It affects personal morals as well as organizational missions and purposes. For the authors, this is a key element defining the trustworthiness of individuals and how companies are perceived being trustworthy. It can be developed across vast distances through the use of modern communication technologies to create a global sense of community with people and organizations. The drive to learn or create.
The third subconscious drive is the drive to learn and understand the outside world and our inner selves. This drive to satisfy curiosity, to know, to comprehend, to believe, to appreciate, and to develop understandings is present in all people and helps make sense of our world. The drive to defend. The fourth innate drive is the drive to defend ourselves, the people we love, our beliefs, and the resources we have acquired. According to the authors, it was the evolution of these four drives, with their necessary independence, which led directly to the development of culture.
For a person to build trust, Lawrence considered that a feeling of safety is the minimum requirement; one must believe that a particular interaction with others will not make him or her worse off. The lack of trust therefore indicates a sense of fear of being hurt emotionally or physically and is the functional opposite of mutual caring, which is what the drive bond is all about. Reconnection with Ancient Wisdom Participants in this study were asked to consider, through interviews and questionnaires, a variety of questions aimed at further understanding these two questions: Why did you reconnect with ancient Chinese wisdom?
Which school of thought did you choose, and why? Igniting event or experience. The majority of participants in the study connected their rediscovery of ancient Chinese wisdom to a pivotal event or experience.
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For 40 percent of participants, that igniting experience was a crisis in business or health. About 25 percent of participants described an existential crisis about the meaning of life, prompting a quest. For 15 percent, the journey toward ancient wisdom was ignited by an unexpected encounter. Personal difficulty. One group described being unable to cope with professional challenges in a fast-changing China, making them reflect and seek for other sources of inspiration. Family values and beliefs are a common denominator in this group.
Age, sex, or region do not seem to be relevant. For a second group, the turn toward ancient wisdom came when personal difficulties in business were compounded by illness. TCM, rooted in ancient Chinese wisdom, and Daoism in particular, does not cure the symptoms of a disease directly as in Western medicine but helps people change their mind along with taking some medicinal plants which eventually supports the cure of the diseases.
To release the body from the diseases, and not just inhibit the effect of this disease, a patient needs to change his or her mind. This change occurs by reading and embracing ancient Chinese wisdom to recover peace of mind through higher mental and spiritual health Y.
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Wang, personal communication, December 23, To overcome their disease, a number of participants started exploring the Neijing, the essential text of Chinese health and healing which focuses on a holistic view of human life Ni, It is not surprising that this subgroup is the strongest advocate for ancient wisdom.
Two participants even decided to reduce their earlier professional activities to start centers where people can explore various practices of ancient wisdom such as calligraphy, flower bouquets, meditation, ancient texts reading, and practicing TCM. More of them made reference to Buddhism and the Buddhist saying that troubles bring you to Buddha. Questioning the meaning of life. All the participants belong to the Chinese upper class and all of them are far richer than they ever dreamed about in their childhood.
I dreamed that by the age of 50 I could maybe afford a car. Participants in this subgroup have been very successful professionally but do not perceive the same development of their level of happiness or personal fulfillment. Life seems now more about repetition of the same thing. Whether working for Chinese or international firms, they are all grounded in the Chinese culture and all the people belonging to this subgroup started to read ancient texts. But reading has only been a first step for all of them. The opacity of these ancient texts has been highlighted by every participant.
Because they are curious and eager to learn, they all decided, in their own way, to meet masters able to explain them these texts. Depending upon which school of thought the master was predominantly following, it greatly determined the school of thought the participants believe in the most. Interestingly, of all the people in this subgroup, about one third followed Taoist principles and they said it happened by coincidence, without further reflection.
However, it is different for people following Buddhism, the vast majority of the participants, and those more inclined to Confucianism. Most people following Buddhism consider the current Chinese society still very much Confucian and seek something different, mindful of the many challenges society is facing. Special event. One participant got delayed five hours at an airport and bought a Buddhist Sutra. The reading of this book has been a revelation for this person. Another group attended a business school curriculum and one of the classes was about ancient wisdom.
