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Chinese Philosophy, Thoughts and Wisdom [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2007-4-1 04:27:04 |Display all floors
A thread to explore the uniqueness of Chinese Philosophy, Thoughts, Wisdom and sayings.

The specific social and historical conditions that nurtured the birth of Chinese philosophers have not only contributed to the features of Chinese philosophy, but also influenced the characters of Chinese people.

The Chinese have always been thought of as wise and clever people by others outside of China. However, most people today are so busy making a living that they do not find time for higher thoughts. Why is this a problem in this day and age? Can anything be done about it?

If you are someone who follow a certain Chinese philosophy can you share it with us? What is your favourite proverb? Explain how it has helped you in your everyday life.

[ Last edited by changabula at 2007-8-14 03:48 PM ]
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Post time 2007-4-1 04:39:34 |Display all floors
The five great classics

At the heart of Chinese thought stand the five great classics, the traditional, time-honored works that define and originate Chinese culture and history.

Chinese history blazes into existence with the great heroes who teach the early Chinese all the arts of civilization: writing, law, architecture, art, and so on.

These are followed by three great sage kings, Yao, Shun, and Yü; the latter stands as the foundation of the first ruling dynasty in China, the Hsia.

During the various cycles of dynastic change, from the Hsia to the Shang to the Chou, the Five Classics, or the Confucian Classics (even though they are not written by Confucius), were written down, or supposedly written down.

The Classics not only recorded early Chinese history infallibly, they also completely contained all the ethics and wisdom of China.

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Post time 2007-4-1 04:42:39 |Display all floors
Words of wisdom: a 2,500-year-old Chinese philosophy holds new meaning for modern-day entrepreneurs. (Taoism)

The philosophy of Taoism can be adopted as a business principle. A personal experience of a businessman practicing Taoism disclosed that working with the laws of nature, such as with the concept of change, enables an individual contemplate and assess dilemmas, and later employ appropriate responses.

Paul D'Souza had been trying to contact two prospective clients for more than a week and had all but given up. Then one day over lunch, he felt a sudden urge to try again. "I got the phone numbers, one in Milpitas, California, and the other in New York City, and called these people. They were both in, and ready and willing to talk," says the vice president and partner of Health Innovations, a 15-person health-care consulting firm in Santa Cruz, California.

What may sound like a lucky break is much more to D'Souza, who is a longtime student of the Chinese philosophical system called Taoism. Says D'Souza, "What I call the Tao - intuition or what have you - told me to call these people."

The Tao (pronounced "dow") has been talking to a lot of businesspeople, even encouraging them to write books on applying its principles to management, negotiation, leadership, organization and even sales. As part of what seems like a renaissance of spiritual concerns about work, Taoism stands out as one of the oldest and most widely applied.


The Chinese philosopher Laotzu is credited with writing the Tao-te Ching more than 2,500 years ago. This book, whose title translates into "Classic of the Way," contains 81 poems outlining a philosophy that stresses uniting with and yielding to the natural flow of the universe. Although that may seem an unpromising source of business wisdom, it seems even more so considering the fact that the Tao or "way" cannot be described in word or thought. But the Tao has spawned, in addition to many business books, a number of quiet but devoted businesspeople who find its philosophy not only comprehensible but applicable every day.

"The whole concept of Tao is to work with the laws of nature," says D'Souza. "To me, the Tao is a continuous sensitivity to the laws of nature flowing through my business activity."

The Tao is often cited as a source of wisdom for leaders. Diane Dreher, chairman of the English Department at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California, and author of The Tao of Personal Leadership (HarperBusiness), points to one of the best-known Tao verses as an example of its relevance to leadership:

"With the best of leaders, When the work is done, The project completed, The people all say, 'We did it ourselves.'"

This verse, like many in the Tao-te Ching, is contradictory, or at least difficult to grasp. How can you lead without appearing to? Dreher says, however, that Tao leadership is nearly identical to the contemporary discipline of teamwork. "The Tao leader," says Dreher, "is someone who can remain centered, be mindful, assess a situation, bring people together, build consensus and discover solutions by drawing on the talents of everyone involved."

Exactly how to accomplish this is not always clear. The Tao-te Ching seems at times purposely vague or ambivalent. While many of its verses may ring true, it's not always easy to know what to do with them. Other Taoist verses are more straightforward. "The longest journey/begins with a thousand steps" is clearly an admonition to break tasks into manageable steps, then tackle them one by one, Dreher says.

Dreher's book offers a number of "Tao Exercises" designed to help put the ideas into action. On dealing with failure, she suggests people ask themselves whether they are haunted by some mistake from the past. Face it and ask what you have learned from it, she advises. Explore what you might have done differently, and decide what you'll do next time. Then, she says, move on.

