What Is PHP?
"PHP" stands for "Peace and Happiness through Prosperity," which express the ultimate ideal of the PHP Group: to bring peace and fulfillment to human society by assuring both spiritual and material abundance. To this end, the Group conducts studies on a wide range of subjects centered on man and society. It also organizes a variety of programs designed to promote the ideals of "PHP" and share the fruits of its research with people all over the world.
The PHP Group is a research organization as well as a humanistic, cultural, and social movement. It is not a mere think tank, insofar as we do not undertake research projects just for profit; nor is it a religion, as we do not advocate worship of any particular deity or deities. We have our own philosophy, but do not impose a set of teachings or a belief system on anyone.
The Group is open to all ideas, past or present, Eastern or Western, scientific or religious, as long as they contribute to the improvement to bring different ideas, experiences, and traditions together in pursuit of better ways to achieve peace and happiness.
Our goal is universal, a shared aspiration of all people. Likewise, activities dedicated to that goal are going on everywhere. The PHP movement, therefore, goes far beyond the bounds of the PHP Group alone.
Our 3 Basic Approaches
The scope of PHP activities is extremely broad, encompassing all aspects of human endeavor from politics and the economy to education, culture, and religion. It touches on the way of life of every individual, of each nation, and of the whole world. Accordingly, specific research and action programs for the realization of the PHP goals are diverse. Our basic approach, however, is clear and simple. It boils down to the following three principles:
1. Learn from the Past
A rich body of ideas, insights, and experience has been accumulated throughout human history. We must learn, albeit selectively, from the achievements of our forebears, be they the Chinese sages, the Greek philosophers, medieval saints, or modern scientists.
We should not, however, confine our study to the so-called Great Books, for we often find profound wisdom in the writings of obscure hermit priests and unsung poets. Our attention must be focused on what they have to contribute to man's physical, moral, and spiritual well-being.
2. Collective Wisdom
No human being is almighty; none of us has a monopoly on the truth. Especially in this age of such complexity and diversity, specialization and compartmentalization, it is exceedingly difficult for any one person, no matter how perceptive an observer, to know everything that is going on in this world.
We must pool the ideas, insights, and experiences of people in all walks of life and mobilize them toward solving the problems confronting our civilization. Interdisciplinary research by specialists as well as dialogue among people of diverse backgrounds will be promoted under the auspices of the PHP Group. As project coordinator, it will synthesize and publish their findings and results.
3. Merging Theory with Practice
Learning from the past and pooling our ideas will remain simply an intellectual exercise unless we use the knowledge gained to formulate policies, devise measures, and organize action programs for the realization of our goal. Ideas must be put into practice and their applicability tested and verified.
PHP activity is an endless cycle of "observe, think, and act." We collect relevant data and ideas through careful observation of the realities, analyze the data and formulate policies and programs to cope with the problem at hand, and implement them. The PHP Group always translates its ideas into action.
The Untrapped Mind
Man tends to think and act in terms of gain and loss, likes and dislikes, and of his own multifarious desires. If we are trapped by considerations of self-interest, we are apt to view things as we want them to be, not as they really are. The basis of our judgment will not be what is right, but what pleases us.
In order to grasp reality correctly and make sound judgments, we must strive to evaluate things objectively, free from value judgments and preconceptions. The untrapped mind (sunao mind) is capable of transcending all concern for profit and loss, ideology, power, and social status. It is an uncluttered mind that can see white as white, yellow as yellow.
The untrapped mind nurtures love, benevolence, generosity, and consideration for others. It makes a person as fluid as water, able to adapt to any circumstances and properly cope with any situation that may occur. It allows him to see things penetratingly, from a broad and elevated perspective.
The sunao mind leads an individual to reason and truth, and it provides an indispensable cognitive tool in anything he may do. If all of us were blessed with an untrapped mind, human affairs would proceed smoothly according to the Law of Nature. In fact, it is not easy to train our minds to be completely free, but we at the PHP Group try to cultivate the untrapped mind so that we can look at and analyze any situation or experience without bias or preconception. If we have any methodology that guides our activities, it is derived from the perspective of the untrapped mind.
Road to the Present
Tens of millions of people were killed or injured during World War II and countless left homeless and starving in Europe and Asia. A state of utter misery and despair prevailed in the wake of the global conflict.
