Sensible Solidarity through Suka-Duka

October 09, 2009

By Anand Krishna
For The Bali Times


Appearing on national television recently, a successful Balinese entrepreneur spoke at great length about what his company was doing to fulfill its corporate social responsibility (CRS).

It’s a good concept, but as with other corporate concepts, it has its loopholes. If you are smart enough, you can meet your social responsibility without spending a single cent from your pocket, or from the coffers of your corporation.

How? Well, you have to be smart enough to do it.

Do you remember being drawn to a store by its seasonal Super Sale or Monster Sale ads, and then being disappointed after checking their price tags because they had increased prices before applying discount?

This can be very obvious and can prove that the storeowner is not really smart-smart. A smarter storeowner recently added an extra CRS flavour to his Super Sale ad, which read: “We offer you an opportunity to serve the orphans and the needy during the holy month of Ramadhan.” The ad continued in bold type: “10 percent of all your purchases above Rp1 million will be donated.”


The devout walking into his store would not leave without buying something. I was not that devout, so I walked out without buying anything. I had found their prices more than 50 percent higher than normal and that they where offering only 20 percent discount. Let us use our left-brain and brush up on our mathematics…

Say something worth Rp 1 million is marked up to Rp 1.5 million. With 20 percent discount you would pay Rp1.2 million. From that, the storeowner very religiously sets aside 10 percent, or Rp 120,000, for charity. He still gets Rp 1,080,000, which is Rp 80,000 above the normal, no-sale price. This is what I call smart-smart, although it is not yet all that very smart.

The very smart ones would control your natural recourses, process them, package them, advertise them at your cost, sell them to you and make you feel better for contributing to a nationwide campaign to help your countrymen and women who are less privileged than you. And they’d get an award from your government for fulfilling their part in CRS.Hurry, bravo, good!

CRS is, after all, part of business.

And, business is business. All is fair in love, war and business.

In Bali, we do not talk much about CRS. The concept is as foreign as it is in other part of the archipelago.

Here, we practice Suka-Duka, commonly translated as Solidarity. Suka actually means happiness and Duka is grief. So it is: Solidarity in happiness and in grief.

Our understanding of solidarity is not just helping the grief-stricken, but also rejoicing with those who are happy. Now, the last part is very tricky. It is not very easy to rejoice with those who are happy. It is a lot easier to help the grief-stricken. When we help the grief-stricken, our little ego is inflated. We find ourselves in a better position. We give, and they receive. We are privileged, and they are not. We are the masters, and they are slaves.

However, when it comes to rejoicing with those who are happy, our ego is deflated and we ask: What has he done to deserve it? We become jealous of another’s achievement, success and happiness. We may not express it, but we feel it.

Unlike CRS, Suka-Duka is blow to our ego, leading to its total annihilation. CRS is pity-driven, or at the most compassion-driven, and is still in the realm of ego. Suka-Duka is the fruit of self-realization and goes beyond the petty ego.

For CRS to be effective you must have the division between the haves and the have-nots. Suka-Duka, on the contrary, bring down the wall separating the haves from the have-nots.

Can we see the point?

Suka-Duka is leading to Individual Social Responsibility and Individual National Responsibility. The next natural steps would be Individual World Responsibility and Individual Universal Responsibility.

In CRS,”I” always has the upper hand and “You” is at the lower end. So if I help you out of pity and compassion, then I have done my job. I have fulfilled my task. And you had better not complain. Beggars are not the choosers, anyway. You should accept whatever change I have thrown into your begging bowl and stop irritating me.

In Suka-Duka, I and You are one. I cannot help you; I can only help myself. I cannot serve you; I can only serve myself. If you are hungry, part of me remains hungry too. By feeding that part I am not doing you a favour. I am not moved by pity, or even compassion. I am moved by my own need to appease my hunger.

Similarly, when you are happy, I cannot but rejoice with you. For I feel your happiness. I feel your joy. When you are blessed, I am blessed too.

CRS is manmade and machine-calculated. Suka-Duka is natural. CRS requires a set of rules, regulations, dogma, doctrines. At is zenith, CRS still needs the philosophy of compassion. Suka-Duka does not need any of those things. Suka-Duka does not depend on any philosophy. It is the result of self-realization-You are I.

Suka-Duka is self actualization. This is no ordinary solidarity, but a sensible solidarity. This is not right or wrong, my nation-but the sensitivity to realize that nation can never go wrong. As long as there is a single individual who is right, we cannot call the entire nation wrong. Albeit,  the state, the government often goes wrong.

How, then, does Suka-Duka respond to such state, such government, or to a wrong social system? It responds sensibly. It has the right solution to correct the wrong.

Suka-Duka: I do rejoice in your happiness. However, if you are happy at the cost of someone being miserable-if you happiness causes grief to someone else-then I can no longer rejoice in you happiness. I shall feel the pain and the grief of that person as well. It become my foremost duty, then, to reprimand the I within You, and stop him from being so insensitive towards the I within others.

I do feel your grief, your pain and your misery. However, if they are caused by your laziness, your mistakes and your wrongdoings, then I must also awaken the within You and make him see where he has gone wrong.

Suka-Duka – alas my entrepreneur friend from Bali cited earlier seemed to have forgotten his own cultural heritage. May there be not too many entrepreneurs like him. Amen, Om, Shanti.


The writer is a spiritual activist and author of more than 130 books. To know more about his activities in Bali, call Aryana or Debbie on 0361 7801595 or 8477490; or visit www.aumkar.org and www.anandkrishna.org