Ancient Hindu Scriptures and Business Management – Part 1

22 Mar 2019 191 Views

(NOTE:In this section, we concentrated on the reasons for the failure of the corporations, how to control the stress, importance of controlling the mind and benefits of meditation. In the next article we will extract the guidelines hidden in Bhagavad Gita, Chanakya Arthashastra, Bhishma’s message, Rama’s advice to Lakshman, and Sant Ramdas’ letter on RajNeeti to Shambhaji Maharaj).

Hindus have been dealing with various dimensions of human life ranging from science, religion, society, culture, guru tattva, dharma, karma and reincarnation, four ashramas, Purushardhas, leadership qualities, ethics and morals, traditions and rituals and management of kingdoms through multitude of books such as Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita, Arthasashtra and other scriptures. These scriptures are filled with ancient wisdom that is as applicable today as it was eons ago.  The ideas of various instances of managerial practices such as the vision, planning, execution, organization, coordination, controlling, conciliation, cooperation, winning methods, treatment of the people, appointment of right people to the top position and so on.  India, as well as the West, is looking at the pearls of wisdom scattered across these timeless and boundary-less messages found in these ancient scriptures.  We will examine the current situation in the business climate of USA, reasons for a high percentage of business failures, stress that is taking a toll on the member's productivity and how the Hindu scriptures are coming to the rescue to salvage these organizations by providing guidelines needed to revitalize them.

Innumerable ideas, multiple guidelines, ageless wisdom, and perennial philosophy ishidden in numerous Hindu scriptures. These are not confined only to India; they are spread across many business organizations across the globe. It is our responsibility to pull them from all the scriptures and make them available for Lokasangraham, which is defined by BG Tilak as, “binding men together, and protecting, maintaining and regulating them in such a way that they might acquire that strength, which results from mutual cooperation, thereby putting them on the path of acquiring merit while maintaining their good condition.” (Gita Rahasyam, P:456)

Before we pluck the guidelines and hidden pearls from the Hindu ancient books, let us examine the conditions under which businesses are failing and some of the possible solutions to prevent their collapse. Once we know why they fail, it is possible to decipher solutions to help revitalize them. Then we can determine the relevance of Hindu scriptures to address the issues facing the management.

How Many Businesses are Failing?

Lara McCaffrey reported that retail bankruptcies hit an all-time high in the first quarter of 2018, even more than last year according to Business Insider. More defaults and bankruptcies are expected to come, says a report from S&P Global Ratings, with retail liquidations speeding up. The report also says the U.S. remains oversaturated with retail despite this.

Some of the businesses that have made this list might surprise you! Onthe surface they might look fine — the clerks still have smiling faces when you walk in and the clothing is still folded neatly on the shelves. But behind the scenes, there’s turmoil! Curious to see if your favorite store is on the list?  (Finance 101, September 1, 2018)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 50% of all new businesses survive five years or more, and about one-third survive for 10 years or more.A number of studies have reported that nearly 90 % of businesses fail in ten years, as per Bill Carmody.  Whenever these businesses are started many owners are more optimistic about their success, less concerned about back up plan to counter the potential failure and not competent to calculate the risk. Passion to start the company takes over reason and objectivity.

Fewer than 12% of the Fortune 500 companies included in 1955 were still on the list 62 years later in 2017, and 88% of the companies in 1955 went bankrupt, or merged with (or were acquired by) another firmor they still existed but had fallen from the top Fortune 500 companies (ranked by total revenues). Many of the companies on the list in 1955 are unrecognizableor forgotten companies today (e.g., Armstrong Rubber, Cone Mills, Hines Lumber, Pacific Vegetable Oil, and Riegel Textile).

