Most people have some connection to the business world. Maybe you run a flower shop. Or you’re an accountant. Or you’re an executive at Walmart. We all have to make a buck somehow and that usually involves some connection to business.

Which brings me to an old Ram Dass talk I listened to yesterday. [By the way, there are oodles of these talks on and I highly recommend them. I find him to be the best ever Western interpreter of Eastern spirituality.]

He got a question from a guy about spirituality and business. The question was along the lines of:

“I work for a business. And I need to make plans. Five-year plans. This requires me to do a lot of thinking about the past and the future. How can I ‘be here now’ while making those plans?”

Ram Dass’s answer was illuminating. In brief, what he told the guy to do was to ‘be here now’ while thinking about the past and the future in fashioning his business plan.

Success in business, and many other pursuits, requires deep, focused thinking.

Disabusing a fallacy

This points to a fallacy among many who believe that all thinking is eschewed by spirituality. That’s not the case at all.

As Mickey Singer frequently points out, our minds are brilliant. They figured out a way to fly human beings all the way to the moon…and land them safely. They figured out a way that we can say something in Los Angeles and someone in Paris can hear us. They created an internet that allows for near-total access to almost all information all over the planet. That’s incredible.

This is the intelligent mind. The mind that we use for all kinds of life endeavors.

The personal mind/ego

We also have what Singer calls a personal mind. This is the ego. Its thinking is based on the sum total of all of our life experiences that we’ve held onto. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have our best interests at heart in most of its thoughts and actions.

One vital difference between these two minds of ours is that with the intelligent mind, WE, the conscious self, directs it. When that businessman sits down to write his plan, he is calling on his intelligent mind to perform certain functions.

“We increased sales by an average of fifteen percent per year for the past five years. The numbers show me that our market will grow far faster than it did these past five years. So for the next five years, I need to project how fast sales will increase based on those forecasted market increases.”

That is what I call intentional thinking. We are asking our mind to work for us. You’re at the grocery store and you ask your mind to tell you what you need…eggs, milk, lettuce, ice cream, cereal and cream cheese.

Involuntary thinking

Involuntary thinking is most of what the personal mind does. You’re standing in line at Home Depot, ruminating about how pissed off you are that your boss is making you work all Saturday. Do you really say to yourself, “Let’s think about how mad we are at our schmuck boss.”

No. It just happens. Our personal mind takes over and tells us to start thinking about that and thousands of other things we would be better off not thinking about.

The key to spiritual growth is minimizing the control our personal mind exerts over our lives. How? As I’ve written many times, we do it by practicing meditation, mindfulness, letting go when our egos are poked and many other spiritual practices.

The takeaway

But in business, heck yeah we use our minds. And while doing so we can absolutely ‘be here now,’ as Ram Dass inspires us all to do. We just do it intentionally.