Body - Mind - Heart - Spirit

Systems engineering, smart professionals and egolessness

I am taking a systems engineering class this summer. According to International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), "Systems Engineering is an interdisciplinary approach and means to enable the realization of successful systems".

What does systems engineering have anything to do with egolessness? Actually nothing ! But, more recently, the field has been expanding beyond technological systems to include new discipline like social science. One of the readings assigned in this class was an HBR article by Chris Argyris, "Teaching smart people how to learn". Chris argues that the smart people fall into the trap of single loop learning. They know how to execute well what they know and they mostly succeed. But they don't respond so well (a.k.a respond defensively and blame others) if they fail. He further argues that these people could benefit from double loop learning (i.e. to reflect on one's failure to find the real causes of failures and find ways to address them).

What happens next is a comment by the course instructor. He shares an observation that this situation - smart people falling into the trap of single loop learning - is mostly present in a western way of life. The emphasis on "I" or ego puts a lot of pressure to rationalize and defend one's actions at the cost of letting it go and learn. According to him, the eastern world (he was primarily referring to Buddhist philosophy) gets around this problem by de-emphasizing ego. Not to mention, I had an interesting conversation with him after the class.


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Interesting post! Many spiritual teachers talk about Ego, as well as Pride, being the two most challenging obstacles on the spiritual path. In my own experience, I have found these two as tough nuts to crack.

Let me share a poem titled "Ego and Pride" that I wrote in my own little effort to subdue these two rocky mountains. Nevertheless, I am still working on this. Long way to go man! :-)

Ego and Pride

In the tumultuous world of desires,
In the thick veil of the Maya,
In the darkness of the ignorance,
And in the agitation of the Mind,
These two are the kings – Ego and Pride.

In the longing of the worldly achievements,
In the pursuit of the little self,
In the vanity of the human affairs,
And in the shallowness of the Heart,
These two erect their towers – Ego and Pride.

They stray us from the real Self,
Into the dusty and stormy roads of delusion,
In the vain sense of somebody important,
They take life out of the life,
They conceal the humanity from the humans,
And suppress the love that binds us as common.

I can see your mischievous acts,
I can feel your enticing glamour,
I can smell your irresistible aroma,
And, I can perceive your dreadful consequence,
O, you twins of negativity,
Don’t you dare think you are here for eternity.

Like the fate of the darkest night,
With the dawn of the morning Sun,
Like the state of the gloomy winter,
With the arrival of the cheerful spring,
Will your fate be sealed – you Ego and Pride,
With the uncovering of the Self and the lifting of all veils.

-by Bijay Raut


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