yamakawa, Sakae Osugi, Kanson Arahata and some of their followers were taken to jail. The second Katsura Cabinet, which was formed after this event, augmented its pressure against the socialists and the anarchists. In response to that the anarchists planned a terrorist raid against the Emperor. On the 25th of May, 1910, hundreds of socialists and the anarchists were arrested in various parts of the country, and twenty-six members of Shusui Kotoku group were prosecuted for high treason for planning the assassination of Tenno.

      On the 10th of December, 1910, the first Special Court of the Criminal Affairs Division of the Supreme Court held a hearing. On 18th of January, 1911, the Supreme Court sentenced twenty-four of the accused to the death penalty for high treason, and two others to hard labor for violation of the law regulating the possession of explosives. However, on the following day, the sentence of half of those who had been condemned to the death penalty was commuted to life imprisonment. On the 24th of January, at day break, eleven of the condemned criminals went sent to the scaffold of the Ichigaya district prison, in Tokyo, but, on the following day, only one woman called, Suga Kanno was executed. Most of the charges against these people had been framed up by the authorities, and the prevailing opinion is that at most, only four of the accused had committed any crime. Shusui Kotoku and most of the members of his group had not taken any part at all in these events. It was later said that the Katsura Cabinet had made up the whole story to justify these radical actions aimed at the total eradication of the anarchists.

      This alleged crime of high treason triggered a series of actions by the government, aimed at oppressing the socialist and democratic parties and initiated a dark winter in Japanese politics. On the very morning that a massive arrest of dissidents was organized, Onisaburo was away from home and was propagating the teachings of the cult in the surrounding villages. At the very time Sumi was breast feeding Yaeno, a secret police member entered her house and ordered her to follow him to the police station, saying in a high and mighty manner. "I have to check you. Follow me to the police station, at once."

      It was not unusual for a policeman to pay a visit to the Ryumon-kan. So Sumi took her nipple away from her suckling infant and said, "I don't understand what you mean. My husband is not here now, and I am nourishing my baby. Please wait a moment." The detective shouted in a high-pitched and pressed voice, "I will not give in at your tricks! I don't think a baby of yours or, for that matter of any of your bunch, cannot be left without feeding for a couple of hours. Get up and follow me." Her face lost its color. "A baby of yours and your bunch!" This way of referring to her and to her coreligionaries made her blood boil. "That is the way they are. They separate people in higher classes and low classes according to whether they are rich or poor, and they do not even question their own behavoir." She was trembling with hatred.

      Sumi, carrying Yaeno on her back, was forcibly taken to the police station as a suspect. The secret police was under severe stress and they questioned Sumi on the most minute details related to the newcomers to the church despite the fact that, as it came out, she was under no particular suspicion herself. Sumi instinctively had a sense of danger and she limited herself to noncommittal answers. As Onisaburo and Jinsai Yuasa were absent, there was no one left at the Ryumon-kan to read even the newspapers, but the truth was that even such a very small country cult as the Omoto cult, was now being suspected of the alleged crime of High Treason. The secret police seemed to entertain the idea that the teachings of the Omoto cult about the rebuilding and re-erecting of the world, were, in some way consistent, with socialism and these teachings were fundamentally based on the same ideas. However, Sumi was allowed to return home in the course of the day.

      When Sumi heard the report of the execution of Shusui Kotoku and his group, she was deeply shaken.

