“Everything that exists or has ever existed, every idea that can be thought about, every datum that is true – every dharma, in the language of Indian philosophy – is a pearl in Indra’s net.” – Timothy Brook
Reality is not a thing in itself – reality is a network of relationships between things. And relationships are enhanced through cooperation, mutuality and reciprocity. Because of this age-old observation, we created families, tribes, communities and countries so that there would be frameworks conducive to cooperation and practical ways of bonding and working together.
According to Indian philosophy the Earth and Nature are Indra’s net. This is the network of all species, humans and other than humans. Each knot of this network is knotted with a diamond. Each and every individual being is a diamond in which the entire network reflects; thus every individual being is a microcosm of the macrocosm, so we are all connected, related and bound together.
Even in the world of commerce and business we created companies for people to join together and support each other for their mutual advantage.
The French word for ‘company’ means ‘sharing of bread together’, and the word ‘competition’ means ‘striving together’. I wonder then how we got the idea that competition means working against one another and that this is somehow good for anybody!
I think it was in the era of colonialism that the meaning of the words ‘company’ and ‘competition’ changed. In the age of expansion and in the search for new lands and natural resources abroad groups of people (and later countries) started to think in terms of possessing and then protecting the land and the natural resources they acquired against some other groups or governments who may have had their sights set on the same sources of wealth. Thus the words ‘company’ and ‘competition’ became synonymous with secrecy, separation and self-interest.
The UN has declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives; therefore it is high time that we revisited the true nature of reality, and shaped our economies on the principal of mutually supportive networks, systems and relationships where competition and cooperation, companionship and relationship sit together comfortably. There is no need to have conflict between private good and public good, between individuals and societies, or between self-interest and mutual interest.
Because our thinking and practice have become so unbalanced in favour of competition in the wrong meaning of the word, we must now highlight the importance of cooperation and show that working together and cooperating with each other is a better and more successful business model than working against each other. The purpose of the economy is not just making profit for one group at the expense of another but to create the personal, social and cultural wellbeing of all humankind.
This article was first published in Resurgence & Ecologist issue 273, July/August 2012. All rights to this article are reserved to The Resurgence Trust. To buy a copy of the magazine, read further articles or to find out about the trust, visit www.resurgence.org