>I’m an advocate for business as a spiritual endeavor. Three decades of participation in the marketplace have allowed me to experience the unique ‘edge’ that business introduces into the path towards enlightenment, self realization and fulfillment. It has many aspects of a ‘path’…challenge, connection to self, connection to others. By design it allows you to take your attention off of yourself, a key aspect of growth. I am confident that business engaged in consciously has a substantial role to play in both solving many of societies current wants and desires (energy, health care to name just two) WHILE moving individuals and entities towards more awareness and well being. It is just this dual affect which is so compelling about committing to bringing consciousness into one’s work life.

(In fact, modern science is now documenting why this is the case, in new studies that prove the power of consciousness to manipulate DNA…more about this in a post later this month)

We can be participants in bringing a new contextual frame for business into our society. ‘Frames’ can be very powerful. Frames like ‘conscious entrepreneurship’, ‘conscious capitalism’ and ‘socially responsible business’ can begin to impact our culture, simply by virtue of their use. In fact, authors and historians acknowledge the importance of framing and it’s capacity for directing action and focus towards either the individual or a societal focus. Framing creates the ‘ground’ on which we all get to stand as we engage our friends, families and co-workers in discussions about the choices we make about our work and its significance in our lives.

Here’s another example of the challenge so many writers and publications have in ‘framing’ this conversation about conscious business. In ‘Its Not Easy Picking a Path to Enlightenment‘ the NY Times’ Andy Newman writes about Kripalu, a retreat center (once ashram) which hosts 30,000 guests each year. While its wonderful to have this great facility promoted, I’m left with the missed opportunity of ‘short changing’ the view into the business operations. Here’s how Andy misses the opportunity to frame this more powerfully (my bold):

“We’re constantly re-examining,” said Kripalu’s president, Ila Sarley. “What are the needs? What are the needs of the market, and what are the needs of society?” In the end, everything comes down to what will bring bodies in the door. “What we’re looking at,” Ms. Sarley said, “is what will someone pay to take a vacation to do.”

You can see that this is NOT part of the quote. It is, in fact, the frame that the author brought to this. I would assert that for the Kripalu organization everything does NOT come down to bodies in the door. That is a completely reductionist view of the much more complex balancing of bodies in the door, meeting our mission, working with the psychologies of how to entice people at all levels of their personal paths, making sure the staff is enthusiastic about the offering, etc, etc. But, rather than point out this complexity of the ‘edge’ we must navigate as conscious business people, the Times chose the frame that is easy and obvious – it must all be about bodies in the door.!

It is NOT just about bodies in the door. This is one aspect of the challenge that a business faces. It is up to the owners and staff if that is all their business will be about, or if they will declare it to be more than than, and strive, in each and every conversation, choice, and decision to design a business that is conscious to its core.

3 thoughts on “‘Framing’ Consciousness & Business in the Cultural Dialogue

  1. Christina Sell

    >A Buddhist friend of mine once illustrated the distinctions between three levels of Buddhist practioners (hiniyana, mahayana and vajryana) by discussing their relationship to an empty toilet paper roll. The first level of practitioner will not notice that the toilet paper needs changing. The second level of practitioner will notice but not change the roll unless they are told to. The third level of practitioner will notice and take it upon themselves to change the roll.

    When my husband and I owned a coffee shop I recalled this story one day when I was (yes, you guessed it) in the bathroom. I noticed that there was no toilet paper left on the roll. And like a ton of bricks it hit me- no one else in the world but me was responsible for changing it. It was my business, my responsiblity.

    Ever since that day I have been aware of what an opportunity for spiritual practice having a business is because at the end of the day, I am accountable for it. It is, in effect, my toilet paper roll to change.

    That frame, as you call it, provides a kind of context for the difficulties that come along with self-employment that invites me to a higher sphere of reference. Truly this makes all the difference in the world, not because the content of the task changes but because the reference point for the content is made more meaningful by said frame.

    Anyway- my two cents.

  2. Valerie

    >I am really enjoying reading your blog! Highly insightful and mind broadening. Thank you. Valerie Gazaui

  3. Kelly

    >I too read this article in the Times. I was confused by the comment you highlighted- bringing bodies in the door. It seemed incongruous with the overall image of the Kripalu organization; yet, as presented by the journalist, it looked as if one more organization lost its way along the growth path. Your insight is very much appreciated. The presumption that all spiritual organizations are only about taking your money is one that I have encountered time and time again…with some friends, family and the average Joe.

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