It’s interesting to create systems in which you see others as vessels to get something, while not giving anything.

What you create is a certain kind of boundary of your consciousness that is really hard to get through, and you end up being isolated by it. To examine in a business the relationship between a CEO who takes something like 80 times the salary of an employee, and then the CEO says, “We’re all one big family,” does that mean that the CEO is worth 80 times as much, or is working 80 times as much? Is the benefit that much? The cost of that money is not free to the system. The cost of that money is extremely harsh on the ability of all of us to be us.

I mean, I can’t be a purist about it, but I can hear the directions it has to go. The question of how do you live with this? You look at any business and you say, “Who are all the stakeholders?” There’s the board of directors. There are the investors. There are the employees. There is the staff. There are the competitors. There are the suppliers, and they are all stakeholders in the game.

Ultimately the question is, “What is a way to be with all of these stakeholders to optimize the relief of suffering and the amount of compassion in the system?”

And I am one of the stakeholders, but just one of them. To begin to look at business in terms of sustainability of resources, sustainability of the environment, I mean, there has to be a kind of consciousness shift in business, where the economics of making decisions to recycle, or renew, or limit, the use of non-renewable resources, shift the value system.

I’ve just been through a bizarre set of dramas about this, because when these companies attempt to shift the game, the society doesn’t say, “Oh how wonderful, somebody is reminding us of our dharma!” If you are making, you know, 50 times what your next employee is making, you don’t particularly want to be reminded of that. You want to stay within your rationalizations. And what happens is very interesting because you end up creating judgement towards yourself, as others become self-conscious.

Bringing dharma in is about reminding people to not get so locked in polarization that you don’t hear the compassionate human side of it, the process going on.

Then turn the process back into a dance, into a movement. I’m interested in us examining the interplay between mindfulness, between the way the soul and ego interact – between the stuff of your life, the economics of life, and the moral issues, so that you’re quiet enough to just feel your way into how it is and start to work with understanding the unfolding of your own life – from a very quiet place inside your own being.

-Ram Dass