Nondual leadership

2021-03-22 update: After a lot of contemplation about this post, I believe there is nothing special about ‘nondual leadership’. The idea of nondualism, in my mind anyway, can too often be a distraction from the present moment. Which is ironic since the concept of nondualism is a pointer to the idea that there is no separation between self and experience. It can become a distraction when the focus is on the concept rather than the direct experience. Leaders should be rooted in the present moment, and not distracted by whether they are sufficiently grounded in nondual practice, process, or feelings. My interest in nondualism led me to recognise that the present moment is all that is available to us. The present moment cannot be improved upon, it simply is. We may not like what we are experiencing in the present moment, but it cannot be different. We may decide that we want different outcomes in the future, and that’s great. It just doesn’t change what is right now. Coming to this understanding was helped along by a book called The Ten Thousand Things, by Robert Salzman.

As part of my commitment to cultivating a deeper practice of meditation, I have been investigating and learning about nondualism. Nondualism, in a nutshell (and to my layman’s understanding), is the state of consciousness that recognizes no edges to experience. The concept of subject/object loses meaning; all is one.

There is a recognition among nondualists that at some level one must continue to attend to the perceived world, and not simply bathe in transcendental understanding. I suspect there is also an understanding that interaction with the perceived world is necessarily influenced by nondual knowledge. Put simply, when you find no edges to experience and all is one, it is a natural extension to care for others (because they are not actually “other”, but only the continuation of what can be called Experience (as opposed to lower case experience)). Other names I have seen for this include Consciousness, Witnessing Awareness, Awareness, and Nature.

As I learned more, I have become increasingly interested in how nondual awareness might influence the practice of leadership, mine in particular. One difficulty with this line of questioning is that nondual awareness itself implies no value system; it is simply witness to experience (or, when concepts sufficiently collapse, simply Experience). This state of valuelessness may worry critics who foresee anarchy and chaos on the (nondual) horizon. I strongly suspect benign neglect is more likely. Anarchy requires a value system.

Less experienced nondual leaders may, ironically, have two distinct experiences of the world. One is the transcendental experience of witnessing the dissolution of the border between self and world. The other is the world as the nondual leader has been historically conditioned to experience. Assuming continued inquiry into nondual awareness, I assume this condition is temporary and eventually collapses into a singular Experience. In this singular Experience the nondual leader is able to behave in the perceived world with great fidelity toward nondual awareness.

My curiosity revolves around whether expressions of nondual leadership take on a particular cast or bend in a particular arc. As mentioned above, I suspect the policy outcomes of nondual leadership will generally avoid expressions of “isms” and will tend to share power if not outright decentralize it.

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