When I sat down to write this, I soon realised that I would have to ask myself some questions before I could write about my experiences as a Theosophist engaged in the business world.

Firstly I asked myself: “What is a Theosophist?” I would say that this is someone who actively seeks to live by the ideals of Theosophy and the objectives of the Theosophical Society. These embody, among other things, a respect for the Brotherhood of Man and a sense of altruism.

I then asked myself: “What is business?” I pondered on this and concluded that business is the process of satisfying our material wants and needs through the medium of the market place.

Just as Theosophy has its ideology, so do all businesses have their ideologies. At worst, these are often driven by maximising their self-interest, usually at minimum expense to themselves and at maximum expense to others and the environment. At best, businesses will follow the law and minimise the social costs of their operations in-so-far as they must, whilst acting in the best interests of their stakeholders. Principle among these stakeholders are their shareholders.

This then, poses a conundrum. How can you live by altruistic principles when you are expected to pursue a largely selfish agenda in life? How do we achieve a resolution of these apparently polarised objectives?

This might seem difficult at first, but it isn’t all that hard when you get used to it. Business is conducted in a marketplace, a melting pot for all kinds of people. This is the eternal fascination of it. Because it is so broad and varied in its composition, there is a place for everyone and for everyone of similar type.

This means that if you remain true to yourself you can attract into your life people who and circumstances which are compatible with your Theosophical principles. Having done this, you can then build your life around these people and the opportunities they provide for you, in a mutually beneficial way.

Having taken this view of life, you begin to see business life as a spiritual system, rather than simply as a mechanism for allocating scarce resources amongst competing wants.

We can see quite quickly that people are possessed of different degrees of spirituality. Parallel with this, there comes the possibility of defining groups of people in terms of their relative degrees of spirituality. These groups can interact with each other across tolerable limits.

For example, our humanitarian organisations would be at one end of the spectrum and organised crime at the other. Everyone else would fall between these extremes.

In the range where most of us operate, there is plenty of opportunity to define relationships that are spiritually compatible and which work for all involved. These relationships come about quite naturally by just being what we are and dealing with the people we attract into our lives as a result of this.

How does this process of mutual attraction take place? In my view, it happens through a mutual vibrational attraction or rejection. We are what we are, and we radiate this, often without realising it. We create a harmony between ourselves and others when we interact with people of similar vibrational wavelength. This is rather like a string quartet playing in harmony by itself and a brass band doing the same.

However, if each was playing on the stage side by side, each would compete with the other and disharmony would result. There would need to be some separation between the two and if there is, both groups can co-exist in harmony.

Thus, if we see the world from the aspect of spiritual consciousness, rather than looking at it in purely physical and material terms, it is possible to conduct a business using Theosophical principles and to do so enjoyably and successfully.

After defining my concepts, I then considered some of the Theosophical principles and how they worked for me in business. I have found that an understanding of Theosophy has given me a very sound basis to handle life’s experiences in business. The first principle that I have found useful has been the Law of Karma. Karma tells us that for every thought we think and every action we take, there will be a corresponding reaction, whether for good or ill.

Understanding Karma helps me to understand that the experiences I attract into my life have been caused solely by my past and present experiences. I have only myself to thank for my good fortune and myself to blame for my misfortune. I cannot blame external circumstances for anything that befalls me and I should be grateful for any good fortune that comes my way.

An understanding of Karma has also led me to appreciate the importance of my thoughts in determining the quality of my life and the lives of those with whom I interact. This understanding manifests itself in many ways. There can be repercussions founded in the nature and priorities of my decisions and in my sensitivity to their impact on others. I have developed a respect for the way in which these repercussions take their form. Often these forms are not immediately apparent and I have become closely attuned to my Karmic signals.

I have also developed a healthy respect for the power of Karma. Work well done has often rewarded me hugely in building my business through personal referrals and support. I have seen the hugely destructive effects that egotism and conflict can have on the longevity and value of business relationships.

I have also come to understand the role of my willpower in the scheme of events. Sometimes I can change things, especially if I am seeking harmony. At other times, I am powerless to stop negative outcomes. I have to accept that what will be, will be. Understanding Karma has helped me to accept my place within the Universal Law. I have also come to realise that I will not be asked to bear any burden that I cannot carry. Life may be awkward or uncomfortable in times of hardship, but my lessons have always been necessary, fairly administered and ultimately beneficial.

The second principle that I have found useful has been an understanding of Reincarnation. This is intimate linked with the law of Karma. Understanding these two concepts has been of enormous value to me in defining my levels of honesty with, and commitment to, the people I work with.

