A Tribute to Tarthang Tulku and the Time, Space, and Knowledge Vision
I am grateful that Spandan (Foundation for Human Values in Management and Society)
and IBA (Indian Business Academy) are promoting the development of values in the workplace by recognizing people through annual Spandan IBA awards in human values. (The award provides a forum for the exchange of ideas, principles and processes concerning the application of human values to organizations, institutions and the world at large.)
I nominate Tarthang Tulku for this year’s Spandan IBA award. A meditation master, author, and entrepreneur, he taught Buddhist philosophy at Sanskrit University in Varanasi until emigrating to the United States in the late ’60s. Since then he established and continues to administer numerous public-benefit organizations in the US, India, Germany, Brazil, Tibet, and the Netherlands. Under his direction the two largest publications in history–the Tibetan Buddhist Canon and Great Treasures of Ancient Teachings–were completed. In 1993 he helped re-initiate the Prayers for Peace, Buddhist ceremonies which thousands attend annually at Bodh Gaya, India.
These accomplishments and many others attest to his ability to not only complete an enormous number of significant, high-quality, and enduring projects, but also to simultaneously influence very deeply the lives of those who have worked on the projects. Obviously he is not only a meditation master, but a master of management by actualizing values.
How does he do it? He authored two books on developing values and productivity in work, Skillful Means, and Mastering Successful Work. Though he is a Buddhist master, both of these works are primarily secular in approach, not based on belief or injunction. They discuss values useful for fostering improvement of well-being and realization as well as productivity.
These works help in the ongoing development of a secular morality foreseen by the Dalai Lama, who said, “In the West, religions have lost their dominance. . . . I believe deeply that we must find . . . a new spirituality. . . . This new concept ought to be elaborated alongside the religions . . . . We need a new concept, a lay spirituality. . . . It could lead us to set up what we are all looking for, a secular morality. . . .” (p. 16, p. 104, Violence & Compassion)
The Time, Space, and Knowledge (TSK) vision seems to offer even more in developing and actualizing such a natural, shared morality. Expressed in six volumes authored by Tarthang Tulku from 1977 (Time, Space, and Knowledge) to 1997 (Sacred Dimensions of Time and Space), the vision provides a comprehensive forum for interdisciplinary studies, including a comparison of the values, assumptions, principles, and methods of business, education, psychology, and spiritual and religious disciplines.
Using the principles, and three levels of statements of the vision, it has been possible to derive a detailed description of the cross-cultural core ‘zone’ of peak performance and realization, including its secular values or attributes, as well as two other levels of experience, providing a broad spectrum from greed to goodness to Godness within which different values systems can be compared. These valued facets of enlightened experience are described with detail and precision that is far more granular and operationally useful than typical one-word value descriptions.
General guidelines have been derived to support decision-making in any situation: a counterproductive (or detrimental, vs. beneficial) act (whether ‘inward’ or ‘outward’, presuming that these can be distinguished) is (1) a ‘movement’ that darkens, clouds, or scatters rather than brightens/clarifies/focuses/coheres the energy in a moment-world-view, or (2) that divides or increases the separations within awareness or a focal setting or frame of mind rather than further illuminating awareness or dissolving boundaries within awareness.
In a business environment, [unlike most other values systems,] all this supports the possibility of truly continuous improvement of well-being and productivity for any mission, and during any work process, and even when switching between tasks.