To be in perfect harmony with the universe, spiritual institutions must be in harmony with their creditors. Yoga schools preach a strict, nonmaterial type of spiritualism and genuinely strive to abide by the life they preach. However, the school we had chosen for its magnificent campus, carried a large administrative staff payroll, utility bills, and facilities maintenance. They had an unforgiving budgetary component lurking just below their nonmaterial message.
Heather had been hired as Marketing and Outreach Director. She was tasked with the assignment of attracting a more balanced clientele. Our group of guys who were presidents of companies potentially offered the gender/financial balance the school was seeking.
We call our business group “Discovery Forum”. Nine of us guys started our own businesses in our twenties and met to discussion marketing and finance. Decades later we were still meeting monthly for companionship and talk about the business of life. We chose a venue outside our comfort zone. We came to this lakeside yoga campus knowing we were in for a weekend of vegan stew, wrenching yoga exercises and shaman philosophy.
Heather, with her enthusiastic bright eyes, dressed in beads, feathers, big fluffy hair plus a winning personality, was a damn good hire for the school and made a favorable impression on us old guys from the beginning.
“You boys are going to feel a bit out of your element here among all these weird yoga people. You probably will not believe any of the Hindi lessons we teach. But please work with me and promise you will hold off your judgment and suspend your disbelief till the end of the program. Just allow me to guide you through an unfamiliar experience?”
We were suckers for big hair and feathers and couldn’t help but like Heather. We pressed on to the end of the last day. At one point I tried to explain to her,
“Your school thinks all us business guys need is relaxation, breathing skills, spiritual elevation and every other antidote to modern life that your program has to offer. But come over to our side Heather- step into my shoes. I own ten burger restaurants. Each individual store can only make 72 sandwiches per hour. But each day I have 100 hungry customers who have 30 minutes for lunch. When my customers are hungry, and steaming angry at me there is no time for mystical spiritualism in my fast food life. There is simply no damn space in my life for talking to the dead or chanting shaman mythology. If you are not talking to me about food cost or reducing service times, then I will not have much to say to you.”
I really thought I had the upper hand. Heather wasn’t big on fast food or responsibilities- she was into Indian herbology, the Great Oom and the Kosha sheath of bliss. She did not concern herself with sandwich making times. But neither did she get to where she was simply based on her outrageous wardrobe and big hair.
Heather’s life was nothing if not a monument to the innovation of the Human Potential Movement. After peripatetic life in the spiritual wilderness, she had found a community of fellow searchers sharing her alternative lifestyle values. She was not about to back down or concede anything to a group of suits. She defended her beliefs well.
Heather reached out to us in an authentic and vulnerable way to reveal her own difficult history and her humanity. She had a heartfelt way of talking that disarms business guys like me and my friends. And lest you think we returned home empty-handed, before we departed Heather coaxed out of each of us the following gems of wisdom that we had learned:
1.) SATISFACTION equals achievement divided by expectations. To be satisfied in life, you must ultimately lower your expectations, but you must never lower your standards or vision.
2.) Things do not change; people do. Things are not as they are but as WE are. What you dwell upon, you create to be true. Your thoughts can be either constructive or destructive, it all depends on whichever way you chose to respond. To know what you think, see what you are doing. To control your future, create it.
3.) To be mature is to know that your own fulfillment is inextricably linked to serving the needs of others. Happiness is paying the price of caring for others.
In the end, Heather’s institution should have received the contributions to their capital campaign that they deserved. We all went back to our beer and donuts lives, making burgers or whatever. We will long remember her and now have the highest respect for New Age Princes in her beads and feathers.