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All I Want For Christmas Is More Mindful Leadership

Written by: Jenefer Hill, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Jenefer Hill

The prevailing global capitalist ideology, based as it is on the primacy of the individual, implicitly asserts that we exist in competitive isolation from each other and from our environment. Society (particularly in the West) is structured around this perception of reality. But this is an illusion resulting in considerable harm to the planet and to the majority of people. If we acknowledge instead the profound interconnectedness of all phenomena, including ourselves, we can cultivate a clearer understanding of the influence of our actions and relationships within the interconnected web of existence resulting in greater good for a greater number of people. This recognition will also allow us to develop a deeper appreciation for the intricate and interdependent nature of life, which is direly needed at this time.

group of people holding hands in circle

Non-duality


Non-duality is a view proposed by many ancient and modern philosophical and spiritual traditions that suggests reality is fundamentally one, that there is ultimately no separation between self and other, or between self and the world, and that all apparent distinctions are ultimately illusory. It emphasizes the unity of all existence, that everything is happening in the one inseparable moment of now. While observer and observed appear separate, they are really one and the same, two sides of the same coin. An observer cannot exist without the observed and vice versa. Both are inseparable and arise together.


This is not simply a spiritual understanding, it is a fact of experience that can be revealed to anyone interested in, for example, the practice of meditation and self-inquiry. While we might think and feel ourself to be a separate self, no person or thing exists independently of other people or things, their environment, or constituent parts. It is not possible for any person or thing to live in isolation. The existence of one person or thing is dependent on the existence of other elements and conditions, and no one or thing can be dependent and independent at the same time.


Many people find the non-dual perspective to be intuitively true and have experienced moments of profound unity in which they feel deeply connected to everything around them. On the other hand, if we assume that there is a separation between self and world, we face the challenge of explaining how these two things can interact in any meaningful way.


There is no separate self


Why does this matter? Seeing the interconnectedness of all people and things has profound implications for our perception of reality and understanding of the world, our interactions with others, and the way we deal with problems and conflicts. By recognising the illusory nature of the boundaries we place around ourselves, we can let go of limiting beliefs and emotional patterns, develop greater compassion and connection to others, and understand the delicate balance and dependencies within ecosystems.


It is not necessary to accept these notions purely on faith. The remarkable news is that every individual is able to make this discovery for themselves. Importantly, this revelation does not disregard or invalidate our humanity; rather, it significantly enhances our perception of the human experience. If only we had more mindful and ethical leaders promoting this view and encouraging others to investigate this in their own experience, the world could be a very different place.


The root of human suffering


Sadly, most of us believe ourselves to be limited, separate, and thus vulnerable. From this belief, our self-identity and life circumstances wholly defines us, and we think and feel we live in a world filled with similar limitations. The belief in separation is said to be the cause of all suffering, for this view creates the need to protect and defend the seemingly isolated and limited self against other apparently separate people and things, creating undue conflict and fear.


The ideology of separation, of individualism, is doing great harm to the planet and to each other. It simply is not sustainable. The list of dire and distressing self-inflicted problems around the world grows every year: inequality, conflict, oppression, destruction of the environment, pollution, depletion of natural resources, self-interest, greed, competition, and the list goes on. Many of the most influential people on the planet act as if their actions have no consequences, but various scientific fields from ecology, systems theory, philosophy, to quantum physics posit that all life is interrelated, interdependent and interconnected in one cosmic web of life, and events and entities influence one another.


In order to alleviate this state of suffering, the remedy lies in the revelation of the inherent freedom within our true nature. Our true nature is not an elusive, mystical state that is exceedingly difficult to access; rather, it is the very awareness through which we currently perceive everything. Amazingly, this awareness is fully accessible and readily available for exploration (you can read more about that here). However, our habitual, limited modes of perception and behaviour may cause us to overlook the innate qualities of our true nature, and by extension the nature of reality.


As we already have complete and unrestricted access to our inherent awareness, the crucial step is to recognise and acknowledge what is unconditionally true about it. We can say, for example, for a fact that we are aware. If we were not aware, we would not be having this current experience. This awareness that we essentially are is constantly present and inseparable from, yet also independent of, all our perceptions. This fundamental, basic essence of presence is also open, limitless (there is no edge or limit to it when you explore awareness in your own experience) and has no centre. Delving deeper into the understanding of this awareness and its characteristics significantly influences the peace, meaning, beauty, and joy that we experience in our lives.


