Toward a Collective Yoga-III – M.S. Srinivasan

flower_pink_natureThe Key Result Areas

[Yogas of the past are predominantly individualistic aiming at a spiritual salvation and perfection of the individual. Yoga of the future has to include and find ways for the inner progress and spiritual transformation of the collectivity. This series of articles explores the principles, processes and methods of a collective Yoga based on integral psychology]

We were discussing in our earlier articles in this series the principles and strategies of Yoga for the inner transformation of a collectivity. In this article we will examine the key result areas which need special attention for steering this transformation. They are: first, Integral Education; second, Self-transforming leadership; third, Evolutionary Motivation; fourth, the Inner Transformation of the Vital force in us. In this article we will be discussing the first three factors, and the last one, transformation of the vital force, will be discussed in the next article.

Integral Education

The first and the most crucial area will be education. For all great transformations individual or collective, begins with education. But education in our modern civilization has become increasingly intellectual and utilitarian with an emphasis on external information, skill, job, career and success. Though all these aims are not to be ignored or despised, pursued exclusively, they prevent the flowering of the higher and more essential elements in man, which hold the key to his higher evolution. So education of the future has to restore this balance by bringing the higher and inner values and ideals of education which the modern age has ignored in its wild and hectic pursuit of external wealth, power, enjoyment, success. This balance can be restored only by an integral education, which can embrace and harmonise the whole being of man in all the levels of his being from the lowest physical to the highest spiritual.

The task or aim of integral education is fourfold: First and foremost is to awaken the spiritual element or soul in man and make it the conscious governor of his body, life and mind. The second task is to develop fully all the powers, qualities and faculties of the four-fold being of man. This includes the faculties of knowledge, feeling and action, ethical and aesthetic sense, and instinctive intelligence of the body and the higher faculties of the soul like intuition, revelation and inspiration. The third task is to integrate and organize the body, life and mind around the spiritual centre in man and make his entire being into a harmonious whole. Fourth is to make this integrated individual being a flawless instrument of the divine power for the progressive manifestation of the divine will in the world.

This integral education has to be a life-long education pursued not only in educational institutions like the school and the university but also in other social institutions like the family, workplace and the community, so that the whole of life, and the entire life, becomes a field for education. Here comes the importance of what we may call as work-education or education for right action. For after formal education most of us move on to the workplance of an organisation or an institution. So to awaken the individual to the higher aims and values of work and how to convert work into a means of inner transformation, especially the transformation of the dynamic faculties of action has to be one of the major aims of integral education. This education for right action has to begin during formal education and proceed throughout the whole life.

Evolutionary Motivation

The second factor is Motivation. We have to evolve a motivational strategy, which consciously promotes the psychological evolution of the individual and the collectivity from the physical, vital and the mental to the spiritual. For the evolution of the individual, every individual has to be awakened to his or highest and integral potential, nature of the human evolution and the spiritual aims of life. But for practical motivation, each individual has to be taken as he or she is in his or her present condition and helped to take the next step in evolution. This means the physical man or someone who lives predominantly in his physical consciousness should be helped to raise to his vital consciousness. The vital man has to be awakened to his mental consciousness. And finally the vital and mental beings of man have to be awakened to the spiritual aims of life and the spiritual consciousness beyond the Mind.

This is the general or natural pattern of human evolution. But this process of natural evolution can be accelerated by Yoga. In this path of accelerated evolution by Yoga, the physical or vital man need not wait until he becomes the mental man to proceed towards the spiritual consciousness. They can also progress towards the spiritual goal by following a path of Yoga, which is in harmony with their natural temperament, capacities and stage of evolution. For example physical man can progress spiritually by following a path of service, devotion, worship and surrender to the Divine. Similarly the vital man can progress towards the spiritual aim by following a path of consecrated action. So each individual whatever may be their evolutionary status must be given the freedom, encouragement and opportunities to develop their integral human potential in all the levels of their being¾physical, vital, mental and spiritual.

However, the primary emphasis have to be on the next higher evolutionary possibilities. For instance, the next higher possibility for the physical man is the development of his emotional, dynamic and pragmatic mind and will and the vital will for achievement, expansion and enjoyment of life; moral possibilities of dignity of labour and selfless service to the community; and the spiritual possibilities of devotion and surrender to the Divine. Similarly, for the vital man it is the development of the thinking, conceptual, ethical and aesthetic intelligence; psychological possibilities of self-knowledge and self-mastery; moral possibilities of dedicated and compassionate leadership which tries to manifest higher values like truth, justice, beauty, harmony and goodness in the communal life; and the spiritual possibilities of consecrated action offered as a sacrifice to the Divine Power. And for the mental man it is the development of the higher faculties of knowledge beyond the rational mind and the spiritual possibilities of a direct inner awakening and illumination.

