Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Management: The Buddhist Perspective

One consequence of the influx of Chinese immigrants into US is the propagation of the Buddhist faith. Among the pioneers are the various masters from Taiwan who founded several of the local temples, some of which have progressed to become popular centers of Buddhist learning, thanks to the tremendous support, both in kind and financially, from the local Buddhist adherents.

One such personality is the Venerable Master Hsing Yun who founded the Fo Guang Shan International Buddhist Order about four decades ago. Meaning Buddha Light, the Fo Guang Shan Order has flourished to become one of the premier Buddhist organizations in US, and has been the mainstay of Humanistic Buddhism that has become the hallmark of the Master.

His followers hail from all corners of the world, all subscribing to his worldview of the global citizenry where co-habitation, mutual respect, equality, fairness, peace, and the philosophy of live and let live are paramount. The Master also writes well, and prolifically. One literary work of his that I particularly enjoy and try to infuse into my daily life is, literally translated, the Philosophy of Being Number Two. Being number two is not a relegation, but rather a vantage position to discern matters far ahead, and yet able to take in the vast space by staying one step back. A man who wants nothing is truly invincible.

Especially in the realm of management where human interaction is the key to many a success, the Master has been particularly incisive. To him, the highest level of management is learning to manage oneself well. It’s not enough just focusing on managing events and people. The Master has come to realize that Buddhism is in fact a profound field of management in itself as the following scriptures, amongst others, reveal.

The Pu Men script chronicles the best management by the Goddess of Mercy. In order to manage humanity well, She first saves the destitute so that humanity can live without worry. For example, if you’re greedy, She gives alms to help you; if you are hateful, She imparts virtue; if you’re ignorant, She applies wisdom to guide you; if you are doubtful, She induces confidence to urge you along.

Similarly, The Amitaba script is Amitaba’s management of the after-world where there are only natural environment that is serene, dwellings that are richly endowed, leisure entertainment that is wholesome, and community living that is harmonious. There is absence of all the worldly afflictions such as political persecution, economic malaise, possessive behavior, ecological disaster, epidemics, and racial strife. Amitaba has managed the inhabitants of the after-world into a model community of exemplary living. It follows that Amitaba is a manager at the highest level for he ensures safety, secures happiness, imbibes peace of mind, and provides comfort.

The hardest entity to manage is people, for people are selfish by nature. But even more so is our own pair of eyes, they defy us when we want them not to ogle the improper; our pair of ears, they love to eavesdrop on others’ secrets; our mouth, they spin tales and spread lies; our pair of hands, they take what’s not ours with wanton abandon.

Then again it is relatively easier to manage our eyes, ears, mouth and hand for they are visible, physical things. What’s profoundly much more difficult to manage is our inner self and the emotions through which it manifests. Selfishness and ill thoughts such as arrogance, envy, anger, bigotry are waves that overwhelm us. If we are devoid of profound determination, profound strength, profound wisdom and profound virtue, how could we ever manage our inner self?

To manage is not to control others, otherwise opposition becomes entrenched and impasse rules. Cordiality promotes teamwork. Self motivation and mutual reinforcement align all for a shared vision.

"Most importantly, we must think of others, cherish the public good, be virtuous, and manage self as we do others, then only can we claim the full credit of being a successful student of management," the Master intones.

Amitofo and may peace be upon you.