Young Monk

Spiritual Leadership – Part 4 – Spiritual Mastery

“Masters today, were Starters Yesterday, so begin now.”

~ Bernard Kelvin Clive

Press play to hear an audio enhancement as you read.


Spiritual masters used to live in caves in remote locations. Today, you just might find one when you look in the mirror.

Many people would agree that the Dalai Lama embodies what it means to be an authentic spiritual leader. Two qualities emerge when we analyze what it is about him that generates respect in people around the world: forgiveness and humor.

The Dalai Lama forgives the Chinese for what they have done – and continue to do – to the people of Tibet and to him personally. He is also fierce in his honest commentary about injustice, but he exudes forgiveness. At the same time, he has an infectious sense of humor and is often shown smiling and laughing. Those who have met him confirm that he is a fundamentally happy human being.

If we are inspired by his example, what changes might that trigger in our lives? How might we attain some measure of the spiritual mastery that he demonstrates? We could start by considering the two qualities we just identified and ask ourselves several important questions.

First, what about forgiveness? It can be an excellent healing exercise to create a list of people you feel have wronged you in the past. Write out their names on a piece of paper, without wasting time rehearsing (again!) the epic stories of their misdeeds. Just write down their names and then survey your list. Read each name and say, “I forgive you.”

Young Monk with Buddha Statue

What does that accomplish? Not much, usually, because it’s a superficial gesture. Words like this can be largely meaningless; what gives them value is the meaning you deliberately invest in them. So, try it again, this time reading their names and saying, “I forgive myself.”

Now, that may not accomplish anything more significant in terms of real change but it does point in the right direction. The reality of forgiveness is to confront our own judgment and release it. We aren’t condoning someone else’s behavior by doing that, we are simply shifting from hate to love.

All of us get wounded in our interactions and very few adults can honestly recall a childhood without trauma, sometimes inflicted by their own parents. How long will we carry those stories? How long will we maintain a victim identity? How long will we wish for some kind of healing resolution?

Near the end of his life, the sage Krishnamurti gave his followers the secret to his own enlightened state: “Whatever happens, I don’t mind.” Presumably his attitude encompassed past events as well as present ones. Imagine looking back on your own history and feeling free of judgment, regret, anger, and the desire for revenge. That sounds like freedom to me!

Young Monk

If we were unburdened that way, it would open up a vast expanse of space within us, room for others to feel welcomed, just as they are, because releasing judgment of others in the past simultaneously frees us from the tendency to judge others now. Why? Because we recognize, either consciously or unconsciously, that we have no interest in creating new traumatic stories to re-burden ourselves. Once free, who would voluntarily seek enslavement again?

Spiritual mastery is gained, not through inner practice alone, although that is essential. We then take our practice into the world by, literally, practicing. And every moment gives us another opportunity, not just to deal with what’s occurring in caring ways but to release more personal baggage of our own. Why? Connections. Everything happening now is connecting to something that happened before. Nothing exists in solitary isolation. That means that the content of each moment is part of a holistic reality extending across time. When we accept what’s happening now, without judgment, we are also forgiving what happened in other connected moments across the spectrum of our lifetime, without needing to make those connections conscious.

What’s more, we are connecting with the same stream in others. The unburdened presence of a spiritual master works miracles this way, often without words being spoken. The possibilities for transformation and service are unlimited and we can happily spend the rest of our lives exploring the possibilities. Remember, happiness is the second quality we identified in a true spiritual master. Fortunately, as we understand how spiritual mastery works across time, we realize that it’s never too late to have a happy childhood!



Spiritual Leadership – Part 3 – Beyond Location

“Buy land. They’re not making it any more.”

~ Mark Twain

Press play to hear an audio enhancement as you read.


The famous mantra for real estate is “location, location, location.” While that may indeed be the top value priority for real estate, location is increasingly irrelevant in a society woven together by digital technology.

One of the truly disruptive and intriguing innovations in society is the “untethering” phenomenon that technological advances are bringing to an increasingly broad swath of modern life.

This has progressed through telegraph, telephones, radio, television, fax machines, mobile phones, and the internet. Emails and phone calls can originate anywhere in the world; physical locations simply don’t matter. In fact, we have to ask to find out where the person we are conversing is located.

When we consider technological progress like this it’s interesting to ask, “Where did this come from?” A simplistic but consistently accurate answer is, “From inside ourselves.” We invent in the outer world from familiar concepts and structures that already exist inside ourselves.

For instance, we could say that automobiles streaming along freeways are an externalized version of cells flowing through the various circulatory systems within our bodies. The internet is perhaps the best example, revealing a massive connectivity that is pre-dated by the synergistic array of systems inside our individual bodies and also existing in the natural world. Everything is already connected to everything else, as far as biology is concerned. In that sense, technology is catching up, rather than leading the way.


This understanding opens up a unique perspective on the potential for individual impact in a world that seems far too vast for any single individual to exert much significant effect. Regardless of where we are – a small coffee shop in rural Bulgaria or the White House in Washington – we are plugged in (without external wiring) to the whole of the human species plus every other life form that exists… everywhere.

