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Posts Tagged ‘Bhagavad Gita’

 

All of you are welcome to join me in this journey!

 

From depths of despondency to heights of committed action

Agitation to tranquility, peace and calm within

Negativity to positivity

An inward shuddering to steadfastness within

Sweating the small stuff to worrying over values and ethics;

 

From being stressed out to higher resilience

Fretting over past and future to living in the present

Controlled by ego and desires to living a life of true bliss

Lassoing the wild horse within known as the mind

Analysis paralysis to intuitive decision making

Clear focus on work but not to the rewards thereof;

 

From chaotic work to a balanced life

Myopic to a long term view of things

Quarterly guidelines to value-based strategic goals

Generating surpluses to holding same in trust for stakeholders

Creating wealth and sharing some of it with society at large

Treating all with due respect and empathy;

 

From aversion to love

‘Me and I’ to ‘We and Us’

I-am-the-Doer to humility

Encouraging dissent and diversity

Communicating with clarity and beneficial motives

Standing up to what you are convinced is wrong;

 

From being selfish to selfless

Reactive to proactive

Passion to compassion

Anger and hatred to love

Arrogance to grace

Always maintaining an inner connection with your true Self;

 

From anxiety to poise

Fear to courage

Restless to peaceful

Resentful to forgiving

Imbalance to balance

Desire-laden to free of desires;

 

From gross to subtle

Being a hypocrite to being true to yourself

Keeping mum to openly defending the good

And destroying the bad

Attachment to detachment

Enjoying life to the hilt;

 

From expectation to acceptance

Passive resistance to vibrant surrender

Intellectualizing to wisdom

Ignorance to knowledge

Unaware to aware of your strengths and weaknesses

Managing affairs by loftier objectives.

 

What I conveyed to my friend Arjuna on a battlefield long time back can inspire you to face mighty challenges while running or managing a business.

From a despondent being, I could somehow succeed in persuading him to becoming a highly charged-up warrior, ready to fight for his rights.

I merely re-packaged the rich lessons of eternal wisdom embedded in Indian scriptures and presented a highly distilled version of the same for use of all of you.

If you wish to deliver miraculous results, keep your saw always sharpened, put in extraordinary effort and have unwavering faith. There is no other way to success.

Who is the driver of the car?!

Those of you who do not take a jaundiced view of the proposition of reincarnation, may consider the example of a brand new shimmering car being allotted to us in the form of a new body at the beginning of each of our lives. The car does not come with any time-limited warranty. Its longevity is determined by the quality of its engine, the love with which one maintains it, the manner in which it is handled while being driven around the sunlit streets of life, and several other factors.

Bhagavad Gita gives us a roadmap of what one can do to utilize this car to its optimum level. The more we inject the fuel of hopes and desires into its system, the faster it may run, though there is a range of speed within which the engine efficiency is the best. Regular application of brakes is a necessity, so one does not meet one’s ruin while driving. One’s senses, one’s mind and one’s desires have to be kept on a tight leash and deployed only in moderation, so the mileage one gets is the best possible under the driving conditions that one faces. The lubricants of skills, knowledge, faith and sincerity help to maximize engine efficiency. The coolant of detachment assists quietly in its own way.

Try and visualize a driver-less car of the future, duly armed with Artificial Intelligence and practically run by a complex array of Programmable Logic Controllers and other technological marvels. It can take one from point A to point B in a far less stressful manner. It can park itself. Assuming that it is a hybrid model which works on conventional fuel as well as also on its battery, whenever brakes are applied to keep its sensors and desires under check, a part of the kinetic energy gets utilized to charge the battery as well.

Now, if the supreme analytical skills of this car lead its ‘mind’ to believe that it is indeed the real driver and not the real person who owns it and decides its destinations from time to time, the car could be said to be living in a delusion of its own. Indeed, the soul would be the real driver!

This indeed is the tragedy of CEOs and managers who believe that they alone are the doers as well as the enjoyers of the delightful journey called life. A sense of conscious detachment then becomes necessary for one to realize one’s true place in the overall scheme of things.

Life is a unique opportunity for all of you to use the same and move up the ladder of spiritual evolution. Pray do not waste it while you are busy chasing materialistic goals.

