Archive for April, 2006

What would Confucius say now?

Almost a century ago Abdu’l-Baha called China the “country of the future.”

Now everybody knows that China’s influence in the world politic is both growing and inescapable. After all it is home to 1.3 billion people and enjoys a rapidly growing economy set to skyrocket with increased skilled service outsourcing from abroad. Pudong, Beijing’s business district, was non-existent 16 years ago. Now it is pretty much the size of Chicago. If Britain was the “workshop of the world” during the Industrial Revolution, surely China is now. Nations deliberately alienated since the Cultural Revolution and the cold war now seek to find a relationship with this rising power.

Meanwhile the well of inspiration formerly filled by Marxism and then unabated capitalism is beginning to run dry, leaving what many are calling China’s ideological void. The rich-poor gap despite economic growth is felt by the poor, and the hollowness of the capitalist pursuit is beginning to be felt by the elite. Many are turning to religion for moral and spiritual
sustenance, a somewhat de-institutionalised Christianity and Islam being examples of fast growers.

Beijing is now touting nationalism and culture as inspiration for a productive and contented society. This has meant study of Chinese civilisation and language being promoted around the world. It’s also meant a resurgence of the ideologies and teachings of the wise ancient sage, Confucius, once vilified but now being looked to as a possible uniting moral/philosophical foundation. Confucianism is strongly linked with Chinese history, is pacifist and in its respect to heirarchy, does not encourage dissent as long as the powers that be (originally the emperor) carry out their heavenly mandate morally and responsibly.

It leaves me thinking: Confucius said many timeless things - but faced with the pressing needs and unique challenges of a rapidly shrinking world, would he say something new?

Can the sage save China?
By Benjamin Robertson and Melinda Liu
Newsweek International
March 20, 2006 issue - China’s official buzzword these days is “harmony.” Whether the audience is Chinese or foreign, rich or poor, Beijing’s leaders are spreading the message: can’t we all just get along?

What inspired an Aussie inspiration

I recently came across a couple of interesting references to the Baha’i Faith by iconic Australian Olympian Cathy Freeman:

Coz I’m free (AKA Cathy Freeman): Transcripts from ABC TV’s Message Stick, March 10 2006.

The love and pain that inspire Cathy
The Age newspaper

…her mother’s conversion to the Baha’i faith was another seemingly random seed that would have enormous consequences for her future. Through the Baha’i community, Cecelia met her second husband, Bruce Barber, who would become Freeman’s first true believer and coach.

Moreover, some of the central tenets of Baha’i - oneness, equality, tolerance - would appear to explain Freeman’s extraordinary self-belief and strength of character in the face of the many instances of racism she describes in her book.

“I’m not a devout Baha’i but I like the prayers and I appreciate their values about the equality of all human kind,” she says.

The science of creativity

Latent inhibition, alpha waves, increased cortical arousal, noradrenalin… Looking for inspiration

This article from New Scientist is one of a series I’ll be posting looking at the genesis of creativity. Amongst the qualities of a creative mind are broad interests, the ability to handle conflict and complexity, and jump between brainwave states related to inspiration and execution.

Looking for inspiration by Helen Phillips
“PEOPLE have speculated about their own creativity for centuries - perhaps ever since we became able to think about thinking. Because creative thought just seems to “arrive”, the credit has been laid at the feet of gods and spirits or, recently, the id or the subconscious mind. Whatever it is, it is thinking at the edge, at the very fringes. The only bit of the creative process we actually know about is the moment of insight, yet creative ideas and projects may incubate beyond our awareness for months or even years. Not surprising, then, that creativity has long eluded scientific study…”


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