Tuesday, September 27, 2022

20. Contemplation

The Lines Bottom.

[6] It is no disgrace for an ordinary man not to understand exactly what it is that gives the superior man the influence he has. This is only made clear by intensive study and contemplation. But for a superior man to be unaware of the elements of character that enable him to be a leader that people look up to draws into question his qualifications for being a leader. In order for him to fill a position of leadership, he should have a complete understanding of the meaning of moral leadership and how what he says and what he does influences others. He must see clearly how his life can be an inspiration and a guide to those he leads.

2. [6] A man of ordinary abilities is not able fully to comprehend how he affects others by the way he thinks, speaks and acts. In doing such things, he merely reacts to how outward circumstances affect himself and his own self-interests. He is not quite able to think in a broader context and see how others might think and feel about what he does. He does not judge right and wrong by how things impact upon groups of people, but only how things impact upon himself. In addition, he does not understand what drives another's actions and what another's motives might be. Here also, his concerns are all centered around himself, and he does not grasp what are the needs and wants of other men, especially if they differ from his own needs and wants. This is sufficient for ordinary persons who need not think of anything beyond themselves and their own immediate concerns. But this is woefully inadequate for a man who is responsible for others, for negotiating with others, and for making decisions that will affect the lives of others. Such a self-centered, inadequate viewpoint can only lead to poor judgments and mediocre outcomes.

3. [6] Ironically enough, a man begins to understand others by contemplating himself. Not, of course, by thinking only of himself and his own needs and interests, but by gaining insight into himself and how he is led by his own self-interest, often to the exclusion of considering the effects that what he does has on others. When he begins to see in these broader terms, he begins to understand how other men are often led by the same self-interests. But he also can begin to understand how other men have certain real needs and interests that his own self-concerns often ignore. With this knowledge, he begins to acquire an enlarged vision of not only himself, but of his place in the world of others. When he can do that, he can make decisions that encompass the interests of larger groups of people. His mind extends beyond himself, and he is able to think in more objective terms. He begins to under-stand that self-knowledge is not really centered on "ME" but on the place that a person occupies in the world as a whole. With this broader vision, he can see how what he does affects others, and with that in mind, he can tell whether some particular action leads to the progress or the setback of those he leads.

4. [6] If a man is of such a high inner development that he understands those things that are conducive to the advancement and growth of societies of men, such a man should be taken in and honored with a position of great responsibility. He is able to judge those measures which are rightly taken, as well as those measures which are not conducive to the general welfare. He should be allowed the freedom necessary to act upon his wise judgments, and should not be used merely for his technical skills and abilities to promote policies formulated by others. His vision and influence are invaluable, and nothing should be put in his way that might impede his exercising command.

5. [9] A leader of men should subject himself to careful self-examination, and in examining himself, he should not just make a value judgment upon his own motives and acts, but he should look to the effects that he has produced. The opinions and criticisms of himself by himself or by others have little meaning up against the real results of the actions he has taken. Have the results of his actions been good? Has he influenced others to do things that must be judged good? Has mankind benefited by what he has done? Are the live of people better for what he has contributed? If so, then he has every right to feel satisfied with himself as a leader and benefactor of men, for it is by the fruits of a man's life that he must be judged.

Top. [9] Whereas the leader of men looks to the results of his actions, the sage considers whether his actions are free from evil. The results of the life of the sage occur in the world of the invisible, and are not readily discernible by men.

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