Friday, August 7, 2015

An Ex-CEO on U.S. Presidential Leadership: Dissecting Ted Turner’s Pessimistic Stance

The founder of CNN and TNT, two American television networks, Ted Turner maintains that presidential leadership at the federal level is elusive. More particularly, the American electorate’s task is very, very difficult because the federal president must be an expert in so many areas. Ironically, Turner may be overlooking how upper-echelons leadership differs from leadership within organizations, including the U.S. Government.

Turner claims that modern U.S. presidents are expected to excel not just in one policy area; they must be able to tend to a wide range of complex, intricate issues. "Things are so complicated now," Turner says. "Just the financial world is so complicated, to be an expert in that is very, very difficult."[1] While it is certainly true that modern financial instruments like those that swap the financial risk of default to another party are complex, the president of the United States need not have an intricate knowledge of them in order to lead. For one thing, the Secretary of the Treasury typically comes out of the financial world—like Henry Paulson, ex-CEO of Goldman Sachs—and thus can have more subject-specific knowledge; but even in this respect, to have been the CEO of a major Wall Street bank is distinct from supervising traders directly.

Similarly, the chief executive of the U.S. Government cannot be expected to have intricate knowledge of the workings of the federal agencies. Leaders atop organizations (and even societies) deal more abstractly with principles than with details. I submit that Turner obfuscates the respective natures of upper- and lower-level leadership. In fact, the latter can better be said to be management rather than leadership because typically a vision is formulated and enunciated at the top.

In short, a U.S. president need not know how CDOs or swaps on financial derivatives are put together on Wall Street. Besides the fact that Treasury can more easily get that information and even translate what it means on a more abstract level, “micromanaging,” as Jimmy Carter was so accused of doing as president, has a large opportunity cost.[2] The federal president essentially oversees an empire of fifty republics, or member-states., which differ culturally. He or she must assume this perspective in looking at particular policy domains. Even just in respect to each one, the matters that reach the president’s desk involve seemingly intractable clashes between principles (and interests).

Therefore, Ted Turner is seriously misunderstanding the nature of presidential leadership in claiming, "Back in the time of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, all the books that were in the Library of Congress fit in one room. You could read them all. Now, a million books a year are printed—or over that. There's no way you can read them all."[3] For a sitting president to be reading a book on electrical engineering, for example, would be rather strange—not to mention having a high opportunity cost; more suitable books include those on past presidents as well as on the rise and decline of empires (and war and peace).

Meanwhile, the secretary of the U.S. Treasury might be reading the latest book on how much systemic risk Wall Street banks really represent to the financial system and the overall economy. The under-secretaries could be reading texts that are more specific. To presume that the U.S. president must also read those texts (as well as those on subjects relevant to the other cabinet secretaries and their respective deputies) is to vastly misunderstand what presidents do and what presidential leadership is. A president need not know every detail of everything in order to come up with a viable vision for America. That a former CEO could miss this point mystifies me.

As Turner himself says, "You have to specialize, and that's very hard for leaders, particularly political leaders that have to know a lot of different things. It's almost impossible for one man to be able to do it all."[4] For a president to specialize is for him or her to assume the vantage-point of the U.S. as a whole—whether that be looking at the government, economy, or society as wholes or even the U.S. itself as one whole—in formulating a principle or even a vision and to use (again specialized) political skills to sell it. All this does not come close to having to “know a lot of different things” and “do it all.” To be sure, the consolidation of power at the federal level in the U.S. (at the expense of the States) since the 1930s has indeed put more policy domains on the federal president's desk. From the standpoint of time-management, Turner's point that a president cannot do everything resonates, for no person has an infinite amount of time and energy. Generally speaking, as the number of items on a president's schedule increases, each item gets less attention. In short, the modern president is apt to be stretched too thin, but this is because of the increasing imbalance in the federalism rather than because the president has to read more books. 

1. Lisa Capretto, “Ted Turner On Why It’s So Hard To Find Good Political Leaders,” The Huffington Post, August 6, 2015.
2. The cost of the benefits of foregone alternatives lost, in this case by micromanaging rather than leading.
3. Capretto, “Ted Turner.”
4. Ibid.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Spirituality in Leadership: Rudolf Otto's Numen as the Object of Charisma

Charismata, that elusive phenomenon attributed to the gods ages ago, is still today considered to hold the element of mystery in spite of the plethera of recent social science studies on the subject.[1]  Originally suggestive of powers that could not be explained by ordinary means(Conger, 1989:22), charisma has been subject to scores of sociological, psychological, and political studies(House, 1977:190), seeking to leave behind its original highly religious quality in search of a behavioralistic essence.  Yet religious language continues to accompany the concept, suggestive of the failure of scholars to capture it within behavioral terms.

There is a transcendent quality to charisma which eludes those scholars, but can be incorporated in terms of Rudolf Otto's (1957) Idea of the Holy. In his inquiry into the non-rational factor in the idea of the holy(the numen), Rudolf Otto (1957) characterizes several inter-related feeling-responses to its object, the numen.  In basing these responses on the object of the holy rather than in the perceiver, Otto distinguishes these feeling-responses from mere psychological and sociological occurrences, based in the subjective experience of the person rather than in the object itself.  There is thus posited to be a non-rational quality to the holy transcending self and society yet applicable to the human realm.  Charisma, too, has such a dimension, as evidenced by a residual of religiosity language even amid the modern behavioral studies which tend to assume that charisma is strictly a function of the follower's perception (e.g. Conger & Kanungo, 1987). 

