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.
What Rev. Tosa instructed Genjiro became second nature during the three years after he was blessed with a recovery from his illness and returned to Myodo. Genjiro was between 23 and 25 years of age and was already a father of two during this time.
Together with his mother-in-law Kiku and wife Ko, the Kashihara family was a family of five. His return after his illness marked the first time he lived together with his family. A tranquil family life is not what awaited him. Genjiro became acquainted with the serious problem of financial stability.
As the widow Tomokichi Kashihara, who was on Myodo’s board of directors, Kiku received a monthly stipend of one yen. Yet after Genjiro’s illness, she declined the stipend. While the Kashihara family was at least guaranteed their daily meals since they ate at Myodo, Genjiro was at a loss without any spending money.
When Genjiro was a seinen, his annual stipend was one yen, 50 sen. Even if one may presume that inflation has multiplied prices by 1,000, this would still amount to a 1,500 yen stipend.
After his marriage, Genjiro went to Karatsu to engage in missionary work. There, he went through much hardship and had to refrain from eating several times. But this was something he could bear by practicing joyous acceptance alone. He also was able to derive joy from such actions since they were directly connected with the task of saving others.
However, things were different this time around. The situation was no longer that he had to bear the hardship alone. It required his family to practice joyous acceptance of their situation as well.
Genjiro’s primary focus was spreading God’s path. He placed little value on quality of life. Yet Genjiro came to learn that unless he fulfilled his personal obligations, he could not gain the trust from others that would allow him serve on God’s path to the fullest capacity.
Whether he liked it or not, Genjiro lived in an environment in which he could not wear, ate or drank anything he wanted.
Ko spun thread while carrying their baby on her back. Such work brought in 2 to 3 sen of extra money each day. It didn’t amount to much, but it was all the income that they had.
And it was not enough to meet their daily needs for Ko lacked breast milk and had to buy condensed milk for their baby. At the time, condensed milk was not produced in Japan. It had to be imported from overseas. The leading brand had an eagle on its can and was quite expensive.
One day, Genjiro stopped by his birthplace in Furukawa on his way to pay his respects at Muya. He secretly received 1 yen from his mother Koto. He bought a new pair of clogs for 15 sen and left the rest in his wallet. But he lost the money en route to Muya.
At this time Genjiro came away with the insight that it was against God’s intention for him to depend financially on the goodwill from others just because life was rough.
Koto had already given her two sons Eki’emon and Genjiro to serve God, but she didn’t want her sons to wear anything that might be unpresentable, so she came up with the idea of personally weaving a set of summer and winter clothes for them. She had looked forward to sending these to her sons. She got a hold of 96 yards of cloth and placed it by her bedside before going to sleep one night with the intention of beginning the weaving the next day. But a thief broke in and ran away with the cloth without even taking an interest in anything else.
After Genjiro heard about this, he couldn’t help but feel that God was strictly urging him to quickly pursue the narrow path without anyone else’s help. He found that every easy way out was firmly blocked.
Genjiro then recalled the life Rev. Tosa lived with his family and decided to adopt it exactly himself: “This is what Rev. Tosa always talked about and implemented. This is how one can polish one’s faith until it becomes genuine. It’s finally time for me to take on this important task Heaven has entrusted me with.”
- Next installment in this series: Hindrances as His Master and Friend
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