The New Context for Business: Parts 1- 3 with Richard Barrett

Cultural Evolution & Performance Part 2 with Richard Barrett

Richard Barrett shares important information about corporate culture in part 2 of this interview

Cultural Transformation Tools Part 3: with Richard Barrett

Richard Barrett concludes this interview series discussing tools and methods used for corporate cultural transformation.

The Art of Aging: A Doctor’s Prescription for Well-Being by Sherwin B. Nuland

Author spotlight

Sherwin B. Nuland, M.D., is the author of nine previous books, including Doctors: The Biography of Medicine, The Wisdom of the Body, The Mysteries Within, Lost in America: A Journey with My Father, and The Doctors’ Plague. His book How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter won the National Book Award and spent thirty-four weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, The New York Times, Time, and The New York Review of Books. Nuland is a clinical professor of surgery at Yale University, where he also teaches bioethics and medical history. He lives with his family in Connecticut.

Lost in America, Doctors: The Biography of Medicine, How We Live, and How We Die are available in paperback from Vintage Books.

Sherwin B. Nuland-The Art of Aging-Bookbits author interview

Whether we like it or not, we are all getting older, but how we age is the subject of a new book by Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland. He offers a doctor’s prescription for well-being in “The Art of Aging”.




About five years ago, I had a brief experience that since then has helped me to tell the difference between nurturing a sense of vibrant good health and nurturing the delusion of being still young. Put somewhat differently, I learned that a man of advanced years who has never felt himself hemmed in by chronology should nevertheless not allow himself to forget his chronology entirely.

The event took place late on a September afternoon when I, along with my wife and younger daughter, had just entered a New York subway car at the Times Square station. Pushed forward by the advancing throng of rush hour passengers, we were crammed together single file, with nineteen-year-old Molly in the middle and me packed in behind her. Between my back and the doors stood someone whom my peripheral vision had recognized only as a tall, broad-shouldered man, perhaps in his late thirties.

No sooner had the train gotten under way than the fellow’s bare right arm reached around past me, its hand extending forward in an obvious attempt to make contact with Molly’s buttocks. As taken aback as I was by the man’s brazenness, I did have the presence of mind to do what any father might: I pressed my body rearward just firmly enough to push him up against the car’s door, putting Molly beyond the reach of his outstretched fingers. As though by some form of unspoken New York agreement, both he and I acted as though nothing had happened, and the train continued on its clattering way over the subterranean tracks.

But I was wrong to think that the episode was over. Scarcely half a minute had passed before I became aware of a barely perceptible creeping thing, surreptitiously entering the right-hand pocket of my khaki trousers. Any thought that imagination was playing tricks on me was dispelled a moment later when I was able to feel an unmistakable sensation through the fabric, of fingertips moving around inside the empty pocket.

In the flashing eyeblink of time that followed, it never occurred to me that I should consider the consequences of what I instantaneously decided must be done. In fact, “decided” is hardly the word—my next actions were virtually automatic. I plunged my hand into the pocket, transversely surrounded the bony knuckles of a palm wider than my own, and squeezed down with every bit of force I could muster. Aware that I was gritting my teeth with the effort, I did not let go until I felt more than heard the sickening sensation of bone grating on bone and then something giving way under the straining pressure of my encircling fingers. A baritone roar of pain brought me back to my seventy-one-year-old self, and made me realize that I had gone too far.

What had I let myself in for? Would not the simple act of removing the intruding extremity have sufficed? Or perhaps I should have done nothing—the pocket was, after all, as empty as it always is when I anticipate being in a crowded, chancy place. Made overconfident by hundreds of hours spent pumping iron in a local gym, I had succumbed to an unthinking impulse dictating that I crush the felonious hand. As the first flush of instinct faded, I all at once became certain that my victim’s revenge would now swiftly follow. Alarmed by that thought, I relaxed my grip and felt the mauled appendage whip out of my pocket.

But who could have predicted that the response would take the form that it did? With his torso still pressed up between my back and the train’s doors, my antagonist inexplicably shouted out a garbled accusation for all to hear, about my having “. . . TRIED TO STEAL MY BAG!” Being certain that I had misheard and anticipating a powerful assault, I awkwardly turned my body around in those compressed quarters, in order to confront the expected assault as effectively as my acute attack of nervous remorse might allow.

Having managed that, I found myself looking up into the anguished but nevertheless infuriated face of a thuggish-looking unshaven tough three inches taller than I, and quite a bit broader. I noted with some relief that the injured right hand hung limply alongside his thick-chested body. Tucked up into his left armpit was a bulging deep-green plastic portfolio, its top barely held closed by a tightly stretched zipper. This, no doubt, was the pouch in which was held the loot of a day’s pocket pilfering.

Seeing the flaccid, useless hand dangling from the muscular but now inactivated forearm momentarily revived my unthinking and foolhardy courage. Looking directly into the bloodshot eyes glowering at me (and now able to smell liquor on the thick breath blowing down into my face), I roared back as though I were Samson, “YOU HAD YOUR HAND IN MY POCKET!” Something stopped me before I added “you son of a bitch,” which was a lucky thing because as soon as the first words were out of my mouth, I regretted them. Fearful once more, I prepared for the violent response that would surely follow.

But the fates were with me: Just at that moment, the train pulled into the next station and my foeman charged out through the doors as they slid open, clumping off toward an exit staircase as fast as he could, until his forward motion was slowed by a bunched-up throng of passengers tumbling out of the next car. He was swallowed up among them until only the top of his bobbing head could be seen. In a moment he was gone, leaving me standing there—thinking of how close I had come to my own annihilation.

I turned toward Molly and my wife, who later told me that my face was pale and bloodless. I felt as though rescued from certain death by a last-second reprieve. My hands were shaking and my knees seemed just a bit uncertain about whether they intended to continue holding me up. It was several minutes and another station’s traveling before they steadied themselves.

But everything finally stabilized and I was then faced with the embarrassment of having to withstand the two women’s justifiably withering comments about how foolish I had been. During the short period of Sturm und Drang, they later told me, not a single person in that overcrowded subway car had so much as glanced in my direction or otherwise acknowledged that anything unusual was taking place.

I present this story as an example of a conflict within myself, a conflict that I suspect exists in the minds of many men and women beyond the age of perhaps their middle fifties. On the one hand, we recognize that age is ever increasing its effects on us and now requires not only acceptance but a gradually changing way of thinking about ourselves and the years to come; on the other, some narcissistic genie within us cannot give up clinging to bits of the fantasy that we can still call on vast wellsprings of that selfsame undiminished youth to whose ebbing our better selves are trying to become reconciled.

The same formula that enhances our later years—continued mental stimulation, strenuous physical exercise, and unlessened engagement in life’s challenges and rewards—sometimes fosters an unrealistic confidence that the vitality thus maintained means that we are virtually the same as we were decades earlier, even in appearance, ready to challenge youth in its own arenas. In outbursts of denial and bad judgment that are virtually instinctual, we at such times discard an equanimity that has taken years to develop, and indulge ourselves in behavior foolhardy and foolish, as though using it as an amulet to stave off the very process to which we have so successfully been accommodating by consciously sustaining our bodies and minds.

The tension between the two is very likely stronger in the case of men, but nonetheless common in women as well, though manifesting itself in somewhat different forms. This rivalry within ourselves reflects a rivalry with youth, and it serves neither youth nor age at all well. Self-images from an earlier time are not easy to give up, even when giving them up is in our own best interest. Those whose calling is to work with an older population know that the ability to adapt, to learn and then accept one’s limitations, is a determinant of what the professional literature of geriatrics calls “successful aging.”

Adapting is not mere reconciling. Adapting brings with it the opportunity for far greater benisons and for brightening the later decades with a light not yet visible to the young. Even the word itself is insufficiently specific to convey what is required. In the subtle but nevertheless enormously significant shades of meaning that characterize the English language, “attune” may, in fact, better describe the process than “adapt”: “attune,” in the sense of being newly receptive to signals welcome and unwelcome, and to a variety of experiences not previously within range, while achieving a kind of harmony with the real circumstances of our lives.

This book is about attuning to the passage of years, and finding a new receptiveness to the possibilities that may present themselves in times yet to come—possibilities conveyed in wavelengths perceptible only to those no longer young.

And the book is also about traps for the unwary, into which all of us fall from time to time and from which we must teach ourselves to emerge with a refreshed sense of purpose. The very word—“attune”— sounds like another word to which it has a not coincidental connection: “atone,” originally a contraction of “at one,” meaning “to be in harmony,” most cogently with oneself. To become attuned to an evolving perspective on a life is to be at one with the reality of the present and of the future years.

Achieving such attunement can bring a form of serenity previously unknown, and perhaps unsuspected. The process begins with an acknowledgment that the evening of life is approaching. But with that approach come foreseeable possibilities. We have only to take advantage of all that those coming decades have in their power to offer. It is incumbent on each of us to cultivate his or her own wisdom.

So gradual a progression is the onset of our aging that we one day find it to be fully upon us. In its own unhurried way, age soundlessly and with persistence treads ever closer behind us on slippered feet, catches up, and finally blends itself into us—all while we are still denying its nearness. It enters at last into the depths of one’s being, not only to occupy them but to become their very essence. In time, we not only acknowledge aging’s presence within us, but come to know it as well as we knew—and still covet—the exuberant youth that once dwelt there. And then, finally, we try to reconcile ourselves to the inescapable certainty that we are now included among the elderly.

Realizing how much of our dreams we must concede to that unalterable truth, we should not only watch our horizons come closer but allow them to do precisely that. If we are wise, we draw them in until their limits can be seen; we confine them to the possible. And so, the coming closer can be good, if by means of that closeness—that limiting of expectations—we begin to see those vistas more clearly, more realistically, and as more finite than ever before. For aging can be the gift that establishes the boundaries of our lives, which previously knew far fewer confines and brooked far fewer restrictions.

Everything within those boundaries becomes thus more precious than it was before: love, learning, family, work, health, and even the lessened time itself. We cherish them more, as the urgency increases to use them well. Many are the uses of the newly recognized limits. Among their advantages is that our welcoming acceptance of them adds to the value, adds to our appreciation, adds to our ability to savor— adds to every pleasure that falls within them.

The good is easier now to see; it is closer to the touch and the taking, if we are only willing to look truthfully at it there and gather it up from amid the cares that may surround it. There is much to savor during this time, magnified and given more meaning and intensity by the very finitude within which it is granted to us.

Aging has the power to concentrate not only our minds but our energies, too, because it tells us that all is no longer possible, and the richness must be more fully extracted from the lessened but nevertheless still-abundant store that remains. From here on, we must play only to our strengths. Some of the more meaningful of those strengths may be not at all less than they once were. The later decades of a life become the time for our capabilities to find an unscattered focus, and in this way increase the force of their concentrated worth.

Even as age licks our joints and lessens our acuities, it brings with it the promise that there can in fact be something more, something good, if we are but willing to reach out and take hold of it. It is in the willingness and the will that the secret lies, not the secret to lengthening a life but to rewarding it for having been well used. For aging is an art. The years between its first intimations and the time of the ultimate letting go of all earthly things can—if the readiness and resolve are there—be the real harvest of our lives.

It is the purpose of this book to tell of human aging and its rewards— and also of its discontents. And the book has as its purpose as well to tell of how best to prepare for the changes that inevitably demand accommodation, demand a shift in focus, and demand a realistic assessment of goals and directions, which may be new or may be a rearrangement of the trajectory of a lifetime. We do this at every stage of life without noticing the new pattern to which we are becoming attuned, whether it be in adolescence, the twenties, or middle age.

Though the changes may be more obvious as we approach our sixties and seventies, they are, in fact, only a continuation of everything that has come before. For becoming what is known as elderly is simply entering another developmental phase of life. Like all others, it has its bodily changes, its deep concerns, and its good reasons for hope and optimism. In other words, it has its gains and it has its losses. The key word here is “developmental.” Unlike other animals, the human species lives long beyond its reproductive years, and continues to develop during its entire time of existence. We know this to be true of our middle age, a period of life that we consider a gift. We should recognize and also consider as a gift that we continue to develop in those decades that follow middle age. Living longer allows us to continue the process of our development.

My Take: Why I changed from ‘Faith’ to ‘Being’ ~ By Krista Tippett

By Krista Tippett, Special to CNN

Since I left print journalism to study theology two decades ago, I’ve thought a great deal about the limits and possibilities of words – especially when we try to navigate the spiritual territory of human life.

And when I started a public radio program on religion, ethics and meaning seven years ago, I was also quite aware that I was inviting people to put words around something as intimate as anything we try to talk about, and as ultimately ineffable.

Nevertheless, to paraphrase St. Augustine, we speak in order not to remain silent. We are fin de siècle, turn of century, people – charged with revisiting basic definitions of life, death, and meaning; we are restructuring our families, institutions, and economies. Our common life needs all the edifying vocabulary and virtues we can muster.

There’s an obvious irony here.

Religious voices have been some of the most toxic in global life in recent decades. Bombs explode in the name of Islam. Christian rhetoric fuels culture wars. There is a chasm between these expressions of religion and the lived virtue their texts and traditions demand.

One of the things that drew me to the new name of my radio program, On Being, is that it has profound philosophical and theological roots – and at the same time, it is profoundly hospitable. Hospitality is one of the great overarching virtues of all our traditions, more immediately achievable than peace, forgiveness, or compassion.

And I’ve been pleased and at times surprised by the open-hearted, open-minded correspondence I’ve had with Christian leaders – including theological conservatives – about losing the show’s former name, Speaking of Faith.

They struggle personally with the fact that “faith” does not carry the complex resonance it has in lives of devotion when it is transplanted to the public square. A Pentecostal leader wrote to me of his regret that the word “faith” has become “neuralgic” – a source of recurrent pain – in American life.

Evangelical leaders have told me about the “embarrassment” they experience among the young in their communities – young evangelicals have used this very word with me too – about the way “faith” became a blunt instrument in American politics in recent years, flattened out into positions and debates, a primary source of animosity.

There is grief behind these sentiments too, a sadness that a term so rich in meaning for so many should become an obstacle to exploring that very meaning. I understand that sadness and share it.

When we launched our radio program in 2003, I insisted against resistance that public radio had to claim an explicit stake in the “faith” discussion, demonstrating that this part of life too could be discussed with intelligence alongside politics, culture and economics. That conviction remains at the heart of my project.

But my cumulative conversation has evolved to cover religious ideas and questions less in a distinct compartment in society, and more as they infuse all of our pursuits and disciplines.

American culture’s encounter with the ethical and spiritual challenges of our time has unfolded along similar lines. There is a convergence of searching questions, strong identities, and communal commitments that long for discussion and shared action not only across religious boundaries but across boundaries of belief and non-belief.

“Faith” has its place in that, but it is too limiting a word even to describe the Christian contribution to it.

And letting go of a word, after all, doesn’t mean letting go of its content. It frees and compels us, rather, to find fresh, vivid language to communicate the deepest sense of our convictions.

