Teal Conference 2022
The Philosophy of finding yourself through losing yourself
Connecting business and spirituality
A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to join the “Teal Around the World” event that brought together various keynote speakers and storytellers to exchange at different levels about teal practices and organizations. I was particularly touched by the story of Nand Kishore Chaudhary, who named his talk “Life Lessons from a Business Built on Love and Innocence”. Being an HR consultant at atrain who has travelled to the holy city of Rishikesh in India to study the Hindu and Yogic philosophy and ancient scriptures, I guess my own personal interest in spirituality and Eastern philosophy piqued my curiosity and I was eager to understand his connection of business and spirituality.
About the author
Nathalie is a perfect example to combine business and spirituality.
With her background in international business having studied in Spain and Germany and her work experience in the HR department of global players such as Adidas, she brings a broad perspective in the field of Human Resources.
Having traveled the world for 1.5years and having lived in communities, ashrams and monasteries in Australia and Thailand and India, she also gained extensive experience in meditation and yoga practices, being a Mindfulness Meditation Trainer and Yoga Teacher herself.
At atrain, her aspiration is to make leaders more conscious and aware of themselves including their inner blockers as well as their strengths and resources. Her aim is to bring mindfulness practices into organizations and society to allow people to discover and live their true selves.
I started my personal spiritual journey with the pure aim to get to know myself better and find out about my passion and what I can bring into this world. After graduating successfully from college with a business degree and having worked in well-known international companies, I felt quite empty inside (even though very successful on the outside) and felt far away from myself. I did not really know who I was besides the expectations that I tried to fulfil. I started to travel the world, continuing for 1.5 years, and ended up in monasteries and ashrams all over the world, talking with teachers about life and spirituality.
But no more talking about myself, let me share with you…
The inspiring story of Nand Kishore Chaudhary
Nand Kishore Chaudhary is an Indian entrepreneur who leads a successful international business of carpets called Jaipur Rugs, but unlike most entrepreneurs, he attributes a big part of his success to spirituality.
Growing up with Indian traditions, Mr. Chaudhary sees spirituality as the basis of everything. In his view, there is no separation between spirituality, life itself and business. The basic spiritual qualities such as heart connection, love and compassion not only apply to the business world, but they are perceived as essential elements without which a business cannot sustain itself long-term.
And sometimes, it is all about starting with yourself and your internal journey. To find love for yourself and for what you do can be at the center of a successful business, and self-awareness is the starting point.
Good is the enemy of the best
Like most entrepreneurs when they start to expand their business, Mr. Chaudhary faced a lot of challenges and resistance for the first 3 years. He had very little knowledge on how to build and grow a business. But what makes him different from most entrepreneurs is that he took a deep look at himself and one day came to the realization that he was the bottleneck preventing the company from growing further.
Based on some of the teachings of Eastern philosophy, he discovered that there were 3 enemies that prevented his company from becoming successful, and they all resided in him:
Ego, Desire and Unconsciousness
When “Ego” took a hold of him, it led him to develop a false image of himself. He found himself putting his success and status first and therefore became blind to see the truth of what was actually causing the resistance to growth and was therefore not taking on the responsibility to change it. By creating this false positive self-identity and the fear of losing it, he could not improve because he was so concerned with preserving his “Ego” that he lost track of seeing the bigger picture. Mr. Chaudhary was restricting growth because he thought he was so important that he needed to be involved in every decision.
He had to take a step back in order to get out of the way for his business to grow.
The second enemy, Desire is directly linked to building up and preserving the Ego. It is what motivated him to aim for always having and wanting more that led him to decisions that were built on egoistical motives and striving for goals that were not in line with his values. Clearly seeing his purpose to leave a positive impact on society and spread love helped him to overcome this enemy in the end.
Ego is neither good nor bad, it’s just a result of a lack of self-awareness. It fades away as you become aware of it, since ego and awareness cannot coexist.
– Thibaut Meurisse
By building his own self-awareness, Mr. Chaudhary realized that he was the slave of his own past and limiting beliefs. In doing so, he overcame the third enemy – Unconsciousness – and grew to become more self-conscious. He realized his beliefs were mainly based on childhood experiences and/or social conventions. Growing up in the middle class of a traditional hierarchical Indian class system, he never actually believed that he had the means to be successful globally.
