The Tao of Abundance by Laurence G. Boldt

The more you learn what to do with yourself, and the more you do for others, the more you will enjoy the abundant life. —William J. H. Boetcker

Abundance has been defined in a variety of ways, by different people at different times and in different cultures. Today, we typically measure abundance in terms of the money and objects we possess. We think that those who possess the most are the most free and powerful individuals and that they therefore enjoy the most abundant lifestyle. Yet for Plato, Aristotle, and the Roman Stoic philosophers, the most free and powerful individuals were those who could be happy with the fewest things. While our culture values those who earn and hoard the most, among certain tribes in New Guinea, the most valued members of society were those who gave away the most.

The Tao of Abundance

In the end, we could say that abundance is the feeling of enough and to spare. Well all right, but how much is enough? Does a man with a “net worth” in the millions, whose mood fluctuates with the stock market, and who feels himself to be lacking relative to his country club companions, experience abundance? What about a “primitive” in the rainforests of the Amazon who, with the simplest of technologies and a leaky temporary hut for a shelter, feels himself blessed by the bounty of the forest? Clearly, having no quantifiable frame of reference, abundance is a state of mind, or more precisely, of being.

In attempting to define abundance, a look at the origin of the word itself as well as those of other terms we associate with wealth and prosperity will help. The word abundance is derived from the Latin abunda-re, meaning “to overflow.” Wealth is derived from the Old English wel or wela, meaning “well” or “well-being.” Well is to wealth, as heal is to health. The word prosperity is derived from the Latin prospera-re, meaning “to render fortunate.” Rich comes from the Old English rice, meaning “strong,” “powerful.” While today we associate all these terms almost exclusively with money and material gain, in their origins all had meanings that address quality of life in broader terms.

To live in abundance is to be fully alive, free of any sense of lack or desperation. The following little story gives the essence of abundance. A man leaves the remote peasant village of his birth and travels the wide world. After many years, he returns home. His friends, relatives, and neighbors gather round him and ask, “How is life in the world?” He replies, “Same as here. It is good for those who know how to live.”

The art of abundance is not the art of making money, but the art of knowing how to live. This knowing how to live is the essence of what I call the “Tao of Abundance.” The Tao of Abundance is a not a “get rich quick” or “think your way to riches” approach to prosperity. It does not encourage you “think like a millionaire,” “dress for success,” or “climb the corporate ladder.” It speaks to deeper experience of abundance than can be realized by the mere accumulation of goods or by amassing an impressive balance sheet.

Applying the eight principles discussed in The Tao of Abundance may, in time, bring greater material abundance into your life. Certainly, applying these principles will assist you in opening to receive the creative ideas from which all wealth ultimately springs. Yet this increased material abundance will come not from struggling to attain it as a goal in itself, but rather as a natural by-product of experiencing a deeper state of psychological abundance.

The new feeling of abundance that you enjoy within will come to be reflected in all aspects of your outer life, including your finances. Yet even if you make not one dime more, or even a few less, but come to earn your money in a way that truly reflects your nature and expresses who you are, your experience of abundance will be enhanced. Indeed, some may find that a truer experience of abundance requires that they relinquish their attachment to social status or excessive material consumption.

Real abundance is about so much more than money. A “healthy bottom line” does not equate with a healthy and abundant state of mind. Evidence of the psychological and spiritual poverty of the rich and famous fills our newspapers, magazines, tabloids, and television programs and hardly needs repeating here. Suffice to say that many who own great stockpiles of material possessions, and who are, to all outer appearances, extremely wealthy individuals, do not enjoy real abundance. They are never content with what they have and live in fear of losing it. Clearly, real abundance must be something more than having a lot of money and things. But then how do we approach it?

The fundamental premise of The Tao of Abundance is that the universe is you and is for you. If you put yourself in accord with the way of the universe, it will take care of you abundantly. To experience this abundance, there is nothing you need do first. It is not necessary for you to earn one more dollar, get a better job, buy a new home or car, or go back to school. All that is required is that you become aware of the inner process through which you create an experience of lack and struggle in your life, and refrain from doing it. Feelings of abundance and gratitude are natural to the human being; they do not need to be added or put on. We have only to become aware of how we are resisting and inhibiting this natural state.

