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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Influencing a creative minority of deep minds or aspiring hearts or a few influential and competent leaders

M.S. Srinivasan
At present, Business and Management is going through an evolutionary transition. Globalisation of business has added new complexities and problems, which require a fresh synthesis. Ethics, values, ecology, quality, customer satisfaction, innovation, balancing the needs of local cultures with the global realities are some of the difficult issues facing multinational business. In the human dimension, an increasing number of people in the corporate world, especially the creative and talented, are seeking for something more than money and careers, for an inner fulfillment in the mental, moral or spiritual spheres. This is the context, which creates the need for a new approach to Management, which can lead to an integral fulfillment of all these trends of the future. To evolve such a new vision of management is one of the aims of our research activities in this field.
But not only Management needs a new approach, the very concept of research can be viewed in a different angle than that of the traditional research methodologies pursued in modern universities. This traditional approach to research is based on collection and analysis of data, arriving at a conclusion, or hypothesis and dissemination of the idea through publications. However, there can be alternative paradigms of research based on more intuitive perceptions.
In this series, we present two interrelated and integrated perspectives: First, an integral approach to Management based on the principles of yoga, and second, an alternative approach to management research based on the spirit of yoga and deeper insight into the ways of thought and mind.
Communicating the Vision
Making the idea and vision is only one aspect of our research in Management. The other more important aspect is to communicate the idea to people. Here again our approach will be very different from that of the traditional models of communication. The main aim of all modern communication theories and practices is to diffuse the idea through the print and electronic media. But in our approach the main aim is to establish the idea as a creative force in the mental atmosphere of humanity and allow the idea to communicate itself invisibly into the minds of the people.
Our approach is based on the perception or insight, which is closely related to what we have discussed so far. We have said that a thought is a force. However, it is not only a force, but a living entity in the mental world. A well-formulated thought is an entity almost independent of its creator, having a life of its own, and spreading its message invisibly into the minds of people. As the Mother points out:
“The mind gives a form to the thoughts. This power of formation forms mental entities whose life is independent of the mind that has formed them… One can form a thought which then travels, goes out to someone, spreads the idea it contains.”1
This happens always unknown to us. We are constantly influenced by a barrage of thoughts and feelings of others in the mental environment. But a well-formulated thought acts more consciously than the ones, which are vague and incoherent. It seeks for receptive minds and enters into them, taking different forms according to the nature, inclination, temperament and occupation of the individual minds. So the moment an idea or thought is clearly formulated it is already “published” in the mental atmosphere of our planet and begins to act in the minds of men.
For example, while reading a book on Management one may come across a thought, which in turn sparks off a new idea in the study of history. One may not pursue the idea further because of not having sufficient scholarship in history to substantiate the idea. But the idea begins to circulate in the mental atmosphere and may enter into the mind of a scholar of history who has sufficient scholarly equipment and data to validate the idea. He may write a book on it, which may initiate a new school of thought in history!
So in our approach, physical publication of the idea does not have as much importance as it has in the traditional models of communication. If we are seeking for name and fame or power and wealth for the individual or the organization or for widespread diffusion of the idea then physical publication is of capital importance. But if our aim is to feed the inner soil of the human mind with a living idea, then outer publication is of secondary importance. What is more important in our approach is to constantly enhance the inner quality and creative force of the idea through high-quality contemplation.
Thus we do not assess our research work by the number of publications. “Publish or perish” is not the formula here. We strive for an inner quality rather than outer quantity. Quality of thought is more important than the quantity of publication. In a still deeper spiritual perspective, the inner quality of the motive or attitude, which actuates thinking, is more important than even the quality of thought itself. Seeking for name and fame or for particular outer results vitiates the spiritual quality of thought.
The impact of an idea on humanity does not depend on whether it is published or not but on the quality and power of thought contained in it. A thought emanating from a deep and powerful mind sitting in meditation in Himalayas may have a much more lasting impact on human consciousness and life than a popular and published book written by a much weaker mind. As Sri Aurobindo said on French Revolution:
“If the French Revolution took place, it was because a soul on the Indian snow dreamed of God as freedom, brotherhood and equality.”2
Great leaders of thought like the Vedic sages, Socrates, Plato and Confucius founded and shaped enduring civilisations and cultures not by writing books but by the power of their ideas. In fact Plato was reported to have told his students that this higher knowledge cannot be transmitted by the written word but only by a direct transfer from the mind of the master to the mind of the student.
This brings us to the question of what those factors are which enhance the inner quality and creative force of the idea? It depends on the quality and amount of creative energy—vital, mental or spiritual—contained in the idea. The inner quality of the creative energy depends on five factors.
  • First is the depth and comprehensiveness or wholeness of truth revealed in the idea;
  • second, disinterestedness or selflessness with which the truth is sought and expressed through the idea;
  • third, the extent to which the truth is lived by the whole being of the creator of the idea, especially in feeling and action;
  • fourth, the quality of spiritual consecration of the act of thinking to the Divine;
  • fifth, the spiritual realization behind the idea.

