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An Inquiry into the Buddhist Approach to Human Resources Management

Rev. Wilgamuwe Piyananda (BA hons, Rajakiya Panditha) Sub Warden Bhikku University of Sri Lanka Anuradhapura

Studying Buddhist suttas which include information on human resources management. Identifying Buddhist management concepts.

Research Question
Is Buddhist literature include suttas that elaborate on human resources management? If so, what are those suttas? What kind of human resources management methodology is adopted by Buddhism?

What is Management
Management is a special process which is followed by a given institute or an organization in order to achieve certain objectives and goals. This process include four interrelated functions:

1. 2. 3. 4.

Planning Organizing Leading Controlling

Human Resources Management

Human Resources Management is an attempt made by an institute or an organization in order to effectively direct its human resources towards its objectives an goals and to achieve expected results.

Who is a Manager?
A manager is a person who provides others with not only a direction to move and a future goal but a capability to succeed that pursuit.

Manager is the spiritually responsible person who provides other with a future goals.
(P. F. Drucer)

Concepts of Human Resources Management

The discipline of Management which consists of modern scientific principles basically includes the following concepts: planning Staffing Management Organization Management Direction
Leadership Motivation Management Communication Management Coordination Management controlling Management

These basic concepts are critically included in both the life of the Lord Buddha and in his teachings.

Human Resources Management in Buddhism

The Lord Buddha was the greatest teacher in the world who led the fourfold followers (Bhikku, Bhikkuni, Upaasaka, Upaasikaa) to the definite objective called Nirvana. The impact of Buddhism on laic people is liberal. However, the management policy provided to Buddhist monks by the Lord Buddha focuses even on the most simple and personal aspects.

Thus, the Bhikku community is something that has been established by the Lord Buddha with a direct goal and other related objectives. Its goal is first overcoming samsaara and then leading others to that goal.
Therefore, there is a series of disciplinary regulations and norms which gradually covers the lives of the monks from the very beginnings of their bhikku lives. Certain disciplinary actions have been imposed in order to maintain a cooperation among the monks as an organized institution.
samaggaa sammodamaanaa avivaadamaanaa khiirodaki bhuutaa agnyamagnyang piyachakkhuhi pasampassataa viharata (Majjima Nikaaya Chuulagosinha sutta)

Personnel Management
The establishment of Bhikku community and leading, organizing, controlling, staffing, and directing it. The proper control of the monks by assigning posts (ranks) based on their qualifications, and by imposing disciplinary regulations for the betterment of the Bhikku institution.

Singaaloovaada sutta includes a human resources management policy which is capable of making the entire human society better. It emphasizes successfully accomplishing the duties and responsibilities of the following social beings in order to achieve that goal: Husbands and Wives Daughters and Sons Employers and Employees Teachers and Students Laymen and priests (monks) Rulers and the rules.

Leadership Concepts in Buddhism

According to the discipline of Management, leadership is the key factor which organizes human resources towards definite goals. The life of the Lord Buddha and Buddhism in general include a number of such factors.
A leader has to be full of a virtuous and an intelligent life (Mahaa Parinibbaana Sutta) A leader has to be devout (Vattaka Jaataka) A leader must utter good and friendly words (Nandivishaala jataka) A leader must be courageous (Vannupatha jaataka) A leader must treat all individuals in the community equally. (Chakkavattisiihanaada sutta) It is a male or a female with a good character that should be appointed as a leader (Paraabava sutta)

The Lord Buddha was the leader of thousands of laymen and monks. His unique characteristics were the major factors behind that. The life of the Lord Buddha clearly implies the importance of some key factors to proper leadership. Such factors include: the habit of doing what is said and saying what is done; patience; steadiness; friendliness; capacity of understanding people; equality; honesty; rise to an occasion, commitment and kindness.

