We are working in Rajasthan in a programme which is called ‘Lok Jumbish’, where we are trying to undertake the reconstruction of primary education, the education of children from Class One to Class Eight. We have found, as everybody here knows, that the most important factor is the teachers. Although Vipassana is very popular in Rajasthan, we in Lok Jumbish and in the organised educational system, have not been able to do much so far. However we have now decided that we will take up a community development block which has about 450 teachers. Those of us who have not yet experienced Vipassana will undergo a course and then talk to all the teachers of this block and persuade them to come to a Vipassana course. This should bring about a change in their own lifestyle, in the manner in which they deal with children, with parents; the aim is to create an environment in which we can nurture a new generation of children who are full of good qualities and self-confidence.
-Mr Anil Bordia, I.A.S. (Ret’d), Former Secretary of Education, Government of India
As Dr.S.N. Goenka said in the morning, most of us sitting here are from the kindergarten. I would like to think myself a mere toddler as far as this technique of meditation is concerned.
So far as I can recollect, ever since I discovered myself, I have never done anything except playing cricket and even today my life revolves around cricket, and that in very simple words is Dharma for me.
Cricket is a way of life and I see so much similarity with Vipassana. Both involve applying a fairly consistent amount of concentration and effort over a period of time. When we say that someone is not playing cricket, it means that he is not being fair in life, he is not upright, he is not honest.
If I may cite an example, it is a quote from the late Prime Minister of Australia, Sir Robert Menzies, who once said: "If onlyAmerica and Russia played cricket, this world would be a much happier place to live in."
I was talking to Mr Tandon, who first introduced me to this technique, and I said, whatever you are trying to teach us here—well I have already done a three-day course and I am going for a ten-day course in July—I call this a "psyching process", to peak up yourself at the right moment. I had many limitations with my own cricketing ability and I can tell you—people like Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev—how they psyched themselves up for their performance, and then had pride in their personal achievements. When I say "pride", that should not be taken in a sense of conceit or arrogance. This "pride" means satisfaction at your personal performance. If you are not proud of yourself, I am afraid, nobody else is going to be proud of you. And this personal pride should be followed by something called national pride.
Personally I have learnt life is a never- ending process of learning, and I have learnt from Vipassana that I can introduce this technique to little kids whom I am training from the age group of ten to fifteen years: to improve concentration, to inculcate some kind of belief in their own ability and some kind of discipline which cricket requires for the betterment of their own personality and for the betterment of society in which they are going to grow up. And also if I may say so, to eliminate the possibility of ball tampering, betting and bribery. I am sure, this technique would help to a great extent.
-Mr Bishen Singh Bedi, Sportsman, Delhi
We have to try ourselves, the Buddha cannot enlighten us. For this Vipassana is one of the ways.
We should try to introduce Vipassana into government schools for the primary age group if possible, and certainly at the upper secondary level. Vipassana is important, not only for the way of life but to give a real direction which is needed by students today.
-Venerable Dhammaviriyo, National Minorities Commission, Delhi
I have prepared a few comments on Dharma and politics.
Politics is the theory and practice of government, of power. In the old days the sphere of power was limited and it was used for limited purposes. There have been various forms of government: monarchy, dictatorship and so on. The aim of government was administration, by and large for the good of the people, and so administrators were expected to be benevolent. A benevolent government or dictator was the cherished ideal of the society. They were expected to be religious, well-meaning. When the rulers were selfish and cruel, the sufferings of humanity were horrifying.
In modern times the sphere of political power has become almost all-pervading. There has been more and more dependence on and concentration of power. The concept of the welfare state has been demanding much more from governments, politicians and administrators. Compared to the past, this power needs to be used more judiciously, for the good of all the members of the human society. Towards that end many ideas, constitutional provisions, rules, regulations, checks and balances have been provided. New forms of government have been evolved. The latest form is the democratic way of government which has been defined as government of the people, for the people and by the people. Yet, the supreme guarantee of the benevolent, dutiful, honest and humane behaviour of these politicians is their inner goodness and consciousness.
Herein lies the role of Dharma, the Dharma that teaches the basic concepts of humane behaviour, concern for the human values of love, respect and affection for everybody, co-operation, acceptance and coexistence. In my view the political system must have a sound base of Dharma, by which I mean the human religion. However what is being said and practiced in the name of religion today often reflects widespread misunderstanding and misuse. If we look at the basic or fundamental tenets of all religions, they are more or less the same: truth, love, respect, concern for the poor, concern for needy and suffering human beings. Yet battles, brutalities, killings and discrimination inflicted upon the human race has been in the name of religion. Therefore when we talk of religion, we should be clear that it is not any of the organised group of religions that we are talking about but the fundamentals of the human religion that needs to be accepted and introduced in human behaviour in general and among the politicians in particular. This may provide some solution to our present problems.
