Tag Archives: Book of Changes

Leadership lessons from Confucius: the phoenix doesn’t appear

phoenix doesn't appear

子曰:「鳳鳥不至,河不出圖,吾已矣乎!」
Confucius said: “The phoenix doesn’t appear; the river doesn’t yield its diagram. It’s over for me!”

When the signs are clear that you have no choice but to give up your quest, face the truth with courage and grace. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the phoenix doesn’t appear

Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: King Wen of Zhou

King Wen of Zhou (周文王) is honored as the founder of the Zhou dynasty (周朝), even though in actual fact it was his son who actually established it after defeating the last Shang dynasty (商朝) king Zhouxin (紂辛) at the bloody battle of Muye (牧野之戰) in ca. 1046 BCE.

Born Ji Chang (姬昌) in 1152 BCE, King Wen took over as ruler of the then small state of Zhou after his father had been executed by the Shang king Wen Ding (文丁) in the late 12th century BCE. As the new king’s power and influence grew, the Shang king Zhouxin began to see him as a threat and had him thrown in prison in Youli (羑里) in modern-day Henan province, only agreeing to release him after being plied with lavish gifts from King Wen’s supporters. Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: King Wen of Zhou

Leadership lessons from Confucius: The Book of Changes

Book of Changes

子曰:「加我數年,五十以學易,可以無大過矣。」
Confucius said: “If I was given a few more years, I would devote fifty to the study of the Book of Changes so that I may be free from serious mistakes.”

Change is the only constant in life. Better to embrace it rather than to fight it. That means observing what is happening around you very closely and using every tool you have at your disposal to figure out how to ride the ride the waves that are rising from the oceans below and withstand the storms that are looming in the skies above. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: The Book of Changes

Leadership lessons from Confucius: like a wooden bell clapper

wooden bell clapper

儀封人請見,曰:「君子之至於斯也,吾未嘗不得見也。」從者見之。出曰:「二三子何患於喪乎?天下之無道也久矣,天將以夫子為木鐸。」
A border official at the town of Yi requested a meeting with Confucius. He said: “Whenever a distinguished man comes to these parts, I never fail to meet him.” The follower arranged for him to meet Confucius. After coming out of it the official said: “Sirs, why worry about his dismissal? The world has been without the way for a long while. Heaven is going to use your master like a wooden bell clapper.”

How to deal with a career-threatening setback? Stay and fight your corner or flee the scene for pastures new? Confucius opted for the latter course in 497 BCE ostensibly out of outrage at his ruler Duke Ding cavorting with a troupe of dancing girls sent by the ruler of the state of Qi but more likely because of the failure of his policies to rein in the power of the Three Families by razing the walls that surrounded their cities. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: like a wooden bell clapper

I Ching: the quest for the middle way

middle way

One of the best ways of deepening your understanding of China is to read the Book of Changes. There are plenty of excellent English-language translations and commentaries available, so language is no barrier. My favorites include “I Ching: The Essential Translation of the Ancient Chinese Oracle and Book of Wisdom” by John Minford, “The Living I Ching: Using Ancient Chinese Wisdom to Shape Your Life” by Ming-Dao Deng, and “The I Ching, or, Book of Changes,” by Richard Wilhelm.

Continue reading I Ching: the quest for the middle way