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.
Training Successors of the Path
It became increasingly common for Tenrikyo children to receive a university education around the time Yoshinori began his studies in Tokyo. Many went to universities in Tokyo, such as Tokyo University, Waseda, Kokugaku-in, or Toyo University. Genjiro’s nephew Shinji — the son of his elder brother Eki’emon Tenma who later became a church officer at Muya Grand Church — was among them. Shinji enrolled in Waseda several years before Yoshinori began his studies.
Genjiro often went to Tokyo to give talks about God to students connected to Muya and Myodo in addition to Shinji and Yoshinori. Most of the time, he called them over to a church or a follower’s home to give a sermon. Yet Genjiro would always talk about strict monogamy and abstaining from alcohol and tobacco. These were topics that students with strong longings for freedom were averse to listening to.
“If only we were treated to a fancy meal afterward. Then we could endure sitting for a long time.” Such was how some students felt.
By the time he graduated from Waseda, Shinji’s life in Tokyo made him perceive the churches of the countryside and Genjiro as being old fashioned. He didn’t want to become a missionary.
After he graduated in July, he thought of setting out on his own by publishing a translation. He shut himself in his room. Yet because of an unhealthy diet, he contracted typhoid. A high fever caused his hair to fall out.
Yet because this was something he set himself to do, he had no intention of clinging to God. He failed to take care of his health and began hemorrhaging. Astonished, he experienced a change of heart about clinging to God. Just then, a letter arrived from Genjiro. Shinji did not speak of illness to Genjiro, but his uncle had found out. It said:
“I presume you secretly planned to run away from Tenrikyo. This is the reason you have received God’s tending in the form of this present illness.
“You receive food from your mouth and excrete it from your anus. This entire process is part of God’s precious protection. You contracted typhoid because bacteria entered the intestines, an organ mainly responsible for these workings. Since you are already an adult, I cannot help but feel that this is God telling you of your mistaken frame of mind.
“About your hemorrhaging, you must think carefully about what blood is.
“Blood is precious because it is contained in the body. Once blood exits the body, it becomes something that is unclean and useless.
“Your life is all the more precious if you allow yourself to be used as God’s instrument in accordance with your causality. If you attempt to go out into the world to work without being aware of this and make a mistake, you will become something unclean and die, in the same way that happens to blood when it exits the body.”
It was a harsh instruction. Yet Shinji was deeply touched by the sincerity that overflowed from the bottom of Genjiro’s heart for a child of a Tenrikyo minister. Until then, Shinji thought that the insights of Tenrikyo ministers were nothing but superstition. It was the first time that he felt that such insights were not a bunch of baloney but could precisely pinpoint the wanderings of the mind and this astonished him.
Before long, Shinji returned to his church and became a Tenrikyo missionary. Then, during the double-the-membership drive toward the 40th Anniversary of Oyasama, he went out on a missionary expedition as his contribution to the great undertakings promoted by the Young Men’s Association.
Genjiro strongly encouraged successors of churches to go out on a missionary expedition. He advocated this due to his own practical experience as well as the various trends he observed within Tenrikyo as a whole.
According to what he observed, many children born in sizeable churches who did not have the opportunity when they were young to experience the hardship and the joys of a missionary expedition lived short lives. Thus, Genjiro anticipated that Yoshinori would go on a missionary expedition of his own. Yet he had not even imagined that Yoshinori’s missionary expedition would turn into a trip around the world.
- Next installment in this series: The Start of the Overseas Mission