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.
Genjiro’s Resolution Leading to the 30th Anniversary of Oyasama
The construction of the Main Sanctuary of Church Headquarters began when Genjiro was past his mid-30s. It was a period when he getting into the swing of things as head minister roughly ten years into the job.
The first step was building a temporary sanctuary. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on May 28, 1910. At the time Tenrikyo had roughly 3,000 churches. Muya’s subsidiary churches Myodo, Nan’a, and Kagawa respectively had 37, 23, and 20 churches themselves.
Genjiro had not experienced a construction until then. Yet he was placed in a role that made him Muya’s eldest son for the long-awaited Main Sanctuary construction. His spirits rose. The situation, however, was that the utmost many followers among Myodo’s subsidiary churches could do was to listen to God’s teachings. It was not easy to have them make resolutions on how much they would contribute to the construction. In August 1910, two executive officials from Church Headquarters, Jirokichi Kita and Hikoshichi Yamanaka, came on a mission visit to Myodo. Even then, it wasn’t enough to pick up the pace.
October 3 was the designated monthly “lecture day” of Nadaka Auxiliary Church in Tokushima City. Genjiro went on an official tour there. Although Nadaka was an influential church under Myodo’s direct supervision, they had not set the amount they were willing to contribute even by October. After his sermon, Genjiro told the leading church officers they had to submit their resolution that night. They could not come to an agreement and asked him to wait until the next morning before breaking up for the night.
Genjiro went to bed after deeply apologizing to God for his inability to nurture his followers. Yet he had trouble sleeping. He had to have God work on his behalf. Otherwise, he wouldn’t meet his goal. He thought to himself: “I’m mistaken for trying to accomplish this with human strength. I have to create the merit that can allow God to work on my behalf.”
Genjiro fell asleep before he knew it but awoke to the sound of someone clapping in the church sanctuary. He rose and saw it was Rev. Motobuchi. He said that he was going to try and save a church officer who had suddenly collapsed from heart failure near Kuramoto-cho on his way home. Rev. Motobuchi rushed to help but the officer had already passed away for rebirth.
The church officer was young and lived relatively comfortably for having some savings. Yet his wife hated Tenrikyo and always opposed him from contributing or making donations. He became passive and was a main reason that Nadaka was not able to decide how much they would be contributing. His sudden passing greatly shocked the church officers who broke up for the night.
The next morning ten of them got together. An old man named Shimakawa broke the ice by saying: “When I think about passing away, money becomes nothing. I promise to give 50 yen.” After he wrote and signed his pledge, others followed suit. In an hour, they resolved a total of 1,000 yen. This was a time when the daily wage of a carpenter was 50 sen.
The church officer’s widow remarried several times but her misfortunes continued. In her old age she suffered from a destitute life. She hated Tenrikyo right up to the day she died.
As astonished as everyone was, Genjiro was simply amazed at the wondrous manner God works.
From the standpoint of our individual causality, there is no knowing when we must pass away for rebirth. Yet even when a person may have the causality that destines him or her to pass away soon, Genjiro felt that what had just happened clearly brought home the importance of connecting that person with God so that he or she could be saved.
This was one of the last steps in planning Myodo’s activities toward the 30th Anniversary of Oyasama. But Genjiro reflected deeply over what happened at Nadaka and felt remorseful that he had to let even just one person pass away for rebirth. Genjiro made a resolution to work so that the efforts poured into the Main Sanctuary construction manifest themselves into allowing people be saved and become connected to the Myodo line.
- Next installment in this series: The Miracle of 1910