It’s fair to argue that the President of the United States can exert more influence in the world than you or I can. True enough, to a degree. But on another level, he’s one human with one energetic field just like we are. This means that, from a spiritual standpoint, we are all equal, at least in terms of potential. Again, similarly to what we may achieve in the world at large, it’s a matter of actualizing potential. Some people make a mark in the world by activating their innate genius, learning skills, working hard, and creating value. Others watch TV all day and quietly fade away.

We develop ourselves in the material world by expanding our capacities and focusing in the fields where we live and work. We can develop ourselves in the spiritual world by doing exactly the same thing, and that starts with identifying what fields we live and work in on that inner level. This takes us into a consideration of self beyond roles. I am… what? A meditation teacher, a writer, a son, a brother, etc. But I am also a focus of spirit, an essence that is utterly unique. So, what is the nature of my uniqueness?

We can look admiringly at someone like Gandhi or Nelson Mandela and agree they were special beings. Why? Because they actualized their potential. How many others are there who have it within their innate spiritual make up to rise to prominence in terms of social contribution, yet never do because they never get activated?


Spiritual seekers are often fixated on achieving enlightenment as a state of being valued for itself. But what about the value enlightened beings bring into the world and, even more significantly, into the milieu of mass consciousness that we all swim in? When we re-frame our spiritual aspirations that way, it becomes obvious that location is entirely irrelevant.

Here’s the moment, here’s the opportunity. It may seem totally insignificant but remember, the greatest destructive power humans have developed occurs through splitting the atom. The most effective homeopathic remedies are those that have been diluted to the point where none of the original physical constituents remain… it’s just energy.

Power resides in the small. So, yes, we are small, rather ordinary individuals. But we do possess the potential to affect significant positive change in the world, one thought, one word, one action at a time, depending on the state we inhabit before, during, and after any of those occur.


Humility Praying

Spiritual Leadership – Part 2 – Spiritual Humility

“Pride makes us artificial
and humility makes us real.”

~ Thomas Merton

Press play to hear an audio enhancement as you read.


Authentic spiritual teachers are always humble because they are living in oneness and that experience overwhelms the ego’s constant need for self-inflation.

The journey of spiritual mastery travels a road of deepening personal humility. Christ said, “I of myself do nothing, the Father within, he doeth the works.” This is the teaching that inspires humility, acknowledging that whatever value any of us might have doesn’t originate in ourselves but flows through us as an expression of Source energy.

It’s ironic that Christ was attacked for being honest about this primary relationship. His humility in oneness was mistaken for arrogance in disconnection by those who were experiencing exactly that themselves. Claiming to be God, as he was accused of doing, certainly will seem arrogant to those who are busy maintaining a prideful ego identity separate from God. Oneness dissolves that polarized separation into what was described as “I am that I am.”

Spiritual humility is wonderfully exemplified by the Dalai Lama who manages to come across as a simple, almost ordinary human being who simultaneously offers words of wisdom and provides a remarkable example of forgiveness in action.

This recalls other prophetic words: “He who would be greatest among you, let him be the servant of all.” The Center for Servant Leadership explains it this way on line: “A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.” 1

Humilty in a red dress

I would submit that this definition only covers half the picture. What is it that the servant leader, described this way, is drawing upon for his guidance? We can admire those brilliant leaders who combine inborn intuition with developed skills and understanding but there’s another component being overlooked here, namely the connection with Source (however named).

The spiritual leader is connected to Source and is therefore able to access the coordinating wisdom that prevails throughout the natural world, that is, everywhere that humans haven’t yet succeeded in disrupting. Here is the real example of successful leadership, millions upon millions of species and systems operating synergistically, not just here on earth but throughout the many universes.

It’s indeed humble to acknowledge this organizing intelligence and open to its guiding wisdom. We might even say that it’s common sense, except this attitude is so rare we would need to call it uncommon sense! We humans are highly accomplished in ignoring the obvious and here is the prime example. Of course, it’s symbolized by our incredible ignorance surrounding energy. The entire planet runs on solar energy yet we’ve only recently realized that we could tap into that source, instead of digging up toxins to burn and further pollute the world and sabotage our own health.

But it’s never too late to see the obvious. Through humility, we can access our greatness, which is not merely personal but inexorably connected to the essence of life in everyone and everything. Some leaders are acknowledged as team players; here is the ultimate team to play on: including everyone and everything!

Humilty in a red dress from behind

In sports, it’s generally acknowledged that personal greatness relates as much to how a player performs when he doesn’t have the ball as to when he does. The team player is always looking to play together, rather than to just excel on their own. That’s something to remember as we move through the day and enjoy our various relationships. We’re all on the same team. Spiritual leaders remain plugged in to Source and flow with life, abiding in an expanded state that enables them to help others grow the same primary relationship.

That’s entirely different than those brilliant egos who inspire followers to help bolster their personal greatness at the expense of their own blossoming. Ultimately, the spiritual leader becomes almost invisible, a felt presence that – like the wind – creates an effect without drawing attention to itself. That potential exists in every moment. The question is, will we rise to the opportunities that present themselves to be true spiritual leaders?


Spiritual Leadership – Part 1 – The Simplicity of Spiritual Leadership

“Spiritual leadership is the power to change the atmosphere
with one’s presence.”

~ J. Oswald Sanders

Press play to hear an audio enhancement as you read.


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.