The Tao of Abundance asks you to accept responsibility for creating your own experience of abundance or lack. Of course, no individual operates in a vacuum. It would be absurd to deny the impact that the values and organization of the broader society have on us as individuals. In an effort to secure the ever-expanding productivity and consumption upon which its “health” depends, modern commercial culture vigorously promotes a “lack consciousness.”

We buy things we don’t need (or even want), because we have become convinced that we will be somehow lacking or inferior without them. We do work we don’t want to do, because we have become convinced that there is a scarcity of good jobs and that we can’t create our own work. Thus, even while we amass more and more stuff, the feeling of abundance keeps eluding us. In addition to the role that the values of the broader society have in promoting a psychology of lack within the individual, the current organization of society poses institutional barriers to his or her creative development and financial independence.

Nevertheless, ultimate responsibility for the individual’s experience lies with the individual, not with the culture into which he or she has been born. Awareness of the broader social dynamics that promote a consciousness of lack, as well as the inner ego drives that bind us to them, empowers us to break, once and for all, the chains of psychological poverty and lack. The Tao of Abundance addresses the root causes of the psychology of lack, and how these can be overcome.

Ultimately, the system is the ego. Freeing ourselves from the dominance and control of this system will be our primary concern. What we see reflected in the broader social and economic system—alienation, attachment, struggle, resentment, craving for approval, competitive hostility, pride, greed, and chaos—originate within the ego. We are the system, or, as J. Krishnamurti put it, long before the popular song: “We are the world.” The way of the ego necessarily produces a psychology of lack—one that cannot be overcome, regardless of the quantity of money or goods we accumulate. Alternatively, the way of the Tao naturally yields a feeling of abundance, regardless of how great or meager our accumulation of money and goods may be. Though he was often without money, and at times even food, William Blake’s poetry exudes abundance. As he put it:

I have mental joys and mental health,
Mental friends and mental wealth,
I’ve a wife that I love and that loves me;
I’ve all but riches bodily.

This is not to say that we should reject material wealth or shun the blessings that come with it. With money, much good can be done and much unnecessary suffering avoided or eliminated. Moreover, in the culture we live in today, time is money and money is power. It takes time to appreciate and enjoy life and all of its simple beauties. It takes time to stop and listen to the voice of our true selves. It takes time to develop our gifts and talents. It takes time to learn and grow. It takes time to develop and nurture meaningful relationships. And in making time for all of these, money is a great help.

Money can also give us a measure of freedom from the control of others and in this respect is more important today than ever. Throughout most of human history, one did not need money to live, that is, for the basic necessities of life. For one unable or unwilling to fit into society’s mold, there was always the option of retreating to some remote place and subsisting on the land—an option that isn’t really feasible today.

The Taoist values freedom and preserving the dignity of the human spirit and, in this respect, would not object to Humphrey Bogart’s assertion that “the only point in making money is, you can tell some big shot where to go.” The idea here is not to express (or harbor) hostility toward others but to affirm and follow your own path, free from intimidation or the control of others.

The big shot might be a boss for whom you do soul-draining, monotonous work—or a landlord or mortgage-holding bank, whom you must pay for the privilege of a little peace and quiet. In as much as money is an important factor in determining the time we have to enjoy life and the power and freedom we have in it, the pursuit of money is a worthy goal. On the other hand, if we are looking to money to fulfill or satisfy us, we are sure to be disappointed.

In lacking money, we too often think a lack of money is our only problem. Money can give us the time to appreciate the simple things in life more fully, but not the spirit of innocence and wonder necessary to do so. Money can give us the time to develop our gifts and talents, but not the courage and discipline to do so. Money can give us the power to make a difference in the lives of others, but not the desire to do so. Money can give us the time to develop and nurture our relationships, but not the love and caring necessary to do so. Money can just as easily make us more jaded, escapist, selfish, and lonely. In short, money can help to free or enslave us, depending on why we want it and what we do with it. In this respect, nothing has changed in the two thousand years since Horace wrote, “Riches either serve or govern the possessor.”

