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The God Element in Administration
by Swami Krishnananda

(Spoken at a Divine Life Conference on September 23, 1991.)

This is a conference where different issues relevant to human life in general are supposed to be discussed for the information and edification of everyone. One of the themes suggested for such a consideration at present is whether there is any spiritual basis behind what we may regard as principles of management and administration. But whoever has heard of such a thing? We always regard spirituality as entirely transcendent to the needs of the workaday world and the requirements of society, whatever be the way one may conduct oneself.

This word ‘administration', a subject which is a little bit strange for discussion in this audience, is not really so strange when you go deep into the core of it. There is management and administration everywhere, right from the lowest unit of a family. The family is administered by an organisational power, and there are higher and higher organisational circles like the community, the province or state, the country or nation, or a world organisation. These are all concentric circles, widening as they go further and further into a comprehension of values that enlarge themselves in various ways, telling us that wherever there is an organisation there is a management, and also there is an administration.

I need not tell you that even this physical body is an organisation by itself, and it has to be administered. It has to be managed. Actually, all the other kinds of administration, from the family onwards, are determined and conditioned by the requirements of the mind and the body of human beings. Every individual is a psyche and a body or, we may say, a complex of psyche and body. A psychophysical individuality is a human being. The taking care of this unit of human individuality is the main purpose of life itself. It has to be taken care of ably so that it may survive, first of all, and it may progress further onwards towards its expected destination.

Now let me take an example of the management of a family. There is a father, a mother, and there are members of a family. You know very well that a family has to be organised. It has to be administered. Who will administer it? Generally, this work is assigned to someone who is regarded as the head of the family. It may be the parent, a father, or someone competent. It so happens that this particular individual chosen as the head of this organisation is as much an individual as any other individual. There is no gigantic expansion of the physical personality of the leader merely because that person is the head of an organisation. The height, the width and the structure of the human personality of the leader or the head is exactly like the structure of the individuality or the personality of other people who are expected to be administered. If that is the case, what authority does this head have over the other people to whom he may dictate his terms – the members of the family, the community, or whatever it is? He has something which he might not himself be aware of, or there is something of which he is expected to be aware of.

The head who administers – he may be any kind of head, right from the family up to the nation's supreme authority – is an individual, for all practical purposes, for the eyes to see. He is a man or a woman; he is a person, and in that capacity he has no authority over anybody. One person cannot control another person, inasmuch as each person is a person. Yet, there is something behind this apparent difficulty in understanding what management means. The individual who is the head of an organisation ceases to be an individual for the time being at the time of the administrative function that he performs. When ceasing to be an individual, what does that person become at that moment? He ceases to be an individual, and becomes something other than an individual for the time being. Anything that is other than the individual may be called super-individual.

A super-individual atmosphere is created around the otherwise-physical individuality of the head of the organisation. The power exercised or expected to be exercised over the organisational unit by the head is not a physical power; it is not the strength of hands and feet. It is a force that is generated by the person concerned, the head so called, by surrendering his or her physical or individual status and developing, manifesting from oneself a force which is neither physical nor just social.

That force which I called super-individual is also super-physical. It is super-economic. It is super-political. It is not someone exercising authority over another individual; it is something other than the individual permeating through the structure and the very texture of the organisational setup. What that force is, you can very well imagine in your own selves.

What authority has an officer got over his subordinates when he himself is like any other person whom he considers as a subordinate? The authority, again to repeat, is not a physical interference of himself in the affairs of other people. It is an exercise of a power which is immanent in that head, which he manifests in a very, very systematised, organised and logical manner so that his or her presence is felt in the very existence of the components of the organisation. Every member of the family will feel the presence of that head in himself or herself. Not that he has physically entered into their body, but he has permeated through the composition of the organisation by another power altogether, which you cannot easily describe in ordinary language and which you cannot see with your eyes. But such a power does exist; otherwise, there is no such thing as administration. Each one will say, “I will mind my business. You go to hell.”

