- Non-duality, Anatta and BusinessCurious about running a business from a non-dual perspective and if it’s even possible.In my very little business (7 employees) I have to do it in a sort of ‘this is the agreed game we are playing’ kind of way, pretend we are all separate to an extent….yet it has thrown up many incongruencies, conflicts, hard decisions and questions over the years. (Yes, excellent training ground!).Like, why would I want to make maximum money from this ‘other’ who I feel such overflowing love for and who is not other at all. It seems I have to ‘other’ them and ‘self’ a me to engage with it all. Yet that is actually impossible. The client base is wealthy so it’s relatively easy in the sense that making a profit isn’t exploitative, as they aren’t struggling financially.Yet still, they are me and usually they would prefer to give me as little as possible, and I’m supposed to want as much as possible.And also with employees, I want to pay them as much as I possibly can, why wouldn’t I ! They are me. Yet the ‘sensible’ business model way would be to want to and try and pay them as little as possible and maximise profit.I see them as sovereign powerful beings and would love to see them thriving and expanding, busy with more fun higher things than struggling financially. Yet the industry is relatively low paid and aware there’s a larger dominant surrounding economic model which has a strong influence that has to be navigated with.There’s a running joke in my company that it is run by ‘The Force” (as in star wars) and we laugh about the clients’ reactions if they knew that.Aware that my ego kind of likes that I’m posting this, as it could be interpreted as virtue signally. Tick, ok with and clock that. Not looking for any ‘well done’s’ here. Some goals above might seem virtuous but that isn’t the motive, which is to live in a congruent way, probably in a right livelihood sense.Maybe that’s the succinct question there, can a business be run in a truly no self, non-dual, right livelihood way? Or maybe if I was truly in anatta none of this would even come up and that alone should be the focus and everything else would fall into place. Pls delete if this is off topic!
Ng Xin Zhao
I didn't read the Buddhist economics yet, but here's some ready stuffs I have on hand.
Don't need to buy into economics is built on greed. There's many companies which are not greed based. Non-profit organizations for example. One can also share wealth with the employees by having them as automatic share holders of the company, paying the profits to all via dividend.
Can also read some Marxism, Star trek economy without money, https://www.thevenusproject.com/
Corporate social responsibilities, looking towards being green, using profits for good projects. Like so many billionaires are using it to fund space travel. Can use it to end poverty, promote vegan food, plant based meat etc.
And look to Buddhist temples who has staffs too.
Òskar K. Linares
It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society. - K. So no, it's not possible, capitalism is too sick. You will have to compete, want it or not... As said before, greed is in the leading force in capitalist economy. A rat's race towards disaster. You cannot avoid it if you enter to play the game. Sorry. If you want something non-dual you may work for a non-profit org helping others.
Soh Wei Yu
John tan said:
Not affected by the 8 winds of prosperity, decline, disgrace, honor, praise, censure, suffering and pleasure is the anatta and non-dual of business. Recognize it by taste, not by forms.
But also be aware of 苏东坡 poems of the 8 winds and zen master 佛印 story... Haha
Soh Wei Yu
This post from last year is pretty similar: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AwakeningToReality/posts/5885291134845601/
Soh Wei Yu Admin
To the best of your ability practice the paramitas and let go of attachment to the eight worldly winds. But take steps to attain realisation, especially anatta realisation is crucial (but one can start with the I AM, etc). And as Albert Hong said yesterday, "Daily practice, or having a formal practice schedule day in and day out is obviously the baseline. Then integrating that with your life.
But integration isn't possible in the way OP is getting at unless one has something to actually integrate.
Hence why retreat or doing a LOT of practice in daily life is paramount to have any success and progress."
Practically speaking, it is very difficult to overcome these attachments without correct realisation, although we just do our best in practice. For example, John Tan suffered a lot despite his I AM realization, glimpses of nondual and so on when faced with bankruptcy in 1997, which then became the condition for him to take refuge in the triple gems and realise anatta. Even after realising anatta it does not mean immediately we become free from all attachments and become an arahant, there is also a period of deepening and overcoming of any traces or tendencies.
John Tan said in 2005,
"Hi Long Chen,
Nice to see you and Eternal Now too. As to your question whether one's enlightenment will hinder oneself from relating in a normal society, I supposed not. For one that has arrived at the fundamental ground, whatever role he assumes, whether as a monk, teacher, businessman or a beggar, he remains free. When it comes to practical application, he will naturally know how to harmonize and fuses completely with everything.
