Life is an indivisible whole

Way back in 1996, I wrote an article for an inhouse quality journal at my previous organization.

When we talk of Quality, it need not refer only to the quality of
programs, design or testing; we need to take it on a broader perspective. My
personal viewpoint is that quality on the job stems from the quality of results
we get from other roles of our life. One can never produce quality results in
one area without producing the same in other areas of life. Whereas if the
quality of results suffers in one role of your life, it could have a direct bearing
on the quality of the results being produced in other areas.

This viewpoint has been influenced by what Gandhi once said: “A person cannot do right in one department
of life whilst attempting to do wrong in another department. Life is one
indivisible whole” (Eknath Easwaran, Gandhi The Man).

Stephen Covey puts it in very nicely while talking about the balance
of roles in life. He says “…. we are programmed from an early age to
see them (different roles) as separate compartments of life. We see our role at
work as completely separate from our role at home, and neither having much to
do with other roles such as personal development or community service. As a
result we think either/or – we can focus on either one role or another.

This compartmentalisation
translates into our character. What we are at work is somehow separate from
what we are at home. What we do in our private life is detached from what we do
in our public life. This compartmentalization is based on illusion, and to try
to live the illusion is highly strenuous. In reality these roles are a part of
a highly interrelated whole, a living eco-system in which each part impacts
every other part.

Quoting a Sufi
teaching, “You
think because you understand one you must understand two because
one and one makes two. But you must also understand and.”
 he goes on to say, “When we begin applying this
paradigm on a personal basis, we see that balance in our lives isn’t a running
between compartments, its a dynamic equilibrium. It’s all parts working synergistically
in a highly interrelated whole. Balance isn’t “either/or” it’s “and”
(Stephen Covey in First Things First)

It has been a struggle for me to integrate what I wrote above and weave it into my life. There are compartmentalization in my life which I haven’t been able to overcome and it is a constant struggle. And from what I see it has been a losing battle. There are aspects of one’s work life that one wants to leave them when one steps out of the workplace and forget about it (And this is not a criticism of my workplace) It is a fact that a bad day at work affects my home life as much as a fight at home affecting my performance at work.  Ramnath writing in today’s  DeccanHerald  says that one’s inner journey (deep purpose, fullfilment and service) is sacrificed at the altar of outer journey (wealth, power and fame) due to one’s refusal to acknowledge the interrelationship and interdependency of one’s different roles in life.

I am begining to come to the conclusion that the compartments are best left at that – I cannot see how one can try to bridge this gap without creating more turbulence in life. There are no easy answers to this paradox of living life as a complete whole. Ramnath’s article reproduced below:

In my fifteen years of dealing with practising managers, it was
startling to discover a disconcerting insight. Few managers stay with
problems, churn over them and have the patience to obtain the necessary
When they do, it is inevitably problem-centred. They often forget
in the process that the problem is itself located in a larger context
and it is important that they invest time understanding that context.
This context involves a dimension of the self, the firm and the
environment. In the real world, they are actually inseparable.
Instead, I discovered that few managers think, introspect and
contemplate. By this I mean that a disturbingly large number of them
use the lament of lack of time as an excuse not to think, introspect
and contemplate! As a result, managers draw up silos that encourage
them to divide their homes, the workplace, their individual spaces and
their public interfaces into watertight compartments. In reality, these
compartments are artificial because they are intimately and deeply
related to one another.
But most managers refuse to acknowledge the inter-relationship.
This is because the manager’s inner journey (deep purpose, fulfilment
and service) is usually sacrificed at the altar of the external journey
(wealth, power and fame).
Spirituality helps managers make those connections by sensitising
them to the interconnectedness of the universe we live in. It triggers
a larger canvas of thinking, engagement and purposive action. In the
Indian managerial context, I have often wondered how managers can be
introduced to this larger battlefield by opening up learning spaces
instead of closing them, creating a community of truth and embedding
fidelity to that journey. This is no easy task as a hundred titles come
to mind! Also, spiritual maturity varies.
Three spiritual classics perhaps make a good beginning. They are
recommended for anybody interested in an understanding of the nature of
the spiritual quest. The first is A Search in Secret India by Paul
. Written by an Oxford journalist who came to India in search of
enlightenment in the twenties, it is a brilliant account of his
experiences with Sri Ramana Maharishi. The second is the biography of
Mata Amritanandamayi by Swami Amritasvarupananda. It will reduce the
hardest heart to tears. Finally, Swami Yogananda Paramahamsa’s
Autobiography of a Yogi’ and the story of his initiation by his Guru,
Sri Yukteshwar. These volumes address not the head (intellect) but the
heart (the seat of real knowledge). To the genuine seeker, they will
come as a revelatory experience if they are approached with humility,
reverence and a thirst to learn. In my limited experience, there are
only two pre-requisites in the spiritual journey: a hunger to
experience truth and an earnestness of intention, faith and surrender.


One thought on “Life is an indivisible whole

  1. Wonderful post, Raj! The part about sacrificing the inward journey at the altar of the outward journey has captured my mind like a magnet attracts iron…

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