Conger & Kanungo (1987:639) argue that a deeper understanding of charisma will come from striping away its aura of mysticism, approaching it strictly as a behavioral process.  Charisma is a matter of attribution arising out of followers' perceptions of a leader's behaviors.   Yet even as Conger & Kanungo (1987) assume that the element of mystery can be shaved off the phenonomen itself, Conger & Kanungo(1987:637) cite literature which posits 'profound and extraordinary' effects of charisma (House & Baetz, 1979:399), 'superhuman' qualities(Willner, 1984), 'magical abilities'(Etzioni, 1961), and 'exceptional sanctity'(Eisenstadt, 1968:46).    Max Weber(1947:358-9; Conger, 1989:22) defines charisma as a gift that sets charismatic leaders apart from ordinary men and causes them to be "treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least...exceptional powers and qualities...not accessible to the ordinary person, but...of divine origin or as exemplary."  
In view of these descriptors, it would seem that the element of mystery is inherent in charisma itself rather than being merely that which is left to be explained in behavioral terms.  Perhaps charisma points to something beyond not only behavior, but the very reaches of human cognition and perception.  Perhaps reality does not stop at our fences and gates. Consider for instance whether human perception and cognition can in principle reach the limits of that which is profound, superhuman, or sacred. 
Otto(1957:1-2) views it a grave error "that the essence of deity can be given completely and exhaustively in 'rational' attributions".  Conceptual thought can not bind matters religious or spiritual. Otto(1957:13) argues that the objectively-given object of the holy,  the numen, gives rise to a feeling-response of mysterium, of "that which is hidden and esoteric, that which is beyond conception or understanding, extraordinary and unfamiliar".  It is not mysterious because it has not yet been discovered by science; rather, it is mysterious because it's object is 'wholly other', beyond the reaches of human reality.  Thus Otto (1957) seeks to use thought to point beyond itself to the surplus of meaning in the object of sacrality which he calls the numen. 
Otto's(1957) project can be applied to charismata because the 'profound', 'superhuman', 'magical', and 'sacral' attributions seem to point beyond the human sphere to a numinous realm of reality.  Specifically, Otto's numinous feeling-responses are in line with descriptions of charismatic leadership in the social science literature. 
In transcending the behavioralistic psychological and sociological approaches to charismatic leadership, a fuller and richer account of charisma will emerge.  Some not so pleasant features of charisma such as its latent propensity to illicit terror will be highlighted.  Such qualities have laid dormant as charisma has come to be identified with transformational leadership.[2]  The presence of attractive and frightening qualities within charisma will suggest that the mystery in the phenomenon is no accident, and that the paradox itself points to the transcendent holy ground of charisma.
An important key to understanding Otto (1957) is to remember that the basis of a numinous feeling-response is not in the person or her perception; rather, it is in the transcendent object itself, the numen.  A metaphysical treatise on the existence of the numen (i.e. that there exists an object 'out there' which is holy) is not the point.  Instead, the point is that the feeling-responses are not oriented to psychological, sociological, or ethical(e.g. right conduct) phenomena.  The responses are 'deep', transcending self and societal artifacts, as they are based in an experience of reality which is ‘wholly other’, beyond the grasp of human perception or cognition. 
It follows that spirituality in leadership is not necessarily ethical leadership.[3]  Otto (1957:5) argues that "to define the holy, or sacred, as the absolute moral attribute, is inaccurate, for it includes in addition a clear overplus of meaning".  The ethical meaning was not original to the word.  Otto's point is not that religion and ethics are mutually exclusive; instead, he wants to call attention to the uniqueness of the feeling-responses to the sacred which are ethically neutral; they transcend ethics.  There is something sui generis about the holy and its unique feeling-responses that cannot be explained away or captured in social scientific or ethical terms.  And in fact this is true of charisma as well. 
Consider how Otto's(1957) descriptions of the feeling-responses to the numen dovetail with descriptions of charismatic leadership in the literature.  As described above, both charisma and Otto's(1957) numen are mysterious.  Our project now is to use Otto's(1957) elements of mysterium to create an analytical framework for the mystery inherent in charisma. 
Otto (1957) posits five elements in the numen's mysterium: tremendum, fascinatus, alienum, majestas, and urgency or energy.  Each of these elements can also be found in charisma, suggesting that charisma taps into the mysterium of the holy.


Otto(1957) distances tremendum  from ordinary fear, an ordinary emotion based on perception rather than an exterior object.  Tremendum is of a religious dread, or terrifying awe which is distinct from fear.  Its source is in the incalculable and arbitrary energy of that which transcends the human dimension or reality yet impinges upon us in uncalculatable ways.  We are terrified of it precisely because it is not based on the self, or the reality portrayed by the self.  It is not moral or immoral, because it is without familiar rationale but is capricious.  If you get to close to it, it's power may destroy you without rhyme nor reason from our perspective, because it is not based in our reality but on itself: reality that transcends.
Is charisma such a phenomenon, eliciting terrifying awe inherently?  Is it conceivable that something which has the propensity to create warm emotional bonds also provokes dread?  What is the nature of this paradox and to what reality does it point?  Starting with tremendum, it will be argued that charismatic leaders can have a degree of dominating power owing to their charisma sufficient to instill the scent of awe-inspiring terror in their followers.
House(1977:191) suggests that dominance is a characteristic of charismatic leadership in much of the literature.  Weber(1947, italics added) in particular suggests that a charismatic leader must prove his extraordinary powers to his followers.  Given such necessity as well as conditions arising out of charisma discussed below. Charismatic  power could be destructive to even the leader’s own followers 'without cause'.  Even the mere possibility is sufficient for the odor of dread to be inherent in charisma.
Several writers on charismatic leadership (Berger, 1963; Dow, 1969; and Marcus, 1961) point to its revolutionary nature.  Consider how easy it is for a leader to use arbitrary destructive force in revolutionary times when order is being intentionally trumped.  Furthermore, the sentiments expressed by a charismatic leader may be heavily charged and contrary to the established order, alienating some people(Conger, 1989; Friedland, 1964). A charismatic could feel threatened in such a context.  He might act out against others, perhaps even blindly. So a charismatic's destructive force may not be limited to real adversaries. It could be quite irregular and thus arbitrary, even to the followers themselves as the leader feels the necessity to prove his power in ways that could be easily accomplished in a revolutionary context. 
If such circumstances and the potential for such a use of power are inherent in charisma, then followers may have a feeling-response of tremendum--going beyond fear because the source is a great(dominating) power which may actually destroy them without rhyme nor reason. 
The possibility of one's own existence in the world ending is inherently transcendental in the sense that one is forced to confront reality itself, beyond the world.  That charisma can have sufficient power to bring such a scenario to pass even against the wishes and power of the follower suggests that there is a transcendental quality in it. 
In the social reality of the business world, being fired is to have one's existence exterminated. The empty office is a virtual tomb. That a charismatic leader can 'terminate' one at will by virtue of the force of her charisma suggests that an employee might feel a sense of dread even as he identifies with the leader's ideal in an empathetic way.
The possibility that the firing could be made by mere whim suggests that the decision is not bound by the causal relationships in human relations and may hint at that type of reality wherein power is totally unpredictable, ambiguous, and irregular.  Thus even the mere possibility of a mere firing may mean that a charismatic leader in business is dreaded as much as she is loved.
An obvious example coming from the twentieth century of tremendum in charisma is Hitler.  Marcus(1961:237-8) argues that empathic identification with Hitler became the vehicle of transcendence for Germans such that the follower "saw in Hitler the real 'presence' in his own time of the ultimate teleological purpose of history itself": the Thousand Year Third Reich. 
According to Marcus(1961), this phenomenon is tied into the striving for transcendence itself, a basic human drive which involves the condition of empathy. Transcendence here means stepping out of one's present self into an idealized alter-ego(ibid.). The charismatic leader identifies with an ideal, either in the world or beyond it. So in empathizing with the leader, the follower internalizes the ideal personified in the leader.  As the ideal is sought, so too is the leader who personifies it.
The ideal of the Reich within History eclipsed the mundane lives of Hitler's followers and thereby freed the Nazis to experience something 'real', having a resonance transcending there typical social realities.  The thirst for such a transcendent ideal in personal experience is personified via charisma in the leader himself such that he evokes empathetic longing and clinging in identification. But the close bond contains not only love, but dread as well, as the possibility of the ideal came to be identified with the same man who could annihilate, with or without calculation, the very existence of the followers seeking transcendence in the ideal.

