I am reading a book by a former Nobel Peace Prize winner about how today’s business leaders could benefit from applying basic Buddhist practices on the job.
The concept struck me as a bit weird since the main goal for business leaders, as I understand it, is to turn a profit while Buddhism views the pursuit of money and material possessions as a serious distraction in the quest for the inner peace that leads to true happiness.
The Leader’s Way is not the first book by the Dalai Lama that I have picked up and I have to say I’ve quite like most of what he has to say, especially when he states that Buddhism isn’t necessarily the right path for everyone and that it is possible to live a good life without resorting to any religion at all. His belief is that all the major religions offer similar moral guidelines and that it is those guidelines that are truly important.
One of the things that has always bugged me about Buddhism, however, is this idea that we should strive to give up all of what the Dalai Lama calls our negative emotions such as greed, lust and anger. Yeah, okay, I can see that greed and lust and most of the other negative emotions get in the way of happiness and should be eliminated as much as possible, but I have to admit that I sometimes like my anger and I don’t really want to get rid of it – not yet, anyway.
You see, my ability to get angry gives me a certain degree of freedom and a bit of security and I think that adds to my happiness.
For example, I like to walk; and I can set off from my home in Monarch, Francistown and be comfortable walking in any direction because I know that if I come across an aggressive dog – or an aggressive anything – my anger is going to kick-in and help me deal with the situation.
The same holds true for living in a nice-ish home with a wife and/or children. If someone breaks in I know my ability to get angry is going to serve my family well.
Anyway, when I picked up The Leader’s Way, I wasn’t looking for any clarification on my understanding of Buddhism, I was really just looking for something I could write about in this column, so you can imagine my pleasure when I cam across this very condensed explanation of the benefits of patience that shed some light on this anger issue:
“Patience should be understood as ‘justified patience’. Sometimes immediate action is necessary. Deciding whether or not to exercise patience requires good judgement…in the case of anger it is not the ability to suppress it but the ability to remain calm in face of it that counts. To do so, requires training the mind, which leads to a calm, patient mind.”
So there you go; we don’t have to get rid of anger we just have to recognise it, manage it and let it go when it is no longer useful.
I’m only about a quarter of the way through the book but I’ll let you know if I come across any more of these little germs… or if I figure out what Buddhism has to do with business.