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.
Around 1959, Yoshiro went on a mission tour to a particular church, inspiring a woman missionary there to write the following poem to Yoshinori:
Your heir, deep in knowledge and gentle in appearance
?? ** The spiritual drive that resides inside
As this poem suggests, Yoshiro was different even for a member of the Kashihara family.
Genjiro studied Chinese classics from a young age, but he was not the type of person that took ownership of a philosophy to develop it further. His approach was to base his conduct on a fixed philosophy and take it to its furthest depths.
Yoshinori was blessed with the ability to understand philosophy and human history. Still, he leaned more toward appealing with emotion rather than logic and was daringly bold when in came to his opinions and actions.
Taking this into consideration, Yoshiro was the first member of the Kashihara family aho was a serious philosopher in his own right. Such was the extent to which he was aware of humanity’s deep solitude. **それだけに深い孤独というものを知っていた
Beginning in 1947, Yoshiro spent much time alone in contemplation and rumination. Occasionally, he would send love letters to Kazuko. In them, one can sense his struggles during his formative years living in a palpably dark and nihilistic age.
Here are a few excerpts from his letters.
“Tenrikyo has to get its act together. It needs to shed its skin many times over before it becomes a major religion in the world. As it is, Tenrikyo is already losing strength.”
“I know that I dislike conflict. Yet in my heart I crave for fame. I have the desire to do better than others. Isn’t this an obvious conflict? Cicero wrote a poem that went something to the effect of, ‘Even philosophers who claim we must hold fame in light esteem have their names inscribed on their books.’ How ashamed I feel now reflecting on it. It ought to be enough for me to advance straight ahead in the pursuit of Truth. To take the path of spiritual seeking in abject poverty like Spinoza, polishing eyeglass lenses. Isn’t that the true ideal?”
“Francis Bacon once famously said, ‘Knowledge is strength.’ Even for Spinoza, virtue was the greatest source of knowledge and strength. Of course, knowledge isn’t just information that one simply gathers through one’s experience. You have to dig deep within yourself and have it forcefully rise from the bottom. True implementation is born only from a deep understanding of oneself.”
“Any religion that ignores and refutes science will itself be refuted by science. A religion must offer science a place where it can be acknowledged and harnessed.
“A religion that refutes human knowledge and strength will be buried as opium. Only those who favor and love ease and inaction will become believers. The religion will then face its downfall.
“Tenrikyo must be a religion that offers a helping hand to those who are tormented by the limits of human effort. Tenrikyo must be a religion that reveals God to those who are tormented by the limits of human knowledge.”
“It is a fallacy and self-delusion to be contented with just seeing one side of anything. We must make efforts to grasp the truth in any matter. It neither should amount to criticism or analysis for its own sake. Criticism ought to be used for the discovery of Truth and for the sake of achieving synthesis. It ought to destroy for the sake of making a better construction. To look at something in a receptive manner does not mean to throw away criticism. It means to look at something from all sides. I believe this is where true criticism comes from.”
- Next installment in this series: Yoshiro’s Overseas Study in the U.S.