Salvation or Starvation – A short discourse addressing the dilemma of the mortals of corporate world

For zillions of believers who religiously follow the dictum “Work is worship”, in their quest for attaining that heaven called the corner office; a mere handful manage to pass through the pearly gates. A few still attain Trishanku Swarga (Suspended animation or what’s euphemistically labeled Senior Management). Majority are caught in that eternal cycle of life and death aka checkered career, jumping from one faith (read organization) to another not knowing which path leads them there and finally settling for blaming their karma in this life and hoping for the best in the next (that is if they aren’t reborn as a boar or a barracuda).

So what differentiates the attainers from the also-rans? Why is it that for every believer who ever entered with complete submission into the hollowed portals of a corporate, only a few manage to grace the sanctum sanctorum (popularly called board room)and fewer still manage to realize the veritable refrain “Aham Brahmasmi” (I am god!)? Is our fate decided very early in our career owing to the path we follow or the practices we indulge in? How does one propitiate to the gods above or the benefactors below to make them realize the true bhaktas that we are and place their benevolent hands on our blessed heads? Where from the wind blows? Whence the sun shines and on whose bowed pate? Who giveth and whose hands recieveth? What price complete submission? Which path leads us where?

Such deep and disquieting questions and more gnawed at the burdened bosoms of many a philosopher since ancient times. Selfless seers pondered deep and hard for ages. Of the many paths that were propounded as to the reason why people’s corporate Mahaprasthana (The Great Journey) bears fruits of varying degrees, a set of four practices seem to reveal the holy truth wholly.

Meditation – Sacrifice – Worship – Prayers & Praise

Though as religious practices go by, these are seen as natural progression in attaining salvation, from times when the life was simpler to when it becomes complicated (or as seen by Hindu philosophers, as befitting each of the four yugas (Treta, Krita, Dwapara, Kali) each worse than the one before); in the context of the corporate world, it differs in a subtle yet fatalistic way. The first two practices are likely to lead to career starvation where the follower is condemned to service in perpetuity and the latter two are bound to lead to career salvation though with varied degrees of success.

Let us ponder over each one of them briefly.

Meditation: Verily this is a trait observed at the very beginning of the corporate life, when it’s still uncomplicated. The believer brimming with unenviable belief that he/she could change the world for better; reflecting on what he/she brings to the congregation to enhance its value and meaning; wanders hither and thither gazing into the star-performers’ filled firmament, dreaming of his place one day in that pantheon. Alas most of the believers get stuck in this state of mind and thus their state of affairs gets restricted to solitary cubicles. This stage in the corporate world is as near suicidal as it gets and a sensible believer fated for salvation does move on quickly to the next stage and doesn’t hang around meditating beyond the first week of his induction.

Sacrifice: The lot stuck in here is more to be pitied than censured. These are like the perennially poverty stricken yet non-complaining priests performing pujas from the strike of dawn to way past midnight, feasting only on broken coconuts and crystallized sugar; too busy petitioning the god on behalf of the multitudes who throng the temples in serpentine queues endlessly. Never sparing a thought for themselves, the poor souls singularly fail to strike a work-life balance that brings the bacon home here on earth never mind the salvation waiting in the wings to transport them in winged chariots (chauffeur driven ones) to the heavenly abode. In short, ones who come to office before the boss and leave after him; drawing the sniggers of colleagues and occasionally irritating the head honchos with their offensive righteousness. Yet they are tolerated because these are the souls on whose dead-selves and never-say-die work ethos/outputs, doth the wise ones step-on and raise themselves to the higher planes of salvation. Heed ye all, who have to pass this stage. Give it a pass before it’s too late, for this more than its predecessor does make one starve like nobody’s business. If at all the gods need a sacrificial lamb, find hundred for sure, but ensure you aren’t one of them!

Worship: From here one starts seeing the first glimpses of the golden world that is the fruits of one’s labor. Few of the traits observed in individuals spending a while under the shady grove of worship are – blind devotion leading to scanning the newspapers and circulating the articles in which the boss’s name appears before others do; glancing at him reminiscent of the ecstatic state that Poet Jayadeva would have been in while composing his Madhura Bhakti (Devotion as sweet as Nectar)songs; showering him with gifts that cost more than one’s annual holiday; in short total submission to the omnipresent , omniscient, omnipotent him and yet maintaining a respectful distance. The few souls who manage a seat in the Trishanku Swarga are wedded to this stage; only retention of a modicum of self-respect and momentary lapse of reasoning that forces them to put across their point of view which is at variance with that of their venerable divinity does restrict them to thus-far-and-no-further, where the sky would indeed have been the limit. Bide your time brother, for you may regain your composure and who knows skillfully step into the next stage to truly attain salvation.

