Work for Mother is a field of greater yogic effectiveness than meditation. Mother says one can make a greater progress in yoga by doing the work in the right spirit than by meditating. By right spirit Mother means taking interest in the work that comes to us instead of seeking to do the work one likes. It looks simple, but this is one of the most difficult disciplines in any yoga. A boy who loves cricket can agree to stop playing it during study period and sit at his table for hours preparing for the examination. He unbends himself from play and bends his energies to work. This is to do one’s duty. This is admirable. By the above discipline Mother wants this boy to derive the same joy in doing his lessons as he derives from cricket playing. Normally that capacity is not within the reach of the boy. At least he can suppress his enthusiasm for cricket, disregard his dislike for study and do his duty. This way he gives his energies to duty. This is good and Mother approves of it. Now what She asks for is that the boy should enjoy his studies as much as he enjoys playing cricket. That is ordinarily beyond human capacity.
When a man takes to yoga, accepts Mother, adores Her, loves to do Her bidding, feels the privilege of working for the Divine Mother and sees his reading as something he does for the sake of Mother, joy begins to issue from reading. Within the limits of this act, this is a process of divinisation, transformation, a process of raising man from sensual pleasure to psychic joy. To know that we are doing the work in right spirit, Mother gives an index. After completing a work if one feels joy, he has done it in the right spirit. If one feels tired after a work, he has done it in the old human way. Almost as a rule when a man joins the Ashram the work that falls to his lot is one that he has detested all his life. He has to learn to transform his dislike into enjoyment. That is one aspect of sadhana.
A man derives joy from a work when he has great skill in it. He who has high skill in a work can be seen taking pride in it and enjoying it. Several such aspects in the physical, mental expression of a work help one enjoy it. An attempt is made to explain these aspects below.
Punctuality, regularity, orderliness, cleanliness, etc. are essential disciplines to accomplish a work. We can say that if the value of punctuality alone is acquired by Indians to the level of European punctuality, it can transform the nation from a poor to a rich one. All of us know its value. It is enjoyable when we possess it. It is very productive. Regularity and other qualities in the list above are more valuable. In 1920 Mother started teaching sadhaks how to keep books in an orderly way.
Maximum utilisation of energy, materials, money, water, electricity, etc. is a cardinal principle. In other words, elimination of waste of every description is a value. A company in USA went bankrupt. It was a small company with Rs.5 crore sales. Another man bought it. The first thing he did was to apply a scale of utilisation values he had evolved in his own business. He worked out the percentage of expenditure on every item such as electricity, advertisement, etc. He applied those norms here and found the electric bill was 2.5 times higher than it should have been. He took action to bring down all expenses to within his norms. In three months, the new acquisition became an economically viable one, even profitable. Mother followed all these principles, which would be understood as economy in Ashram life. She used to re-use envelopes by turning them inside out.
To approach a work from another man’s point of view is a powerful principle for success in life and work. To approach it from our own point of view only will generate conflicts and produce low results. To approach the same from another man’s point of view is generative of harmony, producing maximum results. I shall give one example.
A contractor of sugar mill waste known as pressmud was in business for 17 years and was fairly successful. But over the years his business accumulated outstanding from the farmers to whom he supplied on credit. He had a thick bundle of 200 promissory notes due to him for the last 17 years, periodically renewed. Each year he supplied more, collected a little, lent more and so on. The outstanding remained.
