Rosicrucian Writings Online
"If My Business Methods Are Wrong,
What Shall I Do?"
An Address by The Imperator to Some Brothers
[By H. Spencer Lewis]
[From The Mystic Triangle May 1928]
I AM happy to have your question given to me as a topic for a discourse, for I believe that all of us in our business activities are confronted by this same question. There is no doubt about the fact that in dealing with the various affairs of business life we are forced into methods, or forced to submit to methods, which do not always meet with our approval from a purely ethical point of view. What are we to do? Shall we protest or submit? Shall we change those methods, or silence our still small voice and continue?
It matters little in what business you may be engaged; so long as it is constructive, of general good to a large number, and not contrary to any law of God or man, you are justified always in continuing your work if you can do so in an efficient manner. But, some of you seem to feel that in your particular line there are methods or business customs which are not fair, not ethical, not honest, and each of you seeks to know what you shall do.
Permit me to call your attention to the fact that those now assembled before me represent a number of different lines of business, and yet to your mutual surprise, each feels that his line is the one in which there are more unethical or unfair methods than in any other. There is Brother Blank who is in the real-estate business; there is Brother White in the wholesale grocery business; and there is Brother Jones in the piano business; and over here we have Brother Brown in the retail grocery business, and he may be a little suspicious of the business methods of his wholesale Brother; and back there is Brother Smith who is very successful in the contracting business; and, yes, right here is Brother Blue who is the manager for a drug store, and next to him is Brother Green who is a dentist. Just these few picked at random, indicate the wide variance of business interests represented here, and yet each of you have agreed that the big question confronting you as an individual is: "If MY business methods are wrong, what shall I do?"
What are the essential points of your business affairs that worry you most? I find that you have agreed upon these few things as being the serious ones:
Belittling the risks,
Encouraging risky impulses,
Supporting doubtful claims,
Accepting unearned profits,
Creating possible risks,
Taking advantage of situations.
You say that in the course of your business affairs you become conscious at times that you are not being as fair, as square, as ethical, as a Rosicrucian should be, that you know of only one way to do differently, and that is to get out of the business that forces you into such circumstances.
But, Brothers, you make a mistake in your reasoning. That conclusion is not correct. It is my hope to show you that neither man nor the Cosmic would expect you to give up your businesses because they are so operated that certain unethical principles are an important part of the life of the businesses.
In the first place, as Rosicrucians, we know that nothing is ever gained by negation or indifference. To deny that a thing exists does not affect its existence so far as others are concerned. We may shut our eyes to the sunlight and proclaim that the sun does not exist. We affect our realization of the sun, but we do not affect the existence of the sun nor realization of it by other persons.
We also know that we may negate certain circumstances in our lives and close our objective consciousness to them, but that does not affect the circumstances one iota. You and I have met those who go about with one eye constantly shut to actions in their own lives, trying to negate, trying to ignore, the things that they constantly know are not right. They think that they are serving themselves, or rather their inner-selves, a small dose of soothing syrup all the time.
And, we meet those who believe that they have discovered a great secret, the secret of "rising above" those things which are obstacles in their material path or which are painful to their conscience. How they love to tell others about their ability to be superior to such things as the still small voice or the twangs of regret from within! They frankly say that when they find themselves face to face with an ethical, moral or religious problem in their lives, they rise above it and cast it aside and pay no attention to the voice from within that begs them to hesitate and do differently.
And, all these persons believe they are demonstrating mastership.
By your question as to what you should do, you indicate that you have wondered if you should not rise above these thoughts of self-condemnation, and proceed to let the laws of the universe work out any wrong you may do, or you wonder if you should not abandon your present business and go into some other line.
Let us assume that each of you is in some business--the same business--and that business has in it all the faults, all the errors and unethical principles, outlined a few moments ago. Now, what are you to do? Change from that line of business, give it up altogether, or continue in it and fight it out with your conscience?
We know that a wilful violation of one of the Cosmic laws brings its penalties. We know that even an unconscious violation of a Cosmic law brings its particular form of penalty, just as does the unconscious violation of one of nature's laws. There is no avoiding the consequences of our acts. We cannot eternally escape the law of Karma in connection with every act, large or small, wilful or unconscious. Therefore, it would seem that there is but one thing to do, abandon any business that entails methods which we believe are not proper, not fair nor ethical.
