How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

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Location: India

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Indian ethos in Management - Part II

Getting a chance to write after a few more hectic days.

The second session by Prof. Chakraborty was on 'Stress and its Management'. Throughout the 2-hour session, he gave relevant examples including personal examples that made the session more interesting.
He began with saying that on a recent visit to a Kolkata bookstore, when he was browsing the Management section of the store, he noticed that the maximum number of books were those that had the word 'risk' in their titles. His point was that stress has become endemic today.
He said that the Western approach of stressing individual rights was not an ideal one. 'Rights are divisive, duties are cohesive'. If each one fights for his rights, conflicts arise. Indian society had been built up on duties, not rights. If each one realizes and does his/her duty, the rights of everyone would be fulfilled automatically.

Coming back to stress, he said that we need to differentiate between 'stress' (an energy dissipator) and 'challenge' (an energy stimulator). How could one avoid/overcome stress:
1. by preventing a challenge from degenerating into stress, and
2. by overcoming stress and pulling out of it with effort
He underlined the importance of the Bhagwad Gita as a practical book on stress management using a small case of an Indian (Gujarati) businessman who had turned to the Gita for relieving stress built up in his career, in which he had dealt with two major corporate turnarounds, and was being asked to handle another.

There are two types causes of stress:
1. External causes, which are essentially uncontrollable
2. Internal causes, which include egoism, ambition, selfishness, greed, unethicality and competitive mentality - all of which are controllable. He dwelt on each of these in some detail, showing, for example, how ambition can be remodeled in a way to avoid it becoming a stress-causer, and quoting Swami Vivekananda in saying that 'competition was entirely unnecessary to (human) evolution'.
At this point, a lot of questions were raised by the class, and though he did deal with each one of them, I was not fully satisfied with the answers, because they seemed dogmatic to me.

Finally, he proposed a 5-point experiential module for stress management, to be practised daily, which is as follows:
1. Begin a process of interiorization ('antarmukhita'). The theme of the module is that stress is being caused in the outside world, and so its cure is to sit by yourself and take in one's external world
2. Practise mindful deep breathing
3. Practise brain stilling, shut out the outside world and concentrate inwards
4. Now, mentally, open up upwards - "from 'vyaktichetanaa' to 'vishvachetanaa' "
5. Concentrate and identify with the Higher Self in the cave of the heart ('hridayguhaa').

All in all, a fruitful experience which, if nothing else, reawakened that desire in me to read more of our ancient philosophy.

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