A turning point for me around this decision to change our name was a day I spent last spring at Harvard Divinity School. In a discussion about the future of “progressive Christianity,” it became necessary to name the fact that the word “progressive” itself is at once vague and fraught in public discourse, not an adequate vessel for the contribution its passionate adherents want to make.

So, too, words like “peace” and “justice” have taken on political connotations and political divisiveness. They are not effective shorthand or inviting rallying cries. Yet across boundaries of belief and non-belief, so many of us long to pursue the substance those words were coined to signify.

Being is the word I’m throwing into the mix. What does it mean to be human? And how do we want to live?

These are fundamental, animating questions behind the human religious and spiritual impulse. Our great traditions are vast repositories of thinking and prayer, text and ritual, and conversation across generations about them.

But these questions are not exclusive to religious people. Atheists and agnostics are among the most ethically engaged people in our culture now, some of the most vigorous spiritual seekers.

On Being, as a conversation starter, holds out hope, for me, of a bolder demonstration that the extreme choices between nihilistic atheist and unthinking religious don’t fit most of us. Perhaps, in our search for the new vocabulary to express who we are becoming, we will reintroduce our deepest longings and virtues to each other and to the world.

Editor’s Note:Krista Tippett created and hosts the public radio program and podcast “Krista Tippett On Being”/, produced by American Public Media, and is the author of Einstein’s God.

Inspiring and stimulating discussions on the interplay between scientific and religious inquiry, featuring some of today’s greatest thinkers

Drawn from American Public Media’s Peabody Award-winning program Speaking of Faith, the conversations in this profoundly illuminating book reach for a place too rarely explored in our ongoing exchange of ideas-the nexus of science and spirituality. In fascinating interviews with such luminaries as Freeman Dyson, Paul Davies, V. V. Raman, Sherwin Nuland, and Mehmet Oz, Tippett revels in the connections between the two, showing how even those most wedded to hard truths find spiritual enlightenment. The result is a theologically evocative dialogue on the changing way we think about science, medicine, and the expansive realm of belief.

“In a day where. . . Arguments over religion divide us into ever more entrenched and frustrated campls, Krista Tippett is exactly the measured, balanced commentator we need.” — Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love.
Krista Tippett Says Talking About Religion Is “Fraught”

Krista Tippett, host of public radio’s “Speaking of Faith,” notes that talking about religion in our culture is “fraught”–and that scientists are increasingly studying the same emotional landscape as religion… Backstage at LIVE from the NYPL with The Daily Beast, March 3, 2010.

RSA Animate – The Secret Powers of Time

Professor Philip Zimbardo conveys how our individual perspectives of time affect our work, health and well-being. Time influences who we are as a person, how we view relationships and how we act in the world.

The Soul of Economies: The Power of Philosophies to Transform Economic Life by Denise Breton & Christopher Largent ~ Part 2

The Basics of Economic Systems
According to which premise we choose, we define the fundamentals of economic life. Our economic premises and assumptions—whether of scarcity or of anti-scarcity—give rise to basic economic strategies.

Scarcity-based economies build strategies around the possession of material goods, which traditional economic theories categorize into land, labor, and capital. What counts is how much real estate we own, how much money we have, and how many hours we work. Economic strategies involve trading our countables to increase our net value.

The ideal for many, though attained by few, is to own enough land and capital so that we don’t have to sell our labor. In other words, we work to buy back our time from economic society, so that economic worries no longer dictate our choices.

With inflation and the insecurity of modern economies, however, the price of economic freedom goes up, and the period of indenture increases. Philosopher John Locke’s insistence that people possess their own labor becomes an illusion. Instead, we lease our labor from the economy with an option to buy, though we never seem to collect enough assets to complete the purchase. The economy turns into a company town like those of the early 20th century, in which the company—in this case, the economy—owns us, and all we do is get “another day older and deeper in debt.”

The danger with this strategy is that it tends economies toward feudalism. By making freedom cost more, scarcity-economies reduce societies to two classes: the few in power and the many who are economically disenfranchised. Both groups go to their graves burdened by money. Both shortchange themselves because of the economic model.

For example, since the decisions of both rich and poor are limited by fears about scarcity, their talents in other areas go untapped. How many Leonardos, Mozarts, or Einsteins have come and gone undeveloped, because money matters took precedence in their lives? The poor don’t have time for frills such as education, while the privileged often push aside their talents in order to acquire wealth. They get hooked on getting more, long after their needs are met. In scarcity-based economies, money-concerns make it hard for people to pursue their life’s calling. Individual gifts go to waste.

Applying capitalist or socialist terms to such economies doesn’t make them less feudal or less wasteful of human talents. In fact, scarcity-based economies develop precisely the economic imbalances that both Adam Smith and Karl Marx railed against.

Unfortunately, Smith and Marx didn’t challenge the scarcity-premise but focused on different ways of distributing goods. In practice, however, distribution strategies haven’t prevented the economic poles from widening, since they don’t challenge the premise that causes the gap. The root assumption that scarcity rules economies remained unquestioned.

Economies Based On Creativity and Knowledge
If, in contrast to scarcity, economies build on creativity and know-how, they focus less on things and more on how we manage things. Our economic roles shift from possessors to stewards, from consumers to managers. Fixed quantities of things no longer dictate our actions. “Energy and materials are limiting factors,” Boulding writes, “not creative or formative factors.”2 The “limiting factors” pose economic challenges; the “creative or formative factors” meet those challenges.

Because we can be creative whether we own things or not, ownership isn’t the primary concern. Not that we should stop owning what we need to live and work. Historically, as private ownership became possible for more people, it increased economic independence from kings, states, aristocracies, and plutocracies.

But the strategy of owning as much as possible misses the economic mark. The game of Monopoly isn’t a model of how economies work but an analysis of how they fail. The Depression of the ’30s inspired Monopoly’s creator to invent the game to show where inflated ownerships lead. Monopoly ends when one player dominates the board, having caused the rest to go bankrupt. No further exchange can occur when all but one player is broke. The more economies resemble Monopoly, the closer they are to a breakdown. No more game.

By contrast, successful economies keep exchange going, enhancing it wherever possible. The more players participate, the more diverse the system. The stronger and better all the players are, the more each has to offer. Exchange increases. The whole system is enriched.

By establishing a system of exchange, economies link problems with solutions, needs with know-how. What counts isn’t so much the things available—the fixed stock of billiard balls – but the process of creativity and the flow of knowledge. How does the process work?

a) What’s common to all. In the first place, know-how gives everyone equal access to an economy’s main source of wealth. We can all cultivate knowledge and work with it creatively. The system in turn protects what each of us has to offer and then explores ways to enhance this primary resource.

For instance, knowledge-based economies depend on education. Education becomes top priority, even if it means paying people to go to school, as many companies are now doing. What’s more, education isn’t limited to business, math, and the sciences. Creativity blossoms the more we rediscover our home in the realm of ideas. Ideas spark our imagination. They also give us reasons to care—beyond the reason to make money.

Not that making money is wrong, it’s just inadequate to meet today’s economic challenges. The money-reason hasn’t, for instance, made top executives care about the environment, the quality of life, or the welfare of future generations. Yet these factors are central to good household management.

Fortunately, there are disciplines that inspire creativity and caring on wider levels. Religion, philosophy, literature, history, and the arts touch us where balance sheets can’t. By enlarging our minds, these disciplines enlarge our worlds, making us enduringly rich, as Viktor Frankl discovered even in concentration camps. The happy byproduct is that they also extend our economies’ resources. The more we explore our potential on intellectual and spiritual levels, the more insight and creativity we bring to how we manage our households.

With the information age, then, creativity and knowledge provide a basis for economic equality. Knowledge is our common inheritance. There’s plenty of it, and it’s becoming increasingly accessible to us all.

b) What’s different. But complete equality is achieved only when all differences disappear, which is neither possible nor desirable. Each of us cannot know all there is to know in exactly the same way. Neither would we want to. Economic systems thrive on a diversity of interests and talents, otherwise there would be no reason for exchange.

Which is precisely what we have. Each of us cultivates knowledge differently. No two of us have identical ways of digesting the information available. Even if we did, two people can use the same knowledge quite differently. As Plato noted in the Republic, each person focuses the totality of knowledge in a unique way; each citizen expresses the whole republic through unique skills and talents. Or, as in the philosopher G. W. Leibniz’s theory of monads, each person develops an individualized view of the whole—a distinct window on the world.

Diversity is great for economies. The more diverse a system, the more possibilities it includes for developing new levels of order. By increasing order, diverse systems become more flexible. They include more options for responding to stress. If one method doesn’t work, we have a backup, and more backups behind that. By increasing an economy’s power to overcome scarcity, diversity increases an economy’s chances of survival.

Investors are well aware of the uses of diversity. If we spread our risk by putting money in different places, we’re less vulnerable if any one of them fails. Our whole future doesn’t depend on the success of one venture.

Communities also know something about diversity. A one-company town can become a ghost town overnight if the main employer pulls out. The more businesses a community nurtures, the more stable and secure its economy.

Diversity, therefore, constitutes the second fundamental factor of knowledge-based economies.

The diversity that individuals bring to economies gives economies their strength and durability.

The effect of the first two factors – knowledge and diversity – is that economies free everyone to be creative. The fact that we each don’t have to grow our own food, for example, frees us to put our energies elsewhere according to our abilities and interests. By developing our talents, we can offer something to the system that’s uniquely ours.

c) Systems of exchange. But it’s no fun developing individual talents without ways to exchange them. We want to share our abilities as well as to draw on the abilities of others. There’s “a propensity in human nature to exchange,” Adam Smith wrote, a “disposition to barter.”3

Exchange brings economies alive. What’s the use of diversity if we can’t move it around? Economies exist precisely to provide an efficient system through which knowledge can flow. What bees do for flowers, economies do for us. They cross-pollinate our creative abilities, so that something new is always cropping up.

All this cross-pollinating makes economic exchange synergetic. Through exchange, diversity increases diversity. Knowledge, skill, and creativity feed each other to yield possibilities greater than what individuals alone could produce. By exchanging ideas as well as goods and services, economies jump to new levels of prosperity.

By contrast, hoarding, the opposite of exchange, chokes economies. Hoarding works on the fort-premise: acquiring as much as possible provides an illusion of security apart from the system. Even though the system might collapse, at least our private fort will stand.

But the fort-strategy works against economies. The more we hoard, the less exchange occurs and the weaker the entire system becomes. Nor does the strategy achieve the security imagined. If the system fails, the fort hasn’t much future either.

Healthy economies establish security as a function of the whole system. If the system is diverse and exchange ongoing, then the economy is both flexible enough to weather storms and rich enough to provide opportunities for everyone. Security lies in the integral system of exchange, not in fragmenting the system with forts.

d) Mutual benefit. Why should we enter into economic exchange? Because it benefits us to do so. But the benefit isn’t one-sided. Exchange depends on mutual benefit, a concept that Adam Smith adapted from Plato. Either both sides gain, or there’s no exchange. No one freely enters into a relation in which all the benefit goes to the other party.

For this reason, win-win is the only practical and realistic economic strategy. In fact, it’s what we do all the time. Day to day, we don’t demand benefits from others without offering benefits in return. The concept of reciprocity goes to the bone. If others get more than we do, we feel cheated. If we get more than they do, we worry that they feel cheated, in which case we’d lose the chance to do business with them in the future. In the end, we strive for a balance. We want fairness – mutual benefit.4

When reciprocity prevails, economies are better off. Mutual benefit increases prosperity on all sides. It builds trust. If we’re not afraid of being ripped off, we do business freely. Trust makes exchange flow, so that the entire system becomes more secure.

The opposite strategy (win-lose) encourages subtle and blatant forms of stealing, plenty of which are legal. Win-lose strategies follow from the premise of scarcity. After all, given limited resources, we can’t all win. Some people and nations must simply go without (as long as it’s not us). But win-lose strategies don’t build economies. Who agrees to such an arrangement? Once burned, who subjects themselves to it again? Who does business with someone who’s out to bilk us? We’ll do it only if we’re forced to – if we have no other choice.

Because win-lose strategies aren’t a form of mutually beneficial exchange, they aren’t intrinsic to economies. Nor are they practical. Quite the reverse. They foster practices that endanger economies. Without contributing anything in return, win-lose strategies siphon off the prosperity that win-win economies produce without contributing anything in return. They drain economies, until we reach the end of the game.

When win-lose practices dominate an economy, we stop trusting both the economy and each other. We all suffer. When exchange isn’t for mutual benefit, we stop exchanging. The game ends.

But the loss to the economy is even greater. Win-lose strategies give us an excuse to abandon our creativity. We lose sight of our powers as givers and only develop our roles as takers. The economy loses more than what’s siphoned out of it. Once again, individual knowledge and talents go to waste.

Two Systems: Which One?
The premises of scarcity on one hand and of creativity on the other set up two contrasting economic systems.

From the scarcity premise, strategies develop that, first, make limited material resources the starting-point.

Second, what passes for diversity are different uses of labor, which depend on how land and capital are distributed – who owns what. Instead of developing individual talents (which diversity does), mere division of labor traps us in dead-end jobs, determined by our place in the economic hierarchy. Creativity isn’t nurtured but squelched; diversity isn’t increased but diminished.

Third, we manipulate the division of land, labor, and capital to own as much as possible. Acquiring is the name of the game, since hoarding secures our private interests.

Fourth, to increase our ownership of limited resources, we struggle to win out over others. Our gain is another’s loss, and vice versa. The system makes us feel and act like thieves, whether we want to or not. It brings out the lowest passions in us and rewards them.

But does this model really work? In his critique of it, the third-century philosopher Porphyry wrote:

“In the light of unlimited desires, even the greatest wealth is but poverty… No fool is satisfied with what he possesses; he rather mourns what he has not… Many have attained wealth, and yet not found release from their troubles but have exchanged them for greater ones. Wherefore philosophers say that nothing is so necessary as to know thoroughly what is unnecessary… [Otherwise] while the pile of wealth is growing bigger, life is growing wretched.”5

Fortunately, there are other models for economies and other strategies for acting in them. From the premises of knowledge and creativity, a system develops that, first, includes everyone. Creativity belongs to us all. It comes with being human. Moreover, the knowledge we need to be creative is universally available. And it isn’t scarce. As a resource, it’s unlimited in its potential for growth.

Second, diversity increases as we work creatively. The more we diversify our talents, the stronger our economies grow, which frees us to diversify our talents further.

Third, we interact with the economy not to maximize ownership but to exchange the best we have for the best others have. To keep exchange going, we bring it our best.

Fourth, we do this so that all may benefit. Either we all win, or we all lose. To paraphrase John Donne, every loss to a person or nation diminishes us, while every gain increases us. It’s great prose because it reveals a great truth. It’s how economies work as systems—something more than Monopoly players driving each other out of business.

