The Hinge of The Way

In a workshop to prepare for strategic planning, a deputy officer of an international organization presented in his SWOT analysis of the organization’s external environment that China will strengthen its claim over the Spratlys thereby instigating conflict between Philippines and China and probably as an offshoot China and other stakeholder nations.  He ranked this as the Number One threat, for the country and the region.  He rationalizes his intuition on nations’ continual search for oil in a world where the commodity is getting scarcer.  The audience stared at him as if he was the magician Merlin intuiting the rise of a King Arthur.  What was this guy talking about?  But as we know now it happened exactly as he intuited.

In another venue, recently, a management consultant and I met with our client who was planning to put up a technical-vocational school catering to students who can afford to pay more.  The management consultant who is strong on research and quantitative analysis advised our client to make decisions after completion of the market study which were to do.  The client replied that she will open the school, market study or not, because gut feel tells her the business will prosper, adding that she shares the feeling with her husband who is a businessman.  She told us that she couldn’t completely explain that feeling but it was something innate among Chinese.

These exemplify ways in which people make sense of their environment, in other words, there is no one best method to make sense of things.  The key is to keep an open mind and discern what Chuang Tzu calls ‘the hinge of the Way’:

Where there is acceptability there must be unacceptability; where there is unacceptability there must be acceptability. Where there is recognition of right there must be recognition of wrong; where there is recognition of wrong there must be recognition of right. Therefore the sage does not proceed in such a way, but illuminates all in the light of Heaven. He too recognizes a “this,” but a “this” which is also “that,” a “that” which is also “this.” His “that” has both a right and a wrong in it; his “this” too has both a right and a wrong in it. So, in fact, does he still have a “this” and “that”? Or does he in fact no longer have a “this” and “that”? A state in which “this” and “that” no longer find their opposites is called the hinge of the Way. (as quoted by Craig Russon in An Eastern Paradigm of Evaluation)


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