An interview with Mr. Chavalit Frederick Tsao, Chairman of IMC Pan Asia Alliance Group; Founder of Octave Institute
While everyone is talking about wellness today, Mr. Chavalit Frederick Tsao puts forth a new idea: “What is wellness? One word. Alignment. What is wellbeing? Freedom. Where do I derive this from? Taoism.” Based on this concept, he created Octave, a comprehensive platform of life experience.
Chavalit Tsao, known as Fred, joined the family business – IMC Pan Asia Alliance Group – at the age of twenty after graduating from the University of Michigan with a master’s degree in Science and Engineering. In 1995, at the age of thirty-seven, he took over as Chairman of IMC Group. Under his stewardship, the traditional shipping company transformed into a multi-national conglomerate with diverse business interests. Fred believes that thriving, sustainable businesses can both serve human well-being and also create wealth.
In terms of understanding issues of human development, Fred is deeply interested in the connection between Western science and traditional Chinese philosophy. In the emerging fields of quantum physics, evolutionary biology, neurophysiology, and consciousness research, he sees evidence of the interconnectedness and essential oneness of the world.
Octave’s concept is the manifestation of Fred’s numerous years of research and contemplation. Octave is a unique blend of Eastern wisdom and Western science. It is a place that responds to societal needs for healing in all relationships and the fostering of a harmonious community. Octave is a platform for anyone seeking his/her possibilities. SpaChina interviewed Fred.
How do you define holistic health?
Health is always holistic. But I would like to put forth the Chinese perspective, and also validate it from the perspective of quantum science. This is what my advocacy is about. As I mentioned, wellness is an alignment process. And wellbeing is freedom. Where does it come from? The Taoism concept of the Way. The Way is the Way, so align to the Way. When you are aligned, your mind/body/spirit needs to do a particular practice. So your mind/body/spirit maintains good energy and evolving energy. Evolution is important because it is the way. So your life will be aligned to that. So all the Chinese culture supports this idea of the Tao, the Way. Do energy work to support your mind/body/spirit and live according to that in the correct way. And the correct way is not one way, because each one of us is unique. I might be able to drink five bottles of wine and be okay, but another person can drink one drop of wine and collapse. Our bodies are different, and more important, different at different times. You need to customize yourself. This is an alignment process. Aligning your mind body spirit of the internal reality to the external and make sure you are dancing. Only when we are dancing are we unified. It’s not balancing, it is aligning. When you are dancing with your partner, you are not balancing your body. You are aligning to each other into the dialogue of dance. The internal and external is a dance. You are not balancing internal and external. Most people think of holistic health as a balanced life. That’s because we have a divisive and separated mindset. But we have to rather have an integrated mindset. Why do we have a divisive mindset? Because today we still use algebra, our thinking is on a linear level. At least we should graduate to calculus, which is integrative and multi-dimensional. If we think like calculus, upgrade our thinking, we understand the integrative, we understand mathematics, we can understand dimensional reality. So it’s one simple word. Alignment. And what is wellbeing? The Chinese phrase is ziyou zizai (自由自在). That’s wellbeing. What does it mean? Freedom. So two words. Align and set yourself free. No stress, no resistance.
What are the essential differences between Sangha Retreat and other wellness resorts?
Sangha is built based on quantum science and also Chinese life science and Chinese culture. No other such place exists in the world. Nobody is offering Chinese wisdom to the wellness industry. Supported by the latest science, the whole design is based on the fundamental importance of shifting our belief systems. Aligning our minds is very important. Changing our habits and patterns. Alignment is what we sell. Have you seen any other wellness center that sells alignment? And sells the concept of a journey? We sell a journey towards alignment so you can be free. And the full potential of your life still be realized.
Who are the main guests now for Sangha? Are you satisfied with the results of this wellness property so far?
We have guests in all age ranges. This is still early days, and we are still dancing and developing with our customers. We are still building up all the details. The faculty is being built, the licenses are being approved. In China it is important to be careful and not do things too fast.
In the younger generation, there are increasingly people who need to find purpose. And there are two questions in their minds. What is the direction of my life, my life purpose, and how can I find my mate. The main dynamic for this group is that they are lost and lonely. You are lonely because you are lost. This is very natural. The world is already affluent. So what do you do when making a good living does not guarantee you a good life? So the seekers are one type of our clients. But there are other clients too. People who are retiring, and they ask, what I am going to do in my second life. And besides, I’ve got to fix this old body of mine. And then there are the F-1 racers, the people who need a pit stop – fix me and then I go back into the race. Then there are relationship problems – problems with children or spouse, family, anybody.
We are a life center. But we are more than a school of life because we walk with you on the journey. We are not educating. Education is a conditioning process. We are a deconditioning process. I can say it’s called “de-education”. Because from the moment we are born, we are taught to comply, we are taught to say what’s right and what’s wrong. That creates limited thoughts in our mind, which is okay within a certain span. But we are now at the end of the industrial era and a new era is coming up. We see so much disruption. We need a new paradigm to move into the new era. And what I am helping people to do is to shift the paradigm. Not giving them an education, but to help them shift. Our thinking needs to move beyond algebra and do calculus.
