I have a big problem, I still trust a lot of people.
Altruism, a necessity for today
Is the master-disciple relationship essential for spiritual fulfilment?
When I wrote a short book about meditation, from the fact that I was often asked ‘How do I start?’, I knew that a short meditation manual wasn’t enough. Certainly, this manual is based on the teachings and words of true spiritual masters, but nothing can replace a living transmission. But who can you turn to?
In Tibet, everyone knows where the spiritual masters and hermits are – they’re part of everyday life. Here, they are present, of course, but are less a part of our culture. The Dalai Lama proposes to promote human values independently of religions. That would already be so enormous for society and it could touch everyone.
If we put secular ethical values such as tolerance, goodwill and co-operation into education, that would help a great deal. Buddhism isn’t just a godly spirituality. It talks about perfection which is present in every one of us, the ‘nature of Buddha’. These human values are goodness, the ability to co-operate, empathy and the fact that we can find peace in ourselves. That’s the basis.
Who would be against honesty and goodness? Altruism is a necessity. Tolerance is a necessity. The fact of not being completely fascinated by the consumer society, of knowing how to be content, is a great support in life. Isn’t the fact of having a feeling of fulfilment precious in our lives, from the day of our birth to the day of our death? Religion is a voluntary choice which every individual can make. If you want to use religion to deepen, amplify and multiply altruistic love, that’s up to you.
The Dalai Lama often says that as a human being, he wishes to promote human values and as a Buddhist monk, he wishes to promote harmony between religions. He says: ‘Until my death, I shall pursue the promotion of these two points’.
The most important is to promote altruistic love; everything else will follow on. Without goodwill, solicitude, consideration for others, nothing works. It’s ‘the body’ which pleads for altruism which has just been published.
Altruism isn’t utopian, a naïve ideal, a luxury you can afford when everything’s going well:
it’s a necessity.
The need to help without wanting anything in exchange
Tensions can call solidarity into question.
Private solidarity appears more spontaneous, more flexible and more reactive. It maintains social links in a more readable, more personalised way and plays a big role in maintaining ‘social affiliation’. But it also has areas of fragility.
The first actor in private solidarity is obviously the family, in its nuclear dimension and also in its wider form, particularly to ancestors and descendants. Intergenerational transfers are far from being negligible in French society, whether they are monetary in form or found in working for nature or in services.
This function of intra-familial protection benefits young people in a big way, for example, in the often delicate transitory period of starting their working lives. Document 4 shows that, in the 18-25-year-old generation, having contact with parents in the case of daily difficulties is largely the first source of protection, grandparents intervening sometimes as a ‘second line of defence’.
In total, the close family group is most often sought out rather than the ‘peer’ group (friends or spouse). Solidarity can also be exercised through membership and participation in an association. It is estimated that more than a third of people in France belong to at least one association. If the motivations for membership are not necessarily altruistic, this social networking sustains the close solidarity which reinforces or maintains the social integration of many people through a common project.
In contemporary France, the foundations of social cohesion are building a basis of group and institutional solidarity represented by the various mechanisms which are part of social protection. Faced with the challenges which this has to face, particularly the crucial question of its financing, the social body in part re-appropriates this defensive function.
Against the difficulties in life by complementing the collective redistribution of money by private exchanges of goods, services and money within the family group or within the framework of an association.
These two dimensions are more complementary than antagonistic. In this domain, not everything can come from public institutions: the risk would be that individuals would lose even the sense of the link which solidarity should maintain by delegating it to a disembodied guardian power.
But, on the contrary, there is a limit to the ability to take care privately of the social distress which is spreading today. The solution resides, perhaps, in a tightening of this protection around the most vulnerable segments of the population and allowing this to be acknowledged by those for whom this shield is less necessary.
GOODWILL AND ETHICS
No ethics without goodwill
The challenge is to determine the means to implement in order to change individual behaviour in order to bring goodwill into the heart of organisations.
