It has been presumed for many years that satisfying lower order
needs of workers - adequate food, clothing and shelter, etc. are
key factors in motivation. However, it is a common experience that
the dissatisfaction of the clerk and of the Director is identical
- only their scales and composition vary. It should be true that
once the lower-order needs are more than satisfied, the Director
should have little problem in optimizing his contribution to the
organization and society. But more often than not, it does not happen
like that. ("The eagle soars high but keeps its eyes firmly
fixed on the dead animal below.") On the contrary, a lowly
paid schoolteacher, or a self-employed artisan, may well demonstrate
higher levels of self-actualization despite poorer satisfaction
of their lower-order needs.
This situation is explained by the theory of self-transcendence
propounded in the Gita. Self-transcendence involves renouncing
egoism, putting others before oneself, emphasizing team work, dignity,
co-operation, harmony and trust – and, indeed potentially
sacrificing lower needs for higher goals, the opposite of Maslow.
"Work must be done with detachment." It is the
ego that spoils work and the ego is the centerpiece of most theories
of motivation. We need not merely a theory of motivation but a theory
The Great Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941, known as
"Gurudev") says working for love is freedom in action.
A concept which is described as "disinterested work" in
the Gita where Sri Krishna says,
"He who shares the wealth generated only after serving
the people, through work done as a sacrifice for them, is freed
from all sins. On the contrary those who earn wealth only for themselves,
eat sins that lead to frustration and failure."
Disinterested work finds expression in devotion, surrender and equipoise.
The former two are psychological while the third is determination
to keep the mind free of the dualistic (usually taken to mean "materialistic")
pulls of daily experiences. Detached involvement in work is the
key to mental equanimity or the state of "nirdwanda."
This attitude leads to a stage where the worker begins to feel the
presence of the Supreme Intelligence guiding the embodied individual
intelligence. Such de-personified intelligence is best suited for
those who sincerely believe in the supremacy of organizational goals
as compared to narrow personal success and achievement.