Considering that his ideal was at odds with the world and elements within Germany in 1933, Hitler had to exercise his charisma by proving his power in the world in a revolutionary and destructive way.  It is not difficult to see how the followers opened themselves up to their own destruction (via the Allies or Hitler himself) as they identified themselves empathetically with Hitler and his ideal. 

The empathy and arbitrary (to the followers) destructive use of power were both ingredients in the charisma itself.  It is no wonder that Germans today view charismatic leadership as a double-edged sword, in contrast to those American scholars who identify it with transformational leadership wherein leaders are oriented to their followers' growth and development.


In paradoxical contradiction to tremendum is fascinatus.  Both are in the mysterium of the holy.  The numen is thus not only daunting but is "the object of search, desire, and yearning for its own sake"(Otto, 1957:32).  One seeks possession of and by it in bliss, beatitude, and rapture.  That Otto's numen is both attractive and terrifying, giving rise to yearning and dread simultaneously, suggests that it is based not in the realm of human experience but in an aspect of reality ‘wholly other’, transcending human cognition and perception.  It is thus inherently mysterious in a paradoxical sense, with a certain binding such that the two elements are both felt in the same phenomenon. 
Much has been penned on how charisma gives rise to fascination. Tucker (1968:735) argues that charismatic leaders are revered by their followers, who follow out of love, passionate devotion, and enthusiasm.  Oberg(1972:22) claims that the test for charisma is the degree of devotion and trust the leader inspires and the degree to which it enables the follower to transcend his own finiteness and alienation and feel made whole.  Being the agent of such transcending may well lift the agent(i.e. the charismatic leader) to the status of an idealized hero who is empathetically identified with by the followers(Marcus, 1961) and thus the object of yearning and desire of an extreme nature. 
Jamshedjee N. Tata, founder of Tata Industries, and Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of India, exemplify this quality of charisma.  Both men personified the ideal of Swadeshi, Indian political and economic independence based on self-reliance, or 'let the Indian learn to do things for himself'(Elwin, 1958:18).  Gandhi personified this ideal symbolically through his ever-present practice of spinning his own yarn, while Tata became identified with it as he went from textiles to steel production.  Whereas Gandhi's propensity to be revered by his followers is well-known, Tata's impact on his own followers is less apparent. Tata believed that the Indian economy could not be self-reliant, nor India free politically, without Indian steel. 
Tata and Gandhi internalized a self-reliant strain of freedom and applied it economically and politically.  In empathizing with them, their followers could transcend the world of oppressive Britsh rule and experience glimpses of freedom.  As a result, these leaders were revered by their followers.  Indeed, every year at Jamshedpur, where Tata Iron and Steel, Inc., is located, and at Bombay, thousands of workers garland Tata's statue "in grateful homage to his memory on his birthday"(Harris:1958:ix).  The reverance for Gandhi is well known worldwide.
If tremendum and fascinatus are both attributable to charismatic leadership, then people such as Hitler, Tata, and Gandhi can be seen as instances of the same phenomenon.  Charisma has within it the best and the worst of feeling-responses, and is thus normatively amoral.  Charisma has within it the paradox of extreme reverence and terror, elements of charisma which both bind the followers to the leader. This paradox points to a power that transcends the human realm and approaches Otto's(1957) numen.   Charisma has an element that is 'wholly other', being not of this world but alien in the reality of its paradox and inherent mystery.


