FROM SHUMEI MAGAZINE, VOL: 255
My Jyorei Journey
Gerard Rohlfing (Hollywood)
Gerard Rohlfing is a writer who lives in Los Angeles.
He is the author of an upcoming biography of Shumei's founder, Mokichi
Okada, entitled “Sincerity and Truth.”
When Henry first came knocking at my door back in 1990, I couldn't
understand much of what he said. For my first Jyorei, I just stood
there awkwardly in the doorway. Afterward I thought, “Did
he say he wants to come back tomorrow, or did he say every day?”
Every day but a few he was there, and every day he
kept begging me, “Come to Center!” Center? What was
that? I'd become very reclusive in my habits, depressed and lonely.
Still it took Henry a whole month to get me to venture out and mingle
with other people. When at last I did, his plea became, “Please
join, please join!” No, Henry, I said; maybe later, Henry.
Then it was the day before his birthday; soon after,
he'd be returning to Japan. “Please, Gerardo!” he implored.
“It's so im–POR–tant!” No, Henry, no, no,
no. He left that day looking very crestfallen. Watching him go,
I felt something in me collapse. “Oh...why not?” I thought.
“If it'll make him happy....”
The next day I received my ohikari. Henry's birthday
became mine, as well.
As I grew more familiar with the Center, Sensei Alan
Imai taught me to use the computer. Every day after that I buried
myself in the computer room, a recluse once again. But I was feeling
more hopeful about life. Often as I did my writing, the children
would be yelling and banging around downstairs. I wondered why I
wasn't bothered by this. I'd always looked on children vaguely as
a nuisance, but now it seemed I even missed them when things were
quiet down below.
One Sunday we were having an important Sampai. As
Sensei Eugene Imai started giving us Jyorei, the children were all
unsettled, chirping and rustling about. I remember smiling to myself;
I wasn't prepared for what happened next.
All at once a strange kind of feeling came flowing
out of my heart area, unlike anything I'd ever felt before. That
was all I could comprehend at first. In slow motion, I then identified
it as a good feeling—in fact, a wonderful feeling. Next, to
my amazement, I realized that it was originating from somewhere
else, not inside of me. At that point I remember backing out of
myself so I could see what was going on. Then the answer came. What
I felt was God's love; God was loving the children through me.
For a long time after, things went on pretty much
as before. I made some new friends and began feeling more comfortable
in life. Still I had no idea my Jyorei journey was underway.
I remember one gloomy, rain–drenched day when
a few of us gathered at the Hollywood Center on our way to have
the very first Jyorei session at our new Pasadena Center.* When
the storm washed me in through the Hollywood Center back door, I
found one of our youngsters seated there, quietly waiting. “Ohhhhh!”
I groaned. “What do you think of all this rain?” For
a long moment she was silent, seeming almost to go into a trance.
Then suddenly she brightened. “Rainbow waterfalls!!!”
she announced. We both laughed, and the world was transformed. All
the rest of that day I felt happy and uplifted in the rain.
In 1998 we were visited by a group of Japanese children
who gave us a stirring outdoor presentation of their many talents.
By coincidence, on the evening before, I'd been treated to a delightful
lecture about all the world's animals given at garden–side
by one of our local children. Both times I was deeply touched. The
second night, after the talent show, I drifted to my car reviewing
a flock of happy memories, got in, inserted the key, and suddenly
found myself weeping uncontrollably.
“Why on earth am I crying?” I asked the
car. The answer came from somewhere else. For the first time in
my sixty-seven years on earth, I wanted children of my own.
On my Jyorei journey, I learned to know intense grief
as well as extreme happiness. It was grief that finally forced me
out of the computer room. Realizing that I simply had to be with
people, I started showing up uninvited at all of our meetings. In
this way I managed to keep myself functioning, but also, to my surprise,
I found that I really liked being there with the others. And deep
inside, through all that was happening, I began to sense a kind
of sea change in myself.
I remember so many things from along my way. There
was the time I walked in the back door at Hollywood and was greeted
by one of our children who I thought was still too young to talk.
He came up to me holding one of his hands aloft in the Jyorei position
and proudly proclaimed, “My mommy is doing this!”
There was also the Sunday morning when, as I sat in
the Hollywood sanctuary near Sampai time, one of our youngest marched
in bearing a toy rabbit that was virtually as tall as she was. She
circled around and appeared in the aisle beside me, then stepped
closer and, giving me an intensely serious look, plunked the rabbit
down in my lap.
In my mind, to this day that rabbit still receives
Jyorei with me and all the rest of my Shumei family—the family
I have gained and grown up with on my Jyorei journey.
* Shumei America's National Headquarters in Pasadena,