Saturday, November 6, 2010

Buddhist Personality : Keisuke Matsumoto

Keisuke Matsumoto, 30 was born on June 26, 1979 in Hokkaido, Japan and holds a Bachelor Degree in Literature from University of Tokyo. soon after his graduation and much consideration he decided to devote himself to Japanese tradition and philosophy instead of joining the corporate world. Today he is a Japanese Buddhist priest at Komyoji Temple Tokyo who is currently doing his MBA at the prestigious Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hydrebad, India

To him a business corporation is not much different from a temple. The only difference is the objective. Business corporation is going after monetary profit whereas the objective of a temple is happiness to its followers. When he first joined the priesthood, he spent 6 months in the temple headquarter in Kyoto leading a strict and disciplined life before moving to a temple in Tokyo where he conducts Dharma lessons to the members of the temple.

.Why does a Buddhist priest need an MBA ? Here's what he has to say.

Some people also ask me, do you resign a Buddhist priest and try to find another job?

I know some students in B-schools try to change their careers. But I have no intention to find a new job. As a Buddhist priest, for the future of Buddhism, I am going to study management in a B-school.

When I talk to some other priests about it, they sometimes say angrily to me, "Are you going to take advantage of Buddhist temples to make a profit?" I guess the word "Business School" causes misunderstanding among them.

First, keep one thing perfectly clear. The reason that I go to B-school is NEVER to take advantage of temples to make a profit. Rather, conversely, because I wanted to reform the structure of Buddhist organization to retrieve spirituality in temples, I decided to study management at B-school.

In the past, temples were important for Japanese in every point of life, as playgrounds for children, schools for young people, and preaching centers for elderly people. But, they lost their popularity significantly. Today, most people think of the temples just as ceremonial halls for memorial services. Very few people visit the temples to satisfy their spirituality.

My temple in Tokyo is situated in the heart of the city, surrounded by numerous corporate offices. I used to often see many young men and women pass by. Like youth in India, even the Japanese think that temples are conservative places and do not usually not appeal to them.

As my first initiative, I launched the Young Buddhist Association with the help of my college friends and as one of our first activities, we hosted a music concert in the premises of the temple. Then I started noticing youth even more, observing what they do and what they enjoy. Spending time in cafes was another thing that they enjoyed, so we launched a cafe in the temple. We asked young people to just come and spend time there. Even with a small menu of drinks and desserts, all on the house, the place was a hit. In return we asked the visitors to donate money to the temple

Of course, the fact doesn't mean that few Japanese people now seek religious feelings. If you visit some institutions of new religion, you can find many people who seriously devote themselves to it. The thing is, traditional Buddhist temples don't meet religious need of modern people, simply.

In the post-war period, Japanese have been facing a loss of identity and crisis of confidence in their futures. It was one of the reasons I became a Buddhist priest, which I thought was the best way to support Japanese spiritually and ideologically.

Through my study and work in temples for seven years, I have increased my confidence in the potential of Buddhism. But I have also realized that there is a critical shortage of monks who can update temples to meet modern needs-- without spoiling their religious traditions. That's why I want to study in a B-school.

I am sure, we can change.

In the past, temples were social enterprises, and Buddhist priests were social entrepreneurs in Japan. In fact, believe or not, from old times to the present, the history of Japanese Buddhism has been a continuous change and innovation. It's the history of leadership and entrepreneurship of many great Buddhist monks.

I always bear in mind this prestigious tradition and have encouraged myself to be entrepreneurial without losing sight of our primary goal, the spiritual welfare of all people.

Why an Indian MBa ?

Because India is the country I consider as Japan's important partner and the root of Japanese spirit. And above all, India is definitely my favorite country. Since my first visit, I have been attracted by its ancient history, contemporary culture and adorable people. After graduation, I will be proud to become a "missionary" of contemporary India to Japanese people. With my wife and a son (his name is Ganga), I want to fully enjoy myself at ISB in Hyderabad, India.

Currently he lives in the campus with his wife and his two year old son, Koga. He says that while he is in India, he also tries to learn more about Hinduism. As a student he dresses casually just like other students but still devotes his time to chant and conduct religious rituals everyday. Everything that he learns in class, he will try to put them in the context of a temple.

Upon completion of his MBA, he hopes to join the management of his temple and brings positive changes in line with the modern time.

The student village at ISB where he staying

The Komyoji Temple which he is attached to.

The view of the temple from outside. The temple is located right in the middle of Tokyo's business district.

The main shrine of the temple

The cafe inside the temple which caters not only for the temple's members but also for people working nearby