Otto's(1957:26) numen is alienum, or 'wholly other', "beyond the sphere of the usual, the intelligible and the familiar, filling the mind with blank wonder and astonishment".  It points to "something inherently 'wholly other', whose kind and character are incommensurable with our own, and before which we therefore recoil in a wonder that strikes us chill and numb"(Ibid., p. 28).  The referent object is "something which has no place in our scheme of reality but belongs to an absolutely different one"(Ibid., p. 29). Thus language and human experience are used to grasp the holy even as they can never touch it, given that its basis transcends the human reality.  In other words, to grasp in faith the holy is not to capture it, but to intuit that reality goes beyond the human dimension. 
Similarly, Otto (1957) claims that the wonder and astonishment or stupor from an experience of alienum can be prompted by extraordinary phenomena. House & Baetz (1979) attribute 'profound' and 'extraordinary' to charisma.  Several other writers suggest that unconventionality is part of charisma (Berger, 1963; Friedland, 1964; Marcus, 1961; Martin & Siehl, 1983).  But Otto(1957) stresses the difference between alienum and that which is merely unusual yet based in the human realm.  Charisma would have to be more than just unconventional to provoke the sort of feeling-response associated with that which is ‘wholly other’.
Several writers attribute not merely unconventionality but a transcendent vision to charismatic leadership(Blau, 1963; Dow, 1969; Marcus, 1961; Willner, 1984), suggesting that charisma is tied to an ideal which transcends ordinary human existence.  Weber(1947:358) claims that charismatic leaders "reveal a transcendent mission or course of action".  Transcendence is attributed implicitly to both the qualities of the leader (e.g. supernatural, superhuman, or exceptional) and the content of his mission(House, 1977:189). 
Marcus(1961:236) views transcendence as a stepping out of one's present self into an idealized-other.  This 'other' can be within or outside of time or history.  Thus transcendence can appear as a realizable, immanent goal within historical time, such as a Thousand Year Reich, or as a higher state of timeless alter-ego, such as the Kingdom of God
Charisma incarnates a transcendent ideal through which the follower identifies with a transcendent state as an immediate reality.  The root, according to Marcus (1961:238), is the empathic identification with a hero-personality, or charisma, seen as the transcendent self.  The charisma 'resonates' with the follower's own sense of being, transforming it into an idealized alter-ego personified in the charismatic leader herself.  The follower’s sense of being is thereby transformed such that the alienum ideal is made real and experienced in the realm of the profane.  The individual can transcend his own finiteness and alienation and feel made whole(Oberg, 1972:190).

Magestas & Energy

Otto(1957:21) goes on to argue that as the transcendent numen is the sole and entire reality, the self in the profane world senses its utter impotence and general nothingness or annihilation. Unlike Schleiermacher's feeling of dependence which is not uniquely spiritual and can have the self as referent, Otto's creature-feeling is essentially the experience of submergence into nothingness before an overpowering, awe-inspiring absolute might which is taken to be objective and outside of the self.  This is the majestas of the numen.
Such a feeling-response "starts from a consciousness of the absolute superiority or supremacy of a power other than myself"(Ibid., p. 21).  This force is felt to have an urgency or energy that is urgent, active, compelling and alive, coming from beyond the human realm. The power dimension of charisma has already been discussed under tremendum
Shils(1965) links the majesty of charisma with its transcendent feature: persons holding positions of great power will be perceived as charismatic because of the 'awe-inspiring' quality of power, the only requirement is that the expression of power must appear to be integrated with a transcendent goal(House, 1977). 
According to Berlew(1974:269), such a visionary goal provides meaning and generates excitement.  The meaning is exciting because it is transcendental, departing from the conventional social reality and touching on an ideal in or beyond history.

Individuals test their notions of reality against the opinions of others where interpersonal evaluation is highly subjective (Festinger, 1950). Leaders can personify or place in their mission idealized values which become salient as basic assumptions about the nature of human nature, relationships and activity, as well as truth, time, space, and the nature of personal, social and metaphysical reality itself(Shein, 1992:94-5). Religion can be directly connected ot such deeper assumptions about truth, time, space, human nature and reality(Ibid.).  Leadership can thus involve a spiritual dimension as it makes salient basic assumptions.[4]  The revolutionary character of charismatic leadership can easily involve an enhanced awareness of basic assumption. As one paradigm is intentionally replaced by another, one’s existing basic assumptions lose their transparency.

As charisma has an alienum quality, it is in essence transcendental, so its own contribution to meaning would be felt as real—as a transcendent ideal in itself. That is, charismata  is that resonance wherein transcendence  itself is felt as meaningful and significant in a personified idealized alter-ego.  A connection is felt which transcends profane ordinary existence to the real.

In short, charisma hints at the existence of the numen in and beyond the human realm of reality.  Charisma is felt as tremendum, fascinatus, alienum, majestas, and urgent energy, transcending transformative and moral leadership as an instance of spirituality in leadership because it is inherently transcendental.  Charisma is itself amoral, and need not lead to the development of followers; in fact, it may lead to their destruction even as the followers rever the leader.  It is this paradox inherent in the phenomenon which is the clearest indication of its transcendental basis.

See: Spiritual Leadership in Business.


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Dow, T. E., Jr. (1969) The theory of charisma.  Sociological Quarterly, 10,

Eisenstadt, S.N. (1968) Max Weber: On charisma and institution building.
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Elwin, V. (1958) The story of Tata steel.  Bombay: Commerical Printing

Etzioni, A. (1961) A comparative analysis of complex organizations. NY:
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            57, 271-282.

Friedland, W. H. (1964) For a sociological concept of charisma. Social Forces, 43, 18-26.

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            CT: JAI Press.

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[1] For a review of this literature, consult the two issues of volume 10 (1999) of The Leadership Quarterly  devoted to charismatic and transformational leadership.
[2] See Conger(1989) and House & Shamir(1993), as accounts which minimize the differences between transformational and charismatic leadership.  These writers are at pains to account for a Hitler, as they identify charisma with transforming followers in their growth and development.  See Yukl(1998; 1999) for a critique of this identification.
[3] Thus, the view that religion can be reduced to a social ethic is rejected. 
[4] Note that ‘make salient’ does not necessarily mean ‘change’.  Thus leadership can have a spiritual dimension without involving change.  

Ethical Leadership and Wealth: A Buddhist Perspective

According to Gunawardana (1979:170):"The Buddhist tradition placed great emphasis on the importance of the king as a leader of men. The stability of the social system as well as the proper functioning of the whole universe depend on the conduct of the king".   This essay describes two ideal leadership types, the Cakkavatti and Bodhisattva kings, from the Buddhist literature.  Each of these Buddhist kings will be shown to have unique ethical approaches to the issue of wealth.  Following a general discussion of wealth from the Buddhist perspective, the Cakkavatti and Bodhisattva  leadership types will be argued to capture the process of wealth generation and distribution, respectively, together providing a complete ethical approach to wealth. Thus, a particular leader may enact a particular mix of these two ideal leadership types to formulate a comprehensive ethical approach to wealth.

