How ethical can we be?

I would like to appreciate the scholarly comments in this discussion on “How ethical can we be?” Heskett (2011) asseverates that an investigative study brought to bear that “ethicists who teach the subject are less likely to return library books associated with their research than the general public is to return books that it borrows.” This is interesting. Most people would have expected that scholars should not only philosophize, but also actually practice what they profess. If someone is teaching ethics, but his/her private/public life is devoid of ethical values, then such a teacher needs help. Such an ethicist ought to become a scholar-practitioner. Krishna (Prabhupada, 2011) asserts that “whatever action a great man performs, common men follow; and whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, the entire world pursues.” Unfortunately, in the 21st century – subsumed in the Kali-yuga or Iron Age, which is predominantly characterized by hypoc risy and quarrels – people do not walk their talks, but this is uninspiring. It is not surprising, therefore, that even great policy formulators become victims of the very laws they enact and promulgate.

An introspective sage may wonder if such non-practitioner scholars, who are masquerading as mentors, deserve to be heard. I should think that ethicists who are devoid of ethical values should be relieved of their services, inasmuch they are quacks. Such ethicists are pretenders and cheats. Of course, the cosmic creation is replete with the cheaters and the cheated, but it would be a bunch of hogwash and an unintelligible misdeed to condone such cheating in the academy. There is the probability of some of their students following the footsteps of such non-practitioner scholars, if we have to take Lewin’s Field theory into consideration. Prabhupada (2011) corroborates Lewin’s premise that our operational field has an impact on our behavior/actions. Bhakti-Tirtha (1998) brings to bear that there are gross and subtle exchanges that take place when people associate with each other. Therefore, hiring ethical people will positively influence the behavior of the employees. One may cherish ethical choices, and yet he/she can act in unethical ways, against his/her better judgment, due to the influence of organismic lust. One approach to address the inherent lust of employees is to resort to sonic therapeutic intervention (Prabhupada, 2011; Das, 2003) which helps to purify living entities of unethical consciousness. On a Likert scale of 0 to 10, 10 being the optimum, I would suggest leaders of society should at least be up to a 9, as far as ethicality is concerned, so as to be proper role models worthy of emulation.


Bhakti-Tirtha, S. (1998) Leadership for an Age of Higher Consciousness, volume 1. Washington, D. C.: Hari-Nama Press.

Das, V. (2003) Lawmakers and corruption: Sonic therapeutic approach. Journal of curriculum and instruction, 11(2), 88-92.

Heskett, J. (2011). What do you think?: How ethical can we be? Harvard Working Knowledge. Accessed on May 17, 2011, from

Prabhupada, A.C.B.S. (2011). Bhaktivedanta VedaBase. Los Angeles, CA: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International.

A contribution by Bhakti Vasudeva Swami (aka Vasudev Das) to Harvard Business School – Working Knowledge seminar on “How Ethical Can We Be?”  Link – Article number (comment number) 31, at:


Ethical Decision-making

First, I would like to thank Professor Max Bazerman for generating the theme “Blind Spots: We’re Not as Ethical as We Think” for discussion because it is very relevant to effective and sustainable development. Every organization needs ethical decision-making to thrive (Velasquez, Moberg, Meyer, Shanks, McLean, DeCosse, Andre, & Hanson, 2010).

There are organismic and sociological factors which militate against ethical decision-making. Discernibly, endogenous factors such as bias, anger, greed, lust, the mind’s demands, integration of the three gunas or qualitative modes of material nature (namely, the modes ignorance, passion, and goodness), identity crisis, pathological state of consciousness, low self-control, phenomenological mindset, and maladjustment play some role in ethical decision-making.

Essentially, it is germane to be sure that our decision-making process has passed the litmus test of social and psychological sanity so as to be effectively positioned on the pivot of ethical thinking inasmuch as decision-makers imbued with phenomenological mindset, maladjustment, pathological state of consciousness, bias, identity crisis, etc. may not facilitate ethical decision-making in organizations.

Policy should be promulgated that mandates policy formulators to undergo psychological tests to ensure that such decision-makers have zero insanity. A people-oriented mindset of decision-makers will undoubtedly enhance ethical decision-making. Furthermore, since sonic therapeutic intervention has been proven as an antidote to depression, stress, lust, anger, low self-control, etc., it is worthwhile for decision-makers to be administered with sonic therapy, inasmuch as it would improve ethical decision-making. Cultivation of transcendental knowledge in self-realization enhances emancipation from identity crisis. If decision-makers rise above their mundane or bodily consciousness, and see all and sundry or at least members of their constituency as supramundane entities with intrinsic connectedness, then that will help to invoke ethical decision-making. Ethical decision-making necessitates that decision-makers would have to walk their talk, and that requires high self-control. G eneral Arjuna (Prabhupada, 2011) posed a query to his mentor as to why people are impelled to act against their better judgment. According to applied Vedic science (Prabhupada, 2011), endogenous lust is the root cause of unethical decisions. Applied Vedic science (Prabhupada, 2011) asseverates that sonic therapeutic intervention is a guaranteed strategy to check lust, which is a major impediment to ethical decision-making.


