«Entering the Seven Meditative Spaces of Leadership Conversation with Master Nan Huai-Chin Hong Kong, October 25th, 1999 Claus Otto Scharmer1 Nan ...»
The third question, regarding practices, Nan and his students began to responded to by a) giving me an elementary instruction in meditation, and b) in pointing out that, for Master Nan, all activities, life is meditation. “Every sound is a mantra.” He responded to the fourth question, (what is the blind spot in how we see the origins
of our actions?) by pointing out what he considers the failing of the twentieth century:
the absence of a central, unifying, foundational thought. He also indicated how this could be transformed: by illuminating the blind spot through entering the seven meditational spaces of leadership.
My third reaction was calmness. Suddenly I saw that the structure of the conversation, as documented in the transcript, reflects the content of Master Nan’s core theory. Let me explain. The structure of the emerging whole, which is shown in the U-shape structure of the seven meditative spaces of true leadership in Figure 1, are manifested both in the structure of the interviewn and in the Great Learning essay.
The U-shape structure of the seven meditative spaces of leadership
Master Nan mentions seven meditative stages or steps of leadership:
1.) Awareness (of current reality), 2.)Knowing where to stop (recognizing the essential question), 3.) Calmness (samahdi), applying rigorous method to the essential question; 4.) Deep quietness and stillness, 5.) Grace of being, 6.) True thinking (looking for the essence/answer to the question), 7.) Attainment (of the desired end).
The seven meditative spaces of leadership consist of two basic movements (see Figure 1, above). The first movement could be called the “way-in,” which is to move from normal awareness to the deepest place of true stillness at the bottom of the U (stages 1-4). The second movement could be called the “return” and is about returning from the deepest point to the other levels of reality without losing the presence of the deepest point (stages 4-7).
The U-shape structure of the Encounter with Master Nan The structure of the conversation with Master Nan embodies the structure of his
theory about the seven steps in the following order:
1. Management is an insufficient starting point for our work (current awareness) The blind spot of the 20th century (identifying the essential question) 2.
3. The seven meditational steps of leadership (calmness; applying rigorous method to the question)
4. Point of Stillness: the eye of the needle (the journey from one place (office) to the second place (family dinner); Meditation, conversation and dinner)
5. Receiving a major insight (grace): The blind spot is concerned with the cominginto-being of social action, and the essence of the seven steps of meditative leadership is to illuminate that blind spot. Question: What then is the source of social action? Answer: Thought.
6. Question: What then is the origin of thinking? (Answer: the Self).
7. Question: What then is the origin of Self? And what is the true goal of The Great Learning Essay The seven initial paragraphs of the Great Learning essay follow the same U-shaped form: the first contains the whole structure, the following six reflect stages two through seven, with paragraphs four and five representing the turning point at the
bottom of the U. The text reads as follows:
2. The point where to rest being known, the object of pursuit, is then determined, and, that being determined, a calm unperturbedness may be attained to. To that calmness there will succeed a tranquil repose. In that repose there may be careful deliberation, and that deliberation will be followed by the attainment of the desired end.
3. Things have their root and their branches. Affairs have their end and their beginning. To know what is first and what is last will lead near to what is taught in the Great Learning.
4. The ancients who wished to illustrate illustrious virtue throughout the kingdom, first ordered well their States. Wishing to order well their States, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons. Wishing to cultivate their persons, their first rectified their hearts.
Wishing to rectify their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts.
Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things.
5. Things being investigated, knowledge became complete. Their knowledge being complete, their thoughts were sincere. Their thoughts being sincere, their hearts were then rectified. Their hearts being rectified, their persons were cultivated.
Their persons being cultivated, their families were regulated. Their families being regulated, their States were rightly governed. Their States being rightly governed, the whole kingdom was made tranquil and happy.
6. From the Son of Heaven down to the mass of people, all must consider the cultivation of the person the root of everything besides.
7. It cannot be, when the root is neglected, that what should spring from it will be well ordered. It never has been the case that what was of great importance has been slightly cared for, and, at the same time, that what was of slight importance has been greatly cared for.
XIII. Bio Nan Huai-Chin is a teacher and scholar famous in China but little know outside of China and Taiwan. He has written over 30 books, which have sold literally tens of millions of copies in China, mostly on the black market until recently. Few of his books have been translated and made available outside China. He is an advisor to the government as well as a noted spiritual figure. Today, it is not unusual to find whole sections of bookstores in China devoted to his works. He is noteworthy for his knowledge and attainment in all three major strands of Chinese culture: Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism. Master Nan just finished a new interpretation of one of the
two Confucian classics, “The Great Learning.” This essay, originally written by Confucius’ grandson 2400 hundred years ago has been a mainstay of Chinese culture ever since.