2. Kenneth Boulding, Evolutionary Economics (Beverly Hills and London: Sage Publications, 1981), 45.
3. Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (reprint, New York: The Modem Library, 1937), 13, 16.
4. The win-win model is gaining acceptance in the literature appearing on business in bookstores and libraries. For instance, there’s Ross R. Reck and Brian G. Long’s Win-Win Negotiator (NY: Simon & Schuster, 1985) as well as Lucy Beale and Rick Fields’ The Win/Win Way (NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987). In The Strategy of the Dolphin (NY: William Morrow, 1988), Dudley Lynch and Paul L. Kordis buy win-win as the basic goal but warn that the win-win can’t be achieved superficially, otherwise neither side benefits. But then, that’s not real win-win.
5. Porphyry, Porphyry’s Letter to His Wife Marcella Concerning the Life of Philosophy and the Ascent to the Gods, Alice Zimmern, trans. (Grand Rapids: Phanes Press, 1986), 55-56.

This article is the second installment of a four-part series.

Adapted from Denise Breton and Christopher Largent, The Soul of Economies: Spiritual Evolution Goes to the Marketplace, (Idea House)

The Soul of Economies: The Power of Philosophies to Transform Economic Life by Denise Breton & Christopher Largent ~ Part 1

I. Is Greed Good?
The line goes something like this: economies don’t have anything to do with religion or philosophy, because they’re just self-interest in action. Selfish passions run the show. We don’t go to economies for wisdom but for profit. When we get near economies, we don’t think. We just want.

Which is great: wants keep economies going. In the real world, “greed is good”—a line in the movie Wall Street taken from an Ivan Boesky speech. According to the Boesky-view, without the perpetual motion of greed, economies would stagnate. In other words, without wants pushing us, we’d just sit on our tails.

Yet there’s a hitch. Greed starts the race to buy up available goods—the real-life game of Monopoly. Driven by greed, we turn economies into wars for acquisitions. The result? As in the board game, a few win by sending the bill to everyone else. Rents go up, as do taxes, fees, and costs. Economies managed like Monopoly boards eat away at the middle of economic society, until only the poles remain: the super-privileged and the super-poor. Which then is it? Is greed good for economies, or a danger to them?

Expecting economists alone to answer this question is asking too much, because the question involves more than what supply/demand curves can chart. It’s not even a question for economic theory. Greed can take over any system, and it doesn’t matter whether the system is capitalist, communist, or socialist.

In the end, how we deal with greed goes beyond economic theories. It even goes beyond moral issues. The issue is philosophical. Is Boesky’s message to the graduating students correct? Does his philosophy—his map—describe economic reality? If it does, then it won’t cut any ice to say that we shouldn’t be greedy on moral grounds. What works carries the day.

Selfishness vs. “Enlightened Self-interest”
Adam Smith didn’t think Boesky-maps work at all. However much they may describe a certain side of human nature, they don’t get at the heart of economies. Not that Smith wasn’t keenly aware of greed in economies. Writing first as a moral philosopher, Smith wrestled with the question of what regulates the passions, greed in particular. He figured something must check greed; otherwise he didn’t see how civilization could have survived. Only after tackling the philosophical question in his first book did he publish the second, The Wealth of Nations, the work that inaugurated modem economics.

Given his background in moral philosophy as well as his experiences in 18th century Scotland, Smith knew how destructive selfish ambitions could be. Letting greed take over economies wasn’t an option. He had seen “selfish merchants” do this, and he knew it didn’t work. But he was practical as well. The passions can’t be controlled by superficial means. One group telling another what desires they should or shouldn’t have, he argued, won’t work. Wagging fingers alone can’t hold greed in check.

Instead of denying the passions, Smith sought to yoke them to constructive goals. Specifically, his “invisible hand” operated on each individual’s self-interest, which, if sufficiently enlightened, can’t be separated from the interests of the entire economy, that is, the collective good.

Smith appealed to something philosophical, namely, to our ability to think out the consequences of our actions long-term and large-scale. The more we understand economies as whole systems on which we ourselves depend, the less we’re likely to act in ways that weaken them. Our enlightened awareness of how economies work and of our place in them shapes our interests.

Enlightened self-interest and selfishness aren’t, therefore, synonymous. As Smith understood them, they’re opposites. Enlightened self-interest builds economies. Selfishness destroys them, which is what Smith believed monopolistic merchants were doing to Britain. The Wealth of Nations documents many historical disasters which Smith traced to the avarice of powerful merchants. “Say yes to greed” wasn’t his choice.

Instead, he sought to enlighten self-interest out of its selfishness by exposing the dangers inherent in letting wants run loose. For economies to develop, he argued, individuals can’t prosper at the expense of systems, nor can systems thrive at the expense of individuals. Both do well, or both suffer.

Not that Adam Smith had all the solutions. But he put his finger on the problem: economic health can’t be separated from the aspirations of individuals, and these aspirations must go beyond selfish gain.

Greed in the Making
Why, then, do Smith’s interpreters so often turn him on his head, as if he were a champion for money-grubbing? Why do greed and selfishness command such a following in spite of all Smith’s warnings? Not because we’re necessarily that greedy, but because we believe—as Smith’s interpreters claim—that these responses reflect the realities of economic life. In the end, we think either that greed can’t be restrained, or that without it economies would fizzle. The root is philosophical: we take greed and selfishness to be what economies are all about.

In a recent interview, a member of an organized crime family rued the violent methods he claimed he had to use. However unfortunate it maybe, he said, extortion, bribery, and murder reflect economic reality. The price of not conforming to this reality is financial oblivion: a lifetime of drudgery and counting pennies.

His response isn’t as perverted as it sounds. Philosophically speaking, it simply pushes textbook notions of economies to their logical extremes. Not that economic textbooks endorse crime. But they depict economies as governed by scarcity. In the worlds that follow from this premise, unlimited desires compete for finite resources, gain to one person entails loss to another, and greater powers swallow lesser ones—all for the purpose of maximizing profits.

In other words, reducing economic reality to a herd of horses running after one bucket of oats narrows our economic options. Either we adopt desperate methods, as the mobster did, or we slip to the bottom of the economic ladder. Horse sense says that we either eat or starve. We either play Monopoly, or we’re out of the game.

The only thing that keeps this description of economies from collapsing into utter chaos are the institutions and mores of society. But mere conventions crumble under such fierce economic drives. When we’re pressed by circumstances or fear, the mobster’s methods seem worth a try. How else can we survive?

The question is, do economies work this way? Is the mobster’s or even the textbooks’ view the best characterization of economic reality?

II. Rethinking Economies: How do they really work?
To start with, economy refers to how we manage our household, which is also its original Greek meaning—“oiko-nomia”. Economies are our ways of handling the basic needs of human life: food, housing, clothing, transportation, education, cable TV, PCs, and VCRs.

Economies develop systems for meeting these needs. Each person contributes to the system, which then makes these contributions available to everyone else. The more efficient the system, the more time we have to develop other-than-economic talents.

As well managed systems, economies run smoothly. They become virtually invisible in supplying goods and services and then moving them to those who need them. When crises arise, economies handle them. More importantly, well managed economies prevent economic crises.

Economies become flawless servants to something greater, namely, us and our lives. We know we can depend on them to manage the household for us, so we can get on with our real life’s work, whether it happens to make money or not.

A sure sign of bad management is when we don’t have time to think of anything but household problems. Every relationship takes on an economic hue. Meeting basic demands becomes a life consuming activity, until we have no time or energy left for anything else.

Moreover, any disturbance can spell disaster. Losing a job or contracting an illness can wipe us out and put us on the streets. One or two major banks or corporations going bankrupt can trigger a collapse of the financial system. Third-world countries defaulting on loans can bring down the world economy.

But this isn’t invisible management; it’s front-and-center breakdown. When economies don’t help us and only burden us, their reason for existing disappears. Why have them? We’d be better off fending for ourselves.

Turning things around—mastering economies instead of letting them master us—means rethinking what economies are all about. It means evolving our philosophy of economies, which starts with reexamining our premises. What assumptions do we use to manage our households?

1. Which premise should we use: scarcity or creativity?
To manage things, we first take stock of what we have. Early 19th century economists, especially Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo, emphasized what we don’t have. Because the earth is limited, they insisted, its resources must also be limited. We humans, though, have unlimited desires, especially as we multiply our populations into the future. No matter how much we have, they claimed, we always want more. Our hunger won’t be filled. As a result, there’s never enough. Resources are always running out.

To Malthus and Ricardo, the “economic realities” of scarcity and overpopulation seemed so terrifying that wars, famines, and plagues began to sound like natural saviors, delivering the human race from its own shortsightedness. If these are saviors, though, there’s not much left to be saved from. One Malthusian economist can ruin your whole day.

The limits of our knowledge. The premise behind 19th century fears—persisting today—is that economies are closed systems, bound by fixed quantities of material goods. No matter how large economies become, they remain closed, thus limited. Their territory is fixed, which means there’s only a fixed quantity of resources available to us.

But that’s a strange premise. Economies involve not just resources but our management of them. Economist and sociologist Kenneth Boulding, for example, bases economies on “know-how”: knowing how to produce and exchange goods and services. On this premise, economies have to do less with procuring things and more with restructuring and combining them.

Assuming that scarcity of resources limits economies is like assuming that chemical elements limit chemistry, foods limit cooking, or notes limit music. The key lies not in what we have but in what we do with it.

Discoveries in chemistry, for instance, aren’t made by collecting the largest number of elements. The best meals aren’t those with the greatest quantities of food. Nor are the best symphonies those with the most notes. The value of each lies in their ingenious arrangement.

So, too, in economies: arrangement introduces order. Order multiplies the ways we use resources and so functions as an anti-scarcity factor. With order, we can do more with less—not by skimping but by being creative.

Without order, we don’t have access to resources at all. Oil was plentiful to the Comanches and Apaches, even a nuisance when it contaminated the water supply. But they didn’t use it. The ordered arrangement was lacking. As a result, neither the scarcity nor the abundance of oil was a factor in Indian economies.

Similarly, we’re surrounded by abundant energy sources: sun and wind, as well as the earth’s heat, motion, and magnetism. We could even be living on a huge geobattery. But all the energy sources imaginable aren’t of any use to us if we haven’t developed the know-how to tap them.

What we call scarcity, then, actually refers to our own limits—limits either of human knowledge or of its application. Scarcity isn’t an absolute fact, but a changing indicator of what we know and of what we’re doing with our knowledge. Of course natural resources are finite, but that’s not the issue. Economies thrive or fail on our responses to what we have—on how we manage resources.

If, for instance, two people are stranded in the wilderness, the one who knows how to forage will find food in abundance, while the other may starve. To the one who can manage what’s there, resources abound. To the one who lacks that knowledge, they’re scarce.

In the end, scarcity doesn’t describe reality but our perception of reality. If we accept closed-system premises, we regard scarcity as an iron law. But the so-called law describes us, not what’s out there. We create scarcity from the limits of our knowledge and the narrow uses of our creativity. No matter how much scarcity makes us feel trapped in limits, the walls binding us are our own.

Economies or a War?
Whether we reason from scarcity or anti-scarcity makes a huge difference. If scarcity governs economies, then we have to grab as much of the pie as possible or die off. By ignoring knowledge and creativity, the premise of scarcity reduces our role in economies to that of animals: can we gather enough nuts for the winter, or will the other squirrels take them all? Limited resources and unlimited desires meet as opposing forces in economies, making conflict inevitable. The war of each against all begins, giving power to those who grab the most.

But if economies challenge us to manage creatively what we have, then economies can develop away from scarcity. True, a struggle ensues, but not against others in a win/lose battle. The struggle is against ourselves—against the limits we impose on creativity by harboring too narrow a vision.

The Source of Prosperity.
If economies thrive on know-how, neither scarcity nor abundance determines economic health. Prosperity lies elsewhere. Writer-entrepreneur Paul Hawken illustrates this in his book, Growing A Business:

“The major problem affecting businesses,
large and small, is a lack of imagination, not capital.

A ready supply of too much money in startups tends to replace creativity. Companies with money buy solutions by buying consultants, lawyers, clever accountants, publicity agents, marketing studies, and on and on. Companies without money dream and… Small businesses, at least entrepreneurial ones, are formed in order to address problems that money alone cannot solve.”1

Scarcity of capital forces entrepreneurs to overcome obstacles in ways essential to success—through knowledge and creativity. By contrast, as business consultant Tom Peters observes, businesses flounder when they become “fat and flabby.”

The same logic applies to national economies. The more resources a nation has, the more it may drift into complacence. Abundant resources become cheap, leading to mismanagement and waste. No matter how badly the nation uses its resources, sheer abundance can bail it out. By contrast, countries without rich material resources are forced to survive by their wits. They have no choice but to be creative.

But even a richly endowed economy reaches its limits. The abundance dwindles. Sooner or later the nation has to develop real economic sinews: knowledge, imagination, flexibility, and ingenuity, as well as diligence, integrity, skill, and self-discipline. These qualities, not fixed amounts of things, build economic strength.

In short, the premise that scarcity rules economies is an emperor without clothes. It’s a myth. True, the perception of scarcity is useful for driving up prices, just as the perception of jackpots is useful for spreading lotto-fever. The fear of scarcity makes money for those who control the market when everyone else panics.

But economies don’t exist for the purpose of driving up prices or garnering profits. They exist to serve the needs of humanity. In this activity, scarcity, just like risk, poses economic challenges, but it says nothing about how economies meet those challenges. That’s for us to decide.

These two different starting-points reflect two different views of what we assume economies are all about.

1. Paul Hawken, Growing a Business (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987), 33,35.

Leadership & Spirit: Breathing New Vitality & Energy into Individuals & Organizations by Russ Moxley

By and large today, American workers are a dispirited lot – many leave work each day feeling drained, de-energized and used up.

As a result, individuals and organizations are losing a source of vitality that is desperately needed.

In his new book, Leadership & Spirit, author Russ Moxley explains that leadership can either suffocate or elevate spirit. He asserts that many of today’s organizations, and how we understand and practice leadership in them, are killing our spirit. His book offers a different way of understanding and practicing leadership, and provides hope that organizations can be profitable yet satisfying, competitive yet communal, and productive but life-giving.

A Senior Fellow at the Center for Creative Leadership, Moxley has worked in management development, leadership development, and organizational development in a variety of organizations and in all sectors of the economy – private, public and independent. He has helped thousands of managers and executives to learn, grow and change.

Moxley proclaims that spirit is a core dimension of the self, and that leadership and spirit are inextricably linked, for good or bad. He believes that we are more than a collection and integration of our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. “Spirit offers us a source of vitality not available from mental, emotional or physical energy,” says Moxley.

“Linking leadership and spirit requires a new level of awareness and understanding of ourselves, of others and of the process of leadership — and the intentional development of new behaviors,” says Moxley. “This is a way to make our work worth the investment of our lives.”

Leadership & Spirit begins by defining spirit and analyzing prevalent practices of leadership, then demonstrating why these two threads must be woven together. While offering a different way of understanding and practicing leadership, the author provides examples of how this practice can be implemented in day-to-day leadership activities.

