The Spiritual Dimensions of Obama’s Leadership
© 2008 by Gordon Davidson and Corinne McLaughlin
 

   There has always been a higher, spiritual hand active in the life of the United States, beginning with its founding in 1776 by one of the greatest gatherings of political geniuses ever seen on the planet. And throughout its 212 year life, at each moment of agonizing need, the United States has seen an inspired leader emerge to meet the crises of the times with vision, strength and the gifts required.  Abraham Lincoln saved the Union and ended slavery, Franklin D. Roosevelt acted boldly to help end the Great Depression and defeat the Axis Powers. And now, in this moment of historical crisis, another great leader, uniquely qualified to meet the needs of our nation and the world, has come forth, overlighted by Spirit, as an expression of the soul of the American people.

 

A Spiritual Catalyst

 

   Obama signifies more than the emergence of an inspired, gifted leader. He is like a catalyst dropped into a supersaturated solution, that builds a crystalline structure around itself based on its innate pattern, and then transforms the whole solution. The supersaturated solution is the collective spiritual awakening that has for years been calling out for a leader to unite our nation and establish right relations with the world. Suddenly, it has crystallized around Obama. His ideas and presence among us, speaking to the “better angels of our nature” as Lincoln did, has crystallized a movement that says, “Yes we can!” We can be better than who we have been, both as individuals and as a nation.

 

   With his gifts of oratory, his self reflective spiritual awareness, and his proven commitment and effectiveness in serving people, Obama is a major catalyst for change. He has come with great spiritual support behind him, not only from the spiritual powers who always guide and support true, inspired leaders, but also with precipitating power. He catalyzes into action all that we the people of the U.S. and the world have achieved in our inner spiritual unfoldment at this time. He recognizes this when he says, “We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change we seek.” He affirms us and we affirm him in a mutually empowering circle.

 

  Obama has come forth as part of a large inner group, larger than the group working on his campaign or his transition team. All over the world, tens of thousands of people were praying and meditating, asking for spiritual help and support for Obama to be president. This vast network of organized, meditating groups is also part of his group, and one of the reasons he was able to be elected. 

 

   A leader of Obama’s stature comes into the world with a destiny that is assisted by the spiritual forces who guide and guard human evolution, actualized by the radiation of his own soul and by the collective consciousness of the people who call him forth and prepare his way.  The Divine hand can open many doors, which is why so many seemingly uncanny events aided his easy election to the U.S. Senate--in addition to all his hard work.  As he mentions in The Audacity of Hope, “Later, some reporters would declare me the luckiest politician in the entire fifty states.”

 

   All that has occurred in the life of the U.S. since the Kennedy era, and especially the last eight years, could be seen as building a portal for Obama to enter into national prominence. A great leader emerges as the right person, at the right place, at the right time. This is a result of the interaction of spiritual energies descending on the planet, humanity’s awakening consciousness, and our free choices as citizens.

 

   Obama’s election has been heralded as the beginning of a new era because he is our first black president. However, this new era is actually an interaction between a steadily more enlightened citizenry and the leaders they call forth. Obama is part of a wave of wiser, more enlightened political leaders who have long been predicted in many spiritual teachings. Such leaders are emerging steadily in every field of human endeavor, and Obama now brings this emerging light into the U.S. political realm. 

 

   Through their presence, the words they speak and what they do, every leader sets a tone for all within an organization or a nation. The reason people have supported Obama with such fervor is that they sense a new vibration, a new tone that he is resonating. America and the world knows this is needed. He sounds the note of unity within diversity, respect for all, honesty, plain speaking and fulfilling the highest we know we are capable of. After his election, a palpable shift took place throughout the U.S., as everyone recognizes that a new vibration, a new tone is being sounded for our nation and our people.

 

   Spiritually advanced leaders like Obama follow an inner, spiritual compass and they lead from the inside out. Obama has been very open about his inner spiritual life, as quoted in a remarkable 2004 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times before he was elected Senator.  He told the interviewer, “The biggest challenge, I think, is always maintaining your moral compass.  Those are the conversations I'm having internally. I'm measuring my actions against that inner voice that for me is audible, is active. It tells me where I think I'm on track and where I'm off track.”   He continually asks himself, “How does this connect with a larger sense of purpose?”

 

   He also said in the interview, “The most powerful political moments for me come when I feel like my actions are aligned with a certain truth. I can feel it. When I'm talking to a group and I'm saying something truthful, I can feel a power that comes out of those statements that is different than when I'm just being glib or clever.”

 

   Obama is comfortable reflecting on his inner life and choices, yet he’s also detached and cool, not responding with fear or anger to attacks. He adds, “I think Gandhi is a great example of a profoundly spiritual man who acted and risked everything on behalf of those values but never slipped into intolerance or dogma. He seemed to always maintain an air of doubt about him. I also think of Dr. King, and Lincoln. Those three are good examples for me of people who applied their faith to a larger canvas without allowing that faith to metastasize into something that is hurtful.”

