In my last blog, I explored the idea of service to the Faith within the structure of a for-profit business. I tentatively concluded that yes, this was an acceptable thing. But that’s not the end of it, is it? Obviously, many traditional ”old world” business practices would be inappropriate in an enterprise that endeavours to spread the word about Baha’u’llah.
What would be appropriate? Now that is an interesting puzzle indeed!
I have actually been working on a business plan for Verdanta, and in it I was asked to describe the corporate culture. What would it be like to work there? So this isn’t just a pie out of the clear blue sky question. I really want to know, what makes a Baha’i business different?
Two things spring immediately to mind: the first is operating the business based on the writings of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha. The second is the spiritual consequences of doing it wrong. I guess the place to start is exploring what they have to say that’s relevant to the situation.
Well, Baha’u’llah told us that ”Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues,” so that’s probably a good place to start. A Baha’i business must be impeccably honest. Dealing honestly with suppliers, customers and employees, paying bills on time, and following through on commitments all fall within that maxim. But so do not fudging numbers, not lying by omission, and not taking questionable “gray area” tax deductions.
Abdu’l-Baha has said that “With education [the inner reality of man] can achieve all excellence; devoid of education it will stay on, at the lowest point of imperfection,” so constant and continuous education must be built into the structure of a Baha’i business. Everyone in the organization should be allowed – and encouraged – to learn about new things, to gain new skills, and develop latent talents. Personally, I can say that starting a business is a completely new thing for me, and I learn so much every day that my head hurts from all the neural pathway construction!
Baha’u’llah has also stated that “Work done in the spirit of service is the highest form of worship.” I don’t know about anyone else, but if the work I do is equivalent to worship, then I’m going to make darn sure I’m working to the absolute utmost of my ability. Which means excellence and perfection must be the norm, not only for the members of the organization, but also for all products produced by them.
And since unity is the central principle of the Baha’i Faith, unity must also be a primary goal within the organization. Most companies today have no clue what that might look like, let alone harbor any realistic expectations of achieving it. But if you can’t think it, you can’t achieve it. Fortunately, “So powerful is the light of unity that it can illumine the whole earth.” And where unity is the expectation, it can be accomplished.
Of course, backbiting would have no place within a healthy Baha’i business, because “backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul.” The company culture should be shaped such that everyone knows backbiting is unacceptable.
I could go on and on, but what I notice in writing this is that a Baha’i business must strive for the same spiritual perfections that individual Baha’is strive for.
Hmmm. One last quote comes to mind, and that is ”Bring thyself to account each day, ere thou art summoned to a reckoning.” It seems that I must not only bring myself to account each day, I must also bring to account the dealings of my business, for they ultimately reflect back on me and my spiritual progress.
Wow. How different would the world be today if all our leaders felt that way? Post your comments here: