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.
His Efforts and Sense of Mission
When Genjiro was a boy, he made a small discovery. He noticed that there were high-yield fields that reaped a large harvest and low-yield fields that reaped a small harvest. The Tenma family where he was born was a family of farmers devoted to their work and made it a point to rise early every morning. They happened to own many high-yield fields. The neighbors who owned low-yield fields tended to be late risers who disliked hard work. Genjiro saw that even though there was no difference in the fields themselves, he saw what a difference human effort made.
There is a proverb that goes as follows: The clock belonging to a family of early risers who work hard makes a sound that goes “chokin chokin” (savings, savings). The clock of a family of late risers who hate to work but love to play makes a sound that goes “shakin shakin” (debt, debt). The clock of a family that has a lot of money but does not contribute to society makes a sound that goes “kechin kechin” (cheapskate, cheapskate).
Genjiro took the insight he gained while still a boy and lived a life of pure effort. Genjiro gained prominence in Tenrikyo was a result of his cumulative effort.
During World War II, Myodo’s followers dormitory was used as an army and navy barracks. The head minister’s residence was used by a field grade officer. He looked at the writings Genjiro had done and said, “If I had put as much effort as he did, I would be a general or marshal by now.”
There were two areas in which he devoted his effort.
First was the effort he dedicated to serving God through salvation work, giving sermons, and going on mission tours to visit his congregation. The other area he dedicated his efforts was directed inward to train his spirit.
People tend to be selfish. One easily succumbs to self-indulgence if one is not careful. One’s great undertaking in life is to fight these tendencies. A Yoboku’s success depends on his or her ability to maintain the course on this main path.
From the time he began his faith, Genjiro was pure and straightforward. He advanced forward without an ounce of doubt, without losing his way, and without rest. One would conclude that he accomplished this because the quality of his spirit. Genjiro was not endowed with some talent but with a straightforward, single-hearted spirit. He must have been in the top class when it came to the quality of his spirit. He attained greatness not because of his effort. He was able to make the effort he made because of the greatness of his spirit.
Among the words of Mencius: “When Heaven is about to bestow an important task on any person, the mind and the body is subjected to suffering. The person is exposed to hunger and poverty.”
As Genjiro studied such Chinese classic teachings in his youth, he may have sensed that his life was not going to be a life of comfort and that Heaven would not entrust him with an important task if he were to seek a life of comfort. Genjiro must have sensed that his important task in life was to follow and spread God’s path.
Human effort emerges when one aims high. Those with low aspirations cannot make the effort even when they want to; they can only sink to taking an easy route that only reaches halfway.
Considering things from this perspective, Genjiro was an idealist. By devoting his body and soul to bring his ideal into reality, his personality took on a gem-like perfection.
- Next installment in this series: Guidelines a Religious Worker Should Follow in Life