Philosophy in Business – A perspective

The financial and climate crises, global consumption habits, and other 21st-century challenges call for panacea or elixir.  . Credit, climate, and consumption crisis cannot be solved through specialized expertise alone. These problems, like most issues businesses confront in the global marketplace, feature complex interdependencies that require an understanding of how political, financial, environmental, ethical, and social interests influence each other. Expertise and experience will not make you a better analyst of the evidence. In the case of experts ,the abilities to ride above difficulties, to reinvent yourself up and start all over again, to reduce unmanageable difficulties to manageable proportions – all such admirable attributes are psychological, not physical: or, put another way, they are ‘emotional’, not ‘rational’.

What managers truly want is a guide to those psychological behaviours – their own even more than those of their subordinates – that will achieve a higher, indeed, the highest degree of competence.

The world is changing fast—we are more interconnected and interdependent than ever before. How we work, what we work has always mattered. But today, it matters more than ever and in ways that it never has before. Technology has joined us together across time, distance, and culture faster than we have developed frameworks to understand one another. That’s why we must change the way we behave, consume, and build trust in both our business and personal lives.

We have to innovate in how we approach our relationships with others if we – and the organizations and institutions that we represent – are to thrive in this new world. We also have to change our idea of success. The singular pursuit of success might be the very thing that causes it to elude us. Those who instead choose to pursue significance in their work and life find success for themselves and others along the way.

 we need to broaden our understanding of problems by looking deeper at our own beliefs, values, ethics, and character, and then understand how they relate to those of others who share a stake in our problem-solving efforts.

Philosophy can help us address the existential challenges the world currently confronts.  Companies translate their values into corporate practices and behaviors that result in sustainable competitive advantage. Philosophy applied to help businesses develop ethical corporate cultures: Philosophy is powerful enough to tackle sprawling issues. The discipline can be applied to the day to day business problems after existing for more than 2,000 years.

 We’re constantly fascinated by new ideas in organizational governance and behavior. Philosophy for business guides us to implement ideas, values, and principles to work for our  organization.

BUSINESS AREAS PHILOSOPHY CAN BE APPLIED

  1.   Imbibe Values and principles like Consistency, self-knowledge, fairness, self-discipline, thrift, responsibility for our actions and their effects on others,
  2.   Ability to lead by example
  3.   Vision and management philosophy with guiding principles
  4.   Business Ethics
  5.   Corporate Social Responsibility Policy
  6.   Lean’ Principles to Service Industries
  7.   The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success
  8.   Implementing the Law of Attraction
  9.   Developing the right corporate culture helps companies be  more profitable and provides sustainable competitive advantage.
  10.   Corporate values
  11.   Authentic leadership
  12.   Mindful leadership
  13.   Organizing Knowledge – Knowledge based view.
  14.   Leadership as Holarchy
  15.   Self Governance and peer Governance
  16.   Transformational Leadership
  17.   Transforming Organizations to Transform Society.
  18.   Develop a Powerful Creative Imagination
  19.   The Role of the CEO & Top Management Teams
  20.   Conflict Management, Politics & Negotiation
  21.   Cross-Cultural Management
  22.   Buddhist Economic Principles
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Minimalist design and Zen gardens

Minimalist Product Design from Zen

The Japanese rock gardens  or dry landscape gardens, often called Zen gardens, are a type of garden that features extensive use of rocks or stones, along with plants native to rocky or alpine environments that were influenced mainly by Zen Buddhism and can be found at Zen temples of meditation.

The Japanese rock gardens ) or “dry landscape” gardens, often called “Zen gardens”, are a type of garden that features extensive use of rocks or stones, along with plants native to rocky or alpine environments that were influenced mainly by Zen Buddhism and can be found at Zen temples of meditation.

Japanese gardens are gardens in which the plants and trees are ever changing with the seasons. As they grow and mature, they are constantly sculpted to maintain and enhance the overall experience. The underlying structure of a Japanese garden is determined by the architecture; that is, the framework of enduring elements such as buildings, verandas and terraces, paths, artificial hills, and stone compositions.

Karesansui gardens can be extremely abstract and represent miniature landscapes also called mindscapes. This Buddhist preferred way to express cosmic beauty in worldly environments is inextricable from Zen Buddhism.

Dry landscape dry garden is a garden style unique to Japan, which appeared in the Muromachi period (1392-1568). Using neither ponds nor streams, it makes symbolic representations of natural landscapes using stone arrangements, white sand, moss and pruned trees.

The act of raking the gravel into a pattern recalling waves or rippling water has an aesthetic function. Zen priests practice this raking also to help their concentration. Achieving perfection of lines is not easy. Rakes are according to the patterns of ridges as desired and limited to some of the stone objects situated within the gravel area. Nonetheless, often the patterns are not static. Developing variations in patterns is a creative and inspiring challenge.

 Stone arrangements and other miniature elements are used to represent mountains and natural water elements and scenes, islands, rivers and waterfalls. Stone and shaped shrubs are used interchangeably. In most gardens, moss is used as a ground cover to create “land” covered by forest.

Other, mostly stone, objects are sometimes used symbolically to represent mountains, islands, boats, or even people. Karesansui gardens are often, but not always, meant to be viewed from a single vantage point from a seated position.

  The influence of Zen on garden design was (probably) first described as such by Kuck in the early 20th century and disputed by Kuiter by the end of that century.

Though each garden is different in its composition, they mostly use rock groupings and shrubs to represent a classic scene of mountains, valleys and waterfalls taken from Chinese landscape painting.

Today, ink monochrome painting still is the art form most closely associated with Zen Buddhism. A primary design principle was the creation of a landscape based on, or at least greatly influenced by, the three-dimensional monochrome ink landscape painting. In Japan the garden has the same status as a work of art.

