December 2, 2014

The 8 Fold Path to Becoming a Business Buddha.

Alice Popkorn/Flickr

The Buddha’s Eight Fold Path is an integrative path which can bring us to the cessation of suffering.

The suffering referred to by Buddha are greed, hatred and delusion. If we look at where any economic system has failed miserably it is invariably as a result of greed, hatred and/or delusion. For the Business Buddha, the path is as relevant to achieving wholesome business results as it is to developing personal happiness. It is basically the why, how and what to do guide to creating an enlightened life through work.

The eight steps are as follows:

Right Vision

This is about seeing the world as it really is and experiencing the interconnectedness of a continually evolving Universe. With self-awareness acting on right vision moves one away from the dualistic nature of ego mind with its one-sided ideologies towards a more adaptive, collaborative mentality. The benefits of this are many. As a Business Buddha, you can stop trying to be the font of all knowledge and allow others to contribute more of their potential in the form of new ideas and tacit knowledge.

You value the ecology of your business in relation to your clients, suppliers and the environment. With Right Vision, as Renault did during the recession, a larger organisation might support local suppliers during hard times. This was good business derived from supporting the economic ecosystem or as the Dalai Lama calls it “being wise selfish.”

Right Intention

is having the resolve to serve and do no harm. Start with establishing some values which are going to point you in a more wholesome direction. With Right Intention, you’ll move towards a sustainable paradigm of prosperity. Companies which last several generations do so because they’ve totally transformed but they didn’t do it overnight. Whilst Apple admits it still has a long way to go, its data centres are fuelled by 100% renewable energy and as such it’s emissions per product are dropping.

Most people are intelligent enough to know that business as usual cannot go on but are trapped in the corporate system. Apple’s CEO told climate change deniers to get out of Apple stock if they didn’t like Apple’s sustainability efforts. With Right Intention and little steps in the right direction even massive organisations will find new ways to contribute towards a brave new world which is more environmentally sustainable, socially just and personally fulfilling.

Right Speech

helps people feel understood and valued. I offer the PEAK model as a guide for helping Business Buddhas communicate with compassion.

  • Present: When you’re in the room, be in the room. The most charismatic communicators have a way of making you feel that that you’re the only person in the world and that what you’ve got to say is important.
  • Engaging: To help the rapport between you and the person you’re talking to, ask questions to clarify your understanding. Stephen Covey who wrote The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People said “First seek to understand and then be understood”. When relevant, reflect back to the person you’re communicating with, using words and hand gestures that they’ve used. It will help them feel understood.
  • Adaptable: There are an infinite variety of personalities and situations and it’s important for you to be able to adapt your style to suit the circumstances you find yourself in. Some people are feeling and value driven; others are thinking and action-orientated preferring to have information delivered in bullet points. Being mindful of this will help the Business Buddha adapt.
  • Kindness: There is little point communicating with anything less than a purpose of win-win all around. Speaking with kindness doesn’t mean you cannot deliver some negative feedback as long as it is delivered with the intention of helping and the spirt of compassion.

Right Action

Mihaly Csikszentmihaly coined the term ‘Flow ‘and his description for this state is “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” Also known as the Zen state, Right Action springs from a mind liberated from fear and guided by purpose moment to moment.

Right Livelihood

There are a few businesses which you could say are definitely not conducive to wellbeing. Engaging in the business of war is an example. As long as we have a business for it, then war will continue. There are few businesses which do not negatively impact in some way because the economic world and environment are so enmeshed. As a Business Buddha you’ll be mindful of how your work impacts the whole.

Right Effort

In order to walk your talk as a Business Buddha you’re being constantly challenged to prevent negative egoic behaviours such as greed, anger and ignorance from entering the workplace, whilst diminishing those negative behaviours and values that may already present. This sometimes means changing the culture and that doesn’t often happen overnight and once changed, Right Effort will help you strengthen the positive culture which has arisen.

Right Mindfulness

Is really about paying attention for Business Buddhas and not losing themselves and their sense of what’s important as they become more successful or busy. It’s having the ability to switch mental states so that they can see from all perspectives. Whether that be how it is for the supplier they’ve partnered with, the customer or colleagues. By direct experience we see reality, not through a lens of concepts and filters and Right Mindfulness will help the Business Buddha from getting lost in daydreams, anticipations, indulgences or worry.

Right Concentration

Life’s inner journey is the most important thing we could ever do for oneself and for the world. Business Buddhas engage some form of practice along whichever path they find themselves on. Not just for themselves but so they can be like the pebble thrown into the pond, sending ripples outwards into the world.



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Author: Zen Rabbit

Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Alice Popkorn/Flickr 


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