What will you do in five years? My answer, five years ago: “I am the CEO of a successful technology company. We are just build our first manufacturing facility in Malaysia and next month we will hire our fortieth employee.”
Well, the stuff venture capitalists, business angels and reviewers want to hear (and coaches tell you say), when you ask for investment. Even back then I couldn’t really imagine that, even though it was well possible. But it somehow never felt right. Somehow I had lost my interest in technology.
Today an amazing piece. Trash within three years. This endless cycle becomes wearisome after some time and I stopped attributing any importance to the (incremental) progress of information technology. And so, increasingly, I grew apart from a life in the lab and on trade fairs, from pitching to investors and customers. My life just seemed just wasted, spending it on such content.
But in spite of me changing, I was still trapped in my position of CEO and increasingly unhappy. And I was starting to look for an alternative, a guideline for a better life. Until now I was following the liberal credo: maximise your options. So founding a company was just logical and the best way to use my knowledge. Only the private sector creates a surplus! And Germany needs innovative, export oriented companies or it will be relegated to the second league, soon!
But TOWI Solutions didn’t grow to be one of the Hidden Champions and my career as CEO remained short lived. After our decision to stop operations of TOWI Solutions, I had no idea how to continue.
It didn’t want to develop technology, I had some other ideas but none that really appealed to me. In December 2014 I decided to travel to India, in the search for a better way of life.
And really, I found other, more holistic approaches. In Auroville, the city of the future, I found a whole city dedicating itself to the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo. In Sadhana Forest a project that amalgamates tribal structures with postmodern worldviews into a surprisingly productive and creative organisation. In Amma’s Ashram I met people that cultivate their devotion to a guru, in order to overcome their proper egoism and develop compassion.
Everywhere in India I met people who, being disappointed with the liberal model changed their lives following a spiritual approach. And they are doing well. Everyone works a lot. But no one is complaining. Work is not about achieving and earning anymore but about improving ones attitude. It transforms from struggle to devotional service.
On the contrary, social security, employee representation, anti-discrimination laws and the like just cannot prevent people being reduced to their added value. Concentration on wealth turns out to be trap. Growth is accompanied by increased pressure to adapt to needs of the economy.
And that has serious consequences on the mood. Just compare the careless happiness Kolkata’s poor show while scrubbing each others back on the pavement with the grim faces in Berlin’s U-Bahn and it becomes quite obvious that the price we pay for wealth is simply to high.
At end of my journey through India, I went to a Vipassana course. Ten days of meditation and silence. Concentrating on the breath, observing the body. Experiencing the reaction to different memories coming up. Unaltered, since there is no communication to other. Basically, a very subtle psychoanalysis. During the Vipassana I realized, how little I had followed my own visions and perceptions, so far. Most of the time I just took the easiest, the most convenient and predetermined path.
When I came back from India I had changed. My friends were amazed and complimented me. I was supposed to look manlier, happier and to be calmer and more confident. The inner change had transformed the appearance, too.
But more important are the changes to the mind. Today, I see situations much more open. Fixed ideas disappear more and more and can I live more in the moment. So I enjoy a freedom, I couldn’t even imagine before. My life moves in the right direction, without me having to try. It just flows.
But even though I have become much stronger now, I still didn’t feel myself up to the task of living in Germany. Emotions are contagious. And the atmosphere there is just to grumpy, fear all to present.
And so, even while I was still in India, I decided to go back. This time as a volunteer in an Indian monastery. Meditating a lot and strengthening my mind. And sharing knowledge with the monks. Of all religions, Buddhism works best together with the modern, scientific view of the world.
But so far there is not enough exchange. The monks in the Diwakar Buddhist Academy in Kalimpong follow their century old curriculum. In order to be able to communicate they need to speak English and have a general knowledge about our world. And, of course it can be pretty interesting to discuss about Buddhist Philosphy and Science with the professors here.
And so I have decided to come here. And pretty happy with that decision.