Again I say, however, that this conclusion is not right. It is simply another way of attempting to "rise above" the circumstances, the problems, and in no wise shows either mastership or character.
I wish to offer to you an explanation of what constitutes the real situation and the proper attitude to assume in these matters.
First of all, each one of us is here on this earth plane to carry out some of the work that is to be done. We may or may not get right into the groove that is best for us, and we may or may not be laboring at what is our true mission in life. But we are laboring, we are working, we are striving, producing, creating, building and carrying on. No matter what line of activity we may be devoted to, if it is more than fifty per cent constructive, it is good; if it is contributing in some way to the needs, the desires, the pleasures and health of the masses, it is good. Only the idler, the non-producer, the parasite, is wholly wrong in his life.
It is undoubtedly true that many lines of endeavor in the business world are based on unethical and unsound methods and principles. This is the result of man's past attempts to create schemes of working out his plans in life without due consideration of the higher principles involved in all things. So, man of today is forced either to use some of these established methods himself, or contend with them in the activities of others with whom he must deal.
What would you have all men do? Abandon their business activities and cease to conduct the various lines of business, because in nearly all lines there are these faults? Or, would you have all men, and women, enter just those few lines of business wherein there seems to be not a single fault or unethical principle?
We must admit that just as there were men in the days of the past who cared little or nothing for ethical principles and stooped to any degree of deceit and error to further their business interests, there are many like that in the business world today. Would you good men, men who have found that some business practices are not what they should be, abandon your places in the business world and leave all such business to those men who are satisfied with the questionable practices? In other words would you abandon your place to those who will continue to increase the unethical practices and permit conditions to get worse than they are?
Perhaps you see my point of view, now. It is simply this. The evolution and improvement of business ethics and sound business principles rests in the hands of those conscientious men like yourselves who fully appreciate the errors that now exist, who are sensitive to the voice of conscience, and who are seeking advice and suggestions regarding any means for eliminating the wrong principles. Your presence in the business world is like unto the fire in the alchemist's furnace. You will purge and purify the dross from the matter and finally leave it in a higher state, a better state. The fact that you are questioning some of the practices you have been forced to use, that you are holding some of the principles up to the light of examination, and applying the microscope of Cosmic enlargement to your viewpoint, is the one great redeeming feature of the business you are in.
You know that as Rosicrucians we hold that "evolution, not revolution, is the principle that makes for permanency in changes." You will never alter permanently, improve permanently, the business conditions of the world by arbitrarily abandoning all lines of business activity that today are fraught with unethical practices. You would simply turn those lines of activity back into the hands of the unscrupulous, the indifferent, the unworthy, and those lines would never improve, never evolve, into the ideal lines they should be.
No, my Brothers, consider yourselves Messengers of Light in your fields of business activities; look upon yourselves as tools in the hands of the Cosmic Laws to aid in the evolutionary changes that must be brought about in all things, including business methods. Keep your eyes, your ears, your tongues, well attuned to the errors that you note in your business affairs. At every opportunity make these wrong practices as inconsequential in the scheme of things as possible; give them secondary place whenever possible; put better ones in their places at each opportunity; help to make their weaknesses become so evident to others that the very presence of them in any line will be obnoxious. That will be applying the fire of the crucible to them. Make it your business to lift your practices higher and higher each day, not by negating the business, not by casting it aside and abandoning it to those who have no heart, no active conscience, but by becoming the saviour of your business, the leader in the evolutionary changes that must be worked out slowly and carefully. Each time you are forced to use a practice, a method, a principle that you recognize as unsound, do it with your consciousness concentrated upon its unsoundness and make it stand out in all its crimson distinctiveness and thereby isolate it from the other principles and methods which are good and true. Little by little these marked things will be separated and you will have a group of branded practices, condemned, ostracised and rejected. This will be part of the process of evolution of your business and you will be one of those like the many in the past years who have aided in similar ways in making all our business, social and educational systems better and more ideal than they were hundreds of years ago.
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