(Related Post:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/management-lessons-from-the-life-of-lord-krishna)

 

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The proposition of reincarnation contained in Bhagavad Gita leads one to an interesting corollary – that of accumulation of the effect of one’s actions over several lives. It is as if one has a Savings Bank account of one’s Karmas.

The good news is that if one’s present is based on one’s past actions and thoughts, one can use one’s Free Will to shape one’s own future by punching the right buttons in the present.

A Do-It-Yourself Approach

In other words, what is on offer here is a Do-It-Yourself approach. This is how Lord Krishna explains it:

उद्धरेदात्मनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत् |
आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मन: || 6.5||

Elevate yourself through the power of your Self, and not degrade yourself, for the Self can be the friend and also the enemy of oneself.

Ultimately, it is up to an aspirant alone to accept the responsibility for either blessing or damning herself. Each life gives one an opportunity for self-growth and also the strength to pull oneself out of one’s bubble of misconceptions and prejudices. How one makes use of these is up to oneself.

The Divine is not a Chief Administrative Officer who keeps an account of all of one’s thoughts and actions of endless lifetimes. Surely, our Guardian Angels would then have to undertake a massive work of this nature with the help of several super computers, duly backed by an elaborate system of codes, managing a huge database, backed by impeccable information security and a sharp Operating System which could give our colleagues in the Silicon Valley a run for their money.

नादत्ते कस्यचित्पापं न चैव सुकृतं विभु: |
अज्ञानेनावृतं ज्ञानं तेन मुह्यन्ति जन्तव: || 5.15||

The omnipresent God does not involve Himself in the sinful or virtuous deeds of anyone. The living entities are deluded because their inner knowledge is covered by ignorance.

But one’s personal system is designed such that when one is reborn, the operating system of Karma gets freshly installed. Past files containing memories get quarantined in the deep recesses of the subconscious, only to be partially retrieved if one decides to undergo professional regression therapy of some kind. Evidence of this kind has been reported by Dr Brian Leslie Weiss in a series of books, like the one entitled ‘Many Lives, Many Masters’. But there is no dearth of sceptics who take a dim view of an approach of this kind.

However, with each birth, files containing all the past attachments are brought forward intact and stored in a hidden encrypted secured partition. This balance sheet of one’s actions, alluded to as Sanchita Karmas, or Collective Actions, has a component of current asset which goes by the name of Destiny (Praarabdha). It captures one’s past actions which are due for fruition during the current life. The core Karma application computes the result from one’s actions in the present life, keeping in view one’s Sanchita Karmas, and keeps updating the balance sheet.

The Theory of Karma

In accordance with the Theory of Karma, the spiritual earnings of an unsuccessful aspirant in the previous life bear fruit. Accordingly, ones who had not made much progress in their past lives are kept waiting in the stack of celestial abodes whereas those who had traversed quite a distance and developed dispassion are not sent to the celestial abodes. They are given birth in a spiritually evolved family, to facilitate the continuance of their journey, albeit through a newly installed operating system along with the updated balance sheet in the hidden partition. Such a birth is a great fortune because the parents inculcate divine wisdom in the child from the very beginning, thereby putting the new born soul on a faster track of evolution.

Lord Krishna explains this concept as follows:

प्राप्य पुण्यकृतां लोकानुषित्वा शाश्वती: समा: |
शुचीनां श्रीमतां गेहे योगभ्रष्टोऽभिजायते || 6.41||
अथवा योगिनामेव कुले भवति धीमताम् |
एतद्धि दुर्लभतरं लोके जन्म यदीदृशम् || 6.42||

The unsuccessful yogis, upon death, go to the abodes of the virtuous. After dwelling there for many ages, they are again reborn in the earth plane, into a family of pious and prosperous people. Else, if they had developed dispassion due to long practice of Yog, they are born into a family endowed with divine wisdom. Such a birth is very difficult to attain in this world.

If Charles Darwin had ever ventured to touch upon the process of further evolution of human consciousness, Homo sapiens would perhaps have been enlightened on the subject. However, here we are given a proposition which provides us a ready template for the spiritual ascension of an individual. It also provides us with a tacit assurance that all our benign motivations are likely to get fulfilled sooner or later, provided these are strong enough and are accompanied by intense activities appropriate for their fulfilment.

