When Credentials Do Not Come with
Competence or Buddhi

Everyday Ayurveda by Bhaswati Bhattacharya

In the wake of trauma, many people are tired and often perform their tasks poorly. But when this becomes a chronic problem, society is damaged. In earlier days, a person unable to  competently work was terminated from employment. There were standards for reading properly, calculating math needed for commerce and mathematical patterns for estimation, decision making that required mental focus, problem analysis, and critical thinking, and hand-eye coordination.

Today, lawyers cannot spell correctly yet claim to follow “the letter of the law.” Many have poor grammar and falsify documents. Surgeons cannot cut and sew correctly. Accountants today cannot do math, desperately dependent on spreadsheets and unable to audit with “accountability.”  Accounting errors are made that cost government bureaus enormous loss, and there is no transparency for those errors. Legislators no longer write laws, waiting for the lobbyists hired by corporations to write the bills they present. Journalists write for the sponsor and not for an objective truth, unable to perceive what is really going on. History is erased like an old webpage, leaving young children to wonder what gas stoves were, why slide rules were important, or the relevance of the phases of the moon. Everyone is hiding so that their incompetencies will not be discovered, or worse, penalized.

Earlier, adults were able to prepare their own meals and know where ingredients came from. They could engage in deep meaningful conversations that involved their emotions but did not overwhelm them. They could look at other people and understand their intentions and nonverbal messages. Today those abilities are considered paranormal.

When competently completing tasks that were considered simple a few decades ago is today considered perfection and rewarded as an accomplishment, each person expects rewards of higher and higher value for each completion.

Today, people enter college based on many factors other than merit. They make their way through using excuses of language, caste, economic hardship, and other disabilities, but often do not rise up to the competency required to finish college. Then these people demand a credential for the huge monies they spent, and proceed forward, feeling inside that they did not receive what they paid for, but willing to settle for a certificate. Then they feel entitled to a job due to the certificate they carry. They demand commensurate pay with others who hold the same degree, but no authority reveals transparency about the skill sets they judged in fear of retribution.

Who will judge those skill sets and a basic level of competence when the judges themselves do not often have skill sets? If someone points it out, s/he is a troublemaker. Honest judgment of quality or true capability is decided by groups of people who gather power, then act to protect their fecklessness. They cannot easily be challenged, as they keep law, or money, or power of employment with them.  Their private behaviors, ethics and morals are beyond reproach.

The continuing cycle of incompetence destroys society. When job positions require hard skills and candidates are not available, those posts either remain empty, such that needed work cannot be completed, or they are filled with borderline candidates. Over time, the standard productivity for many jobs is set very low due to chronic incompetence. Two people are hired to do one person’s job. Both demand salaries and receive them, falsely believing that their salary rewards their skills. The incompetence cycles downward.

Once employed, people today are taught to observe the job environment more than they are taught to learn the skills of the job.  They watch colleagues and do the least possible to complete a task without penalty, never using an internal compass on “a job well done,” but rather tune to whatever the boss wants and what colleagues in the environment will tolerate. The Tall Poppy Syndrome occurs, in which anyone excelling beyond their peers is cut out of the field first in order to keep it uniform and visually appealing.

And thus, we have arrived at a place where competence is not required for most jobs. Nepotism with a credential on paper will do. Without guides for competence, bright young minds begin to divert, seeking fulfillment and walking down dark alleys unnecessarily, because no mentor was found.

Why is this important? In fact, it is often unimportant for most jobs, and that is why it continues. Companies creating obscene profit margins tolerate incompetence because it allows lack of transparency.

However, in a few professions, the highest standards must be resurrected. This year has shown us that people die when incompetent people are credentialed, and when the standard is set so low that incompetents can emptily continue in the marked footsteps of preceding officials. Incompetence must be voted out. It must be fired. It must be reformed.

Doctors, pilots, teachers, leaders, judges, police, and parents who are competent are heroes. They judge quickly and accurately, manage problems with foresight, and are capable at many tasks, delegating as needed. Moral insight and ethical behavior guide them day and night. They are competent at mental engagement that requires immunity from temptation, ease with self-control, accuracy of movement, and a wide knowledge of many disciplines. Those of us who have them as mentors are blessed.

As the Gregorian year comes to an end, a year unlike most others, we must reassess our level of competence if we want to reach our life purpose and if we want to help society.  To begin, we must learn to quiet our mind, so that deeper messages from within can come into our conscious mind. We must reawaken our instinct so that we can understand clearly and feel the truth in our heart. On the practical level, we must learn a new skill, conquer an old fear, repair a wounded relationship. These lighten our burden and leave us freer to allow new wisdom inside, while burning away dark clouds of ignorance. New knowledge ignites our candles, and pushes away addictions. Awakened fire brings us back to childlike curiosity and allows competence to develop.

On the thinking level, like children we must no longer blindly accept what schools teach without questioning. We must use the powers of our own brains and read more old books. We must question basic constructs by connecting them with nature, for example why numbers are the way they are. We must reconnect with nature, growth of forests, movement of water, and the nature of rocks. We must question deeply why processes and procedures are done as they are.

As the Gregorian year comes to an end, a year unlike most others, we must reassess our level of competence if we want to reach our life purpose and if we want to help society. To begin, we must learn to quiet our mind, so that deeper messages from within can come into our conscious mind.

One large problem today is that modern scientists tell us how sophisticated science is, and that we must trust them and their experiments without questioning. They cannot reprove in the real world the studies that they memorize on paper and force us to accept. Especially in medicine, doctors are disconnected from the relationship between their actions, their effects on the environment, and the consequences of their medicine on the ecology in the world around them.

Modern scientists fear or dismiss the Vedas as religion, rather than conquering their own irrational fears through deeper understanding. They condemn religion, using their incompetent definition of ‘Hindooism’ to provoke bans. Do they base their observations on nature, which is the basis of all science, or do they invent science in a lab and isolate it from nature?

It is well-known that revered scientists and thinkers of the past 3000 years read the ancient Indian sciences, including Oppenheimer, Jung, Einstein, Hippocrates, JC Bose, and Buddha. Few know these modern scientists seeking truth acquiesced to the wisdom of the Vedas, the Puranas, the Upanishads, usually after they had achieved fame and a place in history for their “modern” discoveries, when they were free to explore the universe of knowledge. All affirmed that Vedic wisdom was more science than religion.

Is Vedic schooling religious? Or is religion created by a source group of power-hungry men who claimed interpretations of God’s laws?  Ayurveda whispers to us to use the Vedas, humans’ oldest preserved text of wisdom. The wisdom is not religion. It is understanding of the science of nature, and willingness to live by Nature’s laws. Vedic teachings of Sanatana Dharma, endless patterns in the Universe, are as religious as a school of fish, a forest of trees, a blanket of fire. Worship of Nature is labeled pagan and demonized. Demons live in the Abrahamic religious texts of the west. There are no demons in Sanatana Dharma; there is only imbalance and balance. Balance is wholesome, brings contentment, strength, and allows deeper wisdom to weave into our beings.

These concepts of space-time, balance, and harmony are feared because they are simple. It is time we reconsider the actual source of laws.

The South Asian Times Columnist Dr. Bhaswati Bhattacharya is a Fulbright Specialist 2018‐2022 in Public Health and Clinical Asst Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York. Her bestselling book Everyday Ayurveda is published by Penguin Random House. www.drbhaswati.com 


Images courtesy of (Photo courtesy: Fordham Institute) and thesatimes |

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