Debits and Credits in the Karmic Account

Debits and Credits in the Karmic Account

We seldom pause to consider that our personal and business lives are governed by the principle of double entry book-keeping. Those familiar with accounting would know the basic difference between cash-based book-keeping or what is known as Singleentry accounting, and the scientific way of recording two sides of every transaction, known as Double-entry accounting. The former recognises only when there is a cash movement, not taking into account liabilities yet to mature. Double entry way of accounting considers not only immediately settled transactions, but also those waiting in the wings to materialise. You reckon not only present transactions but future liabilities too. Cash-based book-keeping is perhaps like living the life of a charvaka, or a materialistic person that our scriptures describe. A charvaka is just content to enjoy the present life with all its indulgences without any concern for the future. He is scarcely concerned about the long term effect of present actions. Double-entry book-keeping, on the other hand, reflects perhaps the approach of Vedanta, which urges everyone to be mindful of the consequence of every action based on cause and effect. It says there is always a relationship between two things, with one thing making something else happen. Every individual or business entity has thus an invisible current account of entries arising from his or its acts of punya or papa. All meritorious acts, or dharmic deeds, give rise to addition to the punya account, while every demeaning or adharmic action gives rise to an entry under the head of papa. In the case of individuals, this accumulation gets carried over to future births to experience the impact. This spiritual ledger showing accrued punya credits and papa liabilities becomes the basis for the karmic balance sheet of a business unit. Karma draws from the intent, deeds, and actions – positive actions bringing happiness and positive results in the future, while negative acts contributing to de-growth and eventual demise.

Feeling the Impact
How does one get a feel of the positive or negative balance in one's karmic account? In the case of individuals, the accumulated balance of punya is experienced in the form of a comfortable and orderly life, and fulfillment of all dharmic desires. Bhagavad Gita (14-9) explains that those with positive karmic balance exude an overwhelming sense of sattva, the quality of being stainless and luminous. Sattva in ascendancy bestows physical, intellectual and ethical pleasures. On the other hand, a negative balance, or diminishing karmic credits, leads to the person being callous in his duties, wasting time without compunction, and squandering his wealth. It is possible to 'sense' such an impact of karmic accounts in the case of business entities as well. Referred to as Corporate Karma, this is nothing but the collective consciousness of all employees from top to bottom, though the karmic balance is substantially accounted for by the actions of top leadership and senior managers.

Businesses that carry positive balance in their karmic account experience a happy and vibrant work atmosphere where employees are enthusiastic, engaged and motivated to work harder, with a positive energy pervading the organisation. The firm experiences steady growth and profits. On the other hand, firms with negative balance face unexpected impediments in progress and high employee attrition. There is a sense of disengagement at all levels despite apparent profitable working, along with an unflattering perception by stakeholders.

Remedial Action

The way to improve the karmic balance sheet for business firms is to realise that success is not limited to the profit figure. It is by creating a healthy corporate culture where the leadership shows tolerance, appreciation, gratitude and optimism. It is by putting one's energy into the joy of working. It is by realising that true joy comes from living a purposeful and authentic life, while trusting that the rewards will come in their own perfect time. Such good values create positivity and radiate in every aspect of working in the organisation. A tangible way to improve a firm's karmic balance is through involvement in philanthropic initiatives. Good philanthropy takes many forms, from adhoc donations to pioneering social investments. It becomes effective when it involves the engagement of all employees. The essence of gaining good credit to karmic accounts is by following the maxim, 'Just give more than you receive'. Our scriptures advise that the more one gives, the more he will receive, because he keeps the abundance of the universe circulating. In fact, anything that is of value multiplies when it is given. Gita expounds this vital aspect of giving in Shraddatraya Vibhaga Yoga (Chapter 17). It extols gifts made by a person without expecting any favour or return, with an attitude that it is one's duty to give ('datavyam iti yad danam'). What is given expecting a return contribution, or any reciprocal benefit, is only a motivated investment. Any act done with the intention of contributing to loka sangraha, or public welfare, has a direct effect of boosting the karmic balance. Business entities need to keep a tab on their invisible positive karmic balance at every turn, and the top leadership should become sensitive about it. Where, for example, a firm is caught in unexpected difficulties, or it faces flak for no apparent misdemeanour on its part, seniors usually scramble to find the reasons. Our scriptures quote such happenings arising from one's karmic influence. Karmic balance is beyond the ethical audit that large corporate bodies undertake to ensure compliance with ethics-related requirements, which is often a technical box-ticking exercise. Karmic account is an inexplicable phenomenon that can only be 'felt' by sensitive, righteous management keen on remaining on the dharmic path at all times.
R. Krishnamurthy 
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