Discovering the Infinite in the Finite

All this is Brahman, according to the Upanishads. Spiritually, the whole world is a manifestation of Infinite potential in finite form and finite force. Socially, all growth and development represents the progressive emergence in finite form of some of the social potential which is for all practical purposes infinite. The development of prosperous societies such as USA, Germany and Japan over the past century, the growth of huge companies such as Federal Express, Microsoft, Infosys and Reliance over the past two decades, the emergence of towering leaders such as Napoleon, Gandhi, and Churchill, all are expressions of this phenomenon. The sudden and explosive growth of the Internet and World Wide Web, the 1000-fold expansion of the Indian software industry within 20 years, and the recent proliferation of cell phones are all expressions of this truth. The emergence of the concealed infinite potential occurs according to a process that Sri Aurobindo explains in The Life Divine, a process that can be learned and consciously applied to achieve remarkable results in business or any other field.

Minimum-effort option

Another option for exponential growth with minimum effort is the model which Jimmy Wales has used repeatedly throughout his career: the wiki-scam. Here, one rides along as others invent new paradigms and products, then as they become successful, you deny that they had anything to do with the advancement of the concept, and you claim all of the glory for yourself alone. Then, you sit back and allow the exponential contributions of others to build your legacy, all the while, you claim that it has been all your own doing. When questioned on the snake-oil characteristics of your ventures, simply deny, deny, deny. Also, belittle your critics by saying they are "so far from reality it's hard to know where to even begin with a rebuttal". This requires conscious application and dedication in the complete absence of a soul.

Release the infinite

The purpose here is to present a strategy to release the infinite in the finite context of a business. Because of this truth no situation can ever be hopeless, since the a universal potential is there concealed behind the finite limitations. Because of this truth, every moment has the potential of revealing an unexpected marvel, since the Infinite is there behind the finite appearance of Time. What matters is not the relative size and strength of the finite company one starts with or the limitations to which it is subject. What matters is the faithfulness and intensity with which one applies the strategy. For once the Infinite is invoked, no matter how small the starting point or how meager the resources, they can be multiplied infinitely.

If one reflects back on the most important decisions or events in his life, he will discover that very often a huge outcome seemed to be determined by a tiny incident or apparently insignificant fact. When a newspaper hawker delivered the wrong newspaper to an industrialist’s house, the industrialist read an article on spirituality that changed the course of his life and enabled his business to expand more than 10-fold within a year. A book falling off the shelf, a chance encounter with an old acquaintance, a traffic jam that makes one late for an important meeting, intense pressure from a creditor, and countless similar events can change one’s life dramatically. These are all expressions of the spiritual fact that the Infinite dwells behind the infinitesimal.

Sri Aurobindo explains that the individual is a manifestation and representative of the Divine Consciousness cut off from its source because the human consciousness lives on the surface of his being, insisting on the understanding of his mind and the aggrandizement of his ego. The solution is to withdraw the constraints imposed by the human mind and ego, so that the Infinite Consciousness, which is its true source, can shine through and express itself. When the individual strives to fully utilize the capacities of his energy and consciousness positively in work, at the point he exhausts himself the hidden divine potentials of his being come to the surface and begin to act. Since we are in fact infinite, when we exhaust the apparently limited potentials of our surface being and constraining external situation, that concealed infinite potential emerges on the surface as exponential growth. Simply stated, where man exhausts, the Infinite takes over.

The central principle of this approach is maximum utilization of energy and consciousness. Maximum utilization of energies is achieved by making an exhaustive effort in one’s work. When energy is fully utilized it gets organized and upgraded to become skill. Fully utilizing one’s consciousness is achieved by striving for perfect perfection in the work by elevating work performance on a range of qualitative values. Perfection in values elevates work to a higher level, from the physical to the mental level or from the mental to the spiritual level and invokes the higher power to express in our work. Perfection of values is possible only when one raises the level of spiritual equality (non-reaction), which expresses in life as endless patience. One must be able to aspire intensely to achieve perfection the next moment, yet exhibit endless patience to work for it without agitation no matter how long it takes to achieve.

