Vipassana and Business Management
With the growing complexities of
business especially industrial business-the use of meditation techniques has become
popular during the last few years. However, they have been used mainly as stress
relieving techniques for executives subjected to the tensions of achieving targets.
of a medium scale industrial business requires organization, quality control,
production, purchasing, marketing, fund flow, administration, etc. Each of these
operations requires clear thinking, planning, coordination, execution, cost accounting,
and profitability projections. There are presently several colleges, which teach
this type of management. There are special techniques of management for large
organizations with turnovers of three hundred crores rupees (one hundred million
U.S. dollars) and over. Research and development methods are also available for
upgrading the technology of these business.
Need for Meditation
does meditation come into the picture? To get an answer, we have to look to more
industrialized countries such as the United States and Germany. The nature of
the societies produced by advanced industrialization has been characterized by
heavy alcohol, drug and cigarette consumption; pandemic divorces and broken families;
economic recession and job insecurities; and strong feelings of competition and
frustration leading to heart attacks, suicide and so on.
who become business managers come from this fragmented society. Business schools
teach them to work for more profits and higher salaries, and the stress involved
leads to greater consumption of drugs and alcohol, and various health problems
such as hypertension. The level of equanimity in such societies deteriorates.
The business owners, executives and managers develop feelings of pride, prejudice,
jealousy and arrogance and experience their concomitants: depression, anxiety,
stress and other harmful effects.
meditation technique improves the lives of executives and business managers by
transforming their attitudes. Prejudice is replaced by compassion; jealousy changes
into joy at the success of others; greed and arrogance are replaced by generosity
and humility, and so on.
This transformation of attitude results in stress
reduction, and mental equanimity and balance. It is a creative force capable of
inducing a dynamic work approach in subordinate staff. The positive change is
brought about by a change in the attitude and actions of the executive-to polite
and compassionate behavior, gentle speech, and a mind full of love and friendliness.
This positive change in consciousness is the aim of genuine meditation practice,
and it forms a new and advanced basis for business and industrial management.
Business management is presently judged by profits or "money-making"
ability. Managers are evaluated by their ability to make more money by increasing
product turnover, developing new technologies with better payoffs, or decreasing
costs through new inventions. In return, they want higher salaries and more requisites.
Although there is nothing inherently wrong with generating profits and an increase
in incomes, the real aim of an economic venture is to create a wealth, which combines
money with health and happiness. Vipassana makes a significant contribution towards
improving the mental health and happiness of individuals-vital components of wealth.
Many companies currently have human resource development
departments, popularly known as HRD. HRD is a welcome new concept because human
beings working in business or industry should not be taken for granted. They need
to be developed. One of the parameters in this process is the development of mutual
respect, which naturally improves interpersonal relations. Meditation will also
help to achieve this, enabling us to overcome the hostility towards fellow human
beings- colleagues, subordinates, superiors, government officers and others. This
hostility manifests as anger, arrogance, jealousy, vengeance, selfishness, greed,
prejudice and ill will. Lectures, seminars, books, discussions and so on give
some understanding of these subjects. Nevertheless, more than 95% of the negative
material in the human mind remains unaffected despite an intellectual understanding
of the value of overcoming hostility, negativity and selfishness. This statement
stems from my own experience, as well as interviews with more than one hundred
business executives during the last ten years.
of Right Livelihood is an important aspect of Vipassana meditation. It can become
the foundation for business management practice, upon which can be based traditional
management techniques of using statistical data such as of cash-flow projections,
return on capital, GNP, the turnover of profits, and so on. These parameters are
useful if they are based on the concept of Right Livelihood.
Briefly, the application
of this concept means that income, whether of a business corporation or an individual,
should not only be ethical, but the consciousness of the individuals producing
this income should be reasonably clean, i.e., free from the negativities mentioned
above. A mental climate free of negativities automatically becomes pure and exhibits
the characteristics of genuine love, respect, co-operation, compassion and equanimity.
Wealth produced by a group consciousness of this nature not only produces money,
but also the mental health and happiness resulting from a stress-free mind.
Without going into the details of Vipassana meditation, I will touch upon
an important aspect of the transformation of consciousness: the subconscious mind.
Very little is known about this mind, which is filled with negativities, which
are counter-productive to wealth in its totality. While it is possible to recognize
and experience these negativities, it is not possible to empty the mind of these
defilements without a proper technique.
