SPIRITUALIZING BUSINESS— HENRY FORD'S FIVE DAY WORKING WEEK—By Swami Yogananda
The word holiday sprang from holy day. The holy day should be a day for introspective thinking and for developing the sacred soul qualities of man. Jesus advised the world to keep Sunday for basking in the sunlight of wisdom. The Hindus also reserve several days in the year for sacred spiritual purposes. Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas correspond to many of the sacred days of the Hindus. The Durga Puga festival is as universally observed in India among the Hindus as is Christmas in the West.
Man is a spiritual and a material being. He ought to develop himself spiritually by inner discipline but he must be materially efficient by developing his business faculties. Primitive man was busy using all his mental faculties for satisfying the needs of the material life. His time was spent in hunting, eating and sleeping. Modern man scientifically tries to meet the present material conditions of life. What primitive man did unmethodically, modern man does methodically, and this method in his efforts for material success has indirectly improved his inner faculties.
The master minds of India believe in directly developing the inner faculties (1) of will power to fight temptation, (2) of feeling for serving fellow beings.
But if money-making for securing the material comforts of man is necessary, then making happiness is supremely necessary. For possession of material riches without inner peace is just like dying of thirst while bathing in a lake.
People crave different things ...as money, fame or spirituality, as a result of early habits and specific environmental influences. That is why the people in the East and the West lead a one-sided life. The East is more spiritually inclined and the West is more materially inclined.
Men cannot live happily by only spiritual doctrines or material riches. To bring a balance into the lives of the men of the East and the West, the method of developing an equilibrated life must be adopted.
People in general spend six days of the week in making money and even Sundays thinking about it, but they hardly give any time for self-development. One reason why there is so much crime, so many murders and robberies, in spite of the developed civilization of the West, is because people are too busy securing the commodities of material comfort, and have no time to think of the practical values of following moral and spiritual principles.
If material poverty is to be avoided, spiritual mental poverty is to be abhorred, for the latter is the cause of all human suffering. A practical spiritual man is the happy man, and only the happy man is the successful man. One hundred per cent material prosperity among the inhabitants of a city will not prevent murders and crime. Following the universal principle of mutual service, spontaneous cooperation, love for the spiritual life and disciplining the human sense-cravings are extremely necessary for the harmonious, happy, healthy, prosperous life of a city.
Official records annually show that almost one billion dollars are stolen by young men and woman ranging from the age of fifteen to thirty. We have the New York newspapers' report that 400,000 more meals this year were served in the jails than last year. Why is all this? Because man's attention is not yet fixed on the vital problem of "The Art of Living." Why not use the money used for erecting and keeping up jails to create How-to-live schools which will prevent children from becoming criminals? Criminal offenders grown worse in jails are let loose in healthy society for further spread of this bacteria of crime.
Most people will say, "Oh, I am too busy with my business to think about 'The Art of Living.' Oh, we all know about that. Some day we will come to it but all we want now is money."
But let us consider what purpose money would serve if one succeeds in making millions after a complete nervous break-down and utter loss of poise and happiness.
Since God has given us hunger and since we have a physical body to look after, we must have money and earn it honestly and scientifically by serving the right needs of our fellow beings. Business life need not be a material life. Business ambition can be spiritualized. Business is nothing but serving others materially in the best possible way. People label those stores that start out with only the idea of making money, commercial and money-making dens. But those stores which first concentrate wholly on serving customers with the best articles at a minimum cost, are the ones that will always succeed and will also advance the moral development of the world.
I never forget the remark of a fine salesman in a large shop, where I was selecting an overcoat for myself. "Sir, I am not trying to sell you something, I am trying to find out exactly what you need." He knew I could buy a two hundred dollar overcoat, but he sold me a sixty dollar one which exactly suited me in every way. Besides I was pleased to get what I needed at a reasonable price. He certainly secured in me a permanent customer for his company. If he had sold me the costly overcoat, I would never have gone back there again.
Hence people should spiritualize their business ambition by starting out with the idea of serving the proper needs of their fellow beings. Man should make money not only by serving and getting something in return, but also for the sake of using money for creating philanthropic institutions which serve public needs. When one makes a great deal of money by making others prosperous and again uses that wealth for helping others to help themselves, that is spiritualizing ambition. Wealthy parents, who leave too much money for their children, have choked the development of self-created, self-earned ...evolution, success and happiness.
That is why I agree with Mr. Henry Ford in helping people to help themselves and not in humiliating slave-breeding charity. Hence it is only by having ambition and crowning that with the idea of service ...that all materially ambitious people will find a spiritual reason for making money. Besides the brainy man must have ambition or he does injustice to himself by crippling his faculties. By injuring himself, he sets a bad example and thus hinders the progress of humanity.
The one reason why all Oriental peoples have been more spiritually inclined is because they took life more easily, refused to convert themselves into business automatons, and had more time for contemplation. Of course, many Orientals used their leisure for feeding lazy habits instead of spiritual realization, but as a rule, the Oriental people have an awakened spiritual perception.
Our Western brothers have used all their time in developing only the material and intellectual factors of life. They are too busy to enjoy the fruits even of their material labor, or to know much of peace, relaxation, and bliss. Many Western brothers are enslaved by their less important engagements and forget their highest engagement with the blissful Ideal-life of God-contact.
