AI and Ikigai

Zen and Innovation : Kouji Miki
8 min readOct 23, 2023

New Possibilities with Generative AI


”Ikigai” and International Recognition

In recent years, the Japanese concept of “Ikigai” has gained international recognition, especially in Europe, following the publication of the book “IKIGAI” by Héctor Garcia and Francesc Miralles.

In this book, IKIGAI is defined as the point where four elements intersect: what you like to do, what you are good at, what society needs, and what makes money. This definition offers a very pragmatic approach that balances commercial success with personal satisfaction.

However, this definition differs in some respects from the traditional Japanese understanding of ikigai. In Japan, “ikigai” is defined in the Kojien dictionary as “the joy of living. It is defined as “something that makes you glad to be alive,” which can be seen as something that gives “value and meaning to life” to a person. As a word, “ikigai” is mainly used in the form of “feeling motivated to live,” and it can be said to be a term that expresses subjective feelings.

The Japanese definition of “ikigai” does not necessarily focus on being needed by society or earning money, but rather on an individual’s inner joy and satisfaction, where the individual is genuinely excited and wants to continue the activity no matter who stops him or her. This represents a unique understanding of ikigai that reflects the cultural background and values of Japan.

Thus, there are different aspects in the understanding of ikigai between the international perspective and the traditional Japanese perspective. These differences influence how individuals and society pursue and realize ikigai.

Thus, the Japanese concept of ikigai and the international understanding of ikigai, while having different aspects, offer important insights into how people find and pursue their purpose in life. in this rapidly developing age of AI, we can deepen these understandings and how to apply them to our real lives. will enable us to live more fulfilling lives.

Overuse of generative AI accelerates “Ikigai” to the maximum

I personally have seen a 3–5x improvement in my work efficiency and a dramatic increase in my own productivity by utilizing an automated translation AI, DeepL, the video generation AI vrew and ChatGPT in creating ads and by incorporating ChatGPT and Midjourney in creating presentations for companies.

To understand the specific impact of generative AI, please watch this video. This service is a multilingual video animation that uses AI to automatically generate an avatar that implements the voice and facial expressions of the original speaker.

The language (English) spoken by the original speaker is very naturally generated into German, French, Italian, Hindi, Chinese, Korean, and other languages. First of all, please take a look at the video.

Just by watching this video, you can imagine how much our productivity will increase in the future.

Ai translation of all available language using HeyGen

The following video of automatic conversion from English to Chinese by AI was also created by an AI avatar service called HeyGen. The video below was created by HeyGen, an AI avatar service that samples the voice of a person and perfectly synchronizes the mouth movements to the Chinese language. It is shocking, so we hope you will watch it first, so you can imagine how much AI will improve our productivity and change our lives.

I wanted to experience for myself the possibilities of generative AI, so I translated my own video presentation on “AI and Ikigai” from Japanese to English by HeyGen, a generative AI. Please take a look if you like.

Video from Japanese to English generated by the generative AI, HeyGen

Click here to watch the video above.

In fact, according to a McKinsey report, the time when 50% of current work hours can be automated due to advances in technological capabilities has been moved forward 10 years and could have the greatest impact on the activities of educators, professionals, and creators.

Productivity contrast between AI and non-AI in various industries from McKinsey report.

“The economic potential of generative AI: The next productivity frontier”

This increase in productivity will bring enormous amounts of extra time to people, potentially putting workers into two categories. One is the “ikigai” worker, a traditional Japanese concept of wellbeing and a factor in finding joy in life. The other is the worker who has lived a life of work and has excess time on his/her hands.

In my case, I have found great improvement in my wellbeing by using this extra time to interact with my colleagues. Specifically, I make my extra time valuable through the following activities.

  • Dialogue around a bonfire on the Zaimokuza beach in Kamakura
    - Sauna tent experience at the of Mt. Fuji.
    - Regular yoga and meditation sessions with friends at Mt. Fuji.
    - Terakoya experience to learn from each other.
Dialogue with friends around a bonfire on the beach near the house.