The Great Cakkavatti King

            Leadership in the Hinayana Buddhist view may be idealized in the form of the Great Cakkavatti King or of the Bodhisattva ideal. While the former is closer to the teachings of the Hinayana school of Buddhism, the latter is more closely associated with the Mayahana school.
            A Cakkavatti king is established as follows: "Those who have given alms, kept the precepts, and practiced the meditation concerning loving kindness, when they die, take their rebirth in heaven.  But sometimes the result is that they are born to be great rulers and kings who have splendor and majesty...this person is one who is called a great Cakkavatti king"(Reynolds and Reynolds, 1982:136). Already, the theme of merit accumulating for a future benefit is evident.  It will be argued below that this theme can be viewed within the acquistion of wealth.
            Specifically, acquiring merit and following the Dharma, the Great Cakkavatti  King practices the five precepts, modified for the context of leadership.[1]  The types of meritous activity giving rise to the Cakkavatti status include giving alms, observing the precepts, meditation, dedicating the benefit of one's merit to others, rejoicing in the alms-giving of others, service to others, respect shown to elders, preaching the Dhamma, listening to the preaching of the Dhamma, and having faith in the three jewels and in one's elders.[2]
            In general, the Cakkavatti king loves each of his subjects equally, exerts authority honestly, and acts righteously in accordance with the Dhamma(Reynolds and Reynolds, 1982:148).  The five precepts as applied to leadership are as follows.
            First, "if anyone does evil of any kind you should not kill him; instead you should teach him according to the Dhamma"(Reynolds and Reynolds, 1982:148).  Thus, thiis ideal leader would not kill subjects such as criminals.  If one were to break this precept, one would suffer grief and trouble in future lives, and be subject to others desiring to inflict harm.
            Second, "another kind of evil deed concerns the wealth and property of others that is not given by its owner-such things rulers must never take!   For another thing, in addition to not taking them yourself, you must not have other people take them for you.  Whoever is greedy, taking things that others do not give to him, when he is born in hell, suffers grief and anguish for a very long period of time"(Reynolds and Reynolds, 1982:149). For such a person, a cruel nature, destitution, and theft of his or her things are likely characteristics following from the karmic law.
            The law of kamma, or karma, is "a law which structures reality such that dhammic and antidhammic actions always have a predictable effect in determining one's future position in the sociocosmic hierarchy that constitutes ordinary samsaric reality"(Reynolds, 1990:66). 
            The story of Jotika (the rich man), Bimbisara (the king), and Ajatasattu (the son of the king), is relevant to this precept which regards the king's acquisition of wealth.  Ajatasattu pleads with his father to seize the rich man's fortune: "The extensive treasures of this great rich man are not appropriate for a rich man who dwells in our city.  It is appropriate that we, who are the rulers and kings, should seize these treasures and make them our own"(Reynolds and Reynolds, 1982:196).  The claim being made here is that a king can acquire wealth by any means from any subject, regardless of how the subject acquired his wealth.
            King Bimhisara replies:

            To urge me to go with you to seize the treasures of this great man Jotika is not right according to the way of the Dhamma.  Why do I say that? The reason is that this treasure was not generated by either your merit or mine.  This treasure was generated because of the merit of the great rich man Jotika when this great rich man made merit in his previous lives. Thus the Lord Vissukamma came to create it for the great rich man, and it wasn't obtained in any other way. Therefore it would not be appropriate for us to seize it"(Reynolds and Reynolds, 1982:197).

Thus, ethical restrictions are evident in the king's acquisition of wealth; not only must the king follow the precepts, but he must respect such practices by his subjects.
            Later in the story, Ajatasattu, having killed his father, the king, tries to take Jotika's wealth, yet he fails.  Jotika responds:  "None of my treasures...can be taken from me unless I give it"(Reynolds and Reynolds, 1982:198).  This is so because Jotika had acquired his fortune through merit in accord with the Dhamma, and the king was obliged to respect this acquisition.
                        The third precept concerns sexuality.  Applied to rulers, this precept is specifically oriented to the act of committing adultery with the wives of others.  Such an act would send the ruler to a hell of thorns and fire, after which rebirth would occur as a human, during which time one would be attacked by another.
            Fourth, "another kind of evil deed concerns lying- that is, saying things for which there is no basis; such things you who are rulers must never say!"(Reynolds and Reynolds, 1982:150).  Such an action will lead to anguish in hell, followed by rebirth as an ugly, odorous person.  Anyone wishing to do him harm will succeed.
            Fifth, one should not drink liquor.  Rulers should not associate with each other for the purpose of drinking.  If this precept is ignored, the ruler would go to hell, followed by rebirth as a phi s'u'a,
then as a mad dog, followed by rebirth as an insane, ugly human, being inferior, not knowing right from wrong.
            Besides these general guidelines, specific policies are linked to the Cakkavatti king.  For example, such a king compensates well those who work for him.  If they are assigned work, only an appropriate amount should be assigned:  "Do not use them too much so that they are pushed beyond what they are willing to do.  If there are any people who are elderly, do not use them-let them go as they will"(Reynolds and Reynolds, 1982:151).
            Such a king should not worry about sharing his wealth with his royal family, yet he should offer interest-free loans to the unemployed who want to start a business.  In addition, those who know the Dhamma should be fed and protected by the king.
            In regard to taxes, the amount collected should not exceed ten percent, or that collected by the preceding king.  Poor people, as well as the profits of business should not be taxed(Reynolds, 1990:65). These policies seem reasonable, yet the inclusion of taxes per se seems to conflict with the precept that the king should not take the wealth and property of others unless they are freely given.  Taxes are not freely given, and thus appear inconsistent with the principles behind the Cakkavatti king.
            How, then, does a Buddhist state fund its activities under such a king?  The gem treasurer of the Cakkavatti king illustrates the ideal attitude of a subject of such a king, which suggests how funds would be obtained:

            "If Your Highness wishes to have any amount of wealth and property may it please Your Highness to call for it from me alone. I, the slave of the Buddha, will myself gather everything and offer it to you. If Your Highness wishes to reward Your Highness' subjects who are slaves and free men, I, the slave of the Buddha, will gather whatever is needed and offer it to Your Highness.  Let your Highness give according to your own will and have no doubts"(Reynolds and Reynolds, 1982:168). [3]

Lastly, the Cakkavatti king must not speak too much.  Accordingly:

            "When you judge the affairs of the common people..., do not just say this or that in an offhanded way or just scold or beat them, but rather judge the affair rightly and completely in accordance with the Dhamma.  Thoroughly consider the pattern of the affair from beginning to end and then judge with an honest and unbiased mind"(Reynolds and Reynolds, 1982: 152).