For the development of the collectivity what is needed is an outer environment which is favourable to this higher evolution, which provides sufficient freedom, opportunities, encouragement and felicities for all individuals in the community to pursue this higher growth and express the inner gains of this growth in the outer life, within the constraints of the unique nature and aims (dharma) of each community or institution. For example a business organization cannot devote all its energies and resources to the spiritual development of the individuals. So in such an organization, this higher evolution has to be pursued within the constraints of its economic and business goals like wealth-creation, customer service or quality. And this is possible through appropriate educational, motivational and training strategies.

For example, in some of the recent trends in Management, workers are invited to offer their suggestions for improvement, problem solving and decision-making in the shop-floor. This helps in awakening the thinking faculties in the workers, which lead to their mental development. A similar approach which tries to awaken the ethical, aesthetic and spiritual impulses in the employees and encourages them to express these impulses in their work-life can trigger the higher evolution of the collectivity.

But the most effective path to this higher motivation is through the living example and influence of inspired leaders and mentors who have realized fully or partially the higher aims of human development or consciously pursuing these higher aims and making a sincere attempt to raise beyond the ego-centric mental consciousness to a universal spiritual consciousness. Someone who is inwardly awakened to the higher motives, value and aims of life and lives them in his thought, feelings and actions, can communicate his inner condition to others and awaken them to the higher motives. And for the spiritual transformation of the economic, social and political life of man, we need leaders of action with a spiritually awakened or transformed vital being which is the dynamic source of will and action in the human being.

Self-transforming Leadership

This brings us to the question what is the type of leadership which can steer this higher evolution. Most of the modern theories on leadership are concerned with creating outer change and leading others. But as modern spiritual teachers like Sri Aurobindo and J. Krishnamurthy have repeatedly emphasized, the inner change is the foundation of outer change and management of self is the basis for managing others.

As J. Krishnamurthy pointed out “You are the world” and therefore as Mahatma Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world”. The outer world is a mirror image of what we are within us. So to change the world we have to first change ourselves. This applies to all individuals but specifically to leaders, who have to spearhead the change. Whatever higher changes, ideals and values which the leaders wants to bring into the group, first of all he has to live it and internalize it in his own consciousness, before preaching it to others.

To give an uplifting evolutionary thrust to a group towards higher ideals and values requires a constant application of a moral, psychological and spiritual force to counter act the natural downward pulling inertia. This force has to be applied by the leaders of the group. But to do this the leaders must possess this higher force and to possess it they have to live and preach¾ in that order¾ the higher moral or spiritual values. As Sri Aurobindo points out

“Buddha only preached and lived a holy life, Christ only preached and lived a holy life, Sankara only preached and lived a holy life and they have each worked a mighty revolution in the history of the world. Inspiration is real work. Let the truly inspiring word be uttered it will breathe life into dry bones. Let the inspiring life be lived it will produce workers by thousands.”

This ideal of self-transforming leadership will look at the difficulties faced by a leader in his outer life in a deeper light. Whatever problems the leader encounters in his outer life is a reflection of the difficulties within him. Their inner causes are within and if he is able to discover this inner roots of the difficulty within him and correct it, then the corresponding outer problem finds its natural solution.

The other important principle of self-transforming leadership is Self-management. Someone who cannot manage himself cannot manage others. Self-management is the basis for managing others and the outer environment. If I am able to attain mastery over my physical, vital and mental energy, it generates an inner authority and force which commands a spontaneous respect, obedience and allegiance from the energies in other. So self-mastery is one of the primal leadership qualities.

Interestingly, a recent book on leadership by two eminent management thinkers with long experience in leadership training and development breaks new ground in advocating a predominantly self-transforming model of leadership. The authors of the book, Richard Boyatzis and Annies Mckee, state:

“People who think they can be great leaders without personal transformation are fooling themselves. You cannot inspire other and create the resonant relationship that ignite greatness in your families or communities without feeling inspired yourself, and working to be the best person you can be”(p.201)

And in the foreword to the book Daniel Goleman writes:

“For leaders, the first task in management has nothing to do with leading; step one poses the challenge of knowing and managing oneself. That includes connecting with deep values that guide us, imbuing our actions with meaning”.

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