The highest level of integrity can be achieved only in the spiritual dimension of our self, when we are able to organise our body, life and mind around the deepest spiritual source of our being.
The psychological integration of the individual around a dharmic ideal, which was discussed in the previous article, is not the highest level of integration, but it prepares our consciousness for this highest spiritual ideal. But to realise this highest level of integrity, we have to go beyond the dharmic to the spiritual dimension.
This spiritual evolution begins only when the need for it arises in the individual and the collectivity. Is there such a need in the corporate world at present? Moreover an enquiry into the spiritual dimensions of integrity may take us into the metaphysical realms. How far such metaphysical discussions are valid in business? First of all there are at present an increasing number of people in the corporate world who are seeking for a spiritual fulfillment in work and life. They are asking existential questions and are already reading philosophical and spiritual literature. This higher aspiration emerging in business is mostly private, personal and individual. And most of them may not be willing to admit their spiritual aspiration or faith openly in public even when they may be putting into practice in their professional life. As Neils Due Jensen, Group chairman, Grundfos Management, Denmark, states, “Today a major share of managers in both private and public organizations would not admit if they were managing their organization from a background of spirituality – although many would in fact do so unconsciously.”
So why not bring this higher aspiration, which at present remains suppressed, consciously and systematically into the main-stream of academic and professional thinking and practice in management? Interestingly, this is also happening in business and management. For example, the US Academy of Management has recently launched a magazine, Journal of Management, Spirituality and Religion, focusing on the higher aspiration emerging in business.
This journal in its mission statement says: “The remarkable explosion of scholarship in the field of management, business, organizations and work provides the opportunity for more specialized interest areas. One area whose turn has come is that of Spirituality and Religion and their role in shaping organisations.” This bringing of the higher aspiration from the private space to the public domain of scholarship will do a lot of good to the well-being of the corporate world. For, as the well-known psychologist Carl Jung has said, that one of the major cause of psychological disorders among the people in the west is the suppression of the religious aspiration by the secular and scientific mind of the west. So let us not shy away from the spiritual or philosophical in management thought.
The essence of integrity is truthfulness. So to realize the highest level of integrity we have to integrate our whole being around the very source of truth within us. As we have mentioned earlier, most of the spiritual traditions and teachings of the world agree that there is a spiritual element or divinity, soul or spirit in every individual, which is the source of all higher values and aspirations in man. According to the Indian spiritual thought, this spirit or divinity within man is the deepest and innermost truth of our being, beyond our body and mind, beyond even our ethical and aesthetic being. This indwelling divinity or soul is an immortal spark of the universal and the eternal Truth.
In Indian philosophy the term used for Truth is “Sat” which is the spiritual essence of all that is and That by which all exists. The soul or the spirit in man is made of this spiritual substance of Sat. So, in this Indian spiritual conception “Truth” is not merely ethical honesty. To be truthful in a spiritual sense is to integrate our whole being – our body, life and mind and all its faculties, around the spiritual centre in us, which is the truth of our individual being and the source of all higher values.
This is the highest level of integrity. We can now understand why the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram defines Sincerity as: “To lift all the movements of the being to the level of the highest consciousness and realization already attained. Sincerity exacts the unification and harmonization of the whole being in all its parts and movement around the central Divine Will”.
But what is this Divine Will and how to know it? The Divine Will is not what is ordained in the Scriptures through right understanding and practice of scriptural injunction are a great help in our spiritual progress. In a spiritual perspective, the Divine Will for the individual is the inner divine guidance and impulsion of the spiritual element in us. How to know this inner guidance of our soul? It is a long, difficult and arduous discipline, full of perils and pitfalls, like for example mistaking the voice of our own mind and heart or some lesser powers of the subliminal mind as the Divine will. But however hard and difficult it may be, every individual at a certain state in her evolution, has to make this journey if she wants to realize her highest potential. But how to realize this spiritual integration? What is the path? The main principles of the path may be briefly summarized on the following lines:
Progressive purification of the mind and heart from all forms of ego, desire and attachment and rejection of all negativities like greed, violence, jealousy, and in work and action, renunciation of the fruits of action.
Constant and vigilant self-observation or mindfulness which is very much necessary to become fully conscious of what we are made of, detect and reject all contradictions and self-deceptions within us and unify our being around our central ideal, principle or value which we want to realize.
Consciously cultivate dharmic values which lead to peace and harmony within us and the surrounding environment like kindness, generosity, compassion, service, tolerance, understanding, non-judgemental attitude, patience, forgiveness.
Constant Practice of mental stillness along with peace and equanimity under all circumstances.
Developing the capacity for introversion by which we can enter deep into our inner being and come into direct contact with our soul.
Is this ideal and discipline a little too high and difficult for people in the corporate world? Is there anyone in business and management thinking about or practicing this spiritual ideal in the corporate world? Stephen Covey comes very close to this spiritual ideal of integrity when he says, “To me spirituality is three things. First of all you are dealing with the whole person. That includes the person’s spirit or soul. You cannot separate their body or their mind or their heart from their spirit because they are all so interrelated and there is a synergic relationship between all the four dimensions of our nature. Another dimension would be that you are dealing with principles that are universal and timeless… certainly principles have a moral and spiritual foundation but no religion has a patent on them….”
And Ramon Olle, President, Epson Europe, Netherlands states: “When your leadership is founded on a value and belief system that consider the person as a total unity of the spiritual and the material, you cannot segregate which part of your daily activity is which and just consider one side of your total integrity.”
And most of these spiritually inclined leaders in the corporate world are probably following some form of spiritual discipline. Peter Pruzan and Kirsten Pruzan Mikkelson in their book “Leading with Wisdom” which contain interviews of 31 corporate leaders from 15 countries who are making the attempt to lead from a basis of spirituality, state: “Most, not all of the executives had some kind of systematic spiritual practice… Meditation was a practice mentioned by a large number of the leaders” and quotes Niran Jung, CEO of Institute of Human Excellence, Australia:
“I go to meditation retreats, – Meditation for me is throughout the day. It is being mindful. The other spiritual practice, which was mentioned by many executives interviewed in this book by Pruzans, is “looking and listening within”. As Ricardo B. Levy Chairman of Catalyca Inc. USA, explains: “learning to quiet my mind and get into my deeper inner self and from that place listen to the voice of God, to give me the signals of my path.”
We have discussed so far the ideal of spiritual integration at the individual level. Can there be a similar integration at the collective level. A collectivity is coming together of individuals for a common purpose. So if we accept the presence of a spiritual element in the individual, then it would not be unreasonable to suppose that there is probably a dormant and potential spiritual dimension in the collectivity. This potential spiritual dimension becomes active under three conditions. First when the collectivity is formed by the divine Power with a specific spiritual mission; secondly, when the founders of the collectivity are spiritual personalities, who give a spiritual purpose and direction to the community; third when the collectivity in the course of its evolution gets spiritually awakened through spiritually inspired leadership. Thus, when the leaders and individuals in an organization practice and realize this spiritual integration within themselves, they will provide the focal point of harmony for the spiritual integration of the collectivity. For, integration of the individual is the basis for integration of the collectivity. A spiritually integrated individual radiates a spiritual force of harmony which by its subtle, silent and invisible spiritual influence, releases a corresponding force of harmony in the collectivity. And when the leaders of an organization live according to the inner guidance and inspiration of the spiritual source of their being, they will provide the right system of spiritual ideals and values around which the life of the collectivity can be integrated at the highest spiritual level.
The author is a student and practitioner in the path of integral yoga.
Courtesy: SCMS Journal of Indian Management