Leadership From A Pure Heart by Jacqueline Mandell
"The Dalai Lama was my first model of ‘Leadership from a Pure Heart.’"
“My religion is kindness,” says the Dalai Lama. Since he was a teenager, he has been the leader of the country of Tibet. When Tibet was brutally invaded by the Chinese army in the 1950’s, he escaped to India. Since that time he has encouraged the Tibetan people and the world to protest the invasion with nonviolent means. In 1989, this wise and gentle man won the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Last spring I went on pilgrimage to Central Tibet. With several Tibetan translators from the USA, I was very fortunate to visit and meditate in monasteries, such as the ancient Chimpuk. Many of these monastaries are connected by heritage and lineage to two of the great spiritual founders of Tibetan Buddhism, Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogel. For me, this was a journey of spiritual light.
But Tibet has its dark side also. It is startling to actually walk through and witness the realities of invasion. In the last 38 years, 6,000 monastaries and 1.2 million people have been destroyed due to the Tibetan holocaust. Famine and loss of civil rights (for example, Tibetans are not allowed to own shops in their own capital of Lhasa) are constant. During my travels by bus, motorcart, boat and on foot, I saw that most of the Tibetan people are impoverished, malnourished and in need of medical attention. Yet the spirit of the people, for the most part, is characterized by faith in Buddhism and in the Dalai Lama. They are undefeated.
There is peaceful protest in occupied Tibet. In return, there is retaliation by the Chinese military. Stories are told about imprisonment for signing peaceful petitions in favor of the Dalai Lama. In prison there is rape, severe beatings, and electric cattle prods put in people’s bodies. It takes great strength to protest violence peacefully. Yet the way of peace requires honesty, directness and nonviolence. When we hear stories like this, it allows us to reflect on how we meet difficulty in our own lives. How do our mental and emotional reactions influence our speech and actions?
Twenty six years ago, I traveled around the world seeking adventure. In January, 1972, I arrived in Bodh Gaya, India. In the center of this small dusty village is a strong massive Bodhi Tree, and tall ancient Stupa. Here, 2,565 years ago, the Buddha was enlightened. Peace still pervades this place.
My outer adventures, which brought me to Bodh Gaya, led me to an inner adventure of many years of arduous meditation practice. For the next several winters, I came back to meditate outside of this village of Bodh Gaya. During this time, I was able to see the Dalai Lama with his tutors and meditation instructors nearly everyday. He gave lectures under the Bodhi Tree. I was impressed with his serenity, and his meditations were an inspiration for my own practice. The Dalai Lama was my first model of ‘Leadership from a Pure Heart.’
A few years ago, I attended the Portland Women’s Voices lecture series. There, I had the privilege of meeting Mrs. Jehan Sadat. To many people, Mrs. Sadat describes herself as “a woman who lost her husband to Peace.” Her husband, Anwar Sadat, led the way for peace in Egypt and the Middle East. Yet after his assassination, Jehan Sadat decided not to remain in the palace, but to go out and get her Ph.D. from Cairo University. She went on to use her privileged social position to become an advocate for peasant women in poor villages. She designed and implemented a program to bring in sewing machines to establish village cooperatives. Hence the women could become self-sufficient. At the Portland Women’s Voices lecture series, Mrs. Sadat said that her motivation to create these projects was “deep caring and love.”
Jehan Sadat has been described by some as “First Lady of the World.” Her natural grace and compassion are inspirational to me. Although she could have followed a path of ease, she chose a path of service to those with fewer choices. She too is a model of ‘leadership from a pure heart.’
Both the Dalai Lama and Jehan Sadat have influenced my own work in the world. I have taught the practice and benefits of Mindfulness Meditation for more than two decades to people of all walks of life. I have also been training meditation teachers to go out into the community to expand this work. More recently, influenced by these models of ‘leadership from the heart,’ I have begun developing seminars, lectures and consultations targeting leadership for management. Now I bring together a program for both individuals or groups, to establish not only Mindfulness, but ethics, listening and speaking skills, centering and intuition, as well as compassion and kindness in the workplace and in the home. This feels like a wonderful evolution for myself and my clients.
May our lives be characterized by kindness.
Jacqueline Mandell is a meditation teacher and leadership consultant living in Portland, Oregon. For those interested in a Spring/Summer series on “Leadership from a Pure Heart” or to arrange a consultation or speaking engagement, contact: Jacqueline Mandell, Leadership from a Pure Heart, (503) 790-1064.