A devotee farmer came to the contractor one year. The ruling price of a lorry of mud was Rs.125. As the farmer wanted very large quantities, a Rs.5 reduction was offered and the contractor was willing to increase the reduction even up to Rs.10, the maximum permissible. The devotee had a different approach. It is the approach of taking another man’s point of view. Having sold pressmud for Rs.125, the contractor has only accumulated promissory notes, not cash. The devotee proposed to buy in large quantities at prices that were proposed by the contractor and offered to pay in advance. But he wanted to examine the facts of cost and profit, instead of negotiating an imaginary price. They sat together and worked out costs including payment by the contractor to the sugar mill, labour, sales tax, lorry expenses, etc., without omitting a single detail. At each figure, the farmer included an allowance and rounded it off to the next higher figure. For example, if the factory should be paid every month Rs.2,900, he made it Rs.3,000 If eight workers were needed for a load, he made it nine. When the final figure was arrived at, the farmer asked what net profit the contractor expected from the operation and added it. Further he proposed to add a monthly salary to the contractor paying for his service, even if he was serving himself. The contractor was scandalised and refused it. It worked out to Rs.85 per load for 2,000 lorry loads. The price was fixed at Rs.90. The farmer paid all the money as and when the contractor needed an advance. No farmer could believe that pressmud was supplied at Rs.90. The contractor was able to collect all the 17 year arrears that year, selling a small part of his mud for cash to his old customers. He bought a lorry that year and declared it was the most profitable year for him in business. To take another man’s point of view accomplishes great work at less cost, more smoothly, to the benefit of both parties.
An attitude of “work first, anything next” must be the guiding line.
To have a good control of speech is a yogic discipline but will yield great results for anyone in any walk of life. The total amount of talking must be brought down to the minimum necessary level. The tone must come down to an audible whisper. These two efforts are very difficult. In business low voice produces great profits.
When an industrialist with Rs.10 lakhs annual sales came to Mother, he mentioned his one major industrial problem was a harassing manager who irritated him beyond measure by his umpteen repetitions, which occupied all his time. Among many ideas, he practised low voice and was relieved of the harassment from the manager in one day. His sales rose to Rs.50 lakhs in three years.
The voice comes from our life centre and therefore carries a life-power. Conserving the energy through low voice will have desirable results in life. In business, it first of all makes the entrepreneur effective and happy. He functions in a relaxed way. If anyone follows this in business, he will discover that there is no better way to make money. Voice lowered is money conserved.
Systems for every individual item of work are essential.
Coordination of all systems generates an unheard of power.
Personal power must be replaced by the impersonal authority of a system.
Mother was great as an organiser. Whatever She did, she functioned through a system. Sitting on a bench near the garage inside the Ashram, I witnessed a man coming with a ladder and a can of grease. Seeing my curiosity about his work, he smiled and explained that there was no special occasion for his work. Mother arranged for a register in the workshop in which fixed dates were given for every little work to be done periodically. Accordingly, this man had come to grease the joints in the collapsible gate in the garage. That is the extent to which Mother paid attention to details and put those details in a system that worked automatically.
Ordinarily man carries the weight of his work on his nerves and it gives tension, making people look older than their years. Often we hear, “There are a million details. If I forget one thing, it is not done. I feel like going mad.” This is so because this man does not resort to systems. Once you create a system, the work is done well and your nerves are free. A system does the work of 10 or 100 or 1,000 men. That is the value of a system.
If systems are valuable, coordination of systems is powerful. Suppose there are 25 systems in a company with a minimum of coordination and they are all coordinated to a maximum extent, the same staff can accomplish twice or thrice more. To give a simple example, in a college if the timetable of the dozen departments is not coordinated, i.e. if each department has its own time table, the two year course will extend to five years and twice as many classrooms must be built.
We can see one expression of this at home when there are three cycles for use and five of us are using them. Without coordination, two more cycles must be bought and with coordination, one or two cycles can serve the purpose instead of three.
When individual power is exercised, accomplishment is low. If impersonal authority is used through systems, the same man can manage twice the amount of work.
Values are lifelines. They have great power. In business one value everyone appreciates is the quality of the product. Every businessman as well as every customer knows fully well the value of quality. If you look at any company and find it is making steady progress, certainly it will be adhering to values. If two companies in the same industry are making small and great progress, surely the latter company will be following higher values. Even one great value fully followed can give extraordinary results. Some of the values that are meaningful to business are: safety, security of job, family feeling, constant progress, reliability, honesty, efficient after-sales service, maximum use-value of product, courtesy, friendliness, ideals in work, trustworthiness, quality product and loyalty.
The required level of education for the work of every employee is essential.