Leadership & Spirit defines the choices individuals must make for leadership to be inspiriting. These are only a few:

* We must choose courage over collusion.
* We must choose interdependence over independence or counter-dependence.
* We must choose collaboration and community over competition.
* We must claim our personal power and forgo coercive power.
* We must choose to use all our energies — mental, physical, emotional and spiritual — in our leadership roles.

It is not enough to simply add new leadership skills, techniques or models to our repertoire, but instead to focus on getting to know various dimensions of ourselves and focus on our being and our spiritual development.

This book will speak to men and women who have invested much of their lives in their careers, who have by and large been successful, but have discovered that something is missing. It is meant for individuals who want to invest themselves fully in their work, and for workers, supervisors, managers and executives who are seeking a more meaningful way to approach their leadership roles.

The Search for the Corporate Soul by David Ring

We live in exciting times it seems. In the recent Queens speech debate, Tony Blair claimed that a new Industrial Revolution is currently taking place; one which will take not two hundred years to transform our way of life, but twenty.

This revolution is being both enabled by and driven via the Internet. The ramifications are immense in terms of the nature and structure of work and the way we conduct our lives. The implications for managers and leaders of organizations are no less profound.

My own work centers around helping people and organizations to change, but more specifically to enable people to find more meaning and purpose in their work and hopefully their lives. Most organizations with whom I work are finding it harder and harder to cope with the overwhelming demands placed upon them both to change and to demonstrate continuous improvement along the way.

There is in my view a fundamental crisis developing in much of British industry and the public sector. This crisis is often vocalized by management as a morale problem or a demotivated workforce, whilst others describe it as the product of work-stress and overload. What most people do not express however, and what most senior managers will never admit, is that they have absolutely no idea as to what to do about it.

If Tony Blair is right, those people aged thirty-five to forty who currently occupy middle or senior management positions are, in the course of their own careers, going to have to manage the historical equivalent of two hundred years of change in working practices. Furthermore, they will have to do so in a climate in which a substantial percentage of their staff feel overworked and bewildered by the pace of recent change. Under pressure to become ever more efficient, managers are running out (at least in the private sector) of fads and quality schemes with which to improve productivity and commitment. It has finally sunk in that the quick fixes simply do not work. The quality programmes have run out of steam, by which people mean: “The results, after an initial burst of success have not resulted in the kind of sustained improvement we had hoped for.”

Not that there is anything inherently wrong in the quality systems, but the central tenet of the quality movement points out that 95% of the problems are the fault of the system. Whereas typical organizational improvement programmes are aimed at changing the people, not the system. It is also in my view a failure by the leadership of organizations to realise that if the organization is going to have to change then they themselves are going to have to change.

All too often, culture change and employee development is something senior managers view as being something those that work for them are in need of. They need only manage the process. Managing change is recognized as the most important skill requirement of modern managers. Personal growth and change is not usually even on the agenda.

The search is now on for a new system of managing that is congruent with our times and the new values and mission statements so popular in the eighties and nineties. Whilst we are on the verge of a technological revolution (if recent business titles are any indicator), we are also on the verge of a spiritual revolution. It would seem that the search is now on for the corporate soul.

With intellectual heavyweights like Charles Handy trumpeting the call for us to question our corporate “reason for being,” it is evident that the business world has begun to take notice. With companies like Boeing Corporation hiring the poet David Whyte as part of a programme to uplift the spirits and creativity of its managers, we can be assured that spirituality has finally arrived in the corporate boardroom.

And so, the search for the corporate spirit is on. The major question in my mind however, and one that remains to be answered, is why? What exactly is driving this shift toward the sublime? One thing that seems clear is that it has become fashionable in recent years to talk about the softer issues in management, to consider people as whole human beings with emotional and spiritual needs which cannot be ignored.

One only has to look at the proliferation of Employee Assistance Programs, Stress Reduction Schemes, and Staff Counselling and Welfare provisions to find evidence for this. We appear to be living in, or at least moving towards, a culture in which the well-being of staff is seen as a priority within organizations. But as we become a more litigacious society and, given recent test cases requiring employers to observe a duty of care to not only employees physical but also mental well being, one can be forgiven for suspecting motives.

Much is being written on this subject, and many people are beginning to question the role of business and the assumption that the sole purpose of business is to make a profit. “Profit for what?” is the question asked by Charles Handy in a recent work interestingly titled The Hungry Spirit. People are questioning the fundamental structure, power relationships and ownership of our institutions.

Talk of devolution of power, empowered organizations, spirituality in the workplace, etc. is being driven by something. But we are faced with an apparent paradox: big businesses, in their current structure, simply do not work as enterprises which serve the spiritual needs of their employees. This is hardly surprising, since they were never designed to do so. At the risk of stating the exceedingly obvious, the bottom line of business is to make a profit.

I must confess to a certain amount of ambivalence. The cynic within me might argue that the real reason that business has begun to embrace spirituality is born out of financial and economic desperation rather than compassion. If all else fails, why not seek divine inspiration as a last resort. But nonetheless, I remain cautiously optimistic.

The search for the corporate soul is on – and with it the need to find an authentic spirituality, one that is congruent with both spiritual traditions and the profit motive. Can western capitalist models of “for profit” organizations ever be reconciled with either eastern or western forms of spirituality, with their eschewing of material values (surely this is anathema)? Can one reconcile “awakening corporate soul” with the maximization of return to shareholders? Can the interests of the owners and other stakeholders be balanced? These are the pressing issues facing leaders of business today. My answer is an emphatic yes! But to explore this apparent paradox we must first define our terms.

Much of the argument in this debate will no doubt center around what we mean by spirituality, spirit, soul, religion, dogma, etc… we all know this old chestnut, and no doubt we will hear it again and again as spirituality takes hold as the preoccupation in every field, from science to art to sport to politics. We should be careful, however, not to mistake a growing interest in spirituality with a growing openness to explore its meaning.

As recent events show, Glenn Hoddle has been made a martyr for saying simply what a large proportion of the people on this planet believe, namely that our birth circumstances are determined a priori either as a result of karma or choice. No, the establishment, it seems, is far from ready to take an enlightened look at what other wisdom traditions may offer. For the moment anyway, political correctness is still much more important than the notion that there might be more to our physical life circumstances than the purely material, biological or genetic factors.

If commercial organizations are to fare any better at the hands of shareholders and the establishment, then they had better watch what they say, and to whom they say it. And herein lies the first great barrier to liberation of “corporate soul”: they lay themselves open to ridicule, but this is precisely what an authentic spirituality calls for. We can see clearly how the city treats the “romantic” notions of its leaders, with just one recent example: witness the treatment of Rocco Forte in the battle for control of his hotel group in the hostile takeover bid by Granada.

If the recent TV programme is a fair reflection it would seem stating your desire to put employees before short term profit is enough to condemn you as incompetent and out of touch. No, we must be more realistic, we should welcome the current trend as evidence of corporations recognizing the need to address spiritual issues, but settle ourselves in for a long and tough ride – which is, of course, just how it should be. Any individual who has experienced personal growth, especially into the higher realms (above the emotional and into the transpersonal), will bear witness that this is always an excruciatingly painful process and one which takes a lifetime. Why should corporations have it any easier?

So here we see the emergence of the second barrier to organizational growth: the timeframe involved. The arguments and problems of short-termism in our economy are well known. This factor alone will mitigate against organizations’ attempts at liberating soul. Ignoring the fact that growth can be slow and often involves periods of pain, the rewards are very often not what was expected or sought. Convincing organizations to undertake a perilous, long journey with no guarantees as to even the destination, expecting stormy weather and certainly encountering despair, this is a seemingly impossible task. And yet this is precisely what will need to be done, and what an authentic spirituality calls for. The path of the spiritual adventurer is a lonely one; few have the courage to take it.

But (and perhaps here lies our most optimistic prospect), there there is no longer any choice. It is inevitable that we recognise the only long term strategy offering any enduring hope is to open oneself to the possibility that there may be another way.

I started this article by saying that it is possible to integrate an authentic spirituality with business, that this integration is indeed possible. Why my emphatic yes? Well, in fact, the argument does not even arise once we correctly define spirit and stop confusing it with soul or corporate soul. What do the great wisdom traditions tell us about God, Spirit, the ultimate ground of being, Atman, Gaia, Ati, Nirvana, Enlightenment, however you personally wish to recognize it. All of them point to the fact that spirit is all embracing, all encompassing, everywhere and everything. In eastern traditions particularly, you are already enlightened spirit, the act of grasping or trying to attain it is simply to deny Spirit.

Spirit pervades, includes, and composes every realm – material, emotional, mental, social, cultural – it is all manifestation of Spirit. Carl Jung supposedly had a sign over his study saying, “Invited or not, God is present.” In the act of attempting to grasp spirit or soul, to liberate what is already present, organizations fall prey (just as individuals do) to the Buddhist notion of samsara, and thus perpetuate and exacerbate the problem.

Even logically, if the management of an organization sets out to awaken its corporate soul, then it means that they must recognize its presence. But it was there all along; it did not manifest only after being acknowledged and added to the corporate mission statement. Organizations can indeed liberate the soul, if by that they mean make the workplace a fit and worthy place for the soul to shine in. They can liberate and engage the submerged iceberg of skill, talent and energy that lies both fallow and neglected in most organizations. But they are guilty of the worst form of spiritual materialism and reductionism if they believe that they can appropriate, or buy, peoples’ souls in the pursuit of material gain.

Workplace communities, fluid project teams and networks, these are indeed the way of the future. They are the template for future organizational structures. Indeed business organizations are realizing that to retain their life force they will need to cater to employees higher needs, lest they end up as sinking ships, with nothing more than hydrophobic rodents as crewmates. In attempting to incorporate spiritual values into a new ethical business structure, however, leaders must also be mindful, to render unto Caesar only that which is rightfully his.

David Ring is the owner of The Personal Development Partnership of Manchester, England, whose purpose is to help organizations recognize the need to raise their heads from the numbers and integrate an authentic and sincere spirituality in their workplace. He has run workshops entitled Managing Change in the Workplace for The British Association for Counselling and The Association for Counselling at Work. he can be contacted by email at and on the web at

The Tao At Work by Stan Herman

While in the midst of coping with difficulty, complexity and pressure, it’s useful to pause from time to time and remind yourself of the obvious.
These passages are about the obvious…..

Once upon a timethe simple could be seen…

That all reality is virtual,

That chaos encompasses order,and order chaos.

That clarity and peace interweave elegantly with difficulty and battle,
and that spirit is the sinew that binds all the world together.

From these conditions arise the billion others with which we live.

Failing to recall that this is so, you miss the world’s significance, the direction of its change,
its uses and its destination.

And so you may feel lost and frightened.

Through her deeds, a great leader reminds people of their possibilities.

Her greatness rises not upon the tower of spectacular achievement,
but from the foundation of the ordinary.

She stands not above but among those she leads,
upon the same earthy foundation, and beneath her lies the solid rock.

All leaders announce themselves as servants of those they lead.

For some these protestations only mask their pride.

The great leader recognizes leadership is a duty no more important than any other.

Stanley Herman is a management consultant and author of A Force Of Ones: Reclaiming Individual Power in a Time of Teams, Work Groups and Other Crowds and The Tao At Work: On Leading and Following (Jossey-Bass), from which the above passage is an excerpt. Contact Stan by e-mail at or fax 760-480-1628.

Organizational Transformation Liberating the Corporate Soul by Richard Barrett

Ask any group of savvy CEOs to tell you the most valuable piece of information they could have, and they will say, “How to unleash innovation and creativity in my work place?”
Richard Barrett

In a world where change is growing exponentially, fortunes are increasingly being won or lost on the ability of companies to anticipate trends and create products to meet these demands. But in the 21st century, unleashing innovation and creativity will not be sufficient to guarantee success. From here on, success will also hinge on whether, in the eyes of its employees and society-at-large, the company is a trusted member of the community, and a good global citizen.

Who you are is becoming just as important as what you sell. The values that corporations stand for are increasingly affecting their ability to hire the best people and sell their products. There is an awakening awareness of the causal link between the rapidly escalating environmental and social issues and the philosophy of business. Govenments and communities are recognizing that the pursuit of self-interest is not only destroying the planet’s life support systems, but the social fabric as well. The era of corporate autocracy is coming to an end. There is too much at stake for it to be otherwise.

Successful business leaders of the 21st century will need to find a dynamic balance between the interests of the corporation, the interest of the workers and the interests of society as a whole. To achieve this goal they will need to take account of the shift in values taking place in society, and the growing demand for people to find meaning and purpose in their work.

The main reason that organizations are unable to mine the creative potential of their employees is that they fail to understand the importance of linking the well-being and survival of their employees to the well-being and survival of the company. When the link between effort and reward is severed, and employees are paid to do rather than to think, there is no incentive to achieve optimal performance. It is only when people feel a direct link between their own contribution, the success of the company, and their personal reward, that they assume responsibility for the whole. When this happens they feel encouraged to fulfill their potential. In other words, moral and economic democracy are essential components of a culture that nurtures innovation and creativity, and taps human potential.

This calls for open, more transparent forms of corporate governance where individuals are encouraged and rewarded for developing their potential and making contributions that impact on the good of the whole. Such cultures can only be based on trust.

Corporate Consciousness
Corporate cultures can be categorized into seven levels:
1 Survival Consciousness
Totally focused on profits. An autocratic, uncaring and fear-driven culture (corporate survival).
2 Relationship Consciousness
Benevolent dictatorship where loyalty between workers is stronger than company loyalty. Lacks flexibility and entrepreneurship.
3 Self-esteem Consciousness
Desire to be the biggest or the best. Hierarchical power structure. Search for efficiency, productivity, quality and excellence (corporate fitness).
4 Transformation
Self-discovery, vision, mission, and values. Balanced needs scorecard. Shift from control to trust, fear to truth, privilege to equality, and fragmentation to unity.
5 Organization Consciousness
Release of innovation and creativity. Search to create conditions for cohesion, community spirit, trust, diversity, and mutual accountability. Recognition of the importance of strategic alliances with suppliers and customers. (corporate well-being).
6 Community Consciousness
Voluntary environmental and social audits. Support to local community. Seach for long-term sustainability. Relationships with local suppliers.
7 Global/Society Consciousness
Contribution to resolving social, human rights, and environmental issues beyond local community. Focus on ethics. Search for truth and wisdom (global/society contribution).

Successful organizations in the 21st century will be those that complete their transformation and live out values that support the common good (three higher states of consciousness). Corporations that cannot move beyond self-interest (three lower states of consciousness) will find themselves struggling to survive. The transformation from the lower to the higher states of consciousness involves liberating the corporate soul. It demands enlightened leadership—CEOs and executives who have completed their own transformation.

The fundamental change that occurs during corporate transformation is a shift in attitude from “What’s in it for us (me)?” to “What’s best for the common good?”—a shift from “self-esteem consciousness” to “organizational consciousness.” This involves moving from an exclusive focus on the pursuit of profit to the broader pursuit of a group of objectives that are instrumental in meeting shareholder, worker, customer, supplier, community, and societal needs. In order to measure progress in all these areas, I have developed a balanced needs scorecard based on the seven levels of corporate consciousness:
Seven Levels of
Corporate Consciousness Balanced Needs Scorecard

Balance and Values in Practice
In Built to Last, Collins and Porras identify eighteen visionary companies that, between 1926 and 1990, achieved a growth in shareholder value 15 times greater than the general market.

