“Spiritual leadership is the power to change the atmosphere
with one’s presence.”
~ J. Oswald Sanders
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All genuine spiritual leaders can teach without words because their real power resides in who they are, broadcasting from them in every moment as an entraining influence on everyone and everything around them.
There’s an old saying: “Who you are is speaking so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” All of us are transmitting the qualities of who we are, whether we’re talking or silent. In fact, often the most meaning we convey lies between the lines, carried in our mere presence.
We all know people who change the room when they enter. And many of us have studied with spiritual masters whose presence changed us, simply by sitting with them in meditation. What’s required in the 21st century to meet the escalating challenges of modern life is not more masters meditating with their thousands of followers but thousands of authentic spiritual leaders circulating in society, emanating qualities that can influence everyone they contact in positive ways.
Walt Kelly had his cartoon character Pogo say, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Conversely, we could say that “We have met the help we need and he is us.” It doesn’t in any way diminish the irreplaceable value of a true spiritual teacher to suggest that the deliverance we really need is found by looking in the mirror.
Who do we see in the mirror? An ordinary person who needs saving, or a powerful (or potential) spiritual leader poised to turn every moment into something meaningful? It may seem a stretch to consider yourself a spiritual leader but, according to the definition in the opening quote, you already are. We all are, because everyone changes the atmosphere with their presence. It’s unavoidable. The question is: what kind of change do we create?
Effective spiritual leaders uplift others by entraining them in their illuminated energy field, which they ensure remains inspiring and compassionate. This happens through devoted daily practice, not just sitting for meditation but through every day acts of loving and intelligent contribution.
Consider for a moment how you might describe your own energetic field. Some may think of themselves as peaceful and happy but for many an honest evaluation could include descriptors like anxious and fearful. Obviously, all of us would prefer to be happy rather than fearful, but in that disrupted state we tend to focus on benefits for ourselves.
That kind of selfishness further diminishes our power to positively impact others because it is an attitude that is contrary to the way life and Love flow throughout the universe. The urge to help others is not just a humanitarian value, it’s natural for us all and we know that we are happiest when we are helping others.
This changes our perspective on personal improvement. It’s obviously important to continue growing as a person, to mature in our spiritual evolution, but not just for our own benefit. We become spiritual leaders when we expand to consciously care about our impact on others and maintain our own energy field in good order because we want to be as effective as possible with our own entrainment.
All of us can become spiritual leaders this way and can exert our influence where it is needed most, right in the thick of our everyday lives. Yes, we will continue to meditate on our own. Some of us will engage with teachers to deepen and accelerate our progress along the path of awakening, but all of us can embrace this responsibility to lead by example – not just in what we do but in who we are, through the qualities we maintain moment by moment, which creates the energetic impact we have in the world.
Of course, the entrainment provided by any true spiritual leader is not limited by space and time. In this eternal moment, each of us is emanating our signature qualities to affect the whole world and everyone in it. That’s a powerful understanding and can inspire us to be ever more fully the authentic spiritual leader we are destined to be.