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7 Kriterien

It was unavoidable. After "spiritual master" (sic) as MA university title (read more books!) , "business spirituality" as the attempt "to spiritualize the business world" (sic), "spiritual politics" (...) to reform society and the "evolutionary ambitions" of "would-be leaders", it was only a matter of time that "spiritual leadership" became popular, as well. It creates the feeling of something important about to happen. Because isn't spirituality the opposite of materialism and everything that is related to it? The question is: do these "spiritual leaders" comply with this criterium or is it - not for the first time - once again intentionally misleading? In order to find that out I mirror the candidates in spé to 7 different criteria.

1. Vom Geiste heraus

"Spiritual" means "from the Spirit". (Spirit)Mind with a big M to be sure. There exists also a mind with a small m. The difference is, that the former is your inner Divine Spark, while the second complies with thought processes. Spiritual leaders are those who live, work and lead with the SpiritMind. This Spirit is bigger than themselves, the small self. This means that your power and talents are in the service of the Great Spirit. The former are serving the latter. Spiritual leaders lead, while being led. This implies that they lead by obeying their innermost Core. With common (political) leaders this is just the opposite. They lead with their small self. They think high about themselves, but are in fact (spiritually) nothing. While those who are "nothing" in reality are everything. An example a.o. is Gandhi.

2. Spirituelle Verwirklichung

If "leading through the Spirit" is a pre-condition, you have to first possess that Spirit. Or to put it differently: the alive Spirit should live within you. Actually, everybody lives "in the Spirit" and the Spirit in you, but not everyone knows this. Everybody is a Buddha, but only a few have actually realised it, e.g." Are what they Really Are". To people who claim "spiritual leadership" or are presented like that, this isn't arbitrary. Their right to exist is at stake. If their leadership is coming from the Source, then they are true leaders. Their inner quality is their (only) standard, while common leaders (with respect!) on the contrary, work through their small self: through ideas, concepts and goals (and that is already quite something.....)

Misleading are often appearences. The pope, f.i., obviously, is the leader of the Catholic Church. But is he a spiritual leader, as well?* Everybody says so, but is that complying with Reality? From the criteria of "God-Realisation" there are grave doubts. O, sure, he is doing his utmost to impress people with his "holiness", but the fact alone, that it takes him so much effort is een indication for not "having the Spirit". Compare him with any Zen monk, the latter clear, free, spontaneous, natural, full of joy and humor......The pope on the other hand "tormented", unnatural, constantly pretending what he is not. If this is the case with the pope, how is it with lesser "gods" among us?

* To a catholic priest, it is even undesirable to be holy i.e. spiritual. Already in the first centuries of Christianity it was decided that he should be a functionary of the Church, only! The pope thus finds himself between two stools. "Poor" man.

What we know about Mother Teresa (through self confession in her own diary!) is that she begged her whole life for God-experience, but never tasted it. No doubt, she was a great leader, but a spiritual leader, as well? The "solution" in such a situation: If you ARE not IT, then you identify with it, you try to become it though desire, you try to grasp it..... "Da eben wo Verwirklichung fehlt, da stellt zur rechten Zeit eine Identifikation sich ein...."(after Goethe). Or like Dutch say: "Ben je het niet, dan maak je je ergens meester van" ("If you are NOT a Master, then you take possession of it). To have a few good ideas, something everybody can, even if it concerns "spiritual ideas" is easy. Unfortunately, concepts, ideas and goals, however "spiritual" don't make you a spiritual leader

3. Sein statt haben

A tree is known by its fruits. At first sight you wouldn't say so, but Being is recognized by having! With other words, if Being - the Spirit - is a true one, then it will have consequences for having. It can be compared with another quality of Being: love. If there is love, then you don't need too many things. "He/she lives "from the wind" is what people say. So full of joy you are. With Being it is the same. People who "live out of the Spirit" - and especially those who claim to recieve leadership from there - live a (very) modest material life. Is there a discrepancy, then one should doubt his/her qualities of Being.

So, there are many, who are hidden materialists, but who pretend to be "spiritual". Because the lack of inner reference, they constantly worry about their "spiritual presentation". Everything depends on how they impress others. If, on the other hand, you are TRULY spiritual, you don't care about that. You also wouldn't take lucrative jobs, while preaching to others that they should lead a simple life. Instead you take the lead in sharing the concerns of the people around you, f.i. if they - just like you - have housing, a reasonable income, can afford to buy organic food, or - in case of middle incomes - have enough money to install solar panels on their roofs.

