Lessons from Ryosoku-in Temple for the Post COVID-19 World: “Studying Abroad” and “Pilgrimages” Essential for the DX of Businesspersons
This is a story by Toryo Ito of the Ryosoku-in Temple. Previously, monks were not allowed to get married in Japan, so temple successors were found by headhunting.
The people who were chosen were those who can read and understand “Kanshi (Chinese poetry)”.
Various advancements such as medicine, science, architecture, literature (Literature of the Five Mountains), and art (poetry painting) were incorporated from China. Thus, the comprehension of Kanshi was essential in contributing to the development of the temple. In other words, Kanshi literacy was to the temple what the MBA is to modern society.
Therefore, the Japanese rulers at the time viewed monks as priceless diplomatic negotiators. Ryosoku-in Temple is a Zen Temple founded by Zen master Eisai (monk who lived from the latter period of the Heian Period-1141 to the early Kamakura Period-1215).
Zen master Eisai not only brought Zen Buddhism but also “tea” to Japan. His book Kissa Yojoki (Drinking Tea for Health) written in 1211 began with, “Tea is a health elixir…” Drawing from his experience of studying in the Song dynasty, he described the benefits of tea, the cultivation and processing of tea, and the treatment of various diseases by drinking tea, citing that tea is necessary for managing health. This is the oldest book on tea as well as medicine in Japan which described the medicinal benefits of drinking tea. Eisai is well known for offering tea to the 3rd Kamakura Shogun, Minamoto Sanetomo. Sanetomo was healed of his hangover from drinking just a cup of tea, as described in the “Notes on the virtues of tea”.
Following this, the custom of drinking tea started to really spread throughout Japan. While tea was introduced to Japan from China together with Buddhism, it was thought of as a type of medicine among the aristocrats and monks during the Heian period, and was even believed to be a miracle drug promoting longevity.
However, this is far from the end of this story. Ryusan Tokuken (1284-1358) was instrumental in the preservation of the Ryosoku-in Temple. Tokuken was a priest of the Rinzai sect who lived from the latter part of the Kamakura period to the Nanboku-cho period and introduced manju (steamed buns) to Japan! Ryosoku-in is awesome, right? They introduced tea and manju to Japan.
They turned out to be popular products that lasted generations, promoting health and longevity in the populace. Geniuses like these have all gone abroad (China at the time) and gained wisdom, bringing back innovation to Japan in the process. “Studying abroad” and “Pilgrimages” are important regardless of the period we live in!
I believe both “Studying abroad” and “Pilgrimages” are indispensable for the digital transformation of businesspersons after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.