These activities have deepened my connection with my colleagues, provided opportunities to share new knowledge and experiences, and further enriched my “ikigai”.

Yoga and meditation experience with friends at the foot of Mt.Fuji.
Dialogue with friends in a tent sauna in the open air near Mt.Fuji.
The earth-fired body in the tent sauna is cooled down in the crystal-clear river that cools down to a crisp in Mt.Fuji.

For workers with ikigai, the introduction of generative AI will increase their leisure time and improve their wellbeing. However, for those who do not have “ikigai,” the increase in leisure time may conversely lead to mental anxiety and lower wellbeing.

AI and IKIGAI Golden Circle

The introduction of generative AI has led to an explosion in work productivity, which in turn has led to a significant increase in leisure time. This leisure time is an important resource for the exploration and realization of personal “Ikigai. Furthermore, generative AI plays an important role in the progression of ikigai projects. This allows Ikigai to be deployed more effectively and efficiently, increasing its impact.

We propose the concept of the “Golden Circle of AI and Ikigai” as a model to organize this process and to show the relationship between generative AI and ikigai. This Golden Circle consists of the following four elements

Maximization: Maximizing the use of generative AI in work explodes productivity and frees up personal time.

Expanding Leisure Time: Freed time becomes an opportunity to explore and realize personal “Ikigai,” offering new possibilities and experiences.

Effective Ikiwai projects: By utilizing generative AI for Ikiwai projects, projects can proceed more effectively and efficiently, increasing their impact.

Richer lives: The combination of these factors can help people achieve a richer life. The introduction of generative AI will not only improve the efficiency of work, but will also improve the overall quality of life and help people find their true “Ikigai” (purpose).

The Golden Circle provides an effective framework for discovering and realizing personal “Ikigai” by harnessing the power of Generative AI. Through this framework, people can realize a richer life. In the future, Generative AI and the Golden Circle of Ikigai will be an important framework for people to explore and realize their own Ikigai. This framework will provide deep insights into what people value in their lives and how they pursue that value.

AI&IKIGAI Golden CIrcle

The Intersection of AI, Zen, and Mindfulness: My Case for an International Conference

The Intersection of AI, Zen, and Mindfulness: My Case for an International Conference

In a separate non-profit endeavor, I organized a project to create the world’s largest international conference on Zen and mindfulness. This massive project was an aggressive implementation of generative AI, which resulted in an explosion of productivity for the project.

Harnessing the power of generative AI has greatly increased efficiency and effectiveness in many areas, including project management, content generation, participant communication, and public relations.

This increase in productivity has allowed me and my project team to spend much more time on team building and communication, which we previously lacked. In particular, the increased team-building time with my colleagues has improved the overall coordination and alignment of the project, and has increased the contribution and satisfaction of each individual member.

Myself and the 60 volunteer members who participated in the project feel that our well-being has improved as a result of this new initiative. The implementation of generative AI not only achieved the project’s objectives, but also contributed greatly to team cohesion and individual satisfaction, which in turn led to the overall success of the project.

This case study demonstrates how generative AI can help individuals and teams pursue “ikigai” and how it can contribute to the success of a project and the well-being of individuals. This is a concrete example of the Golden Circle of AI and Ikigai.

Generative AI can be a powerful support for workers in their projects to find their “Ikigai,” and by utilizing AI, they can further strengthen and deepen their own “Ikigai. The use of generative AI will be indispensable for finding “ikigai” in the future.

Since the Meiji Restoration, the Japanese education system has provided formal education to support a business model of mass production and mass consumption. Our zenschool has been developing such education for adults for the past 12 years, and by offering it to middle-aged and retired people, we hope to actively support them in extracting “ikigai” in the age of AI.

In this way, advances in generative AI will open up new possibilities not only in improving our productivity, but also in the search for and realization of “ikigai. The future brought about by this technology will enrich our lives and help us find true “Ikigai”.

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Zen and Innovation : Kouji Miki

A school of innovation based on the Zen philosophy that overcame unemployment and depression through zazen.