According to a 2016 report by Innosight(“Corporate Longevity: Turbulence Ahead for Large Organizations“) corporations in the S&P 500 Index in 1965 stayed in the Index for an average of 33 years. By 1990, average tenure in the S&P 500 had narrowed to 20 years and is now forecast to shrink to 14 years by 2026. At the currentrate, about half of today’s S&P 500 firms will be replaced over the next 10 years as “we enter a period of heightened volatility for leading companies across a range of industries, with the next ten years shaping up to be the most potentially turbulent in modern history” according to Innosight.

Reasons for Failure

 Many reasons are suggested for the failure of the businesses.

Some founders and CEOs in the study cited did not have a partner to balance them, while others mentioned that their founding team was inadequate for building the MVP they needed to launch the business,. (Chad Otar, Forbes, October 8, 2018).

Many start-ups do not have enough time to deal with their clients and their need. They rely more on vendors to fulfill the needs of their clientele. They are not able to cope up with the competition.

Complacency with success in the initial years of success in business leads to the neglect of the customer needs and assessment of the future needs to satisfy the customers.  They become fixed in their ideas and fail to adjust their strategies to be competitive.

Many Business leaders are busy with day to day problems, they are unable to build a winning team. Business success depends to a large extent on forming a talented, dynamic, and winning team. Many businesses are not able to communicate clearly, compellingly and concisely about their products and how they are different from others.

Eric T Wagner reports that 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within 18 months. He mentions five reasons for failure of the businesses: 1) Once they start the business they retreat to planning and dreaming of the success without having a meaningful dialogue with real customers.  2) their product or service is not unique that sets them apart from the rest. 3) Lack of communication in a clear, concise and compelling manner about the mission of their organization. 4) Leadership breakdown at the top – not able to make right decision at the right time. Need for personal development to acquire the leadership qualities and others to emulate. 5) Startups should move quickly to develop the product without spending huge sums of money.

How to Manage the Stress

Ample evidence suggests that 80 percent of Americans experience stress either frequently or sometimes. Work and family obligations are cited as the major factors in encountering stress and anxiety. They feel that they do not have enough time to meet the demands of the work and the family. Stress is more damaging to the individual than any other factor. If stress is not addressed and left untreated then it may lead to mental and physical ailments as well as performance levels at work.

Stress, as defined by stress researcher Hans Selye in Organizational Behavior, is "the nonspecific response of the body to any demands made upon it." J. Clarkedefines stress in Stress management as an "internal state or reaction to anything we consciously or unconsciously perceive as a threat, either real or imagined."

            Stress affects our body, health, feelings, judgment, mind, thought process, relations, and behavior. If it is not addressed, it can affect our blood pressure, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and diabetes. Stress can debilitate one’s performance of doing good to himself, for others and in his own world of work.

A survey conducted by employment search site Monster.com of nearly 7,000 U.S. workers found that while a less-than-surprising 35% had contemplated leaving a job to flee a stressful work environment, a more significant number--42%--had "purposely" left a position because of such a workplace.

"People feel stressed out because there’s that continuingpressure to do more with less. Workers feel pressure to get more accomplished," says Mary Ellen Slayter, Career Advice Expert at Monster

Kathryn Dill reported that a separate survey of more than 900 workers found that an employee's relationship with their boss is the most common cause of workplace stress, followed closely by workload, work-life balance, and relationships with coworkers.

Nearly half of employees surveyed report having missed time at work due to work-related stress, and an even greater number, 61%, say that workplace stress has caused them actual physical illness, with insomnia, depression, and family issues cited as results.

Stress comes from all directions – friends, family members, co-workers, bosses and even strangers. The pressure from work can cause frustration, fear, and stress. It agitates the mind resulting in losing the judgment, clouding our thinking, fogging our goals and bewildering our existence itself. We all have to work patiently and intensely to restore our judgment and balance our wavering mind. Bhagavad Gita regards equanimity as essential to making the right decisions either at a personal or professional sphere. “Be steadfast in the performance of your duty, O Arjun, abandoning attachment to success and failure. Such equanimity is called Yoga.” (2:48).  The mind is unstable, keeps changing like a wind, and does not remain focused. The mind gets elated when in happiness while dejected when in sorrow. The uneven mind is restless and unstable. Even the mind is considered Sthithipragna. In this state, one is at peace where success and failure would not disappoint or exalt him since his efforts are done without attachment and with no expectation of fruits. The unperturbed mind will be able to concentrate on his efforts, focus on the planning and execution, and gain clarity in the future course of action. He is emotionally stable, always at peace, undisturbed by the vicissitudes, free from fear, firmly grounded on the wisdom, egoless and self-controlled.

