Work (Hataraku)

by Yoshikazu Fukaya

There is an oral tradition that Oyasama explained the verb "to work" [hataraku] as "to make things easier" [raku] "for those around one" [hata], adding that we are born to work in this sense. According to the teachings of Tenrikyo, then, the meaning of "work"--which also indicates the purpose of human existence--lies in bringing joy and happiness to others and serving the needs of others in any way we can.

How does this teaching apply to our society, in which most companies seem to be driven by the pursuit of profit? If companies are preoccupied only with making their profits, they could attract severe criticism and, eventually, even be excluded from society. Again, if you see no meaning in your work other than merely making a living, you might begin to think of yourself as nothing more than a cog in the machine and, feeling overworked and exhausted, could even end up in despair.

A conviction that the work we do is actually useful to others and is making a contribution, however slight, to the happiness of others can instill fresh enthusiasm for our work and help us discover new meaning in our lives. Work in the sense of "making things easier for those around us" will also assuredly bring us greater joy that is grounded in the truth of heaven. It is of primary importance for companies to look beyond their own profits for ways in which they can be of service to society. On the level of individual occupations, too, one should think about how one's work can contribute to helping others be happy.

If we are fully aware of the meaning of "work" as explained by Oyasama and commit ourselves to translating that meaning into action in our lives, we certainly can find jobs and roles that will bring joy and happiness to others and serve the needs of others, regardless of whether we are young or old, whether we live with disabilities or not, or what circumstances we may be facing in our lives. Such a job or role will doubtless make our daily lives vibrant and fulfilling.