Ikigai Summit Discussion: Is There a Collective Ikigai?

In this engaging video, a panel of esteemed experts delve into the intriguing question of whether a "collective ikigai" is attainable, where individuals come together to share a unified sense of purpose and passion in life.

Can ikigai be shared?

Nick: So we have a question from Makoto, who was actually also a podcast guest. So a question to the speakers: “What are your perspectives on collective ikigai? In other words, what would be the similarities and differences that you could have compared to personal ikigai?”

Collective ikigai, I’m not sure what that means. Is that in terms that many people would share an ikigai?

Gordon: I don’t believe in collective ikigai. Ikigai is always found in one’s on mind. You can have powers to be, say ‘this should be your ikigai’ but whether you believe it or not. Let’s go back to the kamikaze pilots in WWII, who smashed their planes. They should have been saying ‘Bonzai Tei no Henkai’, Hooray for the Emperor!”, they were probably saying “Mother!.

That’s just an example of how you can make people conform, but you can’t alter the inside of their mind. So I’m not sure there is a collective ikigai.

Sachiaki: Yeah, when I think about collective ikigai, I don’t know if it’s ikigai or not, but sports is one example. Like a world cup, for example. Most people probably cheer their own country. So during the world cup, like the whole nation becomes one, and everybody kind of wishes strongly that their country wins.

It’s not so much about Japan, because Japan is not a big soccer country, but when I think about Argentina who won the world cup, I heard a story of many people saving life-worth money, or maybe they’re selling their house to go to the world cup, to just buy the ticket.

So soccer means so much to them, and it’s of course a personal ikigai, too. Maybe for them, soccer is their ikigai, or watching the world cup, or going to the world cup to witness their country winning, would be their personal ikigai.

But it happens in a such collective level, that maybe in Argentina, you can kind of say, it is a collective ikigai. And that applies to many other sporting events.

Gordon: Terrific example. You’re exactly right. Nobody’s saying you must love your country, you must cheer for Argentina or Brazil, whatever it is. No, nobody says that, but people do anyway. And of course, the dangerous downside of that is, the world cup or the Olympic is great; wartime is also a form of collective ikigai, where everyone agrees that ‘those guys are bad, and we’re good.’

Not everybody agrees, most people do. So that’s the downside of this. But that does enter the realm of the collective ikigai. You’re probably, right? A mass crowd ikigai.

Nick: This is interesting, Gordon. This actually reminds me of our conversation, and at the time of our podcast, you were experiencing the Hong Kong protest. That also seems like a collective short-term ikigai, but it’s at least a collective one.

Gordon: You’re right. And what happened in Hong Kong, of course, is that many people still believe that, but they don’t say it now. So the government may say, ‘Love your motherland.’ Very few young people believe that, in the slightest. But you simply don’t say you don’t love your motherland in public. So you can’t force that ikigai on people.

Except through change in the educational curriculum, maybe a generation or two, you can. But you can’t do it very quickly.