Queen Srimala and the Bodhisattva Ideal

            The Cakkavatti king represents one Buddhist view of leadership and wealth which emphasizes the acquisition, rather than distribution, of wealth.  The Bodhisattva ideal is another such representation, which, as a complement to the Cakkavatti king, focuses on the distribution of wealth.  The essence of this ideal is altruism, benevolence, and compassion. First, the Bodhisattva concept will be discussed, after which it will be discussed in the context of leadership and wealth.
            The term, Bodhisattva, literally means 'Being of Wisdom', and was first used to refer to previous incarnations of the Buddha in which he gradually perfected himself by deeds of compassion and self-sacrifice(de Bary, 1972:75).  Later, the term referred as well to future Buddhas(Maitreya).[4]

            The Siksasamuccaya depicts the Bodhisattva:

            "All creatures are in pain...all suffer from bad and hindering karma...All that mass of pain and evil karma I take in my own body...I take upon myself the burden of sorrow; I resolve to do so; I endure it all...for I have resolved to save them all. I must set them all free...I care not at all for my own deliverance..."(de Bary, 1972:84).

            Queen Srimala fits the Bodhisattva ideal.  She made ten vows applicable to leadership.[5] She vowed not to permit any thought of violating morality, not to disrespect the teachers, not to allow thoughts of anger and ill will toward sentient beings, and not to allow thoughts of jealousy(A. Wayman and H. Wayman, 1974:64).

            Further, she vowed: "I shall not accumulate wealth for my own use, but shall deal with it to assist the poor and friendless"(ibid, p. 64).  She vowed to benefit the sentient beings, not converting them for her own sake.  Also, "when in the future I observe sentient beings who are friendless, trapped  and bound, diseased, troubled, poor and miserable, I shall not forsake them for a single moment until they are restored.  Lord, seeing them afflicted by suffering, I shall liberate them from each of those sufferings; having conferred goods upon them, I shall leave them"(ibid, p. 65). 
            The 'having conferred goods upon them' suggests that such a leader would not accumulate great wealth, but would spend it on others in need.  Moreover, the interests of the leader seem to be in helping others, rather than in her own self-interest.  This suggests that the emphasis here is on how to distribute, rather than acquire, wealth- thus being a complement to the acquisition-oriented theme in the Cakkavatti ideal.
            The last two vows concern the Mayahana doctrine, the 'Illustrious Doctrine', itself.  The Queen vows to foster that which supports the doctrine and destroy what is against it.  Thus, it seems as if war or conflict in general may be legitimate in this ideal type.  The tenth vow is simply not to forget the doctrine.
            These vows are linked to her three aspirations.  First, "by accumulating merit from bringing benefit to innumerable sentient beings, may I comprehend the Illustrious Doctrine in all my lives"(ibid, p. 67).  Second, she aspires to teach the Doctrine to the sentient beings.  Lastly, "without regard to my body, life force, or possessions, may I seek to protect and to uphold the Illustrious Doctrine"(ibid, p. 68).  Here are indications again that accumulated possessions and her own interests are de-emphasized, relative to higher principles such as compassion to suffering beings.
            In short, her aspirations are to embrace, teach, and explain the Mayahana doctrine.  The act of embracing has special qualities:  "that embracer of the Illustrious Doctrine is himself the Illustrious Doctrine"(ibid, pl 72).  As such, the person becomes the six perfections, here viewed as a recipe for leadership.
            First, by the perfection of giving(dana), other beings may be matured.  According to Reynolds(1990:72), "the dhammic order of society and nature is supported, the non-attachment of the giver is expressed and cultivated, and the merit of the giver is increased so that he or she will enjoy even greater wealth in the future". 
            Second, the perfection of morality(sila) purifies the actions of one's body, speech, and mind.  This brings 'dignified bearing', the possession of good behavior and lawful resort, to sentient beings. 
            Third, the perfection of forbearance(ksanti) suggests that "if these beings scold, insult, or threaten him- he shows not ill will but seeks to heal and thus to mature by the illustrious power of forbearance"(ibid, p. 73).  Again, the sense of compassion presiding over one's own interest is a theme in this ideal of the Bodhisattva.
            Fourth, the perfection of striving(virya) is as follows: "He matures these beings by not having a torpid mind, not being lazy, (but by) having great aspiration, and possessing great enterprise of striving(ibid, p. 73, brackets added). 
            Fifth, by the perfection of meditation(dhyana), one develops an undisturbed mind, not being sidetracked from helping others.   
            Sixth, the perfection of insight(prajna) permits one to respond confidently to questions about meaning as well as about the arts and sciences.  This seems especially pertinent to leadership,as followers seem to look to their leaders for meaning.  In this ideal, meaning would involve the merit of compassion for others above one's own interest.
            These general principles elicited by Queen Srimala can be seen in the life of Sirisanghabodhi, a ruler of Ceylon, who also epitomizes the Bodhisattva  ideal.  In fact, "the term mahasattva, used as an epithet of Bodhisattva, is applied in the Mahavamsa to Sirisanghabodhi who ruled during the third century and was considered to be a paragon of virtue and a zealous patron of the faith"(Gunawardana, 1979:173).[6]
            King Sirisamghabodhi reigned for only two years, keeping the five precepts of Hinayana Buddhism and the eight uposatha (Buddhist Sabbath days) vows.  His compassion for other beings is evident in his kingship.  Four episodes illustrate this quality.  First, when some subjects were hurting due to drought, he layed down on the ground, saying he would not get up until it rained.  When it rained, he got up.  This story illustrates that the Bodhisattva leader will sacrifice of himself to ease the suffering of others, such as was described in the case of Queen Srimala.
            Second, on one occasion when he caught rebels, he let them go secretly, and burned instead already dead bodies, such that his subjects would be put at ease without any suffering on the part of the rebels.  Such a leader is not concerned with the protection of his own power, wealth, and position, but acts to aid not only his loyal subjects, but the threatening rebels as well.
       Third, when a yakkha, a supernatural being, known as Ratakkhi wanted to continue devouring the king's subjects, Sirisamghabodhi said: "No other can I give up to thee; take thou me and devour me"(Geiger, 1986:262).  Ratakkhi refused, however, and the king continued to live.  This story indicates that the self-sacrifice of such a king may be offered.  In the next story, it is offered and given, without being asked for or accepted by the subject.
        When rebels came to attack the king's palace, Sirisamghabodhi left so as not to promote suffering.  He took only a water strainer.  A man on the road offered him some food.  In return, the king offered the man his head, since the rebels had placed a price on it.  When the man refused, Sirisamghabodhi died so that the man could obtain the money for his head.
     The theme of generosity is also found in the cases of King Asoka and King Vessantara.  Asoka is said to have given his possessions to the sangha, the highest form of giving in Buddhism.  Vessantara, said to be the Buddha in his last life prior to his birth as Gotama, gave up his kingdom, all his material wealth, and his wife and children, thereby epitomizing the generosity of the Bodhisattva.[7]
      Therefore, the Bodhisattva ideal leader, such as Queen Srimala, King Sirisamghabodhi, King Asoka, and King Vessantara, acts with compassion, spending his wealth and effort to relieve sentient beings from their suffering, even at the cost of self-sacrifice.  Whereas the Great Cakkavatti King may accumulate wealth as long as it is done through merit(emphasizing the merit), the Bodhisattva king concentrates on giving up the wealth to help others.  Hence, two ideals for leadership and wealth can be taken from the Buddhist perspective.

