Richard Wermske

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Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths

What is Unsatisfactoriness?

There is a word in the Pali language ( Dukkha ) that has no complete (or thorough) translation into english. It is generally translated as 'suffering' or 'unsatisfactoriness,' but there is far more depth and richness to this word. The unsatisfactoriness includes deeper ideas; such as, imperfection, pain, impermanence , disharmony, discomfort, irritation, or awareness of incompleteness and insufficiency. This broader and deeper meaning does not to diminish the common understanding of physical and mental suffering: birth, decay, disease, death, to be united with the unpleasant, to be separated from the pleasant, not to get what one desires.

However, many people do not realize that even during the moments of joy and happiness, there is suffering because these moments are all impermanent states and will pass away when conditions change. Therefore, the truth of unsatisfactoriness (Dukkha) encompasses the whole of existence, in our happiness and sorrow, in every aspect of our lives. As long as we live, we are very profoundly subjected to this truth.

There is value in not letting oneself get too comfortable with any one particular translation of the word, because it is important to practice broadening and deepening of one's understanding of dukkha until its roots are finally exposed and eradicated once and for all.




Great Minds and Great Society

The basic structure of society must arrange social and economic inequalities such that they are to the greatest advantage of the least well off representative group. However, unless people are free to make contracts and to sell their labour, or unless they are free to save their incomes and then invest them as they see fit, or unless they are free to run enterprises when they have obtained the capital, they are not really free.

It is important that we agree what defines a Great Society. Herbert Marcuse presents a consensus definition: A Great Society "is (1) a society of 'unbridled growth,' resting on 'abundance and liberty for all,' which demands an 'end to poverty and racial injustice'; (2) a society in which progress is the 'servant of our needs'; (3) a society in which leisure is a 'welcome chance to build and reflect,' and which serves 'not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce, but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.'" I would embellish this to include maximum utility and happiness.

There are many great minds, but these men stand out for their ideas of self-determination; the primacy of the individual and the nation, as opposed to the state and religion, as being the fundamental units of law, politics and economy.

Great minds over the centuries have synthesized and shared with us various ideas on liberty, property, and social responsibility. Our task is to integrate and embrace acculturation such that our society can be a place where we safely and happily raise our families, free from the dark shadow of war, violence, or suspicion among nations, tribes, and/or communities.

However, even with determination and resources, we cannot realize a Great Society so long as we sabotage our efforts by demonstrating behaviors that are inconsistent or lack integrity. For all to prosper, all must be allowed and encouraged to prosper. While this may seem like a tautology, it speaks to actionable opportunity.


Business Strategy

Career Building Adventure

It is exceptionally rare for me to put any significant weight behind a single particular book or reference; however, I have recently completed a read of Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool's Guide to Surviving with Grace, and without a doubt I am experiencing a must share moment!

One perspective: It is the rare management book that is also an entertaining read, but in Orbiting the Giant Hairball, the late Gordon MacKenzie beautifully blends humorous stories, powerful insights and solid career and personal advice for anyone working inside today's organizations.  MacKenzie, who worked at Hallmark Cards ("the largest social expression company in the world" is how he describes it) for thirty years, shares his experiences of breaking the bonds of "Corporate Normalcy," the all-too-common organizational commitment to trying to live and succeed in a world that no longer exists.

For association leaders interested in unleashing their own creativity or the creative genius of their staff, Orbiting the Giant Hairball , is a must read.  For me, it's the handbook for moving the organization forward in spite of itself.  And if you're curious about exactly what "the giant hairball" is, well then you'd better pick up Orbiting the Giant Hairball today!

And another perspective: This is as much as of a “how to revive your creative side” as it is a leadership book. MacKenzie worked for 30 years in the Hallmark Card Company, considered to be a place where you would find many creative people at work. But even a “creative” company has its ingrained corporate structure.

The hairball of the title is actually a simile for the bureaucracy of the organization or institution for which you work. The jest of the book is to explain how you can orbit far enough away from the hairball without getting entangled in it while at the same time not straying too far away as to become unemployed.

This is a very unusual book. Great to get the creative part of your brain going. First there are many doodles on many of the pages and some pages are straight from a yellow legal pad. Chapter 19 of the book is entitled Orville Wright and the entire text of that chapter is as follows: “Orville Wright did not have a pilot's license.”

MacKenzie also compares the traditional top-down organizational chart (pyramid) with his version of the ideal organizational chart. Mackenzie's organizational chart is a drawing of a plum tree. The trunk is top management or central support structure for the organization. The managers and supervisors are depicted as main branches to support product and producers. The roots are depicted as financial resources. The product (fruit) and the product creators (leaves) are at the top of this organizational chart. One other comparison that MacKenzie makes between this chart and the typical top-down pyramid is that a pyramid is a tomb while a tree is a living organism.

The book not only offers ideas to look at things differently it also provides motivation to just get off your butt and do something. An example of this can be found in the final two sentences of the book are at the conclusion of a chapter entitled Paint Me a Masterpiece. “If you go to your grave without painting your masterpiece, it will not get painted. No one else can paint it. Only you.”

If you are easily board with “conventional thinking” and enjoy spending time on the “outside of the box” this is the book for you. If you have read The Art of War and The Prince, you REALLY need to read this book.


©2003-2017 Richard Wermske