तत्र तं बुद्धिसंयोगं लभते पौर्वदेहिकम् |
यतते च ततो भूय: संसिद्धौ कुरुनन्दन || 6.43||

On taking such a birth, O descendant of Kurus, they reawaken the wisdom of their previous lives, and strive even harder toward perfection in Yog.

Stalwarts like Buddha, Christ, Adi Shankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda and Mother Teresa who continue to inspire lesser mortals the world over were surely purer souls which had attained a much higher level of perfection in their previous lives, thereby leading by example in their lives that we happen to know of. All these persons were obviously a rare breed.

Here, the importance of perseverance takes on a deeper meaning. Whereas many of us pursue several things with single-minded devotion in our lives and produce significant results for ourselves and also for those around us, here we find an overarching endeavour of perseverance, spread over many lives. The project of attaining liberation is managed throughout the life cycle of one’s journey. With each life, one’s brand equity gets a boost.

प्रयत्नाद्यतमानस्तु योगी संशुद्धकिल्बिष: |
अनेकजन्मसंसिद्धस्ततो याति परां गतिम् || 6.45||

With the accumulated merits of many past births, when these yogis engage in sincere endeavour in making further progress, they become purified from material desires and attain perfection.

A CEO who has aligned herself to the practice of self-control and detachment is bound to be as close to perfection as possible. This does not permit her to avoid acting as an intra-preneur, though. Taking a proprietary interest in the scheme of things is essential to her personal growth and evolution in the realm of management.

Easing the iron grip of Karma

If what one is now is the result of our past actions, it follows that whatever one wishes to be in future can be produced by one’s present actions. One creates one’s own future and either beefs up or tarnishes one’s own brand equity.

Though Bhagavad Gita waxes eloquent on Karma Yoga, it does not necessarily showcase the Theory of Karma. Instead, the enticement on offer here is that it shows one a way to transcend the cycle of one’s actions, by controlling one’s desires and by practising the art of detachment from its results.

It is a well recognized fact that in any given hierarchy, rules governing the conduct of employees vary depending upon one’s level of operation. Take the example of punching clocks or gadgets which help administrators keep a track of late comers or early leavers from a factory. The rules which govern, say, shop-floor level employees, cannot be the same as those applied to CEOs, simply because the latter’s roles are far wider. The hapless souls have to maintain their sangfroid in an era of 24×7 connectivity. Hence, their time-bound physical availability on the campus need not be as strict as that of a shop-floor employee. However, if they happen to be heading the manufacturing activities, they set a healthy example by being on their desk some thirty odd minutes before the work day starts. This way, they not only avoid traffic blues of a rush hour but also enjoy a quiet time which helps them to organize their work better for the day.

Likewise, the Theory of Karma espoused in Indian scriptures applies only to those who operate at the material level of things. As they start growing out of the operational level and give up attachment, as well as aversion, altogether and perform all actions with a sense of duty, maintaining their equipoise in success and failure, they get released from the bondage of their own actions. With such a balance in the account, the application starts rewarding with higher privileges. Such souls end up easing the iron grip of Karma on their lives. Unless they start abusing their privileges, they end up experiencing the bliss of true freedom.

The Savings Bank accounts of Karma of such souls could gradually be declared to be inoperative in nature. Their personal Operating System of Karma could breathe easy, with the core application deactivated.

Indeed, the proposition of enabling one to transcend the cycle of Karma is a Unique Selling Proposition of Bhagavad Gita.

(Inputs from an IT-expert are gratefully acknowledged)

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Call of the Vedas

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Me, my work, my life. Off balance. What is wrong?   