Prabhupada, A.C.B.S. (2011). Bhaktivedanta VedaBase. Los Angeles, CA: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International.

Velasquez, M., Moberg, D., Meyer, M.J., Shanks, T., McLean, M.R., DeCosse, Andre, C. & Hanson, K.L. (2010). A framework for thinking ethically. Santa Clara University. Retrieved on May 10, 2011, from

A contribution by Bhakti Vasudeva Swami (aka Vasudev Das) to Harvard Business School – Working Knowledge seminar on “Blind Spots: We’re Not as Ethical as We Think”  Link – Article number (comment number) 12, at:

Politics of Social Stability: Critical and Creative Thinking Approach

I remember when I went to present a paper at the Pennsylvania Political Science Association annual conference in 2005. The introduction of my paper was imbedded with political humor. Here is part of it:

Little Joe approached his father Ben and inquired, “Dad, what is politics?” Dad said, “Well Joe, let me try to explain it in this way: I’m the breadwinner of the family, so let’s call me capitalism. Your Mom, she’s the administrator of the money, so we’ll call her the Government. We’re here to take care of your needs, so we’ll call you the people. The nanny, we’ll consider her the Working Class. And your baby brother, we’ll call him the Future. Now, think about that and see if that makes sense.” So the little boy went off to bed reflecting on what is Ben had said.

At midnight, Joe heard his baby brother crying, so he got up and went to check on him. He found that that the baby has severely soiled his diaper. So little Joe went to his parents’ room and found his mother sound asleep. He decided to wake her, and went to the nanny’s room. He found the nanny’s door securely locked, and so he peeked in the keyhole and found his father in bed with the nanny. He gave up and went back to bed. The next morning, little Joe told Ben, “Dad, I think I understand the concept of politics now.” The father said, “Great! Joe, tell me in your own words what you think politics is all about.” Then little Joe replied, “Well, while Capitalism is screwing the Working Class, the Government is sound asleep, the People are being ignored and the Future is in a deep mess.”

Does Judgment Trump Experience?

If we take into consideration the endogenous and exogenous factors that account for sound judgment, then we would be driven to the point of recognition that experience does not necessarily trump judgment. The three qualitative modes of material nature – goodness, passion and ignorance, for instance – play significant roles in our experience and judgment call. The probability of experience trumping judgment is one over infinity, that is, most unlikely, for a leader under the auspices of the qualitative mode of passion cum ignorance; antithetically, the experience of one who is impelled by transcendental goodness could be an excellent tool in judgment call for organizational upward mobility. The case of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in the Indian sub-continent, is very intriguing. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as a mere teenager, excelled in philosophical debate with highly experienced scholars like Prakasananda Saraswati and his colleagues.
We can also look at it from another perspective: if experience is devoid of critical, creative and caring thinking skills, it is most likely that it would not engender judgment call, whereas experience replete with critical, creative and caring thinking skills will most likely enhance judgment.

A contribution by Bhakti Vasudeva Swami (aka Vasudev Das) to Harvard Business School – Working Knowledge seminar on “Does Judgment Trump Experience?” Link – Article number (comment number) 82, at:

Are Followers About to Get Their Due?

The foremost quality expected of a bona fide follower/employee is that he/she must be fully cognizant of the objective criterion of human life and his/her pristine identity, as these would help in furthering the course of the organization’s mission.

A good follower should have mastery over his/her sensory modalities in order to excel in executing/implementing organizational/institutional policies without fear or favor. One’s good intentions crowned with success will know no bounds if the sensory modalities, including the mind, are monitored and are under check and balance. More than a few employees/leaders have been victims of the unruly and impetuous sensory modalities that have resulted in job loss, judicial action, embarrassment or a combination of these.

An effective follower/employee must strive to understand “why and how” the boss does what he does, and should be as good as the boss – that being the standard – if the boss sets a good example. He/she must have to access to the boss’ comfort zone. He/she must radiate caring thinking for the boss. He/she should not only be committed to the boss’ instruction(s), but should also anticipate what the boss would expect of him/her and have it done. “It’s not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy. The bee is praised. The mosquito is swatted.” – Mary O’Connor: Romance author. If a problem is seen, it must be fixed. One should not worry about who would have gotten the blame or who now gets the praise. It is far better to do much and show the results to your boss/head than to talk much and do less/nothing. An effective follower should be innovative and inclined to crisis resolution, or problem solving oriented.

