The following excerpt is from Omichi no joshiki [Tenrikyo Fundamentals] (pp. 91–93) by Koji Sato 佐藤浩司, assistant professor at Tenri University and instructor at Tenri Seminary. Note: This translation is a provisional one at the moment and will most likely require further revision.
Buy Dearly, Sell Cheaply
Denjiro Tomita 冨田伝次郎 was a minister among several others who helped build the foundation of Heishin Grand Church 兵神大教会 in Kobe. Denjiro returned to Jiba for the first time to express his appreciation after his eldest son Yonetaro was saved from a life-threatening stomach disease.
Oyasama asked Denjiro, “What is your occupation?”
Denjiro thereby replied, “I make konnyaku for a living,” and Oyasama said to him:
“If you make konnyaku, that makes you a businessman. A businessman must buy dearly and sell cheaply.”
She then further instructed:
“Faith in God is to have feelings for God just as you have for your parents who gave birth to you. Then your faith will become genuine.”
Although Denjiro initially accepted Oyasama’s words with reverence, when he later pondered the words “Buy dearly and sell cheaply,” he could not understand what She meant by them. He could not help but think that his business would incur losses if he did as She taught.
Denjiro then inquired about this to one of the senior followers at the Residence, who explained: “When you buy your ingredients from your wholesale suppliers, you should pay somewhat more dearly compared to others so they will not go bankrupt or suffer losses in the process. When selling, you should sell your goods somewhat cheaper compared to others and make just a small profit. By doing so, you support your wholesale suppliers and make your customers happy. The principle (ri) of your actions shall in turn support your business. This is the principle of mutual prosperity at work, for God will never allow you to suffer a loss in return.”
With this explanation, Denjiro was able to become convinced of the truth behind Oyasama’s words.
There are many followers of the path who have since made and still make a living by running a business based on these words. Among them was the founder of the Japanese confectionary Yoneya Corporation, Chozo Morooka 諸岡長蔵 (1879–1969). Although it is a common business practice to treat one’s customers with care, Mr. Morooka dedicated himself toward treating his ingredients manufacturers and wholesalers with utmost care as well.
As for Denjiro Tomita, his mother Jun Fujimura 藤村じゅん (who accompanied him to his first return to Jiba) joined him as he busily engaged himself toward spreading the teachings in the province of Banshu (currently part of Hyogo Prefecture).
- Next installment in this series: Mind of Sincerity
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
Note that I have taken the liberties of revising the translation from Anecdotes here in hopes of improving upon them.