What is spirituality?
There is a need for spirituality in individual life, collective life, social life, also in the corporate world.
Spirituality does not mean only to go to the temple offer flowers and fruits to the deity, or to sit in a corner of the temple for little meditation. Spirituality is positive thinking, positive emotion, values like transparency & unselfishness, feeling for others, feeling oneness with others and the spirit of dedication &devotion.
What is positive thinking? According to Swami Vivekananda, you should not think yourself weak. You are strong and tremendous power lies within you. You can do anything and everything. There is an immense possibility within you. You can make the impossible possible! This is positive thinking.
Again Swamiji said – positive thinking is such which makes you strong and vibrant – physically, intellectually, mentally, morally and spiritually. And positive thinking has tremendous impact on the personality of person. When you go to a workplace – whether in an office or an agricultural farm or a factory, you face problems and challenges. They are bound to come when you do some work. If you fill up your mind with positive thinking, undoubtedly you can face any kind of problem or challenge. That is the tremendous effect on the personality of a person.
There is positive emotion and negative emotion. What are negative emotions? Hatred, jealousy, anger, and so on. Positive emotion is love, affection, unselfishness, friendship, and fellow feeling. Negative emotions very badly affect our personality. They affect our thinking process. Then how to remove this negative emotions?
We can remove negative emotions by positive emotions. One sterling quality of spirituality is love. You can conquer all negative emotions like hatred and jealousy with love only. You can do this because love has tremendous piercing power. Knowledge can go to some distance, learning can go to some distance, but love has tremendous piercing power which can touch the core of your heart and by love you can conquer everything.
So spirituality is nothing but a change of your thinking process, your emotion. In other words, spirituality is a transformation of the inner being. You have to change your mindset and your attitude. This change in your thinking, emotion, behavior – this is spirituality.
Both internal and external cleanliness is needed for spirituality
Somebody was talking about Swacch Bharat Abhiyan – clean India initiative. It is a good initiative – that you have to clean your room, the roads in front of your house, your surroundings. All this is about external cleanliness. The other type is internal cleanliness. Spirituality is nothing but internal cleanliness – आंतरिकस्वच्छता. we can clean outside with phenyl, Dettol and such things. What about the dirt and garbage that is inside us? Don’t think of garbage only in outside terms. You do not know how much dirt and garbage is there inside.
The scriptures mention that inside there are 6 enemies that are very powerful. They are called ‘sararipu’ (सररिपु) – Kama, krodha, lobha, moha, madaand matsarya (काम , क्रोध, लोभ, मोह,मद,मात्सर्य). These 6 enemies are tremendously powerful. These are not sitting outside, they are sitting inside and troubling the person outside. Therefore internal cleanliness is very important.
You cannot clean inside with detergent and phenyl and broomstick! How then can we clean it? With the power of spirituality. Spirituality is cleansing inside. And this is inner transparency. Which is very important. So both – external & internal cleanliness are needed – बाह्यस्वच्छता&आंतरिकस्वच्छता.
Spirituality has to be understood in the proper perspective. It is the transformation of inner being – change of attitude and mindset.
What is the test of spirituality?
How can we judge whether a person is spiritual or not? Swami Vivekananda has said – unselfishness is the test of religion and spirituality. If a person is very selfish, he cannot be called spiritual. He may go to the temple a thousand times. And he may bathe in the Ganges also a 100 times. It doesn’tmatter. But whether the person is unselfish or not, is very important.
In this context I remember a very beautiful saying of Swami Vivekananda. He traveled all over India to know and understand India, to become one with India, and to know the problems of India. After that he writes a beautiful letter to the Maharaja of Mysore (it is very touching and also very spiritual). He writes – “My noble prince, life is very short, the vanities of life are very transient. He alone lives who lives for others. The rest are more dead than alive”. You have to give something – give, give, give – if you have something, give without any conditions and expectation of returns. One should live for others. Unfortunately we are living for ourselves only. That is not spirituality. If a person lives for others, he is spiritual.
Narrowness, selfishness, self-centeredness, make our life very miserable. The more you expand, the more you get joy and bliss. Swamiji said very nicely: “Expansion is life, contraction is death”
What is expansion? Expansion of your heart, of your attitude, of your own thinking, of your emotion. It means you feel one with others. Do you feel oneness with others? This is why there is so much discordance among us. We see this in the family, in society, in the country, in the world. Swamiji said very nicely that all the difference we see around – is in degree but not in kind. Somebody is tall, somebody is short; somebody is white, somebody is black; somebody is rich, somebody is poor; somebody is literate somebody is illiterate. Yes there is difference. There is no doubt about it. But this difference, according to our Vedanta philosophy, is apparent difference. But we are one and the same. The same Atman the same Brahman is residing within us. All of us – whether rich or poor, whether educated or uneducated. This is the whole of Vedanta philosophy – this feeling of oneness with others.
If you feel oneness with others, then all problems will be solved. But unfortunately we cannot feel this oneness with others. We will have to experience this in seclusion.
How to bring about spirituality in the corporate world?
This appears to be contradictory. It is like the south pole and north pole. Like hot ice! Because spiritualty deals with the spirit and corporate world deals with matter and particularly money and profit.How then can spirituality be brought in the corporate world?
It is being felt that you must bring spirituality into the corporate world for long sustenance – for long-term benefit. Business, commerce, trade are based on some principles and ethics. These are the basis and foundation of the business/ trade/ commerce/ corporates. So these principles and ethics in business must be followed.
