This paper was presented at
Psychology: The Indian Contribution
National Conference on
Indian Psychology, Yoga and Consciousness
organised by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research
at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education
Pondicherry, India, 10-13 December 2004

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Management of spiritual organisations: An ideal approach using Eastern concepts

C.V. K. Maithreya —The Theosophical Society, Chennai.

This paper examines five critical areas in ideally managed spiritual organisations, to see the difference in approach between the Eastern concepts and the modern Western management concepts, as follows: 1) Motivation: What makes one join a monastic order? Abraham Maslow would suggest ‘self-actualisation’ at the top of a ladder of needs while Ken Wilber and others speaks of the ‘gradient model of emancipation’. From the Eastern point of view, the motivating factors are from within and would principally be ‘vairagya’ and ‘mumukshatva’, as mentioned in the Viveka Chudamani and other similar spiritual texts. 2) Style of Management: It is a happy mix of various styles – authoritarian, paternalistic, consultative and participative, besides using a ‘High-Task’ and ‘High-People’ style spoken of by Blake and Mouton. The basic motive is compassion and not productivity. 3) Process orientation: Energy is considered sacred and mindfulness ensures utmost care. In spiritual organisations, yama and niyama play an important role, and there is neither audit nor certification like in commercial organisations. Besides, everything is questioned using viveka, to ensure that ends do not justify means. 4) Ethics: The Bhagavad Gita outlines the role of ‘dharma’, which means both duty and religion. The Dhammapada, the Thirukural and Patanjali outline universal ethics. Lives of spiritual leaders, including Dr. Besant and The Mother are examples of ethics that are self-regulated and not imposed from without. 5) Succession: Succession planning often involves competition and political maneuvering. Although beyond context, orders like the Lamas of Tibet and the Sikh Gurus have much to teach. The process of selection is impartial, above board and holistic. There is discipline and cooperation, once a successor has been chosen. Further, even using the ‘Pygmalion theory’, we find the leader develops responsibility from within and not because of competition based on insecurity.In closing one may say that in the Eastern concepts, the approach is from within and in the

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