Today, my work and life are not in balance. I spend long hours at work to eke out a pay check, to fulfill career ambition or just to make more money. Then I spend considerable time in commuting to and from work. I return home physically and mentally exhausted. I microwave the frozen left overs from the fridge, nibble on the meal as I check my iPhone for emails, text messages and missed calls. Work place conflicts, project dead-lines, job security fears – all these weigh in my mind as  I mechanically play with my three year old son for a few minutes, then move over, open up my laptop and immerse myself in work to meet project dead-lines, to please my boss or just to hang on to the job I have. After a short, inadequate and fitful sleep, I wake up…

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In its concluding chapter, Bhagavad Gita goes on to extol the virtue of surrender to a higher power. It does not specifically state that it is useful only when a CEO is facing a monumental challenge in her career or life. However, it is my belief that an attitude laced with liberal doses of surrender, duly backed by the personality attributes listed in the previous chapter, becomes the most crucial enabling factor which facilitates successful handling of such challenges.

तमेव शरणं गच्छ सर्वभावेन भारत |
तत्प्रसादात्परां शान्तिं स्थानं प्राप्स्यसि शाश्वतम् || 18.62||

Surrender exclusively unto Him with your whole being, O Bharat. By His grace, you will attain perfect peace and the eternal abode.

Much like a Senior Vice President who gets promoted as a CEO after the seniors notice a potential in her to shoulder a higher responsibility, coupled with a match between the value system of the incumbent and that of the business, and a deep sense of loyalty (read surrender) to the organization, Lord Krishna also stipulates the condition under which His grace would help a person to attain perfect peace – exclusive surrender. A conscious realization that it is not one’s own efforts alone which get success in life, and that it is one’s destiny also which plays a crucial role, helps one to surrender in such a manner. 

There are no free lunches in life, as the wise men say!

Challenges and evolution

Each of the demeaning experiences faced by yours truly and shared in the previous part led to some inner growth. A public rebuke made me learn the value of sensing dangerous turbulence on the flight path in advance, and punching the eject button in the cockpit before things spun out of control. Likewise, the kidnapping incident taught me the importance of having some acquaintance with the law and order and regulatory agencies in the country. As an additional perk, each incident revealed the true friends and foes of those around me at the time. An enriching string of experiences, one would say in retrospect.

When a pink slip gets dished out, one finds an opportunity of reassessing one’s strengths and weaknesses and act on them. A fall from grace eventually ends up increasing the depth of one’s inner reservoirs of patience, equipoise and fortitude.

When Kunti seeks challenges as a boon!

In one of the post-war episodes narrated in the Srimad Bhagavatam, when Krishna is about to depart for his kingdom of Dwarka, Uttara, the bereaved wife of Abhimanyu and the daughter-in-law of Arjuna, comes running to seek His protection for the son in her womb who has been killed by a mighty weapon unleashed by Ashwatthama. Krishna then brings the child back to life, at which time Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas and an aunt of Krishna, prays thus:

विषान्महाग्नेः पुरुषाददर्शनाद्  असत्सभाया वनवासकृच्छ्रतः ।
मृधे मृधेऽनेकमहारथास्त्रतो  द्रौण्यस्त्रतश्चास्म हरेऽभिरक्षिताः ॥ 1.8.24

My dear Krishna, you have protected us from a poisoned cake, from a great fire, from cannibals, from the vicious assembly, from sufferings during our exile in the forest and from the battle where great generals fought. And now You have saved us from the weapon of Asshwatthama.

विपदः सन्तु ताः शश्वत् तत्र तत्र जगद्‍गुरो ।
भवतो दर्शनं यत्स्याद् अपुनर्भवदर्शनम् ॥ 1.8.25

I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer repeated births and deaths.

Apprehending that she and her children would subsequently be missing being in touch with someone of the stature of Krishna, Kunti seeks a blessing from Him – that her family is always surrounded by some trouble or the other. The Lord is obviously surprised and bemused at someone seeking a negative blessing!

Of Challenges, Deprivation and Humiliation

Shri Ram Chandra Maharaj, affectionately referred to as Lalaji Maharaj by his followers the world over, was the original Master of the spiritual organization which is spear-heading the practice of Heartfulness Meditation globally these days. He has stated in one of his messages that there are three factors in one’s life which lead to spiritual evolution: Illat (Challenges), Quillat (Deprivation) and Zillat (Deprivation).

What is really implied here is that one needs to learn to accept challenges – major or minor – in the spirit of ‘illat’, ‘quillat’ and ‘zillat’. In other words, to have a little less money than necessary; to have a little less than good health; and to always have critics around one. Those who are on the path to an inward growth would do well to receive such brickbats and rocks as fragrant bouquets which life bestows on one.