Such a change rests on three sequences. The first is to be convinced of the interest in changing. ‘That’s what we call the motivational stage. Within the framework of goodwill, this step has to rely on a relationship basis rather than a moral one. How do goodwill relationships allow you to be more efficient? What personal benefit can you get from it? What are the consequences of the absence of goodwill in relationships?’ explains this expert.
The second stage hinges on the method of changing behaviour. ‘It implies being precise about which behaviours you want to change, in which circumstances and with whom. Then, it’s a question of testing the change in small stages, starting with what’s easiest.’
The third stage finally rests on the fact that to be encouraged to change, it’s more effective to be put under pressure, ‘to both think about it and not to let yourself be overcome by habits and all the other preoccupations which fill our days’.
One of the most effective pressures is how we appear to others. By announcing our intention to change to them and asking them to focus, with goodwill, of course, on these changes, this engages us and helps to remind us of what we have to do.
A typically 21st century preoccupation, goodwill poses the double question of willingness and ability at the heart of any organisation, particularly interesting to take into account in the detection and management of the potential of those who will be at the top of tomorrow’s organisations. And this is for five main reasons.
The first relates to the classical methodologies for identifying potential which are often applied as exclusion filters, without any goodwill, like an organisational sieve. A big mistake insofar as such a mechanism leaves to one side profiles which are nonetheless full of real qualities.
The second relates to current selection practices which are largely founded on profiles which already exist internally, yet goodwill would also allow other potential profiles to be taken into account.
The third concerns the fact that growing uncertainly calls on disruptive approaches, with detection methods which have to leave more room for the entry of profiles which are both younger and older, in particular. Generational goodwill imposes on the other.
The fourth feeds on the observation that the creation of start-ups and the infatuation with entrepreneurship leads to rethinking criteria far from those of large enterprises. Learning about success and failure has more intense consequences in small organisations. Goodwill leads us to envisage failure and success through different eyes.
Lastly, the fifth reason holds that goodwill should be taken into account like a criterium for potential, relating most often only to intellectual capacities, decision-making, adaptation or even energy.
The fact of carrying out management which is recognised as being caring could legitimately be included in the criteria for the detection and development of high potential.
In any case, nothing can definitively guarantee the success of a culture of goodwill. Sometimes years are needed to build it up and only several months to destroy it. Nevertheless, the art and manner of practising goodwill can only encourage individuals who are naturally predisposed to show it as widely as possible, both in their organisation and in their daily lives.
Even more so in our era where there are many ethical questions in our working relationships, goodwill appears not to be optional, but essential, as the desire to do good is an ethical principle. What on earth would ethics be like if goodwill was not at their heart?
The Family, Group, Team, Friends
Haven’t we got rid of the herd instinct, then? Not really.
Haven’t we got rid of the herd instinct, then? Not really.
Unless you’re Simeon Stylites. Man needs to be an integral part of a social group - family, clubs, associations and also companies, communities, regions, nations, religions, etc. – with which he shares certain characteristics – tastes, activities, opinions, values, convictions, social status, etc. - which is a means to get yourself known and at the same time to be recognised, accepted and to feel accepted, and therefore exist, through the eyes of someone else who identifies us as a peer.
Which makes the need to belong as fundamental a need as - and complementary to - the need for love, affection and recognition and they both nourish each other.
We’ve all experienced good times, which we keep precious.
This feeling of belonging participates in the social dimension of our identity and remains in flux throughout our lives, our affiliations, our movements from one group to another, with all the influences which this can have – or stop having. It’s the reflection and, at the same time, the expression of this social identity and it is necessary for our mental balance.
In a society which pushes individualism and scrambles our references by speeding up changes, some people find it difficult to fulfil their need for social integration and live in a more solitary way than they would wish.
Vice versa, when it is fulfilled, this needs to belong socially participates in the satisfaction of other needs: recognition, love and affection, etc., as well as the strengthening of our self-esteem.
How can you finally acquire tolerance and non-violence, if not by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, knowing things from the other side?