 The beauty of one of Japan’s most popular Zen gardens has long eluded explanation. Now neuroscience scientists have found that its minimalist design suggests a pleasing picture to our subcontinents.

The 500-year-old Ryoanji Temple garden in Kyoto contains five outcroppings of rocks and moss on a rectangle of raked gravel. Using symmetry calculations the researchers have discovered that the objects imply an image of a tree in the empty space between them that we detect, without being aware of doing so.

The finding suggests that Japanese garden designers – originally priests – balanced forces from visual science.

The trunk of the hidden branched tree lines up with the preferred garden-viewing spot of ancient temple floor plans, repeating the calculations with random rock groups failed to generate any similar patterns.

Earlier work by Ilona Kovacs, a visual scientist at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, showed that the human brain uses similar symmetry lines, like those of a child’s stick figure, to make sense of shapes.

In the Zen garden, you have even less to go on with just the best points, or rocks, along the symmetry lines. The brain may recognize the tree during meditation and other Zen states.

Through the years, people have come up with various interpretations for the rock clusters themselves, a mother tiger herding her cubs across a river, mountaintops poking through the clouds, and strokes of Chinese characters.

These logical descriptions miss the point;   the suggestive symmetry explanation fits the Zen mind better. It has always been thought that the priest-gardener’s layout was something that didn’t come from the conscious mind, but from a deeper level. They could have easily intuitively developed that kind of tree layout.

 The garden, like Mona Lisa’s smile, has intrigued visitors for centuries. Tour guides bringing visitors to the ‘best’ spot to view the garden stop exactly where the symmetry lines converge.

A miniature dry landscape garden

There have been many attempts to explain the karesansui garden’s layout. Some of these are:

The gravel represents ocean and the rocks represent islands.

The rocks represent a mother tiger with her cubs, swimming to a dragon.

The rocks form part of the kanji for heart or mind.

A recent suggestion by Gert van Tonder of Kyoto University and Michael Lyons, of Ritsumeikan University, is that the rocks form the subliminal image of a tree. The researchers claim the subconscious mind is sensitive to a subtle association between the rocks. They suggest this may be responsible for the calming effect of the garden.

The term minimalism is also used to describe a trend in design and architecture where in the subject is reduced to its necessary elements. Minimalist design has been highly influenced by Japanese traditional design and architecture.

Minimalist architecture simplifies living space to reveal the essential quality of buildings and conveys simplicity in attitudes toward life. It is highly inspired from the Japanese traditional design and the concept of Zen philosophy.

Zen concepts of simplicity transmit the ideas of freedom and essence of living. Simplicity is not only aesthetic value, it has a moral perception that looks into the nature of truth and reveals the inner qualities of materials and objects for the essence.

The Japanese aesthetic principle of Ma refers to empty or open space. That removes all the unnecessary internal walls and opens up the space between interior and the exterior. Frank Lloyd Wright was influenced by the design element of Japanese sliding door that allows to bring the exterior to the interior. The emptiness of spatial arrangement is another idea that reduces everything down to the most essential quality.

The Japanese aesthetic of Wabi values the quality of simple and plain objects. It appreciates the absence of unnecessary features to view life in quietness and reveals the most innate character of materials. For example, the Japanese flora art, also known as Ikebana has the meaning of let flower express itself. People cut off the branches, leaves, and blossoms from the plants and only retain the essential part from the plant. This conveys the idea of essential quality and innate character in nature.

Product Design

  Minimalism is a design trend that started in the 20th century and continues today, most prominently through companies like Apple and various graphic and visual designers. A minimalist design is a design stripped down to only its essential elements.

The unofficial mission statement for minimalist design came from architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe:

Less is more.

Another motto was from designer Buckminster Fuller:

Doing more with less.

There is not much else to add to that, other than reiterating that minimalist design is more of a principle than visual design. It does not matter if you are designing a website, a flyer, a user interface, a piece of hardware, a house, or anything else – you remove the unnecessary and keep only the essential elements.

Naturally, the focus on simplicity also spilled over into consumer products, with designer Dieter Rams (also more on him below) using minimalist design in products for Braun. IKEA, the Swedish furniture company, is another example of minimalist designed consumer products. The furniture is so simple that it is designed for everyday people to be able to assemble with ease, often without even needing instructions due to it being self-explanatory.

In addition, of course, minimalist design carried over naturally into the digital realm, with visual and web designers applying minimalism principles into their own designs and designs for clients. In a minimalist design, every detail has significance. What you choose to leave in is vital.

Knowing the history and key figures of minimalist design is nice and all, but knowledge without action is useless (outside of entertainment purposes, of course). So here are some resources on the right practical approach to minimalist design.

Principles of Minimalist Web Design

 Less is more – use only elements that are necessary for your web design; the end effect is greater than the sum of its parts.

 Omit needless things – don’t include unnecessary elements in your designs; include only what’s necessary to the content and function of your website (including certain design and graphical elements that directly affect readability and usability).

 Subtract until it breaks – remove elements until your design stops working the way it should (stops being user-friendly or stops delivering your intent experience); the point right before that is when you’ve achieved the most minimalist design possible.

 Every detail counts – what you choose to leave in is vital, so think of the feeling you want visitors to have, then include only the details that will create that feeling (funky, modern, clean, sophisticated, and so forth).

 Color minimally – use only the colors that interact well with each other and create the feeling you want visitors to have.

 White space is vital – do not try to fill every space, instead use white space to emphasize certain elements over others.

The Ins and Outs of Minimalist Design – a Design Shack article that looks at key aspects of minimalism in web design and showcases examples from designers who got it right. The key aspects it covers are:

 Typography – choose clean, simple fonts with a high level of readability.

