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What is the Purpose of Life? Ehime Civic Forum (August 6, 2014)

Contemplate virtue, do good deeds, and your life will turn for the better

As I struggled to run a business, I continually asked myself, “What is life really about?” In time, I began to see our lives as being lived along a pre-destined path we can equate to the warp thread running lengthwise through a cloth, from top to bottom. Meanwhile, the Law of Cause & Effect is represented by the weft thread travelling from side to side. If we continually contemplate what is good and right, and act accordingly, then positive effects will emerge. In contrast, if we let our thoughts turn toward negativity or evil, and act accordingly, then negative effects will emerge.

My belief in the Law of Cause & Effect stems from an encounter with Unmei to Ritsumei [Fate and Establishing One's Destiny], a book authored by Masahiro Yasuoka, a Confucian scholar who has influenced many Japanese politicians and economists. This book introduces concepts from another book, Liaofan's Four Lessons, written by Yuan Liaofan during China's Ming dynasty. While he was still a small child, Liaofan, who was then known as Xuehai, had his future foretold by an elderly, white-haired oracle. According to this sage, Xuehai was destined to pass the civil service examination, become a regional governor at a young age, marry but have no children, and complete his allotted lifespan at the age of 53. Xuehai's life then began to follow the path described by the old man right down to the details, including which exam he would take, at what age, his passing grade and rank among a certain number of classmates, and so on. Later, as governor appointed to a particular region, Xuehai visited the Zen temple of master Yungu, a renowned Zen priest. Master Yungu had sharp words for Xuehai, who had resigned himself indifferently to living out his life as predestined. Yungu explained that if you commit yourself to thinking good thoughts and undertaking good deeds, then you can change your destiny for the better. Xuehai was open-minded, and he and his wife then determined to think good thoughts whenever possible, and to follow those thoughts with corresponding deeds. Consequently, they were blessed with a son they had been told would never be born. Further, despite having been told his allotted lifespan would be only 53 years, Xuehai was still alive and well past the age of 70.

I came across this book just when my life was at a point where I could not see beyond the immediate future, and I was greatly troubled by how I should proceed. From that encounter, I began thinking about living a life that involved contemplating virtue and undertaking good deeds.

Ehime Civic Forum (August 6, 2014) Summary

What is the Purpose of Life?
Why Do We Need Philosophy in Management?
What Guides People and Enterprises Toward Growth and Development?
Learning about the Ideal State of a Leader from Nanshu Saigo
Reflections on Kazuo Inamori's Practical Study
Amoeba Management Brings Sustainable Corporate Growth