Buddhist economics, unlike neoclassical western economics, defines work as the result of three things: firstly, the means by which it is possible to obtain the resources needed to have a decent life; secondly, an opportunity to shape the ego and become a better human being when dealing with other people and with situations which are far beyond our normal comfort zone; and thirdly, an opportunity to put into practice distinctive and unique personal talents for the benefit of others.
In Buddhist economics, work is a way to be happy. In the state of flow, when you are fully exercising your talents, any limitations or restrictions around you simply no longer exist. At that moment, everything becomes relative, and money becomes a means (in its original sense), not an end in itself.
One of the great insights from Einstein was that everything is relative. Sometimes, when we are not living our true path, there is a danger that we can get too caught up in our sensations and experiences, and we live in absolute terms. So, for example, we become influenced a great deal by marketing, by the media, believing that we do not earn enough, that we do not have the right clothes, or that we are not displaying the latest brands.
But when we are experiencing flow, to say that everything becomes relative means that, if today we do not have enough money, we know that we can change our reality and in some way we will be able to earn more, if not tomorrow or next week, perhaps next month or next year. Opportunities open up to us as we become more open and less set in our ways and fixed in our thinking.
Extract taken from Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter, Simon Robinson and Maria Moraes Robinson (2014)
Simon Robinson is the co-founder and CEO (Worldwide) of Holonomics, a strategy and innovation consultancy based in São Paulo whose mission is to help organisations to implement great customer experiences, powerful and effective strategies, and develop purposeful, meaningful and sustainable brands. He is the co-author of Customer Experiences with Soul: A New Era in Design and his research examines how the dynamic conception of wholeness in hermeneutics and phenomenology can deepen our thinking on innovation, customer experience design and the circular economy.