Those people who are acquainted with the study of what is known as political science may also be aware of a system of thinking called the contract theory of management. There are thinkers who believe that originally mankind was in a state of nature. It was the law of the jungle, or the law of the fish, the larger fish swallowing the smaller, the stronger pouncing upon the weaker. “Every person was like a wolf,” said Thomas Hobbes. He wrote a famous political science book called Leviathan. Can you believe that you are a wolf? You can touch your heart, your own feelings, in your deepest recesses, and tell me if there is an element of the wolf in you. There may be or may not be.

For practical purposes, we may say fifty percent of the human individuality or personality is divine and God oriented, but there is another fifty percent which is the opposite of what God is. This opposite aspect which is non-God in the human individual may look like a material, chemical, stone-like inanimate something. It may look like a vegetable or a plant or a creeper. It may look like a fish, a frog, a snake, a scorpion, a tiger, an elephant, a lion. It can be even a cannibal. All these elements are included in that aspect of human personality which is other than God. Now, do you believe these other aspects also are present in us? You will be horrified that yourself or myself or any human being is not so simple an indivisibility, an indivisible composition, as it appears on the surface. We are a mixture of multiple elements which go to make up this heap called the physical personality.

Now, it was said that people were in a state of nature and nobody could have any say over another person. I have my physical strength. Might is right. It is not the might of law, righteousness, virtue and ethics, but the might of physical strength. The elephant has greater strength than a mouse. This state of affairs prevailed, they say, once upon a time, at least according to Thomas Hobbes. Is it an appropriate state of affairs? They go on fearing everybody, and one day they will be annihilated by the power or the physical strength of the group, that they may manage to pounce upon him.

They say one day these wolves, the wolf-like human beings – that is, people who are capable of behaving like wolves with others – thought about this matter and said, “This is not a very happy state of affairs. How can everybody live like a wolf, fiercely looking at others? We shall have a system of coming together, meeting together, and arrange a pattern of existence so that we may not have fear among ourselves.” So the wolves joined together and told one wolf, “Please lead us. Whatever you say, we will obey. Otherwise, we will quarrel among ourselves every day. We will tear ourselves apart with our claws. You are our leader. You are our president. You are our king. You are our emperor. You are all things. Your order is final. You can reward us, you can punish us, you can order us.” That wolf said, “How can I control you, sir? You are hundreds, and I am one. You may not listen to what I say.” Then they said, “We will give you a group of wolves to guard you from any kind of interference with your ability to manage. This group you may call the military, the police, or any kind of appurtenance that is provided to you to guard you from being interfered with in the performance of your functions and from any kind of threat from outside.” This is basically the doctrine of the origin of political administration according to the system known as the contract theory. It may be so. Things might have happened in this manner once upon a time, historically speaking.

Now we are on the verge of considering what is the spirituality behind all these things. The question is: Why did the desire arise among these wolves to organise themselves into a pattern of cooperative existence? The answer is that they would have perished by mutual quarrelling and wrangling. Let them perish. Who is the loser? If a person dies, can you say that person has lost something? A person has been annihilated. Now, has the annihilated person lost something? That which is annihilated does not exist at all, so that which does not exist cannot lose anything. Therefore, the fear of annihilation also is something which requires deep consideration. Why are you afraid of annihilation? You know very well that when you are annihilated there is nothing to bother about, so why are you afraid of annihilation?

Now, the desire to survive goes with the fear of annihilation. Somehow or the other we have to survive. All work, all activity, all projects, everything in the world is finally capable of being boiled down to the desire to survive. We do not want to be annihilated; we must exist. But why should we exist? Here is a question which you cannot easily answer. If you do not exist, if nobody exists, who is going to be the loser? There cannot be a loser, because the loser has gone away. When the loser has perished and he is annihilated, why are you afraid of losing? Do you not think that there is a contradiction in your way of thinking, that you do not want to be annihilated and yet there is no harm in being annihilated? Here comes before us the gateway to the consideration of whether there is any kind of super-physical element operating in us.

I mentioned the name of Thomas Hobbes, who was an empiricist to the core, and told you that the origin of administration is purely a contract among people. But there was another man, who thought in a different way. He was Georg Hegel, a German thinker, whose thought was quite different. Political administration does not arise on account of the desire to merely survive in a social way. It is not a wolf thinking about another wolf. There is a rationality behind the desire to survive. It is not just a foolhardy thinking to live for no reason whatsoever. You are not wanting to live in the world for nothing. There is something. There is a supreme reason operating behind your desire not to get annihilated and your desire to survive for all time.