 Strong grid alignments – a readable and pleasing arrangement of content; our eyes are familiar with this pattern, and we want items to line up in a predictable manner.

 Contrast – increased contrast can drastically improve your design’s readability and user-friendliness.

 White space – emphasize where you want viewers to look while making them feel comfortable and less claustrophobic.

Zen and creativity for Business innovation

Zen and Creativity and Innovation

The principles of the Zen can inspire the means to unlock creativity and find freedom in the various dimensions of our existence.

Naturalness, spontaneity, and playfulness are all aspects of the ordinary mind that catches a glimpse of the world of things just as they are. However, as the predominant note on Zen Buddhism is more intellectual. Zen teaches to have a thorough insight into the nature of Mind. Zen the seemingly different pursuits of awakening and creative expression are actually kindred, even twins. Creativity is a nebulous topic that fascinates everyone endlessly.

Zen is an art of self-discovery and awakening which the disciple must experience firsthand. Creativity is the ability to associate seemingly unrelated concepts in your mind; and then combine, branch and recombine them until you get an A-HA moment. This is the manner which new ideas, products, processes, and business models are innovated. Most of us use this method subconsciously, but there is a certain mystery and awe around our creative facilities. This intangible process makes our creative process and emergent outputs seem somewhat unpredictable and serendipitous.

Creativity is a property of consciousness itself. Broadly shared by all schools of thought, which is the unity of nature with human thought. Simply put, in ancient Chinese thought humans and nature are actually the same. All the principles that apply to nature could also apply to man. Thus, humanity could experience the process of the development of the universe, just as could the universe itself, or every other being in the universe.

A recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 leadership competency of the future. Yet it is not just about sustaining nation’s economic growth. All around us are matters of national and international importance that are crying out for creative solutions, from saving the Gulf of Mexico to bringing peace to Afghanistan to delivering health care.

Koan and Creativity

Suzuki roshi emphasized simple daily zazen practice and ordinary everyday living. Zen Buddhists may practice koan inquiry during sitting meditation (zazen), walking meditation (kinhin), and throughout all the activities of daily life. Koan practice is particularly emphasized by the Japanese Rinzai school, but it also occurs in other schools or branches of Zen depending on the teaching line. A koan is a story or dialogue, generally related to Zen or other Buddhist history; the most typical form is an anecdote involving early Chinese Zen masters. These anecdotes involving famous Zen teachers are a practical demonstration of their wisdom, and can be used to test a student’s progress in Zen practice. Koans often appear to be paradoxical or linguistically meaningless dialogues or questions. However, to Zen Buddhists the koan is the place, the time, and the event where truth reveals itself unobstructed by the oppositions and differentiations of language. Answering a koan requires a student to let go of conceptual thinking and of the logical way, we order the world, so that like creativity in art, the appropriate insight and response arises naturally and spontaneously in the mind. Koans and their study developed in China within the context of the open questions and answers of teaching sessions conducted by the Chinese Zen masters. There are also various commentaries on koans, written by experienced teachers that can serve as a guide. Koans are not scripture in any traditional sense. Bodhidharma said that Zen is without doctrine, without words either written or spoken. Koans, like meditation, are thought of as road signs in these traditions.

The ancient masters devised a way to explain Zen using ox-herding pictograms, which represent ten stages of self-discovery. The ox represents the mind or the self, ego, or pre-conditioned responses. The ox herder is the practitioner attempting to understand his or her nature and, therefore, his or her mind. Throughout the series, these two entities slowly merge until they eventually become one with each other. All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.

Zen inspires our creative soul. To practice “Zazen” is to see into one’s “own nature”, which is from the very beginning, pure and calm, and every being in the world has it.

Creative thinking requires focusing on a problem followed by defocusing, i.e. relaxing and letting the mind wander on its own, creating opportunities for sudden insights to occur. The soul of creativity arises from an undivided mind.

Zen is a great way of relaxing the mind and body. The quieter you become, the more you can hear. Zen is a very creative experience. The wise practice the six virtues of perfection to get rid of confused thoughts, and yet there is no specific consciousness on their part that they are engaged in any meritorious deeds. Obey the nature of things, and you are in concord with the Way. The rare invaluable gem is never impaired however much one uses it. Moving in the direction of your dreams, furthering the life you would love to create. Zen teaches to have a thorough insight into the nature of Mind. The only way to grasp higher order happiness (emptying mind) is through a calm and settled mind. When you see into your own nature, you know who you are, you know what, and how everything and being in the world really is. From this, your action and reaction will be in harmony with the whole and in situations around you.

The Six Glorious Virtues of Zen Buddhism

Every great religion contains precepts or exhortations toward a better life. In Buddhism, the Paramitas are a set of “Virtues” describing qualities of thought and action, which, if made a part of one’s life, will reveal the mysteries of the universe and of man. It has also been said that their practice by the sincere aspirant will lead ultimately to complete higher order happiness.

I. Charity — the key of charity and love immortal;

II. Uprightness — the key of harmony in word and act;

III. Forbearance — patience sweet, that nought can ruffle;

IV. Dispassion — indifference to pleasure and to pain;

V. Dauntlessness — the dauntless energy that fights its way to the supernal truth;

VI. Contemplation — the open doorway to truth. It is only when a system or code helps us to channel our aspirations that it becomes a bridge to a fuller comprehension of existence

Creativity is strongly linked to receptiveness to life and what it has to offer us. It means being open to what is true, about ourselves and about others. Creativity flourishes when the truth about things is admitted to oneself.

