Your Mind Is Most Important Thing: Swami Mukundananda
In an exclusive interaction with BW Businessworld Editor in Chief Annurag Batra, yoga, meditation and spiritual guru Swami Mukundananda talks about his latest book 7 Mindsets for Success, happiness and fulfilment, various paradigms of spirituality in education and social spheres, and ways to handle entrepreneurial challenges. Edited Excerpts:
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Your book is relevant for corporate executives, leaders, and entrepreneurs. What motivated you to write the book?
People are always struggling with a lot of things like circumstances, situations, positions, external success. However, from the Vedic perspective, success has to grow from inside. Your mind is the most important thing.
Many studies have been done in the corporate world and the most successful people were interviewed to find out what was the secret. And it was repeatedly discovered that they all attributed their success not to the skill set that they possessed, but to the attitude that they had cultivated. So this mindset can lead to success, happiness and fulfilment to convey.
That message is the reason I'm with you. If you look at your credentials in your background. You adopt integration with you, and then you learn a lot.
You said in the book that it's time to learn some of our beliefs. What are the beliefs and how we can earn them?
We are no longer serving the purpose of growth of community and beliefs are essential to the human personality, right? For example, when I see you, I believe that you exist the way I perceive you to be. However, what is happening inside me really, I don't know. So no human being can exist without beliefs.
The problem is unproductive belief start getting adopted and most of us never made a conscious attempt. Develop productive policies for ourselves. Now when we realise that the belief in us it unleashes such a tremendous force on the outside. And if I believe I am sick I can actually fall sick if I believe I am healthy, I can actually become healthy. That is why somebody said whether you believe you will succeed, or you believe you will die. In both cases, you are correct absolutely. So what I propose is that belief should not be gathered from people but from the environment. The foundation of beliefs through people knowledge when we have knowledge that is reliable that is useful that is full of wisdom and we develop belief on that. That belief will unleash tremendous perfect for us.
I believe in the whole belief. My foundation is called believe our little TV show that I named it ‘Believe will Anurag’. But since you talked about beliefs, I want to ask you, what is bigger karma or providence, which is bigger or conscious hard work is bigger or they're intertwined in some way.
That's right. They are actually intertwined. There is definitely a providence in our life. Otherwise, how can you explain to somebody why this person is born blind?
Do you know you think this is extremely unfair? Somebody is born with a golden spoon and the mountain and got evolved life through, the providence is there but the point that people miss out is where did this providence come from? The law of karma says it is our past Karma that created our providence.
This is the law of cause and effect providence doesn't come from the outside. We are creating it. And we can change. So what we do in this life affects our future lives. It's like not only future life, some karma gives it immediately. Suppose I overeat, I would fall sick but some karmic results after a few years some good results or defy in the next life.
The law of karma is complex, but it is a law of cause and effect. We're talking with the time you look at leadership. It means at the end of it is about self-relationship.
Yes, but do you believe that today's leaders from different companies have become morally involved? They are spending time in the US and I am not talking about the country you're in but in general. Do you believe that leaders are thinking much about themselves and they don't need to think if it will change because the world is getting so competitive it is a sudden dog-eat-dog world?
There are people who are leading from that kind of a place that it's all about myself, right? But slowly the business world is changing. The management world is as well. An effective leader is one who has a service attitude. So the people are not blind they can see is this leader trying to exploit me or is he trying to help me when the leader learn to lead himself first.
Like I say, manager - you're managing so much. Absolutely yes, but by motivating them you can only align them. Are you going to manage your own emotions? I think the biggest thing is to balance.
How do we deal with failure and it may be small shackles? You know, I never really hated the failure it is always temporary, but I think I would like you to dwell on how deep the other thumb rules to manage your own. How can you manage your emotions?
That's right. Everybody has experienced negative emotions. You know emotions of anxiety and stress. Despondency lack of hope these negative emotions when we find them within ourselves, our reflexes to blame the outside. You know it is my boss because of him and I am so unhappy. Until my subordinate changes, how can I find satisfaction?
So this is a natural response. However what we miss out there that it is a gap between the external stimulus and our internal response. So how we respond is our responsibility. In other words, somebody may behave badly and yet I can choose to see it in a positive light and say okay.
