Cornerstone: Chapter 9-2

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.

Saving a Young Woman from Consumption

Around 1918, when Genjiro was on a mission tour to Nagasaki, a 28-year-old woman asked him to save her. Genjiro always asked for a detailed family background in his salvation efforts.

The woman’s husband was a captain of a large steamship. He earned 200 yen a month, which was a high salary for the time. He came home twice a month. He gave 150 yen a month to his wife to cover living expenses. The woman used this to hire a maid to do the housework and look after their two children while she lived in luxury. She ultimately succumbed to consumption (tuberculosis). She had attended a Besseki lecture but complained that she had not received blessings for a cure even after a year.

Genjiro said: “You must have heard in the Besseki that the origin of illness lies in the mind. Even if you are convinced of the truth of the teachings, you cannot be saved unless you observe them.”

“What kind of dust have I been accumulating?”

“In the old stories, the old man goes into the mountains to cut wood and the old woman goes to the river to wash clothes. In your home, although the old man goes to cut wood, the woman does not go to the river to wash clothes.”

The young woman sat dumbfounded and said, “No old man or old woman lives with us.”

“You sure are slow figuring things out. Your husband is not an old man; he is 30 and in the prime of his life. Yet the old man and old woman I just described refer to your husband and you.

“Your husband has the heavy responsibility of being a captain of a ship. It’s not an easy job, as hell itself lies just under the planks he stands on. He braves the danger, risking his life to earn his monthly salary of 200 yen.

“Yet what do you do? You hire a maid, sleeping in each morning and napping in the afternoon while your husband works the year around. You’ve played around and become consumptive.

“If you ask why you’ve become consumptive, it is because God lent you a body so that you can work. I cannot imagine that you are fulfilling this.

“You sleep in each morning. You have your maid look after your children and send them to school. When you wake up, your maid helps you prepare for the day. If you are feeling well, you go to see a play. You wear silk from head to toe. You wear three diamond rings. You have over 20 pairs of clogs and up to 50 haori jackets. You treat yourself to sumptuous feasts. Then, in six years or so, you’ve become consumptive.

“You’ve worn 70 years’ worth of clothes, eaten 70 years’ worth of food, and spent all your allowance only to pass away at 28. This is the truth of heaven.

“Since you are asking to be saved where you are fated to pass away, it will take something extraordinary on your part.

“You must change your selfish and indulgent mind. You must stop having lovers on the side, stop hiring a maid, stop wearing silk, stop eating white rice and other nourishing foods. Even if you may implement doing these things, if you must not use the ten yen a month you save from hiring a maid and the ten yen a month you use to eat well on yourself.

“You must stop hiring a maid. You must wake up early every morning, cook breakfast, and do the laundry. You should wear cotton, eat barely, and be frugal in all matters. Don’t use the money you save by being frugal in this way on yourself but use it for the sake of others. It doesn’t matter what.

“Your consumption comes from a mind with a severe amount of greed and arrogance. You need to lower your arrogance and change your mind into a humble one. If you say it makes you ashamed for you to wear cotton, you should just die and be done with it. It doesn’t matter if people look down on you. It doesn’t mean anything unless you are saved. Now, completely throw out your arrogance from the root!”

Genjiro did not hold back conveying the teachings. The young woman cried and repented. When she implemented what Genjiro told her to do, she was saved from consumption.

Many stomach and lung diseases result from preferring good clothes and good food, heaping compliments or complaints about the taste of food, and allowing endless ill will to simmer between one and one’s spouse. Genjiro always said that these diseases occurred because one failed to fully joyously accept one’s situation.