Office Politics – How to Apply Buddha’s Teaching of Four Immeasurable Minds in Workplace
Updated: Mar 15
Office Politics – How to apply Buddha’s teaching of Four Immeasurable Minds: Loving-kindness, Compassion, Joy, and Equanimity in the workplace? No matter a startup entrepreneur, a slasher, or any position in the workplace, if the Four Immeasurable Minds are properly cultivated, they will be able to do everything well in the workplace; and everything will go smoothly.
The Four Immeasurable Minds, also known as Caturapramāṇāḥ: Loving-Kindness（Maitrī）, Compassion（Karuṇā）, Joy（Muditā）and Equanimity（Upekṣā）. It originated from Brahmanism in ancient India and was later adopted by Buddhism. The Four Immeasurable Minds are the practice of the four states of mind: Loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. The meanings of these four states of mind and their application in the workplace are outlined below. "Immeasurable" refers to the extension of these four states of mind to the infinity without boundaries.
The Application of Immeasurable Loving-Kindness in the Workplace:
The immeasurable loving-kindness refers to bringing happiness to all beings and treating them with loving-kindness. The act does not limit to a fixed quantity of beings. It is an infinite number of sentient beings.
In the workplace, to practice this is to always remember that every attitude and behavior should be polite and cheerful. Within the scope of ability, if others need help and assistance, offer it as much as possible, so as to make the other people's work smoother and not to produce unpleasant emotions. If we are with this attitude in workplace, we can work with others like partners, and the efficiency of work will be improved: twice the result with half the effort.
As a supervisor or a manager, you can properly appreciate your subordinates of their work. Creating a happy atmosphere for the coworkers and subordinates, it boosts morale. In addition, as a supervisor, although you do not scold your subordinates loudly when they upset you, you may not aware that your appearance may look ferocious, making them uncomfortable. Have you ever thought that the other party will be so unhappy after being reproached that he or she even can't sleep at night? Even when he or she returns to the office the next day or over the weekend, they work like treading on thin ice and get so nervous of being scolded again. This will only affect the performance of his or her work. On the contrary, you can treat your subordinates with an attitude of loving-kindness. Even if the subordinates make mistakes, instead of correcting them by scolding them, teaching them in your best manner, just like teaching them as your kid. In this way, the other party will not only be more attentive, but will also be touched by the good in you. In the future, they will be more willing to open up themselves to you and mistakes can be avoided easier before it is too late. Cooperation will be smoother.
Indeed, for some subordinates who are stubborn and disobedient; or some who are not intend to improve; really lazy and unmotivated, they will not probably be improved when treated with a nice and pleasant attitude. I also had had this question before: Does this attitude really work for everyone? Later, I saw a book, and I forgot what the book title was. It says that even there is a need to reproach them, like those with a bad attitude, it is not necessary to get really angry. What one needs to do is just to show an angry look, pretending to be angry, while deep in your mind, one should still bear loving-kindness. There is no need to get oneself emotional.
The Application of Immeasurable Compassion in the Workplace:
Compassion can also be considered trying to relieve pain and sufferings of others, hoping to help all beings get rid of their suffering. Compassion will be aroused by understanding or empathizing with others and their problems. Sentient beings have all kinds of suffering, according to Buddhist belief, we must try our best to find a way to get rid of the suffering of all living beings to the extent of lives after lives, immeasurably and boundlessly. For example, if someone falls onto the ground, even without a conscious mind, you can’t help reaching out and help him up spontaneously. This is the mind of compassion.
In the workplace, there are times when other departments are with work overload and on the verge of collapse. If it is within your ability, just help them as much as you can. I have had also encountered many situations at work that required the practice of compassion. I had worked in the manufacturing industry for a very long time over 20 years. The process of manufacturing products was complicated, from receiving a sample request to shipping the goods to the client’s destination; and the materials required are numerous. As a member of the sales department, I was able to ease the pain and burden of many other people since I practiced compassion. In every link, such as the formulating the order material list, pushing for sample making, tracking of the client’s approval on samples, and responding in time to the production department, if I monitored and followed up close enough and avoided errors, then it was to relieve the pain, stress and suffering of my subordinates and the members of the production department. They could have enough time to produce the goods, not necessary to rush to produce the goods all night to meet deadlines, or even to avoid industrial accidents or defective products due to rushing too much.
The Application Immeasurable Joy in the Workplace:
Immeasurable Joy means that when you see others doing good or being happy, you feel happy too; and this mind arises without interruption, without limit. At first glance, this seems normal. In reality, there are quite a few people who hate the rich and despise the poor. With the rapid development of social media these days, this is even more evident.
In the workplace, having a competitive atmosphere helps to promote progress and improve the overall performance, but I believes that this competition is good only when it is a healthy one. If there are several teams in the sales department and you are the supervisor of one of the teams, would you be jealous that the other team outperforms? According to the practice of Immeasurable Joy, we should be happy for each other whole-heartedly. From a positive perspective, the progress of others will inspire you your self-motivation, and everyone hopes that they can also achieve the same good results in performance. In addition, no matter which team achieves good results, it contributes to the well-being of the company as a whole. If the company develops well, all the people work there can benefit. This could be reflected in the year-end bonus and reducing layoffs.
The Application of Immeasurable Equanimity in the Workplace:
Immeasurable Equanimity refers to the mind of non-discrimination. This is more commonly used in Buddhist language. To put it plainly, it means not clinging to the distinction between oneself and others; and treating all sentient beings, including close and distant ones in relation, equally.
In the workplace, this practice allows us to be fair in dealing with every situation and everyone, and there will be no difference in judgment no matter the co-worker is close to you or not familiar to you. That is the way how you can be a great leader to be respected by all the people except those narrow-minded ones. In this way of treating people, your colleagues and suppliers will regard you highly and there will not be resentful sentiments. We let go of our personal honor and treat others as ourselves. Only with a broad mind can we focus on the overall situation and achieve great things.
I am not sure if you agree that the Four Immeasurable Minds should be practiced in the workplace or even in everyday life and with all kinds of relationships. Even if you agree, you may feel like it is not possible at all to achieve to that high level of morality. We are humans after all. However, like all religions, dogmas are only ideals, and there is no requirement to be able to follow it 100%. Rather, these are just a goal, or rather a guide given to give us as a direction to improve ourselves.
Think about it, if you can really stick to the Four Immeasurable Minds as closely as possible, you will surely be more stable emotionally because you will have a balanced mind; you will not be so easily affected by people and things outside and get angry. Work will also be smoother. Furthermore, this practice can be extended to other relationships such as family, friendship and even people that you do not know.
Finally, the Four Immeasurable Minds is a Buddhist concept. Apart from following the theory, I believe that to achieve it to its most powerful effect, it is best to be practiced together with combined with meditation. While this is another category and I do not intend discuss here for the time being, maybe for another article.
Author: Yaanin is the social media editor serving the following organizations: