Vraja Bihari Das

“The problem with the rat race is even if you win it, you still remain a rat” –   an American saying


Leadership appears attractive; we often see leaders surrounded by fans and ‘yes’ men. But few are aware of what happens behind the scenes. Although externally smiling and asking on the glory that comes his way, a leader centred on superficial principles would be miserable; in the inner recesses of his heart, he’s busy fighting and scheming against his detractors, and will have to constantly struggle to keep his position. A leader grounded on spiritual principles however doesn’t take the adoration seriously; he knows the world could be nasty, and by the power of time, praises could turn to criticisms; glory to infamy; and in an instant, success could change to failure.

You are a ‘spiritual leader’ when you don’t take the leadership title seriously, rather the responsibilities of a leader become your mission in life. You are attached to service, and not the position or perquisites that follow the rank and laurels of a leader.

What’s wrong with the external glamour?

But one may wonder, “What’s wrong in wanting to be popular or wealthy?” There’s nothing wrong but when that becomes the sole purpose of our existence, we get attached to these external situations which by nature are temporary. Since we base our existence on these ephemeral goals, when we either lose them or are threatened by some other popular or wealthy figure, we break down.  Our extrinsic struggle for wealth, name and fame of this world has an accompanying baggage of stress induced disorders, besides the unhealthy legacy that we leave behind for the future leaders.

A spiritual leader may also have some material ambitions but he’s ‘spiritual’ because his drive doesn’t cross the line of sacred ethics and eternal principles; when you do cross that line, it’s no longer ambition; it’s simply greed. If we fail to centre our lives on unchanging principles and repeatedly deviate from them, it isn’t anymore ‘love’; it’s plain lust. And it’s not enthusiasm or passion; it’s just recklessness.

But isn’t life a struggle for existence; after all it’s ‘survival of the fittest’?

The internal struggle

In this world, even the fittest don’t survive. One of the biggest false propagandas of this world is ‘it’s a scarce world’. A spiritual leader however thrives on ‘abundance mentality’- ‘there’s enough in this world for everyone’s nourishment’. A scarcity mentality on the other hand pushes one to be a go-getter because such a person assumes there’s scarcity in this world and only a grabber shall survive. If however we cultivate an ‘abundance mentality’, while meeting our needs dutifully, we’ll be more focussed on serving others, and struggling internally to live by undying principles.

There are two kinds of struggles in this world. A popular leader opts for the ‘external’ struggle whereas a spiritual leader focuses on the ‘internal’. Winning the external struggle, by either getting the prized contract or cutting down your competitor to size does give fleeting happiness, but it’s more of a passing titillation to the senses. However the agony and pain this causes to the heart is real and lasts often a life time. On the other hand, one pursuing an internal struggle finds joy and meaningful purpose to life simply by making an attempt to align his life on revered principles. Being conscious of his dark side, he sincerely endeavours and prays to be rid of them; the actual victory over his lower nature humbles him. And in practising humility, he also finds deep contentment. This in turn helps a leader be considerate to others’ weaknesses and shortcomings.

A considerate leader then becomes popular with his team members; for everyone in this world seeks to be understood and loved. Thus a leader grounded on ‘internal’ spiritual principles also achieves the external success and popularity. But the critical difference now is by focussing on the inner journey, one achieves worldly fame as an insignificant by-product. The real success is in being a leader of substance; as the shadow of worldly recognition shines and fades, it doesn’t really matter.

Source:  Leadership and Spirituality

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