The Power of the Leader arises from his Core || Acharya Prashant (2014)

To personally meet or connect with Acharya Prashant: click here.

Speaker: So, the question is about leadership and power. What is the relationship between them? Does a leader exercise power?

What is power? Why does the mind want to exercise power?

Listeners(everyone): To control others.

Speaker: To control others. Let’s see.

There are two kinds of minds. Right? What are the two kinds?

One, that is clear of garbage, clear of conditioning. And the other, that is free to be aware, but yet it is all full of influences. One chief characteristic of conditioning, of influences, is that an influenced mind wants to influence. Just as a virus wants to spread, similarly an influenced mind wants to influence. Power is the need to influence.

Why does the conditioned mind want to influence others? It wants to influence others because it sees that something is missing, something is wrong. It senses some kind of a deficiency within. And it thinks that it can make up for that deficiency by getting something from outside, by making others do what he desires from them.

‘I have a conditioned mind and because I am conditioned I will not be at ease. Dis-ease is what I will experience. Right? I have a conditioned mind. Because I experience dis-ease, what do I do? I want to search for some kind of a remedy, a treatment. But a characteristic of this dis-ease, or conditioning is that you do not look for a treatment within yourself. You are not actually even aware of the real nature of the dis-ease. You think you can get rid of your discomfort, your restlessness by doing something outside. Power is the name of doing something outside. ‘Can I do this? Can I make this change happen? Can I make that person follow my wish?’ All this is what we call power.

What you want is peace (2)Hunger for power comes from an inner restlessness, an inner void, an inner deficiency. And a deep hunger for power indicates a deep disease. Getting this? This is the first kind of mind; running after power. And what is their definition of power? The world will follow my desire. As if the world following your desire will give you what you want! What you want is peace, but you don’t even know that. You think that if everybody offers you obedience, if everybody acts in a particular way in front of you, if systems and people are subservient to your wish, then you will feel good. No, you will not feel good. You may tell yourself that it’s all very nice but deep within that void will still remain. The pain will be there and now the suffering will magnify because you are seeing that even by getting so much of control over the world, imagined or otherwise, there is no real control. Even after getting so much of control over the world, my real problem is still the same. So you now have an added pain of failure. “I did whatever I could do, I fought, I obtained power, I won, I struggled, I made so much of effort, and yet my situation is as pathetic as it ever was.”

This is the destiny of the man who runs after power. He does not even realize his real problem. He is searching for solutions to a very superficial – even imaginary problem. And running after an imaginary problem is a sure shot way to forget the real problem.

Then we said that there is another kind of mind which looks at itself; another eye which is not always looking at the world.

Now we are talking of the mind which looks first at itself. It says, ‘Before I try to influence anybody else can I please change my own ways? If I say that the world needs a change, then it’s me who is looking at the world. Am I sure that I am looking rightly at the world? Am I sure? I might be tipsy, I am drunk out of my senses and I think that there is something wrong with the world. I do not consider that I am unable to grasp the real nature of the world. But I say that you know that there is this thing wrong with the system, this thing wrong with my friends, this thing wrong with organizations. I do not realize that organizations are not what I am thinking of them; that the world is not what I imagine it to be.’

You see, there was a man. He returned home drunk, totally drunk. Now he had locked his house from outside and he was carrying the key. So what is he attempting now? The lock is hanging and he is trying to open the lock with the key. But because he is drunk, he is unable to put the key in the hole. He is attempting and attempting. But every time he brings the key to the lock, what happens to the lock? The lock moves this way and that way, it sways.

Now someone else is watching him for a long time. It’s half an hour and this man is unable to enter his house because he can’t open the lock. So he says, ‘Can I come and help you? Can I come and help you open the lock?’ He says, ‘No, no, I don’t need help. Just hold the wall. The wall is shivering. The wall is shivering so much that I am unable to put the key in it.’ I do not realize that my mind is drunk. What do I say? ‘The wall is shaky. Please hold the wall, the wall needs help. I don’t need help, the wall needs help.’

The second man whose mind is clear, whose faculty to look at himself is not asleep, says, ‘Why am I feeling diseased?’ He does not come to quick answers. He looks within. He tries to probe. He says, ‘The lock could not be shaking. Surely something in my mind is wrong. Can I look at it?’ Now this is the second and real kind of power; power not over the world, but over my own mind because the world is anyway what I make it out to be. What is the wall doing? Shivering. Why is it shivering? Because I am saying it is shivering. What is the world? Bad. Why is the world bad? Because I think it is bad and I look only at what I call as bad. And what is the definition of bad? Something of my construction. Is that clear?