Economic Management in Buddhism

An accurate economic policy is a must for an effective human resource management. Today, human resources management is highly important to economic management. Buddhism emphasizes directing humans properly in economic matters based on what I called middle-way (madyama pratipadaa) which also rejects using money in a mingy way. Andha sutta in the Anguttara nikaaya mentions that it is not good to have company with those who are either partially or totally blind. Only those who can see with both eyes should be selected for company. This means that both worldly and transcendental lives must be balanced. The Vaddi sutta in the Anguttara nikaaya includes several factors that are useful for worldly and transcendental well-being.

Vyaggajja sutta includes an economic management policy which consists of four basic factors
1. productive efforts (uhna-sampad) in one's livelihood, 2. protective efforts (rakkha-sampad) regarding ones wealth in terms of possible theft or disaster, 3. virtuous friendship (kalya-mittat), and 4. living (sama-jvikat), abstaining from womanizing, drunkenness, gambling and evil friendships.
This sutta further elaborates on the methods by which money can be properly and legally earned and the on the correct industries.

Singaaloovaada sutta includes 10 factors which are relevant to the progress of any institution. These 10 factors are categorized under two headings: employer and employee.
Responsibilities of the employer:
1. Assigning tasks by considering the capacities of people.
2. Providing the employees with food and wages. 3. Providing medical facilities. 4. Encouraging by giving special allowances. 5. Providing leaves when necessary.

Responsibilities of the employee:

1. Starting to work early 2. Working untill the job is done. 3. Not stealing anything. 4. Consciously working. 5. Respecting the owner (head) of the institute / organization.

Singaalovada sutta provides a policy towards spending and using the earned money. Thus; 1. One part of the earned money is for grants and consumption; 2. Two parts are for industries. 3. The forth part must be saved for use in emergencies. 4. The rest has to be saved.

Resource Management
Buddhism recommends gaining maximum benefits from available limited resources.
After using for a long time, a rob should be used as a coverlet. When it cannot be used so, pillow cases can be made out of it. When it cannot be used at all, it must be mixed with mud in order to be pasted on walls (Chullavagga Paali Panchasatikkhandhaka).

This statement points to the importance of moderate mindedness in consuming physical resources.

Buddhism elaborates on three factors which delay tasks.

01 Getting used to extreme sleep (nindaaraamataa)
02 Wasting time by uttering meaningless words (bhasmaaraamataa) 03 Wasting time by ignoring duties and hanging out with people (ghana sanghanikaaraamataa). Buddhism advices to engage in Dhamma without a delay (appamaadena sampaadeta).

Time Management

It advices to fulfill daily tasks without postponing them until tomorrow (ajjeva kiccang aatappang)

promptness leads to nirvaana (appamaado amata padan).

Spiritual Management in Buddhism

The Mahdukkhakkhandha Sutta emphasizes the importance of being transformed into spiritual life, having known the sufferings of worldly life. 1. Assdo the understanding the gratification as gratification 2. deenava - the understand the gratification as gratification and the danger as danger 3. Nissarana - the escape as escape in the case of sensual pleasures Thus, the objective of Buddhist way of human resources management is to attain nirvana in terms of middle-way, trough understanding four noble truths. (paccattan veditabbo vingyuu hii).

The Effectiveness of Human Resource Management in Buddhism

In the time of the Lord Buddha, there were about seventy million Buddhists in Savathnuvara. Among them, about five million People could attain nirvaana. This is a consequence of the properly managed human recourses by the Lord Buddha.
tadaa saavattiyan sattamanussakotiyo vasanti tesu sattu dhammakan sutva pancakotimatta manussa ariyasaavakaa jaataa, dve kotimatta putujjanaa (Dhammapada, Chakkupaalatheravattu).

The whole system in Buddhism is a series of properly organized set of management principles and policies. Thus, one of its aims is to management individuals, the environment in which he lives, the items used by him etc. Guidelines related to this are mentioned in Vinaya and Sutta pitakas.

Thank you