I completed my M.A. in Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) and the decision to take this direction came as a huge surprise to me as initially I had registered for a Masters in Corporate Communication. I was still working as a communication professional when I was informed by my former supervisor that I needed to move to Pretoria as he intended to centralise the communication division. This meant that all communication officials in the organisation based in Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, and Johannesburg including me in Bloemfontein had to relocate.
I had registered with the local University of Free State at the beginning of 2002 and thought to myself, ‘how would I be able to study if I am in Pretoria?’ I couldn’t come up with a workable solution and decided to cancel the registration as it was still in the beginning of the year and see how the centralisation plan would unfold.
Days turned into months and I found myself still in Bloemfontein without an indication from the executive about the move. A year passed and still the centralisation didn’t occur. I decided to visit the university again in January of 2003 and see if I could register again and this time, I was inspired to look at other programmes that the Department of Communication Science at the university was offering. I came across the integrated marketing communication programme and resolved to engage the lecturer in the department to find out more about the course. I also did my own little research to establish further interest and fell in love with what I learnt. In short, I applied and was accepted into the programme.
IMC is a concept and practice of combining promotional tools to create synergy. These include advertising, public relations, sales promotion, direct marketing and personal selling. By integrating all tools of marketing communication, you get more benefit out of your campaign unlike using a single tool. You receive maximum impact of your intended communication with your target audience by honouring the aptitudes of every tool. When you use a unifying approach, you create harmony as the organisation begins to communicate a consistent message with one voice.
From a human relations and spiritual viewpoint, I perceived a similar concept as an ideal way of approaching life. I have been a spiritual seeker for years and in my search and going through tons of spiritual material, attending seminars and teachings, going on spiritual retreats and engaging in different spiritual and psychological practices like meditation, praying, affirmations, reiki, hypnotherapy and the like, I came to honour the different yet similar approaches and applications. We often focus on how separate we are, rather than how unified we can be.
We can learn and adopt good and noble practices from each other without seeking to make another ‘wrong’ all the time. As a Christian, I believe that there is a thread of wisdom and some commonalities that run across all religions and spiritual disciplines through my observations, experiences and travel. It could be a sentence or two that you hear from a sermon in church, a reading in the temple, a discourse, a speech, a lecture, a pilgrimage, devotion, act of worship and so forth. We don’t always have to aggressively oppose things that we do not understand or shut our ears from the world because we do not believe what another is sponsoring. At the end, it’s good to know that we all make our own individual choices and need to use discernment. You need not eat the entire cake, however, you can benefit from the words of another being on the opposite site of the continuum.
In 2003 I embarked on a journey with the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University resulting in two trips to India at different times. The irony of the matter was that I was busy with my studies and focusing on integrated approaches from an academic point of view and the Brahma Kumaris made me realise that to a greater extend, we are actually preaching the same things in different ways as I got to know and understand what they stood for. The Brahma Kumaris practice Raja yoga meditation which “gives you a clear spiritual understanding of yourself, helps you re-discover and use the positive qualities already latent within you, enables you to develop your strengths of character and create new attitudes to life” (www.brahmakumaris.org).
I have acquired a wealth of knowledge and good practices through this spiritual university; a place that is dedicated to spiritual teaching and the journey was remarkable. This is where I became aware of the resemblance with some of my Christian education and other religions. The deeper and inner goals being taught everywhere about loving each other, serving humanity, giving, appreciation, moral discipline, purity, virtues, changing our thinking patterns and above all, connecting to the source of life, which is God. The very early hours of the morning, 4:00 a.m. to be exact, are dedicated to meditation and being in remembrance of God and, is it not what many others are doing around the world, praying in the early hours and spending time with God? It is!
There are fine principles of living that can save humanity if we took time to search and listen without judgement. I’m certain that a peace rally is something that is common to everyone and a noble course no matter who arranged it. When you practice reiki for instance, you are laying on hands on another for positive energy of healing, and the laying on of hands is also common in prayer to achieve the same goal, which is healing.
We are often clouded by terminology based on our socialisation, conditioning and training. In politics we often hear the term, being ‘politically correct’ and perhaps we are also trying to be ‘spiritually, religiously or socially correct’ in our practices. We condemn, judge, ridicule and belittle each other in the name of God sometimes, and Jesus said, do not judge lest you be judged. First remove the log in your eye before removing the speck in your brother’s eye. It’s a simple biblical principle that is beneficial to all humanity despite religions or any other form of spiritual discipline or philosophy. Internal wars go as far as common practices within the same religion or spiritual group too; this preacher against that one, this church against that one and accredited practitioners in the same field.
We can draw wisdom from various, tools, experiences and methods by bringing similarities together and seeing how different approaches complement each other. Gratitude is one of the many and one of the simplest of commonalities that runs through all forms of worship. It doesn’t require too much effort, debate or deep understanding. It only requires awareness and an open heart.
Kgalalelo Saane Mphephuka
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