How can we find freedom through investing in the form?
There’s a statement in the Heart Sutra that says, “Form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form.” The art is not to deny form in order to grab at emptiness, but to have the emptiness and fulfill the form, and when you quiet down enough and listen in your own life to hear your unique manifestation, and you’re really quiet, you get through the obsession with individualism that you had as an ego in our culture at this moment, and you realize you are part of a bigger system.
You’re part of family, you’re part of all these different communities, ethnic groups, all of this stuff, and then you bring that with your awareness, the listening, to hear how you manifest within that system in a way that is not with attraction and not with aversion, but really playing your part, playing your part, dancing the dance.
So I listen and I hear that I have certain skills, I have certain connections, or I have certain opportunities to talk to certain people. Those things, when I listen to hear how it will manifest, say in the business field, I hear that there are these opportunities. I’ve found myself working with the business community, because I looked around and I saw that what I have to share is dharma, what I’ve learned, what I’ve been doing for the past 20-30 years.
Since business is the major social institution of the world – it’s more powerful than nation-states, it’s more powerful than religion, I got involved with business people, and I started to hang out in a group called the Social Venture Network. They’re easy business people to be with… these people are the good guys in business. But the conspiracy within the business, to see business as a certain way that it has to be, this is all ego level.
It’s very interesting, when you’re in India and you meet somebody who does business dharma. It’s the same way as how you make love as dharma. It’s the same way as how you raise a child as dharma. It’s the same way you do any relationship as dharma – dharma meaning how can you be in this form in a way that does not create suffering, in a way that liberates? How can I act in a way that does not exacerbate suffering? That seems very logical to me, even to my mind.
Ben & Jerry told me at one point that they started out, you know, in a garage with an ice cream maker. They tried to decide whether to buy a donut maker or an ice cream maker and decided on ice cream. They were two hippies and they made ice cream, and pretty soon they were making more and more ice cream and they were having other ice cream places and they suddenly we’re in business. They said, “I don’t wanna be in business! What the Hell? We hate business!” Ben had a friend in New Jersey, an old man he went to visit, who had been in business for many years, and Ben told him the predicament.
The guy says, “If you don’t like it, why don’t you change it?” And that’s an interesting question: How do you take business and make it dharmic, like, who is the competitor? Is it them or is it us?
– Ram Dass