Knowing about Reincarnation has helped me to take a longer term view of my role in business, rather than the traditional results driven short term view that is so vigorously espoused today in management schools and the corridors of corporate power.

I am mindful that in my dealings with people I should always try to act in an harmonious manner, rather than manipulating people for my short term advantage. I know that if I don’t, I will create more hardship for myself, either in this life or a future one. I cannot escape the consequences of what I do by simply deferring things and leaving them behind me when I die. They won’t go away, and are guaranteed to come back to haunt me. For these reasons I try to behave as ethically as I can.

A knowledge of Reincarnation has helped me to be more tolerant of the views of others; more patient in dealing with people and better able to balance competing short and long term demands and considerations. There is plenty of time to deal with everything. Indeed we have to deal with everything, we are not constrained by the boundaries of a single lifetime.

This knowledge has helped me to distinguish the eternal and the ephemeral in my dealings with others. Knowing that I can’t escape the consequences of my decisions helps me to try to make the most balanced decisions that I can. I have often found that the most spiritually balanced decision is the best decision, even if it is the hardest one at the time. This is because it often gives rise to a host of benefits that were unforeseeable when the hard decision was taken.

The third principle that I have found has been of use, has been that of the interpenetrating spheres of consciousness. This, and its twin concept of the doctrine of hierarchies, has been hugely helpful to me in my business life. When I was younger, I always attributed serendipitous events or random outcomes to chance, or at best the will of others. Now, I’m not so sure.

Understanding that there is a Hierarchy of Compassion and that we are part of it, has helped me through a lot of difficult business experiences. On several occasions during my career, I have been faced with seemingly impossible situations. On some of these occasions, I have felt things have been beyond my control. On others I haven’t been able to see a way through things; or on still others, I haven’t been able to resolve conflicting and important demands. I have learned, when faced with these occasions, to do everything I can and then to wait for circumstances to unfold.

This unfolding has always taken place through changes in the inter-personal relationships which are creating the problems for me. A seemingly irrepressible force will suddenly yield, or a previously unseen opportunity will arise, or a group of circumstances previously unforeseeable to me will manifest and provide a solution. I have learned to hold the light, go with the flow, and respect the outcome. The Hierarchy will pull you through.

An understanding of the interpenetrating spheres has also helped me to take more notice of the importance of my dreams in my business life. Some dreams that I have had have come true and others have given me great help.

Theosophy has taught me that dreams are impressions coming to me from my unfettered nightly travels through the Astral Plane. I have had several dreams pertinent to my business, that have come true. I have come to understand that these are very likely to be communications with the members of the Hierarchy and other people concerned with my life. These individuals should be listened to and respected as a necessary part of my spiritual experience. The Hierarchy communicates in many and varied ways and my challenge is to heed it and to work with it.

The last principle that I have found has been of use has been that of the Left and Right Hand Paths. Theosophy teaches us that life is a preparation for initiation, that we will confront and, if qualified, pass through a series of initiations on our spiritual journey.

The teachings state that the fourth initiation is the one that opens up our understanding of each of the Seven Spheres of Consciousness in the Universe through direct personal experience. They emphasise that we must prepare for the tests that this initiation will present through the daily experiences of our lives. Prior to initiation, we must acquire spiritual knowledge and purify ourselves in readiness to cope with the challenge of initiation. This challenge completely changes our understanding of the Universe and greatly increases our ability to work for our spiritual purposes within it.

A life in business exposes us every day to people, their joys, their sorrows and their demands upon each other. It gives us ample opportunity to develop within ourselves the qualities necessary for initiation. We learn to live with fear and uncertainty, and to develop self reliance and understanding. We are constantly faced with the temptations of acting for ourselves and the duty of acting in the best interest of all. Each decision we take, and there are many, helps us to create the quality of character we will need to cope successfully with initiation. The better the qualities necessary for initiation are developed through life’s experiences, the easier it will be to pass to the next stage of our spiritual development.

As the twig is bent, so shall the tree grow. If we understand this, and apply our understanding of the choice between the right and left hand paths in life’s daily experiences, so do we help ourselves to choose the path of light over the path of darkness when the time comes.

Although I didn’t consciously set out to pursue a career in business, I have spent most of my life in the hustle and bustle of a small business environment. As I grow older and more reflective on life’s experiences, I come to realise that in many ways I have been very lucky. A life in business has given me a great deal of opportunity to interact closely with other people and to learn from these interactions and experiences.

In so doing, I have been able to apply my understanding of the principles of Theosophy, to test them, to impose my faith in them, and to share them with others.

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