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How to Pray to Manage and Lead Better

Lessons from the Mother, the Coarchitect of the Life Divine with Sri Aurobindo

The Mother, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry

The Prayers and Meditations of the Mother, the Coarchitect of the Life Divine with Sri Aurobindo, hold out profound lessons in the spiritual science and practice of praying to elevate and integrate one’s self and consciousness. This spontaneously results in highly evolved practices in how to manage and lead better in organizational perspective and context.

Prayers, in their purest form, essentially teach and train us into how to transmute our separative sense of I, Me and Mine or We, Us and Ours into that dimension of being-knowing-doing in a self-effacing state of love and compassion where we feel integrally one with (all in) the Supreme.

It’s the interaction and interplay of the “I, Me and Mine” and the “We, Us and Ours” that is at the base of all individual and organizational sense of connectedness as well as conflicts.

The “Prayers and Meditations” of the Mother written by her as part of her own early spiritual practice and published under the same title (also available online) are widely popular. They reveal an unmatched urgency, immediacy and integrity of purpose at connecting and integrating the self with the Supreme. These prayers and meditations now serve as a unique compendium for how to meditate, pray and practice to be truly spiritual and let this deep sense of spirituality pervade and connect all our life and actions into a single thread of divinity so that all life can grow into peace and harmony, love and compassion.

Her prayers show us how to rise from a separative sense of ego embedded in a material body and placed in a set of relationships and circumstances and connect with the all pervading divine consciousness. They show us the way out from a sense of confinement in narrowness, negativities and resulting depression to emerge in higher and vaster spaces of consciousness which illuminate and enlighten our whole being and are home to pure love, light, knowledge and wisdom.

This deeper sense of connectedness with the Supreme Divinity in which all are essentially connected rises up rhythmically from the depths of her heart in her early prayers:

“O Sublime Master, who art the life, the light and the love in all things…” 

“… O Supreme Master who shinest in my being and each thing…” 

“… Divine Master who are the source of our light and of our living, our guide and our protector, the Soul of our soul and the Life of our life, the Reason of our being, the supreme Knowledge, the immutable Peace!” 

Little do we realize as we pray for petty things that prayers carry in them a whole science of synthesis which we so urgently need to collect and concentrate our scattered lives and energies, individual and collective, for the good of all life on our globe as a whole:

“Thou art the one and only goal of my life and the centre of my aspiration, the pivot of my thought, the key of the synthesis of my being.” 

As we thus set out to synthesize our split sense of being and consciousness we are able to empathize with the imperfections in ourselves and in those around us and are able to manage and lead better in the light of love and compassion:

“…to set right the error in me and around me,…. two things that are one; for I have now a constant and precise perception of the universal unity determining an absolute interdependence of all actions.” 

When we point fingers at each other for errors it leads to controversies and conflicts. When we rationalize our positions despite errors involved it leads to debates. When we empathize with ourselves and others for errors it gives rise to positive dialogues. But when we are able to discern and identify the root cause of errors beyond egoistic frames where they take on concrete images and features of their own we are able to work out their real nature and rise as a whole beyond them. The Mother in her prayers and meditations helps us look deep within ourselves to enable us to identify and uproot the actual cause of errors in the course of our individual and collective progress. This is a great lesson in how to manage and lead better.

But such an all inclusive and all compassionate vision for leadership may arise only when one sets out to synthesize one’s own self and consciousness. How can one manage and lead well if there are discordant notes within oneself? Can we have truly transforming practices in management and leadership if our managers and leaders don’t learn how to elevate and integrate their own consciousness in the light of their higher self?

Prayers unite and synthesize the scattered threads of our self and consciousness and engineer it into a fine-tuned instrument to play a larger role to the best of our potential for a larger good.

Prayers help us realize and connect with the essential divinity that forms the core of our pure being and also help us realize and connect with how this essential divinity manifests in our outer material life:

“It is Thou that makest the experience fertile, Thou who renderest life progressive, Thou who compellest the darkness to vanish in an instant before the Light, Thou who givest to Love all its power, Thou who everywhere raisest up matter in this ardent and wonderful aspiration, in this sublime thirst for Eternity.” 