Koans and mondos are used to exhaust and disable the analytical mind, paving the way for (existential) insight. Zen is an authentic religious experience. Its authenticity is in its inspiring conscious creativity in human beings. Harmony begins with trust and a positive view of human nature. Harmony is enhanced by practicing a non-judgmental attitude towards others they only contemplate their own words and deeds. The human need to explore, discover, decorate, dominate, conquer, protect, invent, tell stories and make magic goes all the way back to our origin as a species. Zen inspires being Natural, that is examining dispassionately various phenomena in life and drawing indisputable conclusions. It pays attention to very accurate and precise details, and portrays things as they are. It is believed that we cannot create adequately from the control and illusion of the mind.

Both Zen and innovation:

I. involve exploration and discovery

II. Uncover latent possibilities

III. Strive for a breakthrough

 

Business Innovation

Innovation is driven not just by the need for business growth or market dominance, but also by the imagination, creativity, and ingenuity of the human mind. Whatever learning there may be in Zen, it comes from our own mind. The future demands the whole brain- integrating the left-brain with the creative and intuitive modalities of our right brain. Cultivating mindfulness will help you to innovate and enjoy life more. Focusing on one task at a time, putting yourself fully into that task, is much more effective than multi-tasking.

Ideation is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas, where an idea is understood as a basic element of thought that can be visual, concrete, or abstract.

Ideation is all stages of a thought cycle, from innovation, to development, to actualization. As such, it is an essential part of the design process, both in education and practice. Creativity and innovation based on the power of our subconscious. Our subconscious mind is constantly processing the ideas and stimuli received consciously. A useful technique is to work on a problem before going to sleep, allowing the subconscious to take over. Review any ideas when you awake, and make sure you have a pad and pen by your bed to record the ideas.

Focusing on one real objective at a time is also more effective. Focusing on what you are doing right now is highly effective. You are more productive and innovative when you are mindful. Insight is preceded by, but is not the result of, logical effort. It comes suddenly out of “nowhere” and with a feeling of absolute certainty. Nowhere is the creative mind associated with the right hemisphere of the brain. A person, who never has time to think, may turn into a thoughtless person. Likewise, an organization that does not have time to think may turn into a thoughtless organization. Society is moving out of the Information Age, dominated by ‘left brain’ analytic modes of thinking. The future demands our ‘whole brain’, integrating the holistic, visual & symbolic, synchronistic and intuitive modalities of our ‘right brain’. We need to activate the power of your imagination and intuition.

A synergy of techniques, including meditation, drawing, improvisation and visualization teach us to expand beyond the boundaries of our habitual awareness. Words (affirmations) and images (visualizations) affect your mind and body. We cultivate holistic,
intuitive and ‘super-conscious’ capacities that utilize the full spectrum of human potential.

It has well known by now that we only use 10% of our minds, and the other 90% is the unconscious portion. Creative imagination allows people to tap into this unconscious portion of their minds and harness its potential power. Imagine more creative space in your mind and in your workspace. No matter how compelling the two-dimensional image will never measure up to the molecular resolution of physical holographic reality. Finding your voice is your key to the realm of infinite creativity.

Missing link between success and happiness was lack of awareness of one’s “inner self”. To achieve sustainable peak performance, learn to transform your motivation from fear of losing to joy of action. Cultivating a deeper awareness of one’s self can be learned like any other skill through practice.

True inspiration for inspiration is not physically measurable, nor tangible in any concrete way.

Innovation Capacity =

  Preferences + Innovative Work Behaviors + Innovation Practices

Innovation and growth is not just about products or solutions – it is about creating a transformational change in the way people live, work, and play. Zen leads the transformation.

Zen Buddhism and Mindful Leadership

Zen buddhism and mindful leadership

Zen is a practice of direct, unmediated awareness. It is not an intellectual exercise to develop a philosophy or theology. It is not belief in the contents of written works. It is not following a code of conduct. It is not an emotional catharsis. It is not performing good works.

Fundamentally Zen is being present here and now with what is here and now just as it is. It involves taking the energy of body and mind that we habitually use to create and maintain the “self” and focusing it on the present just as it is without interacting with what is going on. The key approach to achieving this focus is through Zen meditation. While reading about meditation and Zen may be helpful, reading and other activities are secondary to practice. In the practice we develop direct awareness, and we attempt with great calm and patience to bring this awareness to every moment of our life.

 Mindfulness practice, inherited from the zen buddhist tradition, is increasingly being employed in western psychology to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions. Scientific research into mindfulness generally falls under the umbrella of positive psychology. Research has been ongoing over the last twenty or thirty years, with a surge of interest over the last decade in particular. The establishment of buddhism predates the field of psychology by over two millennia; thus, any assessment of buddhism in terms of psychology is necessarily a modern invention.

The buddhists were, in a way, more advanced in the psychology of their ethics than aristotle — in a way, that is, which would now be called scientific. Buddha identifies four foundations for mindfulness, the body, feelings, mind states and mental objects. He further enumerates the following objects as bases for the meditative development of mindfulness.

He further described the body as breathing, postures, cemetery contemplations, and clear comprehending. Feelings could be pleasant neutral or unpleasant. Buddha described the two major paramount of the mental qualities generated by the meditation techniques which are insight and serenity. The insight enables the people to observe, explore and distinguish the objects of life. While the serenity also called as tranquility steadies, unifies, and compose concentrations to the mind.

Accept what nature offers, and work with it. Later, the effort becomes natural, effortless. And you are ever mindful. Sailing single-handed, especially, mindfulness is the rule of survival. Constantly aware of the slightest shift of the wind, a gathering of clouds on the horizon, a change of the texture of the sea. The feel of the rudder, the angle of the sails, the sound of the rigging, the motion of the boat, all become part of the whole that never wanders from your consciousness, it all works together, and if you lose this mindfulness, so mindfulness is in the practice. Present and aware.

