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Frederick Tsao on the meaning of well-being and why we need it now

The founder of OCTAVE Institute and SANGHA Retreat talks about his new book

For many people, every crisis lies an opportunity. For Frederick Tsao, the COVID-19 pandemic might has flipped the world upside down, but it is also a chance to change for the better. This concept is at the heart of the new book he co-authored with Erwin Laszlo, “Dawn of an Era of Well-Being”, launched worldwide recently.

The Chairman of IMC Group and President of Family Business Network (FBN) Asia, Frederick Tsao is a true believer of well-being. He founded OCTAVE Institute and SHANGHA Retreat with aims to offer societal healing and to foster harmonious communities with the use of Eastern wisdom and Western science. This very idea also echoes in this new book.

Frederick Tsao

What originally inspired you to write this book?
“We – which is to say humankind – is at something of a crossroads. We face unprecedented challenges, many of them of our own creation: climate breakdown, increasing wealth inequality, social structures that serve only a few, the impact of artificial intelligence, and of course the threat of pandemics.

The COVID-19 pandemic offers an example of how the universe is constantly rebalancing itself to offset forces moving in contradiction to its natural energy, which in Chinese culture is called the Dao. An impact of the virus has been to slow us down and force us all to reflect, to open our eyes to the need for change, to see that a new normal is both required and imminent. It also shows us that we have the chance to heal if we choose a new way.

So, we can either to continue down the road beset by take the road toward unity, well-being, and thriving. And I choose the latter, and in doing so was inspired to write this book.”

In relation to what Dawn of an Era of Well-Being details, how can well-being solve complex problems created by modernity?
“First, we need to open our eyes and understand how the old “normal” – our existing conventions and assumptions about how the world and our systems work — are no longer sustainable. Change is going to occur, and a “new normal” is not simply necessary; it is also imminent.

The Dawn of an Era of Well-Being explores a unique worldview emerging in some corners of society called the “quantum paradigm”. The concepts and principles within are drawn from theories of Western science and Eastern wisdom, or traditions of human spirituality. These provide the compass points for navigating those of us who seek a better world for our fellow beings who inhabit our planet.

It can be all too easy to be overwhelmed by a sense of chaos, but amidst the chaos lies the possibility of connecting with each other, reconnecting to our roots, and creating a shift in our consciousness. That’s where I hope Dawn of an Era of Well-Being can help.”

Which crisis should we prioritize, the global pandemic or the environmental crisis?
“It is impossible to separate one from the other. The pandemic has been linked to and the wildlife trade and to environmental disruption at the hands of humanity. Its spread was facilitated by globalization. Arguably, it is a symptom of the environmental crisis. And like most symptoms, it points to a much deeper and more devastating issue.

And, in the grand scheme of things, the coronavirus and all the havoc it has caused is a shortterm concern, one from which we will emerge. The impact that we are having on the natural world and the climate, however, is here to stay unless we make drastic and radical changes now.

Change is needed on all levels: change for the individual, change for society, and change in the consciousness that defines what we do and who we are. It is imperative that we achieve constructive change on all levels if we are to avoid even greater crises heading our way with the direst of consequences.”

How will the current pandemic situation shape human behavior and/or psyche?
“If the pandemic has proven anything, it is how incredibly resilient humanity is and how adaptable we are to different situations. A look back through history shows us how, when faced with crises, we have changed our behaviors in the short term, often when it is crucial for our survival. And while these events have altered our living habits for years at a time, they also show how easily we fall back into old habits once the acute risk has passed.

I hope and believe that this time will be different – that we will resist existing, destructive behaviors and embrace new living habits that not only improve our inner lives and the lives of those around us, but to have a positive, broader impact on the world, too. As Ervin and I say in the book, “the future is not to be predicted, but created”.

What were some interesting takeaways from working with co-author Ervin Laszlo?
“I have long admired Ervin as a philosopher and thinker, so it has been a great privilege to work with him on this book and explore new paradigms of consciousness.”

Shangha Retreat by OCTAVE Institute

What are the reasons behind the founding of OCTAVE Institute?
“I was interested in what could arise from the fusion of ancient Eastern wisdom and modern Western systems, so I looked at combining traditional Chinese Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism with Western quantum science as I pursued and began to realize happiness myself. Octave arose because I wanted to share my findings with others and help them live more positively and learn and grow better. I like to think of Octave Institute as an academy for the 21st century, a new living community and way of life, and a trusted companion for people on their journey through life!”

Why should businesses focus more on well-being?
Health and happiness are fundamental to an individual’s well-being, and a positive sense of self can enable people to achieve more and have a more positive impact on the world. It goes without saying that this is good for business.

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