Dharma Training, Engagement and Social Business

This is a continuation of The Dharma of Work (Part One)  and (Part Two)

Dharma Training

The values from our social & work training apply to spiritual training

Any good spiritual training incorporates the training that has already occurred. The family home trains us for our social milieu; if we attend church, synagogue, mosque or temple, we receive training regarding morals and ethics; school trains us in preparation for work; while at our jobs we’re trained to deliver a product or service. In the past, spirituality trained us for something ‘unseen’, and in contemporary times its connections to the rest of life may be less apparent. However, if we could make the transcendental experience a deliverable, we’d transform our work, environment and society in very positive ways.

Since we spend most of our time at work, naturally it’s where many of our personal as well as professional issues arise. And what qualities do we need at work? Reliability, responsibility, functionality, honesty, boundary recognition, social skills, adaptability, trainability and the ability to make use of inevitable conflicts to further the welfare of the organization and its people.

These are the same values we need in our spiritual training. Curiously, in our personal lives these traits tend to get put on the back burner. When we’re having downtime, so is our training. But if we rely too much on habit and familiar patterns, we won’t build enough energy to make breakthroughs in our spiritual unfoldment.

Free time ‘volunteer’ mentality and mindlessness

Free time is often associated with rest and not needing to think about or do anything in particular. This may mean we get mindless (the opposite of mindful), which can make us feel needy or poorly, leading to a scarcity mind state. If one of the unintended consequences of free time were believing that it should be mindless, and if we volunteer during our free time, we may bring that mindless state to our volunteer work – not so useful for the organization. For this reason, many organizations claim that most volunteers require more energy than they contribute.

Perhaps one reason we may tend to get mindless in our free time is that work can feel extractive rather than empowering. We might feel more used than part of a valued, constructive team. As long a business’s motivation remains largely about profits, this situation is unlikely to change for most of us. This is one reason why the emergence of social business or sustainable business is such an important breakthrough in the evolution of human society. Feeling engaged and empowered at work helps support us being that way when we’re not at work too.

We often feel better at work

Under the standard paradigm, though, studies have shown that many people feel more functional, effective, capable and successful at work than at home. Along with economic imperatives, this may partly explain long working hours. And what are our measures of success at work? A definable product has been successfully delivered, clients and employees feel esteemed and included, and the values of the company and clients are fulfilled. If a job offers no creativity or responsibility, there’s no chance of satisfaction, leading to a deadening of interest and thus ineffectual uses of time and energy.

Ideally, competition increases the value of what is produced or delivered and can make a system more functional; meanwhile, a competitive attitude at home can lead to resentment and distancing. This may be because at work the competition is about striving to be better, and at home it may be more about winning, or at least not losing.

Karma Yoga develops ideal values & thus more ideal employment

Change can happen at two levels; from the top down and from the bottom up. Top down may be an organization like Patagonia, and a bottom up would be you as an individual. When you develop your dharma training and serve through the practice of karma yoga, the chances are higher that you’ll then find – or better yet, create – employment that is based on these values. This brings us back to social business, sometimes called social enterprises for non-profits and social ventures for for-profits.

Article by Doug Duncan & Catherine Pawasarat

Check out the final installment of Dharma Of Work, where we look at how dharma training leads to greater success at work. Also we highly recommend the previous two installments on the Dharma of work: The Dharma of Work (Part One)  and (Part Two)