Cooperation, being able to work as part of a team, is an essential skill in life. While this is true in business, sports, or any other undertaking, it is also important spiritually, where aligning our individual will with God’s will is a vital step on the spiral stairway that leads to Self-realization.
In a practical sense, teamwork is needed if we want to accomplish tasks beyond the scope of a single individual. There are certain stages to forming a team. The first step is to have a very clear goal. Each sport, for instance, has rules and a purpose that are well defined. If the goal is clear and simple, sometimes a team can form more or less spontaneously. I remember how, when I was young, the boys in our neighborhood would come together and quickly sort out our roles in whatever game we were playing that day. But of course as the games we play become more serious and complex, we can’t rely on simple spontaneity. We need a coach or manager.
A good manager needs to make sure that the goal or purpose is clear, be able to articulate it lucidly, and, most importantly, get everyone on the team to “buy in.” A friend who spent a career managing teams for the internet company LinkedIn told us that they described the process of team formation with this phrase: “Forming, storming, norming, and performing.”
Forming is when the team comes together. Storming is the next stage, when the various members are sorting out their roles and responsibilities. This can get particularly tricky when a new leader comes into an existing team, where people with old roles and loyalties might be reluctant to change. Norming is when everyone finally accepts and settles into their role and the team is at last ready to start. Performing is doing the job.
Once this last stage has been reached, the leader needs to keep everyone focused, coordinated, and inspired. In a spiritual organization such as Ananda, there is the added obligation of keeping the operation in tune with the true leader, God or Guru.
This whole topic may seem to have drifted a bit from a spiritual focus, but cooperation is essential also to our spiritual growth. Swami Kriyananda created a simple Discipleship Ceremony for those ready to become disciples of our line of gurus. It has a vow that includes these lines: “I will join my energies to those of my gurubhais, my spiritual family on earth. I will cooperate with them, and especially with the living representatives and guides of my divine line of gurus.” Ultimately, being able to join your energies with others’ is a steppingstone to being able to surrender your ego to God.
Yogananda compared our various thoughts to “mental citizens.” When we sit to meditate we need our thought citizens to form a team committed to the goal of union with the Divine. Just this morning, as I sat to meditate, I became aware that there was a rowdy gang, probably cranky from having to get up early, which wanted no part of the discipline of watching the breath. With repeated effort, bringing my mind back when it wandered, I was able to get them to “join their energies to those of their gurubhais.” As we all became more focused on the goal of stilling what Yogananda called “the twin tumults of breath and mind,” I could feel my heart and soul expanding and getting more in tune with God and my own divine nature. Only then could my innate love and joy begin to percolate to the surface of my consciousness.
Yes, teamwork is needed on all levels, and can accomplish miracles.