The Role of Money

Money is a relatively simple issue. There are only two important questions: (1) How much do you need? (2) What is it going to cost you to get it? It is keeping these two questions in mind that gives us a true sense of money’s relationship to abundance. If we have less than what we need, or if what we have is costing us too much—in either case, our experience of abundance will be incomplete. As things stand in the modern world, you need money to eat, sleep, dress, work, play, relate, heal, move about, and keep the government off your back. In what style you choose to do each of these will determine how much money you need, that is, your lifestyle. Remember in choosing your style that it comes with a price tag. How much money it costs is not the issue, but how much the money costs you is of critical importance. Keep in mind:

Money should not cost you your soul.
Money should not cost you your relationships.
Money should not cost you your dignity.
Money should not cost you your health.
Money should not cost you your intelligence.
Money should not cost you your joy.

When it comes to determining how much you need, there are two important categories to keep in mind. First, there are the material things you need to keep body and soul together. Second are the areas of “need” related to social status and position. With both, you have a great deal of discretion. The ancient Taoist masters were keenly aware of the cost of money and were particularly skeptical of the cost of attaining social status and position. In the Lieh Tzu, Yang Chu says:

In the short time we are here, we should listen to our own voices and follow our own hearts. Why not be free and live your own life? Why follow other people’s rules and live to please others?

Why, indeed? In a recent study, 48 percent of the male corporate executives surveyed admitted that they felt their lives were empty and meaningless. When one considers the cultural taboos against such an admission, the figure is surprisingly high and leads one to conclude that the real number must be higher still. Many think they’d be happy if they had enough money to give up working altogether. Yet this is often only a reaction to the drudgery of working day after day at things they find meaningless or even absurd. In response to my previous books Zen and the Art of Making a Living and How to Find the Work You Love, I receive many communications from people about their experience of work.

One day, I received a phone call from a man halfway around the world who, at forty-five, had never worked a day in his life. As a beneficiary of a sizable inheritance, he was free of the need to earn his daily bread. Yet he was not a happy man. Indeed, he was deeply troubled by the fact that so much of his life had gone by without his having expressed his own talents or made a difference in the lives of others. Like good health, spiritual growth, and nourishing relationships, meaningful work is one of the abundances of life that we neglect at our peril.

By now, you’re probably getting the idea that what I mean by the “Tao of Abundance” is something altogether different from the Dow Jones version of abundance. The Tao of Abundance is more wholistic in its scope, addressing the entire issue of quality of life, and not simply financial goals. Because the psychological dimension is so important to our experience of abundance, it is addressed at length in The Tao of Abundance. The eight Taoist principles discussed in the book provide powerful keys to embracing and integrating a psychology of abundance. The first two chapters lay a groundwork for overcoming the sense of alienation and separation that are the underpinnings of a psychology of lack.

For most of us, the feeling of lack is not a result of a lack of things or material stuff. It is a sense of struggle and a lack of ease; a lack of energy; a feeling of powerlessness and blocked expression; a lack of harmony and connection in relationship; a lack of time to be, grow, and relate; and a lack of opportunity to fully appreciate and celebrate the beauty in life—that give a sense of deficiency to our existence. Each of these “lacks” are considered respectively in chapters 3-8, both in terms of understanding their causes, and in terms of practical suggestions for creating greater abundance in each of these areas. The exercises at the end of the book will help you to integrate and apply the information you encounter in the text.

The Road to Total Abundance

There are three primary tasks for us on the journey to a life of total abundance. The first is to recognize the inner and outer forces that conspire to make us believe in scarcity and thus to feel lack. Awareness of these factors will help us to overcome their influence over us. The second task is to cultivate a spirit of abundance in our lives, celebrating the gift of life with joy and thanksgiving. As we focus in our thoughts and actions on things that bring a feeling a connection with all life, we begin to move with the flow of the Tao. In this way, we allow blessings to come to us as a part of the “overflow” of an abundant spirit—not as things we crave and struggle for from a sense of lack or desperation. To come from lack can only bring lack, even when we get what we think we need. On the other hand, when we come from the spirit of abundance, we attract ever greater abundance.

Finally, as we move in the world from the spirit of abundance, we become a liberating and empowering force in the lives of those with whom we interact. We help them see, not by preaching, but by example, that we all live in an abundant world and that they as well can free themselves from lack consciousness. Together, we can unite in a spirit of abundance and create new patterns of community and social organization, new lifestyles, and new ways of relating, based on cooperation rather than competition. As envy, greed, and competition flow from lack, so compassion, service, and cooperation flow from a spirit of abundance. It is this spirit of abundance that will be our guide as we embark on the journey to creating total abundance in our lives.

