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.
Strict and Compassionate
At first glance, Genjiro’s asceticism may appear very stifling. However, he practiced it with joy because it provided him with a delight that surpassed the pleasures he may have deprived himself.
His grandson, Yoshiro Kashihara, wrote an article concise and to the point regarding this matter, entitled “The Strictness of One Day, One Lifetime” in the Tenri jiho newspaper. I’d like to cite it here.
It has already been two years since my grandfather Genjiro Kashihara passed away for rebirth. When I am asked about the lessons my grandfather taught me, he taught me so much that I am at a loss to pick just one. However, though my efforts may come up short, there are a few things that I have tried to emulate from him in my life of faith.
First of all is a strict attitude toward oneself. My grandfather never let himself off easy in any way, saying, “Ah, this is enough.”
Truly, the six weapons my grandfather always talked about that he used to battle his causality for 60 years may seem outdated. Yet with each one, he persisted in strictly placing boundaries on his desires.
On the other hand, he was quite thorough when it came to his hinokishin assignments. My grandfather Genjiro did not allow any room in his faith the attitude that sought to satisfy his desires while doing some hinokishin on the side. “Forgetting greed we work in hinokishin” was his motto….
Yet despite that he was strict and did not yield even an inch when it came to himself, he was gentle with others and never forced things on them. Although he abstained from alcohol, he was not above offering visitors a drink when they came to his house.
I believe that being strict with oneself leads to true joyousness. Although my grandfather was not the joking type, at the bottom of his heart, he had a joy only experienced by those who were always and completely single-hearted with God.
I remember how he would become teary-eyed while saying, “Whenever I sit before God’s altar each morning, I become moved to tears.” Where did my grandfather get the strength to be strict with himself? I believe it was because of that day of origin when he was saved from certain death. My grandfather’s wish to repay for the blessings that saved him penetrated his 60-year path….
When I became bedridden due to nephrosis and didn’t know if I would even live to see the next day, my grandfather said to me: “You know, God the Parent saved me from certain death. So I cannot have a mind like everyone else. I carried on, believing I had to have a mind of my own. If your life is saved, you cannot think or feel like everyone else. You must resolve so.”
Now that I am blessed physically today, whenever I think of my tendency to forget how deeply moved I was when I was saved, I become filled with unconditional respect for my grandfather who lived with a “mind of his own” for 60 years as if it were a single day, not forgetting his indebtedness for having been saved even for a moment.
In addition to his experience of having been saved, my grandfather loved the path. Until he passed away for rebirth, there was not a single day in which he did not do something that was in service to God. My grandfather loved to give sermons. For him there was no greater joy than to administer the truth of the Sazuke. I had the opportunity to accompany him on his mission tours. When he administered the Sazuke, his face was filled with indescribable compassion amid the strictness. Seeing this, I felt that anyone who could not attain such a state after dedicating oneself to the faith must be considered a fraud.
Often it is the case where people segregate their faith from their everyday lives so that they have a side hidden beneath the surface. My grandfather’s life of faith presents a wonderful model where he had nothing hidden beneath the surface.
- Next installment in this series: The Protagonist and His Supporting Cast