China Way for Business, Leadership, Ethics, Life..: Still Heavily Influenced by the Philosophies of Confucius & Taoism –I-Ching /Yì-Jīng.

China I-Ching in one word is “Change“. It is clearer in two words, “Handling Change“. In one sentence, “I-Ching is about using unchanging principles to handle change“. “It is about being able to meet life’s ever changing situations, handling them well, and live stress free with abundant vitality.”

The “I-Ching” or “Yì Jīng” (pinyin), also known as the Book of Changes, is an ancient book of Chinese origin. Along with the Bible and the Koran, it is one of the most translated and studied books on the planet. The Book of Changes is epitome of Chinese philosophy, founded on transcendental Taoist understandings and modified by Confucian logic.

It is studied for its pragmatic yet esoteric wisdom and consulted as an oracle for its solutions to life’s problems. It is a book of 64 readings, each chapter made up of a different 6 line Hexagram. The readings include commentaries and advice on all the different archetypal life experiences a person or group may live through. The Book’s origin is credited to the legendary emperor and sage Fu Hsi, who lived approximately 5-8000 years ago. It was he who first found and understood a “line symbol system” inscribed on the shell of a mysterious tortoise. It is interesting that other ancient cultures in the world also used various types of “line symbol systems” for representing primal and universal values.

I-Ching is based on the Taoist concept of the ‘universe’. This cosmology starts with the idea that the beginning of all creation or the ‘absolute’ of reality is unknown. This unknown is called the Tao (pronounced “dow”), which in English is translated as “The Way.” The “Way” is a mystery; it is unspeakable and beyond human thought, it can only be experienced in the present moment.

The Book of Changes is not intended to be read sequentially, but to be consulted in the context of a question. The I-Ching is used to consider a question of current significance to the user – a question about them in relation to a situation. Three coins are commonly used, shaken and thrown six times to yield six lines of a hexagram. There are 64 hexagrams in the I-Ching.  Each hexagram has a name, an image and a judgment associated with it. The judgment and commentary on the hexagram obtained is read: the reading offers the I-Ching’s perspective on your situation and how you might respond to it.

In the Asian world, all of the greatest minds through history have made a study of the I-Ching. Many key decisions in war, business, love, and any other field that requires deep understanding and strategic thinking, have been made based on guidance from the I-Ching. In the Western world, the I-Ching has only been known and used for about 100 years. Deep study of it has been hampered by limited texts until recently.

According to the tradition: Those who use the Book credit it with many life changing ‘correct ’decisions.  As the world moves into a faster rate of change and chaos, the Book of Changes only grows in importance for guidance and wisdom. The’ principles of change’ never vary, history always repeats itself. The application of wisdom based on the interactions of time and space (yin and yang) can only help to illuminate the way through a world made crazy by conceptual thinking, post modern philosophies, rampant greed and unchecked power.

But no matter how difficult the time, there is always a deeper flow of ‘reality’ that beckons us to merge with it and find our way with the fewest bumps and greatest harmony”.

In the article “Building Great Business with I-Ching Hexagram 48” by mindvalue writes:  The secrets of building great business can be found in I-Ching and a summary is reproduced below:

  • Business is about delivering value.
  • We must protect and care for our source of supply and our value producing system.
  • We need to invest first to gains later.
  • We need to plan and execute well to completion.
  • Be considerate for the use and benefits of others.
  • Co-operation brings greater success for all.

We can use the above as a reference check list to reflect on our present business. Such as:

  • What is the unique value that we are delivering to our customers? Who are they? How to we reach them? What do they think is our value to them?
  • Are we caring for our production system? Are we keeping them in tip-top operating conditions?
  • Are we upgrading them? Did we invest in the upgrade?
  • Are we planning and executing our plans or are we just letting it run on its own?
  • Have we extended our view of business to take care our suppliers, partners, community, and the environment?
  • Are we getting co-operations from our stakeholders including our owners, staff, customers, suppliers and community? What do they think of us?

