One very good reason to study the Analects of Confucius 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
Confucius said: “A leader eats without filling his stomach; chooses a home without demanding comfort; is diligent in his work and cautious in his speech; and keeps the company of others who possess the way to make sure that he stays on the right path. This is what it means to truly love learning.” (1)
Leadership requires focusing your energy on cultivating the self rather than pursuing the material trappings of success. This means working hard, being careful about what you say, and spending your time with people who can help you improve through the example they set and the knowledge they share with you. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: love learning
My I Ching reading this morning was highly apposite given that I had a dental appointment scheduled for this afternoon. Hexagram 32 (恆/héng), consisting of thunder over wind, signifies endurance and resilience – two qualities that are definitely required for having a root canal taken care of.
Continue reading I Ching Diary: endurance
Fire over Heaven: Hexagram 14 (大有/dà yǒu) literally means “big have” or in more formal English “great measure”. It marks a time of great power and clarity – not to mention wealth and success.
Continue reading I Ching Diary: big have
There’s nothing like bright blue skies and glorious sunshine to lighten the mood after what seems like an eternity of dark clouds and heavy rain. I hope this is an omen for the lunar year of the dog.
Continue reading Bright blue skies and glorious sunshine
The greatest polarity of our times is the one between truth and lies. Not a single day goes by without some new apocalyptic warning that flood of fake news will sweep away the very foundations of human civilization.
Continue reading The greatest polarity of our times
One of the most useful ideas in the Daodejing is the one that many scholars label as reversion. Also known as the law of opposites or polarities, this is the process that governs the natural life cycle of a plant, animal, human, even inanimate objects such as a rock.
Continue reading Understanding the process of reversion
While I wouldn’t say that I’ve encountered any moments of inspiration or enlightenment during my daily walks among the bleak Fenland fields, I would say that they have been very good for the soul.
Continue reading Pockets of silence
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.
Continue reading Emerging from turbulent times: the origins of the Analects and the Daodejing