Lessons Gained from Reading the Traditional Culture Section on Minghui
(Minghui.org) During my years of serving as a coordinator in different capacities, as well working for other coordinators, I’ve improved by reading Minghui’s Traditional Culture section, specifically lessons from the histories of both benevolent and lousy emperors and officials. I have also found it useful in my regular job in the business world, and a good lead to naturally clarify the truth to colleagues and clients.
In ancient China there have been successful emperors, such as Tang Taizong, as well as honest and capable officials, like Taizong’s prime minister–Wei Zheng.
When disasters would strike–natural or man-made, these benevolent rulers and officials looked inside, and asked their officials to point out what they were doing wrong in running the country. It was clear to them that something was fundamentally wrong, so even though technical actions were necessary, they sought counsel from those around them to help chart a future course, rather than acting unilaterally.
In my understanding this behavior was based on righteous principles, and managed to gather people’s best ideas, as well as the enthusiasm of the officials and others who would have to later on carry out the emperor’s policies.
These emperors managed to create an atmosphere where they could be criticized, instead of one of “yes-men” and politicians that would only bring disaster upon the dynasty. Such people would only encourage the emperor’s attachments, fail to “kill” bad ideas early, and might even repress good ideas and good people.
These upstanding emperors aimed to recruit those with the highest morality and highest skills (the “sagacious” according to historian Sima Guang) for the state’s administration. The imperial testing system was designed to enable anyone to try to become an official if he were good enough according to these criteria.
It is important to note that back then, disobeying the emperor’s order, or just seeming to be rude, could result in being executed. So it is not a trivial matter that an emperor managed to create such an open atmosphere of trust, while the hierarchy and discipline requirements were still very clear in the background.
No less important, these honest and capable officials were such that their loyalty to the country and the emperor was beyond reproach. That is, every time a righteous official criticized the emperor, it wasn’t out of selfish motives, wanting to accumulate fame and fortune, or power struggles–it was out of genuine concern for the empire and its people. Their remarks were thus somewhat easier to be accepted by the ruler.
With the combined power of a righteous and broadminded emperor, and honest and capable officials dedicating themselves to the country, such periods in history were times of prosperity.
Conversely, in times when the emperor refused criticism, made his closest friends “yes-men” and power-hungry men, the empire declined, and the dynasty neared its end.
The above is my understanding from reading the dozens of articles on Minghui about traditional Chinese culture.
I personally think that there’s much to learn from these stories, regarding our own projects. It’s my wish that just as we are told:
“Han Xin was an everyday person after all. As practitioners, we should be much better than he.” ( Zhuan Falun, Lecture 9)
Perhaps we could build a better administration than Taizong’s. But every journey starts with a first step.
Doing Even Better
It has been over four years since Teacher told us:
“Whatever it may be that the coordinator does, requires of you, or decides—carry it out unconditionally.”(“Be More Diligent,” 2010)
Four years is quite a long time. If there are some among us who still haven’t managed to live by this standard, then it seems they have a problem.
However, it may be worth looking at it from the coordinators’ point of view.
If after four years we still need to remind each other of the need to cooperate unconditionally with the main coordinator, and that cooperation should be wholehearted and not passive, then perhaps we coordinators have some room for improvement as well.
Have we done everything within our power to make it easy for fellow practitioners to cooperate with us? For example:
• Consistently study the Fa, practice the exercises, send forth righteous thoughts and cultivate in practice.• Be strict with oneself, but lenient with others.• Be forgiving and broadminded.• Set (constantly elevating) standards, and keep giving fellow practitioners the tools to reach them.• Not act arbitrarily.• Not abuse our position and power.• Talk straight, at eye level.• Encourage fellow practitioners’ righteous thoughts and righteous actions.• Set clear practical vision for the project(s), and lead the team step by step, as a group, to the destination.• “Hire honest and capable officials” when the project grows.• Figure out what skills are needed for one's own role as coordinator in the project (like running meetings, project planning, team building, strategy, marketing etc.) and become, through constant learning and seeking mentors, a consummate professional in them• When things don’t work as planned, really look inside, and share openly with the team what we find out about our shortcomings, and listen openly to their suggestions.• Give team members room to grow and become more professional and entrepreneurial, while making sure all new ideas are focused on the project’s goal.• Be humble, etc.
As I understand it, such conduct will build the genuine trust of fellow practitioners in our leadership of a project, trust that is based on real actions while working together and ascending together.
We would thus have fulfilled our part in making sure that the project, in which fellow practitioners chose to invest their precious time and resources in order to fulfill their vows, makes progress and is effective in saving sentient beings. I believe the requirement is even higher, such that the effectiveness of the combined efforts by practitioners on the team should be much greater than the sum of the actions of each alone.
It is said in cooking that with bad ingredients one cannot make a good meal, but with good ingredients one can make both a good meal and a bad one. That is, the cook can ruin the good ingredients and create bad dishes. The coordinator is the cook.
I understand more and more deeply how large the coordinators' responsibilities are to Master, to fellow practitioners, and to all sentient beings.
Coming back to emperor Taizong, he once told his officials that people thought that the emperor could do whatever he wants and is afraid of nothing. But that wasn't true. He feared the gods and the people–that he wouldn’t live up to their expectations of him. We don’t need fear, but I believe the message is clear.
Of course, during Fa-rectification, the old forces’ interference has been exposed, so we know we are encountering hardships that we don’t “deserve.” But one thing is for sure–when we don’t have gaps, they don’t have anything to hold on to.
This is an initial sharing of my limited understandings at this point. Please point out anything that is not in accordance with the Fa.
Category: Improving Oneself