 

   Lincoln has been a major inspiration for Obama, as he reads many books on Lincoln and quotes him often.  When he was a U.S. senator, he’d often take a run in the evening to the Lincoln Memorial, sitting and reflecting there. He seems to have many of the same spiritual qualities as Lincoln, such as practical wisdom, humility, and a dedication to healing divisions and uniting people.

 

   Obama is attractive to people because of his unaffected, direct manner. He called himself the “improbable candidate with the funny name,” yet he is a gifted orator. The creative power of his lighted, inspired words sounds an inner note that people recognize and respond to.  Intelligent and visionary, he brings deep change, as revealed in his birthchart. Aquarius is his rising sign, the sign of his soul, so he is naturally identified with the people collectively and resonant with universal brother/sisterhood.  He says, “My politics are informed by a belief that we’re all connected…I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper, we are all children of God.  Or I can express it in secular terms.” What is most captivating about him is that he models a new way of being: self-reflective and relaxed, yet focused, disciplined and organized.

 

   Obama’s spiritual nature is recognized by leaders on the right as well as the left. For example, Frank Schaeffer, one of the founders of the Religious Right, wrote that Obama will be one of “our greatest and most beloved presidents,” by virtue of his quiet reason and wisdom, personal humility and spirit of service. “Speaking as a believing Christian, I see the hand of a merciful God in Obama’s candidacy,” he said.

 

   Obama’s generosity years ago to a perfect stranger in the airport, giving her $100 to pay for extra baggage weight, when he barely had money himself, speaks volumes about him.  And when it was discovered that his opponent’s 18 year old unmarried daughter was having a baby, he didn’t see this as an opportunity to attack, but rather graciously pointed out that his own mother had him when she was only 18.

 

The Significance of Obama’s Name
 

  For those who understand how to read the Book of Life, formulations of names are no coincidence. Obama’s name carries great potency and good within it. Barack is derived from the African Kiswahili word baraka, which means blessing. In Arab influenced languages, baraka also means “spiritual wisdom, or a blessing transmitted from God.” His last name begins with an “O”, a circle, that is the symbol of wholeness or completeness, and it also includes the two syllables “ba,” and “ma.” In multiple cultures “ba” signifies father, and “ma” mother. His middle name, Hussein, generally means in Arabic, “good, or good looking.” Thus we have a name that means a good and handsome man, carrying spiritual wisdom and blessings from God -- empowering wholeness and balance as father and mother, or masculine and feminine energies.

 

   An immediate impact of his name is seen in the Arab/Muslim world, and its relationship with the West, which is arguably the most significant political/military issue of our times. The very fact that he has a Muslim middle name, and a first name of Arabic derivation, has already had a large impact on Muslims the world over, who thought the U.S. would never elect a black man with a Muslim name. The Iraqis have already said they would trust Obama to keep U.S. agreements with them more than Bush, and some Taliban leaders were quoted in a Pakistani newspaper saying they would be more willing to negotiate with an Obama - led administration. This is a result of more than his name, but it very much adds to the openness that the Muslim world now has to the U.S. and soon to be President Obama.

 

   These are additional indications of a higher power at work, strengthening and supporting Obama’s appearance out of seeming nowhere in a few short years, as the right man, in the right place, at the right time, and even with the right name, all of which is extraordinary.

 

Transforming Adversarial Relationships and Creating Empowerment
 

   One of the more subtle, yet very transformational aspects of Obama is how he is creating a new type of relationship with the American people, as well as the people of the world. He treats people as adults, assumes their intelligence and speaks to it, by explaining complex issues in relatively straightforward language. He speaks at a deeper level than usual to complex and emotionally difficult issues like race, which he did brilliantly during the campaign. He draws out the best in people by speaking to the highest in us, and refusing to play to fear and anger. He doesn’t create separation with those he disagrees with, because he listens to their point of view, and is clear about the distinction between the person and their ideas.

 

  He recently thanked the people of Illinois, saying “It was there that I learned to disagree without being disagreeable; to seek compromise while holding fast to those principles that can never be compromised; and to always assume the best in people instead of the worst.”  He is a very disciplined and focused leader who expects results. He has created a “no drama Obama” group culture-- meaning that big egos, drama queens and leakers will not be welcomed in his administration.

 

   He refuses to fall into the trap of polarities, but rather emphasizes what unites us, rather than what divides us as a people. One of the keynotes of his campaign was “Respect, empower, include.” This is a message that the American people were hungering for, and the election showed that he has a vision that we know in our hearts we need. He doesn’t gloss over differences, but acknowledges divisions, affirming he will be the president for all the people. He said we have to …“admit the possibility that the other side might sometimes have point.” He has the capacity to listen to the truth on all sides, and find a higher truth that includes us all.

