Dominic Houlder, Dean of a prestigious programme at London Business School, fixes you with a penetrating gaze. His conversation brims with energy. He is evidently bright and dynamic, honed by an expensive British education and a successful career as a business strategist and consultant. But Dominic Houlder is also Mahaprabha, a member of the Western Buddhist Order. He is a warm, ethical and generous man with a strong feeling for spiritual life. While many Buddhists associate the world of big business with ambition and avarice, Mahaprabha believes in engaging with it, and in his recent book, Mindfulness and Money (co-authored with Kulananda), he suggests that our economic and our spiritual lives can be brought together. Worldly success and practising Buddhism are not mutually exclusive. Vishvapani visited the palatial London Business School and asked Mahaprabha how this was possible.
‘The worlds of business and Buddhism have never been polar opposites in my life. I started to become a Buddhist in the mid-1980s when I was a business school student at Stanford in California, and my first experience of meditation came through the ‘Creativity in Business’ course led by a remarkable man called Mike Ray. What he meant by creativity was not pondering business case studies, but developing awareness, imagination and appreciating suffering. One assignment he set us was to spend a day observing water. He gave us precepts to live by for a week, and one that made a great impression on me was the precept ‘pay attention’. Something about the course made me see what an extraordinary thing life could be.