45. Wrinkles of the Mind
Oyasama did not waste one sheet of paper, not even an old scrap of paper. She carefully smoothed the wrinkles even out of the paper that had been used as gift wrappings and placed them under Her cushion to be used again. Oyasama taught:
“If wrinkled paper is left as it is, it can be used only as toilet paper or as paper to blow one’s nose, but if its wrinkles are carefully smoothed out, it can be used in many ways. Once it is used as toilet paper or paper to blow one’s nose it cannot be retrieved and used again.
The saving of a man also follows this principle. It is to smooth the wrinkles of man’s mind with the truth of the teachings. When the mind becomes completely wrinkled, it becomes like the toilet paper. Saving such minds, rather than discarding them, is the principle of this path.”
Once when Rin Masui came to see Oyasama and asked for permission to copy the Ofudesaki, Oyasama said:
“Do you have any paper?”
When Rin answered, “I will go to Tambaichi and buy some,” Oyasama said:
“It will be late if you do so. Let Me bind some for you.”
She then took some sheets of paper out from under Her cushion and disregarding the difference in their sizes, She selected those that had no writing on them, and bound them Herself. Then saying:
“Sah, I will read it to you. Write it on this,”
Oyasama read the Ofudesaki. Rin picked up the writing brush and wrote. It was a copy of Part IV of the Ofudesaki, and to this day it is preserved as it was originally bound, with the paper irregular in size.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 39–40
Translation of “Sawa’s note”
“[Based on] Seibun iin.”
Comment: “Anecdotes 64, ‘Smoothed Out Gently’ is a selection [thematically] related to this one.”
My take / research
This selection from Anecdotes of Oyasama is often alluded to by environmentally-conscious followers as a call for everyone to treat things with care and to make the best use of our resources. (I just happen to be one such follower. See below for link.) The assertion that “Oyasama did not waste one sheet of paper, not even an old scrap of paper” is quite a powerful statement in our day and age when the manner how humanity has wastefully used our natural resources is being seriously questioned.
Takanori Sato sensei, who is a professor at Tenri University who focuses on environmental studies, offers a commentary on Anecdotes 45 as follows:
In this story, Oyasama instructs on the importance of smoothing wrinkles of the mind with Her example of smoothing wrinkles from paper. I think that perhaps She is also pointing out the importance of reusing paper in the same manner of smoothing out the minds of people.
In other words, I feel that She is instructing us to make the best use of paper by using it over and over, that paper fulfills its original purpose precisely by being put to the best use possible (2000, p. 37).
Nevertheless, although an environmentally-conscious treating of Anecdotes 45 certainly allows readers to come away with an important lesson when it comes to making the best use of the resources nature (God) has provided us, for Tenrikyo adherents, this must not be done at the cost of ignoring what appears to be its central religious lesson: One must make efforts that smooth out wrinkles from the minds1 of others, allowing people make the best use of the life they have been blessed with.
To elaborate on this point with the help of a publication entitled Ikiru kotoba (Living words): “Even a single sheet of paper contains the providence of God the Parent and the great efforts of the people who helped produce it. This does not change, regardless of what century we might live in” (p. 142).
If even a single sheet of paper is an accumulated embodiment of divine providence and human ingenuity and effort, how much more so when it comes to a single human being!
Therefore, in addition to making efforts to smooth the minds of others that allow them to live a life to its utmost potential, it is also imperative that those of us who consider ourselves to be adherents of Tenrikyo to watch ourselves so that we don’t metaphorically add wrinkles to the minds of others — deliberately or inadvertently — in our daily interactions with them. (I must confess that I’ve surely done my share of adding wrinkles to the minds of people here and there.) Further, it is a given that efforts also need to be diverted to smoothing out wrinkles from our own minds as well.
To conclude, I offer another quote from Ikiru kotoba:
If the wrinkles of our mind have not been smoothed out, we should reflect upon them and correct what needs to be corrected. When we encounter someone who is ill or a person beset by some other trouble it is better to comfort and cheer him or her up instead of urging them to reflect on their condition (p. 105).
Sometimes our best efforts to enlighten others end up as “moral harassment” or “spiritual abuse” instead. (These are phrases that I heard in a recent lecture on Song Ten of The Songs for the Service.) In an attempt to smooth out wrinkles, we must be on our guard so not to add wrinkles instead.
- Satō Takanori. 2000. “Mono wa taisetsu ni.” In Oyasama no oshie to gendai — Oyasama go-tanjō nihyaku nen kinen kyōgaku kōza shirīzu 1998 nen. Tenri: Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, pp. 29–43.
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
- Tenrikyō Dōyūsha, ed. 1995. Ikiru kotoba: Tenrikyō Oyasama (kyōso?) no oshie. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.
- Koji Sato’s Omichi no joshiki: Smoothing Out the Wrinkles of the Mind
- Tenri Forum Presentation on July 17, 2006
Other Anecdotes selections with Masui Rin:
- Koji Sato sensei has once explained that “wrinkles of the mind” here is a metaphor for our particular characteristics, habits, and aspects of our temperament that happen to be counterproductive toward God’s ultimate purpose for us: to lead a harmonious and fulfilling existence (otherwise known as the Joyous Life in Tenrikyo). See “Further reading” for link to my translation of his article. ↩