Tenrikyo’s Way of Thinking and Living: True Meaning of Work

“Work (hataraku) makes those close to you comfortable; for that, it is called hataraku (hata: those nearby, raku: comfortable)” (Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo, no. 197, “Hands That Work”). These words, which Oyasama is said to have spoken, are very well known among Tenrikyo followers.

In society, an act of earning an income through a job is commonly referred to as labor, which is generally considered to be synonymous with work. If we follow this logic, full-time homemakers, children, and elderly people who do not have a job are not doing any work. We may get a different picture, however, if we look at this from a broader perspective informed by Oyasama’s words.

For instance, children who are in good spirits and listen to their parents can be seen as “working” since their parents feel at ease with peace of mind. People who are suffering from an illness are not just being a burden on someone else. If they interact with people who look after them as calmly as they can and express gratitude rather than complaints, they are also “working.”

The world is sustained by countless types of work like these. In some parts of mainstream society, work seems to be equated with economic activities, such as production and distribution, but it should not be so narrowly defined.

From Tenrikyo no kangaekata kurashikata published by Doyusha Publishing Company

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