The world is rather a messy place these days-political unrest, a pandemic, global warming. It’s enough to make anyone wonder if there is anything anyone can do to make it better. Well, spiritual teacher, entrepreneur, and yogi Daniel Aaron has the answer for that. He believes we each need to be a leader, but not just any kind of leader-we need to be spiritual leaders. He opens his new book The Art of Spiritual Leadership by saying, “activating your potential to become an extraordinary spiritual leader is the most practical, magical, and valuable step you can take right now. It’s the key to manifesting what you want most in your life: meaning, impact, success, abundance, love, and happiness.” I couldn’t agree more, and I’m thrilled that Daniel is willing to share in these pages his journey of how he became a spiritual leader in his own life so we can follow his example and become the same in our own.
Not surprisingly, then, the book’s subtitle is “40 Laws to Transform Your Life (and the World).” That statement makes it clear that changing the world has to begin with changing ourselves. We can’t remove the speck in someone else’s eye until we remove the beam in our own so we can see clearly. The Art of Spiritual Leadership is a mix of Daniel’s personal spiritual adventures and those of other spiritual leaders with the purpose to share their combined hard-earned wisdom. Those other leaders range from Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi to Bhagavan Das and Richard Alpert. The 40 Laws or Spiritual Leadership Axioms are sprinkled throughout the book. Some of them are charmingly surprising, such as the first one “You Are Amazing.” Who would think that would be a leadership principal? Yet we have to believe in our own amazing selves if we are to believe we can make a difference in the world. Others are quite wise, such as the thirty-sixth:
“Leadership Is Never a Function of Position and Always One of Responsibility and Action.” In other words, true leaders are not concerned about being admired for being leaders but in getting the work done and making a positive difference. Daniel describes a spiritual leader as someone who “fosters and advances a fulfilling vision of life, the hallmarks of which are joy, vitality, freedom, expansion, and love.” Spiritual leaders may, but do not have to, exist in religions, politics, or businesses-but the leaders in all those areas really should be spiritual leaders. That will make the world a better place, and Daniel is all about making the world a better place.
Mixed in with all this wisdom is a little folly-a few stories of Daniel’s adventures and occasional mistakes and what he learned along the way. They range from Daniel’s search for spirituality at Humaniversity and dressing up as Braveheart to scuba diving and traveling. Throughout, they are filled with humor, tragedy, healing, wisdom, and redemption. In every experience, good and bad, Daniel has learned lessons that have helped him live a better life.
Beyond the stories, this book in many ways works like a personal spiritual leadership retreat for readers. At the end of every chapter, Daniel provides exercises and activities for readers to get the most out of what they have read, depending on how much work they want to put in. Basically, it’s like deciding just how deep you want to dive into doing the spiritual work. Consequently, he offers three levels to choose from: the Lazy River Rider, Snorkeler, or Deep Diver approach. Activities for each level are outlined at the end of each chapter. For example, Lazy River Riders may just be encouraged to think about something, while the Snorkelers might journal about it, and the Deep Divers might be asked to take an action.
One thing I really enjoyed about this book was the variety of experiences Daniel had. He’s searched for meaning in many places. He tells stories of working at psychic fairs in Spain and Portugal; attending Humaniversity, an institute for personal growth, in the Netherlands; teaching in Bali; and living at Omega, a rural retreat center in New York. His openness to diverse experiences and his quest for meaning and wisdom is admirable. His many stories not only make for entertaining reading but are always insightful and educational.
Perhaps most importantly, Daniel teaches us how to retrain much of our thinking. He has learned to turn off negative thinking, or at least stop himself before he says something negative. He has learned how to look for the positive even in things that may seem less than desirable at first, and he is optimistic about our futures, even envisioning a day for humanity when there will be no more war. He believes it can happen if we learn to be spiritual leaders who put the good of humanity before ourselves.
I encourage you to read The Art of Spiritual Leadership and discover in what ways the advice in it can transform you. I am sure you will find many spiritual laws and ideas that will awaken you to a better understanding of yourself, the world, and of the improved role you can play in it.