 

   Obama doesn’t promise to do everything for us, but rather helps us organize ourselves and invites us to do great things together. He promotes a partnership approach with his staff and with the American people, building a team spirit. When he was mobilizing voters with his famous “fired up, ready to go” speech, he often would end with the statement, “Together we will heal the nation and transform the world.” People described this as a bolt of electricity going through the crowd.

 

And with millions of hours of volunteer time and focused dedication to the vision and purpose, ordinary people did indeed change the world. In his Berlin speech, attended by over 100,000 people, he said, “I’m an American who views myself as a fellow citizen of the world.” He seems destined to lead the world through the sheer power of his vision, oratory and practical, common sense approach to issues.

 

Opening the Door to a Multicultural World
 

   Obama has been recognized by the younger generation, as well as by people of all races and cultures worldwide, because they sense he is a leader who will further open the doorway into a more harmonious and beautiful multi-cultural world. This world where cultural and racial differences are enjoyed and celebrated is already emerging, and Obama’s ascendancy stabilizes and affirms this new world for all of us to see.

 

   There is also a deeper subconscious level of world relief that his ascendancy has brought. For people of color all around the world, who have been exploited and oppressed by the white race for a very long time, there is a new psychological feeling of safety in the world. They now have less to fear and even something to hope for from a person of color in the White House.

 

   The emergence into young adulthood of the Millennial generation, the largest in U.S. history, and their demand for real solutions to the multitude of problems we face, is a potent spiritual energy which has been crucial to the success of Obama’s campaign, and will be for his presidency. The dozens of music videos created by young grassroots activists as well as major stars, chanting Obama’s name like a spiritual mantra, symbolized the call of the younger generation for a truly inspired leader.

 

    Even up to the final hours before the election, many people could not believe that a black man could be elected. Many were holding their breath to see if the election process would be tampered with again as in previous elections. Others thought that when people got into the privacy of the voting booths, some hidden, subconscious racism would rise up and prevent them from voting for Obama. But Obama believed that white Americans were ready to go beyond racism, and vote based on the “content of his character, not the color of his skin,” as Dr. Martin Luther King said. And in one, great collective act of mass redemption, white America did so, to the seeming amazement of itself and the entire world.

 

   Obama’s belief in the best in us, offering the opportunity to transcend ourselves and be greater than we have been, is the sign of an inspired and even a transcendental leader. We have heard much about what this election has meant for black people, and all who love humanity are rejoicing for them. Yet Obama has also brought a great gift to white America, and we all stand taller and feel better about ourselves because “we have overcome.” After the election, many people remarked how people of different races were making more eye contact and smiling at each other, as if seeing each other for the first time.  African Americans feel seen by whites in a new way, because one of their own has been recognized and accepted by the larger society.

 

A Practical Visionary and Brilliant Organizer
 

    Obama has emerged as a brilliant and inspired orator, gifted strategic thinker and champion organizer. It is interesting to note that in the early days, when people would ask, “Well, how do we know you are competent to be president?” he would say, “Watch how I run my campaign.” The world has watched and been awed by what he has accomplished, starting with nothing but a clear vision of what he wanted to share with the American people, and then building the most innovative and powerful campaign in modern political history. He brought millions into the electoral process, and was supported by small donations from millions of people. He said he began with “little more than faith in the American people, and that faith has been justified.”

 

   A brilliant organizing ability is one of the signatures of the new, spiritual energy that is flowing into the world in this cycle, which grounds idealism in practical solutions. This energy, calling forth Spirit from within matter, reorders the world to allow for a greater circulation of resources, love and creativity to every part of the planet. The economic cleansing currently underway paves the way for an eventual reordering with greater integrity and fairness in our financial systems. As a prime example of a “practical visionary,” Obama is the one most qualified to carry this forward because he thinks outside the box, sees whole systems, and is pro-active, focusing on opportunities as they arise.

   

How We Can Help Obama
 

   As Obama says, this will be a long journey, and it will not be easy. Like all of us, he has personal flaws to overcome. But we can all help him by supporting his initiatives when they are moving in the right direction. As President Franklin Roosevelt famously told labor leaders who were trying to convince him to support the Lehman act, “Gentlemen, you have totally convinced me that you are right. Now go out there into the world and force me to do it.” Obama needs the movement that elected him to stay supportive and keep up popular pressure so he can enact his agenda.

 

   We need to continue to meditate and pray for him, seeing him, his family and all of his team surrounded in light and protected. We can ask that he align more fully with the Soul of our nation so that his work will express the spiritual purpose of The United States and fulfill its higher destiny as a beacon of wisdom and compassion to the world.

Setting a New Spiritual Tone
 

 

Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson are co-authors of Spiritual Politics (Foreword by the Dalai Lama), and Builders of the Dawn and co-founders of The Center for Visionary Leadership, based in California and North Carolina. Corinne coordinated a national task force for President Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development and Gordon was formerly the Executive Director of the Social Investment Forum and of The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES). They are both Fellows of The World Business Academy and The Findhorn Foundation. (www.visionarylead.org; gordond2@visionarylead.org  corinnemc@visionarylead.org)




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