While much of the Tao seems applicable to your personal life, it's also invoked as an aid to strategic planning in business life as well. "Every once in a while, you ought to get off the treadmill and ask yourself some basic questions," says Stanley Herman, a management consultant in Escondido, California, and author of The Tao at Work: On Leading and Following (Jossey-Bass). "Is this the life you want to lead? Is this the way you want to operate in your business? The Tao helps you think about those things."

The Tao may also be useful in conversing with other people in business negotiations, says Joel Edelman, a Santa Monica, California, attorney and author of The Tao of Negotiation: How You Can Prevent, Resolve and Transcend Conflict in Work and Everyday Life (HarperBusiness.) A negotiator using Tao principles, says Edelman, tries to be in tune with nature, to give and take things impersonally and yet to take responsibility for his or her own conduct. "The first intention is to be objective," he says. "To be cool and calm, not to be without feelings but to stand back and get outside yourself."

Being in tune with natural cycles such as the change of seasons is a core Tao teaching. Herman says this Taoist understanding of cycles is highly useful in business. For example, he points to the need for an entrepreneur to recognize when it's time to stop running a business alone and bring in professional management. "The Tao helps you realize that there are stages and to be alert [to them], not wait until your business isn't going well," says Herman.

The Taoist approach is especially important during rapid change, says Dreher. "The Tao shows us a vision of life as dynamic," she says. "We don't accept the status quo, and we learn to deal with change." This ability to cope with change makes Taoism a popular philosophy in the fast-moving firms of the Silicon Valley, she says.

The Tao may even teach you to be a better competitor. "One of the things it tells you is not to make unnecessary enemies," says Herman. "If you're in contests, be in them to win; however, be a gracious winner. Don't [draw] unnecessary blood. That's the seed of a vendetta."


Few, if any, companies describe themselves as Taoist organizations. Even consultants, such as Herman, who espouse Taoist concepts don't label themselves as such when advising business clients. Some say that's because hard-nosed businesspeople won't accept a seemingly soft Eastern mysticism as a rationale for management. Others say that the Tao is simply best applied in a subtle manner. "It's something to be used, not necessarily talked about," says Edelman.

Nobody recommends, say, writing Taoist objectives into your mission statement. "Communicate it by example," advises Herman. "If people pick up on it, good. If they don't, let it go, do something else and try it again later on."

It's a Taoist truism that any attempts to define the Tao are doomed, which still hasn't kept many scribes from ancient to modern times from trying. D'Souza describes Taoism's role in business as "a hypersensitivity to nonverbal, nontangible cues and activity." Employing Taoist principles helps entrepreneurs make better, more appropriate decisions, he says. And, perhaps equally important, a Taoist entrepreneur learns to be, if not fatalistic, at least able to transcend the inevitable reversals and disappointments of business.

"When one is sensitive to the Tao, one sees beyond what's at hand, one senses a higher logic," D'Souza says. "And one is armed with a sense of confidence that everything works out just the way it's [supposed to]."

Mark Henricks is an Austin, Texas, writer specializing in business topics.

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Post time 2007-4-1 04:53:17 |Display all floors
Chinese Wisdom for Contemplation

The sage is like water.
Water is good, nourishes all things,
and does not compete with them.
It dwells in humble places that others disdain, hence it is close to the Tao.
In his dwelling, the sage loves the earth.
In his mind, he loves what is profound.
In his associations, he is kind and gentle.
In his speech, he is sincere.
In his ruling, he is just.
In business, he is proficient.
In his action, he is timely.
Because he does not compete, he does not find fault in others.

— Lao Tzu (604-517 BC)
Tao Te Ching, VIII
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The sage has nine wishes.
In seeing, he wishes to see clearly.
In hearing, he wishes to hear distinctly.
In his expression, he wishes to be warm.
In his appearance, he wishes to be respectful.
In his speech, he wishes to be sincere.
In business, he wishes to be serious.
When in doubt, he wishes to inquire further.
When angry, he wishes to examine and resolve the resultant difficulties.
And when he sees an opportunity for a gain, he wishes to think of righteousness.
— Confucius (551-479 BC)
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Post time 2007-4-1 04:55:13 |Display all floors
The sage is a spiritual being. Even if great oceans burned up, he would not feel hot. Even if the great rivers are frozen, he would not feel cold. And even if terrific thunder were to break up mountains and the wind were to upset the sea, he would not be afraid. Being such, he mounts upon the clouds and forces of heaven, rides on the sun and the moon, and roams beyond the four seas. Neither life no death affects him. How much less can such matters as gain and loss?
— Chuang Tzu (399-295 BC)
The Chuang Tzu, Ch. II
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One who commands our liking because of his virtue is called a good man. One who is sincere with himself is called a true man. He whose goodness is extensive and solid is called a beautiful man. He whose goodness is abundant and is brilliantly displayed is called a great man. When one is great and is completely transformed to be goodness itself, he is called a sage. When a sage is beyond our knowledge, he is called a man of the spirit.
— Mencius (371-289 BC)
Book of Mencius, VIIB.25
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