The real examples quoted earlier in this context aptly justify this sobering thought.

Negatives support us better!

Swami Vivekananda, in his notes on Karma-Yoga, has the following to say:

‘Good and evil have an equal share in moulding character, and in some instances misery is a greater teacher than happiness. In studying the great characters the world has produced, I dare say, in the vast majority of cases it would be found that it was misery that taught more than happiness, it was poverty that taught more than wealth, it was blows that brought out their inner fire more than praise.’

Perhaps, if Mahatma Gandhi had not been kicked out of a train for traveling first class at Pietermaritzburg in 1893 in South Africa, the history of Indian continent might have been quite different!

The argument here is not that one should willingly court challenges and negativity in life. It is merely to state a basic truth in life – that challenges have an upside too.

The rhinoceroses of challenges

Challenges come in all sizes, hues and degrees of seriousness. Each challenge faced by one in life eventually results in speeding up one’s progress on the tricky path of evolution. One gains maturity and experience. One learns to be grateful when one is feeling unduly elated, and graceful when feeling totally down. One learns to be more careful and patient.

Challenges are blessings which bring about changes which uplift and enrich one. Our Guardian Angels would never desert us. Instead, they plan their furloughs in such a way that while they are having a rollicking time on a distant planet, one gets precisely the kind of challenges which enable us to become more humane, more pragmatic and more professional in our dealings with people and with situations.

One’s fight with mighty challenges in career and life could be decisively won by using the firepower of the tools in one’s arsenal – A relentless drive to keep upgrading one’s knowledge base and skill-sets, and to have faith in a higher power. An attitude of surrender enables one to march on in life, with one’s chin up, a smile adorning one’s visage, and a steely resolve to make the approaching rhinoceroses-like challenges to wilt and retreat into their own comfort zones.

(Sources:

The Spider’s Web, Vol. 3, Chapter “Attitude”, by Shri P Rajagopalachari;

Karma Yoga: The Yoga of Action, Chapter “Karma In Its Effect on Character”, Swami Vivekananda, ISBN 81-85301-89-1

Illustrations courtesy www)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2019/06/13/when-life-hurls-big-rocks-at-one)

 

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Lord Krishna, whose birthday will be celebrated tomorrow, happens to be one of the most revered and liked gods of the Hindu pantheon. Looked at from a management point of view, he is a leader par excellence. He manages events and people in such a manner that the end result is eventually positive and leads to a greater good.

Here are some facets of his personality which might be instructive for managers at all levels.

A friendly demeanour

When a devotee plans to seek a straight forward favour, like when a much-awaited promotion is due and hard workKrishna_holding_flute has indeed been put in for the purpose, Lord Rama is often the more sought after religious figure. But when a devious request has to be made, say when praying for the transfer of a CEO who keeps disturbing one’s mental peace, the attention invariably turns to Lord Krishna. After all, he…

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Life is not fair. Once in a while, when one’s Guardian Angels decide to go off to enjoy a long furlough, it decides that merely throwing some brickbats at one is not enough. Instead, it derives a sadistic pleasure in hurling huge rocks at us. These are instances when it is no longer a question of one’s ego to be kept on a tight leash or just managing one’s basket of desires. The challenge in such cases is that of meeting one’s basic needs; of keeping one’s body and soul together. Even one’s survival could be at stake.

On one of those not-so-fine mornings, one gets called by the boss with a stiff upper lip and handed over a pink slip. Given advances in technology, one is told that one’s services are no longer required. Thanks to the Industrial Revolution 4.0, one’s career goes for a toss.

Or, a CEO who has built an enviable reputation for herself over the years, comes under the cloud of a corporate scandal which gets eagerly sniffed at by various regulatory agencies. This prompts her to put in her papers and face the legal consequences. The media, of which she was a darling till the other day, decides to start shaming her. A severe loss of prestige comes about. A glorious career comes to a sudden halt. Her feelings in a situation of this kind could not be much different than those of Napoleon after his Waterloo debacle.

Some once-in-a-blue-moon experiences

Allow yours truly to share few experiences from his personal life.

