ISB Updates

ISB Alumnus is Young Global Leader 2013

The Art of Enlightenment
Shoukei Matsumoto,a Buddhist monk and an alumnus from the PGP Class of 2011, was recently nominated as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum (WEF). Matsumoto is among 199 under-40 leaders from 70 countries who have been felicitated this year for “their professional accomplishments and commitment to society,” according to the WEF website.

Matsumoto’s single-minded pursuit of making Buddhist temples more relevant to the Japanese society won him this apt recognition.

His journey began in 2003, when after becoming a monk he noticed that the Buddhist temples in Japan were losing their sheen; few people visited and that too only for ceremonial rituals. The temples themselves did not seem to be contributing to the Japanese society. Since there are more than 70,000 such temples in Japan, he wanted to “update their management to meet modern needs.” He began with himself, a degree in management from the Indian School of Business that sharpened his marketing skills, something invaluable in a temple setting, where “priests tend to push their teachings and forget customer-centric views.” He has spearheaded several other initiatives: a cafĂ© designed to attract youth to temples; an online Buddhist website, Higanji, that is now one of the most popular web magazines about Buddhism in Japan; a school for future monks, where they learn how to manage their temples; and a non-profit organisation, Oteranomirai (Japan Fellowship of Buddhists), that seeks to “connect Buddhist monks with people, and maximise the potential of Buddhism in society as the art of life.”

While talking about his year at ISB, this Rajnikant-loving Indophile conceded he found it hard to maintain a balance between being a monk and a student but that “everybody was kind and friendly at ISB.”

Matsumoto agrees that though all his actions are centred on increasing Buddhism’s appeal among a wider audience his “principle is based on the principle of Buddhism, which is an art of enlightenment. My mission is to get people enlightened.”