18 November 2016

The Scalability of Dao - DaoDeJing 54

People often wonder whether what works in the small can be applicable to the large. As for moral values, they are highly scalable says Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 54
DaoDeJing Chapter 54 Text and Translation:

善建者不拔,善抱者不脱,子孙以祭祀不辍。
The skillful builders build that which cannot be uprooted.
The skillful holder will not let loose the object held.
[Skillful practitioner of Dao] will have unending generations of descendants paying respect.

修之于身,其德乃真;
Cultivate Dao yourself, your virtues will be genuine.

修之于家,其德乃余;
Cultivate it at home, the virtues will bring more than enough.

修之于乡,其德乃长;
Cultivate it in the village, the virtues will grow and influence far.

修之于邦,其德乃丰;
Cultivate in the country, the virtues will abundance.

修之于天下,其德乃普。
Cultivate it in the world, the virtues will be pervasive.

故以身观身,以家观家,以国观国,以天下观天下,
Hence, reflecting on self from self, reflecting on a family from family, reflecting on a country from the country and reflecting on the world from the world. (See whether the external behavior matches the inner virtues to know if our virtues are real or whether we have acted them out)

吾何以知天下之然哉,以此!
How do I know how the world become like this? It is from this.
(If the world is in a mess, then we know it is the lack of the cultivation of virtues from a person, to a family, to a country, and to the world).

Scalability 
What is the difference between Chemistry and Chemical Engineering? Chemistry is satisfied with things working in the laboratory. Chemical Engineering requires the experiments to be scalable and can be repeated in the production of large quantities of the desired products. For venture capitalists, one of the main concern for any start-up is business scalable. If it is not scalable, there is not much money to be made and hence the capitalists will not be interested. For example, let says I can conduct courses on DaoDeJing well and will attract many people. However, my model is not scalable because the course must be conducted by me. If I am able to come out with the course materials, guide books, train up my colleagues, so that they can conduct the same courses as well or even better than me, then my courses will be scalable. Of course, the market must also be big enough to demand the running of the many courses. 

Moral Virtues Are Scalable
Lao Zi tells us that our virtues are scalable from a person all the way to the world. It works in reverse too. If a family or a country is in a mess, you can tell that the Dao virtues are not cultivated. How can we tell Lao Zi's saying is correct. We can see whether other religions or respected people say the same thing. We can find such a teaching in the Bible, as in, Luke 16:10 “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much, and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much." 

Reflections:
1. Are we cultivating the right virtues?
2. In our business practices, are we cheating, skipping some steps, using slightly inferior materials, in some way, thinking it is not important and hoping that we will fix it when the business get bigger?
Actually, if you cannot take care of the little errors when your operation in small, scaling up the business will only amplify the problem and cause you to fail. The golden rule is to be straight right from the start when you are small that you may grow and sustain your size in future.

Lim Liat (c) 18 Nov 2016
Post a Comment