The following is a translation of Part 57 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the September 2007 (No. 465) issue of Taimo, pp. 34–35. This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.
Part 57: Demonstrating With His Own Actions
Genjiro Kashihara, who became the head minister of Myodo Shikyokai, heeded the advice his older brother Eki’emon gave him, “Never forget your straw sandals.” While this was advice to Genjiro to always be mindful that he was merely a Tenrikyo missionary, he nevertheless wore straw sandals with his cotton kimono wherever he went on his travels and missionary visits so he could tend to his subsidiary churches. The streets he walked were not the paved streets we have today, but roads full of pebbles and stones. Further, since he preached the importance of rising early to others, he found it unfathomable to allow himself sleep in late. He would always wake an hour before morning service. Yet on his missionary visits, he would wake another 15 minutes earlier to give himself time to contemplate on his schedule for the day.
He would send notification beforehand to each church he visited with the following precautions, which did not change even when he was promoted to a Honbu-in (executive official of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters): “Only reserve trains seats in third class. I will not ride a vehicle with a hired driver, so do not prepare one. I only ask for a one-course meal with soup, there is no need to prepare or buy anything more. I do not drink alcohol.”
He would scold those who would prepare anything more than he asked. He would take it upon himself to walk distances under two kilometers, even in the twilight of his life. He would take the bus for any distances farther than this and insisted for no more than two people to welcome him at the bus stop.
He would preach without having dinner at one particular subsidiary church, a practice he continued for more than 10 years. After the monthly service was over, he would speak for two hours, take a 10-minute break, and night would fall while he spoke for another hour. When he stepped down from the dais to take his break, he would say: “I’ll be back and resume speaking in 15 minutes. Don’t eat dinner. If you eat dinner, you’ll get sleepy and miss my important talk. I won’t eat dinner either.”
Since Genjiro proved to have such an attitude, the seinen (young male staff) who accompanied him were different when it came to their mental preparedness. While Genjiro was strict when instructing and training seinen from Myodo’s subsidiary churches, he did so because of his desire to have them be grounded spiritually so in the future they could become Yoboku who served God by firmly dedicating themselves solely to the path. Genjiro felt there was nothing more unfortunate if these seinen were unable to serve God efficiently when they became head ministers or missionaries.
A particular seinen accompanied Genjiro to a church located in a farming village where the only three worshipers were senior citizens. While he thought the talk would probably be over in an hour, Genjiro passionately spoke for over two hours. Genjiro later said: “Yoboku ought not to pay attention to numbers or to who happens to be in attendance. There is no knowing what kind of large path will open through these three people. There is the precedence of what happened in Kyushu. Never be complacent. You cannot uphold the divine truth if you pay attention to numbers or to who is in your audience. It leads to unspiritedness.”
Reference: Nishiyama Teruo. Ishizue: Kashihara Genjiro no shinko to shogai.
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
Rev. Genjiro Kashihara [柏原源次郎] (1875–1957) became the second head minister of Myodo Shikyokai [名東支教会] (branch church) in 1900. Now known as Tenrikyo Myodo Daikyokai [天理教名東大教会] (grand church), it currently oversees 131 bunkyokai (“branch churches”) and 109 fukyosho (“fellowships” or “mission stations”), including Brotherhood Church in Los Angeles.