The Dhamma and Wealth

     The third precept of the Cakkavatti king declares that it is an evil deed for an such an ideal king to take another's wealth without it having been offered. Jotika maintains that wealth gained by merit cannot be taken by a king.  Finally, Queen Srimala maintains that one's wealth ought to be spent in relieving the suffering of others. What is behind these ethical principles pertaining to the acquisition and distribution of wealth?
      The key to understanding the Buddhist stance on wealth is in considering the notion of Dhamma, or Dharma, which "constitutes the structure and dynamics of all reality", and is "the normative truth that establishes guidelines for all forms of action"(Reynolds, 1190:61).  Dhamma is the teachings, or law, of the Buddha that ties together 1) the nature of reality(sunyata-all things are in essence empty, or void, and thus impermanent)- the 'is', and 2) proper conduct(non-attachment)- the 'ought'.  In short, why be attached to anything, since everything is in essence empty and impermanent? 'Ought' follows from 'is'.
       According to the Dhammapada, the world is like a bubble- a mirage.  Hence, it should not be clung to.  Moreover, "let no man ever cleave to things that are pleasant or to those that are unpleasant.  From pleasure comes grief, from grief comes fear; he who is free from pleasure neither sorrows nor fears"(Babbitt, 1965:34).  Thus, one should not become attached to worldly items, such as wealth.  Yet, such practices can increase one's wealth. 
     As suggested in the Cakkavatti ideal, the Dhamma principles have "a more or less positive valorization of wealth, including material resources, monetary resources, goods, and services(Reynolds, 1990:62).  Reynolds(1990:63) argues that adherence to the principles is conducive to the production of wealth. 

            "The actions commended to the monks for their own spiritual benefit constitute a kind of pure behavior that, because of the unity of the religiomoral, the societal and natural orders, also works to ensure the wealth of the community. In societies in which the monks violate the strictures of the vinaya and fail to practice the path the Buddha taught, group life will become fractitous, the rhythms of nature will become unpredictable and destructive, and- as a part of the same antidhammic process-wealth and prosperity will dissappear" (Reynolds, 1990:64, italics added).

        At the microsocial context, such as the village, the dhammic  activity of the laity is also important.  At the macrosocial context, however, dhammic actions are correlated with the actions of a good king.  Specifically, if a ruler acts righteously, he collects merit, thereby making society peaceful, stable, balanced, and prosperous. The king's "dhammic actions always lead to a higher status in the hierarchy of cosmic and social existence and, therefore, to the possession and enjoyment of greater amounts of material wealth"(Reynolds, 1990:67).
       Thus wealth is legitimate for those who perform dhammic  activities.  Legitimate wealth accrues for the community as a whole if the king performs such activities, as described in the ideal types above.  It can now be understood why subjects, such as the gem treasurer, would want to give some of their wealth to their king; the king helped them acquire it due to his good actions.
       So, dhammic  activity seems to lead to greater wealth via kammic law.  Leadership has been shown to play a role in this process in the macrosocial context.  Next, whether wealth leads to greater Dhamma will be considered.  This issue pertains directly to the Bodhisattva notion of leadership.
       According to Reynolds(1990:67): "wealth may serve either as a vehicle for achieving greater adherence to dhammic norms or as a factor that inhibits such adherence".  In general, Buddhists "have traditionally maintained that those who earn their living without killing, stealing, or lying facilitate the dhammic ordering of society will be personally rewarded in accordance with the law of kamma"(Reynolds, 1990:71). Further, the expenditure of wealth is held to be in line with the Dhamma as long as intoxicants are not used, and irresponsible or wasteful expenditures are avoided(Reynolds, 1990).
     At low levels of wealth, the effect is argued to be positive, providing context and substance for non-attachment, while at higher levels attachment or non-attachment may be evoked.[8]  The optimal amount is held to be a moderate amount. 

Such a level is sufficient "to make the practice of the Buddhist path a practical possibility at the same time that they are sufficiently aware of the reality of suffering and death that they are motivated to undertake its rigors. Thus, it is affirmed that whereas royalty may have the greatest amount of enjoyment and pleasure, it is the people who enjoy a moderate level of wealth and well-being who hold a position that is soteriologically the most advantageous"(Reynolds, 1990:68).

