The obvious call given by all these mutually consistent and complementary imageries is to strive for experiential growth from within, and not to stop at the stage of more intellectual hair splitting. One or other imagery has to be powerfully and vividly imagined, and slowly the distinctions implied begin to reveal themselves.
We have often encountered a few typical questions from managers when trying to discuss with them the implications of such ideas regarding Self:
1. We all know ourselves anyway, don’t we?
2. Such a process of knowing the Self is negative and world-denying. What use is it for managing economic activity and organization?
3. If we go by the principle and realization that it is the same atman which resides in all of us, how shall there be any competition amongst enterprises?
The first question is the most difficult to answer – if only because it is the most meaningless and superficial one. In vain had Socrates declared: Know Thyself. And in vain indeed had the Patanjalis and Buddhas and their likes lived on this earth. If at all the claim that we know ourselves has any validity, it is so only in the extremely, narrow sense of commonplace, selfish desires and ambitions of our mento-physical existence, at the most reflecting sporadically for some the dimension of social existence too. And it is this type of extremely limited knowing which underlies all the issues of human in-effectiveness in organizations. The great problems seems to be our inability even to diagnose this as the key issue, far less tackle it as such.
The second question has ample apparent merit. Its fallacy however, lies the fact that when one turns to reflecting on the distinction between the body, mind and so on, and the true Self or atman, one does not strip oneself of these commonplace constituents of the empirical self in a day or a month or a year or even in one lifetime. More intellectual understanding or willing dos not lead one to the perception of the Self as being distinct from the body as the seer is from the jar. But as the regulated experiential effort goes on, say twice a day these imageries begin to take root slowly yet surely. After several months, even years, one may notice that one is able to view a managerial problem or a conflict episode in an illuminated perspective, with a greater detachment and objective clarity. None will dispute that these are indispensable requisites for managerial effectiveness. All managers will continue to be in this world, but not solely of it. It is, therefore, a wholly unwarranted and evasive inference that dwelling and reflecting on the meaning of Self is destructive of secular pursuits. The truth is that sincere and inner practice of these ideas should hold in check, in due course, the very threat of Self destruction which is today inherent in the process of managing economies and organizations. It is probably our ostrich mentality which prevents us from looking far ahead. As one Indian seer of Truth once remarked we are like the wretched desert camels which go on chewing thorny bushes despite the continuous bleeding of their mouths.
The third question is similar to the second in the sense that it also demonstrates a regular tendency n all of us to quickly turn away the focus of a principle or concept from our own selves to safer, impersonal entities like enterprises, economies , nations and so on. This question was raised in a seminar where the idea of atman was presented as a basis for a long term individual or inter-departmental teamwork and cooperation amongst managers in organizations.