Hat is our purpose
As one approaches retirement, thoughts of ones mortality begin to filter through. One is as young or old as one thinks. Yesterday's papers carried an obituary notice of an entreprneur who began his second innings at 60, comming down to a small town from Kolkatta 23 years ago to start an auto components unit, which was later to spread wings to other locations in 4 different towns.
The deceased was a popular figure, willing to chat up the hoi polloi in any office that he visited, which was no doubt in no small measure, the source of his popularity. He was important enough to make the front page in the local papers even if too small for the financial papers to take notice. The obituary on page 5 ran to a third of the page.
What is the meaning of a life spent over 83 years, the last part presiding over a large family, the heart and soul of any family outing. Is it one third a page in a newspaper? We give below what the mother had to say in one of her conversations, over 50 years ago, what happens at the moment of death and after:
I have told you many times, and couldn't repeat it too often, that we are not made of a piece. Within ourselves we have lots of states of being, and each state of being has its own life. All that is gathered together in a single body, as long as you have one, and acts through a single body; that's what gives you the sense of a single person, a single being. But there are many of them, and there are in particular concentrations on different planes: just as you have a physical being, you have a vital being, a mental being, a psychic being, and many others with all possible intermediaries.... So when you leave your body, all those beings will scatter. It's only if you are a very advanced yogi and have been capable of unifying your being around the divine center that those beings remain linked together. If you haven't been able to unify yourself, then at the time of death, all that will scatter: every being will go back to its own region. With the vital being, for example, your various desires will separate and each of them will go and chase its realization quite independently, because there will no longer be a physical being to hold them together. While if you have united your consciousness to the psychic consciousness, when you die you will remain conscious of your psychic being, and the psychic being will return to the psychic world which is a world of bliss, joy, peace, tranquility, and growing knowledge.... But if you have lived in your vital and all its impulses, each impulse will try to realize itself here and there.... For instance, for the miser who was concentrated on his money, when he dies the part of his vital that was concerned with his money will hook on there and will keep watching over the money so no one takes it. People won't see him, but he is there nonetheless, and very unhappy if something happens to his dear money.... Now, if you live exclusively in your physical consciousness (which is difficult, because, after all, you have thoughts and feelings), if you live exclusively in your physical, when the physical being disappears, you disappear along with it, it's over.... There is a spirit of the form: your form has a spirit that lives on for seven days after your death. The doctors have declared you dead, but the spirit of your form is alive, and not only alive but conscious in most cases. It lasts for seven to eight days, and after that, it too dissolves - I am not talking about yogis, I am talking about ordinary people. Yogis have no laws, it's quite different; for them the world is different. I am talking about ordinary people living an ordinary life; for them it's like that. So the conclusion is that if you want to preserve your consciousness, it would be better to center it on a part of your being which is immortal; otherwise it will evaporate like a flame into thin air. And happily so, because if it were otherwise, there might be gods or kinds of superior men who would create hells and heavens as they do in their material imagination, inside which they would shut you up.
It is said that there is a god of death. Is it true?
Yes. As for me, I call him a 'genius of death.' I know him very well. And it's an extraordinary organization. You can't imagine how organized it is! I think there are many of those genii of death, hundreds of them. I met at least two of them.
One I met in France, the other in Japan, and they were very different. Which leads me to believe that depending on the mental culture, the education, the countries and beliefs, there must be different genii. But there are genii for all manifestations of Nature: there are genii of fire, genii of air, water, rain, wind; and there are genii of death. Any one genius of death is entitled to a certain number of dead every day. It's truly a fantastic organization. It's a sort of alliance between the vital forces and the forces of Nature. If, for example, he decided, 'Here is the number of people I am entitled to,' say four or five, or six, or one or two (it varies from day to day), if he decided so many people would die, he'll go straight and set himself up near the person who's going to die. But if you (not the person) happen to be conscious, if you see the genius going to the person but do not want him or her to die, then, if you have a certain occult power, you can tell him, 'No, I forbid you to take this person.' That's something which happened, not once but several times, in Japan and here. It wasn't the same genius. Which makes me say there must be many of them.... If you can tell him, 'I forbid you to take this person' and have the power to send him away, there's nothing he can do but go away; but he won't give up his due and will go elsewhere - there will be a death elsewhere...
