Love the Christian and Chinese Way

As I am writing this editorial, Good Friday and Easter draw near. These two days in the Christian calendar always make me think of the universal concept of love.

Love is the most powerful of all forces that drives the human being. Anywhere. Anytime. Love is life. For Christians, Easter symbolises the renewal of life through love as a creative force.

It is my belief that a human being’s destiny is driven by this one force above any others: love.

Intrinsic in love is also the need to create. To create is to be engaged in the energy of love. Thus love is an experience as well as a process that creates.

Heart floating above open handLove and the urge for creativity are partners in life. Love and the need to create are universal. Teilhard Chardin, the Persian mystic, claimed that if we could harness the energy of love, we would transform the world. In other words, we can re-create the world. Creation and re-creation. Changes. Tranformation. The resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Day speaks of a Transformation through love. In its most ultimate and therefore spiritual manifestation, love is really the search for our soul. In its most basic and concrete manifestation, love, when linked with the need to create could bring the birth of another human life.

From a Chinese Taoist viewpoint, love is expressed as a force of change as well. Lao Tse said in the Tao Te Ching: to conquer others, we need force, to conquer oneself we need strength. Loving oneself needs strength in exercising discipline for our health and taking care of our mind, body and spirit.  The transformation of Self through martial arts is an example of a wholistic way to Self love.

In doing so, your relationship with yourself will be more peaceful and your relationship with others will be enhanced. All these is possible if we know how to manage love properly and harness its energy for the good of self and others. The reward and the result of this process is the explosion of creativity in every facet of our life. This can bring a deep happiness that has no cause, no source and no end point. It comes from nowhere and yet is everywhere. It is related to no one and yet we feel bonded with the whole of humanity. It is fleeting yet we have a sense of timelessness. It is very real yet there is a surrealistic feel to it. It is more than happiness.

It is bliss.

It is when the blueness of the sky meets the blueness of the sea on a summer day. It is when the silence of the mountains sings to us. It is when we discover the truth of loving properly. It is knowing that we know that the love inside is also the love outside, that our inner and outer Lovers are one and the same and they are in perfect harmony. In that state, we can truly love our Self and that is the primary prerequisite for loving the Other(s). The ability to loving properly is also the essence of one of Confucius’ great virtues: reciprocity. Loving properly is the final human challenge for Confucianist Chinese and other Sinitic peoples such as Japanese, Koreans and Vietnamese.

Learning how to love properly is not a course offered in any school, college or university in the world that you can take. Only the lives of Great Ones can teach us how. Jesus, in His resurrection on the day of Easter is one such great example of learning how to love properly.

Dispelling A Myth About Chinese And Money

Hands grabbing cash

One of the stereotypes of us Chinese is that we are good at making money. We like money. We know how to make money. Money and Chinese go together like love and marriage, like a horse and carriage …. ah…… but this is the stereotype. Stereotypes are constructed with a little bit of truth but they are generally distortive and spring from a deep well of ignorance

I have always had a profound disinterest in money. I have always found it boring. Disinterest and boredom on a subject are inevitably linked with inaction in the managing of it. However, when my husband died, I had to manage my own finances whether I like it or not. To my delight, I discovered that managing money is no different from managing anything. It needs information and knowledge, research and critical/creative thinking. From being an academic to a money manager is a very big jump even with a lot of help from my brother. Nevertheless, it is a process. A journey of learning. As such, I discover a few things. Firstly, what you don’t know about money, there are experts out there who do know. You hire people who do know, for example, book keepers, accountants, financial advisors, bankers, loan brokers, etc. You will learn from these people but only what is in their heads. In short, content and skills. In addition, you need to ask Google. This is still just information you are gathering in regards to the topic of money. Yes, this is the research stage before we send our students out to do field work.

However, after all is said and done in this learning stage sprinkled with new terminology such as concepts, theories and hypotheses, the most important skill you need is communication. Yes, communicating effectively with the people I am engaged with in this process of money management is how to listen and speak effectively with them. Sounds simple? No, effective communication skills are never simple. Why? Because we are dealing with people and people are complex. For me, when dealing with these money experts, I have to establish whether I can work with them or not. Now, this is a principle that is applicable to all situations and relationships in life. For example, if you studying Chinese, you have to figure out whether you can work with your teacher or not to achieve results. Finding out this takes time. Time for meetings and testing out different teachers and classes. You need time to listen and to ask questions. Time to establish trust.

Time is money! Like most pithy sayings, time is money is a sentence cramped with many meanings. Anyone who has done a bit of economics knows instantly that the sentence ‘time is money’ implies another concept: opportunity cost. This pithy sentence ‘time is money’ reminds me of another song: if you got money, honey, I ‘ve got the time, if you have no money, honey, I don’t have the time…

So when we think Chinese are good at money, it is a stereotype because I know many Chinese who is lousy with money. Why? Because they are ineffective communicators. They are so busy making money, counting their pennies, being frugal to the point of being mean (and boring), that they can easily forget how to form meaningful relationships. Forming meaningful relationships is the foundation of guanxi, the Chinese networking. This is an art in itself. It is also the critical first step to making wealth rather than money. Chinese and money do not go together like a horse and carriage as the song says. Learning the art of guanxi & how to be an authentic friend does.

Red packet for Chinese giftsAn effective guanxi and money in the form of hong bao does go together during important festive Chinese seasons like Chinese New Year. Hong bao’s are red packets/envelopes of money given as gifts to wish good luck. Apart from Chinese New Year, birthdays and anniversaries, companies’ opening days, etc. are also occasions for giving hong bao’s. In remembering gifts for each other, family and friendship ties are further strengthened, “face” is given and reciprocity is acknowledged, all these make for good guanxi. This constant exchange of hong bao, between old and young, families and friends and business acquaintances may be responsible for fostering the stereotype of us Chinese being good at money making. This is a myth. We are good at connecting and that is the basis of guanxi: connecting people, forming a cobweb of duties and obligations. Money is more practical than giving physical things because it is easily transacted and based on trust between two or more people. This trust is the basic foundation for guanxi.

Merry Christmas, students, teachers, friends, and fans!

SOCIAL SKILLS – JOBS OF THE FUTURE?

This morning I read an article about the future of jobs and careers in the USA.

It makes me think how relevant the article is for Australians and New Zealanders as well. For everybody in fact. Of particular interest to me is the article’s emphasis on social and analytical skills for a lot of jobs in the future. Social skills such as commmunication and management spring to my mind. In short, people skills or what is known as” soft skills”. It is no wonder that the article also mentions that women, and not men, are the stars in jobs of the future. Continue reading “SOCIAL SKILLS – JOBS OF THE FUTURE?”