On Sunday, May 25, 2009, Venerable Chang Hwa gave a talk entitled, "The Philosophy of Leadership in the Lotus Sutra" at CMC.
Venerable stated that according to the Lotus Sutra, effective leadership is defined by: (a) the ability to understand different types of Dharma in order to expound to different types of sentient beings, (b) be aware of the thoughts, vexations, and wisdom of sentient beings, (c) be able to show all sentient beings the original wisdom mind.
It is difficult to carry out this task, as we can see in the opening of the Lotus Sutra when 5,000 among the assembly rose and left because they didn’t believe the Buddha's words. Even the Buddha had to wait for the right causes and conditions to ripen.
The Lotus Sutra presents three different types of leadership systems: authoritative, democratic, and delegation: 1) The authoritative style is where a leader directs and guides a group, ensuring that everyone is moving in the right direction.
This type of leadership is illustrated in Chapter 7: "The Parable of the Phantom City", where the leader creates a "phantom city" for a group of weary travelers to rest and eat before continuing to find treasure (Buddhanature). 2) The democratic style is where one leads in an indirect way, allowing others to encounter and experience on their own, and overcome obstacles through exposure to different situations.
This indirect leadership style is illustrated in the chapter on "Belief and Understanding" where the father patiently waits for his son to recognize his lineage through his own discovery. 3) The delegation style is where a leader leads from behind.
This leadership style is illustrated in the "Parable of Medicinal Herbs", where the plants receive different amounts of rain (Buddhadharma) depending on the size of the plants (virtuous roots). Chapter 6, "Bestowal of Prophecy" shows how attainment of Buddhahood is based on one’s own causes and conditions.
According to Venerable, John Maxwell, the leadership guru, stated that the hardest individual to lead is oneself. The Buddha shows how to lead oneself through example, through body, speech, and mind, and by using the precepts, samadhi, and wisdom.
Chapter 14 of the Lotus Sutra mentions the four types of peaceful practices – body, speech, mind, and vow. 1) Peaceful practice of the body is to avoid seeking fame, power, sexual misconduct and killing. 2) Peaceful practice of speech is not talk about the faults and misdeeds of others and look down on teachers. 3) Peaceful practice of the mind involves not arising a mind of jealousy, arrogance, greed hatred, disparaging of others and arguing on theological viewpoints. 4) Peaceful practice of one’s own vow generates power for joyful practice and to lessen vexations.
Using the Buddhadharma to lead one's body, speech, and mind will, in a natural way, cause others to follow you as a leader.
(Translated by: Echo Bonner/Written by: Rosemary Duong/Edited by: Chang Jie)