I look within and what do I find there? I find that various forces have been trying to capture my mind. What are the names of those forces? Media, friends, colleagues, family, society, religion, all kinds of inputs that go into the mind. When you look sharply at the mind what do you find? You find that these diseases are trying to take control of your mind and because it’s your mind, you must fight them. This is real power.

‘I will not allow anything, anybody, any thought to take control of my mind. My mind is my seat. My mind is my throne. Only pure intelligence can be seated there. No social influence. No influence of any kind. The real battle is within.’ This is Real Power.

But what do I do instead? You see, I am trying to fight a thousand battles outside. I am saying that I will get power when I defeat that person. And who is defeating that person? You, who is already a slave of a thousand forces. Now when you are already a slave of a thousand forces even if you win a battle outside, will it be your victory? Suppose there is a slave. And the slave goes out and fights a battle and wins it. Can the slave say that I have won? Such is our condition. We are fighting a thousand battles. But when they are not our battles, when everything that we do is being dictated by influences, even our victory is not our victory. What we are calling as having power is not power at all. I wrote an exam and I got selected and I am thinking that I have succeeded. But why did I write the exam? I wrote the exam only because my mind was terribly influenced to write the exam. I was made to write that exam. Now even if I succeed in that exam, is it my success? Is it my success? What right do I have to say that I have power and I used that power and I succeeded?

Now I have been conditioned to influence everybody. We said that this is a characteristic of conditioning. Conditioning wants to condition. A conditioned mind would end up conditioning others as well. I have been conditioned to influence others. And how do I influence others? Sometimes by having power over them, explicit, violent; sometimes by acting sweet; sometimes by acting pretty. Now when I act sweet and pretty and someone gets influenced by me, what do I feel? I have won. Now have you won? You were trained to act pretty and sweet. Someone else is laughing. The real mischief-maker is having a good time. You don’t even realize.

Ayn Rand has said that the most depraved man is the one who goes after power. She says that the man who is running after power is the poorest man of all; because real poverty lies within. His mind is extremely impoverished. He is starving.

So first of all realize that what we normally call as power is not power at all. It is just an expression of our slavery. Secondly, if you must have power, you must have power over your own mind. You must have power over all the influences that are trying to capture your mind.

Real power is to remain free. Real power is to fight all the forces that want to make you a slave. That is Real Power.

Now tell me then, who would be a Real Leader? The one who tries to capture power here and there? Or the one who says that my being, my thought, my mind must be untouched. It must be pure. Who is the Real leader?

Listeners (everyone) : The second One.

Speaker: And remember, just as conditioning wants to influence and spread, freedom from conditioning also spreads. The fake leader spreads fakeness through influence. The Real leader spreads freedom through presence. His very presence is enough. He does not need to influence. Getting it?

Conditioning spreads through influence. Freedom from conditioning spreads through presence.

The real leader’s presence is enough. His presence is his power.

The power of the fake leader comes from his designation, from all the things that have been given to him, from all the things that he has acquired from outside. His power, his so-called authority comes from outside. Now all these things can be taken away. Right? You are travelling in a big car; the big car can be taken away. You have a fancy designation; the designation can go. You have lots of money; the money can disappear.

Real leader (1)But the real leader, his action, is not through what society has given him. His being is enough. That is the test of the real leader and the fake leader. The fake leader will collapse if you take away his designation, his identity, his name, his perks. He will have nothing left. And nobody will listen to him.

But for the real leader, take away everything from him, yet he loses nothing. His authority doesn’t come from what the society has given him.

His authority rests within him. His own being is the authority.

He does not say listen to me because I am the chairman of such and such organization. He will not say that. Because if someone has to listen to you when you are the chairman of an organization, he will not listen to you when you are no more the chairman. The seat goes, the chair goes, and you too go. If someone bothers for you only because your vehicle is carrying that red or blue beacon, then the moment that vehicle is taken away you are nobody. You have nothing to support yourself, nothing to stand with. That is not at all real leadership. That power is not real. Is this becoming clear?

Listeners(everyone): Yes, Sir.

Speaker: I need to repeat many things because a lot of misconceptions are seated deeply in your mind. You have been carrying them since decades. In the morning session someone said to me that what you are saying goes against everything we have heard and read so far. So you need to pay great attention.

Listeners(everyone): Yes, Sir.

-Excerpts from a Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session at: The Power of the Leader arises from his Core

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