One very good reason to study The Analects and the Daodejing is that, for all the archaic and in the latter case mystic language they feature, these two ancient works focus on providing practical solutions to real-world problems.
Unlike many of the works in the Western philosophical cannon, neither text features an agonized search for a universal “truth” or any promises of eternal salvation for ascribing to the “right” set of values or behaving in the “correct” manner. Instead, they are concerned with dealing with the challenges of the here and now, exploring how you can improve your character to make a greater contribution to the stability and prosperity of your family, community, and society overall. Continue reading Situational leadership in The Analects and the Daodejing→
While I was chatting with a colleague the last time I was in Shanghai, we found ourselves discussing why so many Chinese fans had gone to Russia to watch the matches when the national team wasn’t even taking part in the competition.
When I first started working in the tech industry, I would always go to the US in order to get a taste of what was in store for the future. These days, I only have to take a much shorter flight across the Taiwan Straits. What a change in less than thirty years! In those days, you couldn’t even get a direct flight from Taiwan to China and had to transit through Hong Kong.
One of the great pleasures of visiting Beijing in winter is going out for a spicy lamb hot pot to fight off the freezing cold. The hot and noisy atmosphere in the restaurants helps to raise the spirits further. This is the China that I love to experience, with everybody sat round the tables merrily chatting, eating, and drinking after a hard day’s grind at the office. Nothing can beat it!
The Daodejing emerged at a time in Chinese history that was every bit as turbulent as the one we live in now.
During the five centuries that comprised the Spring and Autumn Period (771 to 476 BCE) and the Warring States Period (403 – 221 BCE), rulers of a veritable patchwork of feudal states and fiefdoms vied with each other for supremacy while the traditional culture and civilization of the ancient Zhou Dynasty (1046 – 771 BCE) collapsed around them. Wars were waged, armies were slaughtered, and alliances were broken almost as soon as they were forged, while the common people were left to lead miserable lives of endless poverty, back-breaking labor, and relentless suffering.
How are the teachings of Confucius and Laozi relevant to the modern world? This is the question I have been asking myself as I have been reviewing my translations of The Analects and the Daodejing.
On one level, this is an easy question to answer. Given China’s growing global political and economic influence, it makes practical sense to learn more about the two seminal philosophical texts that provide the underpinnings of a nation that President Xi Jinping pointedly reminded President Trump yesterday has the longest uninterrupted culture in the world. What could be a more effective way of understanding China’s traditions and customs than reading two of the most influential and enduring works in world history? Continue reading Two reasons for reading the Analects and the Daodejing→
No time to take a summer vacation yet, unless a two-day trip to our office in Shenzhen towards the end of last week counts. I always enjoy the ferry ride from Hong Kong Airport to Shekou; perhaps a case of mixing business and pleasure.