Some people, when they are about to die, are aware of it. Why don't they tell the genius to go away?
Two things are needed. First, nothing in your being, no part of your being, should wish to die. That doesn't often happen. You always have, somewhere in you, a defeatist: something tired or disgusted, which has had enough, something lazy or which doesn't want to fight and says, 'Ah, well, let it be over, so much the better.' That's enough - you're dead.
But it's a fact: if nothing, absolutely nothing in you consents to die, you will not die. For someone to die, there is always a second, if a hundredth part of a second, when he consents. If there isn't that second of consent, he will not die. But who is certain he doesn't have within himself, somewhere, a tiny bit of a defeatist which just yields and says, 'Oh well'?
... Hence the need to unify oneself. Whatever the path we may follow, the subject we may study, we always reach the same result. The most important thing for an individual is to unify himself around his divine center; that way he becomes a real individual, master of himself and of his destiny. Otherwise, he is a plaything of the forces, which toss him about like a cork in a stream. He goes where he doesn't want to, is made to do what he doesn't want to, and finally he gets lost in a hole without any way to stop himself doing so. But if you are consciously organized, unified around the divine center, governed and led by it, you are the master of your destiny. It's worth trying.... At any rate, I find it's better to be the master rather than the slave.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS, JULY 1, 1953 MOTHER
- PETA cemetery
It's not clear whether People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals
(PETA) has dug its own grave or not. We can find out though. Last
year when the animal rights group announced a $1 million prize to
the first person to come up with a method to produce commercially
viable quantities of in vitro meat at competitive prices by 2012
there was a near revolt in the ranks of the organisation. President
and founder, Ingrid Newkirk, thought members would be leaving in
That's because everybody in PETA, including those repulsed by the
idea of eating animal tissue even if no animals are killed,
instantly realised the entrepreneurial power of such an offer.
Earlier when the Ansari X Prize of $10 million was offered for the
first non-government organisation to launch a reusable manned craft
into space, it attracted 26 teams from around the world, ranging
from hobbyists to corporatebacked operations. Not only did one of
them manage to win the prize but more than $100 million was invested
in new technologies in pursuit of it.
PETA knows that by establishing a similar philanthropic model for
achieving a specific scientific goal it could produce a 10 times or
greater return on the prize money and at least 100 times in follow-
on investment. It obviously wants this thing to happen and by
putting up the initial seed capital, as it were, almost ensures it
And here's what makes their deal sweeter: people who have little
to do with animal welfare issues have a vested interest in promoting
in vitro meat too. Environmental and public health activists for
instance are great drivers of this research because laboratory meats
are made under controlled conditions impossible to maintain in
traditional animal farms and, as such, don't carry the disease
potential of the real thing. They're also more nutritious than
conventional meat. Moreover, test tube grown cells don't use up vast
tracts of land or feed and have a much smaller environmental
footprint since they don't produce huge amounts of methane.
So basically what it means is that with the idea of a prize
sparking more interest to invest in the technology, the 2012
deadline will in all probability be met. Not only that, ultimately,
in vitro production can be made cost-competitive with traditional
meat supply or, who knows, even cheaper once the operations move out
of prohibitively expensive laboratory scale production and into
wholesale industrial manufacture.
But now, more than conscientiously objecting vegetarians who
could be caught in a bind whether to consume such fare, PETA itself
would be in a fix. Its slogan is "animals are not ours to eat, wear,
experiment on, or use for entertainment" and as such the
organisation focuses on four core issues of factory farming, fur
farming, animal testing, and animals in entertainment. Let's see how
those would pan out.