      Sumi, her eyes glittering, harassed Onisaburo with the questions about these events. "Reverend, I wonder if they really committed crimes that warranted the death penalty. Their group was only considering the possibility of assassinating Tenno, but, they never came to actually intending it. I really wonder if the authorities are justified in executing twelve persons only for that." Onisaburo said, "Well, plotting a crime of such a nature is defined as High Treason by the Constitution, and as such, any intent of harming the Tenno family is punished by the death penalty, whether you like it or not. But, it seems that the letter which was the main piece of evidence against them had been tampered with and blurred with sumi (India ink) to the extent that was very difficult to figure out what it meant." "No one can control the kind of hatred I experienced when one officer of this police, which exits only for the protection of Tenno, said to me arrogantly, 'Your baby and those of your bunch!' Those words deeply offended me." Onisaburo looked into the face of Sumi, whose eyes were filled with tears, and asked her in a low and almost imperceptible voice, "O-Sumi, do you believe that Tenno is a god?" She opened her eyes wide open as she was struck by surprise and answered, "Of course, why do you ask me such a foolish question? Is it not true that the god is larger than man?" Onisaburo said, "It is said that Tenno is not a human being, that He is the god incarnate, I hear." "This may be true, but I think that this god is disturbing the world. This god seems to stand in the camp which confines the true god to the direction of Ushitora (northeast) which is called the demon's gate." She acquiesced with a nod but her expression did not lose its intensity.

      Onisaburo kept silent, staring intensely at her dark eyes. He could not blame her for believing the Fudesaki. Onisaburo said, "In older times, there was a person in China who was called Lao-tse and he used to say, 'If nobles did not exist in the world, people of humble parentage would not exist either!" "What do you mean by that, bandits or rebels?" Onisaburo said. "Oh, no, I do not refer to rebels but to noblemen. Those people inherit their status of nobility, they are noble by birth: but for the god, all the children are equal and all are equally welcome in the shrine. These ideas were once expressed in the Fudesaki. However, it is man who created those ideas of nobility and privilege and the notion of humble birth arose as a collateral consequence of the first believe in nobility. In the Edo era, society was divided into different classes such as warriors, farmers, artisans, and tradesmen. At the top of this class system stood the Shogunate, which reigned supreme over the people. The head of the Shogunate, who had seized absolute power, ended up to be worshipped as a god in his life time, with the exception of Ieyashu Tokugawa who was enshrined as a god only after his death. This is a sad situation. The Meiji government declared Tenno to be a god incarnate, but although the god is by nature insubstantial, the Meiji government declared Tenno to be a god who had taken a human form in the actual world, and fabricated the story of Yamato-Takeru-no-mikoto who was said to have been found in the ancient record called the "Nihon-shoki". The way this story was made up aggravated the confusion."

      Sumi said, "In the Fudesaki the sacred sentences read as follows: Clean up the whole world and level all things as if using a leveling stick. The god has placed us here to deal equally with every human being and not to create arbitrary distinctions between noble and humble people." Onisaburo replied, "I understand it very well, and as a reward the god promises us a world where the god, the Buddha and the people will live together in a cheerful future; but, to achieve this goal, we must first rebuild the world." Sumi continued. "But, now, the believers are beginning to call the founder the Great God." "It is a harmful bias. The Great God abides in the founder's flesh when she writes the Fudesaki but that does not mean that she becomes the Great God herself. I understand the feelings of respect the believers have for the founder but they are making the founder the victim of their veneration. They do not realize that they are indirectly insulting the divine character of the god through such a behavior." "Reverend, I think that the rebuilding of the world really means the overthrow of all the misconceptions that abide among us. If Tenno had been killed, he would not have been Tenno but only a common human being and everyone would have thought that he was not divine himself although the god is, of course, still greater than Tenno and lives in a hidden place. I think that way and cannot avoid doing so, but does my thinking differ from that of Shusui Kotoku and his followers?" Sumi pressed Onisaburo for an answer with intensely inquiring eyes.