This is an opportunity for me to grow. So the first step in managing emotions is to accept. To realise that you are responsible for the way thing happens. I totally believe the organisation and I am there. I took the right around and I live with them and I do see the nearly as ethical evolution.
Tell me do you believe in miracles?
When something happens beyond the level of human understanding, we call it a miracle. But the human intellect itself is so tiny. We are not able to understand whether there is so much that happens on the Earth. So what people call a miracle is actually following the natural laws of the universe from a higher level
So, how did you get that beautiful name?
My Guru called and he said come I will teach you all the scriptures. I stayed in the ashram and I studied Vedic scriptures. And then finally he said all right. Now I would like you to go out and distribute this knowledge. So at that time he gave me this name as a Bliss of Lord Krishna which it means.
Would you say you're somewhere showing the path to the world? And there are your top five buildings in this journey of guiding of leading or showing the path if you had to sight some rules for life, what would that be?
So the first point is to be positive in other words besides that negativity is not going to. So whatever the situation let me try and be positive. Now when we make this is the goal and we find that there is negative inside us now what to do so that the second thumb rule is to take responsibility for your emotions.
And if there is negativity that will lead to the desire to correct now, I need to improve knowledge. Breaking out of this vicious cycle of blinking and I need to improve myself. So when we want to improve that the third Point comes that is inspiration how inspired you are not to start a business, you know, how much of hard work and energy and drive is required right to succeed anything inspiration is required.
So to inspire yourself, how do you inspire yourself? There's an external inspiration. If I get a higher salary cap to be inspired and there is an internal inspiration where I decide that this thing is important. And because I keep that knowledge. I inspire myself to the internal expression after that inspiration is not enough.
After inspiration, we need to put in the effort when you put in the effort. The next thing that comes is your intention with what intention are you acting now people experience stress in the corporate environment and stress management is a good thing. They always come to me so I can see what is the means for managing stress?
There are so many tools that are helping you to do yoga and you listen to music or anything that slows down. The mind will eat this fresh management.
How do you deal with emotions and stress?
People often come to me to ask this, and Gita has the solution to this. Lord Krishna guided Arjun to ‘Do the work and leave the results to God’, this is the best way to manage stress.
How do you deal with despair and people who are not doing as expected you said taking responsibility but what if somebody still doesn’t do what you expect?
One must try to change the way a person is doing. Mostly this doesn’t happen so another way is to change yourself and this is a good way to deal with such a situation. But you asked about the feeling of hurt, so the best way to deal with this uncontrollable situation is to be solution-oriented rather than being problem-oriented. When we being problem-oriented we keep thinking about the behaviour of others and being solution changes the situation for you.
How do you deal with closure when you expect an apology from someone and it doesn’t happen?
In your spiritual journey, one day or sometime in future you have to learn a powerful tool of forgiveness. I tell you this is satisfying. There will be a closure otherwise there will be no closure.
How do you deal with situations where you have to take others in confidence because there will be challenges and you are running late from your commitments?
Being an entrepreneur is to take risks. Now you have to relate that future success with your existing situation and it is something that solves misery and spreads and allows you to spread happiness. You will really enjoy it if you win it too well even if you not, it gives you a big learning that is also welcome. Once Warren Buffet was asked about his secret of success, he said, I have to protect one yes from one thousand no’s and this is the best thing to do. Ability to cut off something not right is the ability an entrepreneur should have and it helps a lot.
If you see light at the end of a tunnel but there is a bridge you have to cross with lots of challenges. How will do it?
Look the leader has to take the challenge, it’s the faith that is infective and leader has to pass on that faith to everyone he wants to achieve. Leaders are inspired and he could inspire others.
How about your journey, the world even gurus saints Ashrams are materialistic, a lot of them have done good to the world?
Being materialistic doesn’t mean you are not spiritual, spirituality is not running away from materialist one has to be spiritual to its work. You have asked about my mission, I have decided to serve God, so I took the spiritual journey to reach the supreme. My guruji told me that there is no shortage of engineers and MBA’s in the world, but there must be someone who can explain this to others. I do this as a service to God and my Guru. Some people understand more some do less, but I do my best and that satisfies me.