In Buddhism, No-Self is not a question of morality; it is a question of the true nature of the phenomenon reality. From the marco universe to the quantum world of quarks, from time to space, from body to consciousness, all exhibit this characteristic. Emptiness prevails everywhere. Even right now at this moment, we witness the Emptiness truth in action -- the moment ceases as it arises. There is no changing thing (Self), only change. Viewing things as solid entities and categorizing them as 'this' or 'that' is due to the poverty of our thinking mechanism, it is not reality.
The act of labeling will make 'things' appear solid and separated, to the extent that even when we are dealing with the very essence of ourselves -- the pure awareness, we make it an 'I AM'. 'I AMness' is perhaps the furthest the Thinking-Mind can give way and it is never meant merely as an expression for communication. We seek, find and attempt to locate it as if it is a solid entity hiding somewhere. As long as this wrong way of 'seeing' persists, there will be attachments and sufferings. This is the way it is; you cannot eliminate attachment with an 'I'. Therefore the capacity to see by awakening the emptiness wisdom is especially important in Buddhism.
Bare attention that is taught in insight meditation trains one to see without labeling, without a layer of words. It presents us a new mode of experiencing reality as an ever changing inseparable flux. Without this layer of thought, 'I' has no place to reside and slowly the bond of 'I' will loosen and subside. If the karmic condition ripens, the mysterious relationship between the pure awareness and the phenomenon world will be revealed.
The experience of I AM is an intuitive experience of our naked consciousness. It is seeing Consciousness face to face and touching Consciousness directly without in between thoughts. But its Emptiness nature must be understood to progress further. I got to go now....do take care.
Edited by Thusness 21 Oct `05, 9:35AM "
John Tan, 2006,
"When in business, set our goals and go for it! We can’t afford to be flickered minded in business. I agree that the business world can serves as a good practice ground; just that it is easy to enter, difficult to get out when it grows.
There is this latent tendency of the mind to identify in a very subtle way that goes undetected until we are forced to confront our identifications and attachments. I always thought I have achieved certain level of detachment but Singapore’s past 3 major recessions revealed otherwise. Never in the past 3 recessions when attempting to save my businesses had I able to remain pure, calm and stable. In fact many evil and unwholesome thoughts surfaced (too shame to list them all). I am fortunate that I managed to survive these crises, they are nightmares but I do not want to roll in it till my last day; however settling these businesses can take many years. Like karma that rolls on, we never know whether we can stop it at the correct time.
In my opinion, spirituality is more than just being healthy psychologically and having a good life in the here and now. There is a deeper sense to it; a deeper conviction that this life is but a spark in a never ending stream. I would not call it an ambition but it definitely starts from a deep call within to understand who we truly are. Do leave some years for the bliss you mentioned, I wish you success."
Soh Wei Yu Admin
The spiritual path is all about totally obliterating all delusions and sense of self/Self and later the subtle knowledge obscurations. For that you need to realise, and if you haven't realise then take steps to realisation, then after realisation there is usually still ongoing practice and two obscurations that are gradually eliminated. Anything that supports that path or at least does not detract one from that, will be supportive. Examples of actions that would not be supportive would be the ten nonvirtues*, or any acts that harms oneself and/or others, disturbs the mind, causes guilt and other unwholesome mental factors which can obscure the clarity and stability of one's mind. The ten unwholesome or nonvirtuous actions themselves arise out of afflictions and self-grasping.
None of those actions you mentioned, in and of themselves, are necessities nor hindrances for awakening but are individual specific. Nobody can tell you what you must do, it must come from one's own intuitive awareness. For example taking responsibility for family - what about monks? Monks don't need to take responsibility for family (other than perhaps in some ways like teaching dharma and so on), but many monks are awakened. But as a lay person if you have a family, then taking responsibility for family is also not in and of itself an obstacle, but what is appropriate for you.
Engagement in activity is not necessarily an obstacle, in fact, when one is actualizing anatta, one is fully engaged in a non-dual manner, from sound and sight and smell and taste and touch and thought... to full engagement in action where the whole universe is exerting in that action/activity. One is only not engaged in the moment of action if there is a sense of self, dissociating, withdrawing, contracting away from the moment of experience or action. Dissociation is the result of sense of self and grasping, thus a cause of suffering. But at the same time if one is attached or grasping while engaging, then one is appropriating things in terms of I, me, and mine, then it becomes an obstacle and a cause for suffering as well. So, the key and quality of spiritual practices does not always lie in 'what' you are doing/not-doing, but more in terms of the quality of how you are relating or experiencing that moment, and more fundamentally whether one is operating from ignorance or wisdom/gnosis.