It becomes more serious when "smart" manager boys and girls are putting spirituality in the service of big business. Just like multinationals plunder the ressources of the earth, so they do with spirituality. They grab ideas from everywhere and do as if they invented the wheel. They offer trainings in "being your self", "mindfulness", "vision quest", "flexibility", "optimizing energy" etc. The latter are supposed to be "personal abilities" only, carefully avoiding the PURPOSE BEHIND "spiritual" self-improvement.  So, one topic is carefully avoided: the fact, that spirituality has to serve the material aims of the company: profit maximalisation, economic growth, exploitation and injustice

4. Führen durch Vorbild

Leading by example means: You preach what you live and you live what you preach. Spiritual leaders live in the Here and Now, while sharing this with others. They share what they ARE. If you open up e.g. are close to such a person, then you will feel and see it. Some call this "charisma" e.g. "the Spirit that is coming through". A spark may jump over. Despite all problems that (obviously) exist, you feel energized by an indefinable joy. The goal you try to reach - peace, happiness, justice - is suddenly there for a moment. You feel inspired by his/her example. This contrary to common leaders/politicians. The latter promise all kinds of things e.g. are projecting everything into the future, because they are not what they say. It is prove of their impotence, because how can they create a new world without first having renewed themselves?

5. Inklusivität und Mitgefühl

Compassion is a quality inherent to every human being. Ordinary leaders have it, as well (although apparently less and less). However, this kind of compassion stems from the small limited self. This isn't a denuciation, on the contrary. Those who are able and willing to commit themselves, belong to the best of mankind. However, spiritual leaders possess a surplus value. Aren't they working through the unlimited Spirit? That's why they can be recognized by their service to the Whole. They actions are all-inclusive. It means, that they transcend "party programs", "charters" and "declarations of intention". They possess an inner and outer freedom toward the political system. From their unique position they change the system, but are never part of it. Who once said this: "Look, I make everything new?"

Leaders who behave according to party politics, are rarely (never) SPIRITUAL leaders. Also those who far away lock themselves up in offices and bureaucracies, surrounded by computers, paper and meetings contradict themselves. Serving the Whole, on the other hand, is including everything, without exception Once you REALLY experience this, you will be committed to all people, yes, all "living and non-living" beings. Your connectedness is visible through true effort(lessness) and solidarity. You live close to reality, small and big. All great spiritual leaders - think again of Gandhi - live among and for the people.

A third criteria is, that spiritual leaders share everything without restriction. They are giving leaders. It is a sign of inner abundance, and that is, in its turn, proof of their direct contact with the Source.

6. So oben, so unten

Service to the Spirit unavoidably colides with the current socio-economic system. Isn't the latter based on rude self-interest, after all? Therefore, spiritual leaders are NOT the servants to the ruling powers. If, on the contrary, they give cries that favor the existing system, one should doubt their motives. This is particularly true for our times. Aren't we on the verge of committing suicide? Everybody agrees, that sustainability  - life on this planet - can only be achieved through radical change. The spiritual leader is like Moses who takes the lead in guiding the people to the promised land. The leader received the blueprint of this promised land through his unity with the Whole. We are all part of the Whole, but the spiritual leader has insight e.g. knows how to restore this connectedness. That is his/her secret. I call this "to Restore the Unity with "Heaven, Earth and the (new) Community".

Quite some CEO's seem to go for management theories like "evolutionary leaderschip". An appetizing esoteric cover has to conceal that it is all about the "Will to Power". The guru's of this movement are the "prominent" examples of it. They are the proof of the fact that a "nice" philosophy doesn't make you a spiritual leader, yet. On the contrary, in most cases this serves as a cover up. True leadership is a calling, an conscious choice for a spiritual Path, in which a deep connectedness, selflessness and service prevail. Qualities that usually emerge only after a life with trials and errors, exercise (meditation), surrender and service to the Whole. To those who (still) have a little difficulty to understand where this is all about:

"And the devil took Jesus to the mountain and showed him the world. Lord, he said, "if you serve me, I will give you all that is at your feet". Jesus said "Go away satan".....

7. Den Preis bezahlen

The true spiritual leader pays a price for his courageous, self-sacrificing role. The ruling elites - those who defend their privileges tooth and nail - will not reward him. That makes his work a "thankless" one. He* often cannot count on appreciation, respect, let alone support from the rulers. This is proof of this authenticity! Only if it couldn't care less, he will be able to carry out his task. His fulfillment consists of operating in harmony with the Whole. He is paying the price of (initial) loneliness, misunderstanding and rejection. If, on the hand, he would succeed through wisdom, compassion and skills in enthusing people, he may eventually (perhaps) receive a well-earned recognition and appreciation. Often it is only those lucky ones, who, with the right effort and at the right moment are placed in the right situation.

If, after having read the above it appears that you are "just" a common, good, inspired, decent, talented, reliable, committed and altruistic leader....there is nothing wrong with that! In these most critical
of times you are dearly needed.

* Instead of "he" "she" can be read.

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 © 2005 Copyright Han Marie Stiekema
Last revising: 01/04/11