The Spirit of Harmony
The Spirit of Harmony, Part I
Aug 31, 2019 | 6319 AFK
I’ve never read the news for the day and thought, “Good. Looks like we’re on the right track.” In fact, many people would say that the world which people have created for ourselves is insufficiently harmonious. When a group of disadvantaged children are admitted into universities, when a philanthropist provides someone with housing or life-saving health treatment or when a government carries out a massive, tree-planting campaign, it makes the news precisely because such an instance of interpersonal or ecological harmony is outside of the norm. People take some encouragement from these things, hopefully, without pretending that these token moments of positivity are enough to rescue humanity and Life on the planet from our mostly unharmonious ways. “Activism” is merely acting on the understanding that people must urgently replace existing systems with systems of greater harmony. Systems-change is essential and yet, it too is not enough. What is also needed – and possibly more essential – is an evolutionary step forward in human consciousness.
But isn't this just cliché, hippie talk? While many might agree that such an evolution is necessary, the devil is in the implementation. I propose that workers who want to be part of systems-change implement this in two ways, simultaneously: by committing ourselves to the process of elevating our own consciousness and by implementing harmonious management in our workplaces. The combined, personal and professional aspects of this process are necessary and, in some ways, analogous. If you snapped your fingers and instantly, everyone in your capitalist enterprise took a half-step toward enlightenment, then you’d have a group of beautiful souls who are still upholding capitalism. Alternatively, if you snapped your fingers and instantly, your formerly capitalist workplace became a paragon of democratic, ecologically-regenerative, anti-racist, anti-sexist, non-extractive management, then you would have achieved fantastic, enterprise-level systems-change. But those new systems would be in constant jeopardy of being corrupted by the same people who continue to be subtly governed by unconscious greed. The most cleverly-designed management systems that are intended to realize ecological, social and economic harmony will not withstand a certain proportion of individuals who have yet to overcome their unconscious tendency toward greed. Individuals and management practices must evolve simultaneously if we are to rise to the occasion and put an end to systemic racism, systemic sexism, capitalist exploitation and the mass extinction of species, before Mother Earth takes us out for failing to get along.
Jaded skeptics will insist that greed and conflict are inherent to being human and that aspiring to rise above greed, conflict and a lack of harmony is a fool’s errand. According to the globally revered spiritual teacher and environmentalist, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, these skeptics are only partially correct.
He suggests that we each possess a benign, spiritual tendency toward expansion. This tendency manifests in our physical lives in many useful ways, yielding artistic, cultural, scientific and economic development. However, in the unconscious, under-enlightened, human experience, this spiritual drive also manifests in greed. Greed breeds conflict. That innate drive to expand our power, control, wealth, etc. eventually bumps into nature’s and other people’s desires to do the same and conflict ensues. This good and greedy, dual nature of our desire to expand occurs at the levels of the individual and, I would add, the business enterprise. In order to transcend the negative aspect of this, individuals must seek some spiritual evolution so that we gain enough perspective to stop, or at least drastically reduce, our encroachment on others' needs. As the Dalai Lama has written, “We are naturally driven by self-interest; it’s necessary to survive. But we need wise self-interest that is generous and cooperative, taking others’ interests into account.”
By developing this consciousness, we begin to see that our material needs are not nearly as boundless as is our spiritual nature, and a spirit of harmony can emerge. As human organisms, our needs may vary, but they are finite. Universal basic human needs include clean air, clean water, steady housing, nutrition and healthcare. But when a capitalist has twenty-times his universal basic human needs and his employees have less than their basic needs, harmony has given way to greed. As economic entities, our corporations also have varying, but finite needs. Corporations require a limited proportion of surplus income and surplus assets to meet their economic needs. Perpetual growth is incompatible with harmonious management. Corporate managers' quest to acquire and maintain positive net wealth should not supersede the rights of nature or human rights. But when an energy corporation creates a radioactive uranium mine in a primarily indigenous community or emits illness-causing air pollution in a primarily black neighborhood, harmony has given way to greed. These things happen because of a lack of spiritual maturity which is amplified by unharmonious, unconscious management systems.
The good news is that we can at least see when this is happening. If we can see it, then we can rise above it. When a critical mass of people chooses to take on greater spiritual responsibility, it will mark a new era in human history. Skeptics will cry "impracticality" regarding the movement for collective spiritual evolution and they will doubt the likelihood of an historic shift toward harmony because that’s what skeptics do. They accomplish nothing, which is fine as long as they do not impede those who are trying to raise the bar. Ironically, they and their predecessors had few objections during the equally historic descent into systemic racism and global ecological collapse. This movement to elevate human consciousness is already under way and its acceleration is the only pragmatic option for our survival. Cultivating a spirit of harmony and implementing management systems to protect it is just a matter of our individual and collective will.
Part II will discuss a definition and framework for harmonious management at the level of the business enterprise.