A low point in the career

While working in a company which was steadily going downhill due to very high overheads and also an unhealthy level of internal bickering and politics, a highly embarrassed moment had to be faced. In a meeting of all senior managers, I was somehow singled out to be publically lynched for much of what was going wrong with the operations. The unfairness of it, and that too delivered in wide public view, left me shaken to my core. Whereas all those who know me personally can vouchsafe for my chin-up attitude towards life, on this particular occasion, I confess that suicidal thoughts plagued my mind. Always appreciated for my work and sincerity, this was indeed the lowest point in my career.

Late evening, though, my boss offered his sincere apologies. Thoughts of a spiritual nature and a dash of equanimity helped me to regain my sangfroid, so to say. A few months down the road, I moved on to a much better position in another outfit.

The kidnapping fiasco

While working in a very senior position in a small town in India, on one fateful night, I and my son were kidnapped by a gang of four and kept in captivity overnight. They were under the impression that I was the owner of the business I was working with at the time. They had a ransom demand which I had no way of fulfilling.

While held in captivity, I could imagine the sequence of events if they decided to bump me off and dump the body at a desolate location. But faith in a higher power saw me regaining my confidence. Despite a language barrier, I could explain my financial constraints to them. We could eventually manage to get released without much physical harm by the time the next day dawned.

Swift police action followed. Based on my cell phone records, the miscreants were identified and nabbed. But it took me a very long time to mentally recover from the trauma suffered.

Partition blues

One of the heavy costs paid by the society at large when India became independent in 1947 and a new country known as Pakistan got carved out of it was the riots which broke out. Families had to leave their properties, home and hearth behind, and run across the newly formed border to safer sanctuaries. According to UNHCR estimates, partition led to a displacement of some 10-12 million persons along religious lines.

My wife’s Hindu family, located then at Bahawalpur in Pakistan, was one such which faced a trauma of this kind. Interestingly, it was a Muslim family which stitched ‘burqas’ for the entire family and assisted them in fleeing to India. From being rich landlords in Pakistan, overnight they became paupers.

It was by sheer dint of her father’s hard work and resilience that they rebuilt their lives in India from scratch. Prosperity and happiness rules the family today, thanks in part also due to the innate faith they have in their family deity. An old cot from Pakistan, donated by the family, is one of the items on display now at the Partition Museum at Amritsar in the Punjab province of India.

Crucial enabling factors

With the benefit of a 20/20 hindsight, one can analyze and identify the crucial underlying factors which enabled a successful handling of such challenges. If the low point in career could be handled with the help of humility and one’s own job knowledge, skills and attitude, the kidnapping incident could be overcome with faith and an inclination to surrender to a higher power. As to the partition catastrophe, hard work backed by my father-in-law’s own skill-bank and innate faith eventually led to success.

It is not difficult to discover traces here of what Bhagavad Gita proposes.

अमानित्वमदम्भित्वमहिंसा क्षान्तिरार्जवम् |
आचार्योपासनं शौचं स्थैर्यमात्मविनिग्रह: || 13.8||
इन्द्रियार्थेषु वैराग्यमनहङ्कार एव च |
जन्ममृत्युजराव्याधिदु:खदोषानुदर्शनम् || 13.9||
असक्तिरनभिष्वङ्ग: पुत्रदारगृहादिषु |
नित्यं च समचित्तत्वमिष्टानिष्टोपपत्तिषु || 13.10||
मयि चानन्ययोगेन भक्तिरव्यभिचारिणी |
विविक्तदेशसेवित्वमरतिर्जनसंसदि || 13.11||
अध्यात्मज्ञाननित्यत्वं तत्वज्ञानार्थदर्शनम् |
एतज्ज्ञानमिति प्रोक्तमज्ञानं यदतोऽन्यथा || 13.12||

Humbleness; freedom from hypocrisy; non-violence; forgiveness; simplicity; service of the Guru; cleanliness of body and mind; steadfastness; and self-control; dispassion toward the objects of the senses; absence of egotism; keeping in mind the evils of birth, disease, old age, and death; non-attachment; absence of clinging to spouse, children, home, and so on; even-mindedness amidst desired and undesired events in life; constant and exclusive devotion toward Me; an inclination for solitary places and an aversion for mundane society; constancy in spiritual knowledge; and philosophical pursuit of the Absolute Truth—all these I declare to be knowledge, and what is contrary to it, I call ignorance.

