Robin Matthews is professor at universities in London and Moscow; consultant with international companies; writes on business, economics; and finance: creative imagination techniques in management.
religious leaders in baku
WORLD SUMMIT OF RELIGIOUS LEADERS IN BAKU 26/27 APRIL 2010
SPEECH BY PROFESSOR ROBIN MATTHEWS
PRESIDENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE OF STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT ASSESSMENT AND ACCOUNTING
Thank you for the opportunity to speak, as president of the International League of Strategic Management Accounting and Assessment, at this distinguished inter religious Summit in the beautiful city of Baku.
The Summit has recognised that what religions and spiritual traditions have in common is greater and more significant than their differences[i].
Globalisation has brought benefits and costs; rising real income for many people, while neglecting many others; creating sometimes material well being and sometimes a sense of spiritual loss and sometimes both. Global capitalism is both dynamic and unstable. Over the last 30 years, there have been more than one hundred financial crises.
One aspect of globalisation I would like to emphasise, is that the world is becoming more interdependent. On the negative side, some financial institutions have become too big to fail and have had to be rescued at enormous cost. To the direct costs in the financial sector, we should add the enormous costs imposed on the world through secondary effects of loss of income, jobs, and opportunities. Failure to rescue would have made things even worse. Now (April 2010), the risk of default by sovereign states has increased; a further repercussion of the financial crisis.
On the positive side, interdependence has made it clear that greater co-operation and compassion between people and between institutions, because they depend on one another. It is necessary to replace selfish competition that has ruled globalisation. In so far as this is so, we are in a new era.
The insight of the religious leaders who have promoted the Summit is beyond that of many industrial, financial and government leaders, who have not recognised that attachment to material things is the root cause of the latest crisis: and that increasing co-operation and compassion are the real tasks, not competitiveness and competitive advantage.
It is impossible to separate ethics from spirituality. Ethical values transcend pure materialism. Ethical values reflect our existence on many dimensions of Being; the spiritual as well as the material.
The International League is devoted to introducing spiritual values into business and business education. Our philosophy is that spirituality has practical significance, to the individual, to their organizations, to their society, and to global welfare and justice. It is based on the mystical teaching of Sufism and other mystical traditions, and is summarized as the Enneagram Methodology[ii].
Spirituality[iii] is urgently needed in business. Our philosophy is also that spirituality should be introduced in an inter-religious way that recognises the completeness of individual religions, which is the spirit of this Summit in Baku.
I am reminded of a saying that when people die, they will receive the Truth in a religion that is different from their own, and they may think it is false.
[i] See for example, Quran 2:256.
[ii] We are interested in the techniques for creativity and imagination associated with mysticism.
[iii] The most acceptable view of spirituality, for our purposes, is William James’: individual’s “ feelings acts and experiences.....in relation to whatever they may consider divine.....” (page 31) and he means by divine “... such primal reality as the individual feels compelled to respond to....” (page 41). See William James, (1982), The Varieties of Religious Experience, Viking Penguin Inc..