Laurence G. Boldt – Eight Principles of Abundant Living

The principles of abundance are stated in English. The corresponding Chinese term is often not, nor is it intended to be, a direct translation of the principle as expressed in English. Rather, the Chinese terms give the essence or active ingredient of the principle. For example, when I use yin/yang in correspondence with the harmony of abundance, I do not mean that yin/yang literally translates as “harmony.” Rather, I mean that an awareness and understanding of yin/yang dynamics will help us to find greater harmony in our own lives.

Chapter 1 – The Nameless Tao – Wu-ming – Recognizing the unity of all things starts you on the path to true abundance.

Chapter 2 – Nature – Tzu-jan – Learning to receive opens the door to your greatest good.

Chapter 3 – Ease – Wu-wei – Following the path of least resistance brings success with ease.

Chapter 4 – Flow – Ch’i – Circulating the energy in your life strengthens health, deepens relationships, and generates wealth.

Chapter 5 – Power – Te – Honoring your innate dignity and actualizing your inborn abilities is the road to authentic power.

Chapter 6 – Harmony – Yin/Yang
– Balancing yin and yang eliminates stress and brings peace of mind.

Chapter 7 – Leisure – Jen
– Taking time to be, to grow, and to nurture your relationships gives you the strength to persevere.

Chapter 8 – Beauty – Li – Achieving your destiny is a matter of trusting and embracing the organic pattern of your life.

Laurence G. Boldt – The Way of the Tao

Throughout this book, a contrast will be made between the Way of the Tao and the Way of the Ego.

1. The Unity of the Nameless Tao vs The Separation of the Ego (lack of connection, alienation)

2. The Nature/Receptivity of the Tao vs The Attachments of the Ego (lack of spontaneity and inspiration)

3. The Ease of the Tao vs The Struggle of the Ego (lack of ease, tension, stress)

4. The Flow/Joy of the Tao vs The Resentment of the Ego (lack of energy and zest for life)

5. The Power/Dignity of the Tao vs The Craving for Approval of the Ego (lack of power and inner direction)

6. The Harmony of the Tao vs The Competitive Hostility (Envy) of the Ego (lack of inner and outer peace and harmony)

7. The Leisure of the Tao vs The Greed of the Ego (lack of time and rest)

8. The Beauty of the Tao vs The Chaos of the Ego (lack of meaning, nihilism)

Laurence Boldt

For over two decades, author Laurence Boldt has been helping people to live their dreams, through his work as a writer, speaker, and career consultant. He is the author of five books, including the bestselling career classic Zen and the Art of Marking a Living. This groundbreaking work has been credited by many with revolutionizing the career field, offering a new a vision of work and a new technology of vocational guidance. Boldt’s other books include the bestselling How to Find the Work You Love, Zen Soup, and The Tao of Abundance.

Today, three of Boldt’s books are used as graduate-level course texts at leading public and private universities across the country. His books appear on the required and recommended reading lists of such prestigious institutions as Columbia Business School, USC Marshall School of Business, and the Yale Law School. His books have won praise in articles and reviews from such diverse publications as Newsweek, Mademoiselle, Selling, Business Ethics, African Business, Sales and Marketing Management, Publisher’s Weekly, New Age Journal, Common Boundary, and The Simple Living Journal. Laurence Boldt is a leading interpreter of Eastern philosophy to the modern West. His book The Tao of Abundance was recognized as one of the top ten books on Eastern religion in 1999 by the editors of

Laurence has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and television programs across the nation. An in-demand motivational speaker, Boldt has given seminars, workshops, and lectures for leading business, nonprofit, and educational organizations. He has designed curricula for high school and college courses and corporate training programs. As young man, Laurence completed a forty-day fast. Today, he enjoys writing poetry, reading, meditating, and spending time in nature. An avid backpacker, he has hiked the length of the John Muir Trail. He lives in Southern California.

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.

