BSG Chairperson Vishesh Gupta was invited to speak on ‘Minimum Governance, Maximum Self-governance’ at this conference that focussed on spirituality and work. Organised by ASSOCHAM and supported by the SREI Foundation and the Times Foundation, the conference had Indian and international speakers from all walks of life.
Mr. Gupta first talked of spirituality and recalled Shakyamuni Buddha’s description of dharma as the fundamental path by which people should live. He went on to say that in our terms it is “to rely on one’s authentic self, the self that we can believe in and be proud of at all times by”. Referring to the Middle Way, Mr Gupta said it was not just avoiding extremes but to live by “constantly interrogating one’s own actions to ensure that they accord with the path of humanity and this is spirituality—the humane way of living one’s life.” An expansion of the inner realm of life, he said, “encourages empathy for others and strengthens the desire to contribute to society; it brings forth the ‘sun ‘ of wisdom and compassion from within the depths of one’s life.” The process of human revolution, “bringing forth this inner sun, is the motive force that can enhance solidarity among people, lead to the prosperity of society, and create peace for humankind”.
Talking of self-governance Mr Gupta spoke of President Makiguchi’s description of the perfect job as one combining “beauty, benefit and good”. He stressed that ‘good’ is the most vital for self-governance. “Do you live for yourself alone, or for a greater purpose and value? It is easy to live thinking only of oneself, but to live for a great ideal requires steadfast commitment and courage… A person’s attitude to their work reflects their attitude to life and to people; it reflects their beliefs about life’s purpose…. Whether one works only to earn a salary or rather to create value for oneself and others—this is the question?” How can one achieve this inner awakening and inner motivation?
“Inner motivation implies self-control” he said, “one acts in a correct and responsible manner not because one is forced to, but spontaneously and on one’s own volition.” Adding that Dr Daisaku Ikeda calls it “Soft Power”, he went on to say that the process of soft power unleashes the inner energies of the individual. But, without the support of a philosophical foundation to strengthen and mobilise the spiritual resources of the individual, the use of soft power would become nothing more than ‘fascism with a smile’.
Soft power requires the recognition of dependant origination – it also seeks the development of harmonious relationships based respect for the sanctity of life, seeking harmony as a deeper level, and here, dialogue hold the key. Giving instances where this can be applicable in daily life, he said its starts with saying “Hello” “Good morning,” or “thank you,” brightly and cheerfully. It doesn’t matter if your greeting isn’t returned. Taking the lead in greeting others is important. Those who can respect others will be respected in turn.
Mr Gupta ended with a poem by Emerson — “Friendship”:
O friend, my bosom said,
Through thee alone the sky is arched,
Through thee the rose is red,
All things through thee take nobler form
And look beyond the earth,
The mill-round of our fate appears
A sun-path in thy worth.
Me too thy nobleness has taught
To master my despair;
The fountains of my hidden life
Are through thy friendship fair.”