Their research shows that all these companies had a strong core ideology (values + purpose), and that contrary to business school doctrine, “maximizing shareholder wealth” was not the dominant driving force of these visionary companies. They have tended to pursue a cluster of objectives, of which making money is only one—and not necessarily the primary one. Visionary companies had objectives that transcended purely economic considerations.

When I analyzed the mission statements of the eighteen visionary companies in Built to Last, I found that sixteen had three or more objectives. The majority of their objectives (44%) concerned well-being, and only 20% concerned corporate fituess. Surprisingly only 6% of the objectives mentioned corporate survival (profits or shareholder value).

What is remarkable is that all 18 companies had objectives concerning corporate well-being, whereas 13 had objectives relating to corporate fitness, and only 6 to corporate survival.

Some of the more inspiring values-driven examples of statements adopted by these companies are:

“We are in the business of preserving and improving human life.”
“People as the source of our strength.”
“Improving the quality of life through technology and innovation.”
“People are number one—treat them well, expect a lot, and the rest will follow.”
“Corporate social responsibility.”
“Honesty and integrity.”

The conclusion I reach (indeed, one of the main messages of Liberating the Corporate Soul), is that an organization’s performance is directly related to its ability to tap into its human potential. For the average person, work is one of the most important ways he or she gives expression to who they are, and find their fulfillment.

When a group of people are committed to a common purpose, are given responsibility, and at the same time feel supported and trusted, then, and only then, will they tap their deepest potential. Emotional energy, not mental energy, is the true motivator of the human spirit.

Emotional energy has its source in what people believe and value. Values give meaning to people’s lives. When there is an alignment between an organization’s values and its employees values then people respond by fulfilling their potential and tapping their deepest levels of creativity.

RICHARD BARRETT, Managing Partner, Richard Barrett & Associates, is an international consultant in the field of vision-guided, values-driven cultural transformation. He works with leaders and senior executives in North America, Europe and Australia to develop values-driven organizational cultures that build human capital, strengthen financial performance, and support sustainable development. He is a Fellow of the World Business Academy, and Former Values Coordinator at the World Bank. Mr. Barrett is the author of A Guide to Liberating Your Soul (Fulfilling Books, 1995), and Liberating the Corporate Soul: Building a Visionary Organization (Butterworth-Heinemann, 1998),lt=””

FEARLESS LEADERSHIP: The Seven Gates of Personal Mastery by Jim Dreaver

“We have plenty of people who model material success and achievement for us…
What we need more of are those who model enlightenment, real freedom,
the mastery of being.” – The Way of Harmony

Imagine being able to not just reduce, but actually eliminate stress, anxiety, and fear from your consciousness. Imagine being able to solve problems, resolve conflicts, and make decisions effortlessly, while at the same time enhancing the flow and focus of your own creative energy, and that of your organization, so that you maximize performance and results.

The key to realizing freedom involves a shift in the way we see reality. In my new book, The Way of Harmony, I call this shift the core insight, an idea which has its roots in many wisdom traditions. It is seeing that we are not our story, our personal history. The world between our ears that we “think” is who we are, and that gets expressed in the mind and body as conflict, stress, and fear, is not who we really are. The more we learn to be present, expand our awareness, and see the inner drama for the self-created illusion it is, the more it drops away. Without the psychological and emotional holding, our body relaxes, our mind clears, and we awaken to our natural wisdom, love, courage, and joy.

This article explores seven gates of personal mastery that you must pass through if you are to translate the core insight into reality, so that fearless, enlightened leadership can become your “way” in the world. The effectiveness of this material in bringing about transformation has been proven. Make it your own, and it will work for you.

The First Gate

As you learn to be relaxed, centered, and grounded in the present moment. you begin to free yourself from all forms of mental and emotional conflict. Presence is the source of your physical energy, power, and charisma. The following exercise is the key to being supremely present, and to successfully opening all the gates that follow. Master this one through regular, frequent practice, and true fearlessness will one day be yours.

Expanding Awareness: Whether sitting or standing, close your eyes, wiggle your toes, feel your feet on the ground. Breathe down into your belly. Now visualize the focal point of your awareness as being just behind and above your head. From this place, see and feel the length and breadth of your body within your awareness. Notice your breath, your bodily sensations and feelings, arising and falling away within your awareness. Notice the thoughts and images in your mind coming and going. Notice how sounds come and go against the background of this silent, expanded awareness that is your natural, relaxed state of being.

Everything arises and disappears within your awareness. But awareness itself, this sense of inner clarity and spaciousness, is always present. It is who and what you fundamentally are. Be present, then, as this awareness. Bring this quality of clear, present-time awareness to the task before you.

The Second Gate

This gate is about understanding the nature of rhythm and change, of ups and downs, and learning to dance harmoniously with whatever is The dance happens naturally as you become sensitive to energy itself, to the underlying flow of mood, sensation, feeling. Most of the stress people experience is because they live too much in their heads, in their story. They are not in touch with their felt, present-time reality.

Energy Awareness: Start paying more attention to what you sense and feel, rather than to judgments, opinions, thoughts. When you are with people, take a few moments to tune-in. Open up to the deeper energy that’s present. Become aware of awareness itself. Listen for the silence behind the words, beyond the surface activity. This will help you get out of your head, into your body, into the moment. As your sensitivity to energy increases, you’ll be more in the flow. Then you’ll know when to be soft, and when to be strong; when to move forward, and when to pull back; when to speak, and when to listen.

The Third Gate

Holding on to negative memories and energy from the past, and worrying about what is going to happen in the future are major causes of fear-based reactions in the body, and especially that tight, knotted, or sick feeling in the gut that signals stress. Developing a more meditative, present-time awareness helps with the letting go process, and brings clarity to the mind. When you release attachment to the outcome of your thoughts, goals, and plans, you actually have a much better chance of manifesting them in reality, because your creative energy is no longer being stifled by the fear of loss.

Facing Your Fears: Get centered, then look at the situation, whether real or imagined, that is triggering fear, and affirm to yourself, “Ah, I welcome this as a gift. It is showing me where I am not yet free.” Then you simply picture, in your mind, the worst thing happening. You visualize experiencing the loss, or failure, or whatever it is you’re afraid of over and over again, until it begins to lose its charge. Until you realize that no matter what happens, you will always be okay, and the true beauty and freshness of life will always be here. Like the samurai warrior, you learn to die before you die, and this is the source of your freedom.

The Fourth Gate

Stress and fear tend to close the heart down. We become judgmental and critical, and life starts to feel empty, joyless, meaningless. One of the key traits of fearless leadership is an awareness of the fundamental interconnectedness of all of existence. The Expanding Awareness exercise brings you into the experience of this. As you become more sensitive to your own and others’ feelings, to the underlying concerns, worries, and fears that all people have, your natural kindness, compassion, and generosity are liberated — and, with them, deep inner strength and courage. An open heart, balanced with common sense and good judgment, makes you the leader that everyone wants to follow.

Releasing Blame: Blaming those who have hurt, wronged, or betrayed us causes our heart to harden, makes us feel like a victim, and just perpetuates our own suffering. People do hurtful things because they do not feel loved, they are not at peace within themselves. Understand that, focus on being fully conscious and present in your own life, and it will be easier to let go of blame, resentment, and anything else that interferes with your mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

The Fifth Gate

Fearless leadership requires self-honesty. You’ve got to be willing to look within and examine your personal demons, whether they manifest as self-doubt, guilt, resentment, judgment, arrogance, or in some other form. As you face them, breathe into them, and see through their essential insubstantiality (as “real” as they seem, they are in fact just part of the story you’ve been telling yourself), you start to get free of them. Then it becomes easy to speak the truth, because you’re no longer caught up in trying to defend or justify your ego. You are able to facilitate authentic dialogue with others. They will feel free to speak their truth, and in this way you gather the energy and talent of the entire group, or team.

Be A Listener: The best way to invite honesty and to attract people to your cause, is to be interested in them. If you are really present with them and listen to them, you will establish the level of trust that makes them want to open up, share themselves, and bring all of who they are to the table.

The Sixth Gate

As you become more present and learn to witness your thoughts, rather than being caught up in them, your awareness naturally expands, becomes more multidimensional, so that it is easier to process endless amounts of information without being overwhelmed. You break free of the box of either/or, black/white thinking. Paradox and uncertainty are no longer seen as threatening, but rather are viewed as opportunities for exploring new possibilities, and for engaging in fresh, creative thinking.

The key insight here is understanding that what you see is what you get. Think fearful thoughts, and you’ll create situations which just reinforce your fear. But pull back your mental projections, drop your conceptual filters, your story, and you will see reality with stunning clarity. You will use thinking as a tool for communication and creativity, but it won’t be a source of worry and anxiety anymore. Then it will be much easier to make the right decisions, and to manifest your goals and dreams in reality.
The Seventh Gate

True fearlessness comes with what has traditionally been called enlightenment, awakening, or self-realization–or, as I call it, mastery of the core insight. It is knowing yourself at the deepest level of your being. It is knowing who you are beyond all your beliefs and ideas about who you are, beyond the “story” you have created about who you are.

When you no longer hold onto any image or concept of “self,” because you have seen that it is all a self-generated fiction anyway, there is nothing in your consciousness to resist what is happening — and so, no fear. Meaning and happiness no longer depend on beliefs, outer conditions, economic status, or anything else. They come from within, from the fullness and radiance of being itself. Your ego and your personal history are available when needed, but they don’t get in the way. Changes, of the kind which throw most people into crisis, cease having the power to upset you, other than momentarily. If upset does occur, you remember to breathe and be present, and you recover your clarity and equanimity quickly.

The authenticity, spontaneity, and sheer goodwill you then bring to each moment will inspire the highest and best in others, and in this way you create a fearless organization.

© Jim Dreaver, June, 2000

The Way of Harmony: Walking the Inner Path to Balance. Happiness. and Success (Avon Books) focuses on how to accelerate the awakening process within the context of health, relationships, work, money, success, and daily life. Acclaimed by all who have read It for its clarity, inspiring stories, and practical tools, it is available at your bookstore or on-line at www. amazon. com, or http://www.barnesandnoble. com.

Jim Dreaver has been teaching in the fields of mind/body integration, stress-management, personal mastery, and leadership development for twenty years.

Author and teacher Jim’s (who appeared on Bridging Show # 220) message explores the awakening to inner peace and freedom, and what is involved in transforming conflict, stress, and suffering into clarity, well-being, and optimal performance.

His journey began in New Zealand, where he was the grandson of one of the first women elected to the Parliament there. He served as an army officer with New Zealand forces in Vietnam in 1967-68, studied English literature and political science at the University of Auckland, and then eventually traveled to the United States, where he attended Palmer College of Chiropractic, graduating with honors in 1976.

After settling in northern California, he built a successful private practice teaching others how to heal and transform their lives from within. In 1983, he embarked on a nine-month spiritual quest through China, Bali, Nepal, India, and the South Pacific. A year later, when he returned to California, he met Jean Klein, a European master of Advaita Vedanta, the direct path to awakening. Under Jean’s guidance, Jim eventually realized his true nature and found the inner peace and freedom he had spent twenty years seeking.

He has published two books focusing on integrating spirituality with everyday life: The Way of Harmony: Walking the Inner Path to Balance, Happiness, and Success (Avon, 1999), and The Ultimate Cure: The Healing Energy Within You (Llewellyn, 1995). He has also written a text for health professionals titled Somatic Technique: A Simplified Method of Releasing Chronically Tight Muscles and Enhancing Mind/Body Awareness (Wild Goose Press, 2001), and has published articles in Yoga Journal, New Realities, and Science of Mind.

He has facilitated over two hundred seminars and workshops, including teaching at Esalen Institute, and has shared his work with audiences nationwide through numerous radio interviews, book signings, and television appearances.

Jim lives in Sebastopol, California, where, along with his writing, and his speaking and workshop schedule, he sees people privately, guiding them on the journey of awakening.

Jim’s website is:

Consciousness: A Principle-Based Paradigm for Leadership by Marsha Madigan, MD

What Is Leadership?

At its core, leadership is the ability of individuals and groups to transcend their limited circumstances and to actualize their creative potential. It is a fundamental capacity of all human beings, which cuts across disciplines, levels, and differences. Leadership is the ability to see the transient ephemeral nature of thought, to not entertain negative, limited, or personal thought, and to allow higher order thoughts, insight, wisdom, and common sense to occur spontaneously through one. It is seeing past a fixed and limited view of reality, seeing past the content of thought, to the unlimited infinite potential of experience.

Leadership is the view from the mountaintop, the mile-high view, which is the basis for strategic decision making, effective listening, bringing out the best in people, teamwork, creativity, responsiveness, economy of means, and high level effectiveness. Leadership is the ability to be responsive simultaneously to multiple circumstances, to inspire self and others to greatness, to be willing not to know and to look to the unknown for what is not yet known, and to get to the heart of the matter and do what makes a difference.

Leadership is based on consciousness, the understanding that what we observe with our senses is thought being brought to life. The degree to which we understand the ephemeral nature of thought, that thought is occurring moment to moment to moment, from the invisible formless which is before thought, and manifesting into form, after the fact of thought, is our level of consciousness or awareness. “Consciousness allows the recognition of form, form being the expression of Thought,” says Sydney Banks in The Missing Link.

The more deeply any individual or group is aware of the transient nature of thought, the lack of power in the content of thought, and the fact that all of the power is in the invisible formless, before the fact of thought, the higher their level of consciousness and the greater their capacity for leadership. As individuals and groups deepen their consciousness, they attain more and more distance or perspective from the content of their own and others’ thinking, from the content of their experience and circumstances. This distance, mountaintop view, space between thoughts, or lack of reaction to content, allows them to be responsive to circumstances rather than reactive.

When leaders see the value of allowing space in between their thoughts, perspective in their thinking, they can see beyond the circumstances and content of problems and situations, to graceful responses and effortless solutions. They are able to look past their limited memory and analysis, and transcend their own thinking into higher order wisdom and insight. They can then participate in the unfolding reality as it occurs through them.

Understanding thought, consciousness, is like understanding the phenomenon of a mirage of water on a desert road. Nothing effortful has to be done to transcend the experience of water on the road, one doesn’t give up driving and attempt to remove the water, or find an alternate route. The key is in recognizing the nature of a mirage, a thought-created sensory image that has no power in and of itself.

As one does not react to the image, and continues driving, the mirage dissolves into the normal road. Recognizing that every experience we each have is thought brought to life by our senses frees us from becoming enmeshed in limited thought, and allows us to look before the formation of thought, to the source of thought, the formless unknown. Creativity and innovation occurs through us as we allow thought to flow through us, and we follow the plan given to us by our insight and wisdom, rather than trying to figure it out and plan based on personal thinking.