What is necessary is to bring about change and improvement in the individual attitude and the attitude of the society. There are many ways to bring about this change and one of them is the practice of Vipassana. I have during my life been practicing Svadhyaya, the Yoga sutras but recently I came in contact with Dr.S.N. Goenka and I had the good fortune to undergo several courses. On the basis of personal experience, I have come to the conclusion that the greatest and the most important way of changing the behavioral pattern of the human being is through Vipassana. Therefore I feel that the introduction of religion in the field of politics (not in the form of organised religion as such, but in the form of Dharma) is most essential and that alone will save humanity from politics and its excesses.
-Mr Madhukarrao Chaudhary, Former Speaker, Legislative Assembly, Mumbai
Over the last few years many of India’s neighbours have achieved great increases in per capita Gross National Product, but Indiais lagging behind.
In a recent discussion, I was told that the Japanese are so hard-working that we cannot hope to compete with them. But I maintain that one Indian is worth two Japanese. However, two Indians are worth one Japanese, and three Indians are worth zero! We don’t know how to work together, we are always pulling in opposite directions.
Since 1991, the Government has ushered in an era of free market economy; protection is gone, and we are now part of a global system. Our success depends on quality, competitiveness and reliability, and so we must establish more efficient systems. If we do this, we have the potential soon to enjoy great prosperity.
If we want to be efficient in our work, sharp and discriminating intelligence is required, as well as loving relations with each other. Efficiency without love becomes a
breeding ground for quarrels and strife. This is where applying the principles of Dharma can help.
Vipassana aims at establishing the practitioner in Dharma through insight meditation. The Buddha described the fruits of Dharma as maitri (loving-kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (joy) and upekha (equanimity). These are obtained through the path of sila, samadhi and pañña.
I do not believe there is any contradiction in terms when talking about Vipassana, an integral part of Dharma, together with economic gains. Wealth is not a bad word in the Indian psyche, it is very much a part of our thought process, as a means to an end of doing something good.
All who believe in eliminating poverty and bringing in prosperity will agree that we should aim at improving the productivity of our farms and factories, to produce things of higher quality at lower costs and achieve competitiveness in foreign markets.
Certainly, to gratify the senses is not the prime necessity or aim of a civilised mind. That only wealth brings happiness is an illusion. Dharma detaches us from such ignorance and enjoins us to eliminate suffering. We can take the help of modern science and technologies, guidance on principles of management, their know-how and so on.
Vipassana, which is our own inheritance, will help us to achieve our ultimate aims; it will help us to lift ourselves, not only spiritually but also materially.
-Dr. Mohan Patel, Former Sheriff of Mumbai
My name is Kalburgi Srinivas. I am a professor at the University of Regina in Canada. I am now a foreigner in this country, where I was born and raised. India is a country where for centuries foreigners have come for its gold or golden ideas and thoughts. I too am such a foreigner now, who has come to collect golden ideas, noble thoughts for improving management and for transformation of organisations.
In this present environment, which is very complex, turbulent and competitive, and creates a lot of anxiety in organisations, you may say, "Why would anyone want to come to India to learn about management unless he wants to learn about the corruption, and organised gang management in Mumbai? This was a subject raised yesterday by Mr Khairnar." At other levels, those of you who have tried to get a telephone connection or get LPG gas or have chanced to go to a court of law, obtain a train ticket or even to seek admission for your child to school will have experienced a lot of frustrations. So that is the management system we have in this country.
Then what am I doing here? There are four premier schools of management in India, Indian Institutes of Management. I have been to all of them. I could not find anything "Indian" about them—maybe because they feel that India has nothing to teach in terms of management.
While Indian organisations and Indians as a whole are not known for their task accomplishment, the Indians who have gone abroad are all hard-working, creative, intelligent, entrepreneurial, and highly successful—so much so today, the ethnic community that is most affluent in the United States is our community, the South Asian community. So what is the problem? The problem does not appear to be in the genes that are in the South Asians.
Recently, however, practicing managers in India have taken to making indigenous experiments to "Indianise" their management. Not Indian professors, but Indian managers. Some of them have been tremendously successful in economic terms. And this is the India I came to study.
