Cornerstone: Chapter 5-5

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.

Hindrances as His Master and Friend

Home Ministry Directive No. 12, otherwise known as the “Secret Directive,” which sought to suppress and enforce control on Tenrikyo, was issued on April 6, 1896. This directive made it difficult to conduct missionary activities and caused followers who were less than certain about their faith to distance themselves from Tenrikyo. Churches across Japan had entered a dark age.

One of the directive’s consequences was the dire financial situation Genjiro found himself in. One presumes that there were many others who went through more pressing circumstances than Genjiro did. Yet what I would like to take up here are not the difficulties Genjiro encountered per se but the mindset he cultivated in his situation.

Genjiro made it a point to live frugally and be satisfied with what little material and financial possessions he had. Spiritually, he sought to contain his self-indulgence. Faith-wise, he cultivated joyous acceptance and follow in Oyasama and Rev. Tosa’s footsteps as straight as he could.

Genjiro was often ridiculed for the fact that all his summer clothes totaled one yen in value. His old haori coat was 20 sen, cotton kimono 40 sen, sash 14 sen, clogs 16 sen, and hat 10 sen. From the top of his hat to the tip of his toes, his clothing amounted to one yen.

He could not afford a midwife when his wife gave birth. His eldest daughter used a rice bran bag in place of soap until she was 15 years old.

As he observed the people he encountered, Genjiro sensed how frail and weak human beings were. It was a difficult task to make one’s faith second nature.

But yet Genjiro could not forget that according to his causality, he should have been struck down because of his severe illness. He could not forget his joy at having been saved. His family felt the same way.

When his spirits darkened at his dire economic situation, Genjiro would remind himself of what Rev. Tosa told him of Oyasama’s teachings.

“Early rising, honesty, and work. Follow them and you will never encounter hindrances.” Such is what Oyasama taught.

Hindrances come in the form of physical hindrances such as an illness or a handicap. Another form of hindrance is poverty. It can be presumed Oyasama taught that one can attain the Joyous Life when one pays careful attention to one’s physical and spiritual tasks. If one continues to encounter hindrances despite making efforts toward this goal, then one must conclude that God intends something else.

Genjiro came away with the insight that when we go through economic hindrances, it was a sign that God has transferred a physical hindrance into another trouble. He attained the insight that one is able to maintain one’s health by going through such hindrances.

Arrogance of the mind leads to one’s physical downfall. After taking this into consideration, Genjiro gained the luxury to being able take delight in hindrances as his master and as his friend.

Genjiro’s ascetic lifestyle emerged from his strong personal motivation. However, this was not forced upon him by someone or was it something he did out of necessity while gritting his teeth. It was something Genjiro just felt was the best and most appropriate thing to do.

Yet practicing this asceticism throughout his life was by no means easy. It required him to inwardly engage in a ceaseless battle against himself. Genjiro dubbed this “battling one’s causality.” Causality is not something one finds outside oneself. It is within each and every one of us.

One needs weapons to do battle. One then needs the right personnel who use these weapons. The weapons Genjiro used to battle his causality will be described the next chapter.