As we let any reactive, judgmental or evaluative thinking pass through us, out of a quiet mind free of personal thought comes the answer, which may be action or may be a different perspective. Leadership is unleashing that potential in others. Groups who function with this understanding are able to get past thoughts of fear of failure, fear of what others think about us, our limited thoughts of what our roles should be or shouldn’t be, to function at a high level of teamwork. At the highest level of leadership functioning, a group can reach the one mind that David Bohm speaks about in On Dialogue, where the group thinks as one and transcends any differences.

Leadership comes from seeing that it is not circumstances that need correcting, and it is not an individual’s “wrong” thinking about a person, thing or condition (content) that needs to be corrected. Consciousness is understanding that thought is an impersonal effect, after that fact of thinking, and has no power in and of itself. The only power thought has is the power that we give it, and the higher our level of awareness, the less power we give thought. Whatever thoughts are on our mind will play out in our individual and group experience.

If we want to change our experience, we need to let go of our current thinking in order to see something new. We need a stance of curiosity, of willingness to give up being “right”, in order to see what we don’t yet know, in order for a new reality to manifest through us.

The instant that we see that our experience is created moment to moment via thought, and that our feelings are our compass to the quality of our thinking or the level of our consciousness, we can let go of stressful or negative thinking and relax into a good feeling. Knowing that feelings are a direct result of what’s on our mind allows us to use our feelings as a guide to let go of unhealthy thinking.

Into the vacuum that’s left by letting go of limited or personal thought flows insight creativity, wisdom and perfect detached action. That’s why, in times of great crisis like war or disaster, when people’s heads clear, they see what needs to be done and act on it. Often survivors of such crisis describe a feeling of connectedness, which transcends the circumstances, which is analogous to the one mind of an aligned group working together.

Alignment is a form conflict resolution takes when a group is functioning at a high level of consciousness. Listening deeply, and letting go of preconceived ideas and history, a willingness not to know, and a stance of curiosity, allows leaders to develop rapport in a group. Rapport is the basis for agreement and shared understanding. From this base of rapport and agreement, problems and difficult situations are seen as no one’s fault (impersonal), thought-created, ephemeral and mutable; the group can choose not to react to them, try to fix them, or resign themselves to them. Listening deeply without bias or prejudice allows the observation of what is. From the clarity that arises out of unbiased observation, we get new insights, and perfect detached action arises through us.

If we don’t react to what we judge as our own or other’s “faulty” thinking, we don’t resist it or try to change it, because we know it’s after the fact of thought (content). The space that is created by not reacting will yield a different view of the situation; we will see something new that transcends the situation.

Allowing thoughts to pass through, and attributing no significance to them, not personalizing them, is consciousness. Any thought is after the fact of thought, after the fact of the formless, and it’s content is irrelevant, so that no thinking needs to be done about it. David Bohm describes this as “proprioception of thought”, seeing the intention to think and choosing not to entertain thought, which allows fresh thought to arise through us, as opposed to getting stuck in the “squirrel cage” of already thought thought.

Strategic decision making in leadership is a result of consciousness. Imagine a tennis player saying, “Why does this ball keep coming at meI just finished hitting it, why do I have to hit it again?” As opposed to, “Oh, good, another opportunity to hit it better, to improve my accuracy.” Now translate that to how individuals and organizations approach “problems that keep occurring” vs. “situations that present themselves for responses.”

The ability to listen with the invisible ear to the inaudible word gives leaders the ability to not only respond effectively rather than react, but to participate in the unfolding of a new reality. Listening deeply for the heart of the matter, and then doing what occurs to one out of a quiet mind, is the key to “economy of means” finding the optimal decisions and minimizing the costs.

Conscious strategic decision making might be called “doing nothing”, i.e. doing nothing of a personal nature, nothing through personal fear or personal doubt, doing nothing that is purely our will or our desire, but allowing perfect detached action to come through us. This is “being” leadership, rather than “doing” leadership. In Wisdom Leadership, S.K. Chakraborty describes rajarshis, king/sages of ancient India who “translated the order of the cosmos (rita) into the order of the society.” John Heider describes a similar stance of “being” leadership in The Tao of Leadership, leadership in accordance with natural law. Sydney Banks, again in The Missing Link, says, “All humans have the inner ability to synchronize their personal mind with their impersonal mind to bring harmony into their lives.”

Joseph Jaworski, in Synchronicity, The Inner Path of Leadership, says, “People do in fact create the future through our declarations, our actions, our way of being… The issue of how we can collectively create the future.., how what we see as “reality” is inseparable from our language [thought] and actions.” In the forward to Jaworski’s book, Peter Senge comments, “in a deep sense, my capacity as a leader comes from my choice to allow life to unfold through me.” This is exactly what consciousness does, in allowing us to transcend limited and personal thinking, to allow the creative process to flow from the unknown through us.

Senge says “We search for special individuals with leadership potential, rather than developing the leadership potential in everyone… Leadership exists when people are no longer the victims of circumstances, but participate in creating new circumstances… Leadership is about creating a domain in which human beings continually deepen their understanding of reality and become more capable of participating in the unfolding of the world. Ultimately, leadership is about creating new realities… If we were not making such an immense effort to separate ourselves from life, we might actually live life day to day, minute by minute, as a series of predictable miracles.”

Consciousness allows leadership to flow through individuals and groups. so that they can truly live their lives in service to life itself.


* Banks, Sydney (1998) The Missing Link, Reflections on Philosophy and Spirit, Edmonton: International Human Relations Consultants, Inc.
* Bohm, David (1996) On Dialogue, London: Routledge
* Chakraborty, S.K. Wisdom Leadership:Leading by the SELF, Journal Of Human Values, Vol 1:2, (1995) pp205-219
* Heider, John (1985) The Tao of Leadership, Atlanta: Humanics Limited
* Jaworski, Joseph (1996) Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership, San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler

The Meaning of Spirituality by Carol Orsborn

Part of me wants to go for success in the world in a big way, but part of me wants to take as much time and space as I need to develop myself spiritually. Which is better?

There is no universal answer. The real question is not, “Which is better?” But rather, “How do I define spirituality?” When you’ve answered this question for yourself, you will know what is right for you. The superior man can soar to the heights and play an important part in the worldor he can withdraw into solitude and develop himself.

We are taught by the I Ching that each one must make a free choice according to the inner law of his being: If the individual acts consistently and is true to himself, he will find the way that is appropriate for him. This way is right for him and without blame.

What does spirituality mean to me? After several years pondering this question for myself, I came to the heartfelt realization that spirituality is simply that part of me that longs for fulfillment.

I experience the emotional color of spirituality as a free-floating longinga bittersweet yearning that I have come to value even more than what I used to call happiness. When my primary purpose was to be happy, I invested much of my vital energy in protecting my fragile well-being from outside influences. I isolated myself from the dangers of intimate relationships by confining my interest in others to what they could do for me. I gleaned entertainment value from gossipa competitive affirmation of my standing in the world by comparing success.

I worked hard, often to my ultimate detriment, to get the things in life that I thought would make me happythings like houses, jobs, prestigious appointments. But since the happiness I got came to me from outside myself, it could also be taken away from outside. The happiness I once prized so highly turned out to be a fickle friend, present when the sun was shining, gone with the first sign of rain.

By tempering my happiness with spirituality, my relationship to others and to the world around me has deepened. I’ve expanded my emotional range to include a feeling of compassion and empathy for others. In short, I spend more time feeling pain; not only my own but also that of the world outside myself. It is a state that I have come to think of as “fully alive.”

Given that this is my experience of spirituality, I have now taken the path of self-development by throwing myself into, rather than retreating from, the mainstream of life. While I am often still pulled emotionally toward withdrawal from daily life, I have come to realize that for me, such a stance has an element of escapism to it. I may always have the urge to protect myself; I must stay on my toes to make sure I do not misuse my spiritual pursuits in this way.

Although my fantasy is no less than to float freely in the nectar of connectedness to the universe with no concerns, no obligations, no responsibilities other than to experience the love of the universe coursing through my veins, at present I have two children growing up in my charge, plus a husband, friends, and family who challenge me to grow spiritually by translating my universal compassion into acts of kindness here and now.

For the present I know that my job is to forage as best and as often as I can on the edges of my spiritual consciousness, bring back the goodies I unearth for application in my life, and hopefully the lives of those I touch. While I do spend a fair amount of my time journaling, meditating, walking in nature, reading philosophical literature, I now do so from the perspective of developing myself in order to bring more of myself to the world. In short, I have discovered that there need be no discrepancy between playing an active part in the world and developing myself spiritually.

And although I often comment upon the fact that if and when one brings spirituality into the marketplace, his or her career will blossom, the inverse is also true: Give yourself permission to bring your spirituality into the marketplace and your spirituality will blossom as well.

Carol Orsborn is the author of Inner Excellence At Work: The Path to Meaning, Spirit and Success (Amacom Books, Fall ‘99) and How Would Confucius Ask for a Raise?, from which this column is excerpted. She may be reached at 615-321-8890, e-mail and visit her website at

Antonio Damasio – Brain and mind: from medicine to society. 1/2

Antonio Damasio-Brain and mind: from medicine to society. 2/2

Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer

Norris and Father John witness a magnificent gathering and the arrival of Patriarch Kyril on the day of the Feast of the Holy Trinity at the Sergiev Posad in Moscow, Russia.
Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer is a major documentary feature film and companion book from HarperOne, with Dr. Norris J. Chumley and V.Rev. Dr. John A McGuckin. Coming Early 2011.

10 minutes with … Deepak Chopra By Nicole Neroulias – Understanding Deepak’s Vision of Muhammad

(RNS) Spiritual and alternative-medicine guru Deepak Chopra, 64, has written dozens of books about faith. His latest, “Muhammad: A Story of the Last Prophet,” is a fictionalized biography narrated by the people around him, including a Christian hermit, a Jewish scribe, two of his daughters, a convert, and an enemy.

Chopra spoke about his experience writing on Islam’s founder and prophet. Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: What makes a Hindu American from India decide to write a biography on Muhammad?

A: I grew up with a lot of Muslim friends, and the whole idea of revelation has been a lifelong interest of mine. I’ve written about Jesus and Buddha, and my publisher suggested that I do Muhammad next. But I was reluctant in the beginning because Islam is much more recent and we have access to a lot of thehistory, and some of the facts are not very palatable. There’s the beheading of the Jews, there’s the marriage to Aisha, a girl of 6—we are told all this from history, confirmed by scholars.

Biographies written by Muslims are straightforward—they don’t brush aside the facts; in fact, they justify them. Some Western biographies are apologist, and do not portray the negative side at all. So, it was a choice that I had to make: do I do it with integrity, honesty, respect, but without being an apologist? Finally I decided, why not?

Q: Weren’t you worried about becoming a target of radical Muslims?

A: Once I decided to write the book, I didn’t want to think about that because it would have interfered with my writing. I spoke to author Irshad Manji, who has five fatwas on her, who said it’s not as much a thing as it used to be. She said she doesn’t even think about it.

Now that my book is out, there have been a few (negative) things on Twitter from Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, like “who is he to write about Islam and the Prophet, he’s committed blasphemy,” but I don’t see it gaining traction.

Q: There are some things that you didn’t include—for example, you don’t have a chapter from Aisha’s perspective. Why not?

A: I have two of his daughters and his first wife. But Aisha was 6 when she was married and 9 when the marriage was consummated, and I have no idea how to get into the mind of a 6- or 9-year-old. I did include her in the last chapter, where she plays an important role (after Muhammad’s death, as an adult), in the way she wins over his enemy.

Q: Your book portrays Muhammad as holy from childhood, even from conception. But isn’t he generally understood as an ordinary man until later in life?

A: There was something definitely special about him from the beginning. He was introverted, he did not hang out with the other people his age, he took time to go into solitude. And the fact that he was illiterate makes it even more special.

If you’ve heard the Quran, it has a very special grammatical quality where the sound echoes the sentence. Even if you did not speak Arabic, it’s hypnotic. It’s similar to hearing the Vedas chanted, or the Torah. How does somebody who is illiterate, who has no ambition to be anything special, start reciting this beautiful verse? This is the mystery of revelation.

Q: Why isn’t Muhammad subtitled “A Story of Enlightenment,” like your biographies of Buddha and Jesus?

A: In the case of Buddha, he spoke of enlightenment and he taught of enlightenment. And Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is clearly spoken from a state of enlightenment. But Muhammad is more complex, and he did not claim to be enlightened. Muhammad said, “I am a man among men.”

Q: How else was writing about Muhammad different than Buddha and Jesus?

A: I like Muhammad a lot, because he’s like us more than anybody else. Jesus is just so exalted, and Buddha is just so exalted, it’s almost beyond our reach. Muhammad is more human, more self-doubting, even self-tortured at times. His story is full of adventure, intrigue, betrayal. It’s a great story.

Q: I’ve heard that your next book will be about God—but, from whose perspective?

A: I’m doing a book called “The Future of God,” about science and spirituality and the understanding of consciousness, and one called “When God Spoke,” looking at the experience of divinity through various Eastern and Western saints, including a lot of women. It’s not God as some kind of image or idea or concept, but what the experience means.

Buddhism Is More than Meditation: A Conversation with Sulak Sivaraksa ~ Katherine Marshall

Sulak Sivaraksa, Buddhist spiritual leader and international activist, is known for advocating social change and development based on an engaged Buddhism. Over the course of his long career, he has been arrested three times for his criticism of the Thai monarchy. Katherine Marshall sat down with him recently to discuss his own spiritual journey and his vision for Buddhism.

Can you speak a bit about how you got where you are, and particularly about how faith came into play in your life?

I was born in 1933 and was brought up as a Buddhist. My parents were not very spiritual. I was sent to a Catholic school, and I got my degree from the Anglican college. I didn’t like the school. They used to treat me very badly, and they used to beat me because I didn’t want to learn by rote. My parents said, “We have tried to bring you up in a Catholic and a Protestant school. Would you like to be a monk?” I said, “Yes, why not?”

So I became a monk at the age of 13. As a monk, they treat you as a grown up. It was the first time I was able to connect with and learn about my society and my culture, because the temple was open for everyone. I was very happy.

In 1953, I went to London to study. In our family background, which was middle-class and upper-class, being educated in Britain meant that you were educated properly, and that could help you get ahead. England was the place to be. While I was in England, I joined the Buddhist Society. Mr. Christmas Humphreys, founder of the Society, was a very great man.

But I did not agree with his approach. His view was that a Buddhist must concentrate on meditation, even when they are part of the society. He said that Christian men are wrong because they got involved in society and politics and lost their spirituality. To be Buddhist, he argued, you must concentrate on meditation. I felt that he was fundamentally wrong. Meditation is a good thing, but it does not mean only looking inwards. I realized that many Buddhists were from middle-class backgrounds. They didn’t realize the suffering of the majority of our people. They didn’t even question their own lifestyles. I think that is escapism, not Buddhism.