 Buddha described the two major paramount of the mental qualities generated by the meditation techniques which are insight and serenity.

The insight enables the people to observe, explore and distinguish the objects of life. While the serenity also called as tranquility steadies, unifies, and compose concentrations to the mind.

 Mindful leadership for leaders

 Mindfulness is defined as ‘intentionally paying attention in the present moment and non-judgmental’. As leaders, it can also be thought of as the cultivation of leadership presence. Being present is quite a complex assignment in a world and global economy that measures time in internet seconds, conceives of the past as the most reliable tool for analyzing and assessing how to precede into the future, is increasingly interdependent and relational, and dedicates little or no time toward the development of presence in its leaders. But presence can be cultivated and is necessary for a leader to bring all of his/her mind’s capabilities to leadership.

 We can fuse western understanding about leadership with eastern wisdom about the mind to develop leaders who are self-aware and self-compassionate. People who are mindful—fully present and aware—can become more effective leaders.

 Leaders with low emotional intelligence often lack self-awareness and self-compassion, which can lead to a lack of self-regulation.  Authenticity is developed by becoming more self-aware and having compassion for oneself.  Group support provides nonjudgmental feedback in order to recognize blind spots, accept shortcomings, and gain confidence.

 Mindful leadership is a secular process to explore the roles of self-awareness and self-compassion in developing strong and effective leaders. Leaders who don’t develop self-awareness are subject to becoming seduced by external rewards, such as power, money, and recognition. They also have difficulty acknowledging mistakes, an achilles’ heel that has crippled a number of ceos who have appeared in the news recently.

We can explore  of how mindfulness can contribute to sustaining effective leadership. This of course is not a new idea. Self-awareness is central to daniel goleman’s emotional intelligence. It is relatively rare to find people who are fully self-aware.

Leaders with low emotional intelligence (EQ) often lack self-awareness and self-compassion, which can lead to a lack of self-regulation. This also makes it very difficult for them to feel compassion and empathy for others. Thus, they struggle to establish sustainable, authentic relationships.

 Leaders who do not take time for introspection and reflection may be vulnerable to being seduced by external rewards, such as power, money, and recognition. Or they may feel a need to appear so perfect to others that they cannot admit vulnerabilities and acknowledge mistakes. Some of the recent difficulties of Hewlett-packard, British Petroleum, CEOs of failed wall street firms, and dozens of leaders who failed in the post-Enron era are examples of this.

It  brings together Western understanding about leadership and Eastern wisdom about the mind, developed from practices that have been used for thousands of years, to contribute to the self-awareness and self-compassion of leaders.

Mindfulness is a state of being fully present, aware of oneself and other people, and sensitive to one’s reactions to stressful situations. Leaders who are mindful tend to be more effective in understanding and relating to others, and motivating them toward shared goals. Hence, they become more effective in leadership roles.

People become more mindful through prayer, introspective discussions, therapy, and the use of reflective techniques.

Mindfulness is a logical step in this process of gaining self-awareness that should be combined with experiences in leading through challenging situations and gaining awareness through feedback and group support.

 mentorship is a one-to-one process with someone who has greater experience and is willing to share from that experience. Group support as practiced in groups consists of a small number of peers (usually five to eight) willing to share themselves and their lives and support each other through both good and difficult times. A key element of these groups is learning to give and receive nonjudgmental feedback in order to recognize blind spots, accept shortcomings, and gain the confidence to address great challenges in their lives.

 any business school committed to developing leaders needs to offer courses and other experiential opportunities that enable students to develop greater awareness of themselves, their motivations, and their strengths and shortcomings. This process is most effective when real-world experiences can be reflected upon to deepen self-understanding in a supportive and trusting environment. This is the central tenet of the authentic leadership development.

An essential aspect of effective leaders is authenticity; that is, being genuine and true to one’s beliefs, values, and principles that make up their right direction in life.

Authenticity is developed by becoming more self-aware and having compassion for oneself, without which it is very difficult to feel genuine compassion for others. Self-awareness starts with understanding one’s life story and the impact of one’s crucibles, and reflecting on how these contribute to motivations and behaviors. As people come to accept the less-favored parts of themselves that they do not like or have rejected, as well as learning from failures and negative experiences, they gain compassion for themselves and authenticity in relating to the world around them.

We have learned that the greatest challenges come when the pressures and seductions are intense. That is when it is most crucial to be self-aware.

Buddhism is a philosophy.

Buddhism is a philosophy. It is not a religion and its principles have a profound benefit in management practices.

Regardless of the exact number, it is fair to say that a sizable number of individuals in the world are influenced by the teachings of the Buddha. Buddhist belief influences management practices that a wider application of the principles may be beneficial to management practitioners, regardless of religious orientation.

Buddhism beliefs and philosophy, based on the teachings of Gautama Buddha, is a branch of Eastern philosophy. Since the time of its start, Buddhism has had a firm philosophical element, which is defined by love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means and moral self-discipline. Buddhist philosophy rejects a number of traditional notions like those of atheism, theism, monism, and dualism. Dualism is a Philosophical system that seeks to explain all phenomena in terms of two distinct and irreducible principles unlike monism and pluralism. Plato’s teachings define, as there is an ultimate dualism of being and becoming, of ideas and matter. Aristotle Greek philosopher, criticized Plato’s doctrine of the transcendence of ideas, but he was unable to escape the dualism of form and matter.

Buddha criticized all these concepts and encouraged his disciples to discuss the problems in metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics, and epistemology. Traditionally, metaphysics refers to the branch of philosophy that attempts to understand the fundamental nature of all reality, whether visible or invisible. It seeks a description so basic, so essentially simple, and so all-inclusive that it applies to everything, whether divine, human, or anything else. It attempts to tell what anything must be like in order to be at all.