Most meditation techniques are unable
to reach the subconscious mind; they are not colorless and can therefore "taint"
the mind which further complicates the situation. Vipassana bases every step on
"reality-as it is." Vipassana allows a meditator to experience moments
of "no nutriment to the mind. This starts the process of "detoxifying"
the mind of its impurities.
A mind, which does not meditate
and develops impurity causes grave consequences. When the minds of industry leaders
are impure, the ramifications are pervasive and serious. This phenomenon is exemplified
by the classic example of the management failure at the Bombay Textile Mills.
Twenty years ago, it was a viable, profit-making unit; however ' the greed for
quick money caused a financial tragedy. The incoming cash, which could have been
used for modernizing the plant and machinery, or for financing working capital
was siphoned out for the personal gain of the directors. Their livelihood was
not "right livelihood". The defilement of greed killed the best interests
of the directors and caused widespread misery to a large section of Bombay's workforce
and economic system.
Vipassana meditation is a surgical operation of the mind.
When practiced properly the pace of purification can be dramatically increased.
The technique frees one's mind from greed. A healthy mind is alert and capable
of meeting the demands of a situation. It naturally comes out of addictions and
indulgences. The practice of Vipassana results in the diminishment 'of craving.
A business conducted with the base of such a mind would have resulted in the growth
of the textile industry rather than creating sick production units.
of the increasing industrial sickness and the failure of business manage merit
reveals a pattern. In many cases, over anxiety for export or expansion causes
the working capital to be diverted into the generation of fixed assets. The result
is an acute shortage of working capital and excessive borrowing-clearly dangerous
avenues for business practice. With a mind made mature by meditation, these kinds
of desire-driven actions are checked by the calm and cool temper of equanimity,
which reduces the possibility of making such mistakes.
Pure Mind: The Basis
The Vipassana technique does not create by itself a new technology
of management. It contributes to the improvement of management by correcting the
root of the problem-impurity of mind-so that a business is continually nourished
by the pure food of right thoughts and action. It is excessive craving and greed,
which poison the minds of managers; this impurity is corrected by meditation.
Vipassana also changes one's attitude towards competitors.
When a business cuts out a competitor, there is a chain reaction: a vicious cycle
starts. Many businesses have been ruined by this attitude. Vipassana purifies
the mind and fills it with wisdom, which enables the practitioner to appreciate,
that there is room for everyone to coexist. The purification resulting from Vipassana
practice results, as it were, in fertile soil where seeds of healthy business
management are nurtured. The soil of healthy minds brings forth management practices
where the primary aim is to generate peace and happiness in the society, with
the secondary aim of generating money as a means for buying goods and services,
and attaining economic emancipation and a higher quality of life.
of Ánanda Engineers
My company, Ánanda Engineers Pvt. Ltd. (Bombay)
has a turnover of five crores (over one million U.S. dollars). All the directors,
members of the senior staff and a majority of clerks and workmen have undertaken
Vipassana meditation. The way it was introduced was that first the managing director
went to a course, then other senior staff followed his example. Other people noticed
changes at the top, and they then wanted to try. Our experience has been that
the group efficiency has increased, along with profits and an accompanying improvement
in mental health and interpersonal relations. There may be larger companies with
larger profits, but 1 have found that the happiness of the staff and workers comes
not only from money but from warm and compassionate treatment by the management.
This cordial treatment does not come about by any means except Vipassana. (This
statement comes from my own experience. A detailed project report is available
Some highlights of the study are as follows:
of the employees have attended courses. About half' of those have done more than
Resultant changes in the organization have been a shift from authority
rule to consensus decisions taken at a lower level, from one-upmanship to team
spirit and from indecisiveness and insecurity to self motivation in the work-force.
Productivity has improved by 20%.
I have had detailed discussions
with more than a dozen business executives who are small-scale entrepreneurs,
after their Vipassana courses. These discussions have confirmed that, after a
Vipassana course, they are able to work 20% faster than before, and the quality
of their work has the improved value of being performed by a subtle mind. They
report that qualities of greed, anger, arrogance, and prejudice have decreased
and there is less friction in dealing with staff members. Very healthy and cordial
interpersonal relations have resulted, and the wealth of their enterprises has
steadily increased as a result of these positive changes.