Cornerstone: Chapter 8-1

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 presently incomplete.

As Long As He Lived

Talks, which Genjiro referred to as “sermons” were an expected feature of stops on a mission tour. He gave over 30,000 sermons over his lifetime. He conveyed God’s teachings as long as he lived.

Genjiro left extensive records of his sermons in his Myodo Daikyokai kaitaku nikki (Diary on Myodo Grand Church’s Pioneer Years).

Genjiro gave his first sermon on New Year’s Day, 1893. He gave a total of 38 sermons that year.

Here is a list of the number of sermons he gave each year from 1894 onward:

  • 1894: 49
  • 1895: 25
  • 1896: 100
  • 1897: 9 (He succumbed to his severe illness this year)
  • 1898: 172
  • 1899: 218
  • 1900: 501
  • 1901: 633
  • 1902: 774

In his first ten years, Genjiro gave 2,516 sermons. In the decades onward, between 1903 and 1912, he gave 7,148 sermons. Between 1913 and 1922, he gave 6,578 sermons. Between 1923 and 1932, he gave 6,054. The year he gave the most sermons was 1905, when he gave 802 sermons.

Some of these sermons were given between 1,000 to 2,000 people while some were one-on-one. One concludes Genjiro must have had his personal standard of what a single “sermon” constituted.

Since Genjiro studied the Chinese classics, his first sermons were about Confucianism. He initially believed that it sufficed for people to hear about the teaching of a thing lent, a thing borrowed only once. However, after receiving Rev. Tosa’s instruction that told him otherwise, he worked and took steps closer to God’s intention.

Genjiro had great enthusiasm toward studying, and when he was young, he often thought about how he could stir the hearts of a large audience. He personally was most struck by the talks of Church Headquarters’ doctrinal instructor Kiyoshi Hashimoto and the second head minister of Muya, Yoshinobu Tosa. Although Genjiro initially favored talks that were logical and coherent, his talks did not necessarily turn out so.

He was small in height and occasionally *なぜ上げ his lower lip when he talked, so he could not be called a skilled speaker. He also did not have an infinite number of topics to speak about. The sermons he gave at churches were more or less the same in content, but many people were nevertheless aware of this and never grew tired of listening to him.

His audience was not seeking a talk that was entertaining or logically coherent. They barely cared whether he spoke well or not. One concludes they were attracted by his inner strength that lay beneath, attained by implementing the teachings day after day.

The time when Genjiro poured his heart and soul into giving sermons the most was when Tomokichi Hayashi succumbed to stomach cancer at age 83. Doctors pronounced he had only two months to live. No matter how much he pondered, Genjiro could not accept that Tomokichi was someone who had to die from stomach cancer. He called together 40 of his executive officers among Myodo’s subsidiary churches and began a three-day discussion session.

Genjiro gave a sermon in the morning, afternoon, and evening each day for a total of nine sermons in three days. He spoke from the heart regarding his insight about God’s guidance shown through Tomokichi’s cancer to those assembled and asked them to make a resolution together. One the fourth day, Tomokichi wrote a poem that revealed his intention to pass away for rebirth:

Casting away this old set of clothes, I will borrow a new set, farewell everyone, まみゆ御広前

Yet he later was able to eat and made a full recovery. Although Tomokichi passed away from old age the next year in January 1930, everyone was greatly spirited at the miracle they witnessed.

Genjiro focused most of his efforts toward sermons he gave to people who were entrusted with churches. I will give an example here of what they were like by laying out the essential points from a talk he gave to head ministers of Muya’s subsidiary churches prior to the 50th Anniversary of Oyasama (1936):

We are taught that Tenrikyo is the path of single-hearted salvation and churches are shops selling manifold forms of salvation. The main people working at these shops are referred to as the “core.” In Tenrikyo, the “core” is the object. The “core” is another way to call the head minister and other missionaries.

The minds of these people make up God’s scaffolding. If the scaffolding is shaky, God cannot work. When the scaffolding is shaky, it is because the person who ought to be dedicated to saving others is swayed by the ways of the world.

In Tenrikyo, there are people who can establish a church after spreading the faith for 20 or 30 years and others who establish 50 churches. What causes this difference? There is no difference in the Sazuke we receive from God. The difference is in how God’s workings are manifested.

The difference between a church that witnesses many instances of salvation and those that do not stems from the difference in how they are following God’s intention. The difference lies in whether or not they express respect to their spiritual parent.

A spiritual parent goes through much hardship before seeing one of their spiritual children mature to the point where they go out to save others. It then becomes fundamental for such spiritual children to give due to respect to their spiritual parent.

God taught, “Take no short cuts. Have no greed or arrogance. Come out to the single and straight main path.”1 Taking a short cut means not going through hardship or not making efforts to save people.

Because those put in charge of churches these days often lack experience, when they are asked to save a person with a sever illness, it is like asking a tinsmith to make a giant bell, they don’t know where to begin. Even when their wife has a difficulty giving labor, they can’t do anything.

Because of this, we ministers often say we lack merit or virtue. Those who are unable to be single-hearted with God by making further efforts to discipline themselves to save others haven’t amounted to anything that even allows one to speak about one’s own merit or virtue.

In the service dance, when making the hand movement for “hitosuji” (single mind/single-heartedly) we raise the right hand with the index finger pointing up. It is necessary to be looking at our finger when we do this. This means to be single-hearted with Oyasama. Are we single-hearted with Oyasama day and night? Don’t you think we aren’t necessarily so most of the time?

To be single-hearted is to completely sweep away the eight dusts and our causality. It is to cleanse ourselves and to cleanse others. We equip ourselves as persons of salvation with this mindset. We can equip ourselves as persons of salvation each day by working hard and not letting our guard down.

One of the many ways we equip ourselves is through food and clothes. Yet we are taught that this path is not a path of food and clothing. Tenrikyo people may say they do not experience instances of salvation. They fail to see God’s workings because their minds are distracted by food and clothes.

Tenrikyo teaches the teaching of joyous acceptance. This is a humble and gentle mind. To be humble is to be satisfied with clothes that allows us to weather out the cold and with food that allows us to prevail over hunger. A simplified lifestyle is a missionary’s life.

There are those who are satisfied by having a Western meal costing ten yen. Yet ten yen can cover two months of a missionary expedition that saves the lives of 40 to 50 people.

Tenrikyo people are not slaves to food or clothes. Awareness of our causality should lead us to practice joyous acceptance. It is our duty to teach this spirit of joyous acceptance to others. It amounts to a falsehood for a person of salvation to teach joyous acceptance to others without practicing it oneself. God dislikes falsehood. We cannot expect God to give us any credit or concern for doing something God dislikes.

It is not a mistake to believe that one cannot see instances of salvation from illnesses while one’s mind is distracted by food and clothes. As long as there are no sign of salvation, no one will listen to any teaching, no matter how great it may be. Yet when there is an instance of salvation, people will listen to any teaching despite how demanding it may be.

When you go out to do salvation work, when you see a beautiful woman at the station, do you turn around to look at her? This heart that wants to turn to look at a woman is a use of the mind that is annoying to a woman. As long as you have such a mind, no matter how much you visit a person with a lung disease, the person will not be saved. A person who is consumed by liquor and led astray by women does not have the virtue to save people of the world.

For church head ministers and missionaries, their main business is to do engage in salvation work and their secondary task is to do nurture their congregation. Churches that do not see instances of salvation cannot raise Yoboku or spread the path. All of this depends on the mind of the “core” alone.

Translator’s note

  1. Ofudesaki 5:30

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