And what came next?

I returned from England to Siam in 1961. Probably because of my British education, I was very much influenced by Plato. In The Republic, he argued that we should all become philosopher kings, and that we should lead the poor. At first, when I went home to Siam, I thought the poor were so stupid and ignorant. But when I was exposed to them, I realized that I had much to learn from them and that they had much wisdom to share with me. Ever since my return to Siam, I have become more and more involved with the poor.

To make a long story short, I feel that to practice Buddhism, you must care not only for yourself but for society. To be Buddhist, you should not only adhere to the main teachings — not killing, stealing, having sexual misconducts or lying — but you also have to consciously distance yourself from the structures of violence that frame our lives. You may not kill directly, but you kill through the social structure. You don’t steal directly, but you let the bank steal. So, I became more involved in addressing what you could term “structural violence.”

Last year, you celebrated the 20th anniversary of the founding of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists. What were some of the highlights?

A real highlight was to see and to build networks of friendships. In Buddhism, the main priority, externally, are good friends. Good friends are those who tell you what you don’t want to hear. They are your external voice of conscience. I feel we have done that for 20 years.

We have also worked to develop an important side of Buddhism. Some Buddhists, for example, the Japanese, are wonderful with funerals and with thinking of the next world, but they have no care for the present world. Now they care more for the present world, and I am happy for that. The Taiwanese Buddhists have begun to help the poor in Bangladesh and Cambodia. I say that’s good but not good enough. To help the poor is social welfare, but Buddhism demands social change. I think the Taiwanese are doing that, and I am very proud that the anniversary sees us with good friends who are challenging each other in good spirit, while we are changing.

When you look at the Buddhist establishments in Thailand, and the monks and the structures, how much of that would you say is engaged and how much of it is in a more traditional role?

The Thai monks, as a whole, cannot be completely traditional. We have been uprooted, if I may say so, because of the American hegemony. The Americans came in during the 1950s to save us from communism. They felt that Buddhism was not good because it does not teach about God, but teaches about contentment. They thought that Buddhism was all negative. I said: no sir. No to hatred, no to greed.

They came to our country with good intentions. But they wanted us to become industrialized and destroyed our whole agricultural system. Traditional Buddhism depends on farming, which was destroyed. Now, there is a new group of monks who go along with and rely on capitalism and consumerism.

Having said that, there are also some young monks who feel they must go back to the traditional Buddha. They try to understand suffering, and to see greed in the form of capitalism. They try to understand violence, hatred, ignorance and illusion in the forms of mass media and industry. There are more and more young people who are very helpful and work with us in Laos, Cambodia, Burma, India and Sri Lanka.

But they are a minority?

Yes. But, small is beautiful. And I believe that quality is more important than quantity.

What about interfaith work?

Friendship has no barriers, whether gender, nationality or faiths. Friends are friends. The Christian, the Muslim, or the atheist — they are friends. Friends must not belittle each other’s beliefs. My teacher taught that, to understand the basis of Buddhism, you have to know that there are a lot of dreadful things in Buddhism, also. He taught that Buddhism is how to learn how to change greed into generosity, hatred into compassion and friendship, delusion into wisdom and understanding. He said that other religions are the same but use different terms. They teach people to be selfless, not selfish. They teach to be brave, humble and generous. Don’t think that other religions are inferior to your own. Respect other religions as your own. Buddhadasa, my teacher, taught me that we must unite people of different faiths — whether agnostic or atheist — because they are also spiritual beings.

Can you speak a bit about how you got where you are, and particularly about how faith came into play in your life?

I was born in 1933, and was brought up as a Buddhist. As a Buddhist, you care for yourself and you care for others, and you try to clear your mind through meditation. In 1953, I went to London to study. I studied philosophy, literature, and history, in Wales. Then I worked for the BBC, and also taught at the London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). I was called to the bar in London.

While I was in England, I joined the Buddhist Society. The Buddhist Society helped me to broaden my outlook. Mr. Christmas Humphreys (founder of the Society) was a very great man. But I did not agree with his approach. His view was that a Buddhist must concentrate on meditation, even when they are part of the society. He said that Christian men are wrong because they got involved in society and politics, and lost their spirituality. To be Buddhist, he argued, you must concentrate on meditation. I felt that he was fundamentally wrong. Meditation is a good thing, but it does not mean only looking inwards. I realized that most European Buddhists are from middle-class backgrounds. They didn’t realize the suffering of the majority of our people. They didn’t even question their own lifestyles. I think that is escapism, not Buddhism.

I met the great Vietnamese Buddhist leader, Thich Nach Hanh, for the first time in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), about thirty-five years ago. The World Council of Churches organized a large meeting there between Buddhists and Christians and that is where we met. He was trying to get Buddhists engaged with society, and I thought that it was a good goal.

And what came next?

I returned from England to Siam in 1961.

To make a long story short, I feel that to practice Buddhism, you must care not only for yourself but for society. Even thirty years ago, I found a number of internationally engaged Buddhists. I feel that Buddhists must care for other people – not only other Buddhists, but also other human beings. To be Buddhist, you should not only adhere to the main teachings – not killing, stealing, having sexual misconducts, or lying – but you also have to consciously distance yourself from the structures of violence that frame our lives. You may not kill directly, but you kill through the social structure. You don’t steal directly, but you let the bank steal. So, I became more involved in addressing what you could term structural violence.

Probably because of my British education, I was very much influenced by Plato. In The Republic, he argued that we should all become philosopher kings, and that we should lead the poor. At first, when I went home to Siam, I thought the poor were so stupid and ignorant. But when I was exposed to them, I realized that I had much to learn from them and that they had much wisdom to share with me. My elite upbringing gave me an idea that was wrong. We should learn from the poor, because they have so much wisdom to teach us.

Ever since my return to Siam, I have become more and more involved with the poor. I have paid the price for it; because I come from an elite background, my fighting for the poor makes my colleagues begin to feel that I have betrayed my class. On top of that, in my country, which is a constitutional monarchy, the dictators tried to make the monarchy divine. I challenge that, because in Buddhism, the king is the first among equals. Again, I pay for that.

Right now, I have three charges against me . Today is the King’s birthday. There is a lot of campaigning around the world for the King to pardon me on his birthday. In Buddhist culture, the King should release turtles, fish, and birds to give them their freedom on his birthday. He should release me from the charges, and give me freedom. I think that would be much more meaningful than giving freedom to animals. I don’t think he’ll do it. He’s a nice man, but he is also very sick now.

The International Network of Engaged Buddhists just celebrated its twentieth anniversary last week. What were the highlights?

A real highlight was to see and to build networks of friendships. Internationally as Buddhists, we have worked over the years to build up networks of friendships. In Buddhism, the main priority, externally, are good friends. Good friends are those who tell you what you don’t want to hear. They are your external voice of conscience. I feel we have done that for 20 years. We have good friends. We have Christians and Muslims as our good friends.

We have also worked to develop an important side of Buddhism. Some of our Buddhists, for example the Japanese, are wonderful with funerals and with thinking of the next world. But they have no care for the present world. Now they care more for the present world, and I am happy for that. The Taiwanese Buddhists have begun to help the poor in Bangladesh and Cambodia. I say that’s good but not good enough. To help the poor is social welfare. But Buddhism demands social change. I think the Taiwanese are doing that, and I am very proud that the anniversary sees us with good friends who are challenging each other in good spirit, while we are changing.

Also, in India, the Buddhists are the poorest of the poor. For fifty years, the Tibetan Buddhists have been in India, although they have never met those Indian Buddhists. This is because the poorest Buddhists feel that the Tibetans are foreigners and mix with the Brahmins. I was the one to bring the Dalai Lama to meet the poor Buddhists. People around him told him not to go, because he had been accepted by the Brahmins and the top intellectuals. The poor also challenged Gandhi in the same way. But the Dalai Lama said: I am a monk. If I am invited and don’t go, I am not a real monk. So he came four years ago to meet our Buddhist groups, and now the Buddhists in India are learning with the Tibetans, and are being helped. This friendship, for me, is tremendous.

Before INEB, the foundation Fellowship of World Buddhists was started in 1956 by Dr. Malarasekera from Sri Lanka. Now, these Buddhists meet every two years in five star hotels, and don’t meet the poor. Yet they think they are the best in the world. I challenge them. I tell them that if you don’t expose yourself to the poor, you are not following Buddha. There are the four noble truths, and the first truth is the truth of suffering. You have to find out the course of suffering, and to overcome suffering nonviolently.

I am happy to say that the World Fellowship of Buddhists is now changing. At one time, they wouldn’t even welcome the Tibetans. Now the Tibetans are coming, and have social justice. So, if you keep on pushing positively and cheerfully for social friendship, it will work.

Please tell us about your involvement with the World Faiths Development Dialogue. You were involved in it from the beginning.

I thought it was wonderful, as I mentioned in my opening remarks at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Jim Wolfensohn had a good idea, and has a very open mind. I think he is committed to spirituality in a way that I have not seen from anyone else from the World Bank at his level. It’s a very good initiative. I hope you will carry on with it, more effectively. If this could influence the World Bank, IMF, and the WTO, that would be excellent. These ideas are even being discussed at Davos. A Buddhist monk, Matthieu Riccard, gave a talk there on Gross National Happiness and people were willing to listen. This is a good sign. I must say, this is something that is also due to the WFDD, not directly but indirectly. Everything links together.

What do you see happening with what you would call “development” in Thailand? What direction are things going?

The mainstream government links with international cooperation, and there is more investment taking place. The people at the bottom are challenging development, which is very curious. There is a place called Mabtaput that is heavily industrialized, where people suffer much from the pollution and are dying. Now, the people there are suing the government, and for the first time, they are winning. Secondly, the poorest people in the country are being listened to more.

So, as I see in my country for the first time, that development has been challenged by the people. The middle class are coming out to be with the poor, and the poor have been effective because deep down they are Buddhists. Deep down they are nonviolent, and deep down they have their roots. The middle class have lost their roots. They are addicted to television, and to the computer. Their family structure is broken up. Now, the middle class is listening to the poor. I am very proud of the poor. I have been working with them for the past 20-30 years, and I have been arrested because of that.

How do you see the challenges for education?

The Ministry of Education unfortunately teaches people to climb up the social ladder – socially, economically, and politically. I think that for people to become clever, without being good, is very dangerous. The Ministry of Education cannot teach people to be good. Only spiritual, religious people can do this. Religious people can be too dogmatic and too churchy, and so you need the spiritual people to help. When I received the Right Livelihood Award in 1995, I used that money to start an education movement. It has done so much now for education. Education must linger in both the heart and the head. It must be meditative, and include contemplation. You don’t need to be Buddhist, or you don’t need to be Christian. The idea is to be spiritual in the heart and the head. You have to expose yourself to suffering, and if you are middle class, you need to work with the poor.

So it’s a set of schools and networks?

It’s an educational alternative to the Ministry. Now, the Ministry has invited us to work with them. This year, we have created a school of well-being, in collaboration with the center of Bhutan Studies in Thimphu. They feel that to be clever is not enough, and that you have to be happy. We have contributed that in a small way to the country. The Ministry has invited us to help them. Even business people have asked us to help them. Social Venture Networks try to be different and don’t want to be goody-goody, but want to care for the labor unions and the environment. They don’t want to advertise lies. We are working with them, also in Burma, Laos, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, and Cambodia.

Are you working through alternative education?

Yes. The first day I arrived here, the monks from Burma came to talk to us. They said they have been influenced by us. They have become more and more positive. At one time, the Burmese monks felt they had bad karma that caused dreadful dictatorships. I say, that is not true Buddhism. In Buddhism, bad karma can be changed with goodwill, through restructuring consciousness and by challenging the regime through good friends. They are now doing that in Burma.

How do you manage the challenges of the politics you’re involved in? Challenging the King, challenging the generals?

I don’t challenge the kings or the generals. I challenge the system. I feel the King is a nice but weak man. He has no good friends, and I feel sorry for him. Some generals are wonderful people but they feel that there are so many enemies around. I say the worst enemy is in yourself! In the South they think the Muslim is the enemy. I say, no, the enemy is corruption in yourself!

Some of the generals are now taking me seriously and have asked me to help them and teach them about nonviolence. They even asked me to solve the issue in the South, because they know I have friends in Malaysia like Anwar Ibrahim. I’ve known Anwar since he was a student leader thirty years ago. I knew Abdurrahman Wahid, former president of Indonesia, thirty years ago. They are helping me. Friendship is for me the most important thing. Friendship and networks.

What about health care?

Health is important. It is not only physical health that is important, but also mental, spiritual, and social health. Society also must not be sick, and the environment should be healthy. In the Buddhist context, the Buddha said that the best thing in life is health.

But does the Buddhist system have a tradition of hospitals, like the Catholics? Is it involved in a systematic way?

I think that that is the wrong conception. The first hospital was founded by Ashoka, the great King, more than 2,300 years ago. It was a hospital not only for humans but also for animals. The western concept is different, in that it is separate from the religion. We have hospitals, but not as a separate institution. The hospitals are in religious areas, they are in the temples. The temple cures the sick while helping the poor. It’s holistic, and it’s not compartmentalized like in the West.

Now, the Thai government has adopted more of the Western system, where patients stay on the bed and are only seen between 8 o’clock and 5 o’clock. Now, things are changing. They have a Shaman come in with holy water. In the past ten years, things have been changing. If I may say so, I played a small role in that.

How did that role happen?

Friendships. I’ve known some of the doctors from when they were very young. They regard me as a friend. Some of them I have helped. I tell them, “Whatever you do, you must understand your roots! Your own culture. There may be something that is not entirely positive. It may be a little bit negative, but it’s there.”

So, you’re seeing a difference in the whole approach to health in Thailand? Is there an official role for the temples?

Yes. Once I proposed that temples look after HIV. They were shocked, and said that HIV came from nuisance sets activities. One monk, whose name was Alongkot, was convinced that his temple could help HIV patients. He became very famous. Now, his whole temple is a hospice. The good thing about me is that I sell initiatives. I’m good at initiatives.

What are your main priorities now?

I’m an old man now. I try to do less because I feel I have built up good friendships that I think can carry on. Sometimes, they come to ask me for advice. But, the younger people can carry the friendships on much better.

When you look at the Buddhist establishments in Thailand, and the monks and the structures, how much of that would you say is engaged and how much of it is in a more traditional role?

The Thai monks, as a whole, cannot be completely traditional. We have been uprooted, if I may say so, because of the American hegemony. The Americans came in during the 1950’s, to save us from Communism. They felt that Buddhism was not good because it does not teach about God, but teaches about contentment. They thought that Buddhism was all negative. I said: no sir, no to hatred, no to greed.

They came to our country with good intentions. But they wanted us to become industrialized, and destroyed our whole agricultural system. Traditional Buddhism depends on farming, which was destroyed. Now, there is a new group of monks who go along with and rely on capitalism and consumerism.