Keep in mind that one’s aptitude is not the sole determining factor of his/her altitude in life, but his/her positive/numinous attitude would go a long way to foster his/her fortitude. Genuine humility should the watchword of a follower who is aspiring to harmonize relations in the organization. The need to communicate emphatically is a sine qua non for enthusing colleagues and clients for the organization’s viable future. The need to be psychologically adjusted (not maladjusted) to suit time, environment and circumstance in dealing with emergencies without having to boil over should not be underestimated.

A good follower must have internalized connectedness with colleagues, seeing the colleagues as agents of his/her boss. He/she should honor the colleagues the way he/she treats the boss. He/she must be forgiving. An effective follower must constantly empower himself/herself to be able to create waves in his endeavors to produce the desirable change in the organizational setting. He/she should avoid destructive criticism and/or faultfinding, bearing in mind that whatever energies are put out would come back to him/her. He/she should rather be a deconstructive, constructive and an appreciative thinker.

An introspective, good follower must keep in mind that his/her cumulative thought pattern has created his/her present work life, and should serve in the best of his/her ability and should maximize the utility of every opportunity for upward mobility. “Your life right now is a reflection of your past thoughts. That includes all the great things, and all the things you consider not so great. Since you attract to you what you think about most, it is easy to see what your dominant thoughts have been on every subject of your life, because that is what you have experienced.” – Rhonda Byrne: Australian writer and producer, known for The Secret.

Americans are hardworking and successful people, but shouldn’t be workaholics; they should take time off their jobs and go to the country to live closer to nature to embark on deep supramundane reflection. This would reinvigorate them and increase their productivity. They should have time with their families, and focus on the ultimate goal of their lives.

A bona fide follower must see one’s self as a servant, as evidently everyone is serving. Srila Prabhupada, founder of world-wide ISKCON asseverates that the pristine constitutional position of all living entities is service. We are either serving the bahiranga-sakti, “external energy” or we are serving the antaranga-sakti, “internal energy.” The modern day corporate greed and the concept of everyone for him/her self may be a limiting factor in experiencing a harmonious worker-employer relationship in a capitalist economy. A follower’s modus operandi spiced-up with contentment, purity, earnest endeavor, noble thoughts, responsibility, compassion, and eschewing of greed and envy is conducive for great leadership aspiration and development. No employee ever becomes an authentic leader without following the standards of great leaders.

A contribution by Bhakti Vasudeva Swami (aka Vasudev Das) to Harvard Business School – Working Knowledge seminar on “Are Followers About to Get Their Due?” Link – Article number (comment number) 52, at:

Why Don’t Managers Think Deeply?

“Why Don’t Managers Think Deeply?” This is a thought provoking question which is very relevant to a rapidly globalizing world. We need to think deeply, no doubt. Archimedes and many others were deep thinkers.

Broadly, there are two sides of this bad coin of not thinking deeply. There are sociological and organismic factors which inhibit managers from thinking deeply. By sociological factors, we would be referring to those forces outside of the embodied soul that impinge on him/her and checkmate him/her from thinking deeply; and by organismic factors, we would be referring to those forces within the living being that inhibit him/her from thinking deeply. The sociological factors include our educational methodological paradigm, societal needs and interests, attachment to sensory objects, lack of motivational incentives, and artificial lifestyle. The organismic factors include the inability to control the mind and sensory modalities; influence of the gunas, or “modes of material nature” – namely, goodness, passion and ignorance; influence of endogenous lust; lack of awareness of our pristine identity; lack of analytical skill; disdain for introspection; Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), etc.

Our educational methodology lays credence mostly to pedagogy, as opposed to the andragogical approach to learning which focuses on eliciting learners’ critical, creative and caring thinking skills or synergic thinking skills. There are multifarious thinking processes, of which critical thinking is just one, and thinking is hierarchical. Bahiranga-sakti, or the illusory potency of material nature, has stolen away the deep thinking ability and capability of more than a few managers. Creative thinking rooted in deeply supramundane internalization would usher in innovations meant to redirect a misdirected civilization.

A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak hogwash, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals would be the best of deep thinkers, with little personal effort. Such a deeply thinking manager is qualified to train deep thinking mangers all over the global village.

When we reflect on the lives of ancient and modern great thinkers, one indisputable fact is that their motto apparently seems to be “Simple living and high thinking.” Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, for example, is an intriguing case. They also lived close to nature.

Of course, graduate programs are being offered in Critical and Creative Thinking (CACT) in some institutions, and this is facilitating capacity building in creative thinking skills or/and innovations.

A contribution by Bhakti Vasudeva Swami (aka Vasudev Das) to Harvard Business School – Working Knowledge seminar on “Why Don’t Managers Think Deeply?” Link – Article number (comment number) 55: