The 8th Global Leadership Forum

June 22-25, 2006 ISTANBUL

The Challenges of Leadership



Dr. Volker Buddrus Presentation


The spiritual dimension of leadership.

Can the spiritual access be learned?



Dear participants


In the next 15 minutes I want to confront you first with a riddle, explain secondly my notion of spirituality, line out thirdly what you and others can gain when leading from a spiritual state and end my presentation fourthly with an outline of how much you can learn new and what you have to retrieve to be able to lead from a spiritual state.


First part

Nasrudin the smuggler

This riddle is for those who do not know it. For those who knew it: please give the others a chance and do not tell them the solution.


Nasrudin was known by everyone to be a smuggler. The customs people knew it too. But they were not able to prove it. Every time Nasrudin came with his high packed donkeys to the border, they searched him and his goods but they found nothing. What was Nasrudin smuggling, the customs people did not find?


When you can’t perceive the donkeys as the commodities, like the customs people in the parable, something in your awareness is missing. In German culture to be called a donkey means to be dumb. You can’t see the oblivious. The reason is simple. You are identified with the belief system that goods are for smuggling and not the carriers of goods. If I would disable the belief system in telling you that Nasrudin crossed the border with his donkeys you might get the correct solution. The same mechanism works with acknowledgment of the spiritual state of consciousness. It is always there but hidden in the here and now. You can’t see it because you don’t know how and where to look for. The same might be true for the spiritual dimension of leadership.

The famous Persian sage Rumi considers normal awake people as sleeping. To get access to the spiritual state you have to be spiritual awakened. If you are awakened you can easily loose the access. Therefore Rumi warns “Don’t go back to sleep”.

But the story of Nasrudin is only a parable because you cannot “see” the spiritual stage of consciousness with your eyes. But you can sense it. The competitor of Descartes (you remember “I am because I think”) Blaise Pascal uses a different metaphor. He says “You can only see well with your heart” (and not with the logic of your mind). So the spiritual state can be sensed but not seen.


Second part:

My understanding of spirituality

I understand spirituality as a special state of consciousness. This is a transpersonal state which differs very much from the normal state in which we function through the patterns of our personality. I follow in my understanding Hamed Ali, pen name Almaas. Hamed Ali is a Kuwaiti born and socialized US-American citizen, who developed a spiritual approach called the Diamond Approach. Hamed found out that certain qualities you experience in the spiritual state of consciousness correspond to certain feelings and other capabilities in the sub-structured personality. This way he invented an approach which combines the spiritual wisdom of thousands of years with modern western deep psychology. And this is where I as a former professor for education was hooked on. I will outline it using Ken Wilber’s map of prepersonal, personal and transpersonal development. In early childhood every person living in a prepersonal state had free access to spirituality in simply Being. Imagine a little child just absorbed in itself, 100 % itself or a little child in anger, 100 % in anger from hairs to toes. These children are just present in their being. There is no reflection to a self which is absorbed or in anger or in love or whatsoever. They are in a non-dual universe.

We “normal people” are in the middle. We are in a personality state where every input from outside or from inside is reflected to our self. When you answer the question: How I am sitting here? You reflect your sensory input to a sense of self, normally connected with the word “I”. If you recall a memory, think of your journey this morning with the bus. You reflect automatically your memories from the bus ride to your sense of self. Was it good or bad for you and why? How we assess this experience of the bus ride depends of the personality structures we accumulated from past memories. Our personality structure is past orientated. It is like driving a car and steering only with the help of the rear mirror.

If we are in a transpersonal, a spiritual state, our perception changes dramatically. We are totally in the here and now. We are complete. We don’t need anything and we don’t strive for anything. The life is lively, colourful, sweet and juicy. We do what is needed, according to the demands which are arising. Our personality with all its strength and faults is still there but in the background. We are not identified with it. Like a computer file we can open it or not.


Third part:

What can you and those people being led by you gain when you lead from a spiritual state of consciousness?

Why should you learn to retrieve a state of Being? What would be different in your leading? You don't have to. Maybe it's not for you. Here are some descriptions of what might happen if you … These descriptions are seen and valued from a personality state. If you are in a transpersonal state these qualities are just there, come and go.  


What would you gain personally?

Inner Strength: No addiction to power, because you have access to strength.

Calmness: Even in stressful situations you can be calm like the surface of a lake.

Clarity: Instead of dragging with different forces in you while making decisions your find yourself in a situation of clarity and self-evident decisions.

Identity: Sometimes leading might be a drag for you. You might be pulled down by your responsibilities. In a state of Being you would just lead, unperturbed.

Brilliance: The intelligence you use in leading is already dwarfed from your upbringing often into cleverness. The correlate of intelligence on the level of Being, meaning  not dwarfed by the personality structure is brilliance.


What would you gain for taking the demands of leading in a global context?

You would be humble.

From compassion to truth: You would find that all the conflicting parts and parties you encounter are part of your own personality too.

You would be free from your own identifications and open to that what is.

You would see the suffering of people in identifying with positions and drives.


What would your followers or the people led by you gain from you?

Absence of corruption, because in that state you don't need anything from anyone

Absences of regression through emotional high jacking, conflict involvement, trauma infliction because you are complete.

Inclusion, the people being led by you will be included because you will come from a state of love.

Lack of being pulled by from the unconsciousness (personal, group and cultural), because in that state there is no unconsciousness.

The personal unconsciousness is the container of repressed experiences by your personality structure. The group unconsciousness consists of the values and belief systems which are not articulated. The cultural unconsciousness is the container of the taboos and unarticulated believe systems of your culture.


Fourth part:

What do you have to develop to access a state of Being? What do you have to learn new and what do you have to retrieve?


Leading from the state of Being means having access to that state. If you have access to it, you are in that state. But coming from your personality will not help you in accessing, it will even hinder you. So what to do?


One area of the development consists of strengthening your consciousness. That you can intentionally learn, train. This would include an

·         awareness training

·         consciousness training,

·         assessment of already open accesses to the state of Being.


A second area of the development consists in retrieving your former access to the state of Being as you experienced it as a child. What does retrieve mean? You go back to that situation where the feed back from your environment was so painful or pressing that you split off your experience of the state of Being. This mean going back to the wound in the psyche, understand your situation from your position as a grown person with love and stay with the wound and your experience. Then, if a little grace is added, you start a process which ends in an experience of the qualities of Being, and you are in a state of Being.


The retrieving training would include

·         Inquiries into the archetypes of sovereign, warrior, magician and lover and their shadows.

·         Inquiries in glories, normality and traumata of leadership experiences

·         Inquiries into leadership “issues”.


We will work with your experiences and your competencies.


What will be the effects of your training?

With the time the chance is improving, that you find yourself in a state of Being while leading. At the beginning this will be very seldom and for seconds first, then, if you go on with your development, more and more and for a longer duration.


Thanks for your attention.







 © Dr. Volker Buddrus