The Way of the Dao is the DAO

How ancient wisdom will guide us in rethinking the future of business

By Tony Greeenberg

In our lives, we seek the happiness of sages. We study mindfulness based on Eastern religions we know are timeless. And we find calm. 

Yet, in business, we’re addicted to quick-fix, fast-money gadgets and trends we don’t understand… Like cryptocurrencies… run on blockchains. We may profit in the short term, but then we’re baffled when our currency dips and our nervous system jangles like tin cans tied to a dog’s tail. 

We might want to ask deeper questions than whether the New New Thing will go to the moon. We might want to ask whether the New New Thing aligns with our core Truths. If it does, we hold. Or hold. 

So let’s talk about DAOs. And The Dao. (Also spelled Tao.) 

Until recently, if someone had asked you about a Dao, you might have told them about The Dao (道) as the Way or the Path. The Dao is balance and flow. The Dao is the Dude from The Big Lebowski, rolling with the punches. I know a lot of Western CEOs with Daoism’s main text, the Dao Te Ching, on their bookshelves. 

But, today, if you Google Dao, the first search results aren’t about Yin and Yang. They are about Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, or DAOs. And many, if not most are not as altruistic as the sound, as its often a cesspool of centralized decisions that are personal piggy banks for the creators. Look deep, don’t buy it. It may be a sham, like the ICOS of 2018 or the blah, blah blahs of the often corrupt ponzi NFT space. 

An interesting coincidence. 

[The Dao’s balance and a decentralized DAO]

Now, I know the fact that Dao and DAO are spelled the same is just a fluke. Seeing patterns in unrelated things is a type of magical thinking. And while I may talk fast and own more guitars than I can play well, I’m not crazy. 

Mystics tell us that we ignore synchronicities at our peril. In business, “Daoism has something valuable to offer,” writes Po-Keung Ip in “Daoism and Business Ethics,” and “may serve as a counterbalance to … corporate greed, extravagance and excesses, and other forms of corporate malfeasance and corruption.” 

When the path of technology maps neatly to the ways of some of the most ancient wisdom, does the striking one-in-a-trillion coincidence that DAOs and The Dao share the name “Dao” stop looking like happenstance and start foreshadowing a cosmic alignment? 

To be continued

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