Sadhana writes about her visit to ‘Ant Financial’ in Hangzou, China, a company that takes the ant as its role model. Published in The Asian Age on October 4, 2015.
When I entered the magnificent 22-storey building which houses Ant Financial, the top finance servicing group in Hangzhou, China, I found that this company of 4,000 employees takes the ant as its role model. Yes, I mean the small, ever-busy, crawling creature in our house. You enter the lavish office of Ant Financial and a cute animation of a blue-colored ant with two antenna-like hairs sticking out of its head greets you. It is the company logo. You keep meeting this smart ant in many forms throughout this office. What does an ant have to do with a fast-growing finance group, I asked.
“A lot,” said the petite, human resource manager. “The ant works tirelessly; doesn’t leave the job undone; is not intimidated by the workload; values teamwork, and is amazingly well-organised. It seems it has found a blueprint to successful business.”
Learning from ants! I had never thought about the qualities of this workaholic insect that I always found annoying. I was reminded of an Osho insight, “Don’t be in a hurry to become learned, remain a learner. To remain a learner has tremendous beauty and grace in it, because it is life itself. Whatsoever you are learning, learn it in its totality. Be total, go into depth, to the very roots of everything – because the secrets are in the roots, they are not in the flowers.”
With this new understanding, I looked around at a sea of beautiful, intelligent, young Chinese men and women, deeply engrossed in their jobs, just like little ants. Getting inspired by ants is fantastic, but one cannot forget about the difference between the two species. Humans have a mind and a heart; they have feelings, they have moments of pain and pleasure – disagreements which affect inter-personal relations. Ants don’t have this in their DNA.
And this is exactly why I was in Hangzhou. The HR manager felt that the workers were not connecting with one another through their hearts. They all work for one company, with one goal, yet true oneness was missing. Her observation was not unfounded. In fact, no work culture allows people to share their true feelings. For a healthy atmosphere, personal grudges have to be expressed or they fester and affect relationships. However, talking about them is too risky and embarrassing for most.
We had selected a group of managers to work with. Instead of making them talk about their tensions, I tried a different route: breathing. I asked them to breathe vigorously and irregularly. This kind of breathing oxygenates the cells whilst generating lots of energy which is positive, fresh, and healthy. This build up of energy then helped them express their feelings in whatever way they wanted: screaming, shouting, groaning, laughing, but without using words.
This provides strong stimulation for emotional release and, if done playfully, it is great fun. The silence that followed was vibrant and pulsating with friendliness. In that moment, I asked them to say something to each other. What came out was the truth. Everybody heard it without feeling hurt and that was very healing. For the first time they felt the oneness their HR manager was yearning for. The roots of learning truly lie in meditation. While leaving the office, I looked back at the Ant Financial logo. Did I see a smile on its face? Or maybe, it was my heart, smiling.
Amrit Sadhana is in the management team of Osho International Meditation Resort, Pune. She facilitates meditation workshops around the country and abroad.
Quote by Osho from The Book of Wisdom, Ch 21
Illustration Osho News