In the article “How to Use the I-Ching to Divine Your Future” writes: Here’s how it works: First step is to ask a question of the text about your life. Speak it and write it down. The I-Ching is based on a series of 6 binary (yes/no, true/false) decisions that are often decided by tossing 3 coins to the ground in the same way a person at the craps table in Las Vegas would roll dice. Each one of these coin tosses will produce either a positive (yes/true/yang) or negative (no/false/yin) result. If the coins are mostly tails, you draw a straight line. If they are mostly heads, you draw a broken line.

Continue tossing the coins and drawing one line on top of the other until you have 6 lines. Six lines stacked on top of each other (from bottom to top) is called a hexagram (this is no relation to geometry’s hexagon). In the I-Ching, there are 64 possible combinations of doing this, so hence, 64 different possible fortunes. The actual I-Ching book is a look-up guide book of “reference” for these hexagrams rather then tome that you sit down and read from cover to cover. So after you have your hexagram, the next step is to look it up in the book so you can read its meaning.

The meaning derived from the hexagram is supposed to give you guidance on the future…. ‘Easy enough… but does it really work?’ “Well, let’s just say it hit a little too close to home.”

“When you get right down to it, all subjects of personal human interest boil down to 3 things: ‘Money/Career’ (e.g. what you “do” in life and how well you do it), ‘Health’ (how you feel), and ‘Relationships’ (who you align yourself with and who you make enemies with). So any question you ask of the I-Ching will probably have to do with one of those in some capacity.”

In the article “Leadership, Ethics and the Workplace: An Approach From the Book of Changes” by Glenn Martin writes:  The I-Ching is a Chinese book of divination and wisdom whose roots go back possibly five thousand years. Is it credible to suggest that such a source can be of help to leaders in the current business environment? The business world conspires to limit the scope of ethics.

The words of Milton Friedman are still recited today as if they are authoritative: “there is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits”. The only qualification that Friedman placed on this maxim was that companies should operate within the law.

Peter Drucker offered an alternative conception of the role of business in society when he said “profit is not the primary purpose of business”. He defined the purpose of business as “the creation of a customer who sees value in what the business offers. The function of profit is to validate the activities of the enterprise and enable it to continue.” The question we need to ask is what kind of world we want to have.

This fact can be connected with the Dalai Lama’s observation that modern western society faces growing confusion as to what constitutes morality and what its foundations are”…The I-Ching promotes the notion that good ethics & morality should be the foundation of business and life…

I-Ching is the foremost of all Chinese classics. Almost all schools of thought in China find their origin in the book.  For thousands of years, the book’s impact on the intellects and social elites in China was clear. It was said that, “if you do not know I-Ching, you are not fit to be a Prime Minister!”  Works of the wisest men of Chinese, from Laozi, Confucius to Sun Tzu, are all influenced by the book in one way or another.  It has also heavy impact on the ordinary people.

The beliefs of ‘Yì Jīng’ are so deeply rooted in the culture that most Chinese think and behave the ways it teaches without knowing. It is in the food they eat, the language they use, and the ways they view the world.  Almost all disciplines of studies in Chinarefer to I-Ching in one way or another.  I-Ching is widely used in Asia by fortune-tellers and futurists alike, the I-Ching “works” not by having any mystical connection to the future but by helping the inquirer understand the potential for change in the present.

This perspective, which is based on an early systems view of the world in which the whole universe is seen as being in a continual state of flux, is appropriate for these turbulent times.

In every age its guidance has been sought by Chinese philosophers, statesmen, warriors and ordinary people when faced with an important decision or major undertaking. The tradition is still maintained today. It is widely studied in modern universities and employed in business negotiations in many parts of Asia…

According to Taoism, the formula for Success is: S=P+O, where ‘Success (S)’ is the sum of ‘Preparation (P)’ and ‘Opportunity (O)’.