In all these cases, unexpected encounters have created an inflexion point in their lives; yet, they were internally ready to embrace these encounters. All these people had questions unanswered that resonated with what they heard, grounded in ancient Chinese wisdom, giving them the incentive to explore this route further. It is interesting to note at this stage that the vast majority of the 41 participants of this study had started their journey in the world of the Chinese wisdom within the last five years, making it a recent phenomenon that also corroborates earlier findings on the evolution of the Chinese value and belief system Pierre, a.
Ten years ago, such books would have not been available at a Chinese airport, and even five years ago ancient wisdom would not have been taught at business school. Both settings are subject to government approval, and these examples demonstrate the perceived interest of the Chinese government in re-introducing values and beliefs of ancient Chinese wisdom into the business world. This is at least what a number of participants or experts mention and it also corresponds with my own observations.
One participant vehemently stated: More and more people are thinking about wisdom. But many, for instance, talk about Buddha to bless their money, to give them good fortune in the future, but this is not what Buddhism is. Most Chinese do not have a faith, they just pretend they have. Which school of thought is privileged and why? One also needs to be very careful about putting too many labels on these schools of thought as they have influenced each other through history.
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Buddhism and Taoism cross-fertilized for years, with claiming that Laozi was Buddha himself Despeux, The concept of Yin and Yang, for example, is today favored by most Taoists, Confucians, and Buddhists to some extent. Each school of thought itself has evolved over the centuries. For example, the Confucianism of Confucius is somewhat different from the one which prevailed in China for centuries under Mencius influence.
The same applies to the Taoism of Laozi and Zhuangzi. The percentages indicated express the personal and pro-active engagement of the participants in a given school of thought. More surprisingly is to observe that those claiming to be Taoist, at least in the first encounter, also stated that it happened coincidentally. Taoist texts are renowned for their difficulty as their authors purposely used what is called paradoxical writing to break our reliance on language Slingerland, Taoists ideas are also much more radical, at least those developed in the Daodejing, with a rejection of the large societies as we know them today.
However, when analyzing the data further, it appeared that all of the participants in this study who belong to this school of thought did not embrace Taoism through personal readings in the beginning. Instead, they all have in common being guided by either a TCM doctor or a Taoist master.
It is not Taoism per se that attracted them but the Taoists beliefs of an influencing person at a given point in time in their life. Another surprise for me was to see that half of the participants claimed to be Buddhist, a school of thought that is originally not from China. Three reasons seem to drive people towards Buddhism rather than any other school of thought.
The first one is that Buddhism is seen has the middle road between Confucianism and Taoism. Confucianism is what people live in many aspects of their lives and they see that it did not prevent many of the excesses they observe, nor did it address the questions or health issues a number of them faced. Taoism, as previously mentioned, is often seen as obscure.
Second, Buddhism is much more inclined to proselytism, especially in comparison to Taoism, through its 9, monasteries, , monks, and 14 Buddhists academies. Similar statistics for Taoism are much vaguer. Interestingly, though not a surprise, the Taoists seem to always follow the flow. The Buddhist association of China was established in Buddhism in China, n. The first world Buddhist forum happened in , the Taoist one in Today, there are many more opportunities in China to encounter Buddhism than any other school of thoughts.
Third, Taoism is often seen as too radical as it rejects the idea of the large society most people live in today and advocates the return to small scale rural societies. Interestingly, in his recent book on practical wisdom, Malloch presents different companies following various ancient schools of wisdom but there is no example of a company functioning with Taoist wisdom principles. Buddhism becomes then a more natural choice for the people, as the sample of this study shows. It is also much easier to read certain passages and they connect very well with the experience of many people.
Making money, running a company is no conflict with Buddhism. Cognition Evolution As a leader is, first and foremost, an individual human being, I began my analysis by assessing the starting points among the participants, and then look at the changes they experienced. I then analyzed the impact ancient wisdom had on them as leaders. The starting point. First, the evolution of beliefs and values is a slow, iterative process and not fully transformative for many.
It proved much easier for people to define a base line for each of the drives. Yet, since every person has a different base line for each drive, it is difficult to draw any conclusion by just looking at a given point. It is a relative scale and the model brings its value when comparing the starting level, before encountering ancient wisdom, and the current level. I will develop these findings in the next section.
