Saturday, May 14, 2011

Review: The Soul of Leadership 2

Some Basic Images

Deepak Chopra today
As I age I believe that images become more and more important for us, more important even than words.  Some relevant images that come to my mind here are (i) Map and (ii) Ocean/sea/Wave.  Why these images here and now?  Why are they relevant?  Well, I recall them for two reasons.  I was re-reading or perusing yet again two of Professor A. C. Grayling's books, The Reason of Things and The Mystery of Things.  I find the learned professor's short musings on topical subjects in these books inspiring and easily read after a cup of afternoon tea.  In one of them he adverts to the great Socratic dictum that "The unquestioned life is not worth living."  My erstwhile lecturer in philosopher way back in the late 1970s Fr. Paddy Carmody, M.A., M.Phil. used to render this saying as "the unexamined life is not worth lving."  Later I heard another interesting twist on this ancient wisdom which went: "The unlived life is not worth questioning."  Now I think both these exhortations are worth taking to heart because they require us to think about life, to reflect upon our experiences, and to take some action as a result of our reflections.  In this way, Grayling tells us that we equip ourselves with a map to explore the territory of our lives.  Here, then, is my first image: Equipping ourselves with a Map for the journey which is our lives.

My second image is that of Ocean/Sea/Waves which capture the idea of the mystery of life.  Indeed water in the form of Ocean/Sea/Wave is essentially an image of the psyche or soul because of its mysterious nature and because of its depths.  Here is Deepak Chopra describing the soul in terms of this wonderful image:

When I talk about soul, I'm not referring to soul as defined by any particular religion, although all the great spiritual traditions acknowledge its existence.  I believe the soul is an expression of the underlying universal field of consciousness.  Your particular awareness, or soul, is like a wave in the boundless sea, unique for a brief moment in time before it falls back into the larger entity from which it emerged.  At the soul level you are seemlessly connected with everything in the universe, to the silent domain from which all matter and energy spring.  (The Soul of Leadership, Rider, 2010., p. 4)
Chopra reminds us again and again in this wee book that essentially the journey that any leader takes is one of expanding awareness.  Indeed, this is essentially the aim of all good therapy as we have described it many times in these posts in Still Point.  The soul itself has complete awareness because as our learned author points out in the above quotation it is essentially an expression of the universal field of consciousness.  Consequently, our soul can perceive every aspect of a particular situation.  However, as Chopra wisely points out "ordinarily you don't access it because of your own inner obstacles.  We see what we want to see - or what our biases and limitations encourage us to see.  On your journey to inspired leadership you will learn how to remove these obstacles.  When you do, what was once difficult will become effortless, as your soul clears the way for you." (Ibid., p. 9)

Four Levels of Perception:

Later on in this book our author informs us that there are four levels of perception and that a true leader is able to perceive at all four levels, but mainly acts on his/her ideas, hunches and vision having put all four into action.  Chopra argues cogently that when we look and listen fully to anybody or any situation, we involve our whole body, our mind, our heart and our soul.  This is the way he summarises or sketches this insight into this dimension of leadership:

Body:  The stage of observing and information gathering.
Mind:  The stage of analysis and judgment.
Heart:  The stage of feeling.
Soul:  The stage of incubation.
Once the leader has gone through these four stages his/her vision will emerge "as the true expression of who you are, and it will be founded on deep understanding." (ibid., p. 16)  I believe the first three stages above are easily understood by any sensitive person.  However, the fourth needs some elaboration or explanation here.  This stage is all about letting go and waiting no matter how long that takes.  In other words it takes time for any vision to incubate.  Here are the words of our guru Chopra on the nature of incubation:

Tree in TCD, April, 2011
When a vision is incubating, it goes into a deep and invisible space.  A profound and infinite intelligence nurses your vision, adapting it to your needs and the needs of everyone around you.  You have gained access to something greater than yourself, whether you call it the higher self, pure awareness, or your connection with God.  If none of these terms workd for you, you might want to think of the soul as "who I really am."  (Ibid., p. 17)

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