So the Western brothers must make time; though their struggle for a livelihood is greater, due to their more wintry climate, still, by their extensive use of machinery, they have an advantage over their Eastern brethren, and can thus save time by using it less in dancing and amusements, and more in the deeper studies of life. Business activities, money, these are for the comfort of man, but blind greed for them must not rob him of his happiness.
Six full days and nights of machine-like existence, and part of one day only for spiritual culture, are not balanced. The week should be allotted to work, amusement and spiritual culture—five days for money making, one day for rest and amusement, and one day for introspection and inner realization. In America, life is altogether too fast; in the Orient, it is altogether too slow. A balance has to be struck. Man must have some free time to find himself. One day a week—Sunday—is not enough, because it is his only holiday and he wants it for rest and is too tired to meditate.
Under a five day working week, as proposed by Henry Ford, people could use Friday night, Saturday and Sunday for getting away from the noisy city environment and thus increase their longevity. The Chicago Chief of Police says that man's longevity could be increased by eleven years if the city noises were cut out and man's nervous system calmed down thereby. Almost every family in America nowadays can afford an automobile of some kind, and with it, they can get out of the cities on week-ends and refresh themselves in the peaceful retreats of nature, living the double life of a hermit in the woods, and a warrior in the field of worldly activity.
Since ultimate wisdom, i.e., knowing everything that can be known by the maximum use of the human reason, is the human goal, then why not learn the art of living rightly?
We must begin with the children as well as with the adults. The plastic mind of the child can be moulded into any shape with the cooperation of self-disciplined, reformed adults. Desired habits can easily be created in children because the will to perform is mostly free except for a few innate tendencies. Adults have to battle and expel old habits in order to lodge good ones. But all habits, whether in children or adults, must be cultivated through the medium of spontaneous willingness. In training children in a balanced life or in habits of paying equal attention to the earning of money and to the acquisition of spiritual happiness, the time and method of training has to be considered.
People lose their balance and suffer from money madness and business madness only because they never had the opportunity of culturing habits of a balanced life. It is not our passing thoughts or brilliant ideas, but our everyday plain habits which control our lives. There are some very busy business men who make millions without being irregular or nervous, and there are other business men who become so engrossed in making money that they cannot think of anything else and do not wake up until something terrible happens to them as sickness or loss of all happiness.
Many psychologists say that the later periods of life are but the repetitions of the training which one receives between the ages of two to ten or fifteen.
Spiritual sermons inspire the minds of children to better action but that is all. Actual practical discipline for roasting the seeds of pre-natal habits lodged in the sub-conscious and super-conscious minds is necessary. This can only be done by scrubbing the brain cells of seed habits with the electricity of concentration thrown within. Children ought to be brought up with a spiritual ambition to make money only for the sake of service. Modern children are mostly brought up in a wrong atmosphere where money-making is the goal, so they try to get rich quick, often by the hold-up method. If making money anyway is the goal, then why shouldn't hold-up methods prevail?
But it lies in the hands of the modern adults to uplift the future children and bring them into a balanced life. As long as the adults will remain intoxicated with a one-sided material life, so long will the children's hopes remain unfulfilled.
Thus in order to save the future world by saving the children, the modern adult must wake up, and cultivate balanced habits of material and spiritual life.
Most heads of concerns work five days a week from nine in the morning to three in the afternoon and generally take Saturdays and Sundays off. They have some poise, more home life, but they spend most of their time in playing golf and too much dancing, instead of giving some time to spiritual culture.
In order to lead a balanced life, adults must educate themselves and realize that business ambitions are only for making themselves and others happy. Without this realization, strenuous business activity only produces nervousness, greed for money, lack of social qualities, miserliness and disrespect for all good principles; only with this realization of service for others can life be really happy.
Thus I think Mr. Henry Ford has inaugurated a new era in spiritualizing business life by proposing a five day week. Jesus asked people to have Sundays for the Son or Wisdom's Day for culturing Knowledge, but people are so busy all week that they want Sundays for relaxation and amusement instead of giving it to God or introspection. The clergymen and priests, who are opposed to having movies and diversions on Sundays, ought to sympathize and cooperate with Henry Ford's plan of working for only five days a week, because the hard-working man could utilize all Saturday for relaxation, gardening and amusement, and use Sunday wholly and solely for church or temple or mosque work or self-discipline through the technique of concentration and meditation.
I know many prominent, intelligent business men ...who in their heart of hearts are discontented with everything and are craving for God and Wisdom, but they are helplessly carried away by their habits and too many engagements. They sacrifice their highest engagement with God, Truth, higher studies and more home life, for money making or some useless engagement.
So it is extremely necessary that the five work day a week plan of Henry Ford be carried out by all business concerns. Truth-loving real world patriots should cooperate for giving working people Saturday, a day for amusement and relaxation, and Sunday, an exclusive day for culturing habits of meditation and contacting good men, good principles and the highest good, the God-Bliss within.
As the art of war needs certain training, so does our battle with active life need certain training. Untrained warriors are soon killed on the battlefield; so also men untrained in the art of preserving their poise and peace are quickly riddled by the bullets of worry and restlessness in active life.
The five day working week plan is extremely desirable and necessary in order to give people more time to enjoy nature, simplify their lives and their imaginary necessities, enjoy the true needs of their existence, get to know their children and friends better, and best of all, get to know THEMSELVES.
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