People want very short-term profits. We want instant gains and results. But we cannot expect that we will get everything immediately”. Kabir said – “धीरेधीरेमनसबकुछहोइ, मालीसींचेसौघड़ा, ऋतोआयेतबफलहोइ।”What does this mean? You have to wait. Everything will happen in due course. For example, if you want mango fruits from a mango tree, other than in its own season, even if one puts 100 buckets of water or any amount of fertilizer to get the fruit, it will not happen. The mango tree will bear fruit only in the mango season.
So patience is needed – that everything will happen in its due course. And everything has its own natural growth. You cannot manipulate it. You cannot expedite it. It is a natural growth. So we should have some patience for results to come.
However we want instant gains – and that too short term benefits and profits. But if you want to sustain your business for a long time, you must practice some ethics and principles. I can quote 100s of good companies – multinationals and in India also which could have sustained for a long time. Initially, they gained so much, but collapsed in the long run – like a house of cards! Huge companies are crumbling and collapsing. Why? Because of not following minimum and basic ethics in business.
Both – Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Sarawasti must be worshipped
There are the Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Sarawasti. Goddess Lakshmi gives us wealth, and Goddess Saraswati gives us knowledge. Both should go side by side. If you run only after Goddess Lakshmi– wealth and prosperity – and there is no wisdom and knowledge, then what happens. You find a lack of equilibrium, an imbalance. To strike a balance between the two, you must have the power of wealth and at the same time the power of knowledge and wisdom. When both are there, there is no problem. There is a problem only when there is Goddess Lakshmi and no Goddess Saraswati.
It is said that Goddess Lakshmi is very ‘chanchala’ – very restless. After 1-2 generations many big and rich family run businesses collapse. You must know how to hold Goddess Lakshmi. If you have no knowledge and wisdom, if you have no basic transparency and basic principles, you cannot hold wealth. You see in some rich families – the father is a very nice person, who has accumulated huge property and wealth. In the next generation, the son is not disciplined – not a man of character. Then what happens? In the second generation, everything goes away and the son becomes a pauper. Similarly in corporate houses, you must have basic principles and ethics.
It is generally understood that by maintaining transparency, one cannot run business and make profits. This is an absolutely wrong idea. I recently visited in Belgaum a huge factory manufacturing some turbines. He has called it Ashrama Factory. I asked the owner why?. He said Swamiji here we maintain 100% transparency. I asked him can you make profits and run the business? He said “yes it is possible. Initially there is a lot of trouble and difficulties, but it is possible.” In that company everything is open. There is no hide and seek. There is no black money accounts, and such things. He also said “many companies are making profits without transparency. But Swamiji I can tell you, maintaining transparency in the business, my factory makes more profits than the others.”
Today it is said that for long-term profit, long-term gain and long-term sustenance, a flavor of spirituality is needed. And spirituality in this context is nothing but these basic principles and ethics.
Qualities needed by business houses to be sustainable
I feel that three qualities must be there in any organization – whether it be a political organization, monastic organization, corporate or business house. Then you can run the institution very effectively and for a long long time.
First is transparency. You must be transparent in your dealings, your behavior, your transactions, your payments.
Second is accountability. The company must be accountable to the customers.
And third is credibility. You must earn credibility. This is called goodwill. Take the example of the Tatas. How much goodwill they have earned in the market. You don’t question any product from Tata in the market – whether it will be good or not. Why is that so? When you purchase the product of other companies, there are doubts – whether it will be good or not. Whether it will be up to the standard or not. But if we purchase the product of any company who has earned goodwill and credibility, we purchase without thinking.
So these are the three things very important.
Why is the corporate houses collapsing? Because for short-term, immediate gains/ results/ profits, they compromise the quality of the product, and violate all rules, regulations, ethics and principles. Initially they may get a lot of profit and returns. But in the long-run the company cannot sustain.
That is why, for having basic principles and ethics – spiritualty – is a must.
Why are people not transparent today? You must understand what is need and greed. Sometimes we cannot discriminate between the two. You can fulfill your basic needs – there is no doubt about it. But you cannot satisfy your greed. There no end to greed. It comes one after another. Desires are innumerable. There is no end to them.
Today you have a Titan watch, tomorrow you want a Rolex. Today you have a Maruti, tomorrow you want a BMW or a Mercedes. So they are innumerable. And in one life you cannot satisfy all desires. Because of these insatiable desires, you are suffering. All the misery is due to this.
The root of all misery is desire
Bhagavan Buddha was a prince. He saw everything – all enjoyment. He realized what is the cause of this misery – ‘dukkha’ – the sorrow and suffering? He asked what is the root of this? He left everything – home, hearth and the princely royal house. And after his sadhana he realized that ‘dukkhamdukkhamsarvamdukkham’. Everything permeates with suffering, misery and sorrow. The cause of dukkha as he discovered is, in Pali language – ‘tanaha’ and in Sanskrit – ‘trishna’ – desire.
So friends, you may not get permanent peace and happiness from material objects. Whatever costly clothes you wear, wrist-watches you wear, you may have wealth name, fame, power, position. From all these material objects, the peace and happiness you will get will be very temporary. Today it is there tomorrow it is not there. To have permanent peace and happiness, you must practice spirituality.
I see Facebook – there is so much you can learn from it. Day before yesterday, a person has written about a story about Lord Buddha. Somebody went to him and asked him – I want happiness. Buddha said first you remove the ‘I’. What is ‘I’? the ego – inflated ego. The Ahankara. What remains – ‘want happiness’. Then you remove ‘want’ – desires. When you remove both ‘I’ and ‘want’, what remains? Happiness!
So dear friends, to lead a meaningful and peaceful life, to attain sustainability in business and corporate world, you must practice spirituality. This does not mean spend more time, or money. Just change your attitude – towards your thinking, your emotions, your behavior. And change for good. That is spirituality.
Let all be happy, Let all be healthy.