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:

The Evolutionary Imperative for Business ~ by Dawna Jones

That business leaders are struggling with the implications of global, systemic, and structural change cannot be denied. After all, business has always had to deal with the sometimes chaotic processes of evolutionary change. During the Industrial Era, for example, the emphasis was on efficiency and a view that employees were just one more component of the production process.

Progressivism, otherwise known as “scientific management,” assumed that employees were incapable of making decisions and needed to be directed or managed. Employees weren’t trusted to do the right thing, nor were they empowered to contribute. Then along came Dave Packard, cofounder of Hewlett Packard, and other foresighted humanistic leaders who saw that the responsibility of a company went beyond designing an effective economic model to recognizing, as Packard put it, that “we had important responsibilities to our employees, to our customers, to our suppliers, and to the welfare of society at large.”

Although many companies weren’t as ready to trust their employees to the degree that Hewlett Packard did, some were prepared to flip the organizational chart and slowly move toward employee empowerment while still holding on to the reins. For most, though, making that leap of faith seemed riskier than sticking to what seemed to be the tried and true. However, that option is no longer viable for companies that want to survive and thrive.

Dave Packard’s intuition served him well. He saw above and beyond the limits of thinking that were prevalent at that time. In his book The Biology of Transcendence, Joseph Chilton Pearce writes, “We actually contain a built-in ability to rise above restriction, incapacity, or limitation, and as a result of this ability, possess a vital adaptive spirit that we have not yet fully accessed.” He further explains that we can intuitively sense this adaptive potential. I wonder if that desire for inspiring, engaging, fulfilling, and creative work arises naturally from deeper levels of knowing that we have unrealized potential waiting to be released.

And release it must, for we are at a pivotal point in our evolution. The accelerating degeneration of our natural systems, including climate change, diminishing biodiversity, and disruptions in our global food supply, confront us with some very complex issues to resolve. As ecological economist Herman Daly has pointed out, “The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the reverse.”

A 1997 article in Nature estimated that “Through its natural resources, the earth provides $33 trillion worth of value per year to the global economy.”1 Linear styles of management are simply too archaic to effectively respond to the uncertainty and complexity we now face. As our collective consciousness rises to meet these challenges, business has yet another opportunity to apply its considerable resources toward solutions.

Paradoxically, it is nature that provides the guidance.The LAMP index, created by investment advisor and author Jay Bragdon (Profit for Life), is rigorously screened to include companies that operate with integrity (where the means align with ends), value their employees, and follow the principles of nature. These principles include interdependence, where the success of the individual depends on the success of the whole and vice versa; nonlinear networks, which feature multiple feedback loops that serve to support self-regulation; and frugality, the efficient use of energy and resources.

“Globally, fewer than 4 percent of stock exchange–listed companies operate from core values of care and compassion,” Bragdon explained to me. “Most people believe this approach to business is ‘soft.’ But when done with deep commitment and professional competence, it produces hard results. In 2009, for example, Global LAMP Index companies returned 44.56 percent, far surpassing returns on the S&P 500 (+26.46 percent) and the MSCI World Index (+28.01 percent). Over the past decade, Global LAMP Index companies returned 98.03 percent, while other benchmark companies collectively lost money.”

If such achievements confront conventional wisdom that the profit-and-loss statement is the only measure of a successful business, then we are on the right track.“Managing a company as if it were a profit-making machine imposes a linear-thinking mentality that blinds it to important relationships . . . Managing a company as if it were a living organism, which it is, creates a radically different and more beneficial set of relationships.”2

Systems thinking maps these relationships, most often as thought patterns, cycles, and feedback loops. By combining systems thinking with insights from such emerging trends as the internalization of social and environmental responsibility, open and crowd sourcing, social enterprise, increases in self-employment, and other indicators of change, a wider and more integrated map emerges that shows these interrelationships on a global scale. And in order to seize the opportunity available to work with rather than against the emerging forces of change, a higher level of consciousness is needed.