In a sense, he had to lose himself in order to find himself
Like an ice cube, melting all those limiting beliefs and unlearning patterns in order to expand. As a result, he became like a child (spontaneous, innocent, present in the moment, creative) which helped in the end also to bring out the potential of the people in his company.
We all know that sometimes we can be the only one that is holding us back.
When I think about myself, I also find those 3 enemies often residing inside of me. And that’s ok, we are all human, and they are allowed to exist. It is just about how much power you give them in your personal/business life and if you let your life be ruled by them or by higher spiritual qualities.
Business is next to love. It is the creator and preserver of civilization
If you ask Mr. Chaudhary what makes his business so successful and extraordinary next to all the other carpet companies, he will give you a very simple answer: love and innocence.
When you talk about love, people usually think about romantic relationships, but what I found out on my own journey is that love in a spiritual sense has a much broader scope. Love also contains the healing of oneself, the people around you as well as society and the whole world. It is the connection with everything around us and the deep realization that we are not separate from each other. Thus, when we hurt other people, we actually hurt ourselves; when we heal other people, we actually heal ourselves.
Beyond having a successful business, Nand Kishore Chaudhary always had a strong purpose to create and serve a community of weavers in order to improve their lives.
In India, a strong hierarchical class system regulates everything from your social status, to who you can interact with, to who you can become… It would be very rare for business owners to interact directly with lower-class workers. In opposition to this system and from a point of universal love, Nand Kishore Chaudhary decided to work closely together with the weavers from the very beginning of the business.
He looked for any opportunity to spend time with them, having lunch with them, in order to learn from them directly and understand their needs and wishes. Even when the business expanded globally, he made a point of keeping his connection with the weavers. For him, a good relationship with the weavers was of utmost importance. The love he shared for every one of them and seeing them truly as they are, broke the boundaries of the class system and dissolved the barriers of his own Ego.
Today, Mr. Chaudhary has a network of 15.000 tribal weavers that he approaches with empathy and respect with the aim of melting down their walls and fear of connection outside of their class. He created a weaver engagement program where the company directly includes the weavers in the product development and design of the carpets. In doing so, he gave them the chance to see themselves as artists that put their hearts and souls into the design of the carpets, which in turn helped them realize their purpose and feel more connected to the consumer.
“We don’t sell carpets. We sell family blessings”
Perhaps unexpectedly, this had an unforeseen impact on the consumer experience. Today, every carpet has a story and each customer gets a postcard with information about the weavers’ stories. This has sometimes even blossomed into beautiful relationships between weavers and customers, who were sometimes so touched that they wrote postcards back.
In a way, this is a story of how a business can heal its customers, workers and society through love and innocence. The carpets are free from suffering, they are a piece of art and create happiness and blessings for the customers. So, the customers send their blessings back, creating a positive circle of love in society.
Jaipur Rugs won a lot of design awards with its unique creations, but when asked about his dreams, Nand Kishore Chaudhary modestly answers: “Besides success, I want to gain the deep wisdom to know that fame and money are not required and that there is so much more to life!”
Connecting business and spirituality
I am sure that there are many more inspiring people like Nand Kishore Chaudhary out in this world. But for me, he is a powerful example of how to do the internal work of becoming self-aware and letting go of old Ego patterns. He used this self-consciousness as a foundation to build up a global business that serves the higher good of society.
This brings me back to my own spiritual journey.
When I came back home from my long travels, I found atrain, a dynamic mission-driven consultancy that appeals to the heart and the mind through cutting edge science with the wholeness of psychology from various philosophical traditions. This gave me the opportunity to combine my business background with my passion for spirituality and helping other people to become more conscious – therefore creating a positive impact on society myself.
Nand Kishore Chaudhary’s story, as well as my personal story, beautifully illustrates that there does not need to be a separation between business and spirituality. In fact, we can become even more successful and create a positive impact when we live and work in line with our spiritual qualities and passion.