      "What we must change is not the outward aspects of life but rather its inner soul. That is what is written in the O-Fudesaki. Kotoku (Shusui) and his followers aimed only at the outer shell of human beings. When they attempted to destroy the body blood will flow but what the god wants us to do is to straighten the relation between body and soul. What is the meaning of a revolution? I think that it is to create, within the limits of human power and wisdom, a model of what the society should be, but, no one can ensure that such a model will not end up being a delusion. I think that rebuilding and re-erecting the world means the creation by man, under the guidance of the god, of the best possible society achievable. I say that we will have to count on the god's cooperation to achieve it. If conditions of the soil are changing, the model will naturally have to change also and the political regime has to be amended. It is necessary, for a true revolution to take place, that not only the condition of the land but the soul inside the flesh is changed. If Kotoku and his clique did in fact a plan of the assassination of Tenno, they were wrong but the decision of the Meiji government to put them to death for their error if an even bigger mistake." Sumi remained silent.

      Onisaburo continued in the same low keyed voice, "The true god sticks to the strict observance of the rules that govern the relation of the soul and the flesh. Since the true god has been confined to the northeastern regions, any person interested in healing this corrupted country must attempt to kill the ringleader who is working for the mischief of society. Since, the ancient times of Jinmu Tenno, the incidents involving killing and being killed have occurred over and over again untiringly. As a result, I truly believe that the simplest solution is to get rid of the ringleader himself, but, by this method we will not achieve peace but foster war. Really, the war will yet break out. In the long run it may not even be in our interest to act this way. Even during the Meiji Restoration, too many capable men regrettably fell victim to the assassins' dagger for holding such mistaken beliefs. Although most of them were acting with the best intentions, it did not achieve any good." Sumi was still silent.

      Onisaburo continued, "Man can kill but the flesh and everyone seems to have forgotten this for a long time. Most people believe that they get rid of their problems after cutting, burning and throwing into a river the flesh of the man they believe to be responsible for their problems but we cannot deliver ourselves so easily because we cannot cut the mind out with sword. What about the spirit after we have satiated our grudges against the fleshes? The spirit will remain with even greater power and be reborn in some other flesh and will go on with its purpose. The souls of those who have been sacrificed for their country will be reborn seven times but so will the souls of the revolutionaries. Therefore, the one-man-one-killing bloody principle which had animated some of those reservists has produced unexpected results and has ended up turning friend against friend. Bad reasons and evil deeds succeed each other. Eternal peace is not achievable through forceful means. For this reason the government cannot improve the situation of the country through the implementation of the death penalty or other physical punishments and this is quite apart from the fact that no man has right to condemn another to the death penalty. Those things can only bring about more resentment against each other and will render the air even more poisonous. Society cannot be purified for any length of time, through such means. Much less, if the government throws revolutionaries into prison and make martyrs of those who are the embodiment of their ideologies. Those ideologies will be carried on to posterity even if the government kills as much of them people as they can."

      Sumi asked, "Well, how do we deal with that?" "The lord of Kishu was the executioner of the sentences against the criminals during the Tokugawa Shogunate, but he did so only after he had, for three long years, endeavored to open their eyes to their moral sense and to their filial duty. it is said. We must endeavor to convince the criminals of the ugliness of their crimes and make their souls reflect upon their actions. It is a long-established and beautiful saying, in Japan, that if you exhaust all the words you have to appease a person's anger, you will be able to bring peace to that person. It is the Way of the Gods to strive and conquer victory over evil by the sheer power of the spirit that abides in words. I think that it is the only the way that leads to truth. However, the day that we, humans, will be able to conquer victory through the power that abides in the spirit of the words, is still far away, but, it will not be long before we have to cross the Great Pass. O-Sumi, be ready for death, but know that our souls will live forever," said Onisaburo while staring at the ashy snow laden clouds.

      On the 23rd of February, Nao resigned as head of the Deguchi family, and Onisaburo succeeded her in this position. The assets of the family, that is, the land and the house were transferred to Onisaburo, and as a result he became the head of the Deguchi family both materially and spiritually. Onisaburo had been rejected by the officers of the cult and his actions had been hampered because he was thought to be the servant of the evil god Komatsu-bayashi, but now, at last, he had strengthened his position in the cult. The time had finally arrived when he could initiate a vigorous propagation campaign.

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