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.
God’s Workings and Blessings
Genjiro’s asceticism allowed him to shift from a life centered on one’s senses and pleasures to a life directed toward hinokishin and serving others. Genjiro believed it was a tall order to attempt to get close to God while one pursued things one liked. He believed it was greed that motivated one to have such an attitude in the first place.
Further, his asceticism also emerged from his unceasing self-examination concerning where he was going to get the money that would support his livelihood as a person engaged in salvation work.
One day, around the time Genjiro became the head minister of Myodo Auxiliary Church, Rev. Tosa subjected him to a series of questions.
“How many members in your family, Kashihara?”
“Three children, grandma, my wife and I make six.”
“So you have six people eating meals at Myodo. How much do you spend on food each day?”
“It costs 20 sen to feed each person each day, so that makes one yen, 20 sen each day for six people.”
“Well, I have nothing against that, but suppose you spent the day fishing or going out to pick matsutake mushrooms. What could you accomplish that day?
“If you spent one yen, 20 sen to feed yourselves and you did nothing for the day, you’ve dug yourself a little hole of one yen, 20 sen, haven’t you? When you’ve got a hole, you need to fill it up with something. There’s no way to fill it up other than shaving off the years from your life. Doing this leads to the causality of a short-lived head minister.”
This lesson was seared into his memory for his entire life. He held to the principle that he would be shaving years off his life if the work he did that day was not worth the food he ate and clothing he used.
Genjiro never thought about treating himself to time to time after he was provided some money by serving God to his utmost. Regardless that he may feel his efforts deserved it, in God’s eyes, he cautioned himself that he may be shaving years off his life instead.
Whenever he went on a mission tour, he often made the following calculations in his head. “If I had stayed at an inn, the room and board would have cost 2,000 yen. Since I cannot pay this in cash, I will be 2,000 yen in debt unless I did something. It would lead to my downfall unless I did something, so I must to find very opportunity to talk about God, even if I have to do it in the communal bath.”
When he had counseling duty at the Main Sanctuary and saw no results after administering the Sazuke, his face would turn pale and he would turn to silent contemplation. He also would not eat dinner that day.
When someone encouraged him to eat, he said: “No, I cannot eat dinner tonight. God the Parent did not work on my behalf. A person engaging in salvation work does not deserve to eat if there is not even the slightest sign of a blessing after having administered the precious truth of the Sazuke. I have not worked enough to deserve food. I will not eat today.”
When he rode the train accompanied by a seinen, he would not even buy a newspaper. He would pick up and read an old newspaper someone left behind. The seinen thought to himself, “A newspaper isn’t that expensive, what a cheapskate.”
Genjiro said: “As little it might be, we are all living off the money our followers have donated in the spirit of hinokishin. What kind of money is it? It is all money that followers have donated out of their wish to cancel their bad causality and their sincerity to do hinokishin even in the midst of hardship. A person actually engaged in missionary work cannot afford to waste a single sen. Imagine that we wasted even a single sen. This means that we would receive 1 sen worth of their bad causality. You ought to know what will happen if we allow this to accumulate and pile up. Feel free to buy a newspaper or whatever you like if you don’t care about causing your own downfall.”
Money’s character changes as it goes around. When one receives money directly from a follower, one can sense the hardship that went into earning it. Yet when it goes out your hands, it merely becomes cash. One easily succumbs to the tendency that one can use it as one pleases. Genjiro did not let his guard down regarding this matter.
- Next installment in this series: Strict and Compassionate