Animals Are Not Ours to Eat.. Well, that would be taken care of
Animals Are Not Ours to Wear. It's naive to assume that in vitro
production will always and only be geared to meet food needs. As
soon as the ancillary industry supplying fashion houses and designer
clothiers discovers that things like raccoon, alligator, fox and
snake skins along with other kinds of leathers, hides, pelts and
furs are cheaper to outsource as pret accessorising, there's no way
they'll ever want to pay through the nose for the real thing.
Animals Are Not Ours to Experiment On. Growing organs from cells
is already high on the research agenda and though bioengineers are
at present thinking of using them for medical implantation, the same
organs can easily be used for medical and cosmetic experiments
without conducting the same on entire live animals. Which leaves...
Animals Are Not Ours to Use for Entertainment. It's true circuses
and zoos will carry on for a while but considering PETA itself puts
its people in cages for our entertainment, need we say more? Yup,
our animal activists have nicely dug their own graves because, after
this, they would have no reason to exist any more.
Published: The Times of India 15 January 2009.
Do you need to get back to rigorous studies?" asked Patricia."I am getting rusty, and this programme is for people with 20 years of experience," I replied, hoping she would donate some savings to finance my re-education. She did not.
Anyway, I landed at Harvard, with 150 other managers, directors, army commanders, bureaucrats, from 55 countries, to school for eight weeks.
The first surprise: Young clergyman John Harvard, whose name the university bears, did not donate much money; he bequeathed £779 (50 per cent of his estate), but 400 books! Thus, the Harvard monogram proclaims, "Books Tell The Truth!"
The second surprise: Harvard is a monastery! Wake up at 5.30 am, exercise; breakfast at 7 am, classes from 8 am to 4 or 5 pm. Dinner at 6.30 pm. Then, living-group homework between 8 and 11 pm. Later, return to your room to revise the next day's case studies.
Certainly the professors were brilliant. Professor Yoffie taught us to encompass the strategy of mega corporations like Microsoft in one simple line. Professor Furhan guided us through labyrinths of international finance.
Dean Light and Nobel laureate Robert Merton explicated the causes leading to the financial meltdown. Professor Vietor reduced complex country budgets to ordinary balance sheets. "Identifying a consumer need is the seed of successful businesses," said professor Quelch. Professor Nabil unraveled the mysteries of hedge funds.
To sleep five hours was a pure vision.
Weekends involved incremental classes, meetings, workingdinners. Professor Tushman used case studies on Nike, Airbus and Wal-Mart to usher reality in class.
We read cases during mealtimes, in taxis, and even at the barbers'! It was an intravenous injection of concentrated knowledge.
Professor Kotter lectured a day on leadership, and counseled that though we may learn 7,000 new ideas at the course, on return we should focus on just two. His ultimate warning was: "If I meet you at some airport, five years hence, I will only ask you, `What are you doing in your life?'"
That was the pivotal lesson: What are we doing with our lives?
Do we matter in the lives of the poor, weak, embattled? Marketing, finance and production teach us to sell shampoo, shoe polish, shaving cream. But is that our principal goal in life? How do we build a better community, and become leaders who make a difference?
Five weeks and 2,500 pages later, my eyes were red and swollen. I would sneak out and take long walks in the lush, manicured lawns of the campus, dodging darting squirrels and turkeys. It was fall time, dry brown leaves fluttered in the cold, freezing breeze. I ruminated on why some companies turned monolithic, others atrophied.
We pondered how our lives could have been, had we come to Harvard earlier. Harvard is a factory, producing presidents for countries and corporations John Kennedy, Bill Gates, Rahul Bajaj, to name a few. Harvard is flush with endowments of $38.7 billion in the treasury. Its mahogany classrooms, carpets, art,living rooms, symposium halls would rate it a seven-star school.
In eight weeks, 150 students from multifarious continents stayed interwoven into a stout community.
We willingly gave up preferred pleasures to keep the team bonded. The minds exercised, but the hearts ruled. We knew we could lean on each other, anytime, anywhere.
