24 Nov 2010
(continuation of the Sri Sri's address from the World Forum for Ethics in Business in Brussels, Nov.19)
I’m going to talk to you about another dimension of space, that is, the inner space: the space that rules your life, the space from which all thoughts and emotions emerge, of which you are, simply, a puppet. There may be rules, but when your emotions rise high, you become a victim of your own emotions. If your thought patterns are prejudiced, are caught up in some Utopian or nasty concepts then you behave that way.
The difficulty with us human beings, normal human beings, is that we seldom take time to look at our own emotions, look at our own thought patterns, at what’s happened inside. We act before thinking; we act before even resolving our feelings. So when the feelings override your actions, your concepts and prejudices override your action, time to time crimes are bound to happen in society, whatever rules are there.
Inner rules are just like the watchman, the doorkeeper, but the emotions are the owner of the home. So when the owner barges in, the doorkeeper just gives way. And this is exactly what happens. If you just talk to any criminal anywhere they will either justify their action or they feel completely helpless, because they feel they, themselves, are the victim. So I often say, “Inside every culprit is a victim crying for help.” If we attend to the victim, the culprit disappears. And this is exactly what we need to do, whether it’s the crime that’s being done either in Kosovo and Serbia or Bosnia or Sri Lanka or anywhere. It’s the people who do that, and ‘normal people’, as the honorable speaker mentioned just a few minutes ago. They’re normal people, but what makes normal people do abnormal crimes is the lack of education about their emotions.
Neither at home nor at school, are any of us taught how to manage our greed, our anger, our jealousy, our frustration and our rage. Nobody teaches you how to manage this mind by which we do all our actions. We don’t have to go to outer space to feel that the earth is very small, that we all belong to each other. We can wake up here when we attend to our inner space.
Find out, observe, that whatever I am, everybody else is. So, we are all one, we are all part of one human family, human species. This awareness, this awakening has to happen within each one of us, within each individual on the planet and this is where individual education will lead to a collective culture. A culture in the society, it’s all an individual who forms the unit of a culture. So, it’s the individual who forms the unit of a society. So if individuals are educated, we have a literate society. There’s nothing like a society that can become literate; literacy has to happen through individuals. And similarly, education in handling oneself, knowing oneself, has to happen individually and that will have to lead to a collective phenomenon called a civilized, cultured society.
It’s superstitions, dogmas, prejudices that overrule our civilization today. You know what happened in the Middle Ages, in the Medieval period, either in the Spanish Inquisition or the witch hunting, in the name of some dogmas, or the caste system in the East. They all have proved to be disasters, a disaster to society, and education will make people overcome these ills. Similarly, corruption, what we are facing in the business community today –sort of low morals and somehow we’re lost…we don’t know what to do. So in these situations, an introspection and understanding about human nature, the nature of mind, the nature of our emotions, and in a large spectrum, the purpose of life.
As somebody recently said, that the GDP of a country should be now measured with GDH, Gross Domestic Happiness factor. You should see which state is happy, which country is happier than the other. Having a big bank balance and being depressed for the whole life is not prosperity. You should have the mind to enjoy that prosperity. You may have enough food and enough things to eat, but you suffer from diabetes and depression and heart problem. That doesn’t count to be a healthy society. So whether it is economy or politics, social entrepreneurship or any activity, everything is centered around one fact: welfare of the society, that is, wellness of the society. If the wellness is at stake no other factor will suffice for the society to be uplifted. So we need to look into that.
And ethics forms one of the backbones of wellness and business forms its wings. Without business, wellness cannot happen. So, we need to consider this. I’m happy that we’re all on the same page here, but from very different fields, pondering on something that would make a breakthrough in the crisis of today.