In search of "Common Sense"

Jun 11, 2014

Vedanta and Theory of Constraints

Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt, passed away on this date, three years ago. He was an honest scientist who said what he saw as reality.

Eli spent his entire adult life fighting to show that it is possible to make this world a better place. We must have the honesty to see reality as it is, we must have the courage to challenge assumptions, and above all, we must use the gift of thinking. Having applied these principles to various management fields, he created the Theory of Constraints (TOC). His concepts and teachings have expanded beyond management and are being used in healthcare, education, police work, counseling, government, agriculture and personal growth - and the list of the fields using TOC goes on and on. Dr. Goldratt's legacy is invaluable. 

To my mind, he was a Modern Rishi (a sage, seer), just like the Rishis who discovered Vedanta and propagated it through various means.

Vedanta (Veda + Anta) means culmination / end (anta) of knowledge (Veda).

The people, Rishis, who wrote our philosophical books – Upanishads, Vedas, Puranas, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagwad Gita etc were actually scientists. Like any scientist they got into the journey of discovering cause and effect relationships explaining the visible phenomena. Unlike natural scientists, who focused their attention on external phenomena, these Rishis focused on human experience.

VedantaTreatise is a digestible version of their discoveries of “Laws of nature” governing human experience.
Each one of us is a unique combination of three qualities:
  1. Sattwa - goodness, truthfulness, thus illumination
  2. Rajas - passion and desire
  3. Tamas - indifference, inertia, ignorance and thus, darkness
A human being in whom tamas predominates is surrounded by a cloak of darkness because typically he is lazy, self-centered, deluded, his discordant thoughts and actions bringing suffering to himself and others.

A person in whom rajas is dominant is cloaked in an aura clouded with his passions and desires and, although he might be clever, creative, even heroic at times, he will be held back from advancement if he is centered too much on himself, on possessions and personal gains.

One in whom sattva predominates is surrounded by a radiant halo that reflects his virtuous, wise, and compassionate nature. His dedication to the welfare of others brings peace and stability to every situation. But even he, if he is too attached to what is noble, beautiful, and true, will be blocked from rising into higher realms. (Cf. Heinrich Zimmer, Philosophies of India, p. 231.)


As we are aware, our consciousness continually rises and falls through these levels and conditions. When asleep we are in the tamasic condition; when awake and active, in rajas; and when we are thinking and working for others, or wrapped in spiritual contemplation, we are in the sattvic state. However, these qualities seldom exist singly. Their interaction adds variety to our lives, not only creating challenges for us to meet but tending to balance, strengthen, and/or neutralize the influence that one or the other guna exerts. 

These qualities also apply to all beings throughout the cosmos, from the divine to the microcosmic.

What is the value and purpose of these intricate and interesting teachings?

They can help us understand the nature, movement, and function of our manifold being, and give us the incentive and tools by which we can improve our lives and hasten our evolution. By freeing ourselves from attachments and then by sublimating these qualities within our nature -- transforming tamas into tranquillity, rajas into compassionate action, and sattva into divine altruism -- we raise our focus of awareness from jagrat (Waking State) to svapna (Dreaming State) to sushupti (Deep Sleep State) and enter the realms of turiya, (The Fourth State).

However, this goal is not quickly attained. Obstacles arise. The hindrances of ignorance, egotism, and attachments test our resolve and hold us captive in this world of illusion, or Maya. But we can overcome. 

We can become one with "the Self which is free from sin, free from old age, from death and grief." Our whole nature will then be so spiritual that the worlds and desires we sought to attain will be ours to bless and uplift.

I find lot of parallels between Theory of Constraints and Vedanta especially the essence:
  1. Global Thinking
  2. Focus
The five focusing steps as per my understanding are:
TOC
Vedanta
1.    Identify the system constraint.
The ignorance of answer to the question “Who am I?” “The Real I.”
2.    Decide how to exploit the constraint.
Gain knowledge (Read and Contemplate on) of the “Laws of nature” which help in getting the true answer.
3.    Subordinate everything else to the above decision
Surrender in the application of the above laws and drop all smart decision making geared towards enhancing local optima.
4.    Elevate the system constraint
Get deeper and finer understanding of the “Laws of nature” by constant study, contemplation and application.
5.    Warning! If in any previous step a constraint is broken, go to step 1. Do not allow inertia to cause the next constraint.

The journey is to remove “Tamas” with “Rajas”,
“Rajas” with “Satwa” and “Satwa with nothing”.

Allow only the INTELLECT to be in control. MIND has a tendency to get comfortable and cause slip-back.


Learning Vedanta and TOC is a never ending joyous journey!

1 comment:

  1. Excellent article. In fact I was always having interest in comparing the great gurus of old time and our time.
    TOC guru taught us the Purpose ( goal ) of business organization and our rishis taught us the purpose of life . I see lot of similarities between the two . In fact I am very keen to compile the similarities of all the belief and philosophy ( 5 pillars )of TOC and our great epics / vedas.

    ReplyDelete