Whether your stress comes from your family or your job, you feel very heavy as if something is pushing you down with so much weight. That weight will make you feel dizzy, fuzzy, and giddy for you to make right decisions. Te remove this weight hanging over your shoulders, you need to make every effort to control your mind that would enable you to create the things that would enable you to dissolve the weight that you do not want.

If you can slow down your mind and body long enough to realize that you are not in mortal danger, you will remain calm. One way to do this is by breathing deeply. Another straightforward technique is to focus on a word or phrase that has significance for you. Repeat this word or phrase if you find yourself becoming tense. Relaxation lowers your pulse rate, respiration, and blood pressure. When you combine different techniques such as deep breathing, muscle relaxation, meditation, and yoga, you can significantly lower your stress levels. You will also elevate your mood and improve your ability to focus.

Mind and How to Subdue

As per Oxford University, “The mind (not to be confused with the brain) is a set of cognitive faculties including consciousness, imagination, perception, thinking, judgment, language, and memory. It is usually defined as the faculty of an entity's thoughts and consciousness.” It is responsible for expressing your thoughts, likes and dislikes, feelings and emotions, resulting in attitudes and actions. The mind thinks involuntarily. Nobody can think of how it reacts and receives.

            Swami Sivananda discussed and unraveled the mystery of mind through Vedantic philosophy. “He who knows the receptacle (Ayatana) verily becomes the receptacle of his people. Mind is verily the receptacle (of all our knowledge).” (Chhandogya Upanishad, V-i-5)

That which separates you from God is mind. The wall that stands between you and God is mind. Pull the wall down through Om-Chintana or devotion and you will come face to face with God.

            Bhagavad Gita says that agitated, unruly, unstable mind is the enemy while the stable even and calm mind is a friend. The mind has a tendency to go after fulfilling the sensate desires and material aspirations resulting in falling in the mire of never ending desires. The more one desires more will sprout. With it, the mind experiences stress, frustration, and agitation dominating the very existence of life. This is experienced by one and all irrespective of the position one occupies. Whether it is on the battlefield, organizations, institutions, family, or friendship circles, mind whirls.     In fact, this is exactly what happened to Arjuna on the battlefield. Arjuna acknowledges that,

“I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up.

My whole body is trembling, and my hair is standing on end. My bow Gandiva is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning.

I am now unable to stand here any longer. I am forgetting myself, and my mind is reeling. I foresee only evil, O killer of the Kesi demon. (1;28-30)

The mind is very restless, turbulent, strong and obstinate, O Krishna. It appears to me that it is more difficult to control than the wind. (6:34)

O Arjuna, the senses are so turbulent they can forcibly lead astray the mind of even a wise person striving for perfection. (2:60)

For the mind which follows in the wake of the wandering senses, carries away his discrimination, as a wind which carries off its course a boat on the waters.

            From these statements, we can discern that controlling the mind is the most difficult task in the work. Occasional failures should not be taken seriously.  They should not be in the way oy dreaming the dreams and achieving the vision of your interest. They should inspire, stimulate and spur us to be more determined than ever to pursue the set goals.

Paramahamsa Yogananda’s description of a restless mind is worth remembering. His way of comparing the mind to the very nature of animals is beyond anybody’s imagination. He says,

“You may control a mad elephant;

You may shut the mouth of the bear and the tiger;

Ride the lion and play with the cobra;

By alchemy you may earn your livelihood;

You may wander through the universe incognito;

Make vassals of the gods; be ever youthful;

You may walk in water and live in fire;

But control of the mind is better and more difficult.”