For the past five months it has taken me from one uplifting, from one up-ending, from one pleasing experience to another.
I studied various spiritual movements and was impressed with their work. These techniques have been helping many executives and managers to look inward, to look inside themselves. Some remarkable changes are taking place in some of the organisations following this value-based management. I have also seen some eclectic experiments.
Now I have discovered Vipassana. It’s a powerful technique to bring about transformational change in persons and through persons, in organisations. At least three organisations I have visited incorporate the technique in their way of working.
So there are many positive examples that we can be proud about which I’ll be taking back with me. I’m not denying the existence of the India that Mr. Khairnar described yesterday, but that degraded India exists more because of the silence of good people like us. Let’s recall the Gandhian movement which succeeded only because more and more people stood up to the authorities. They had to pay a price, yes, they paid it, and we may also have to pay a price to bring about dharmic rajya again. I have a few more comments but I am pleased about the fact that I was here, that I have been here, and what I have seen. And rest assured that I’ll be back again in order to experience myself, going deeper into myself because I still have to learn a lot of things about myself.
-Professor Kalburgi Srinivas, Canada
Let me make some suggestions based on my involvement with work organisations. One plea for action is to develop new dharma-based organisations. This means that we need to translate the four good qualities about which the Buddha spoke—compassion, loving-kindness, sympathetic joy and equanimity—to the workings of organisations themselves. "Sympathetic joy" has recently reappeared in organisations in an interesting way. This has come about through the Japanese influence and it is now quite common in India to talk not of satisfaction but of delight, not only amongst customers but also amongst employees. Many organisations in India are now measuring their effectiveness not only by financial results, important though these are. Profits are not now the direct concern of top management; they are more concerned about how to create delight for customers and high satisfaction for their employees. They realise that if these matters are attended to, then the financial results will follow.
In organisations, we need to pay attention to at least three aspects: the structure, the processes and the practices operating within each organisation. For instance, most organisations today, especially newly created ones, must pay attention to ecology, how the campus is created. Dharma-based organisations must examine their physical structure, which should reflect some of the values shown in the Dharma. The campus itself should be inspiring and should indicate and thus communicate the kind of values the organisation has.
Then there is the organisational structure itself. So if, for example, we have metta as the basic foundation then the structure must be non-hierarchical. By contrast, if the organisation is deeply hierarchical, it will be difficult to practice the principles of loving-kindness. Most organizations today are concerned about this sense of equality and togetherness, and pressure is coming from another angle (again the Japanese influence) but I think the Indian experience has shown that it is possible to have non-hierarchical organisations and still get results.
Then, as far as organisational procedures are concerned, there are exemplary things happening in India, where organisations are adopting the traditional Dharma way of decision-making. For instance, in one well-known industrial company the main decision-making council consists of people from all parts of the enterprise, including the workers having the longest service, also the best workers, as well as the managers. The decisions made by this council are binding on the management, so they cannot ignore it.
I would recommend a book by Silvera titled Human Resource Development—the Indian Experience, in which he cites many examples of how Indian values are being inculcated in organisations.
Then when we look at the personnel practices in organisations we should examine whether such practices accord with the principles of Dharma and what new practices may need to be evolved. In the Human Resource Development Academy, which is a voluntary non-profit organization, we are already examining the kinds of values depicted, and I think for the future we might also include a Dharma perspective so that we can communicate what kind of values the various practices reflect. For if practices are based on those values which we wish to inculcate, we will have value-based organisations rather than the belief, or the myth, that management can be value-free. Serious analysis and conscious commitments are required to establish and maintain such value-based, Dharma organisational practices.
The individual should be at the centre of all these deliberations. Vipassana has a particular role here as one of the ways of helping people to examine themselves, based on experience, which is more important than the knowledge we receive from others. However public talks and seminars in which people share perspectives can also play their part. Positive experiences generate positivity. Then there is the service orientation, doing something good for humanity and the wider society. These values should be inculcated not by preaching but by ensuring that they are pragmatic in nature and assist the organisation to achieve its goals.
Finally there is the role of the guide or "mentor" as modern management describes it. Those who have been initiated in Vipassana, for example, and have developed in wisdom, not necessarily those holding hierarchical positions, can become informal leaders in the organisation: they can support others to gain strength in Dhamma—young people, for instance, who may be very bright but at the same time vulnerable.
An experienced and respected mentor can do much to inculcate values in a way that cannot be achieved by more formal means. Let us also then develop the role of mentors in our organisations to provide the necessary guidance and inspiration.
-Professor Udai Pareek, Jaipur