A thought which is the expression of a spiritual intuition, vision, experience, or realization of a universal truth or the Divine, has the highest power and quality of the creative force because it is closer to the very creative source of the universe. This is the reason why our ancient Indian spiritual tradition held the view that all philosophy and thinking should be based on an authentic spiritual intuition or realization. When all these four factors are there, then the idea becomes a perfect instrument of the Divine power which uses the idea according to an all-knowing Wisdom. The first two factors can be achieved within the human mind. The third and fourth factor requires a spiritual discipline. The fifth factor requires a spiritual accomplishment, Sidhi.

However, our emphasis on the inner quality of the idea does not mean ignoring or neglecting the outer needs of communication. We recognize that the idea should not remain only in the mental world but has to be thrown in the physical environment for collective contemplation. Here comes the utility of physical publication. It provides an outer focal point in the material world for collective contemplation of the idea by others. But here also the results of contemplation depend on the nature of the mind that contemplates.

When a powerful mind like Buddha contemplates on an idea, it multiplies the creative force of the idea manifold. But the same thing done by thousands of ordinary men who do not know how to think or concentrate will only lead to the degeneration and dilution of the idea. So, from the point of communication, influencing a creative minority of deep minds or aspiring hearts or a few influential and competent leaders or decision-makers who can release resources or have the capacity for execution is much more productive and beneficial for humanity than gaining the acceptance of a large majority of the masses. These are perceptions which will not make us popular with the present culture which glorifies what Sri Aurobindo describes as the “democratic cultus of the average man.”3

We may be accused of being elitist. We are not denouncing the modern democratic aspiration for equity. But we believe that true democracy lies not in levelling down the best into the average but lifting the average towards the best and the highest. This requires a creative synthesis of the needs of distribution with that of creation. We may get some clue to this synthesis from the methods of universal Nature in her management of human evolution. When we examine with a discerning eye, the intellectual history of humanity, we will find Nature uses a dual process for establishing a new idea in the consciousness of humanity.

  • First is the concentrated creation, incubation and preservation of the idea in a creative minority and the other is the widespread diffusion of the idea in the average majority. While the first creates and preserves the idea in its purity,
  • the second leads to the dilution or even distortion of the idea as it spreads into the mass-mind. As Swami Vivekananda points out:

“Whenever we see the most humanitarian ideas fall into the hands of the multitude, the first result you note is degradation. It is learning and intellect that help to keep things safe. It is the cultured among a community that are the real custodians of religion.”4

This doesn’t mean the idea should not be diffused. There has to be and will be the diffusion of idea into the masses. Especially in the future, there is likely to be an immense diffusion of the spiritual idea into the consciousness of the masses. This is also one of the methods of Nature and a part of the future destiny of human race. One of the positive results of diffusion is that the idea no longer remains confined to a few but becomes a common property of the mass-mind. But this may lead to a considerable dilution of the idea as it filters into the thick and obscure consciousness of the mass-consciousness, which is always at a much lower level than that of the creative intelligentsia of the community. And precisely because of this dilution, to counteract it, we need centers for preserving the idea in its purity. Diffusing the idea into the masses and preserving the idea in its purity through the creative minority are not two contradictory activities—they are complementing activities of Nature for establishing the idea in the consciousness of the race.

In all human activities it is always better to imitate the methods of Nature. So in our approach to management and communication of the idea, we follow the method of Nature. We try to diffuse the idea through the mass-media, print and electronic, and preserve the idea in its purity through contemplative research. However, as we have already explained, we believe that in preserving and communicating a higher spiritual idea, the path or approach through the creative minority is more important and also more effective than by diffusion through a vast majority. So the main objective of our research and communication activities in management is creative and preservative – to initiate and preserve a higher integral Ideal and Vision in business and management. Our aim is not to reach a large audience but a few discerning minds with a higher aspiration.

Research and Sadhana
In our organization, Research is part of Sadhana pursued for the personal development of the individual. All other aims, like publications, helping humanity, or evolving new systems of thought are secondary and subordinate to the aims of sadhana for personal development.

Research activities, when pursued with the right attitude, can help in the mental, moral and spiritual development of the individual. Mentally it can help in the development of the faculties of knowledge, like for example the capacity for deep thinking, and in deepening and widening the horizons of the mind, provided it is not restricted into a narrow specialization. When it is pursued with disinterestedness in our quest for truth and knowledge, it can lead to a certain amount of moral growth. And when it is done in the spirit of karma yoga it can lead to the spiritual development of the individual.

In our research activities in general, we do not go for narrow specializations in a single subject. For example, someone who is engaged in management research is also a student of Indian culture, sociology, history, yogic psychology, education and futurology. Similarly, the person who pursues research in Sanskrit studies is also a student of related fields like Indian culture, philosophy, literature and religion. For our aim here is not to become a narrow expert but to expand the vistas of mind into a broad and varied rainbow of knowledge. (M.S. Srinivasan is a research associate in Sri Aurobindo Society.)
Reference:
The Mother, CWM, Vol.15, p.
Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Vol.17, p.112
Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Vol.19, p. 1056
Swami Vivekananda, Complete Works, Mayavati Memorial Edition, Vol.VI, p.124

http://nextfuture.sriaurobindosociety.org.in/nov07/nfmay06_menu.htm

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