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Continued from Previous……

China does not have a religion as such, it never had one like the divine religions. Since the communist revolution in 1949, religions were officially banned. However, Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism have kept on surviving. We have talked about Confucianism already; we shall now briefly look at Taoism and Buddhism.

Taoism, also spelled Daoism, refers to a constant string of cultural, intellectual, religious, and textual tradition coming from about 500 BCE to today. The founding of this tradition is attributed to a legendary person, Laozi, more commonly called Lao Tzu; and the collection is named Tao te ching, meaning ‘the Classical Scripture of Tao and its Efficacy’. Philosophical Taoism constitutes the texts that were written between third century BCE to third century CE and presents a wide range of philosophical thoughts. Religious Taoism refers to an organized religious practice that began to emerge in the second century CE. Since that time, Taoism has been uninterruptedly practiced in China and Chinese cultural hemisphere. Yin and Yang also from an important part of Chinese beliefs. Some scholars do not agree to classification of philosophical and religious Taoism.

Tao is defined as “that in virtue of which all things happen or exist, the rational basis of human conduct, the course of life and its relation to eternal truth”. Taoism thought focuses on three main principles, inaction, simplicity, and living in harmony with nature. Taoism does not have a God like Abrahamic religions do. Taoists believe that good actions will mean a better life for their soul. They follow rules and guides for living and are not allowed to tell lies, steal, commit adultery, or drink alcohol.

Buddhism is among the largest religions in the world which originated 2,500 years ago in India. Followers of Buddhism do not acknowledge a supreme god, they focus on achieving enlightenment – a state of inner peace and wisdom, also popularly known as nirvana. The five basic precepts of Buddhism are: refraining from taking life, stealing, acting unchastely, drinking lies, and drinking intoxicants. Buddha, the founder of Buddhism was certainly an extraordinary being, but is not considered a god.

Summing up Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism means that these are combinations of higher thoughts and high value practices. These traits are shared with divine religions with the basic difference that divine religions believe in one supreme God. Similar virtues and moral practices are prescribed in worldly religions and divine religions. Human life is precious, truth, care, helping others is ordained; lies, immorality, stealing is forbidden.

It may be worthwhile to run a similar study and document the impact of Islam on business practices and firms’ culture. Let me share couple of anecdotes.

Several years ago, I was sitting at a pharmaceutical distributor in a smaller town. He proudly shared that he was an ardent follower of ‘Tablighi jamaat’. He also exhorted me to join them. Then he added that if any of his staff wished to go for a ‘seh roza’ – three days of round with Tablighi group, he gave them leave gladly. However, if anyone took a day off due to sickness or emergency, he would cut his salary for the off day(s). You can determine the humanistic content in this behavior.

The owner of a well-known pharmaceutical company chose to become overtly religious, with transformed appearance and all. He also decided he would not do interest-based banking henceforth. A senior manager confided that the owner bought a new BMW on cash and as a result, the employees’ salaries were delayed. In addition, the employees are expected/forced to follow the top boss and adopt the same appearances. You are free to draw your conclusions.

These anecdotes are mentioned to make a point only. The fact is that most businesspeople are very religious in appearance and practice, but are mired in malpractices, bad behavior, mis-commitments, usurping the rights of employees, paying them miserly, not paying on time, taking more work than normal, and abusing on the slightest pretext. True, that these gentlemen usually do not drink and are not engaged in immoral practices, but is morality only limited to being these?

Other than businesses, the religious people who commit to religion full time, and as a way of living (not life), who run mosques and madrassahs, are deeply mired in all kinds of immoralities.

The culture of firms reflects what thoughts we carry. The tragedy of Muslims, and other divine religions as well, is that the religion has been made a set of beliefs, practices, and rituals. The social and humanistic element has been deleted over the centuries through the connivance of clergy and rulers. The clergy systematically promoted certain thoughts and practices, emphasized on subservience without protest, become fatalistic, and get more into rites and rituals. It is not an accident of time; it is a staged process with clear, nefarious objectives.

Notwithstanding the ‘values’ written on corporate walls, our firms’ culture is exact opposite of basic Confucian virtues – benevolence, righteousness, courteousness, wisdom, and trustworthiness.

Benevolence has been replaced by stinginess and hard-heartedness, righteousness has been replaced with waywardness and deviousness, courteousness has been replaced by rudeness and impoliteness, ignorance, and self-indulgence rules in place of wisdom, and mistrust, fraud, and cheating has replaced trustworthiness. Of course, our religion forbids from all these things which we shamelessly do under the banner of religious appearance.

If we run the study about impact of our religion on firms’ culture, we shall be either broken with disappointment, or become extremely disillusioned and draw wrong conclusions. It is therefore better not to run such a study.


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