Sayings of a Paramahamsa

The word organisation means 'co-ordination of the activities of a group of people with a central head in order to achieve a particular aim'. Just as a group of pipes cannot be played unless co-ordination is brought about with the keyboard and then the whole thing becomes an organ. Similarly, the physical body is an organ in which different members are participating and doing their duties in a co-ordinated manner under one head, which is called the brain.

So, when we discuss organisation, we will have to understand it in the same way as we understand the activities of the physical body. An organisation can only function efficiently if all the members are working in co-ordination. The actions of each individual must be conveyed immediately to the headquarters, where they are accepted and responded to by this centre.

Even as the physical body is subject to certain limitations when any of its organs or parts malfunction, in the same way the efficiency of an organisation is hampered by those members who do not carry their duties properly. In the body, for example, the skin is responsible for conducting certain sensations of touch to the brain. If somehow the skin loses its sensitivity and is unable to perform this duty, the eyes can help in a limited way by perceiving the object of touch, but still you will not be able to feel it. The most important factor in the running of an organisation is the field of activities of the different members which have to be carefully co-ordinated.

In the course of time, nature brought about perfection in the organisation of the human body. So, when I think about the topic of organisation, I ask myself, why not create an organisation in the light of this?

This body has five karmendriyas, five gyanendriyas, five pranas, four aspects of the mind, five elements and one moving spirit. That makes twenty-five aspects. I feel that every organisation should have these twenty-four important members and one moving spirit. Duties should be allocated on this basis.

According to this concept we create a social body, yogic or otherwise. That social body should be an exact replica of this physical body. This is the first point, which applies to all organisations in general. Those institutions in which this particular view is not developed are not organisations and they do not flourish. They are something like a lame or blind man trying to carry on with the work all alone and unassisted - no eyes, no hands, etc. How long can they survive? One year, two years, five years, ten years! Ultimately, they will perish. The age in which we are now living is the age of organised institutions.

We should not misunderstand that an organisation is a kind of syndicate, because in an organisation the different members do not have sole power. The moving spirit or guiding spirit helps all the other limbs of the body, or of the organisation, but it does not have unlimited power. Some people feel that as the head of an institution they must have sole power and authority, they must be unchallengeable like the kings of old. This is a misconception. If only one person in a group is running the whole organisation, his authority may be unchallenged but the scope of the organisation will be limited, and it may not be able to achieve its purpose. However, if he sacrifices some of his authority and allows the other members also to function in the administrative capacity, then he may have limited powers, but the purpose of the organisation will be fulfilled.

We must understand the need of organisation even for spiritual purposes. Many people, due to lack of expanded vision, feel that those who are spiritual should be removed from the problems of organisation. Since organisation presupposes an element of ambition, the spiritual aspirant thinks that to subject himself to the problems of organisation is opposed to the spirit of sadhana and dhyana. So, motivated either by his higher ideals or by his mental lethargy, he thinks that the problems of organisation are not problems of spiritual life. However, spiritual life is nothing but an organised effort, and the spiritual person, whoever he may be, is a part of an association or an organisation. If any spiritual aspirant tries to exist as an individual, from the community, then he is trying to escape from the realities of the world.

I personally feel that spiritual life is for the whole world. Therefore, however individualistic the spiritual life of an aspirant might be, it should not be considered as being separate from the total mass of humanity.

I consider that organisation is one of the most sublime expressions of a spiritual aspirant. The more organised and disciplined the spiritual aspirant is within himself, the more disciplined and organised will be his outer expression. The organisation is an expression of one's inner being.

How does one start an organisation? This is the first and foremost question. Some people think that money comes first and organisation next. If anyone has this particular idea in mind, he should set it aside. This not only applies in spiritual institutions, but even to big companies and factories. Money comes next, but something else comes first and when that something has been accomplished, the money will start to flow automatically. There are people who go on waiting for big money to come in order to start a business. They go on waiting until their dead body is carried to the burial ground, because they believe that money is the most important requisite. This attitude is a complete mistake.

The people who have achieved success in any organisation or sphere of life have been those who had something besides money, something more important than money. They had a vision which the spirit of people sought in order to establish a highly aimed organisation. No spiritual organisation should depend on the primary importance of money.

It is true that money is a means, it is necessary and one must have it, but the success of an organisation should not depend on money. More important than money is the vision or aim.

For the development of higher vision or aim, it is necessary to broaden one's outlook by extensive travelling, without forming any preconceptions or prejudices. That is why in India it is a tradition amongst the sadhus to live the life of a wanderer for a minimum of seven and a maximum of twelve years. In order to recondition the mind and restructure one's ideals, it is necessary to keep moving. After seeing many different countries and cultures, one should sit down at one place and think over all that one has seen.

At that time a vision or an aim should come regarding one's future work. Once the aim becomes clear, then a master plan can be chalked out. This plan should be decided on the basis of experience. When the master plan is ready, one should go out for a few months and put it into practice on a small scale and see what the general reception is. If you find that response is very quick and you do not have to make much effort, then you will know that the plan is all right.

