(Sri Sri interacted with entrepreneurs at a special seminar in Tokyo, encouraging the audience to embrace spirituality in corporate practices.Below is a transcript of What Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said.)
I was visiting the Shinto shrine yesterday and on the door there were two lions, one had its mouth open and the other had its mouth closed. One says, ‘Aaa’, and the other says, ‘Mmmm’. One is the beginning and the other the end. This is the word Om.
In life, even the beginning needs to be like a lion, and the closing needs to be like a lion. There needs to be that strength, and lion indicates strength, integrity, loyalty, and all this is a part of trust.
If there is no trust within us then none of these qualities will spring forth in life.
Trust is the backbone of business. You may wonder, what does business have to do with spirituality? They are completely different realms, or rather, worlds. You can say spirituality is different and business is the completely opposite. Spiritual people often don’t like business. They simply condemn business, and business people don’t think spirituality is worth looking into. But life is incomplete without either one of them.
Business brings prosperity to the society. If there is no business, there will be no prosperity. When there is no prosperity, crime with take over the society. Where there is crime, there can’t be spirituality.
On the other hand, it is spirituality that helps prevent crime. Spirituality brings the integrity and honesty that is need for any business to prosper. So, they are complimentary.
In Indian mythology, we say, Narayan (embodiment of spirit) and Lakshmi (goddess of wealth). The goddess of wealth is always with the embodiment of spirit. Spirituality is bringing forth the inner trust, integrity, happiness, and compassion which represent the spirit. Enhancing these qualities, is what I call spirituality.
We can listen to such talks, read books, but how to practically bring it on the floor is the question. That is where simple techniques of relaxation, i.e., breathing techniques and meditation come in handy.
Usually we say, M&M; it is not the candy that you get in America, M&M is Meals and Meditation. We have introduced this to nearly 200 companies and the results are phenomenal. People, before their afternoon lunch, get together, sit and relax for 15–20 minutes and then share a meal. There is a sense of belongingness, a sense of caring.
Business is not just working with machines, it is working with human beings. The human touch is needed, and it can only come when there is heart-to-heart communication.
In developing countries, in many corporate meetings, you might notice that two people would be saying the same thing, but it appears as though they are fighting. In the end, they won’t come to any conclusion because everyone is talking together. This is only head-to-head communication. There needs to be head-to-heart, or heart-to-heart communication, and this can happen when people share a few moments of silence, of quietness, and a sense of belongingness.
It all started in 1999, when I sent a couple of my teachers to a big public enterprises in India, Bharat Heavy Electronics Limited (BHEL). There was a lot of disturbance amongst few sections of the company, and so we introduced them to meditation and some breathing techniques to bring them together.
We had a small program for the employees, especially for the difficult ones, whom the company could neither fire, nor keep, because their productivity was very low. There are some people like that in almost every company, where you can’t send them out, and neither do you find them useful. Some who are tough nuts to crack. So I often tell people, if you have some difficult people, send them to us.
So, we got a bunch of such people, and we sent one of our teachers there. He just posed some questions to them; one of the first questions was, ‘Suppose you become the Managing Director of the company, how would you run it? What would you do?’
Those who complain, seldom do any work. Mostly the people who complain don’t take responsibility. So when we started posing some questions, and tried shifting their attention to the other person’s perspective, a breakthrough started happening. This combined with a few minutes of meditation and deep relaxation, made a big difference.
These people, who would go home and yell at their family, and their children, suddenly started behaving very well with their families. Their families became happy, and in turn they became happy, and their productivity increased. We saw a shift in just four days. So the company asked us to conduct the program for more employees.
Today Harvard Business School, Microsoft, GE, they have all taken this program. The World Bank has also made it a part of their curriculum in many countries.
There is something that is deep in every individual. When that is kindled, the shift from trying to motivate somebody to being inspired comes along.
In any business setup you need to motivate people. The way we motivate people, is by giving them a salary raise, or a bonus, or good transport. But these motivations do not stay too long. It lasts only for a couple of months, and then it starts fading away. We need to inspire people. It makes a very big difference.
All this can happen when the trust we have in ourselves becomes stronger; trust in our ability. Then our social capacity automatically becomes stronger, and then success is guaranteed.
It is always good to do team work.
We have a slogan, ‘Let out the steam and get into the team!’ First you have to let out the steam. You can’t be in a team holding pent up emotions within you.
We can handle pent up emotions, if we learn how to handle our mind through our breath. This is very important.
In schools we teach dental hygiene, but not mental hygiene. Whether one is a professional or a business man, they need to know mental hygiene.
Huge emotional loads weighs on many people, right from the young mind to senior citizens. Neither at school nor home, no one teaches us how to handle our mental or emotional pressure. This emotional cleansing, emotional hygiene, or feeling light hearted from within needs to be taught, and it can bring about a big transformation in society.
Then you will see a violence-free society, disease-free body, confusion-free mind, inhibition-free intellect, trauma-free memory and sorrow-free soul, and we can have a better, happier and prosperous society.