More important than the urge to perform the right action and to do the right thing is ‘the calm of deep waters’ in which we perform that can turn our actions into a true service to the cause which we set out to serve:

“To torment oneself about doing the right thing causes as much harm as a bad will. Only in a calm as of deep waters can be found the possibility of True Service.” 

Not only the inner peace from where our actions and performance flow matters but also the harmony for which we aspire to reign in and around ourselves:

“O SWEET harmony that dwellest in all things, sweet harmony that fillest my heart, manifest thyself in the most external forms of life, in every feeling, every thought, every action.” 

All our efforts at peace and harmony prove impotent if the call and action for peace and harmony rise from a deep impatience and perturbation in our own consciousness. It’s like treating a patient for an ailment injecting the same infection that’s the cause of the ailment.

Prayers grow in intensity and gain power in moments of intense humility: 

“I am a veritable zero in the world.” 

“From the depths to the outermost surface, all this, my being, is only a handful of dust; it is but natural that it should be scattered on the winds and leave no trace behind…” 

As prayers have the power to connect us with,

“…(the) Supreme Dispenser of all boons, Master of our destinies and goal of all our aspirations….” 

the Mother would have the power of the prayers redirected to the ultimate good of the earth and all life upon it:

“O Lord, inconceivable Splendour, may Thy Beauty spread through all the earth, may Thy Love be kindled in every heart and Thy Peace reign over all.” 

Thus prayers at their purest heights must be set free of all the preoccupations with the self of the selfish entity which sets out to pray for its own self-centered concerns. Isn’t it that source of love, life and light that enlivens all and infuses value in everything that matters in the ultimate run and to which a complete sense of surrender should grow within, without which prayers never rise with ultimate intensity and power?

“It is Thou who livest in me, Thou alone; and why should I be preoccupied with myself and what might happen to me? 

” Without Thee the dust constituting this body that strives to manifest Thee, would disperse amorphous and inconscient;

“without Thee this sensibility which makes possible a relation with all other centers of manifestation, would vanish into a dark inertia;

” without Thee this thought that animates and illumines the whole being, would be vague, vacant, unrealized;

“without Thee the sublime love which vivifies, coordinates, animates and gives warmth to all things would be a yet unawakened possibility.

” Without Thee all is inert, brute or inconscient.

“Thou art all that illumines and enraptures us, the whole reason of our existence and all our goal.” 

Thus performed properly prayers have the power to transform us into pure divine stuff and make us feel and be one with the Supreme. In pragmatic course of leadership and management we might miss the profound values of great import that the Mother’s prayers implicitly teach and inculcate in us. The selflessness and humility they build up in our basic nature and temperament have been recognized as great virtues for leadership. They not only promote tolerance for different perspectives but are a must for the intercultural settings in which global leadership operates today. It is only in such an all inclusive and all compassionate consciousness perspective that we can best address our global concerns and conflicts and harmonize the conflicting perspectives, viewpoints and energies into a larger global good.

If all our individual and organizational pursuits could find motivation from a similar prayerful state of mind and consciousness that finds depiction in the following words of the Mother, most of our crises and conflicts would be rendered rootless:

“Remove from us all egoism, root out all petty vanity, greed and obscurity. May we be all ablaze with Thy divine Love; make us Thy torches in the world.” 

Clearly prayers can deeply inculcate empathy and compassion in us. Divine Love is like a profound ocean. Good will, empathy and compassion are the positive forces that lead our stream of consciousness to it. Studies in neuroscience are already recognizing the indispensable value of empathy and compassion in our management and leadership practices. As we grow and learn to pray the way the Mother does, it’s sure to create pathways for love and compassion in our inner and outer lives and greatly enrich the way we manage and lead.

Prayers are like divine ragas which rise up most rhythmically and powerfully when the instrumentation of our self and consciousness is perfectly tuned with its divine origination. Best done in a state of pure surrender and selflessness as the Mother shows us. It’s only then that our energies may join together in fine orchestration to a higher goal.

This is just a humble preamble to the supreme power of prayers that unfolds in the Prayers and Meditations of the Mother who aspires for nothing less than the Life Divine upon the earth and is its Coarchitect with Sri Aurobindo.

(21st February 2018 is the Mother’s 140th birth anniversary.)

Dr. Surendra Soni

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