Vipassana in Business
Business management involves dealing with uncertainties, handling people, controlling our reactions in the face of provocations and most importantly, to maintain our balance of mind in every situation.
Mr. S. N. Goenka, being a former businessman himself, is uniquely qualified to teach and inspire business leaders to practice Vipassana. Under his guidance, since 1989, seminars and conferences were arranged to promote better understanding of the theory underlying Vipassana meditation. Large number of businessmen, social workers, educationists and other professionals started to participate in this seminars which led them to attend a 10-day Vipassana meditation courses. Businessmen who had personally found Vipassana beneficial for increased concentration, better decision-making and managerial performance, started to encourage their staff to attend courses in order to promote productivity and co-operation in their companies. Various colleges and universities incorporated 10-day courses as a part of their curriculum. Due to this, Vipassana courses specifically for executives and professionals began to be organized in different locations.
Vipassana provides a skill to deal with all types of situations in professional and personal life with serenity, tranquillity and equanimity. There could not be another sphere of life where such a skill is of more utility, of more relevance, of more importance, than the corporate world.
Vipassana taught me to try and see things ‘as they are’ rather than as they appear to ‘my mind’. Over the period I have started to see ‘my mind’ as it is. Nothing can be more powerful and blissful than this ability to see things as they are in every aspect of life.
-– Vallabh Bhanshali, Chairman of Enam Securities
Vipassana in Government
In the remote past, as far back as the third century BC, Emperor Asoka of India used Vipassana as an instrument of reform in the governance of his vast empire. He organized a system of government - efficient, humane and responsive to public grievances, unparalleled in human history.
In one of his most renowned edicts - the Delhi Topra Pillar, Emperor Asoka gives a comprehensive review of the measures he took during his reign. He says that whereas kings and rulers prior
to him cherished the same wish as he for the advancement of people had failed, but he succeeded. He explains in the edict - he used Nijjhatiya, differently interpreted as inner meditation, reflection, contemplation - Vipassana. This is, indeed, an eloquent record of an effective use of Vipassana to achieve the aims of a government committed to the welfare of the people.
Today governments play an all-pervasive role in society. The character and quality of government is shaped by the people who run and who control the government. They have to be trained to be humane, responsive and of high integrity. This cannot be achieved by imparting management skills only, but by bringing changes to their underlying attitude. Vipassana can change that attitude and bring fundamental positive changes in a person.
By making Vipassana an integral part of the training system, we can be assured of a good government, the noblest aspiration of every citizen. Vipassana is the most effective resource of human development, an invaluable heritage of India.
Sayagyi U Ba Khin, a senior administrative officer from Burma, maintained that Vipassana can help in "creating a reservoir of calm and balanced energy to be used for the building of a welfare state and as bulwark against corruption in public life". This was amply illustrated by his own noble example.
My life can be divided into two halves. One which was before I did Vipassana course and the other after. The training of being aware and awake in all that I do and all that happens around me from the Vipassana course is with me every moment of my life. Its getting sharper by the day.
I thank Guruji for allowing the setting up of Vipassana centre in 1994, inside Tihar Jail. Since then courses have gone on uninterrupted.
- Kiran Bedi, Social Activist, India’s Highest Ranked Former Woman Police Officer
Courses for Executives - History & Spread
In 1975, the Government of Rajasthan took a pioneering decision to introduce Vipassana in Government organisations. The success of the course led to the organisation of a course in Rajasthan Police Academy in early 1976, in which police officers of all ranks participated. The course had a profound impact on the behavioural pattern of the participants. After these initial courses, many business tycoons, corporate executives and top level Government officials started attending 10-day Vipassana courses and found Vipassana as a useful tool in business management as well as in their personal growth.
In the World Economic Summit, Davos, Switzerland, which is usually attended by CEOs of prominent companies, presidents and prime ministers of nations, Mr. S. N. Goenka pointed out the need for Vipassana training in Government and the business world, and his message was well received by the audience. Two years after this summit, in 2002, the first Vipassana course was conducted exclusively for business executives and government officials in Massachusetts, U.S.A. This course was attended by over 100 prominent business leaders from around the world including senior executives from multi-national companies as well as doctors, lawyers and a U.S. Federal Judge. All participants benefited greatly and expressed the volition that many more such courses should be organized in the U.S. and around the world.
After observing the benefits of Vipassana, numerous business and non-business organizations and State Governments began to provide paid leave to their employees to attend Vipassana meditation courses. Some have treated Vipassana as a training programme, some have included it in their Human Resources Development activity and yet others have simply considered it as an aspect of employee welfare.
Exclusive courses are being held for professionals at Centers around the world. It was Mr. Goenka's desire to have centers devoted to conducting Vipassana Courses for professionals and executives in metropolitan cities, thereby encouraging them to taste the nectar of pure Dhamma. Following this vision, two such centers, Dhamma Pattana and Dhamma Vipula, were established in Mumbai, India. This has been well received by high-ranking government officials and business executives all over the world.
For more details regarding the history and spread of Vipassana courses in Government and Business, please click here.