Phenomenology is the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view. The central structure of an experience is its intentionality, its being directed toward something, as it is an experience of or about some object. An experience is directed toward an object by virtue of its content or meaning together with appropriate enabling conditions.

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that studies knowledge. In Plato’s view knowledge is merely an awareness of absolute, universal Ideas or Forms, existing independent of any subject trying to apprehend to them. Though Aristotle puts more emphasis on logical and empirical methods for gathering knowledge, he still accepts the view that such knowledge is an apprehension of necessary and universal principles.

Buddhism is neither a religion in the sense in which that word is commonly understood, for it is not a system of faith and worship owing any allegiance to a supernatural being. Though there is no blind faith, one might argue whether there is no worshiping of images etc., in Buddhism.

 Buddhists do not worship an image expecting worldly or spiritual favors, but pay their reverence to what it represents.

 Buddhism does not demand blind faith from its adherents. Buddhism is considered by some to be more of a philosophy than a religion. Buddha never declared Himself God. Almost all the other religions essentially entail some form of theism. However, Buddhism, in itself, is considered non-theistic or atheistic. It does not emphasize the existence or non-existence of a God or Gods any point of time. In addition to that, Buddhism does not have doctrines in the same sense as other religions do. The major concepts covered in Buddhism teachings include.

Epistemology

One of the major philosophies that differentiate Buddhism from Hinduism is that of epistemological explanation. Buddhism has a smaller set of valid justifications for knowledge than Hinduism. It does not believe in a blind and inflexible acceptance of the established principles.

Metaphysics and Phenomenology

The philosophy of Metaphysics rejects the notion of a soul or a permanent self. The concept of continuous identity is nothing but a delusion. In the early days of Buddhism, philosophers formed a metaphysical system that advocated the breaking down of the experiences of people, things, and events into smaller perceptual units called dharmas (or phenomenon). Even the issue of the person, was debated upon by the different schools of Buddhism. The concept was introduced to replace the one of atman (self).

 

Dependent Origination

A basic belief of Buddhism consists of the doctrine, which asserts that neither the events of our life predetermined, nor do they take place at random. Rather, it states that the events in our life have, in fact, no independent existence. It refuses to accept the notion of direct causation of events. According to the doctrine, certain specific events, concepts, or realities are always dependent on a number of other precise things. For example, cravings depend upon emotion, which in turn is dependent on our interaction with the environment. Similarly, almost all the events are affected by another happening. Even the alleviation of decay, death, and sorrow depends indirectly on the alleviation of craving, being ultimately dependent on an all-encompassing stillness.

Interpenetration

The doctrine says that the entire phenomenon in this world is linked with one another. Buddhism has used two images to symbolize this doctrine. One is that of Indra’s net, set with jewels. The jewels have an extraordinary property; they reflect all the other jewels. The other one is that of world text. It depicts the world as consisting of an enormous text. The words in the text are composed of the phenomena that make up the world.

Ethics

The main ethics of Buddhism consist of the eightfold path, comprising of…

Right Speech

Right Actions

Right Livelihood

Right Effort/Exercise

Right Mindfulness/Awareness

Right Concentration

Right Thoughts

Right Understanding

According to Buddhism, the rationale behind leading a meaningful life is to have ethics. A person should always strive towards increasing the welfare of not only his own, but of all the living beings. This will help in cessation of suffering, which is so widely prevalent in this world.

Buddhism offers an interesting perspective on the practice of management.

While the literature on the effect of Buddhist beliefs on managerial practice is quite limited, Fernando and Jackson (2006) did find that religion, including Buddhism, played a significant role in the decision-making of managers.

Buddhist beliefs are very consistent with Western scientific beliefs. Buddhism has a pragmatic orientation, deals with cause and effect relationships, focuses on problem solving, and recognizes the importance of observation and verification. All of these are relevant issues to managerial research and practice.

 Buddhism has great influence towards managerial activity and, therefore, is primarily sociological in nature. The importance placed on the “middle way” or moderation in all aspects of life tends to produce more consistent and moderate behavior.

Extreme positions, including strategic choice are generally not reviewed as favorably. The belief in no self tends to produce a more collectivist orientation and supports a stronger focus on interpersonal relations. The Five Precepts and the Eightfold Path have implications for ethical behavior. In particular, Buddhist beliefs can manifest themselves in a number of different aspects of management including leadership behavior, personal development, team building, the use of harmony over conflict, and a more gentle approach to people management. The Dharma, as manifested in the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, the Five Precepts, and the various sayings attributed to the Buddha have much in common with modern managerial practice.

The ideal Buddhist organization is one in which less emphasis is placed on command and control, and greater emphasis is placed on developing the abilities of individuals to manage themselves.

Buddhist principles are collectivist in nature, and this orientation towards the importance of the group over the individual has positive implications for team building and functioning. Buddhist philosophy is consistent with a collectivist view.

Buddhism promotes a different economic system. Referred to as “Buddhist economics” , the concept maintains that quality of life is not dictated solely by maximizing one’s utility, but also includes non-material factors as well.

The wisdom of the Buddha can also provide timeless advice for modern day managers regardless of religious orientation. The Buddha’s recommendations for modern managers could be summarized as follow: be mindful, be compassionate, consider the fact that you are only part of a complex and dynamic situation, be flexible and open minded, and recognize that nothing is permanent – not the organization, not strategies that may work now, not you, or your leadership style. Enlightened management is about accepting change, creating harmony among those you work with, and treating all people with dignity and respect.

Experiential wisdom – Zen

“Zen emphasizes experiential wisdom in the attainment of high order happiness.”

 Zen DE-emphasizes theoretical knowledge in favor of direct self-realization through meditation and dharma practice.

Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment.

