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BW Businessworld

To Correct Or Not?

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According to the Buddhist Mahayana thought, human consciousness has eight levels, of which, the ground or the eighth is store consciousness called alayavijnana. The primary function at this level is to attract, and store, seeds of every experience a person undergoes. Like a mind field the totality (sarvabjiika) of both wholesome and unwholesome seeds sown by parents, schooling, ancestors, society, environment and above all ourselves are contained here. Seeds are never lost, rather maintained (adana) with the ‘habit energy’ of each intact and waiting to play out as manifestations in a suitable environment. In the context of the case, the environment is family, society, organisation, senior managers, media, peer, globalisation, etc.
Our YMs are manifesting seeds that are already present in their conscious mind. Arrogance, impatience, self-centeredness, disregard for elders are manifestations of seeds, which were sown in the past. Parents can be seen as the first cause who sow seeds in the store consciousness of YMs. For example, the obsessive concern with high marks the moment the child enters school sows seed of ‘achievement is most important’. Pampering children with material luxuries either because the parent was deprived and does not want the child to go through the same fate, or because they are compensating for time they cannot give, sows the seed of ‘materialism and instant gratification’. Similarly, in families, where elders must earn support of adult offspring by demonstrating their useful now, and not because they are already deserving, sows seeds of ‘deals’, ‘payoffs’ and ‘irreverence towards elders who do not serve any vested purpose’.

Schools also by their ‘marks only’ philosophy segregate children into achievers and non- achievers. In the past, there were regular moral science classes in schools, and good conduct awards and badges recognised the value of good behaviour. Even business schools dance to the tune of corporates who have the capacity to pay the most. Pedagogy, course curriculum, time tables and student activities are geared to attract the highest paying employers. Success is equated with materialism. We have just stopped sowing seeds of good behaviour, nationalism, character and evolution.

Parents, teachers and recruiters (bosses) are responsible for the behaviour of YMs. It is no use passing the blame to media, technology, globalisation, and western paradigm, for they too are manifestations of seeds that exist in the collective consciousness of groups, societies, cultures and nations. Just like the evolutionary creativity of all bacteria is a result of freely passing hereditary traits, even in human beings, seeds pass freely from individual to collectives and vice versa. Vietnamese Buddhist Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh refers to this as interbeing and interpregnation of seeds. Thus, all change is a manifestation of seeds, which were already present and are shared by individuals and collectives.

So, how will the correction happen? Definitely not by victim blaming, as both young and senior managers are manifesting unwholesome seeds, and it is difficult to apportion blame equitably. Similarly, punishments as a strategy is counter-productive as it focuses intensely on negative actions. According to the Zen master, we need gardeners (individuals) and sangha (collectives). The store consciousness is like a garden or a plot with seeds, but it cannot cultivate itself. A gardener plows hoe and selectively waters the plot to help right seeds germinate, grow and bloom. Senior managers can become gardeners who will make efforts to nourish only wholesome seeds in YMs and also in themselves. They must stop nourishing greed and selfishness by using ‘control by appeasement and manipulation’ tactic.

Secondly, sanghas can be created in all organisations. Sanghs are collectives within the organisation where employees engage in creative and philanthropic activities. Sangha activities should be delinked from appraisals, but involvement should be mandatory. The synergy that comes from doing things together for their own sake accelerates sprouting and storing of wholesome seeds. When the gardener stops work, and people return to their homes from sangh and organisations, the soil continues to do its work. Sooner than later, the garden will bring forth and offer the fruits of awakening.

Mala Sinha teaches Business Ethics at Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi

(Businessworld Issue Dated 10-16 March 2009)

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