There is also the teaching of non-action, wu wei, or wei wu wei -- actionless action. In actionless action, the gap between actor and action is refined till none. As John Tan puts it in 2012, "When the gap between actor and action is refined till none, that is non-action and that non-action is total action. Whether this total action is understood as the natural way will depend on whether the insight of anatta has arisen. Anatta is the insight that allows the practitioner to see clearly that this has always been the case." - http://www.awakeningtoreality.com/.../total-exertion_20.html
Besides the refining the gap of actor and action till none, there are also the qualities of 'action without seeking results', behaving without hopes and fears. Almost like you are doing something for the sake of just doing something, rather than a result in the future. There can moments of planning, a goal, but in that moment of executing there is no attachment to all these, just pure action. And one is not attached to an expected result or outcome either. The means becomes an end to itself. As John Tan said, in his business career, he had to deal with a lot of these, and the key is completely relinquishing all grasping at 'gain' and 'loss' into non-action. This is also a key to non-action and liberation. The relinquishment of grasping towards the eight worldly winds: Gain, loss, status, disgrace, censure, praise, pleasure, & pain https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/AN/AN8_6.html
Now I speak as if spirituality is only totally 'self immolating' or 'self relinquishment' as if it is a complete opposite of 'self improvement'. That is also not necessarily the case. Improvement is always happening and is usually something positive, but while actualizing it comes from the flow of the total exertion. Like you learn and become good at singing by the full engagement of singing, you learn and become good at tennis by the full engagement of playing tennis. The learning does not come from a 'self' trying to 'know' or 'grasp' or 'learn' or 'become better' at something. Simply let the full engagement of whole body-mind-universe totally exerting itself, improve itself by itself and just lose yourself in that whole process without even grasping or seeking for an outcome, that whole 'self' construct is unnecessary and extra. Then actions can be self-liberated. Otherwise, all actions just become worldly karma or actions, karmic activities, that leave traces resulting and ripening in good and bad experiences in samsara but no liberation.
· Remove Preview
· 5w · Edited
Nafis Rahman thank you, so much in there. “Without hopes and fears”. One of the major lessons of running a business for me, riddles with so many fears and hopes, mostly fears! And yet now with more equanimity in the mix after some years, I sit right back inside and ‘allow’ much more. And strangely, like magic, the business does better without ‘me’ in the way. Observing this with interest and amusement after years of rollercoastering.
Soh Wei Yu Admin
Actualizing is only the natural way after insight into anatta as 'always already so', but before that one can still practice non-action and letting go gain/loss, hopes/fears, the paramitas and so on. These will help lessen and dissolve the sense of self in activities. Then take steps to give rise to the correct realisations. At some point, the insights are naturally actualized in daily living.
“Soh Wei Yu Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 11:38pm UTC+10
facing all kinds of stuff in life and yet experiencing the three characteristics of self-liberation like you said, "non-duality, non-attachment and fearlessness" is how I understand dong zhong xiu (practice amidst movement) now
John TanSunday, April 21, 2013 at 11:39pm UTC+10
yes but with the direct and intuitive knowledge that there is no you facing anything, it is the entire universe facing it. it is like all the phases of your insights actualized in this conventional world.
means when say talking to my children, it is neither me nor him… it is one activity
like I talk to you, it does not mean that soh does not exist.
it is just no thusness or soh, only the question on hand that makes up the situation… or when you talking to your teacher, no teacher or student relationship… just a single activity… get it?
teacher is not teacher, student not student… teacher becomes the student, the student becomes the teacher, the teacher is the teacher, the student is the student, no teacher, no student...all as one activity...
everything interpenetrates, everything interdefines, there is no everything… when eyes are open.. .the spontaneous presence of scenery… no seer, no seeing, no seen… seer is the seeing is the seen… just this, the entire movement.
this must be your moment to moment encounter in mundane activity.
deconstruct self, deconstruct physical, deconstruct external, deconstruct internal… be free from all arbitrary definitions and stories… then whatever experience is neither physical nor mental nor spiritual... just direct, non-conceptual as it is state of self arising… be free from all arbitrary thoughts and definitions… don't let 'yourself' be troubled by all these so that this activity is unobstructed and uncontrived in clean purity… then experience will be transparent and total.”