My coding system captured insights into how participants acted in leadership prior to experiencing ancient Chinese wisdom. A few statements will illustrate my assessment. I needed to go faster and faster, losing completely the meaning of what I was doing. I was focusing on the how, not the why or even the what. Get rid of him or just leave him. Things need to get done. All participants in this study noted that prior to learning about ancient wisdom, their leadership, business, and life actions were only driven by external stimuli. While a consumerist society plays a part, this external stimuli is deeply driven by the codes of conduct of the Chinese society, and the Confucian concept of wu lun, the five cardinal relationships which define societal rules, in particular Hennig, Many, many people were like me and are still like this [of this generation].
Experienced changes. My analysis resulted in several key themes. On a personal level, the participants noted internal peace and focus; improved health; improved relationships; a sense of modesty versus braggadocio, a sense of openness and balance. On a business level, participants noted a shift in their views toward values and purpose. Personal development. The most significant personal changes among participants were grouped into five inter-related themes, starting with inner peace and unfolding to a balanced life.
First, participants noted a greater sense of peacefulness and letting go through higher internal focus. Every participant described a shift toward self-awareness and personal understanding by becoming more inwardly focused, rather than outwardly triggered. We should not be confused by external appearance.
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Some participants reported the wisdom teachings gave them a tool to better control their emotions. Now I try to change myself to adapt. Participants identified transformed health as a positive outcome almost as often as inner peace. This correlates with the finding that personal difficulties, including life-threatening illness, were among the most common events that prompted participants to seek ancient wisdom.
Participants reported a variety of practices related to improved health, including reading classical texts, self-reflection, meditation, regular absorption of certain nutriments advised by TCM practitioners, as well as some exercises such as Tai Chi. Most participants described a significant change in caring for others. None of the participants selected care as their starting level, but all showed a growth by one or two levels. This change was echoed by many, probably due to the sample distribution, referring to the fact that anybody can aspire to becoming Buddha, a Buddhist precept.
Many participants referred to their personal engagement into charities as a tangible outcome of this transformation. Some people even expressed the notion of compassion, a value highly praised by the three main ancient Chinese wisdom traditions. One point worth noticing is the quasi-absence of any mention of caring about nature or about other types of beings. This was only mentioned, more or less explicitly, by three participants, all identifying themselves as Buddhists. Though I did not attend the Taoist lectures that participants who claimed to be Taoists went to, I cannot envision one instant that the notion of respect of nature has not been raised.
Considering that humans and nature are one is a foundational element of Taoism. This auto-selection may illustrate the current priorities of many of the participants. Fourth, a greater sense of modesty. Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism all refer to the virtues of modesty, so it is not a surprise that participants reported modesty as a transformative change.
Several participants referred to specific elements used by these various wisdoms, like the Confucian notion of continuous self-cultivation to keep learning and stay humble, or the Taoist image of acting in the valley, that is, taking a lower, non-imposing position. For the participants that encountered ancient wisdom, significant evolution occurred in terms of openness and balance.
Becoming more opened let many of the participants be more aware of others, other ways of thinking or being. Peacefulness with oneself is certainly an important foundation to opening more to others. Being able to become more mindful of others viewpoints and experiences in turn promotes a more balanced personal attitude. This notion of higher sense of balance does not come as a surprise either as it is grounded in the Yin and Yang that all ancient wisdom traditions refer to.
For the defend axis, participants acknowledged either a progress or a stagnation to a level similar to the one they were at prior to encountering ancient wisdom. Regarding the acquire axis, the picture is quite similar to the defend axis, with progress by one level or stagnation. Yet, more than one third of the respondents considered themselves still in a dominate mode. The most surprising result, was the very low change observed overall on the create access. The vast majority of respondents are at the learn stage, the lowest level, possibly because this journey into ancient wisdom is relatively new and has opened up a whole new world of knowledge in which they are still developing.
Many reflected that even as ancient wisdom has allowed them to better understand themselves and their surrounding world, there is more to discover and learn. Also, the experiences these participants describe diverge from predominant culture. For that you need to dream and make mistakes. This is not allowed here and this is why there is so little innovation in China. This study examined the impact of ancient wisdom at personal and professional levels. The participants also experienced changes in their business and leadership practices, but my analysis showed distinctions between those participants who are CEOs or general managers, who have the highest autonomy and necessary leadership to define companywide initiatives, versus senior executives.
Among CEOs and general managers in the group, three themes emerged, noted here in descending order of importance: Corporate Social Responsibility, company values, and purpose and strategy. CSR is not only mentioned the most often but also seems to be the first concrete leadership action taken after encountering ancient wisdom. Initiatives are very broad: Helping others through charities, rehabilitating abandoned villages for migrants to come back to their family homes, creating local schools; environmentally related programs were quite rare in this sample. As stated earlier, the priority right now is certainly more geared toward people, whereas the environment is seen more as a responsibility of the government.
As previously shown, caring and openness are two major developmental aspects of these leaders. CSR programs are certainly an easier way to demonstrate these new values than changing the inner culture of their companies. It also provides a good image in the eyes of the general public, international customers, current as well as future employees, and the government.
What falls under genuine intentions of these leaders to express their new worldview?
What is lip service to look good? It was hard to tell for many of the participants though this question is not specific to these companies. The second most common impact related to company values. After, or in parallel to, their desire to do good for the society via CSR programs, many of the participants felt the need to align their company values with their new worldview and external activities.
Harmony, integrity, caring, people, and responsibility are the type of words frequently used to articulate these new values. How are these values lived everyday by the employees of these companies? Do these leaders live up to those values in all the decisions they make? The answers to these types of questions are beyond the scope of this study, but certain elements that I shall describe later may inform some of these questions. The fact that most people talked more about values than culture is, in my view, an indication of the scope of implementing the change through new values.
The third most common impact related to purpose and strategy. From my Western lens and Cartesian logic, I had expected to see purpose and strategy ranked highest. However, Chinese leaders are more pragmatic and start with the easiest approach. In most cases, I was not able to assess how purpose and strategy were implemented and how they had evolved after the leaders of these companies got interested in ancient wisdom, except for three, because of my position and relationships, I was able to witness.
The sense of meaning they had developed for themselves needed to be expressed in their companies. Developing a more harmonious society is the common theme. It is certainly a slogan from the central government too, but the intentions of these people seemed genuine as they occurred in accordance their new beliefs and values.
On the strategy side, an IT company decided to develop an electronic market platform to help farmers bypass intermediaries to sell their crops. A shoe company decided to only work for international companies with high ethical standard such as Toms. A theme that is notably absent is whether or not the impact of ancient wisdom on CEOs and general managers changed the management of people within their companies.
The three examples notwithstanding, the critical absence of people management from this list illustrates, from my perspective, the disconnect between the discourse of these leaders and the day-to-day reality in their companies. Indeed, Chinese mainstream leadership style is highly influenced by Confucian precepts of filial piety in particular.
From what I could observe from a number of participants belonging to this group of CEOs or GMs, it seems that the vast majority is still predominately operating in a Confucian, hierarchical, command and control mode. This is how historical rulers, the roles models for business leaders, have maintained their power over the years, though all dynasties collapsed. I should re-emphasize at this stage that the order and importance of these themes differs for the handful of the participants who seem to have embraced ancient wisdom at a deeper level.
Chinese symbol for health wealth and happiness
This group represented approximately one third of the participants in this research. The vast majority work for international companies with functional responsibilities at a national or the Asian level. The first theme that emerged was the most significant for all participants after encountering ancient wisdom and is identified as a higher people orientation. According to the analysis of the data collected, this higher people orientation stems from a new worldview which acknowledges that people are equal.
This translates into a higher sense of care as well as fairness, principles deeply engrained in Confucianism. These leaders spend time talking about career development with their staff. They all mentioned the notion of going with the flow and listening to your heart, two important elements in Buddhism and Taoism. These leaders have also become keener to share their technical expertise, their journey as well as the notions of ancient wisdom which speak to them. Yet, how much of this better listening attitude leads to a more bottom-up than top-down decision making is hard to tell.
The third change in the leadership practice that these participants raised is a higher letting go attitude. This characteristic of not forcing outcomes is clearly present in the leadership of those participants influenced by Buddhism and Taoism. The data show no evidence however that this is also the case for Confucianists which is not a surprise. What is important to reach this target is that every thing happening before is done right without thinking about the target.