 This relative disadvantage of the king is countered in the case of the Bodhisattva king, who aspires to Buddhahood.
            Despite the compromise of an economic 'middle way', the key issue seems to be one's stance toward one's wealth.  "Wealth always provides both an opportunity for a new expression and cultivation of non-attachment and a temptation toward the kind of antidhammic self-indulgence that leads to increased entrapment in the web of worldly existence"(Reynolds, 1990:69). 
            It seems that one's attitude, or character, toward the use of one's wealth is more at issue than the level of wealth in determining whether attachment or non-attachment will be evoked.[9]
            For example, it is stated in the Dhammapada that for happiness, one should call nothing one's possession.  Further, "no sufferings befall the man who is not sunk in self, and who calls nothing his own"(Babbitt, 1965:36). This does not mean that one should not have any possessions; the key is in the word 'call', which signifies a certain perspective of non-attachment.  This view is apparent in the conception of the wise man in the Dhammapada: "If, whether for his own sake or for the sake of others, a man wishes neither for a son nor for wealth, nor for lordship, and if he does not wish for his own success by unfair means, then he is good, wise and upright"(Babbitt, 1965:14).
            Considering the role of dhamma  in the process of gaining wealth, and vice versa, Reynolds(1990:73) concludes:

            "Those who seek to establish the legitimacy of their wealth must convince the community that it has been acquired by virtue of meritorious activity done in the past and that it has been more immediately earned in ways that are in accord with the precepts...The possessors of wealth must convince the community that they have achieved a level of non-attachment and generosity that ensures that they will spend what they have acquired in accord with the dhammic norms."

This quote ties together the ethics of acquiring and distributing wealth.  This tie can also be made within a comprehensive framework of Buddhist leadership which includes the two complementary types.

Conclusion: Leadership and Wealth

            Two ideal types for leadership have been described from a Buddhist perspective.  The Cakkavatti king follows the five precepts, adapted to leadership.  In regard to wealth, this king does not take the income or wealth of his subjects unless it is freely given.  Because wealth is legitimately earned only if done so in line with the Dhamma, such a king would likely take from his subjects who earned their wealth immorally, by means such as lying or stealing, being attached to their income.
     The Bodhisattva king epitomizes compassion for all suffering beings.  Such compassion lends itself to generosity.  Thus, the model is one of giving of one's own wealth, regardless of one's own self-interest. Wealth can thus lead to greater Dhamma; non-attachment is gained in the spirit of compassion and generosity for another.
     While the ethics of the Cakkavatti king seems to be more attuned to the merit of acquiring wealth via the five precepts, that of the Bodhisattva king seems to emphasize ethical means of distributing one's wealth via compassion.
        Together, these two leadership ideals of Buddhism span the entire process of wealth-acquisition and distribution.  They provide a comprehensive model of the ethics of Buddhist leadership and wealth.  A leader could appropriate these types, mixing them together to create a unique ethical stance to wealth.

Buddhist Birth Stories(Jataka Tales) , (T. Rhys Davids, trans.)          NY(1977): Arno Press.

de Bary, W. The Buddhist Tradition in India, China and Japan        NY(1972): Vintage Books.

The Dhammapada (I. Babbitt, trans.) NY(1965): New Directions Books.

Dika Malai Deva Sutta (R. Lovin and F. Reynolds, trans.)    Bangkok(1971): Thambanakhan Press.

Gunawardana, R.A. Robe and Plough: Monasticism and Economic             Interest in Early Medieval Sri Lanka  Tucson(1979): The                 University of Arizona Press.

The Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala: A Buddhist Scripture on the                  Tathagatagarbha Theory (A. Wayman and H. Wayman,                     trans.) NY(1974): Columbia University Press.

The Mahavamsa (W. Geiger, trans.) New Delhi(1986): Asian                       Educational Services.

Reynolds, F. "Ethics and Wealth in Theravada Buddhism: A Study            of Comparative Religious Ethics" in Sizemore, R. F. and
            Swearer, D. (eds.) Ethics, Wealth, and Salvation: A Study 
          in Buddhist Social Ethics Columbia, SC.(1990): University
           of South Carolina Press: 59-76.

Swearer, D. "A New Look at Prince Vessantara" Journal of the
        National Research Council of Thailand 10:1(Jan-June):1-9.

Three Worlds According to King Ruang: A Thai Buddhist 
        Cosmology (F. Reynolds and M. Reynolds, trans.)
        berkeley(1982): Asian Humanities Press.

[1]The five Hinayana precepts are non-killing, non-stealing, no promiscious sex, and no intoxicants.  Plus, three additional precepts are held on Uposatha, or holydays: no untimely meals, no frivolous amusements, and  no use of high seats or beds(Reynolds and Reynolds, 1982).
[2]The three jewels include the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha(monestary).
[3]In the section on wealth below, it will be explained in detail why a subject would have such an attitude.
[4]The perfections of a bodhisattva are: generosity(dana), moral conduct(sila), patience(ksanti), courage or energy(virya), meditation(dhyana), and wisdom(prajna).  These are the Paramitas.  Additional perfections are: skill in knowing the right means to lead individual beings to salvation(upayakausalya), determination(pranidhana), strength(bala), and knowledge(jnana) (de Bary, 1972:84).
[5]The first five vows are Hinayanian and the second five are Mahayanian.
[6]Other rulers of Ceylon such as Buddhadasa(337-365) led the life of a Bodhisattva.  In addition, Aggabodhi I (571-604) and Sena I (833-853) aspired to Buddhahood(Gunawardana, 1979:173).
[7]A brief account of Vessantara is found in Reynolds(1990:70).  Another account is in Swearer(1978) and Rhys Davids(1977).
[8]The effect of attachment as the amount of wealth increases is depicted in a story in the Phra Malai Sutta.  Before the coming of Matteya, the future Buddha, society evolves to a zenith of wealth and well-being.  When the humans forget reality, becoming attached to their condition, suffering increases until the arrival of Matteya(see Lovin and reynolds(1971).
[9]Reynolds(1990:69), too, is critical of the economic 'middle way' solution: "Despite such Theravada efforts to delineate and symbolize an economic middle way, the problematic relationship between the possession of wealth and further dhammic activitiy has never been fully resolved."