The technique of Vipassana meditation taught in Executive courses is identical to the one taught in regular 10-day courses. The only difference is that in an Executive course, there is an additional talk and two sets of questions and answers by Mr. S. N. Goenka, who was a businessman himself for many years. In these, he discusses using the principles of Vipassana to deal with the challenges and stresses of the business world. Generally, business executives, professionals and Government officials attend these courses.
In addition, Executive courses are only held in venues with ideal conditions for meditation, including single accommodations with en-suite bathrooms. With these facilities, participants have the very best chance of benefiting from their investment of time and energy in attending the course. The teacher conducting the course on behalf of Mr. S. N. Goenka will usually be someone who also functions in a corporate/professional environment and who can therefore respond from experience to questions about how this technique can bring benefits to those leading similar lives.
Mr. S. N. Goenka worked as an international businessman based in Myanmar and India for a large part of his life. He was a keynote speaker on the subject of Spirituality in Business at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January 2000. Two years later he conducted the first 10-day course in Vipassana Meditation especially for business executives and government officials. Subsequent courses have been held in Texas, Massachusetts, Washington State, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Australia/New Zealand and India. Also, in Mumbai, Dhamma Pattana and Dhamma Vipula are two centers exclusively devoted to conducting Vipassana Courses for professionals and executives.
Harmony in Business
In the Spring of 2002 Mr. Goenka conducted the first course especially for business executives and government officials following a conference held in New York City on "Spirituality in Business." Harmony in Business is a short film about this conference, Mr. Goenka's comments during the conference and interviews with participants after the meditation course.
(Copyright: dhamma.org) For more videos, please click here.
Special Website for Vipassana Courses for Executives
A special website has been developed to avail information on the Vipassana courses for executives. To refer the website, please click here.
How to Apply
1. Read the Code of Discipline
2. Select a Center: Select a Vipassana Meditation at the convenient location from the list of Centers. At present, two centers in India are conducting courses exclusively for executives: Dhamma Pattana housed in the complex of Global Pagoda, Mumbai and Dhamma Vipula, located in Navi Mumbai.
3. Submit application form for the suitable dates: Apply for the dates convenient for you at the selected Center. Every center has its own method of accepting applications. But generally, students can apply in one of the following ways:
a) Online application: This is the most recommended method for application. Go to the course schedule page of the selected center and Click “Apply” beside the desired course date to fill in the online application form.
b) Applications through Email/fax: Students can download application form and send the completed application form to the email address or fax number of the Center.
c) Application through mail/courier: If online application is not possible, download the application form and send it to the postal address of the selected center.
4. Await notification: Every center has different time period for processing applications and students will be informed about further steps through email/phone call or letter, as per policy of the respective center.
5. Final confirmation: After completing all the formalities, the Center will issue a final confirmation number to the confirmed applicants. Students need to produce that confirmation number at the time of registration.
6. Course Cancellation: It takes a tremendous amount of planning and expense to organize a 10-day residential course. Courses across all the centers run strictly on a donation basis. So, it is essential for the centers to know the exact number of participants for each course.
As with all Vipassana courses in this tradition, there are no charges for executives' courses - not even to cover the cost of food and accommodation. All expenses are met by voluntary donations from people who, having completed a course and having experienced the benefits of Vipassana for themselves, wish to give others the opportunity to also benefit. Such donations are only accepted from people once they have completed a 10-Day course and can therefore give with this volition.
Impact on Course Participants
With an increasing demand from professionals in various fields and government officials and white collared workforce, a course was designed to specially cater to the demanding and stressful lifestyles of a professional career. This has been well received by high-ranking government officials and business executives.
The experience of a number of business enterprises and Government officials has shown that the introduction of Vipassana meditation to the people in the organization has improved the working atmosphere, the co-operative attitude, the discipline and the harmony within. Managers have become more patient in dealing with business uncertainties and more tolerant in dealing with troublesome employees. Workers have become more disciplined and better capable of carrying out their tasks, even if they entailed repetitious and monotonous routines.
In a survey conducted by Mr. Jayantilal Shah, businessman from Mumbai, of more than a dozen business executives who are small-scale entrepreneurs revealed, after their Vipassana courses, they are able to work 20% faster than before, and the quality of their work has the improved value of being performed by a subtle mind. They report that qualities of greed, anger, arrogance, and prejudice have decreased and there is less friction in dealing with staff members. Very healthy and cordial interpersonal relations have resulted, and the wealth of their enterprises has steadily increased as a result of these positive changes.
Observing the benefits of Vipassana, many business and non-business organizations have begun providing paid leave to their employees to attend Vipassana meditation courses. Some have treated Vipassana as a training programme, some have included it in their Human Resources Development activity and yet others have simply considered it as an aspect of employee welfare. Vipassana has reduced instances of confrontation and situations where conflicts arise unnecessarily. After all, Vipassana makes a person live happily and happy individuals make a happy organization. Employees become grateful towards their employers for giving them the opportunity to learn Vipassana and employers reap the rewards in the form of higher productivity and better morale.
In the words of Dr Roop Jyoti, a prominent businessman from Nepal, "Vipassana is an art of stress management. Vipassana is an art of people management. Vipassana is art of conflict management. There may be more to the science of management but Vipassana can become very nearly the art of total corporate management."
Various research has been undertaken to study the impact of Vipassana in business and Government. To read research reports, please click here.