Miserliness (Oshii)

by Yoshikazu Fukaya

The first use of the mind to be listed as one of the eight dusts is "miserliness."

We are taught that any use of the mind that shows an unwillingness to give or the wish to spare oneself trouble reflects the dust of miserliness.

Miserliness refers to the mind that is unwilling to work and always tries to make things easier for oneself. It also refers to the mind that is unwilling to pay sincere attention to others; a mind that is unwilling to put in the effort needed to do a good job and that would rather get things done in any manner possible. Such is the dust of "miserliness."

A person who eats on the train and leaves behind trash such as tangerine peels and an empty lunch box even when he or she knows there is a trash bin at the next station is someone harboring the dust of "miserliness." A hired worker who feels that it is fine as long as he or she works to the appropriate extent during working hours and is not attentive to the results or the content of his or her work can also be seen to be someone who is harboring the dust of "miserliness."

Other examples of miserliness include a mind that believes that anything concerning their employer, neighbors, or acquaintances is "their business and not mine," and refuses to do anything for others' sake even when it is expected or when it is well within their means. It also refers to a mind that is reluctant to pay taxes and fees that one is responsible for. Tax evasion is probably the worst example of this. (The question whether the tax rate is fair or not or is another issue altogether). When someone becomes reluctant to return something they borrowed, obviously, the dust of miserliness is at work here as well.

Needless to say, the dust of "miserliness" is essentially different from a mind that is frugal or a mind that treasures and makes the best use of our resources, refusing to allow anything to go to waste. In recent decades, the misunderstanding that the abundance of material goods is happiness itself has led to a reckless cycle of consumption and disposal. Those who were living carefree lives with a comfortable lifestyle experienced a rude awakening during the oil shock of the 1970s and found themselves powerless at the scarcity of natural resources and severity of environmental destruction in the world, conditions which continue to the present.

When we think of what a blessing it is to be allowed to use our bodies as things lent, things borrowed, and the preciousness of the providence God the Parent that makes everything possible, we must increasingly devote our efforts with utmost joy toward making the best of what we have been provided with in our everyday lives.