Eight weeks and 900 hours of hard academic labour forged us into caring friends and alumni. I fantasised:
cluster/insulate leaders like Obama, Brown, Bin-Laden, Manmohan, Zardari, Ahmadinejad, Peres, under a roof for two months to hammer out a "Peace Plan World 2009". The Harvard Advanced Management module of work might deliver.
Folklore builds institutions. The myth around this progra mme is that, on completion, 60 per cent of the participants change jobs and 20 per cent change partners.
On my return, Patricia queried, "Have you been transformed? Are you promoted? What are your plans?"
I replied, "My plan is to sleep. I suffer from `acute sleep-deficiency'. Then, I will labour five years to return my bank loan of $70,000 for my management pilgrimage."
"Professor Kotter will be desperately disappointed in you," she ruled. Perhaps.
Rajendra K Aneja is the chief executive officer of a foods company in Dubai
The Business Standard: 20 January 2009
If SBI is to realize its vision, it must find its soul. The vision is the central idea for which the organization functions. The soul strives and grows for the effectuation of that vision. This soul is undifferentiated in the herd action of the lowly evolved. It is fully developed and individualised in the evolved.
"Banking" for SBI is defined by the mass. Wall-street, several rating agencies, the finance ministry, define for it what banking is. Even if it professes a vision " Banker to every Indian", its action is defined by the mass will.
Vision is not the idea itself. It is also the will to its effectuation. Vedanta holds that the idea is held by the Jivatma or soul, that is above the manifestation, is static and unchanging, that sends its emanation in time and space, the anaratma, a spark that grows with experience from life to life to be fully indivualised. The indivisualised psychic being having risen above the herd determines its own action.
"The soul of a plant or an animal is not altogether dormant only its means of expression are less developed than those of a human being. There is much that is psychic in the plant, much that is psychic in the animal. The plant has only the vital-physical evolved in its form, so it cannot express itself; the animal has a vital mind and can, but its consciousness is limited and its experiences are limited, so the psychic essence has a less developed consciousness and experience than is present or at least possible in man. All the same, animals have a soul and can respond very readily to the psychic in man." Sri Aurobindo, letters on Yoga, Vol 22 page 294.
Our purpose then is define also our mission or missions in consonance with the vision. For that we have to unify all our diverse parts around our central being which stand in front to guide the action in the parts. It must emerge from the herd to do that. Our missions can be set in motion only after we find our soul.
What are these missions?
1.NB or SME or MCG depending on where the action lies must step forth to act on 'Baker to the urban squatter' '(see post 330 of 3 March 2009).
2. HR must step out to initiate new performance measures. (See post 316 of 20 Feb 2009).
3. RBU must act to make it meaningful for its large pool of ex-staffers to become Business Correspondents. (See post no 263 of 22 January and 310 of 19 February).
It will be neccessary for this, for someone to hold the vision tightly at the whole bank level. (See posts 333 of 12 March, 310 of 19 Feb. and 294 of 10 Feb.) This cannot be the Board since it is not a unified entity. It will have to be the Chairman. But the chairman is exigible. The vision will fade with his exit, as happened with VoiceHR and ThinkBigThinkGlobal.
How do we make the idea self-executing? The starting point will be to formulate a firm vision of banking as an undying idea for us, linking it up to an individualised SBI soul. This individualisation is what we are engaged in, in the process of management. Our management practice must have a clear aim.
"This central being has two forms above, it is Jivatman, our true being, of which we become aware when the higher self-knowledge comes, below, it is the psychic being which stands behind mind, body and life. The Jivatman is above the manifestation in life and presides over it; the psychic being stands behind the manifestation in life and supports it... An elaborate description of the Jivatma would be: "the multiple Divine manifested here as the individualised self or spirit of the created being." The Jivatma in its essence does not change or evolve, its essence stands above the personal evolution; within the evolution itself it is represented by the evolving psychic being which supports all the rest of the nature."
Letters on Yoga Vol 22 page 265-66