The perfect leader

In India many many years ago, deep in the heart of the Himalayas, there lived a very wise and great spiritual Master with his seven disciples. The Master was like a true father to his disciples, and they turned to him for everything. Even though the Master did not have as much worldly experience as many of his disciples, and even though he was younger than some of them, they all considered their Master the epitome of worldly as well as spiritual wisdom.

The Master showered his few disciples with concern on both a human and divine level, and quite often all of them sat in the Master's hut cutting jokes or discussing the world situation until the early hours of the morning.

One of the disciples had a brother who was a well known politician. One evening, as all sat around talking, he said, "Master, I am very disturbed. It seems that my village will never have a good leader. Not only in my home village, but in the neighbouring area in general, no leader seems to be coming forward. And I am not speaking only from the spiritual point of view. I just mean someone with real leadership qualities."

"You are unfortunately right, my son," said the Master. "Even on the spiritual and occult plane I am not getting that kind of vibration from any person."

"Master," said the man, "when will we have true divine leadership? Do you foresee any politician like this in the near or distant future?"

"My son, I am sorry. I do not. But the villagers are also to blame. You are also to blame."

"Master!" the young man said. "What do you mean? What can we do if no one comes forward as our leader?"

"My son, your attitude toward choosing a leader is wrong. I am saying this not only about your village, but about nations in general, about human nature itself."

"What is our wrong attitude, then? Please tell us."

"Unfortunately," the Master replied, "most people choose somebody as their leader only if they feel that he is just like them. If he is an inch above them, they feel that he is too superior. If somebody is better than they are, they think that they will not understand his language, and they do not want that person."

"But Master, to some extent isn't it necessary that your leader be able to identify with you and understand you perfectly?"

"Yes, that is true. But to choose somebody who is exactly on your level is to ask the blind to lead the blind. What kind of leadership can he provide? He will not know any more than you do."

"Then who should we choose, Master? I am eager to hear your philosophy."

The Master said, "He whom you choose as your leader should be not only greater than any one person in your group, but greater than all the individuals put together. He, should have this divine capacity. Only then can you put all your faith in him, in his ability to lead you and your village and your country."

"Master, that is quite a lofty ideal," said one disciple.

"Yes," agreed the Master. "He will be high enough so that you can stretch out your hand and reach up to him. At the same time, he will stretch his hand out and reach down to you. In that way you will meet. You need not and must not be on the same level. It is his humility that will connect him with you, and it is your sincerity that will connect you with him."

Another disciple joined the conversation. "Humility, Master? I don't think most people know the meaning of humility, not to speak of our so-called leaders. These days, sincerity and humility are badly ignored by our leaders and by everyone else, too."

"Don't worry," the Master said, "this has been the case from time immemorial. Don't think that the present has discovered something new. If only people knew the power of humility."

"What exactly do you mean, Master, by the power of humility?"

The Master explained, "We are ordinary human beings, and at times we may fall victim to temptation, deception or other undivine qualities. In the case of a leader who has made serious mistakes due to his earthly weaknesses, he can save himself only with one thing, only one word: humility."

"Master, please explain to us exactly what you mean."

"If a leader says, 'Forgive me, I have made a mistake. I see now that we must take another course,' then don't you think his subjects will forgive him? Suppose a King has made a wrong decision. Now, before his Kingdom begins to suffer from his mistake, if the King admits his mistake, saying, 'I am human; to err is human. Let us try another way,' then the situation can be rectified right from the start."

"If humility has the power to change things before any damage is done, then indeed it is a great, very great power," said the first disciple. "Why is it, Master, that politics doesn't seem to encourage people to cultivate their divine qualities and apply them in their public life?"

"Your brother, who is such a well-known politician, should hear you now," the Master said in a joking manner. "Politics as such is not bad, but being a leader is not an easy task. Two years ago, you gave me the good news that a new King had begun to rule the country at the foot of this mountain, and just yesterday all of you were saying how badly he has disappointed everyone. Some people start with high aspirations, but very often they are pushed down by the pressures and burdens of their work."

"And we are struggling, too," said the disciple, "so that our spiritual life will not be destroyed by our outer and inner defects.

"Master, you are our divine, supreme leader, and in you we place all our faith, all our hope, all our aspirations, all our ignorance. In the inner politics we know that we have made the right choice, we have chosen the perfect leader."

The Master smiled and asked his seven disciples to come up for his blessing.

September 15, 1974