This series of posts may seem controversial to some, but my intention is not to offend or deride business school grads, who I consider to be the wonderful achievers and doers of our society (after all I am one myself!) but instead to hopefully encourage them and importantly, the corporate world at large to introspect and gain a different perspective on success and achievement.
Upon considerable reflection on the corporate world, whether it is big business or big banks where I myself have spent a number of years, I have come to the view that there are some serious failings in the cultural and human aspects of life in these organisations. To be more specific, when viewed through a spiritual lens, the beliefs and views of everyone from a start-up entrepreneur to an investment banker seem to fall short. (I fully recognise of course that anything I say will no doubt be in the nature of a generalisation.)
Don’t worry, this article is not about to descend into a disillusioned rant on material success. Rather, I hope that the businessmen, consultants, bankers and lawyers will someday wake up and adopt a more conscious approach in their professional lives. The inspirations for this piece were the many friends and colleagues who, over the years, have been victims of stress, burn-out and just general discontent with their professional lives which also takes a took on their personal lives. Of course, my personal experience attested too. So common is this epidemic of dissatisfaction that it got me asking the question “If these are the ‘masters of the universe’ so to speak, then why are they so miserable?” I was convinced that the answer lay beyond pop-psychology and having delved into spiritual teachings, I can now see why so many of us have really been wired for misery.
In this post, I discuss the first reason, in my opinion: Ego worship
In my early days at business school, an article that we had to read for one of our classes, really struck a chord with me. It was about “telling your story”. The author of the article had done much research to conclude that we each need to create a story about ourselves and sell that to an employer, a colleague or a business contact. At the time, I thought it was a great insight.
However, isn’t that exactly the opposite of what spiritual teachers say to do? According to Eckhart Tolle,
“Your sense of identity, of self, is reduced to a story you keep telling yourself in your head. “Me and my story”: this what your life is reduced to in the unawakened state. And when your life is thus reduced, you can never be happy for long, because you are not yourself.”
So by creating and identifying with the ‘little self’ i.e. the story we create for ourselves, we are manufacturing a false self. It would not be so harmful if we were doing this consciously but sadly, we are not. Not only that, we are encouraged to really believe in our story. “Because if we don’t believe it, surely others won’t”. That makes the problem worse – this insistence on confidence and belief in a false, made-up self.
In the words of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev,
” From an existential perspective, both “self” and “esteem” are a problem. Both are limited, fragile and insecure. From a mystic’s point of view, if you have no esteem, very good. If you have no self, fabulous!”
Achievement in our society is based on a grand sense of self and of our capabilities. And yet this proves to be the biggest obstacle in spiritual development which is the only real means of attaining happiness. So aren’t we then wired for misery?
As the spiritual teacher Mooji, explains so well in one of this talks(1), if the Truth and happiness is what we seek, then we must try to be ‘nobody’. Surely this is anathema for business school professors and company executives. Or is there a way for them to accept this teaching and figure out a way of integrating it into their work and objectives?
Read Part 2 in this series here.
(1) Check out his talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqtpEKBd8Ug&index=44&list=PL76YT2TM9CEhi21bTszvX6Nsj6R7NxBVVScroll down to read about the author & leave a comment on this article
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