– Tao Tzu

 The idea of “dharma” comes from ancient texts in India that state there is a divinely chosen natural order of things. It says that in order to have happiness, justice, and social harmony in the world, humans must live in a way that reflects the requirements of that order. Zen practice is not about getting away from our life as it is; it is about getting into our life as it is, with all of its vividness, beauty, hardship, joy and sorrow.

Zen is a path of awakening, awakening to who we really are, and awakening the aspiration to serve others and take responsibility for all of life. Zen emphasizes experiential wisdom and the attainment of special states of consciousness.  While a great deal has been written about Zen, one of the central notions of Zen is that true understanding of the mind.

Zen teaches that wisdom should be developed with compassion.  Zen uses the middle path to develop both. The highest wisdom is seeing that in reality, all phenomena are incomplete, impermanent and do no constitute a fixed entity. True wisdom means that we shall not simply believe what we are told but instead experiencing and understanding truth and reality. Wisdom requires an open, objective, and unbigoted mind. The Zen path requires courage, patience, flexibility, intelligence, cuts away delusions, and thus freeing the mind.

Zazen is a powerful tool of self-inquiry, boundless in its scope and ability to reveal the true basis of reality.

Compassion includes qualities of sharing, readiness to give comfort, sympathy, concern, caring. In Zen, we can really understand others, when we can really understand ourselves, through wisdom.

Zen is famous for brief riddles called koans, such as what is the sound of one hand clapping. Meditating on such riddles has the potential to bring higher order happiness, when the mind suddenly realizes the futility of approaching the koan (or the world or the mind) with conceptual thought, and fully embraces the paradox at the heart of the koan (and the world and the mind).

Zen asserts, as do other schools in Mahayana Buddhism, that all sentient beings have Buddha-nature.   The universal nature of transcendent wisdom and emphasizes that Buddha-nature is nothing other than the essential nature of the mind itself.

The various states of consciousness experienced by human beings may be divided into four categories, using the philosophical concept of intentionality: intentional, non-intentional, meta-intentional, and de-intentional states. Analyzing Zen enlightenment in the light of this categorization, one concludes that Zen thinking is a de-intentional self-reflective mental capacity.  This establishes a philosophical basis for the Zen method of mind training, enabling the exploration of connections between Zen, philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and other areas. Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is doing his job. Zen spirituality is just to do the job with complete self – awareness. The job can be anything from peeling potatoes, to watching birds, to washing etc..

Every Individual has four endowments- self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom.  The power to choose, to respond, to change.

 The pursuit of happiness is real. It is an authentic and natural desire of our nature. To create, and live in authentic happiness, you will need to learn not to blindly chase the false beliefs in the mind.

Self-realization

 Self-realization is a concept that has become widely popular in the Western World. It has been greatly influenced by Zen. Self realization as a connection with your self or the first encounter with reality, it defines self-realization as fulfillment by oneself of the possibilities of one’s character or personality.

Also, Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, American psychologists, developed the concept of self-actualization in Humanistic Psychology. Maslow defined then self-realization as the impulse to convert oneself into what one is capable of being.

Based on Maslow, the most common meaning given to self-realization is that of psychological growth and maturation. It represents the awakening and manifestation of latent potentialities of the human being -for example, ethical, esthetic, and religious experiences and activities.

Awareness is the first step in the transformation process. As you grow in self awareness, you will better understand why you feel what you feel and why you behave as you behave. That understanding then gives you the opportunity and freedom to change those things you’d like to change about yourself and create the life you want. Without fully knowing who you are, self acceptance and change become impossible. We often have a layer of beliefs in the mind that tend to complicate our sense of enjoyment and pursuit of happiness.

Self Awareness

Zen teaches one to live in the present with complete awareness, not thoughts about the future or reflecting on the past. Self-awareness is the capacity for introspection and the ability to reconcile oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals. Self-awareness, though similar to sentience in concept, includes the experience of the self.

A person, who never has time to think, may turn into a thoughtless person. Likewise, an organization that does not have time to think may turn into a thoughtless organization. Zen teaches individuals to live in the present with complete awareness, not thoughts about the future or reflecting on the past. We can unleash the power of the authentic self: and which results of unlocking the wisdom within.

Self awareness is developed through practices in focusing your attention on the details of your personality and behavior. Think of learning to be mindful and self aware as learning to dance. When you become more self aware you instinctively begin to see aspects of your personality and behavior that you didn’t notice before.

Finding Neutral – Notice the power of every word you think and speak.  Think, Speak, observe, listen, from a neutral point of view (NPOV) means representing fairly, proportionately, and as far as possible without bias.  For leaders neutrality means carefully and critically analyzing the information (words, thoughts) contained in them clearly and accurately.

Prefer non-judgmental language

Self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards beginning to excel.

Self acceptance is love and happiness with who you are now.  You will know when you’re accepting yourself because it feels great. It’s an agreement with yourself to appreciate, validate, accept and support who you are at this very moment, even those parts you’d like to eventually change. This is important even those parts you’d eventually like to change. You can accept those parts of yourself you want to change some day. self-acceptance is considered the prerequisite for change to occur. It can be achieved by stopping criticizing and solving the defects of one’s self, and then accepting them to be existing within one’s self. That is, tolerating oneself to be imperfect in some parts.

You enjoy increased inner-peace by accepting who you are right now, unconditionally so you can relax and enjoy the moment.  Self acceptance gives you a lightness of mind and a self-confidence that is a pleasure for yourself and others to behold.