The mind has to be controlled, subdued and disciplined if we have to make the right decision either in the organizations or in the family matters. 

To be disciplined, to perform one’s own dharma, to accomplish the task at hand successfully and lead personal or professional life without ego, the mind must be controlled.  Sri Krishna himself acknowledges that it is difficult to subdue, He says,

"Arjuna said: For the mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Krishna, and to subdue it, to control it, I think, is more difficult than controlling the wind."

“O mighty-armed son of Kunti, it is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by constant practice and by detachment.”

"Lord Sri Krishna said: For one whose mind is unbridled, uncontrolled, self-realization is difficult to work. But he whose mind is controlled and who strives by appropriate means is assured of success. That is My opinion." (Bhagavad Gita 6:34-36). 

It is natural for all of us to crave after material objects, to get addicted to sense objects and to get disparaged with vicissitudes of events. It is only by swimming repeatedly, one masters swimming. Without detachment and constant practice, one can control the fickle mind. He also suggests that one should perform his duty with even-minded in success and failure. It is only with an unperturbed mind, the mind can gain clarity, firmness, calmness, and focus.

Meditation

As M. Brieux, a member of the French Academy writes:  "The noble minds of India, without having had the necessity of having recourse to experimental science like us, discovered the truths which we discover after them.  By the unaided power of meditation, they have given an explanation of the universe which appeared ridiculous to us for a long time, but which our scholars are now beginning to accept."

Arnold Toynbee recognizes the spiritual power of ancient wisdom by saying, “So now we turn to India. This spiritual gift, that makes a man human, is still alive in Indian souls. Go on giving the world Indian examples of it. Nothing else can do so much to help mankind to save itself from destruction.”

According to Patanjali Yoga Sutras, meditation is said to increase prana (life energy). It is the basis of well-being and health. Meditation increases prana, and when you have more prana, you feel more energetic, alert, and more positive. Lack of prana results in lethargy, carelessness, and negativity.

Meditation is defined as an intentional regulated breathing.  Concentrate on your thinking process, visualize the higher realms by regulating the mind from wandering in order to regulate the stress anxiety and depression with a deliberate attempt to calm the mind and body. Regular meditation will make the difference over a period of time as neurons in the brain stop bouncing back and forth.

 It is a panacea for all the stress, anxiety, tensions and pressures of day to day work. It is very difficult to understand the workings of the mind. In one of the scriptures, it is stated that it is easier to go all the way to the sky, fold it and bring back to the earth than understanding the mind.  The mindbecomes agitated, aggrandized, tensed up, impatient, restless and listless. Our Rishis have understood the nature of mind and devised a plan to bring quietude, calmness, and tranquility.


“The method is yoga with the Supreme Soul, God. Yoga is connecting with the Source through which spiritual might is received and the will power in human souls is activated by an enlightened conscience. "Shakti" is spiritual might and it comes directly from God and is the only energy that can purify souls and remove the toxic waste of anger, attachment, ego, greed, and lust. The teachings of Raja Yoga connect the soul to its original, authentic Self, to the treasures within -- wisdom, virtues, and spiritual powers. It provides the basis of life-changing experiences through understanding the non-negotiable laws of life, making meaning out of intention and purpose, discerning truth from facts and figures, and seeing clearly the distinction between maps and territory.” (B K Gayatri Naraine)

In a 2010 study published in Consciousness and Cognition Journal, researchers assigned 24 people in the intervention group. They received four sessions of mindfulness meditation training. The control had 25 people, and this group listened to an audiobook. Results showed that both the mindfulness meditation training group and the control group showed improved mood, but only meditation training reduced fatigue and anxiety and increased mindfulness. Moreover, brief mindfulness training significantly improved visuospatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning. Researchers concluded, “Our findings suggest that four days of meditation training can enhance the ability to sustain attention; benefits that have previously been reported with long-term meditators.”

