The Wheel of Dharma

Until yesterday, I was completely unaware of the existence of the Wheel of Dharma neither did I know anything of the Eightfold Path associated with this symbol. However, now I know, the resemblance with the layout, structure, and meaning of ROUNDMAP™ is truly astonishing.

What is the Wheel of Dharma?

Similar to how the cross identifies Christianity, the Wheel of Dharma inherently symbolizes Buddhism. The word ‘dharma’ is best translated as ‘bearer of the law’, while the chariot wheel represents ‘a lifecycle’ or chakra (= wheel or circle).

Some historians associate the ancient chakra symbols with solar symbolism, similar to the monstrance in Christianity. In the Vedas, the god Surya is associated with the solar disc ─ as well as with Sunday, the day of the week.

Wheel of Dharma

In most representations, the Wheel has eight spokes, representing the Eightfold Path:

  • Right View or Right Understanding: Insight into the true nature of reality
  • Right Intention: The unselfish desire to realize enlightenment
  • Right Speech: Using speech compassionately
  • Right Action: Using ethical conduct to manifest compassion
  • Right Livelihood: Making a living through ethical and nonharmful means
  • Right Effort: Cultivating wholesome qualities and releasing unwholesome qualities
  • Right Mindfulness: Whole body-and-mind awareness
  • Right Concentration: Meditation or some other dedicated, concentrated practice

The word ‘right’ should not be interpreted as a commandment, as in doing it right or wrong, rather as wise, wholesome, skillful, and ideal. Or even as a sense of equilibrium (balanced).

The Eightfold Path is the fourth Truth of the Four Noble Truths. In a sense, these truths explain the nature of our dissatisfaction with life.

  • The Truth of Suffering (Dukkha): Life is suffering
  • The Truth of the Cause of Suffering (Samadaya): Desire is what causes suffering
  • The Truth of the End of Suffering (Nirhodha): Letting go of desire relieves us
  • The Truth of the Path that Frees us from Suffering (Magga): Walk the eightfold path

According to tradition, the Dharma Wheel was first turned when the Buddha delivered his first sermon after his enlightenment. There were two subsequent turnings of the wheel, in which teachings on emptiness (sunyata) and inherent Buddha-nature were given.

How is this relevant to the ROUNDMAP?

The creation of the ROUNDMAP started after I had realized my existence lacked true purpose. This awareness came from people I was fortunate enough to meet and that had spoken to my heart in such a way that it made me rethink my very existence.

Some might say I was ‘touched by an angel’s wing’, others would call it ‘a path to enlightenment’. A few even suggested that I was completely ‘losing my mind’. Regardless, if you’ve read the first part of this post, you’ll have noticed the aching words ‘dissatisfaction’ and ’emptiness’. This is how I felt, despite ‘owning’ much of what I had desired. How come?

PRESSURE TO PERFORM

Prior to being an entrepreneur, I had been in sales. Since hard selling made me feel uncomfortable, I used a consultative approach. Unfortunately, by having to make target, I sometimes had to sell solutions to people that I felt were better off without it.

REGRETS

By appealing to a person’s desire and getting that person to trust me, despite knowing the solution wasn’t in their best interest, made me resent myself. Being self-employed helped me to rebound. However, during interim assignments I noticed others suffering from similar emotions and it caused them to become as detached from their customers and their work as I had become.

Mind you, most of the deals I was able to close throughout my career were mutually beneficial and they gave me great satisfaction. But the ones that weren’t kept bothering me. And at one point in my career I had reached my limit ─ even though it was down to a handful of cases I regretted.

DISENGAGEMENT

Research by Gallup shows that 7 out of 10 employees in the US are not engaged or actively disengaged at work ─ a cost estimated between $450 and $550 billion each year. In The Netherlands, research from TNO showed that in 2018 the pressure-to-perform caused 1.3 million people (1:6) to suffer from severe burn-out ─ a cost estimated at 2.8 billion Euro each year.

Rising competition, due to globalization and digitalization, puts even more pressure on organizations to optimize work processes. And if we look at the research, fewer and fewer employees are able to cope with it.

OUTPERFORMING IN ANOTHER WAY

Yet, research by Towers Watson (2011), Gallup (2008), and Kotter & Heskett (2011) suggest that companies can outperform their peers by 300% or more by increasing employee engagement and empower them to do right to customers, as a collective, decreasing internal competition.

