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A Harmony Renaissance

Rene Wadlow*

At a time when humanity is increasingly working together to meet ecological

challenges and to overcome ideologically-led strife, Dr Francis C.W. Fung has presented an
important call for a cultural renaissance based on the concept of harmony. Rather than
concentrating primarily on conflicts, struggles and suffering, Francis Fung suggests that the
focus should be on cooperation, coexistence and visions of a better future. Harmony includes
tolerance, acceptance, equality and forgiveness of past pains and conflicts. It leads to
gentleness, patience, kindness, to inner peace and outward to relations based on respect.

Fung draws his framework for a harmony-based renaissance from the classical
philosophies of China: Confucianism, the teachings of ‘Master Kong’ (551-478 BCE) and
Daoism, associated with Lao Zi who lived at the same time. Both put their emphasis on the
Dao (the Way) and the working of the dynamic balance of Yin and Yang. (1).

As Fung stresses “Harmony is a universal common value. In harmony we can find true
belief that transcends all cultures and religions. The meaning of life is to seek harmony
within our inner self. Humans are born with a spiritual soul that develops to seek self-
fulfilment. Our soul has a conscience that elevates us. As our soul grows to its maturity, we
achieve our own harmony. A person at the end of his journey reconciles with his own soul to
achieve harmony and peace of mind. Each soul attaining its own harmony with itself is the
meaning of life.”

However harmony is not only a personal goal of inner peace but a guideline for
political, social and world affairs. As Fung notes “Specifically at this moment in history, our
action should enhance peace, reduce conflict and activate a harmony culture. The 21 st century
is the beginning of a Harmony Renaissance. Our world mission is to be ready for human’s
next creative wave to lead us to a higher level of common accomplishment. The World
Harmony Renaissance will bring the whole world into action for this new millennium of
peace and prosperity with unfettered collective energy.”

There was an earlier period in Chinese thought when there was an important Harmony
Renaissance. This was during the Sung dynasty (960-1279) which reunited China after a
period of division and confusion. This was a period of an interest in science — “the extension
of knowledge through the investigation of things”. It was a period when there was a conscious
effort to bring together into a harmonious framework currents of thought that existed in China
but often as separate and sometimes hostile schools of thought: Confucianism, Buddhism,
philosophical Daoism and religious Daoism. These efforts were called Tao hsuch — the
Study of the Tao” — an effort later called by Westerns “Neo-Confucianism”.

Chou Tun-yi (1017-1073), often better known as the Master of Lien-hsi, was a leading
figure of this effort. He developed a philosophy based on the alternation of Yin and Yang,
each becoming the source of the other. (2)

Thus today, after decades of conflict when the emphasis of the countries of the world
both in policy and practice was upon competition, conflict and individual enrichment, there is
a need for an emphasis on harmony, cooperation, mutual respect, and working for the welfare
of the community with a respect for nature of which humans are a part. When one aspect,
either Yin or Yang, becomes too dominant, then there needs to be a re-equilibrium. This
Yin/Yang alternation is best represented by the double fish symbol, often used by Daoists.

We see this shift most dramatically in the policy of the Chinese government. After
decades when Marxist “class struggle” was the dominant internal policy and world politics
was seen as a “class struggle” on a world scale, in 2006, Chinese President Hu Jintao adopted
building a harmonious society at home and promoting a harmonious world abroad as the
guiding State philosophy.

Obviously it takes time for a harmonious society at home and a harmonious world
abroad to be put into place. The re-equilibrium of the energies of Yin and Yang do not take
place overnight. Nor is this re-equilibrium only the task of the Chinese. The cultivation of
harmony must become the operational goal for many. As Mencius (372 – 289 BCE), a
follower of Confucius said “ A trail through the mountains, if used, becomes a path in a short
time, but, if unused, becomes blocked by grass in an equally short time.”

That is why Francis Fung’s call for a Harmony Renaissance is a call to each of us. (3)

1) See Arthur Waley. Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China (London: Allen &
Unwin, 1939);
2) See Fung Yu-Lan A Short History of Chinese Philosophy (New York: The Macmillan
Co. 1950).
3) See Francis C W Fung, China’s Harmony Renaissance, What the World Must Know
(San Francisco: World Harmony Organization 2006, available at )

*Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens


Excerpt from “Harmony in Contemporary New Confucianism and in Socialism

with Chinese Characteristics” 2008 by Jesus Sole-Farras

“It has been asserted (Fung, 2006) that the 2006 Sixth CPC Plenum Session will be
remembered as the most important milestone of China’s Harmony Renaissance,” since,
“by discovering harmony culture, China is discovering its own rich ancient cultural
harmony traditions. It is of similar in importance to Europe’s Renaissance after the
rediscovery of ancient Greek culture” (p. 8). Jesus Sole-Farras

Excerpt from Jan 2007 speech by Hon. John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister
and First Secretary of State, United Kingdom:

There's been a great deal of talk about harmony in recent times. In fact, the academic, Francis
Fung, has argued in his recent paper "Chinese Harmony Culture: Old and New - Promise for a
Less Confrontational World" that China is witnessing a harmony renaissance. He claims that
great debates are happening today in China over whether Socialism with Chinese characteristics can be
Socialism with harmony. And Fung maintains that China's harmony socialism will provide an alternative
model, as the leading system of governance in the 21st Century.
Morgan Steacy, York University, Department of East Asian Studies, Canada

I have been reading professor Fung's letters and articles on harmony renaissance, and have
become completely enraptured by the hope of future possibility that they bring. My main area
of study lies squarely within Dr. Fung’s realm of thought insofar as ascertaining the facets of
Chinese thought that may be able to ameliorate the social situation of my country and the
world at large. I am certain that I would be able to contribute to your organization with great

Peter Neumann, Partner Faegre Benson, Shanghai, China

It is wonderful to see the concept of a "harmony" paradigm being promoted in the media. So much of
Western cultural history has been based on a conflict paradigm (crusades, competition for scarce
resources, clash of civilizations, political struggle, etc.). It is extremely important to open people's minds
to unity, universal love and harmony as governing principles of society, the world and the universe.

Eric Chipps, Chipps Management Consultants, San Francisco, CA, USA

In today’s world of international conflicts, religious strife, North and South disparities,
terrorism, extremism and unilateralism, harmony renaissance is the only common value
universal solution. The tide of Harmony Renaissance is inevitable. All present will become
pioneers of Harmony Renaissance. Harmony advocates non-violence. Its’ premises are
tolerance, acceptance, respect, equity, patience and humility. As powerful as we are we will not
have nobility and hope unless we practice humility. This is the new global awareness.
Harmony is the conduit to facilitate multi-directional cultural flow not just from West to East
and North to South. Harmony is the all-embracing unifying force for unity in diversity.
Dr. Fung has initiated the World Harmony Organization in North America and has already
attracted interest and support. It is a growing influence in North America, Europe and China
from important figures in academic and social circles, economics and politics, as well as a
growing number of concerned citizens in many countries.