Here, one has a virtual ready reckoner of certain mental and emotional attributes, moral attitudes and ethical principles. These are held to be the essential prerequisites for one to discover – and act in tandem with – the Self within.

 

तमेव शरणं गच्छ सर्वभावेन भारत |
तत्प्रसादात्परां शान्तिं स्थानं प्राप्स्यसि शाश्वतम् || 18.62||

Surrender exclusively unto Him with your whole being, O Bharat. By his grace, you will attain perfect peace and the eternal abode.

Much like a Senior Vice President who gets promoted as a CEO after the seniors notice a potential in her to shoulder a higher responsibility, coupled with a match between the value system of the incumbent and that of the business, and a deep sense of loyalty (read surrender) to the organization, Lord Krishna also stipulates the condition under which His grace would help a person to attain perfect peace – exclusive surrender. A conscious realization that it is not one’s own efforts alone which get success in life, and that it is one’s destiny also which plays a crucial role, helps one to surrender in such a manner. 

Challenges and evolution

Each of the demeaning experiences faced by yours truly led to some inner growth. A public rebuke made me learn the value of sensing dangerous turbulence on the flight path in advance, and punching the eject button in the cockpit before things spun out of control. Likewise, the kidnapping incident taught me the importance of having some acquaintance with the law and order and regulatory agencies in the country. As an additional perk, each incident revealed the true friends and foes of those around me at the time. An enriching string of experiences, one would say in retrospect.

When a pink slip gets dished out, one finds an opportunity of reassessing one’s strengths and weaknesses and act on them. A fall from grace eventually ends up increasing the depth of one’s inner reservoirs of patience, equipoise and fortitude.

Challenges come in all sizes, hues and degrees of seriousness. Each challenge faced by one in life eventually results in speeding up one’s progress on the tricky path of evolution. One gains maturity and experience. One learns to be grateful when one is feeling unduly elated, and graceful when feeling totally down. One learns to be more careful and patient. Challenges are blessings which bring about changes which uplift and enrich one.

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/divine-grace-works-all-the-time)

 

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Quite a few CEOs, when they wake up the day after having secured a crucial business deal, experience a sense of calm happiness within. The flowers are in full bloom, the sun shines with due benevolence, the birds and the bees hop around doing what Mother Nature has ordained them to do, God is in heaven and all appears to be fine with the world.

If they happen to be at a resort with a fresh water lake nearby, they prefer to splash about a bit and invigorate themselves. While taking a leisurely swim, they even start exercising their vocal chords, belting out a favourite song of theirs, generating in the process an off-tune gruesome sound which is calculated to startle the stoutest. Two bees, buzzing among the roses, stop as one bee and look at each other with raised eyebrows. Snails withdraw into their shells. A squirrel practicing for her athletic performance in the upcoming Olympics on a nearby tree nearly falls off its branch. A deer roaming around in the bushes nearby, its reverie disrupted, decides to scoot off to a quieter location. But such CEOs, blissfully unaware of the confusion being caused in the animal kingdom by virtue of their expression of inner bliss, persevere in their endeavours.

Bhagavad Gita speaks of three kinds of happiness – the Sattvic (Pure) kind, the Rajasic (Passionate) kind, and the Tamasic (Dull) kind.

Sattvic: The unalloyed bliss of happiness

The happiness that a CEO experiences when she has executed a business plan successfully, or has convinced the board of directors of the merits of an acquisition proposal, would be that of the pure kind. A path-breaking approach has been taken. Her vision, courage and conviction are easily visible. Much hard work and effort has gone into the work accomplished. Details have been examined with a fine tooth comb. While working on such plans, the proverbial midnight oil has been burnt. Some personal sacrifices have been made. Initial pain and difficulties have been suffered and overcome. A combination of the hard work put in, the self-control exercised in the process, and the resultant sense of self-perfection leads to this kind of happiness.

When we use the term Peace, this is indeed the kind of happiness we refer to.

