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9.5.3 Emptiness of Secret and Invention Strategy

The third strategy to protect religious secret is the invention strategy. Before going into details of the strategy, I have to touch upon the phenomena that may be called “emptiness of secret.” If the rank-and-file believers cannot know the content of religious secret, it can be theoretically possible that the core of religious secret is empty. This is the “emptiness of secret.” Therefore, in order to protect religious secrets, religious administrators or specialists have only to make people believe that profound and sacred secrets undoubtedly exist in the core of religious secrets. In addition, if the core of religious secret is a black box and inaccessible for ordinary believers, it is possible to create or invent the content of the core with pretending that it has really existed from long ago (Hobsbawm and Ranger 1992).

An exemplary case is the making of Mishnah in Judaism. It is said that the Mishnah is the first written record of the Oral Torah, which was orally transmitted laws and was not recorded in the Five Books of Mosses, the Written Torah. It became later the basis of Talmud. According to studies of Judaism (Neusner 1981, 1988; Carmy 1996), however, we can say that the Mishnah is the compilation of commentaries and debates on the Torah among rabbinic communities rather than Jewish laws. Ordinary Jews could not know the content of law, which was orally transmitted in secret. In contrast, members of rabbinic communities, who could access the laws, compiled their commentaries and debates as the Mishnah, which people have believed as the authentic record of the Oral Torah. It can be said that this is a sort of “invention of secret.”

We can see the same phenomenon in Buddhism. A great number of sutras were compiled in Asian countries. For political purposes, dynasties and political leaders often made monks invent sutras, in which religious teachings legitimized their political positions. While Buddhism has developed the method of text criticism which evaluates and classifies sutras, the system of religious teachings of Buddhism is loosely structured and is quite different from that of Christianity which distinguishes orthodox clearly from heresy. Therefore, ordinary believers, without knowledge to evaluate sutras, have naturally considered politically invented sutras as authentic ones.

As these examples show, in order to protect secrets and maintain their status, religious specialists have invented religious secrets utilizing the emptiness of secret. This is the invention strategy.

On the applicability of the invention strategy to company, further investigation will be needed. My researches of companies, however, suggest the possibilities of application of the strategy to the study of company. In the study of Samsung Group, a global company in South Korea, based on the interviews of ex-members of the group and their families, it showed that the life stories of the founder and leader, in which the corporate philosophy is embedded, have been mythologized through the process of systematization of corporate philosophy (Iwai 2013). Another study on the transmission of corporate philosophy in a middle-sized company also shows that narratives about the founder have been constructed through storytelling among members (Iwai 2008). The lives of founders and leaders of companies are often hidden or invisible for the rank and file, even if they don't intend to conceal them. For this reason, in the process of compilation of company history, the invisible part of their lives tends to be filled by imagination and metamorphosed, so as to fit their stories to the desirable future of companies and their corporate philosophies. In religious organizations, similarly, in the process of systematization of religious teachings and compilation of religious histories, life stories of founders and religious leaders are often metamorphosed.

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