Leadership and Self awareness

 With self-awareness, the leader becomes a more effective, they are open to change, as they themselves are in a constant state of incremental personal development and changes.  But when you don’t know yourself as well as you should, you can’t capitalize fully on your strengths or minimize your weaknesses.  Effective leadership starts with intimate knowledge of yourself. Simple as that may seem, such knowledge is surprisingly difficult to acquire, because we all have biases that make our perceptions of ourselves inaccurate. We believe that effective leaders can overcome those biases and grow even more effective if they pay better attention to self-awareness and situational awareness. Leaders need to be able to use self-awareness to find the  conditions where they will be most likely to succeed, and to be able recognize the challenges in situations that expose their weaknesses. That’s what we call situational awareness. With this awareness you recognize what a particular situation demands and then align your leadership style or behavior to react accordingly, by matching your skills to that situation.

Philosophy practictioners

Western Philosophy is considered to be born out of wonder (Plato) about the Universe and man. On the other hand, Eastern Philosophy is generally understood to be more practically oriented, to inquire into human suffering and how to alleviate it, and to emphasize harmonious living of human beings.

It is widely acknowledged that many lessons from ancient philosophy are important in today’s management environment. Consistency, Self-knowledge, Fairness, Self-discipline, Thrift, responsibility for our actions and their effects on others, and ability to lead by example are values and principles dominant both to ancient Greek and Chinese philosophy, while they also constitute core characteristics that organizations and business leaders should manifest today.

We generally look for solutions to such problems by trying to adopt models which have been developed by researchers in modern times i.e. primarily in this century. A person’s particular style of leadership is greatly influenced by the core values most important to that individual, as well as by one’s assumptions and beliefs. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, these ideas have acquired even greater importance, as significant changes are taking place in the global economy, in the organization of enterprises, in the behavior of managers, as well as in management education. Management of resources, personnel, and enterprises as a whole is becoming a very challenging task in today’s world, as the world is becoming flat. Management as a science is also developing at a rapid pace. New concepts and theories are being developed to suit the requirements of the changing needs necessitated by this process of globalization. The political, economic, business, finance, and social environments are also changing at an equally rapid pace. Thus, today’s manager has to keep pace not only with the changing environments, but be in touch with the expanding horizons of knowledge in his respective managerial area. This rapidly changing canvas coupled with the associated problems makes the task of the modern manager daunting.

The website identifies the depth and value of philosophy in the real world business and management practices. Extracting insights from Philosophy and incorporating them on our real work arena has tremendous impact on personal and business leadership. Philosophy offers new ground, integrated centuries of thought and knowledge into a coherent easily understandable and practical guide on how to lead your life, manage your business, and to lead.

Focusing on central management areas, we can develop and innovative approaches to management and leadership inspired by or in any other way enlightened by philosophical considerations both from the Eastern and from Western schools of thought. We can aim to bring to the surface key ideas of ancient philosophy and history, and identify how these relate to modern management and leadership in a cross-cultural perspective. Managers, policy makers, and educators will significantly benefit by identifying how substantial improvements in management and leadership practices can be achieved with leadership lessons from philosophy.

We can examine the characteristics of philosophy and determine its relevance towards enhancing managerial effectiveness. We must learn to look inwards. We must draw insights from philosophy and come up with the solutions to our problems. In this context, the philosophy is treasure house of knowledge that we possess is in our scriptures. If we explore these treatises of knowledge, we will definitely be able to find a solution to all our present day problems. Thus we must not only use these principles to solve our problems, but also let the world get enlightened by this vast sea of knowledge gathered over the centuries and left for us to benefit from.

Any student of Management who has seen the trends in the last 40 years will find that from time to time there seems to have been an intersection of management concepts with spiritual or non-material concepts. Quality, which incidentally is a non-material value though it has material manifestation measured in terms of quality standards. Quality was the basis on which the organizations compete in the market place.

Then while trying to explain the success of the organizations the cultural issue of how the society was molded by the teachings of individual beliefs come into focus. These emphasized that the community was above that of the individual’s interest.. Personal values being more important and a significant factor behind the success of the organizations. The success in the market place based on values was recognized. We need to understand the intersection between the social values and management practices and how values can lead to successful management practices. Philosophy advocates development of the individual holistically. Thus, his spiritual growth is not diverse from the individual’s Professional growth.

Philosophical counsellors use philosophical skills and insights to help clients resolve
issues in their personal and professional lives. Various modes and methodologies may be employed.

Philosophical counsellors apply critical thinking techniques to help clients make sense of any issues that are unclear or are causing confusion. They can also provide guidance and insight on questions that are traditionally philosophical, ethical or existential in nature, such as: the value of human life and relationships; conceptions of happiness and fulfilment; conflicting moral values; explanation  and justification; and choice and responsibility, amongst many others. Some  counsellors may additionally offer tuition on philosophical methods, or  coaching in decision-making techniques.

Philosophical  counselling can have profound psychological benefits. Counsellors engage in  dialogue about personal problems, predicaments and values, addressing the
issues of concern in a professional and respectful manner and reflecting on the  best ways to act or adjust. Often philosophical progress can alleviate the  sources of stress and anxiety more directly than courses of medication or  programmes of psychotherapy. For many people, this is a personal breakthrough.

Some  philosophical counsellors also help people expand their horizons by developing
a unique personal worldview and philosophy of life. The discussions may invoke  profound issues such as metaphysics, transcendence, and spirituality, and  explore complex debates between differing political convictions, religious and  atheistic worldviews, and personal conceptions of reality and meaning. The  philosophical counsellor acts as a guide and companion on this personal quest  for wisdom and self-actualisation. The process is suitable for people who seek  philosophical or spiritual enlightenment but are dissatisfied with traditional  or new-age doctrines.

Potential clients  for philosophical counselling must be prepared to examine and challenge their  own ideas and reasoning processes, and seek to establish an adequate
justification for their beliefs. The philosophical counsellor is trained to assist this process with patience and respect.