यत्तदग्रे विषमिव परिणामेऽमृतोपमम् |
तत्सुखं सात्विकं प्रोक्तमात्मबुद्धिप्रसादजम् || 18.37||

That which seems like poison at first, but tastes like nectar in the end, is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness. It is generated by the pure intellect that is situated in self-knowledge.

For those of you who have come across the movie Invictus, the visionary leadership of Nelson Mandela comes across very clearly. He blunts the edge of apartheid by using the game of rugby to unite his populace, when they cheer Springboks, the team of the South African Rugby Union, to a victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

The title of the movie could be translated from Latin to mean ‘unconquered’. Here is the poem bearing the same title:

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

 

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

 

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.

 

(William Ernest Henley)

 One can well imagine the kind of unalloyed happiness experienced by those at the helm of affairs in a challenging situation of that kind.

Many CEOs keep fighting the battle of the abdominal bulge. When they take their doctor’s advice seriously and start either jogging or brisk walking, the initial pain and resistance from within act as a deterrent. However, once a habit gets formed, they enjoy better health and happiness.

Rajasic: The mundane shade of happiness

The passionate kind of happiness gets experienced when her ambition of a C-suite gets fulfilled. Or, when she gets a reserved parking slot earmarked for her vehicle. Or, even when the security guard and the liftman salute her upon entry to her fiefdom. Power, pelf and prestige present a package which gives rise to a fleeting sense of happiness in her bosom. But beneath the happiness is a layer of anxiety, because none of these can be taken for granted. In fact, the risk of her developing a queen-size ego and believing that she is omnipotent is pretty high. A major setback in career could just be around the corner, sneaking up and striking her with the stuffed eel-skin of business life.

विषयेन्द्रियसंयोगाद्यत्तदग्रेऽमृतोपमम् |
परिणामे विषमिव तत्सुखं राजसं स्मृतम् || 38||

Happiness is said to be in the mode of passion when it is derived from the contact of the senses with their objects. Such happiness is like nectar at first but poison at the end.

Indira Nooyi, ex-President of PepsiCo, says:

‘Just because you are CEO, don’t think you have landed. You must continually increase your learning, the way you think, and the way you approach the organization.’

 

Tamasic: Happiness which leads to a fall from grace

The dull kind is one which is based entirely on the gratification of senses. Lord Krishna points out three specific causes which result in a happiness of this kind:

  1. When emotional and mental sleep leads to one not being able to understand the reality, or one trudges through life without a clear goal in life;
  2. A state of inertia of the intellect when one decides to let others govern one’s life, or allows one’s instincts and impulses to govern her decisions and approach to problem solving.
  3. Ignoring the ‘inner voice’, one perfects the art of heedlessness and often gets into an adventurous mode, indulging in sensory gratification, eventually leading to a spectacular downfall.

यदग्रे चानुबन्धे च सुखं मोहनमात्मन: |
निद्रालस्यप्रमादोत्थं तत्तामसमुदाहृतम् || 39||

That happiness which covers the nature of the self from beginning to end, and which is derived from sleep, indolence, and negligence, is said to be in the mode of ignorance.

Ask Martin Winterkorn, the former chairman of the board of directors of Volkswagen AG, who put in his papers during September 2015, several days after the infamous emissions cheating scandal came up. He also resigned as chairman of Audi on 11 November 2015, after further information associated with the scandal was revealed in regard to VW’s gasoline-powered engines. He was criminally indicted over the emissions cheating scandal in the USA on May 3, 2018 on charges of fraud and conspiracy. In April 2019, he was criminally indicted on charges of fraud in Germany. His is a clear case for the kind of transient happiness CEOs should not aim for.

A wise CEO who happens to be aware of different hues of happiness would manage the wild horses of her desires, her egoistic tendencies and her anger and resentments in such a manner as to truly aim for the Sattvic variety of happiness. In other words, do a great job and experience the inner glow of contentment.

Peter Drucker is also of the opinion that happiness is irrelevant in the management context:

‘Never mind your happiness; do your duty.’

 

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/12/05/looking-for-a-ceo-who-is-peaceful-and-happy

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/a-quest-for-true-happiness)

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