"Has awareness stood out? There is no concentration needed. When six entries and exits are pure and primordial, the unconditioned stands shining, relaxed and uncontrived, luminous yet empty. The purpose of going through the 7 phases of perception shift is for this... Whatever arises is free and uncontrived, that is the supreme path. Whatever arises has never left their nirvanic state... ... your current mode of practice [after those experiential insights] should be as direct and uncontrived as possible. When you see nothing behind and magical appearances are too empty, awareness is naturally lucid and free. Views and all elaborations dissolved, mind-body forgotten... just unobstructed awareness. Awareness natural and uncontrived is supreme goal. Relax and do nothing, Open and boundless, Spontaneous and free, Whatever arises is fine and liberated, This is the supreme path. Top/bottom, inside/outside, Always without center and empty (2-fold emptiness), Then view is fully actualized and all experiences are great liberation." - John Tan, 2012
“There's absolutely no need to attempt to bring anything whatsoever, presence, witnessing, whatever, into sleep or any states (waking, dreaming, and deep sleep). Any dualistic effort is a form of doing. Bringing in a watcher is karma. All dharmas, all phenomena, are fundamentally quiescent as nirvana, fundamentally non-arising and naturally manifesting as one's own state of radiance. Therefore true practice is resting in the natural, spontaneous perfection of luminosity and emptiness. Practice becomes dynamic rather than technique-bound as the spontaneous unfolding or self-arising of all displays, activities, sounds, colors, sensations, gets auto-actualized as the wisdom of luminous-emptiness. Everything arises as the state of meditation, which is non-meditation. Yet this requires anatta and emptiness insight as prerequisite.” - Soh, 2018
In the words of Ch’an Master Hsiang-yen: “At one stroke I forgot all my knowledge! There’s no use for artificial discipline, For, move as I will, I manifest the ancient Way.9 i
The Way of Zen (p. 145). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.”
(Related: Satsang Nathan Videos where Nathan also quoted Ch’an Master Hsiang-yen and Bahiya Sutta)
“[11:53 PM, 12/8/2019] John Tan: It [referring to the words of Ch’an Master Hsiang-yen] is referring to natural state. But that is very high attainment...lol. easy to say, need aeons of life of 修为 [cultivation]。 Natural state is non-practice. Means 起心动念 [arising of thoughts] is naturally free and spontaneously perfected. Every moment is practice, whole-body mind is naturally mindful and aware. However 99.9% of us are not there… lol” - John Tan, 2019
“When anatta matures, one is fully and completely integrated into whatever arises till there is no difference and no distinction.
When sound arises, fully and completely embraced with sound yet non-attached. Similarly, in life we must be fully engaged yet non-attached” - John Tan/Thusness
“[6:44 PM, 5/1/2019] John Tan: The 8 worldly concerns are the places you practice. That is why I told you engage in situations and events. Karmic propensities will not manifest without conditions. They remain hidden. Therefore last phase is always the market place. If you did not enter the marketplace, realization is not actualized.”
(Note: on practicing in the midst of the eight worldly conditions, refer to Lokavipatti Sutta at https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/AN/AN8_6.html - in brief; they are gain, loss, status, disgrace, censure, praise, pleasure, & pain)
"There is the self that arises from conceptual reification, seeing through that with anatta insight is entry point.
There is the self that arises in marketplace, in day to day activities, anatta of that is graduation." - John Tan, 2018
“the degree of openess and effortlessness are a matter of wisdom in seeing through... and this seeing through is only actualized in moment to moment engagement.
We do not know how much residue is left until we meet conditions" - John Tan
“Andre posted another good article today about how the 8 worldly concerns in daily engagements relate to agentless-action, dependent origination and emptiness and all these play their inevitable bits in wearing off our obscurations. As the sutra explained, habitual obscurations are exceedingly subtle like scent left behind a container hence there is no short-cut to liberation -- it’s all step by step and bit by bit erosion of the nuances and subtleness of “inherentness” in one’s ignorance.” – John Tan, Connecting dots, authenticating DO
“To me, actualization of one's insights is like a lotus, pure, mature and beautiful wherever is. Peace is not sitting [with] nothing to do [while] appreciating sunrise and sunset … it is entering hellish conditions [while] not being affected like a lotus.” - John Tan, 2019
[12:04 PM, 4/12/2020] John Tan: I hope this pandemic ends quickly, it is world war III in actuality.
[12:05 PM, 4/12/2020] John Tan: But it is extremely touching to see some people showing care to those that needs them. Even hawkers are showing.
[12:05 PM, 4/12/2020] John Tan: ‘I’m losing money, might as well do good’: The hawkers helping the helpless
[12:06 PM, 4/12/2020] John Tan: https://www.cnbc.com/.../told-my-landlord-i-cant-pay-rent...
[12:06 PM, 4/12/2020] John Tan: It is extremely warm to read these kind of stories.