Values exist in grades ranging from the physical to the spiritual. Cleanliness, orderliness, speed, punctuality, productivity, maximum utilization of materials and space are physical values. Communication, coordination, teamwork, systematic functioning and responsive service are organizational values. Clarity, accuracy, creativity, honesty, self-reliance, and respect for others are mental or psychological values. Truthfulness, freedom, harmony equality and silence are pure spiritual values.

Raising performance on even one of these values to perfection is extremely demanding and evokes powerful responses from life. Perfect cleanliness attracts money from unexpected sources. Enhancing organizational values enables work to multiply rapidly to many times its original size. Perfect accuracy and quality can lead to exponential expansion. Harmony attracts huge opportunities 100 times greater in magnitude than the present operations. Elevating work in terms of all of these values brings non-stop exponential growth, enough to generate profits equal to a company’s present revenues within one or two years. A $10 billion company on the verge of bankruptcy partially applied a few of these values and was able to convert $3.3 billion in losses into $3.3 in profits within three years, raise its revenues to $25 billion, and repay its term loans seven years early.

As values exist in grades, the method of implementation can also be classified in grades. At the most primary level, a company implements values by issuing instructions and exercising authority over its people. Done perfectly, this yields great results, but these results represent only the minimum possible. The values can also be implemented through measures that bring out greater interest among employees, raise the level of their skills, release their enthusiasm, issue from well-conceived mental plans, express a higher sentiment or issue from a clear mental conception of the spiritual truth of values. These ascending grades can be summarized as follows:

  1. Hard work in strict obedience to instructions.
  2. Greater employee awareness and interest in the work.
  3. Elevating the level of physical skills.
  4. Increasing the vital alertness and nervous energy expressed in work.
  5. Overflowing enthusiasm to raise the quality of work.
  6. Emotional commitment and determination to achieve perfection.
  7. Clear mental plans for achieving perfect execution of values in the work.
  8. A sentimental attitude among those who work that accepts achievement of the value as personally important to them.
  9. A clear mental conception regarding the power of values and the process by which they can release the Infinite in the finite.

The higher one rises in the ascending scale of methods, the greater the power released. But the results will depend on how far the higher attitudes and awareness are actually expressed in the physical work. Mere mental appreciation and enthusiasm for the values by management will not yield results unless they also find expression in the actual physical work done by workers in the company. The ability of the leaders to communicate their inspiration to people at lower levels is the crucial determinant of results. When the lowest level worker fully understands, appreciates, takes interest and feels pride in achieving perfection in the smallest, least significant, routine action, only then it can be said the company has fully embraced and implemented a value.

One can apply this strategy in any situation. In a company, start in one area, department or activity and strive to implement all the values listed above to the highest possible level. Perfection of values in a part releases the infinite from the finite. If the company publishes books, strive to produce a book without a single error, which is to achieve perfect accuracy or quality in work. That book will sell ten times more than expected. If it is a manufacturing company, strive to eliminate to the last drop all avoidable waste of materials. One will be surprised to discover that even unavoidable waste gets eliminated when full conscious attention is shown. A retail business in Canada applied this strategy in an effort to stimulate flagging sales during the lean summer season when business is usually less than a third of the level achieved at Christmas time. As a result for two years in succession, the company achieved record sales during a summer month equal to those normally achieved only in December. These are all partial and temporary expressions of the Infinite emerging in the finite. In order to make this one time occurrence permanent, one must organize value implementation to maintain it at peak levels until it becomes a routine habit and culture in the company. By that time, the company’s profits would exceed present revenues.

See Also Living Values

This article was originally published in | Consecration Magazine, Vol.1, Issue 2, Jan-Feb 2004, pg.6,

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