Tenrikyo’s Way of Thinking and Living: Buy Dearly and Sell Cheaply

Oyasama once said to someone, “Merchants should buy dearly and sell cheaply” (Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo, no. 165, “Buy Dearly”). Some of you may immediately raise an objection, saying: “That would cause a huge loss. The key to success in business is to buy things cheaply and sell them for a higher price.” But let’s take a moment and think about what Oyasama’s words may actually mean.

There has always been a business model in which people purchase goods when the price is low and sell them cheaply. A supermarket is a case in point, but this kind of business model can be carried out without any faith.

It is not very easy to purchase goods at a higher price and sell them for a lower price so as to make both producers and consumers happy. Such a business model would not last long unless you work tirelessly with a good sense of discipline while devoting yourself to the cause of improving wider society with an attitude of hinokishin. In this model, business itself becomes a place where you implement your faith. There are many Tenrikyo followers who are running their businesses in ways that are in one way or another informed by this teaching, and some of them have indeed become successful.

Meanwhile, the insights derived from Oyasama’s words can have a much broader range of implications if we apply them not only to the production and distribution of goods but also to human relationships.

In the case of a company, for instance, if the president is very bossy and bullies his or her employees without taking their needs and demands into consideration, the president is overestimating his or her own value and underestimating the employees’ value. This kind of company would most likely eventually fail.

Some people who are very talented, economically privileged, or well established in society may at times overestimate their own value and disrespect the dignity and rights of other people. This is one of the stumbling blocks to the realization of the Joyous Life.

Issues such as disparities and disputes between great powers and small nations as well as between developed nations and newly developing nations will gradually be settled if we make constant and steady efforts to put into practice the insights derived from Oyasama’s words.

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