Education expands the mental horizons. An educated person is better for his education. Each level of work requires a minimum education. Workers, supervisors, clerks, managers, accountants, etc. should have the education necessary for them. That makes the work enjoyable for them and productive for the company. The idea of accomplishing a higher work through a less educated person may be successful in the exception, but as a rule it hurts the work.
Full essential training for the work is important.
Education is the base, training is the top dressing. Regular systematic training, though costly in the beginning, pays rich dividends in the long run. Generally we let our workers be trained during work. We expect them to be trained by experience. As a rule this training is slow, partial and expensive. One bad result here is that they acquire a wrong training.
One company in Holland followed the first principle of recruiting people and expecting them to acquire training through service. Another recruited trained people. Though both were of comparable endowments in all respects, in five years the second company rose to the 3rd position in the industry while the first company was ranked 21.
Perfect skill is of permanent value.
Skill in works is yoga, says The Gita. To see that everyone in the company acquires perfect skill in what he does will raise any company from the bottom to the top. It is the duty of the owner of the company to constantly raise the skills of his workers. That makes the workers happy and labour relations smooth. A company with 50 workers had at least 25 labour problems in two years and was closed for five months. The proprietor agreed to take very special steps to give complete skill to all his workers. The situation reversed and the labour trouble disappeared.
Courage in crisis is a great endowment. Intelligent risk in seeking opportunity brings reward.
To advise one in a crisis to have courage is easy, but to give him courage is not so practical. Granting that a company faces a crisis, the entrepreneur finds himself helpless and it leads to panic. But there are people who in a similar situation do not get panicky and who are courageous. About 15 years ago, a Rs.150 crore company faced a market situation in which it became clear to all that it was only a matter of time before the company would have to close. Employees at all levels were filled with terror. The situation was in nobody’s hands. The proprietor was courageous and calm. He was the one who would lose the most but he did not lose courage. In a few weeks, there were several unexpected developments and the crisis blew away. Today the company’s assets are worth Rs.1,000 crores. Anything could have happened. It is the courage of one man at the top that saved the situation.
Well, he was one endowed with courage. What about ordinary mortals who get panic-stricken? Of what use is this advice to them? Knowledge that courage is a saviour brings some courage. If one is a devotee and prays for courage, Mother grants plenty of it.
Resourcefulness is always a great value. In business it pays rich dividends. Mother’s devotees can find their minds becoming more and more resourceful as days pass. A determination to be resourceful helps it to flower. Simply described, resourcefulness means to find a use for every resource and to find a solution for given-up tangles.
A milk society was continuously losing money, and the co-operative department considered closing it. One low level officer expressed the opposite view. They asked him to try. In six months, he turned it into a profit-making society and even purchased a delivery van. Pleased by his resourcefulness, the department asked whether he could start a co-operative bank. He did. In the first three years, his performance record was top-most in India. He was a simple man who retired at a non-gazetted post. But he was resourceful. At the silver jubilee of the bank, they hunted out the man from his retirement and gave him an award.
To have constant endless progress as a goal enlivens a business organisation. When a sugar mill was founded, the owner sought Mother’s blessings. She wrote “For endless progress”. He registered 1,500 acres of cane for the first year crushing. The average per acre yield in the adjacent factory area was 28 tons. This factory fixed a high average of 45 tons an acre, since initial cultivation gives higher return. Mother’s endless progress reached the fields too. The fields yielded 85 tons an acre, which even touched 110 tons in exceptional cases. The factory kept on crushing the first year’s cane for two full years.
Mother herself blesses her devotees with endless progress. If endless progress is accepted as a conscious goal, the company does progress endlessly.
If a devotee starts a company, endeavours along these lines seriously and meets with a fair level of success, his company will have several characteristics that can be observed.
· There will be an atmosphere of hope and joy in the work.
· Public image will be one of admiration and approval.
· Individuals in the company will be sought after by everyone from everywhere.
· Expansion, not mere growth, will be endless.
· No difficulty will ever arise.
If ever any difficulty arises, either it will be in our power to remove it or it will be a stepping stone to higher achievement.