After fixing or deciding an aim, you will need to have workers who must be selected from the galaxy of friends whom you met in the past seven, eight or twelve years. I feel that the problem of workers is very acute everywhere and it should be given more importance than the problem of money. I use the word 'friend' for disciple, devotee, admirer, sympathiser, patron, and also for one who criticises. All these come in the category of friends.

This category of friends is something you should decide with great caution and absolute understanding of the structure of an organisation. In order to find workers, you will have to have a very clear concept of the basic requirements of an organisation. The first set of workers required are those who know how to labour. Those physical toilers represent the hands, feet, sensory, digestive and excretory organs. When we say toiler we do not only mean a typist, we mean cooks also and those who look after the property of the organisation.

The first mistake which we make in organisation practically everywhere is that we try to find a good secretary, a good manager, a good financier, but the cook, the gatekeeper, the builder are not properly kept. As a result the organisation does not function for a long time. It is also necessary to have one person who keeps an eye on all that is taking place and sees that everything runs smoothly and correctly. Supposing the treasurer does not keep the books properly and throws them here and there. It must be the responsibility of someone to bring this to the notice of the management.

Another important group of workers in the structure of an organisation is the managing body, the sensitive group of people who are capable of thinking, planning, discussing, pruning and modifying the plan. Those people are known as the managing council or board of directors. In the general system of the organisation they form the gyanendriyas and the physical toilers are the karmendriyas.

The third group of workers is still more important and is called the office bearers. We have four office bearers in our physical body; manas or mind thinks, buddhi or intellect decides, chitta or consciousness remembers, and ahamkara or ego presides. Similarly, in every organisation these four office bearers should function in exactly the same manner as this antar karana or instrument is functioning in our physical body, controlling the gyanendriyas and karmendriyas. These office bearers are the president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer.

These four members are very important in an organisation. They discuss all the plans before they are executed by the other members. However, they will only discuss them and see what the difficulties are, the positive and negative points etc. They will note it all down. When the whole matter has been discussed and thought over well by the office bearers, then it can be brought before the governing body.

The governing body has a very important function and when an organisation is being set up, the members will have to be selected by the moving spirit of founder. One of them should have the power to decide properly. The second should have the power to discuss decisions on the basis of his past experiences. The third should be able to record it properly, and then circulate it to the other members. The fourth should be the presiding authority on the occasion and should have the power and capacity to stop unceremonial, unconstitutional, irrelevant discussions.

After this, five more people are very important -the patrons. In the physical body they are known as the pranas. They give life to the movement, they bring money, they bring power and eminence. In the physical body these five pranas maintain life, vigour and vitality, so that the body does not die. In the same manner, these five patrons, who are not members of the governing council officially, but are always there Unofficially, support and maintain the life of the institution. If the institution is ever in difficulty or need, they will always feel it is their duty to come and provide aid. The patrons must be selected very carefully from a group of people who do not aspire to membership in the governing council. The moment they do, you should remove them.

Another important point in every institution and organisation is the establishment of a trust. A trust means that there are certain people selected to act as guardians to the entire organisation. Although they are not involved in the organisation at all, they are not members of the governing body, and they do not even attend committee meetings, they are the guardians. They will see that the society is not liquidated by unlawful means. The trust does not manage the institution but looks after it. It is something like the five tattwas (elements) which cannot be seen but at the same time are everywhere in the physical body. However, the five trustees and five patrons can be the same, which is what I have been doing in my organisation, because the patrons who contribute money from time to time should be attached to the institution and should feel a sense of guardianship, so that the institution born from their money is not destroyed.

We have spoken about the different components of an organisation, but the most important person behind this show is one man known as the moving spirit. In him the dream flourishes and the visions come up. His visions are first of all conveyed to the four members of the governing body. They discuss it amongst themselves and then they sit down together with the five patrons and make the final decision. Even if an institution has sufficient funds to carry out a particular plan, it is always necessary to refer to the patrons before deciding about undertakings. As long as he is alive, his personality is the moving spirit, after he dies, it is his philosophy which is the moving spirit. Therefore, in order to perpetuate the organisation, it has always been a tradition to accept a moving spirit, whether he is living or dead. When the philosophy of the moving spirit disintegrates, not only a small organisation, but even nations disintegrate.

The moving spirit of an organisation is the person who has realised the vision. He is not a guardian, he is not a member, he is not a director, he is not a toiler, he is only an inspirer. The moving spirit should have one important quality, that is the capacity to inspire. With absolute patience and perseverance, he should convey what he has been thinking to the people. It is also very necessary for the moving spirit to move physically for some time amongst different people and inspire them to understand the mission he wants to fulfil.

The moving spirit should always have a master-plan, however difficult it may be for him to implement That inspiration which he gives to people is not of the common type. It is to arouse in them an abiding desire to lead a higher life.