2017 Zen Branding Project Zen and Society Research Team Research Plan Overview
1. Zen and Society Research
In modern society, and particularly the world of business, Zen, meditation and mindfulness continue to spread. Buddhism scholar Daisetz Suzuki brought Zen and Buddhist culture to the U.S. circa 1900, and the founding of the San Francisco Zen Center in 1962 by Sōtō Zen monk and former Komazawa University student Shunryu Suzuki contributed to their spread on the country’s west coast at the time. It is also widely known that the late Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, studied under the late Sōtō Zen monk Kobun Otogawa.
And now, many companies have developed psychotherapy programs that use the word “mindfulness,” after Jon Kabat-Zinn of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center said that such a concept would be difficult to spread with words such as “Zen” and “meditation,” which have strong religious connotations.
I believe that many businesspeople in Japan learned about the spread of mindfulness and Zen from the use of mindfulness in employee training and other programs at excellent IT companies on the west coast of the U.S. such as Google and Salesforce. It even spread to the world of sports; for example, if you read the book “Kokoro wo Totonoeru.” (“Prepare the Mind.”, published by Gentosha) by Japan national soccer team player Makoto Hasebe, you will understand how strongly he has been influenced by Zen.
It is widely known that, in Kamakura and Muromachi period society, many feudal lords appointed Zen priests and donated to temples, and likely shared many of the same problems with the businesspeople and athletes fighting on the frontlines of today.
Also, nowadays the great taste and healthiness of Japanese cuisine is gaining attention and becoming a worldwide sensation. But when you inquire to the origins of Japanese cuisine, its foundation was largely created in two works by Zen monk Dogen: “Tenzo Kyokun” (“Instructions for the Zen Cook”), which is about how to prepare Sesshin meals, and “Fushuku Hanpo” (“The Dharma of Taking Food”) which is about manners and the way of thinking for meals.
Researchers in a variety of expert fields deepen, from their own perspective, research on such strong influences that Zen thought has had on modern society, and continue their research while engaging in interdisciplinary dialogue.
2. Research Methods
We observe institutions (universities, laboratories, museums, psychological counseling and consulting, medical science, art, food and drink, Buddhist temples, etc.) both domestic and foreign that are expanding their operations with a Zen focus. Along with attending seminars, lectures and interactive events, we can experience the Zen of all times and places, gaining new knowledge through the generation of opportunities for discussion.Zen of all times and places, gaining new knowledge through the generation of opportunities for discussion.
B)Interdisciplinary Research Projects
With regard to research content, each member of the research team makes an annual report at the team’s interdisciplinary research session, advancing their interdisciplinary research by hearing views from experts in a variety of fields.
3. Dissemination to Stakeholders (methods for increasing and deepening awareness)
While being aware of preparatory students and Komazawa University students, we publish the results of their observation projects and interdisciplinary research projects on the Zen Branding website. Also, plans are in the works for forum projects and publishing projects that would include ordinary citizens and researchers as their targets.
AOKI Shigeki (Professor, Faculty of Business Administration)
・Faculty of Buddhism：IIZUKA Hironobu
・Faculty of Letters：KUBOTA Masaki
・Faculty of Economics：NAGAYAMA Munehiro
・Faculty of Business Administration：AOKI Shigeki, ONOSE Hiromu, KANEMURA Eitetsu, KANNO Saori, NAKANO Kaori, NAKAMURA Koichi, WAKAYAMA Daiki
・Faculty of Global Media Studies：KAGAMI Yoko, YAMAGUCHI Hiroshi
・Graduate Division of Legal Research and Traning：HIKASA Kanji
・Extramural Participants/HIROSE Ryoko
For our 5th discussion in this series we welcomed guest participant Mr. David Atkinson, CEO of Konishi Decorative Arts and Crafts, for a three-way dis･･･
For our fourth interview we welcomed film director Tatsushi Ōmori as our guest, and together with Komazawa University Chancellor Seishi Nagai and Prof･･･