Almost everyone knows of the Tea Drinking Ceremony in Japan. There is something very special about Tea drinking due to its ritualistic importance in many countries like China, Korea, Russia, India and England too. In Japan the tea ceremony is called the Way of Tea and is an important Japanese cultural activity.
In my visit to Japan I made it a point to witness a Japanese Tea Ceremony in Kyoto. It was a stirring experience and all of us were in awe. The hostess a Tea Master clad in an elegant Kimono was graceful and her movements rhythmic and flawless – meditative. The ceremony captures the essence of ancient wisdom of the orient such as humility, simplicity, purity, respect and harmony. Which means it is a way to achieve inner peace through the simple act of preparing tea.
At the point of entry to the room the ceiling is rather low and we need to bow a little – a symbolic gesture of humility. The aesthetics in the room are subtle and serene. I did manage to sneak a picture of the ceremony with my Canon AE-I
The feeling of calm and peace which we experience here is at the core of Japanese culture. And it extends to almost all other spheres of activities – business negotiations, leadership, training, strategy, vision and values and so on.
Spirituality in Business Management
Case studies of Japanese MNCs like Canon, Matsushita, and Komatsu never fail to inspire as their source of success rests on spiritual beliefs. Spirituality is embedded in the roots of Japanese national and organizational culture.
It looks like everything that Japanese do is tranquil and effortless yet with a sense of deep commitment and ultra precision. No wonder the world is in awe of the Japanese management philosophies and practices and attempts to emulate them – One of the many is Kaizen meaning a philosophy for continuous “improvement” or “change for the better” in ourselves as individuals as also processes in manufacturing, engineering, and business management. The Japanese are great learners and their power of observation very incisive.
Spirituality in Agriculture
Masanobu Fukuoka lived in Shikoku Island, Japan and “The One Straw Revolution” an epic memoir and guide to natural farming. You’ll be amazed at his philosophy and the Four Principles of Natural Farming:
(a) No cultivation;
(b) No chemical fertilizer or prepare compost;
(c) No weeding by tillage and herbicides; and
(d) No dependence on chemicals. Even though his methods require less labor, it can result in higher yields for your farm or garden.
Watch the book trailer on “The One Straw Revolution” that is narrated by the book’s editor Larry Korn. In 1973, Korn was under the tutelage of Masanobu Fukuoka, his Sensei (teacher), who lived in Shikoku Island, Japan. Korn received a hands-on education in the art of non-cultivation and do-nothing, natural farming. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSKSxLHMv9k
The Japanese response to the recent Nuclear and Tsunami Disaster is yet another demonstration of the validity and power of intangibles- values and ethics across all spheres of activity.
10 things to learn from Japan
1. THE CALM. Not a single visual of chest-beating or wild grief. Sorrow itself has been elevated.
2. THE DIGNITY. Disciplined queues for water and groceries. Not a rough word or a crude gesture.
3. THE ABILITY. The incredible architects, for instance. Buildings swayed but didn’t fall.
4. THE GRACE. People bought only what they needed for the present, so everybody could get something.
5. THE ORDER. No looting in shops. No honking and no overtaking on the roads. Just understanding.
6. THE SACRIFICE. Fifty workers stayed back to pump sea water in the N-reactors. How will they ever be repaid?
7. THE TENDERNESS. Restaurants cut prices. An unguarded ATM is left alone. The strong cared for the weak.
8. THE TRAINING. The old and the children, everyone knew exactly what to do. And they did just that.
9. THE MEDIA. They showed magnificent restraint in the bulletins. No silly reporters. Only calm reportage.
10. THE CONSCIENCE. When the power went off in a store, people put things back on the shelves and left quietly
“Tea…is a religion of the art of life” – Okakura Kakuzo (1863-1913), Japanese scholar
Thank you for reading!