Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Monday, 27 October 2008
Monday, 27 October 2008 23:58

Right Risks, Right Time, Right Spirit

In October, I attended two conferences organized by the Europe China Center for Leadership and responsibility (ECCLAR) at the Shanghai-bases China Europe International Business School (CEIBS). The first conference was raising the question “Does corporate social responsibility improve the bottom line in China?” while the second one was focusing on “Leadership, Spirituality and the Common Good.” Due to the unfolding of the financial crisis, the participants were asking themselves a few basic questions that suddenly looked even more urgently that they had foreseen: what set of values and insights may foster an entrepreneurial style conducive of social happiness, responsible behavior and personal fulfillment? What are the ultimate responsibilities and the desirable ethos of an entrepreneur? Can East and West learn from each other when it comes to foster a more “spiritual” approach to business ethics and economic modeling? For sure, there were no definite answers to such questions, but a consensus was emerging on the fact that (a) the definition of economic goals and benefits had been too narrow in the past, neglecting to evaluate and valorize the social and personal happiness resulting from economic activities as well as its impact on natural and communal integrity; (b) the formation of businessmen has generally not been nurturing “spiritual” leaders able to listen to their inner voice and showing empathy, discernment and moral courage; (c) Eastern and Western spiritual traditions could foster alternative models of leadership, provided there are people able to creatively reformulate them.

When participating in these discussions, I was keeping in mind the lessons of the colloquium that Ricci/Renlai had just organized in Taipei County on culture and global warming, as well as our Kaohsiung 2007 and Shanghai 2008 symposiums. I do see a thread throughout this series of events: since a few years already, in close collaboration with friends from different countries and ways of life, we have been insisting on a few convictions. Let me restate them in retrospect, as they have been evolving during the last four years – it does seem to me that their overall validity is confirmed by the unfolding events:

-Stressing again and again the fact that the present world economic model was not sustainable did not come from a mere statistical analysis or a single-minded focus on the use of natural resources; it was a way to challenges some basic assumptions on profitability, to remind us of the growing gap between the accumulation of wealth realized by a few and the continuing non satisfaction of the primary needs of half of the world population, and to rehabilitate in contrast a humanist and inter-disciplinary approach of economic phenomena.

-Linking sustainability and culture was a way to give more content to this enlarged concept of sustainability, to show the prominent role that civil societies have to play for reforming our patterns of consumption and production, and to show that ecological and social concerns were not linked to a “conservationist” attitude but were really a way to foster creativity so as to devise innovative solutions rooted into our cultural resources.

-Finally, making “spiritual empowerment” a cornerstone of sustainability and cultural diversity was indeed pointing to a need that has proven to be dramatic. Consequently, pursuing and focusing its line of research, in 2009, eRenlai will be paying special attention to the “spiritual empowerment” issue, trying to offer an array of resources helping economic, social, political and cultural leaders to develop their capacity to discern, to listen and to decide in a way that relates them to their inner being and nurtures personal and collective growth. “Spiritual empowerment" is not a luxury for the happy few; it is rather a way to achieve “spiritual democracy” - to share and assess resources helpful for building up mature, balanced and sustainable communities.

May the network of friends that the eRenlai platform gathers take as their core mission the enrichment, sharing and implementation of the cultural and spiritual resources that the present crisis so urgently calls on us to mobilize.

November 2008

Note: The two ECCLAR conferences mentioned above were organized in cooperation with the Center for International Business Ethics (CIBE) and European SPES Forum, Leuven.

(photo: A.K.)

Monday, 27 October 2008 22:05


















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Last summer, Costa Rica was delighted to host a small sample of Chinese art during the first exhibition of Art and Chinese Culture organized by the Kung Tse Oriental Institute, a Chinese-Mandarin Language center in San Jose. This was the first time that such an event was organized in Costa-Rica, with various activities such as Dances of the Lion, kung-fu, Jasmine Song and Chinese tea ceremony. The purpose of this exhibition was to raise funds for an Integral Center of Health for children with cerebral paralysis, and it received a great response, especially from the curious and enthusiasts of the Chinese culture.

One of the main attractions of this event was to present collaborations between artists in various artistic fields, such as ceramics, painting, handwriting and music. As a musician, I was responsible for creating the sound environment of the exhibition. My focus was to present an authentic ancient blend of Chinese instruments and Electroacoustic music, and for that purpose I contacted several musicians. These collaborations are part of my project “Proyecto Sonorum” (, which is meant to break cultural barriers using technology art as the medium.

This was not the first time I worked with other musicians. While I was in Taiwan, I had already recorded music with Chinese instruments and performed in different venues. I can recall the great experience of recording in studio with the great pipa player Luo Chao-Yun ( and the talented Janelle Chang (, a musician who plays a traditional Uygur instrument called the Satar. I had also performed live with Chinese instruments along with Chao-Ming Tung ( and the music students from National Chiao Tung University’s Music Institute where I was studying computer music.

For this sound installation at Kung Tse Institute, I contacted other composers from Latin America. Otto Castro ( from the Oscilador group (Electroacoustic Music Project of Costa Rica, contributed with his piece “Arquetipos Marinos”, a composition based on pentatonic scales that are very common in Chinese music. Two other musicians from Costa Rica were involved: Hazel Rodriguez ( and Roberto Mata, both involved in the local experimental music and progressive Rock scene. Hazel proposed a piece called “Under the rain”, in which she tried to recreate a Chinese landscape by using her synthetizer. Roberto Mata, who is a guitar player and a composer, offered a piece called “Hola”, which is a meditation of this word, the Spanish for “Hello”. Another artist involved in the installation was Fabian Torres ( from Colombia, a musician who tends to mix Latin-American and Asian music styles in his compositions. An example of this would be his mixture of Columbian Cumbia with Indonesian Gamelan instruments.

Aside from these Latin American musicians, two very special guests took part in the project: Chi-Hui Liang ( and pipa player Chao-Yung Luo. Liang, a film music composer, gave us a permission to play some of the tracks from her CD “Vita Eterna”, which is a very special mixture of Chinese instruments and Western rhythms.

The organizers of the Exhibition were delighted with the results of the sound installation, and visitors provided a lot of positive feedback. We achieved to create a sound environment transporting the visitors into contemporary and ancient China. As a result, we decided to work on new projects involving Proyecto Sonorum and the Kung Tse Institute, one example being a multimedia concert for June 2009. We will keep you informed about these.

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