Know thyself


The ancient Greeks seemed to have had a better grasp on reality. While the meaning of the philosophical maxim “know thyself”, inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, may be contentious, I imagine they weren’t encouraging us to know thy personality, thy thoughts, feelings, beliefs, or social status – conditions and experiences we seem to know all too well. I’d suggest they were reminding us to know the self who has thoughts, beliefs, a personality, feelings etc. For a thought, a feeling, a personality, a belief is not in itself a self. There must be a subject to know these conditions and objects of experience.


But do we really know who or what this subjective self is? The difference between conceptual understanding and direct experiential knowing is substantial. When one truly explores oneself, we find something quite different to what we thought we were. Just like thinking about swimming is not the same as swimming, the concepts we have about ourself, our remembered history, our imagined future, our idea of our strengths or weaknesses, likes and dislikes, whatever we might think about ourself is quite different to the direct experience of knowing our self. We tend to project narratives onto our self more than we perceive and know ourself directly.


Ethical leadership


Ethical leadership can bring about a different world—one where leaders and others with a disproportionate influence and impact on the fate of the masses and the planet take responsibility and are held accountable for their actions. We need ethical leaders, guided by moral principles and values, and mindful attitudes, who recognise the illusion of individualism and self-serving neoliberal views, and acknowledge the deeper interconnectedness of all life. Ethical leadership prioritises the well-being of people, the environment, and society at large, and makes decisions aligned with ethical standards and social responsibility. Ethical leaders embrace the concept of interconnectedness which encourages holistic thinking, empathy, and a broader understanding of the consequences of our actions.


One reality


Physics knows it. At the heart of quantum physics lies the understanding that everything is inherently connected. This assertion is supported by the concept of the big bang theory, which suggests that all things are made of the same substance.

 

No thing and no person exists in isolation, independently of all else. So, the ideologies of individualism and neoliberalism with its assumption of competition as the defining characteristic of human relations, is deeply flawed. In the final analysis, there is no separate self to defend, no ultimate difference to be threatened by, to need to control or complete against. There is no independently existing me, separate from you and all else, which permits me to act as if I were an island disconnected and unreliant on all else.


When freed from our previously held illusory convictions of being a separate self, we gain access to a far more dynamic, wise, and compassionate engagement with the world. Suddenly, an entirely new operating system for living our lives becomes available to us. While our challenges don’t magically disappear, a profoundly different potential for meeting and resolving them emerges.


When you see all as ultimately interconnected and interdependent you open the door to richness, beauty, truth and love never before experienced, and which money, power, or fame could never realise. We think we’re pretty smart, but we’ve forgotten the essence of life, our true nature, and the nature of reality are all one, and we reduce the quality of life for everyone as a result.


Conclusion


The belief in a limited separate self often leads us to believe that our self-identity and life circumstances completely define us. The solution to this state of suffering lies in uncovering the inherent freedom within our true nature. Our true nature is not a mysterious, elusive, mystical state. It is the very awareness through which we currently perceive everything—fully accessible and open for exploration. This revelation does not dismiss or invalidate our humanity. Instead it represents a significant improvement in our understanding of the human experience.

 

If only more government and corporate leaders recognised the inherent interconnectedness and interdependence of all life, as well as the importance and implications of self-awareness and self-knowledge, we could discover a more sustainable, ethical, and fulfilling way of life for everyone.

 

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Jenefer Hill Brainz Magazine
 

Jenefer Hill, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Jenefer Hill is passionate about sharing the calming, clarifying, and transformative powers of meditation and mindfulness. Through her training services she supports those who seek to live and work with greater presence, ease, and focus. Jen began meditating in 2008, became a teacher, guide, and coach in 2016, and a meditation teacher trainer in 2021. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Guiding and Teaching Meditation and Mindfulness from the Australian Centre for Meditation and Mindfulness (ACMM), is the Founder of Right Brain Liaisons, and trains future meditation teachers at ACMM. Jen is a leader in empowering people and organisations to unlock potential and improve life, work, wellbeing, and health. Profile picture by Pippa Barnes photography.

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