Cornerstone: Chapter 9-4

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.

Salvation Efforts Involving Head Ministers

When Genjiro engaged in salvation efforts that involved head ministers and members of their families, he took a different route compared with that of followers from the general congregation. Followers from the general congregation are private individuals while head ministers are public figures. Naturally, God’s urgings toward head ministers are stricter.

To give a comparable example, a professional baseball player will be benched the next game for an error which a high school player is forgiven for.

Genjiro’s mentor Rev. Tosa admonished the two types of head ministers:

  • 庵坊主勤番
  • 箒売り吾妻の事布令

庵坊主勤番 referred to those who lived in a small temple or monastery in the countryside who lived in peace because they always had something to eat every day. Rev. Tosa admonished anyone who was placed in charge of a particular church but had no motivation to take it to the next level because he or she was content being able to eat each day.

箒売り吾妻の事布令 referred to those who preached the venerable teachings of Tenrikyo without practicing them themselves, those who preached the value of hard work while hardly working, and those who preached about Oyasama’s path while drowning in alcohol and falling victim of the charms of the opposite sex.

Head ministers that fell into these categories did not originally start off this way. They awakened to their causality, worked diligently and singly toward missionary work, and became head ministers of what were called propagation offices back then.

However, although they were once missionaries who only subsisted on barley, brown rice, and water, after they became head ministers of a propagation office, they begin to long for an evening drink from time to time. Those who had committed themselves to walking Oyasama’s path start becoming angry when their lunch is an hour late. The result of many years of disciplining oneself disappears into thin air and one’s human weaknesses become exposed.

After the 40th Anniversary of Oyasama (1926), Genjiro wrote the following regarding these trends:

When I look into the minds of missionaries placed in charge of propagation offices and auxiliary churches, I wonder if some of them feel like they have conquered the world after having been installed as head ministers. The official recognition that accompanies the establishment of a propagation office means one can proudly display the name of one’s church without fear of outside intrusion and interference. The law recognizes freedom of religion, freedom to spread the faith, and freedom of worship. This ought to put one’s mind at ease and cause one to pour one’s heart and soul into saving the minds of others. Yet some head ministers turn to playing shogi (Japanese chess), playing go, reading novels, immersing oneself in human interest stories from the newspaper, tooting the shakuhachi, planting chrysanthemums in one’s garden, or growing bonsai. Followers then begin referring to their head minister as Rev. Shakuhachi, Rev. Novella, Rev. Goby-Fishing, or Rev. Shogi.

Then there are head ministers who only show up at their parent churches when there is a monthly service. You can call them Rev. Monthly Service. Others are called Rev. Grand Service.

I surprised to learn about a head minister whose followers call Rev. Black. The reason is that he owns a black dog. There are five or six other houses in the neighborhood that also own dogs and Rev. Black’s dog goes around to visit these houses for food every day. The head minister also occasionally visits the same five or six houses but never ventures anywhere else. Although one may give Rev. Black some leeway since he probably has other ministerial duties to attend to, I was surprised when I heard how his followers called him Rev. Black.

The reason a head minister would lapse in this manner comes from the fact that he or she no longer can endure a simplified, ascetic lifestyle. Although Oyasama saved others even while subsisting on just water, those of us with a negative causality should not be able to allow ourselves to live a life of comfort. The burning sense of urgency that we have to save others by all means necessary has died out.

When Genjiro made salvation efforts that involved the illness of a head minister that emerged in such a situation, he held nothing back and preached the importance of asceticism. Further, he also considered this a problem concerning the church as a whole and taught that it came from the head minister’s lack of dedication to Church Headquarters and his parent churches.

This lesson emerged out of Genjiro’s profound experience.