What is Success?

A Swiss professor teaching religion in US but had spent a couple decades in Japan gave a talk yesterday and contrasted Japanese temples on the verge of extinction and the thriving Buddhist Mountains in Taiwan. Another American professor of Buddhism posed the question if economic flourish or visibility is the criteria for success?

After the talk I went up and asked the Swiss professor about Thich Nhat Hahn’s version of Chinese Buddhism drawing huge crowds of followers worldwide despite his modest financial support from his book sales while Taiwanese Buddhism has limited share of voice in the West compared to Tibetan, Japanese Zen or Theravadan Buddhism despite building opulent temples and massive investments in charity events around the world.See temple in South Africa.Taiwanese Temple in South Africa

Pu Shien Shrine.jpg

By Japanese or Chinese standard, Thich Nhat Hahn would be considered Chinese Buddhism rather than Zen. If we ask an average Westerner on the street, most would think Zen is Japanese rather than Chinese.And then many Taiwanese Buddhist groups condemn Theravadan or Small Vehicle Buddhism (that is closer to the Buddha’s original teachings than Chinese Buddhism that is a combination of Indian Buddhism, Confucian or Chinese adaptations and folkloric deities) for not doing good but focused on self cultivation. (It reminds me of Protestant, Catholic, Islam and Judaism are all of Abrahamic root.)

Reported by Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and various international media, Kazuo Inamori, the Zen Buddhist Priest Billionnaire who turned around Japan Airline Paging Buddha said, “No need to be isolated from the world to find enlightenment, you should find in your own work…….the financial aspects of work are very few when compared to the actual capacity that it has to increase the value of your soul.”

Hideko Yamasita  blended concepts Buddhism and Yoga in  her whirlwind bestsellers of Danshari (minimal living for fulfilled life) in Japan and Asia. What is success? Gaudy temples or impressive charity functions around the world or actual incorporation of Buddhism in business and  daily living charm?

Yamasita’s books has not been translated in English yet Marie Kondo’s books on life changing magic of tidying up (a much watered down version of Danshari) is a whirlwind in the West.

Who is a bigger success ?