The misery of war and the ensuing chaos prompted Konosuke Matsushita, then president of the Matsushita Electric Industrial Company (now Panasonic Corporation) to reflect deeply on human nature. The impoverished, half-starved, demoralized state we now find ourselves in, he reasoned, is alien to the natural condition of man. Human beings should be able to lead happy, peaceful lives, rich both materially and spiritually, and by nature, they are endowed with the capacity to create such a life. People today are not aware that they possess that ability or, though they may be aware of it, are not making proper use of it. That is why we have brought this tragic state upon ourselves. To pull the world out of its sad plight, Matsushita grew convinced, it is imperative that everyone come to an awareness of true humanity and pool their wisdom in the effort to build a better society.
Man's spiritual growth should not lag behind his material advancement. Believing that a major imbalance in progress often causes conflict among people and their unhappiness, Matsushita decided to establish an organization devoted to research on ways to restore a proper balance in human civilization. It was on November 3,1946 that the PHP Institute was founded, under the personal initiative and sponsorship of Konosuke Matsushita.
With a small but dedicated staff, the Institute began research activities under Matsushita's guidance, and in March 1947 published the inaugural issue of PHP. A monthly magazine devoted to discussions of ways to achieve happiness and improve society, PHP has since become one of the best-selling periodicals in the country, with a circulation of one million.
Beginning in 1950, PHP activities were suspended for eleven years, but were resumed in the summer of 1961, and quickly expanded and diversified. In 1970, the English-language edition of PHP began publication. About the same time, an active book publishing program was instituted. PHP Management Seminars and PHP Friendship Clubs became important parts of the Institute's activities in the middle of the 1970s.
To provide more effective service to the community, the PHP Group was created in 1983 when the original PHP Institute was renamed PHP Research Institute, Inc., with part of it being established as PHP Institute, Inc. to focus on publishing activities.
Meanwhile, the Group staff has increased tenfold. Presently the Group has about 380 full-time, permanent employees, 210 of whom are in the Tokyo Office, established in November 1965. In addition, the Group contracts a large number of outside specialists as advisors, consultants, and research scholars.
The members of the PHP Group are independent joint-stock companies. Even though the Group's goals require the pursuit of nonprofit activities, it receives no subsidies or financial assistance from the government or from Matsushita Electric or any other private corporation.
Konosuke Matsushita, founder of the PHP Group, was born in 1894, the son of a respectable farmer who became impoverished by speculation on the rice market. His father, because of the misfortunes he himself suffered, was anxious for Konosuke to learn the fundamentals of business, apprenticing him at the age of nine to a brazier maker in Osaka. Intrigued by the potential of electric power and technology, at fifteen he found a job at an electric company and became an assistant wiring technician. In 1918, Matsushita started his own business, the Matsushita Electric Appliance Factory and determined to make and sell a fixture of his own invention. He began with only the help of his wife Mumeno and her younger brother, and gradually increased the number of his employees and the size of his factory. He proved successful in coming up with deft improvements for existing fixtures and in gaining the confidence and loyalty of his employees, despite the labor unrest of the times.
Long, difficult years manufacturing fixtures in the early days of electricity taught Matsushita many lessons in business and management: the rewards of steady, consistent effort, the importance of employee loyalty and careful training, the necessity of going out on a limb for a product one believes in, the value of trust and confidence among customers and suppliers.
The small original works grew into Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. which today has close to 800 affiliated companies in Japan and abroad, with 270,000 employees. It established a firm place in the world electric appliance business early in the postwar period, and its products are familiar under the "National," "Panasonic" and "Technics" brands. (To integrate its corporate and brand image, the name "Panasonic" has been applied throughout the group since October, 2008.)
This remarkable development did not happen smoothly and without mishap, but only by surmounting one difficulty after another. At the end of World War II, the company was temporarily closed down, but Matsushita fought doggedly to reopen the factory with renewed convictions about the significance of business as part of society. The experiences of his early years and his belief that the basic principles of business could apply with equal validity to any enterprise, be it the family or even the government, lead him to articulate his vision for a world of peace and happiness.
As a humanist and a dedicated industrialist, he had arrived at the belief that the true duty of a businessman in society was to make products available to consumers as "readily as running water," and that the abundance thus achieved was among the preconditions for material and spiritual prosperity. Although peace, happiness, and prosperity are universally sought, he realized that an organized movement was needed in the pursuit of such goals. This led him to found the PHP Institute in November 1946. Matsushita was president of Matsushita Electric until 1961, and chairman of the board until 1973. He served as executive advisor of Matsushita Electric and president of the Institute until his death in April 1989. With his vision to inspire us, we at PHP will carry on Konosuke Matsushita's vision to pursue peace, happiness and prosperity in all our activities.