How do the daily operations of Sangha work to help guests find something that benefit them?
It is early days yet, and the perfect faculty and programs are not yet in place. But we are getting there. We can do simple retreats. If you have family issue, we can have family retreats, and a big spa to do detox and replenishment. Of course, we can also do assessments, yoga retreats, fasting retreats, and customized retreats, mindfulness, team building, quantum leadership. These are all tailored retreats. We are doing a lot of B2B retreats, but as we build, we will do more B2C retreats. There is a gap between needs and wants. One of the biggest challenges is we have to create the demand because it is so new. We are now launching quantum leadership at different levels. What is quantum leadership? Be the CEO of your life. But we have a blaming culture, an entitlement culture. How can you be the CEO of your life if you are in an entitlement culture? Single kid, entitlement from parents, entitlement from school, entitlement, entitlement. This is an issue. The CEO of your life means, number one you look after your life; number two you are purposeful and creative. What do we want to help them achieve? A rejoicing meaningful life. The only way to be CEO of your life is to live it with mindfulness. I know mindfulness is an overly used word, but we still haven’t found a better word. A joyous meaningful life mindfully lived.
Why did you create Octave and Sangha? What trends and needs did you see in China?
First of all, I personally have the need so I know there is a need. And the people around me have a need. But between knowing and doing, there is a gap, because of our habits and patterns. The second thing is, I know the industrial era is coming to an end and I know a new era is about to be born. Because I am not well, and I can see many other people are not well. How can they be well? If the family is not well, the friends are not well, the society is not well, the business is not well, and even the environment is not well. How can anybody be well? So therefore, the result is stress. Where does stress come from? Resistance. What is resistance? Lack of freedom. Freedom means no resistance, no stress.
How do your guests comment on your products and services?
Different people, at different time of life, have different needs and form different views us. Some people regard us as a spiritual center, some think we are a community center, learning center, or medical center. It doesn’t matter. Because it depends on their need. Maybe I need healing, maybe I need relationship help, maybe I want help on parenting. It’s life. And life is different things to you at different times. So it doesn’t matter what they think. The most important is that can we serve them.
People are paying increasing attention to mental health, especially when our material needs are met. What’s your view on this issue? And what is the Chinese perspective and future situation on this issue?
To discuss mental health, first we have to understand what is the mind. We have three levels of mind, the conscious mind, the unconscious or subconscious mind, and the deep mind, which is the quantum mind. This is where we are go into deep meditation. They call it the 8th level consciousness. The first two are individuated mind and the last one is the collective mind. This is what people who have spiritual experience call the deep mind. These minds have to be aligned to express without resistance. Align the mind to your purpose, your framing, your focus, your motivation and your actions. This alignment process is mental health. Dancing, for instance. You will have mental health if you align. Now, why are we stressed? Conflict. I want this, but I have that. This is right, but that is also right. We are full of conflict. So we have to change our paradigm. For example, the Chinese paradigm is not black and white. In Taoism, there is no good and no bad. no tall or short. They are all relative terms. Their polarity unifies. There is no paradox, no duality. Shift to a level of consciousness where you see no duality. If you look at your life, in every challenging situation, when you overcome, you evolve. Without challenge, there is no evolution. How we look at challenges changes things. Other people say, this is a difficult guy. But you say: thank you for being difficult for me. I am having difficulties with you, so it’s my problem. If you change your perspective, then you can let it go immediately. You come in and out of a kind of trance. You need to increase the percentage of being free, then you will increase your feeling of happiness. But it will never be all the time. If you are angry, as we all are sometimes, experience that anger. Do not suppress that anger. But don’t let your anger overrun and overwhelm you. This is an experience.
What mental wellness programs are provided by Sangha and Octave?
First, we offer many customized programs, not necessarily directly labeled with mental programs. Coaching is always available. When you go to have an assessment, we do give you some mental assessment. And then we will have a chat to look where you are, listen to your story. Every story reveals a lot. At the end of the story, you have an identity. Sometimes, I am a victim, I am a conqueror. Or I am a winner. Or I am nothing. Whatever that distillation, it places where you are. It has nothing to do with whether they can make a lot of money or not. You are successful, you are making money, that doesn’t mean you have a good mental situation. People get it wrong by thinking successful people are successful in everything. No.
Mental is a very delicate thing because nobody wants to feel they are mentally sick, or mentally weak. But there are a lot of other things targeting mental health too. For example, mindful parenting is a mental thing. Done right, you actually regress yourself to see the world as a child and you can learn from and play with kids. With some, you can help them go back with what we call inner child healing. That’s the best opportunity to heal yourself. While you are doing a parenting class, it’s actually a mental changing healing process. While you are engaged in this activity, unconsciously, we are healing you. So we do it many ways. Mind / body / spirit is not separable.