Honesty and straightforwardness (Sunao)

by Yoshikazu Fukaya

In Tenrikyo, the quality of sunao is emphasized in expressions such as "God desires sunao" and "Someone who is sunao is liked by people and by God."

The Japanese word sunao refers to (1) a natural state without airs; unpretentiousness (2) having an honorable heart; being honest (3) showing no defiance, being meek; being obedient (4) showing no cynicism (5) art free from pretension. In Japan, sunao (honesty and straightforwardness) is considered a desirable virtue.

As for Tenrikyo, we read in the Osashizu:

A mild mind, an honest and straightforward mind that says nothing, represents the path of order.

Osashizu, January 25, 1900

As indicated in the above passage, we are taught that a gentle, tranquil, and straightforward mind that God the Parent accepts serves as the basis for God the Parent to lead us through life, wondrously wrapping us in providence. The Ofudesaki declares that to build the world of the Joyous Life, God will gather many standing trees for materials or Yoboku. However, "those bent or crooked are of no use" (Ofudesaki III:50). Further, we are instructed,

Among the trees, there will be some that I shall tend step by step and others that I shall let fall as they are.

Ofudesaki III:132

Sah, the sweeping. I need brooms. I need many of them. Ones that prove easy to use, I shall use forever. Ones that prove awkward to use, I shall use just once.

Osashizu, March 15, 1887

It is indicated above that Yoboku, or useful instruments, who can bring joy to God the Parent and who are easy for God the Parent to use are those who possess a straightforward and honest mind that is free from pretension.

However, this "sunao" is slightly different from the "obedience" that has traditionally been valued since ancient times. Such obedience is embodied for example in how a woman was to obey her parents in the home where she was born, obey her husband once she married, and obey her son in old age. However, God the Parent does not desire such arbitrary obedience.

As stated in the entry "Single-hearted mind" [5.10], the models of husband and wife at creation gave their undivided attention in honestly and straightforwardly responding to God the Parent's call. They represent the fundamental and ideal manner of how humanity should be. This is not an obedience that accepts everything and anything submissively and unconditionally. Rather, it refers to a mind that allows one to be single-hearted and straightforward in one's response to God the Parent's intention and the truth of the teachings.

To have an honest and straightforward mind is to accept and comply with God the Parent's intention with absolute honesty, without regard to whether or not we understand it based on our own knowledge and experience or whether or not it suits our best interests. Further, it refers to a straight mind possessing strength and steadfastness that does not waver in the face of any struggle or temptation.

Honesty and straightforwardness may potentially include qualities such as "compliance" and "non-assertiveness." However, it ought to be mentioned that this honesty and straightforwardness, while having such a mild and gentle quality, also incorporates a strength that is able to uphold God the Parent's intention without the slightest apprehension over being ridiculed, opposed, and attacked by the public or even being occasionally opposed by one's own family. This can be clearly seen in the Divine Model Oyasama demonstrated Herself.

It can be said that God the Parent desires that we discard any distorted views or ideas brought about by human thinking and have an honesty and straightforwardness that enables us to be single-hearted with God in accepting and implementing God the Parent's intention.