Shishin Sensei, Zen teacher and corporate director, on the enlightened qualities of every good manager:

When the country prospers, the king’s name is unknown. It is only when there are problems that everyone knows who is to blame. It is the person in charge, the ruler: the king, the president, or the manager.

When the king is more important than the country, the country will not prosper. When the manager is more important than his or her employees, then the company will fail. If a manager is doing his or her job properly, then the company should run smoothly. The manager will become like a forgotten person, which is what a manager should strive for. Too many managers believe that they must have all of the answers and control every situation.

The Performable Square, James Lee Byars, Japanese Handmade flax paper, 1963. Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York & Cologne/The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
The Performable Square, James Lee Byars, Japanese Handmade flax paper, 1963. Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York & Cologne/The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Zen Master Jizo said that “not knowing is the most intimate thing.” Not knowing means to be open to all eventualities, to not prejudge a person or situation. If your mind is full of preconceived notions, there is no room for an unbiased view. It is like when your hands are full of objects—you cannot pick up anything new. A closed mind causes separation and suspicion. Like an umbrella, a mind is only useful when it is open. The first step toward maintaining an open mind is to understand the nature of mind or self.

In his Genjo Koan, Master Dogen wrote, “To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self.” To forget the self means to let go of our schemes to either aggrandize or to pity ourselves. These schemes are so pervasive and subtle that they require careful examination. One needs to see the nature of these schemes. By studying the self one sees that all schemes are hollow fabrications that arise and disappear with each thought. The thoughts themselves are mere phantoms with no substance. The same is true with feelings, sensations, perceptions and conceptions.

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