This is a story from when I traveled from Switzerland to France by car, a journey of 4-5 days. As we were running low on gas, we decided to refuel at a rest stop on the highway just before entering France. However, we encountered an incredibly long line of cars waiting for gas. Instead of waiting, we decided to continue driving into France and refuel there as planned. Upon stopping at a gas station in France, we found it closed. Puzzled, we tried another one, only to find it closed as well. When we checked the news, we discovered that there was a strike at the gas stations. Coming from Switzerland where strikes are uncommon, we didn’t fully grasp the implications. We arrived at our Airbnb in the city, had dinner, and took a breather. We visited museums and tourist attractions, and inquired about gas at the Information Center. Not knowing how to handle a strike situation, my travel companion began to panic. Thinking ahead to a situation where the car wouldn’t move, I went to buy a plastic canister to carry gas. We visited several shops and even the police to inquire about gas availability. Everyone seemed clueless, but eventually, they pointed us to some places that might sell gas, warning us that they might be sold out or crowded.

“My goodness, if we don’t find gas, we can’t go back. What should we do?” My companion started to panic. Realizing that panicking wouldn’t help, I said, “There’s no point in rushing; things will work out! Let’s calmly think about where we can find gas.” Eventually, we found a gas station by chance and were able to refuel, safely returning to Switzerland.

What do you call the Japanese philosophical concept of remaining calm when you feel like panicking?

In such situations, the philosophical concept in Japan that emphasizes maintaining composure is called “Fudoshin.”

There are times when people feel overwhelmed by a big problem, feeling crushed by its enormity or weight. It’s a situation where there’s no mental space left, and one feels submerged in the problem. In such times, I believe it’s important to look at the problem from a third-person perspective, as an outsider. By doing so, one can create an opportunity to objectively observe the problem calmly, realizing that they are not submerged in the problem but are separate from it. This is when the concept of “Fudoshin” is most useful.

Fudoshin is an important concept in Eastern philosophy, emphasizing the importance of maintaining composure, especially in situations where panic is likely. Fudoshin refers to a state of mind where one can calm their heart and maintain composure in any situation. This is particularly beneficial in crisis situations or stressful circumstances. Below, we explore specific situations where Fudoshin is useful, its origins, and why it’s important.

1. Role of Fudoshin in Natural Disasters

During natural disasters, people are prone to fear and confusion, which can lead to widespread panic. However, having Fudoshin allows people to remain calm and make sound judgments. For example, during an earthquake, having Fudoshin enables people to secure evacuation routes and carry out necessary rescue operations. Fudoshin enables individuals to overcome chaos and fear, allowing for calm and rational action.

2. Business Crisis Management

In the business world, sudden crises can occur, such as rapid market fluctuations or product quality issues. In such situations, leadership and organizational composure are crucial. By maintaining Fudoshin, leaders can make objective decisions without being swayed by emotions and implement effective response strategies. Moreover, when the entire organization embodies Fudoshin, it can avoid panic and effectively overcome crises.

The concept of Fudoshin primarily originates from Buddhist and Zen teachings. Practitioners of Zen cultivate Fudoshin through practices such as sitting meditation, aiming to find inner tranquility. This inner calmness allows individuals to maintain composure regardless of external chaos.

Fudoshin is particularly useful in the following situations:

– Crisis Management: In emergency situations or disasters, maintaining calm and making sound judgments is essential.
– Handling Stressful Situations: Fudoshin is beneficial in addressing unforeseen problems or stress in both business and personal life.

As Eastern philosophy spreads to the West, the concept of Fudoshin serves as a valuable lesson emphasizing the importance of remaining calm during times of panic. By incorporating such wisdom, Western societies can function more healthily and effectively, both individually and collectively.