February 01, 2006

The power of perceptive knowledge

Research in a New Approach to Management srinivasan@sriaurobindosociety.org.in
What we want to emphasise is that our first task has to be to strive for a clear perception of the deeper truth of things in its wholeness, which means to see it in its relation with other things and the totality of life. This is what we mean by true knowledge. Once we have this "global" or "systemic" knowledge of things, then we can apply this knowledge safely to practical ends. On the other hand, if we rush into action with an idea which is not fully understood in it's totally, it may bring immediate practical results but it may lead to serious problems in the long-term. For those aspects of the idea or life which we have not grasped or ignored may raise up later and create baffling, and sometimes insurmountable, problems. In fact the industrial revolution era, which Alvin Toffler named as the "Second Wave" or "smoke-stack era" is an example of a hasty rushing into action with a practical and exclusive idea.
The western mind, cluthing at this idea of progress through industrial and technological development, plunged headlong into action without giving the least thought to the human and ecological dimensions. And the damage done by such a "development" to the environment as well as the human psyche is yet to be healed. This is probably the reason why the more contemplative cultures of the East laid a greater emphasis on the power of perceptive knowledge than that of pragmatic action. As Sri Aurobindo explains this eastern perspective on knowledge.
"When knowledge is pursued for its own sake, then alone are we likely to arrive at true knowledge. Afterwards we may utilise that knowledge for various ends; but if from the beginning we have only particular end in view, then we limit our intellectual gain, limit our view of things, distort the truth because we cast it into the mould of a particular idea or utility and ignore or deny all that conflicts with that utility or idea. By so doing we may indeed make the reason act with great immediate power within the limits of that idea or utility we have in view just as instinct in the animal acts with great power within certain limits, for a certain end yet finds itself helpless outside those limits".
So our approach to the synthesis we are seeking in business will be more perceptive than prescriptive, with a greater emphasis on "Vision" than on "Methods". But as we have indicated already, this does not mean we will ignore strategic issues. That will be going against the very nature or dharma of business. The strategic core of our synthesis will be the Science of Yoga, which is a very practical Science, and the Yogic vision of human development. But to be truly effective, the Science of Yoga has to be understood in its highest aims, laws and principles and applied to every activity of the individual and corporate life. But this is not always the way by which Yoga is getting introduced to the modern corporate world.
A few Yogic ideas and techniques like for example the physical and breathing exercises of Hatha Yoga, Meditation or inner silence are introduced in a superficial and adhoc way, mostly in short duration crash-courses, and with a specific practical aim like stress management or personality development. The danger of such an approach to Yoga, -- making it into some sort of a fast-food or quick-fix remedy for satisfying or curing the inner hunger or maladies of the jet-set executive -- is that it leads to a complete dilution and degeneration of the sprit, principles and aims of this great spiritual science. And the net result will be that Yoga will pass out of the corporate world like many management fads without making any deep and profound impact.

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