Why the SKOLKOVO students practice Qigong, live at Taoist monks’ and learn to meditate
Article by Anton Saraykin in Forbes
In early May the People’s Republic of China celebrated Labour Day. Like in Russia the country doesn’t work several days in honour of working population. That’s why we made for the Sichuan Mountains, 1500 km from Shanghai. We spent four days with monks there, familiarized ourselves with Taoist practices and tried to understand the Chinese culture better. We also found out why more and more successful Chinese businessmen are anxious to be received by Master Lee, a local Taoist healer.
Taoist monks have been improving in spiritual practices in a temple on the mountain of Jin Yong in the province of Sichuan. This Chinese traditional teaching along with Buddhism has greatly influenced the culture and world-view of the Celestial Empire. One of the currents of Taoism is so-called “Taoist yoga”, or Qigong practice. It is based on a notion of internal energy Qi that both a man and nature have.
There were four of us, SKOLKOVO students, and we were the only foreigners in that place. On our arrival, hospitable monks treated us to local dainties – cow stomach skin and pig’s brains that we cooked ourselves on a special frying-pan. But on the following days our ration was limited to water with rice, mountain leaves and tofu.
We spent some time in the monastery meditating. We had been squatting still for 40 minutes, our hands put in front, in order to learn to control our breath and concentrate on internal energy. This was hard and required a lot of patience. It is an ability to be patient that distinguishes the Chinese from the European.
Of course, meditations and Qigong are not included in the MBA programme. It is Julia Lee, a wife of Wilfried Vanhonacker, the Dean of SKOLKOVO, that kindly invited us to a trip to a Taoist monastery on the mountain of Jin Yong. Julia is successful in developing business in Shanghai and New York and has been to Jin Yong several times. A year ago together with a small group of Chinese businessmen, including Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba.com, she spent two weeks there meditating under supervision of Master Lee. All that time they completely refrained from food and practically didn’t talk to one another. Julia says that this programme helped her not only improve her health but also strengthen her spirit.
Julia can hardly be called naïve, nor is she easy to surprise. She was born and spent her childhood in a labour camp in China, where her mother had been serving her sentence for 17 years for a careless statement towards a high-ranking party official. During the Cultural Revolution thousands of people all over China were sent to camps for a slightest suspicion of disloyalty to the authorities. Later on Julia was lucky to be among the first Chinese excellent students who went to the USA in 1988 to study on an exchange basis. The events that occurred in Beijing a year later forced Julia to stay in the USA. During her student years Julia earned her living as housemaid and baby-sitter. Later she made herself a career on Wall-Street and graduated from a business school in Harvard.
A Chinese economic onrush for the past 15 years has made a lot of local businessmen well-off. Having raised money and got tired of appearance on Forbes and Fortune covers, they are seeking consolation in solitude, austerity and spiritual practices. Such programmes at Taoist temples have recently become more popular among modern Chinese businessmen and celebrities, who regularly donate up to 100000 USD for needs of the temple.
So, if you intend to do business in the Celestial Empire, you can suggest to your partner going to a Taoist temple rather than traditional establishments for businessmen such as sauna or karaoke-bar. Perhaps it will be a key to success in China.
You can find an original article at http://www.forbesrussia.ru/blogpost/50595-tsi-vashego-biznesa