Why there are only seven rules on the book why not six or eight?
Studies show that when there is a chunk of numbers you tend to remember 7 like a shopping list or phone numbers you remember the first 7 numbers. So the ideal number in the list is 7 people tend to remember.
Which is your favourite chapter in the book?
It depends on how a person likes it for me Jalebi is tasty from all sides. Like last chapter talks about problems, a lot of people face problems. So the chapter talks about how you can utilise the problem as a solution and it is key to do good.
Tell us some anecdotes about discipline there is a chapter in the book that talks about discipline?
Let me tell about a study that was done in Stanford, discipline means exercise your ability to self-control. Something is pleasurable but I will not do it because it’s not beneficial. This is painful but I will do it because it is beneficial that is discipline. So it is about doing things that are necessary, not pleasurable. A study was done by a scientist called Walter Mischel on toddlers about three years old, they were given chocolate and asked to not to eat it for 20 minutes and doing it will get them two chocolates. Some 500 children waited for a few minutes and couldn’t resist, some for more minutes and couldn’t resist and there were few who controlled themselves for 20 minutes. Later on after 20 years the daughters of Mischel who were among those children entered the Stanford and thought where are those children now and the study was revived for next 15 years and the results were remarkable those kids who lost patience were doing average in their lives and the once who controlled for 20 minutes were doing great in spheres of life. Then people realised that this is remarkable about discipline.
What are your dreams and hopes?
I believe in living in the moment, If I am doing best I leave the rest to God.
Do you have goals?
Yes, to have goals is only intelligence. There are many projects that we are working, for instance, building a University in Odisa to uplift a backward region of the nation. My goal is to give them education of human excellence.
You talked about Vedas, I haven’t read them. Do you think we should introduce Vedas?
The goal of education is to become a better human being this word education comes from word educare which means to bring forth. What children are being taught is to finally how to earn money but it should be being good human and morally strong. Introducing Veda’s for me is a good idea but it should not hurt sentiments of others, it is for spiritual excellence and it will transform society.
Yes, Vedas are not religious text they are spiritual texts.
Of course, my perspective of Vedas is that believes should be established on good knowledge. Knowledge is about ascending knowledge that what science is about, descending knowledge comes from a top source and it comes in one day. Vedas are called Apaurushey means above human creation so they are believed to descend from divine sources. That is why they are respected in our Sanatan dharma as the supreme authority.
You and I went to a B School and there are so much competition and compassion, should there be a course where books like your book should be introduced? Should there be a peer course in spirituality in B Schools?
Definitely, you brought up two important parts, first to bring up compassion among managers, ultimately they are going to have so many resources in their command if you are going to selfish there can be like Satyam scandal or repeat of the same kind. So people need to learn value for ethics. Business schools are now doing it as one of their departments and it should be because people are learning to manage everything but not themselves. So there is a need for that, for instance, I am going to give a lecture in IIM Lucknow and IIM Ahmedabad and my favourite topic is the spiritual paradigm of management. Like there is Japanese style of management now Indian style of management is coming up but there is no spiritual paradigm of management. I explain how it is meant for growth to ourselves and others. So any organisation, so if the goal of the organisation is to extract money its material perspective but if you realise that you are also satisfying need of people and doing it its win-win situation of being social and it can add value to society as well.
Do you look up to people for wisdom beyond your Guru?
I look for wisdom wherever I get it, in 35 years spiritual journey to my life people keep coming to me with books that swami ji this is my guru ji’s book read it, this is a very good book please read it and I kept reading it. Where-ever you find jewel why not lift it. Like Saint, Tulsidas Ji said that a saint is like Swan, the way swan can spate milk from water and saint also does the same it gets positive from everything.
Do you think Saint Kabir was more relevant?
Kabir ji’s speciality was cutting off an unnecessary chunk, his famous words are learning two and a half word of love is more relevant than reading a bunch of texts. But Tulsidas Ji’s ability is different he wrote Ramcharitmanas that has all the knowledge of Upanishads, every time I read it I think oh! God this is like 50 PhD’s how one person can write it.