Having said that, there are also some young monks who feel they must go back to the traditional Buddha. They try to understand suffering, and to see greed in the form of capitalism. They try to understand violence, hatred, ignorance, and illusion in the forms of mass media and industry. There are more and more young people who are very helpful and work with us in Laos, Cambodia, Burma, India, and Sri Lanka.

But they are a minority?

Yes. But, small is beautiful. And I believe that quality is more important than quantity.

What about gender relations in Buddhism?

The Buddha taught that men and women are equal, but we have oppressed women over the years. We now have women ordinations, but we are the only country to do so in mainland SE Asia. There are also women ordained by a man in Perth, Australia, but he was ostracized by his order. In Burma, they put the women in jail for being ordained. The monk who ordained the women was also shut out from his village and community. They are much more backwards than in my country. There are still very few women monks, but more and more.

The male monks are behaving very badly, while the female monks behave beautifully. The female monks have spiritual depth, intellectual power, and authority. In Taiwan, there are better nuns than monks. Some monks have sex and financial scandals, but none for the nuns who are more numerous than monks.

Do you see tremendous differences amongst Buddhists in different countries?

Well, you make it into black and white. You care for suffering, the poor, the environment, even though you speak in different languages. Those who are not engaged with the poor sometimes become nationalistic, like in Sri Lanka. They become involved in capitalism, superstition, and so on. But you don’t claim to be better than them – you have to work with them.

There is a movement in my country called Santi Ashoka that is thirty years old. It first was very fundamentalist, but is now much more mature. Once they regarded me as the enemy, but I told them that the best friend is the one who tells you what you don’t want to hear. They are wonderful people, and listen to criticism. They are widespread in the country.

What about Cambodia? Have you been very involved there?

Cambodia is much more difficult. I used to be involved there in the resurrection of the Sangha, celebrating its first anniversary with the march from our ashram to Cambodia. We worked with the great leader, Patriarch Maha Ghosananda. We supported his peace march tremendously. But unfortunately, it was largely a one-man show. Following the leader’s death, the movement was not so strong. There’s no leadership right now. Secondly, the government is very dictatorial. It is very complicated, but there are good things when you think about it.

What about on the environmental movement? You’re not going to Copenhagen?

No, I am not going, but I am very concerned about the environment.

It seems that Buddhism has very strong roots that give it a very environmental message for the respect for life.

Yes, in fact, in the late 1960’s, the World Council of Churches requested that the Buddhists teach them. I shared everything from Buddhism. I taught them that living beings are not only animals, but also plants and trees, and that we must care for all. We are all interconnected; we are taught that without trees we could not live. The Buddha himself told us to look at trees as examples. Of course, the Buddha himself was one with the trees. He was born under a tree, enlightened under a tree. He preached the first sermon in a deer park. He died under a tree. The tree is very important to us, and we must care for the forests and for the environment. In my country, we have a movement for ordaining trees. Once trees are ordained, they cannot be cut. This movement helps to preserve trees. Max Weiner is one who has helped to spread a trend which is to ordain trees. He was from Harvard. When the tree is ordained, no one can cut it. So there is a movement to preserve the trees, working with the monks.

What about interfaith work? How do you see the Parliament turning ideals into practice?

It’s a network of friends. Friendship has no barriers, whether gender, nationality, or faiths. Friends are friends. The Christian, Muslim, or the Atheist – they’re friends. Friends must not belittle each other’s beliefs. My teacher taught that, to understand the basis of Buddhism, you have to know that there are a lot of dreadful things in Buddhism, also. He taught that Buddhism is how to learn how to change greed into generosity, hatred into compassion and friendship, delusion into wisdom and understanding. He said that other religions are the same but use different terms. They teach people to be selfless, not selfish. They teach to be brave, humble, and generous. Don’t think that other religions are inferior to your own. Respect other religions as your own. Buddhadasa, my teacher, taught me that we must unite people of different faiths – whether agnostic, or atheist – because they are also spiritual beings.

Taking this back to my questions from the beginning for a moment – you were raised in a Buddhist framework? How did your parents instill that?

My parents were not very spiritual. I was sent to a Catholic school, and I got my degree from the Anglican college. But, in the war, my Catholic school was bombed and we had to move.

I didn’t like the school. They used to treat me very badly, and they used to beat me because I didn’t want to learn by rote. I didn’t like it. My parents said, “We have tried to bring you up in a Catholic and a Protestant school. Would you like to be a monk?” I said, “Yes, why not?” So I became a monk at the age of thirteen. I didn’t leave because I loved it. As a monk, they treat you as a grown up. They pay respect to you because of your yellow robes, and I like to be paid respect to. It was the first time I was able to connect with and learn about my society and my culture, because the temple was open for everyone. I was very happy.

And how did you happen to go to London?

In our family background, which was middle class and upper class, being educated in Britain meant that you were educated properly and that could help you get ahead. England was the place to be. That’s why, when I was called to the bar, I thought I would become Prime Minister!

After the 1932, Coup which ended the absolute monarchy, a number of our princes who were shut out of power were in England. I met a marvelous princess there, who later became the first to open a Siamese restaurant abroad, 1957. Her father would have become King of Siam. But of course, he was pushed out and died in exile. She was a lovely lady, and said to me, “Sulak, my ambition is to work as a charwoman in front of the English public lavatory. The English lavatory is not that dirty, and maybe I could do some knitting.” Her own father could have been a King, and she her grandfather was a great king, but this was her ambition! But this was Buddhism. That was when I gave up my ambition to climb up the ladder and become somebody great.

Katherine Marshall

Katherine Marshall is a Senior Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, where she leads the Center’s program on Religion and Global Development. After a long career in the development field, including several leadership positions at the World Bank, Marshall moved to Georgetown in 2006, where she also serves as a Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Government.

She helped to create and now serves as the Executive Director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue.
Marshall has close to four decades of experience on a wide range of development issues in Africa, Latin America, East Asia, and the Middle East, with a focus on issues facing the world’s poorest countries. She led the World Bank’s faith and ethics work between 2000-06. Marshall graduated from Wellesley College and has an MPA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

She is the author of several books about religion and development, including (co-authored with Marisa Van Saanen) Development and Faith: Where Mind, Heart and Soul Work Together (World Bank, 2007) and (with Lucy Keough) Mind, Heart and Soul in the Fight against Poverty (World Bank, 2004). She also has written extensively on international development, also the focus of her most recent book, The World Bank: from Reconstruction to Development to Equity (Routledge, 2008). She writes a blog, “Faith in Action,” for the Newsweek/Washington Post website On Faith.

Ms. Marshall serves on the Boards of several NGOs and on advisory groups. Assignments include several years as a core group member of the Council of 100, an initiative of the World Economic Forum to advance understanding between the Islamic World and the West, and membership on the Council on Foreign Relations. She is a Trustee of Princeton University. She serves on the board of IDEA (International Development Ethics Association) and as advisor to several non-governmental organizations, including CARE. She has served as co-moderator of the Fes Forum, which has been part of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music since its inception. She speaks and publishes widely on issues of international development.

Katherine Marshall is a Senior Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, where she leads the Center’s program on Religion and Global Development. After a long career in the development field, including several leadership positions at the World Bank, Marshall moved to Georgetown in 2006, where she also serves as a Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Government. She helped to create and now serves as the Executive Director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue.

Katherine Marshall discusses religious leaders and environmental concerns. She is a Senior Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, where she leads the Center’s Program on Religion and Global Development. Faith Complex is a co-production of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs,

Uprisings for the Earth: Reconnecting Culture with Nature by Osprey Orielle Lake

Educators and psychologists, artists and activists, elders and leaders have all asserted that at the core of our global societal and environmental crises is a need to change our fundamental personal values and what we uphold as meaningful in our lives. Personal transformation is critical to mitigating our global crises. While we teeter on a precipice without knowing the outcome, it’s encouraging to remember that unprecedented changes have occurred throughout history, positive shifts that at one time seemed impossible.

Many of us have drawn upon examples of these shifts for inspiration: from the abolishment of slavery to women’s suffrage, from the end of apartheid in South Africa to the fall of the Berlin Wall, from unchecked industrial pollution to the restorative Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, from green technology moving from a fringe venture to a critical and fast-growing contribution. And although each of these changes still faces ongoing struggles, we can see and experience the worldwide benefits of these paradigm shifts as they occur. Yet these changes came about in our human realm only because the root causes of the problem, the suffering or imbalance, was first recognized by individual people who changed their minds, thus changing the world around them.

The outer geography of our human presence on Earth will change on a larger scale only when our internal geography changes, and not before. We require a new cultural story and societal dream for this new approach to be realized and in order to formulate Earth-honoring choices as we journey down this road less traveled.

Thomas Berry articulates this in his landmark book The Dream of the Earth: “It’s all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The old story, the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it, is no longer effective. Yet we have not learned the new story.”

To find new cultural and personal stories, and to learn from their subtle sensibilities, is to first hear them. Through deeper listening, we can become present to an alive world, one in which we can learn something new. Maybe we can find something we have been searching for, something that comes to us because we have been listening to the stories of woodlands and creeks, glaciers and deserts, polar bears and honeybees.

The warning of imminent biological doom from scientists makes it clear that we need to choose and act quickly, as well as wisely. To draw upon our full potential as a conscious and conscientious species seems imperative at this critical juncture, and that will require not only external information but also knowledge from our innermost being. Taking time for inward reflection is not only intelligent but also gives us the necessary vision to move forward. To paraphrase a Japanese proverb: Vision without action is a daydream; action without vision is a nightmare.

This kind of visioning or inward contemplation begins with quietude so that we can listen to a deeper, more mature voice inside and to the natural laws and rhythms of the Earth. When we allow ourselves to be intimate with nature, we can remember that we are inseparable from the community of the rivers, forests, and animals around us. We can remember that all people, all species, share one sky.

This intimacy with our living planet is one of the most crucial components in generating deep care of the Earth and each other, and it may be the very inspiration that fuels the “collective will” that climate leaders are telling us is necessary to make the change to new lifestyles, new values, new justice, new legislation, and a new, post-carbon economy.

The natural world offers us enduring lessons in design, sustainability, balance, and ecological health while also echoing back to us our sacred place in the greater community of the Earth. With insight gained in the stillness of the mountain, desert, or forest, as well as in a city park or home garden, we can be more certain that our actions will address long-term and enduring goals, a larger vision, bound also to bring us deeper satisfaction, and not just immediate superficial fixes.

When we sit with the quiet of nature we are reminded of time, that it can take hundreds of years to grow a mature tree, thousands to make a mountain, but only a day or a year to destroy them for short-term gain. It is here in nature that we can best learn the practice of foresight, of actually seeing ahead, and adopting the long-term goal of care for “the seventh generation,” an elegant concept of sustainability long held by the Iroquois Nation in their Great Laws. We need laws that will not harm future generations. What would happen if meetings held by world leaders and decision makers were to take place over a slowed-down, two-week period in a wild forest or mountain wilderness – instead of within the insulated urban chambers of the most frenetic cities?

Osprey Orielle Lake is an advocate of environmental justice and societal transformation. She is the Director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Caucus and on the Board of Praxis Peace Institute. Osprey’s perspectives as a renowned sculptor and public speaker on environmental issues have been featured on national and European television.

Eckhart on Manifestation

Often people ask questions about manifesting and the power of intention, and how that relates to the power of Now. One person asked me about the difference between the continuous wanting that I write about in A New Earth and intention – the intention to create something. What is the importance of manifesting things in your life, or creating, or is that counter-productive?

There are many exciting books these days about creating and manifesting: The Secret, the teachings of Abraham, and so on. Often people ask, how does that relate to Stillness and inner peace? And acceptance of what is? And surrender to the Present Moment? And living in alignment with Now? Is there conflict, is one wrong? Or misleading?

This is an important question for almost everybody. Your own life is a microcosm of the macrocosm. If you look at the Universe, the first thing you will see is that it likes to create, and it likes to manifest. On this planet alone, the Universe is continuously creating and manifesting countless life forms. And in outer space, we can only assume – we don’t know what exactly is there – but there is a vastness of life out there, and probably many more life forms than we have on this planet. The life forms, both in the sea, and on land, including humans, they seem to enjoy a dance of coming into being and destruction. It’s a transformational process.
By just looking at life, you can see that the Universe loves to manifest. Also it seems to be the case that life forms, over periods of time, become more differentiated. Many more come. And even human societies become more complex. We have had ancient civilizations that were very complex, but our present civilization is the most complex. This of course includes problem-ridden. That goes with complexity. Every individual who is part of this civilization has a life that is full of problems. But complexity cannot go on forever.

The Universe likes to create, to manifest, to experience the play of form. That’s one movement. And you can see it in yourself, at some level. There is something else in humans, you can only really see in yourself, an inner phenomenon. The Universe wants not only to experience that manifested life, it also wants to experience peace and something that is not touched by the continuously fluctuating forms. It wants to know itself deeply, directly, in its essence. That really is the root of spirituality. The Universe not only wants the outward movement, but it also wants the inward – the return movement to the One. Every human being also embodies these two movements. It seems that you are torn sometimes between the outward movement into form, and the inward return movement to the Source where it all started. The Source that was never really lost, it is always there because it is timeless, and it is within you. You feel drawn back to that, and that is the pull toward spirituality, peace, Stillness.

Not one or the other is right or wrong. It’s only perhaps if you totally lose yourself in one or the other – maybe that’s not quite it. Perhaps this is the challenge of the Universe here on this planet, and perhaps on other planets. The challenge to reconcile the two movements, rather than to have them be separate. Is it possible to reconcile the inner movement toward Stillness and Being, and the outer toward action, and doing? I would say it is, and that is our challenge at this time.

Traditionally, it’s been very unconscious what humans have manifested in this world. They have been identified with doing, and identified with form. That has been going on for as long as anyone can remember – since recorded history and beyond. And we call that ‘ego’. The One consciousness that underlies everything moves into form, assumes forms, and enjoys the play of form but it’s not enough for the one consciousness to enjoy the play of form, it needs to completely believe in it to make it seem ‘real’. You need to lose yourself in that dream of form.

Every human believes that they have a life of their own, and that means they are identified with the form of that life. This particular physical body, this particular psychological life form, the accumulation of thoughts and the emotions that go with these thoughts; it all becomes part of that form-identity.

Consciousness is trapped, or believes itself to be trapped in that. We could say that in that state, the Universe or Consciousness has entered a “dream-like” state. It wants to do that, it must enjoy that dream, up to a point. Consciousness has entered that “dream-like” state where it is completely identified with form. It doesn’t realize that every other form is an aspect of itself. Of course, then you are just an isolated entity. It becomes quite unpleasant after a while. So you have to get together with other entities and instead of having an “I” form, you have a “We” form, an “Us”.

For a while, the Universe seems to be okay with that, to have Consciousness identified completely with form. Then the “movie” goes on. Reading through history, you can see what happens when Consciousness is identified completely with form. Then it comes time for another stage to arise, when Consciousness is beginning to awaken from complete identification with form. This is beginning to happen at many stages, this is why human beings are drawn to spiritual teachings. It is the awakening from the dream of form.

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