Do you wish to live for a long time? Yes. Why do you wish to live for a long time? Can you answer this question? You always complain: “The world is very bad. Life is wretched. It is better that we quit this place as early as possible.” Yet, nobody would like to quit. There is a desire to continue. This contradiction, again, is something that is to be explained. Why do you say that things are bad, and yet you want to live in this world which is so bad? The desire to continue your existence in this otherwise so-called bad world is the supernatural element working in you. The complaint comes not from that super-physical element, but from a lower nature which is involved in the brittle structure of social existence.

So the other way of thinking about the reason behind the necessity for administration is that there is a universal reason operating everywhere. Rationality is the law of the cosmos, not irrationality, not chaos or confusion. Actually, from this higher way of thinking you will realise that chaos does not exist. Even if an eclipse takes place among the movement of the planets, which is supposed to be an erratic movement, it is not an erratic movement. If it is totally erratic, it could not have been predicted a hundred years before its occurrence. Mathematically precise calculations are made to predict an eclipse that will take place a hundred years afterwards. How can we call it erratic? It is very precise. Even the so-called confusions of the world are only outer manifestations of an internal order.

Even the wolfish or cannibalistic behaviour of a man is a temporary manifestation of one aspect of the personality by laying excessive emphasis on that aspect only and ignoring the other aspects. These other aspects, which I called transcendent, God oriented, are fifty percent, as I said. Sometimes it is not fifty percent; it may be less, or more. If it is more than fifty percent, you are really a Godman. If it is less than fifty percent, you are a seeker, a good soul.

The rationality I mentioned behind the power of administration is that the head of the organisation, whether he is a king, a president, an officer, a governor, a minister, or whatever he is, he ceases to be a physical individual at that time. The officer permeates, enters into the heart, the very soul, the feelings, the needs, the worries, the problems and the requirements of every subordinate, so-called. The president of the country is in the heart of every citizen, although he is sitting in some other distant geographical location. How does he enter? By the permeation of his wider spirit, which exceeds the limitations of his physical individuality. That is the divinity operating. If this divinity, this super-physical super-individualistic power, were not to be present in the individual, no individual could manage any other person. There would be no such thing as an organisation. No nation, no country will exist; nothing will be there. There will be complete collapse of the universal structure.

It is important to remember that this element of the super-physical in the human individual is present in everyone who is capable of administering. I repeat once again for your edification: That head – the father, the mother, the president, the organisational chief – is no more a human being at that time. He is a superhuman, self-sacrificing, other than the natural, super-individual, permeating wider existence, which can be designated only as a modicum of the manifestation of the universal power with which God operates in this world.

So there is a God element in administration also, whether it is military operation, social organisation, office work, family duty, or management of an ashram. Without this God element, life is impossible; and your desire to survive also is nothing but a desire to survive for the purpose of widening your existence, the dimension of your being, until you are able to expand the dimension to such an extent that you engulf the entire space-time complex. The whole universe becomes yours. Tasya lokaḥ sa u loka eva (B.U. 4.4.13) says the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. To such a person the world is himself or herself, and he himself or herself is the universe. It is difficult to think in this manner. Hard is this work. The mind will not permit us to think along these lines because we are flesh-ridden, bone-ridden, skin-ridden, money-ridden, and individuality-ridden. We cannot escape the involvement of our personality in this peculiar physical-social complex. But if you are to be a leader, or even a good man, you have to exceed the personality of your physical location.

In this you have to undergo a process of self-sacrifice. The sacrifice that is incumbent upon the leader of people is nothing but the surrender of his personality, the egoism. For the sake of the other people, he ceases to be. He becomes the other. “God became the other,” says the Purusha Sukta of the Veda, in the manifestation that we call this universe. That God element which has become the other in the form of this universe is also, in a lesser degree, present as the manifestation of otherness in the otherwise individuality of a leader.

I have no time to speak to you much more on this subject. It is a very vast theme, and other people are there who will bless you with their messages. I only tell you in a brief sentence that the power of administration is the power of God operating in some degree in that individual who seems to be one among you, but is something more than you.