So, why are managers still rambling down the road of ‘cost-optimization’, ‘restructuring’, and ‘incentivization’ to push people to the limit, knowlingly aggravating people in the process?

I believe it all boils down to an excessive amount of desire. We want more profit, more dividend, more esteem, a higher salary, or an even-bigger house. And because we’ve become detached from our customers, our work, our pride, and our joy, it doesn’t seem to bother us one bit that we need to obtain these ‘rewards’ at the expense of others ─ our customers.

PAIN RELIEF

In reality, our immoderate desires often correlate to the amount of emotional grief we’ve caused ourselves, by not giving our best to help others achieve their goals. We are afterall social creatures. The stuff we hope will provide us with some relief, in return for what we had to endure, becomes our purpose. Unfortunately, stuff only offers a short reprieve and soon the gap needs to be fulfilled with more stuff. And so the wheel turns.

For me, stepping out of the corporate treadmill was my escape, even though it took me a few years to regain my pride. But self-employment is not the only way to break free from the cycle of unjust and unfulfilling behavior ─ from which so many of us need to recoup.

And this escape isn’t just for the sake of our mental well-being. As Ghandi said: “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

How do the two shapes compare?

Now let’s return to the ROUNDMAP and see how it compares to the Wheel of Dharma:

  • Both are round ─ a life of a person versus a customer lifecycle;
  • Both cover four sections ─ departments versus truths;
  • Both cover eight steps ─ stages versus rights;
  • Both address pain, desire and relief – and both provide meaning to desire;
  • Both follow the way light is broken through a prima (blue to red) ─ Surya is often portraited as a chariot pulled by 7 horses which are colored according to the same palet;
  • Both suggest that following a eightfold path leads to freedom ─ break free from desire versus breaking free from the need to induce desire and offer significant value.

What really strikes me in all of this is that while I was unaware of the Wheel of Dharma ─ of its existence, its structure, its meaning, or its coloring ─ the ROUNDMAP resembles so much of it. It is more universal than I could have ever imagined.

However, I might have had some clues:

  • In Bali (2004), I had noticed a pond with a beautiful purple/gold lotus and really felt I had to photograph it ─ a lotus in Egypt is the symbol of the Sun and of rebirth while in Buddhism it is associated with spiritual awakening and enlightenment. A purple lotus has 8 petals, pointing to the Eightfold Path and the Wheel of Dharma.
  • A good friend of mine introduced me (2015) to a Indian restaurant of a friend of his, named Surya.
  • For an application I was looking for a name (realperson). Unfortunatelly, the .com domain was’t available. The person who owned it was a Buddhist and we’ve kept in contact ever since.

What does it all mean?

To me it means one thing: the ‘truth’ of the Wheel of Dharma, its message to break free from desire and find a higher purpose, and that of the ROUNDMAP, to focus on customer lifecycle management and to find purpose in fulfulling customers with significant value, are one and the same.

If gives me so much joy to have ‘found’ such an ancient symbol, which has provided so many people with a clear pathway to a life of purpose, and to see it resonate so clearly with my own creation. It almost makes me wonder if this was all just a coincidence.

P.s. Although I was unaware of the Wheel of Dharma, people had pointed me before to a likeness with the shape of mandalas and the flower of life.

THE DESIRE FALLACY

Wanting something that we don’t need and often can’t afford, isn’t who we are. We want a bigger car, because the advertizer enticed us to want it. We don’t need a second home but because a marketer made it desirable, we desire it. This wanting beyond needing became amplified by Edward Bernays, who happened to be a nephew of Sigmund Freud.

After the first World War the US economy needed to be revived. A national plan aimed to increase production. However, as stocks piled up consumer needs didn’t grow nearly as fast. As a former war-propagandist, Bernays was asked to spin stories that would get consumers to catch up with growing supply. And so he did, by manipulating our minds, to want stuff we don’t need.

In one of his campaigns Bernays successfully influenced public opinion to allow women to smoke in public places ─ ‘Torches of Freedom‘ ─ appealing to the emanciption of women. At that time, however, nobody knew Bernays was in fact working for the tabacco industry, looking for an opportunity to double their revenues. Using a woman’s desire to freedom and equal rights to sell a product that deprives her of a healthy life is morbid, to say the least.

By appealing to our desires, we ended up with what Dave Ramsey described as: “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like”.

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