Meditation has been proven to offer benefits such as stress reduction, relaxation, fatigue, concentration, calmness, creativity, performance, and peace of mind. “During meditation, you focus your attention and quiet the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. Meditation can instill a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health.” (Mayo Clinic Staff, April 21, 2016)

Benefits of Meditation

Numerous studies have been conducted to find out the benefits one would accrue by doing meditation. Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health. And these benefits don't end when your meditation session ends. Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day and may help you manage symptoms of certain medical conditions.

About 4000 studies have accumulated benefits of meditation that would include:

  • Gain a new perspective on stressful situations
  • Increase in social connections
  • Increase in focus and attention
  • Improve the ability to do multitask
  • Build skills to manage stress
  • Makes one more compassionate
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Focus on the present
  • Reduced negative emotions
  • Decrease in depression and anxiety
  • Improved in the ability to be creative and think outside the box
  • Increase in imagination and creativity
  • Improved ability to retrospect
  • Increased patience and tolerance
  •  Increase in mental strength and focus
  • Increased memory retention and recall
  • Better cognitive skills and creative thinking
  • Better decision making and problem solving
  • Better information processing
  • Numerous health benefits are credited to meditation.

Mayo Clinic Staff summarized a number of studies and concluded that the research on the benefits of Yoga and Meditation is accumulating consistently over many decades. Most of the businesses as well as ordinary average individuals are recognizing the need to reduce the stress and importance of improving their situations. Not only meditation can affect the functioning of their organizations but also improvesproductivity, decreases the turnover, counters the stress, reduces the fatigue and improves the physical and mental health. (October 17, 2017)

            Meditation helps to concentrate and focus on one thing at a time instead of dealing with many things creating chaos and confusion. The more one focuses, more concentration one develops, the more one concentrates, one performs better and with ease. It also minimizes the use of energy and helps one to be productive and be at peace. This article additionally describes that severe stress causes an increase in some of the regions of the amygdala, (emotional center related to fear) and decrease in regions of the hippocampus (memory and learning), and prefrontal cortex (decision-making).  It notes that meditation counteracts these stress-related brain changes. Meditation decreases anxiety and fear and increases memory and cognitive abilities. Deep breathing when stressed out helps them to remain focused and have clarity in thinking, calms down the cluttered mind, and increases blood circulation to the brain.

            In aresearch conducted over a period of eight weeks by David M Levy, et al;they recruited three groups of people.  They measured the participants’ speed, accuracy, and the extent to which they switched tasks. They concluded, “The meditation group reported lower levels of stress during the multi-tasking test while those in the control group or who received only relaxation training did not. When the control group was given meditation training, however, its members reported lower stress during the test just as had the original meditation group.”

Meditation and Serotonin Levels

Research has indicated that low serotonin levels have been linked to depression, obesity, various sleep disorders, migraine headaches, and PMS. ... Given the fact that many complain these days of one or more of these problems, it would seem that many would benefit from this in order to naturally stimulate an increase in serotonin levels. But there have also been studies to warn of "serotonin syndrome," with possible negative effects from manipulating the serotonin levels by using meditation. ... see the second link on my sources list for a selection of journal articles on that subject.

Some believe there may also be a question as to whether meditation differs from more informal relaxation in its stimulation of serotonin levels. A formal study on the effects of long meditation on plasma melatonin and blood serotonin, conducted in Oslo, Norway at Ulleval University Hospital, arrived at a conclusion that "Serotonin declines after both one-hour meditation and rest, indicating that serotonin may be a marker of general rest and not meditation-specific relaxation." (See the third link on my list for detail on this study).

But overall, I think we can safely say that meditating would be a benefit for a good many people, with the increased serotonin levels contributing in a very favorable way to their physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

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