The following is a translation of an excerpt from Ishizue: Kashihara Genjiro no shinko to shogai (Cornerstone: The Faith and Life of Genjiro Kashihara) by Teruo Nishiyama. Note: This translation is a provisional one and may need to undergo further revision.
The Spirit of Our Predecessors
After having been saved from his mental illness, Genjiro returned to Myodo in good health. Rev. Tosa ordered him to nurture followers belonging to Myodo’s subsidiary churches, so he did not go out on a missionary expedition again.
When Genjiro became a member of the Kashihara family, Myodo had five subsidiary churches. In 1900, when he was 26 years old, he became the head minister of Myodo Auxiliary Church. Myodo thereafter saw much growth, and it is believed this was all due to Genjiro’s efforts to nurture his congregation.
In conjunction with Myodo’s growth, in 1937, when he was 63 years old, Genjiro was promoted to a headquarters senior official (Honbu-jun’in). Two years later, he was then promoted to the highest rank one could reach in Tenrikyo, a headquarters executive official (Honbu-in). From then on, he merely concentrated on administering the Sazuke, often going without food and sleep, until he passed away for rebirth in 1957 at the age of 83. It is likely that the young Genjiro did not even dream of reaching such heights, and it is assumed that those around him felt the same way.
Although a biography ought to touch upon the journey Genjiro embarked on that eventually led him to attain such heights, I would like to refrain from writing on his outward accomplishments.
I have once heard the saying, “One ought to value the spirit of our predecessors, not the path they left behind.” I believe these are profound words.
It is assumed that Genjiro’s spirit was forged when he was saved by Rev. Tosa’s sincerity. On the outside, Genjiro’s life thereafter was naturally filled with ups and downs. Yet when one steps into the world of the spirit, one finds that his life was merely an extension and intensification of his spirit from the time he was saved. His was a truly smooth and straight path. To put it another way, the substance of his spirit was simplicity itself.
A person’s spirit is not very easy to understand. One knows a person’s spirit through their words and actions. This is especially so after some time has passed since the person was alive.
Fortunately, Genjiro’s words are quite distinctive. He often said he implemented things such as “rice, soup and one side dish,” “no alcohol or tobacco,” “utmost marital fidelity,” “prohibition from seeing the sights,” and others. However, one concludes that this was not for mere show and that it was not an issue limited to Genjiro.
Thus, I would like to describe events throughout Genjiro’s life while examining what led him to live his life in such a way, how it affected the people around him, and whatever significance it may have for us today.
Next installment in this series: His Efforts and Sense of Mission