22 Sep 2009 |
Posted by Lama Surya Das | 6 Comments.
This morning I was reading about an article about a school child who recently asked President Obama who he would like to meet and talk with, or have dinner with, if it could be anyone at all. This is not a new question for our time. I seem to remember that someone posed the same query to President Kennedy, who was known for, among other things, the many star-studded dinner parties he and Jackie hosted.JFK said that Thomas Jefferson was who he’d like to dine with, insouciantly adding that there hadn’t been such a gathering of renaissance-minded brilliance and talent at a White House dinner party since Jefferson dined there alone.
Mr. Obama thought about the child’s question, and replied that his choice would be Mahatma Gandhi, adding that it was because he effected such positive and long lasting change for his country though nonviolent methods and he’d like to learn more about that.
The editorial writer joined in with plenty of political pundits, saying Obama’s choice revealed how soft he is in a rough and tumble world, and moreover how he needs to be more tough and better understand the realpolitik in which he, as a world leader, should be engaged more powerfully and uncompromisingly. But, I myself intuitively feel that this critique misses the mark, because for me, his principled and thoughtful choice is profoundly related to the kind of leadership we need today in our troubled, divisive world. For even if short- term benefits aren’t always apparent through a reflective and principled leadership stance, upon deeper consideration we, I believe, must conclude that long term goals and compassionate, collective ideals take precedence.
I myself am engaged in some research on enlightened leadership and what I lovingly call “authentic higher education”, including our need for and possibility of developing the skillful means and practices conducive to improving ourselves—and inculcating in the younger generation the universal wisdom necessary for knowing how to live our lives, how to flourish together, and how to contribute to a better world for ourselves, our children and grandchildren. For higher education in this country has become little more than vocational training and needs an infusion of contemplative awareness to truly educe the best in our young people. This is a discussion beginning to happen now as we consider what to do now to major issues and how we shall live, thrive, and further implement further effective alliances and altruistic actions.
Published in The Huffington Post 5-25-2010
Last week someone told me that in his eighty-odd years he had never seen such pervasive levels of fear and anger. This observation gave me pause to wonder: how do we restore...
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