Image by: Kunito Imai
Rev. Higuchi, Our Spiritual Mother
It was in 1963, just before I was sent to the Los Angeles Center, that I paid my first visit to Rev. Higuchi for an interview. She was staying at a quiet Japanese hotel on a hillside in Atami. Thinking of meeting the head minister of the United States, I was somewhat tense; however, as soon as I saw Rev. Higuchi, I felt as though I had known her a long time. I was impressed by her natural and friendly manner. She was a person who was easy to talk to. Moreover, what surprised me most was that, when she found out I was staying overnight at the same hotel, she guided me to a small, nice family-type public bath and not only filled the tub herself, but kindly adjusted the temperature of the hot springs water. At that time in Japan, this kind of work was done by a member of the church for the minister, not by a head minister for a member.
This was one of the examples of Rev. Higuchi's consideration for others. She was very strict with regard to the relationship among God, Meishu-sama, and people. When she explained the significance of the divine scroll, the ohikari, and the teachings of Meishu-sama, she expressed special reverence and dignity. She said we were to keep Meishu-sama's teachings separate from other books and not ever put anything on top of them so as not to lower the vibration since they contained revelations from God. She also explained that in this way, we were acting in harmony with the law of order. It seemed this was a shojo attitude, but in thinking about this more deeply, I realize this must have shown her daijo love for our further spiritual growth.
Rev. Higuchi had a high and advanced vision based on the new-age truth of Meishu-sama's teachings. She actually practiced our three-pillar activity program of Johrei, Nature Farming, and art in her daily life.
I saw her reading Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" soon after I came to Los Angeles, and the following year she presented a summary of the book with its warnings about the balance of nature in a Johrei periodical. Long before environmental matters were taken up by society in general, Rev. Higuchi was greatly concerned about nature, as if it were the center of her thinking. Appreciation for the cycle and flow of life was expressed in all aspects of her life.
In her backyard she experimented with Nature Farming. As members learned how fond she was of gardening, they brought her various kinds of vegetables and plants to help her garden. Her backyard soon became crowded and jungle-like with a makoto vibration. Working in her garden probably helped her to relax from the tension and work of translating.
She enjoyed cooking and served naturally grown foods. And she used to tell guests little stories about the foods she served and about the plates and dishes she used, for she collected some art pieces with a vision of a future art museum. Flowers from her garden beautified the altar and her arrangements were simple and elegant, long before the establishment of the Sangetsu school (a school of Japanese flower arranging based on the arrangements done by Meishu-sama). Together with Rev. Nagai, she enjoyed arranging flowers in the rooms of her home in harmony with the seasons. Her garden gives us benefit even today. For the latest Sangetsu displays celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of the school, Rev. Nagai generously cut branches and flowers of all kinds from the garden and said, "Sensei (teacher) must be happy to participate in the show."
As a minister and disciple of Meishu-sama, Rev. Higuchi's pioneer spirit, devotion, and enthusiasm to convey the teachings of Meishu-sama was contagious. In the early days, she was fascinated to see many Americans with Christian backgrounds drawn to her in order to reach a deeper understanding of the teachings. The late Herb Free attended the six introductory courses by driving over two hundred miles roundtrip from Bakersfield each class evening. There were a number of families and couples who joined at the same time. One was the Jones family, Bob, Dixie, their three children, Bob's mother, and his brother, Del.
At that time, when our fellowship was located on St. Andrews Place, many pioneer Japanese-speaking members and second -generation Japanese-Americans were very active, with volunteers coming nearly every day for Johrei and hoshi (service). Some commuted from Orange County, and the small building was so crowded that numbered tickets had to be issued for Johrei. In those days many saw divine Light around Rev. Higuchi's hands. It seemed that she was our spiritual mother, and we were her children in the Johrei family.
Rev. Higuchi emphasized the law of purification which changed the negative concept of sickness and misery into a positive and constructive vision. She explained in detail, with actual experiences, how chemical and medicinal toxins harm our lives. Teaching us this was to help fulfill Meishu-sama's wish to serve America.
Rev. Higuchi brought in pioneer ministers with strong Christian backgrounds: the late Reverends Albert Freeman, Mary McAlpine, and Helen McKinstry, plus two recently retired ministers, Thelma Dowd and Dixie Jones, all disciples of Meishu-sama who served and assisted Rev. Higuchi for many years. Lately I feel the existence of Rev. Higuchi's spirit strongly in front of our Vancouver Centre altar.
Please, Rev. Higuchi, be a pioneer again and help us to spread the divine Light and Meishu-sama's teachings in Canada!
- Rev. Shigeko Nishimura