This consciousness or awareness starts primitive. It looks after its own interest: Give me milk, give me food, give me cuddling.
Then it grows, it looks after self-image: tell me I’m beautiful, tell me I’m brilliant.
Then it develops into a status/power-hungry, ego-driven entity: Give me praise, give me fear, give me ego-massages.
All these levels, according to Ibn Arabi, are levels of the animal self. النفس الحيوانية
What makes us more developed? What takes us into a higher plain, as people, nations, workers, leaders, followers?
No, not ideas, not intellectual prowess.
Ethics don’t stop at an idea we adopt about ourselves: That we are ethically sound. They are a journey. They consist of levels too, just as the animal self does.
Ethics need a daily dose of self-observance, so one could uncover one’s own wrong ideas about his/her own ethics.
Everything we do before we die is driven by ethics, or lack of them. Those form our intentions.
We might give a poor man money, but the intention behind the act can vary from one person to another, or from one ethical level to another.
One man might give out money to feel good about himself. Which is serving self-interest. Another man might give out money to be “seen” by others as a good person, which is still self-serving. Another man gives money because he genuinely feels with the poor and believes it is his duty on earth to be a conduit of provision for others.
How far removed is this man from the 1st two examples!?
Age has nothing to do with the ethical level we are at. Some people are 90 years old and their whole life is still centered around instinctual matters.
Others might be 18, but they are arduously working towards the refinement of themselves.
It is our duty towards our souls, towards our life, to better ourselves ethically. We need to work at removing our egos from almost everything we do, and replace this animal self-hood with real intentions for the betterment of ourselves and others.
Leadership needs ethical muscles
Leadership, true leadership. is about ethics, vision, compassion, and a great deal of self-observance.
Leaders, true leaders, suffer because they “carry.” They carry heavy consciences that torment them. They carry the heaviness of making/changing/adapting decisions, they carry the fear over the people/organizations/countries they lead, they carry the need to be firm with small-minded people, they carry the burden of mentoring others and leading them through their egos and jealousies and trickery. They carry the weak and the strong and hope to balance out both without being unfair or tyrannical.
True leaders carry the weight of the constant “Judgment Day” that they expose themselves to every single hour of the day. They do not wait for Judgment Day to arrive, and they do not worry or argue about whether it is “real” or not, they have their own inner scale, and their own inner judgment room… they calculate, and think ahead, and sleep on the consequences of every action they take.
They think of the souls of the people they carry, and whether they will take them to a good place on this journey or not. A good leader worries about whether he is allowing them to grow: is he reforming them when needed, is he changing their ways, is he learning from his mistakes.
Institutions where leaders sleep soundly are places you should be careful with: The leader is on an ego-trip, most likely, and the journey is not a journey of “standards,” truths, or ethical quality.