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Ways of Deciding

Oct 24, 1997 03:56 PM
by Eldon B Tucker


by Eldon B. Tucker

Last Saturday the Los Angeles T.S. [Adyar] started an
Introductory class in Theosophy. The first meeting was given by
Robert Ellwood, a Professor of Comparative Religion at USC. He
made an interesting point regarding Japanese culture.

Management and decision making is different in Japan than here in
the United States. In the US, there's someone that makes a
decision and things are immediately resolved. There's no
uncertainty about when things are decided nor what the decision
is. Things are very cut-and-dried. There are individuals in
authority that decide things.

In Japan, there is talk until a consensus is reached. It's
unclear the exact time that something is decided. There's no
identifiable person that made the decision, nor any official vote
regarding what to do. People talk until they all come up with
the same idea and there's a feeling of general agreement.

This is also seen in Shinto, a religion in Japan that is
polytheistic. In Shinto, there are many, many Gods. How do they
decide what will be in the world? They decide by the same process
of coming to agreement. This sounds somewhat like the
theosophical idea of the Dhyani-Chohans creating the world -- a
form of polytheism.

Some may talk of the world moving from an "authoritarian Piscean
age" into an "Aquarian age where individual rights reign
supreme." I'd disagree that *the world* is doing so. What I see
to be happening is that Western cultures are experimenting with
different forms of community and relationship.

Changes are always needed as society becomes unbalanced. We need
to do balancing acts in our lives. An example would be in a
meditative practice where we sometimes emphasize emptiness and
other times emphasize fullness. A society also needs to do
balancing acts between various pairs of opposites. One such pair
is that of --

  authority, order, structure, community, harmony, and
  self-sacrifice for the good of the group

-- with --

  freedom, spontaneity, chaos, individuality, self-initiative,
  independence, and seeking one's own good.

In Japan, the importance of the collective is strong. In
America, it's the individual's power and authority that reign.
Our future freedom from dictatorship -- from individuals
dictating to the majority what must be done -- will paradoxically
come from our giving ourselves to the collective, from our
putting the good of others (and the group) before our individual
desires and needs. This may come from adopting the Japanese
approach of decision by consensus, replacing our western approach
of decision by assertion and personal authority. This is, in a
way, like following the Bodhisattva ideal, as we dedicate our
lives to the betterment of all sentient creatures.

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