These leaders also recognized that their seniority and track record allowed them to more easily act that way than if they were more junior in the organizations they work for. When asking these leaders if they felt they had become better leaders, I could not get clear answers, probably due to the highest level of modesty many of them had developed or maybe because they sense some of the struggles I describe later.
Gravesian perspective. As part of the interviews, I asked the participants to either fill a full questionnaire of questions when possible or to read the description of the different levels as written by Beck b while thinking about their leadership role. The compilation of all the data collected and comparing them to a sample of 38 people who had no voluntary exposure to ancient wisdom, data I had collected as part of an essay for my dissertation Pierre, a is illustrated in Figure 1.
Worldview of study participants versus earlier benchmark. In the following analysis, I will only look at the relative importance of each level of development to discuss trends rather than absolute numbers on each axis. At first glance, this illustration shows that the people who encountered ancient wisdom have clearly a different worldview than those Chinese people who did not seek to learn about this wisdom. The importance of the B-O aspect is less pronounced for the participants of this study than for the average Chinese.
Going into the detail of the answers to both types of samples, it appears that the notion of rituals and traditions are what set them most apart. The people who embraced ancient wisdom are much more inner-focused and do not feel the need, for example, to go to temples or to follow rituals in their company. The respect of elders is still important for this group, but so is the respect of everyone else. The importance of the C-P worldview is far reduced for these leaders in comparison to most leaders in China. Caring more about others does not match with the red behavior consisting at acting without considering the impact on others.
The same applies to the notion of impatience, which is contrasted with the peacefulness described earlier for this group. Power and respect, which are two very important characteristics of the red worldview, are also not much valued by the participants. My own experience in China and the difference of behaviors I observed between the two groups fully support this finding.
I am inclined to say that the leaders who encountered ancient wisdom have developed a far more functional powerful self. A red mat was placed before the sedan chair for the bride lest her feet touch the bare earth as she dismounted. All the household would be waiting to receive her. An attendant might immediately place a heap of rice in a sieve over or near the bride.
If the bride did not wear a lucky mirror, one might be used at this time to flash light upon the bride. In some regions, a grain measure and a string of copper coins were laid out as talismans of prosperity. Then the bride and groom bowed to each other. This completed the marriage ceremony, except in some regions, where both also drank wine from the same goblet, ate sugar molded in the form of a rooster, and partook of the wedding dinner together. Immediately after the ceremony, the couple were led to the bridal chamber, where both sat on the bed.
In some areas, honey and wine were poured into two goblets linked by a red thread. The bride and groom took a few sips and then exchanged cups and drank it down. Generally, separate wedding feasts were given by the parents of the bride and the groom for their respective friends and families. Even at the feast, men and women sat separately. There could be a single feast for each or a series of feasts over several days. It was generally considered as public recognition of the union.
As she knelt before each of the older relatives, she received a small gift.
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The application of ancient customs in contemporary Chinese weddings is of great interest to many of our visitors. The following may be helpful in applying Chinese traditions to contemporary weddings. Almanacs containing predictions for the entire year are sold at the beginning of the Lunar New Year by street vendors and in book stores. These paperback books are approximately two inches thick with a wealth of information about Chinese beliefs.
It is said to be the oldest continuous publication known. Different versions are published in Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China, but unfortunately an English version is not available. In the Chinese community it is considered bad form if an individual consults the almanac and performs a self analysis. They usually can also provide horoscope information in advance of the publication of the almanac.
The 15 day period from the middle to the end of the seventh lunar month is considered inauspicious because that is the time of the Hungry Ghost Festival when the gates of Hell are opened and the lost spirits are allowed to wander the earth. They should not be invited to your wedding! Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony. Hsu, Francis L.
Family and Kinship in Chinese Society. Edited by Maurice Freedman. Jochim, Christian. Chinese Religions: A Cultural Perspective. Lin, Hsiang Ju, and Lin, Tsuifeng. Chinese Gastronomy. Edited by Robert Lam Ping-fai.
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The Betrothal First both sets of parents exchanged family credentials as tokens of intention. The Nuptial Chamber Immediately after the ceremony, the couple were led to the bridal chamber, where both sat on the bed.