Praise & Prayer: Utter lack of self-respect; skill-full use of all of one’s faculties and time in pandering to the whims, fancies and ego of The One; never losing the sight of the treasures of heaven while subordinating the benefit of organization to the goals of self; the being in this stage is a truly enlightened one. He knows that boss is but a momentary illusion created by the temporal difference of him having joined the ranks later. While he praises and prays the boss, believing in the power of the spoken word, he doesn’t see himself and the boss being two different entities – Advaita (Not two but one) is what he is bred on. He praises the boss to high heavens on every forum and on every occasion, deserving or not, in the single-minded pursuit of reaching there sooner than later. He knows boss knows he knows…and knowingly the two play the game (or enacting Leela as the philosophers would tell us). What a sight to behold! The one’s meditating may be oblivious to this and that; the sacrificing lot may shake their heads offering them on a platter; the worshippers weary at the turn of the events but nonetheless wiser to live and move closer to the god-head another day –there the beautiful communion of the twin souls, where the Narayan (God or Boss – interchangeable) recognizes in the Nar (First among equals) his mirror-image and smiling indulgently leads him to his Sinhasan(Swiveling Plush Chair)!

As has been discussed earlier, the first two of the pracitices lead one’s career to starvation, the third to partial salvation and the fourth to absolute Nirvana. Though every individual is destined to move through all the four stages; only the enlightened soul passes through the first three quickly and converges onto the god-head by understanding fully the following: 

Meditate but move on. Sacrifice but others. Worship and wait your turn. Praise and be promoted.

Tat Tvam Asi (Thou art that).

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. Lavender says:

    That, Mr Scatterbrain was totally uncalled for. Though the language is succulent the content is belladonna.

  2. sajja says:

    Arun,
    You have grown at least a few thousands of times since I have known you 15 years ago – in subtlety (not so subtle), in expression (a feeble heart in trishanku swarga will sure no longer be there if he can survive thru this blog), humor (last time I found any closer was in “The Great Indian Story by Shashi Tharoor”), relevance (if not now, it can never be any more relevant), longevity (the fundamental principles underneath will survive as long as the Vedas are gonna be around.
    Well, I could go on – but the point is, the above is terrific. With such a great start off the blocks, you have no choice but to continue. And you must rest not till the “Corporate Gita” is written up.
    Sajja

    1. ivak99 says:

      Dhanyosmi! But dont give the dog a badname chief! Am still the same immature, casual and flippant floatsaming hobo that I was 15 years ago. Probably just managed to mask it well I guess. 🙂

  3. Jasdeep says:

    Excellent analogy and great expression! Thou has finally arrived!!!!

    The underlying message, even though wrapped in your customary dry humor, is very dismaying…….Aah! tells me where I have been going wrong….still stuck in stage 1 and 2!!!;)
    Guess its time for moving on to worship and praise!!;))

    Cheers

  4. Sharan Sharma says:

    Wow! you really write well!
    This should be part of every induction programme 😉

  5. hi vak,

    wonderful article. Good to see in you action.

  6. Kishore Parthasarathy says:

    Good stuff!
    Abraham Maslow in the early 20th century wrote about hierarchy of needs and different steps mortals transcend to reach “self actualization”. If he had read this post, he would have published another paper called “Hierarchy of real needs!” 🙂 we have a parallel pyramid that each mortal tries to achieve in his quest to attain corporate nirvana. Both these pyramids, though disparate, draws good parallel. Motivation,Worship,sacrifice and praise being the steps (note that I have interchanged worship and sacrifce). Ofcourse the corner office being the top most step mirroring the “self actualization”.

  7. wasu says:

    Wow! Brilliant insights!

  8. This blog post deserves a booker, iam totally avoiding the praise and prayer concept here. This is an excellent effort in capturing various Work Life Cycle Stages of a deprived soul cornered within the four walls of his so called “Second Home”.

  9. sukesh says:

    vak,
    this is an interesting post. look forward to chatting about it when i see you online next time.

  10. suvarna says:

    🙂 So a survivor is a sycophant,does his prayers & praises regularly,is ever ready to direct an axe light enough to fly all the way to your friend’s aisle but sharp enough to lop his head off, and hide forever safely behind the corporate waffle. Kalikaalam! Do they eat their livers too? 🙂 Am i glad i don’t work-o-wot!

    But is there no place for Virtues in an office space? I shudder!

    And v.educative post!:)

  11. Indi says:

    LOL@Few of the traits observed in individuals spending a while under the shady grove of worship are – blind devotion leading to scanning the newspapers and circulating the articles in which the boss’s name appears before others do.
    And ROTFLMAO@Trishanku swarga = senior management.
    You’re obviously taking the blogeshwar route to salvation.
    🙂

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