[12:08 PM, 4/12/2020] John Tan: You see, I want you to look into these in practice.
[12:09 PM, 4/12/2020] John Tan: Practice is not just non-dual. But to dirty your hand and still rising above them like the symbol of a lotus. Not disassociating.
“IMO there is no further, it is the depth of how deep and how much the self is released regardless of what path is taken. I am not a teacher, there may be other ways… … Dealing with the mind, energy and awareness is a complex journey. There is the safe way and the dangerous way. The way is quite straightforward but the mind uncontented will look for shortcuts as it wants more. But that is usual… lol. There are those that want others to know about it and wrote about it and there are those that are not into this.
Soh has written a lot and visited many masters that can probably share with you better.
As for me, my path is simple. It is just plainly and simply opening myself in my work, seeing my family and children enjoy… ever tasting these natural expressions. I find them miraculous yet ordinary, others may not and look for more. So I am unable to tell them anything further.” - John Tan, 2019
“Actually there is no forcing. All the 4 aspects in I AMness are fully expressed in anatta as I told you. If aliveness is everywhere, how is one not to engage… it is a natural [tendency] to explore in [various] arena[s] and enjoy in business, family, spiritual practices... I [am] involve[d] in Finance, business, society, nature, spirituality, yoga.... I don't find it efforting… You just don't have to boast about this and that and be non-dual and open.” - John Tan, 2019
“Just met a friend yesterday who recently started meditating. His girlfriend joked that he might be becoming a monk. I told him that besides the daily sitting meditation, practice is mostly and very much in daily life and engagement rather than in some remote region in the mountains, it is about living a life in the marketplace that is spontaneously beneficial for oneself and others around, and joyful, rather than one that is miserable. It is fully engaged and free.
At its deepest, most basic level, Zen—or any spiritual path, for that matter—is much more than a list of what we can get from it. In fact, Zen is the realization of the oneness of life in all its aspects. It’s not just the pure or “spiritual” part of life: it’s the whole thing. It’s flowers, mountains, rivers, streams, and the inner city and homeless children on Forty-second Street. It’s the empty sky and the cloudy sky and the smoggy sky, too. It’s the pigeon flying in the empty sky, the pigeon shitting in the empty sky, and walking through the pigeon droppings on the sidewalk. It’s the rose growing in the garden, the cut rose shining in the vase in the living room, the garbage where we throw away the rose, and the compost where we throw away the garbage. Zen is life—our life. It’s coming to the realization that all things are nothing but expressions of myself. And myself is nothing but the full expression of all things. It’s a life without limits. There are many different metaphors for such a life. But the one that I have found the most useful, and the most meaningful, comes from the kitchen. Zen masters call a life that is lived fully and completely, with nothing held back, “the supreme meal.” And a person who lives such a life—a person who knows how to plan, cook, appreciate, serve, and offer the supreme meal of life, is called a Zen cook.”
“But why does a venerable elder such as yourself waste time doing the hard work of a head cook?” Dogen persisted. “Why don’t you spend your time practicing meditation or studying the words of the masters?” The Zen cook burst out laughing, as if Dogen had said something very funny. “My dear foreign friend,” he said, “it’s clear you do not yet understand what Zen practice is all about. When you get the chance, please come and visit me at my monastery so we can discuss these matters more fully.” And with that, he gathered up his mushrooms and began the long journey back to his monastery. Dogen did eventually visit and study with the Zen cook in his monastery, as well as with many other masters. When he finally returned to Japan, Dogen became a celebrated Zen master. But he never forgot the lessons he learned from the Zen cook in China.”
- Zen Master Bernie Glassman” - Soh, 2019
“In Zen, enlightenment implies full integration into activities. Any lack of such insight is not 'enlightenment in Zen'.” - John Tan, 2010
“My daily activities are not unusual,
I'm just naturally in harmony with them.
Grasping nothing, discarding nothing,
In every place there's no hindrance, no conflict.
Who assigns the ranks of vermilion and purple?
The hills' and mountains' last speck of dust
[My] supernatural power and marvelous activity—
Drawing water and carrying firewood.” - Layman Pang
For more: ATR Guide - Entering the Marketplace, Actualizing Daily Life
All I can speak from is my own experience. For me it’s easy because there are no agendas. There’s no finger on the scale at a fundamental level influencing how it goes, it just goes or doesn’t. Simple and spontaneous. But interestingly that eliminates fear, greed etc, which eliminates hesitation but doesn’t exclude genuine concern for how the business activity affects all things. Without competing agendas it becomes simple and naturally enjoyable.