A Reckoning of Forces
Force 1: A Shift of Consciousness. Scientific analysis of the Mayan calendar tells us that we are right where we are supposed to be.The connection between the Mayan Calendar and contemporary systems thinking was presented in an award-winning paper by Slovenian professor Tadeja Jere Lazanski at the 2009 Computing Anticipatory Systems Conference. Most modern-day businesses, she explained in her paper “Ancient Maya’s Evolution of Consciousness and Contemporary Systems Thinking,” grew up during what the Mayan Calendar describes as the “seventh step” of consciousness:

“The seventh step of consciousness, from 1755 to 1999, was a consciousness of power, where there was no place for integration but analyzing, separation, creating towers of power, wars, and manipulation. This is a reason that no one would think of connection and integration, of systems thinking in its highest meaning — not one philosopher or politician.”

In other words, there was no receptivity for the kinds of connected consciousness we see appearing today. Everything was neatly sorted into black and white, with no tolerance for ambiguity or shades of gray. Duality prevailed: right-wrong, good-evil, environment-economy, green-profit. Differences of opinion were pitted against each other as opposing ideas rather than a piece of the larger picture.

Power meant the ability to control or influence others rather than mastery of the self. Left brain–right brain was synonymous for practical and impractical. You took your left, linear, analytical brain to work and used your right, creative brain for family matters and hobbies. A focus on the short term was being practical; a focus on the long term was considered pointless given the expectation of volatility and uncertainty.

Those operating from this mind-set will, by force of habit, have a great deal of difficulty shifting to a more holistic, big-picture view unless they agree to boldly commit to doing so. And the pressure to do so is intensifying.

From now until the end of 2011, we are (from the Mayan perspective) in the eighth level: “a consciousness of ethics,” writes Lazanski, “where all the towers of manipulation and of negative power are collapsing. Ethics in the higher sense refers to spontaneous solutions through the application of law and power to the benefit of everyone. It shines from within and is personal, knowing the right thing to do and doing it. It is a refined consciousness. Now, the powerful people who make the laws and lead the nations and societies cannot get away with anything without being exposed; all abuses of power are becoming uncovered.” Look no further than the recent Wall Street meltdown for proof.

The ninth and next step leads “the planet to one harmonious system” of conscious cocreation. Affirming that evolutionary step is a finding published by IBM in its 2010 survey of global CEOs titled “Capitalizing on Complexity“: social networking has exponentially increased the degree of interaction customers and citizens expect of organizations. It isn’t enough just to collaborate anymore. Today, the watchword is ‘cocreate.’

Force 2: From organizations structured on Newtonian principles to those structured on quantum principles. Newtonian principles operate quite well in a simple, linear world. They rely on materialism, reductionism, and determinism — the idea that the only thing that matters is matter and that outcomes are predictable and controllable. Quantum principles, by comparison, recognize that everything is energy; everything is connected, interrelated, entangled, and uncertain. In today’s reality, where the context for day-to-day living is characterized as volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA), such an understanding is imperative to survival. Companies that remain attached to the hope that these underlying conditions will follow old rules face certain decline.

Force 3: From controlling behavior to focusing on performance and results. We are used to thinking up and down when it comes to hierarchical organizations, but that is not how phenomenal results are produced. Nick Zeniuk, now retired from Ford, described the shift to me in this way: “The traditional managerial system is based on the concept of control, which was a reasonable concept fifty to one hundred years ago, when managers and senior managers knew enough about the business to effectively control the business.

Many of the managerial systems in our organizations are based on controlling behavior: the performance systems, the reporting systems, the reward systems, and quality control mechanisms like Six Sigma. That is no longer a valid system. The realization that we were operating under the illusion that we, as executives, could control the outcome was quite a startling discovery. What I discovered personally and what we are discovering now is that our focus needs to be redirected from control and behavior to results or performance — because when we focus on performance, we are focusing on those attributes that enable us to achieve the results we want.” In this process, trust is essential — trust in one’s own sense of inner power and trust that people will do the right thing when given a shared and worthwhile goal. Effective managers no longer control performance but support it. Higher levels of personal mastery then become a prerequisite.

Force 4: From hierarchical leadership to leadership at all levels — top-down, bottom–up, and sideways. Collective intelligence emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals, with the group having a higher level of knowledge than the individuals in it. Collective intelligence happens through networks of performance that cut horizontally across a company’s hierarchical structure. Social scientist Dennis Sandow and his client, Anne Murray-Allen, formerly of Hewlett Packard, mapped out networks of performance at HP to understand how, as complexity increased along with the growth of the inkjet cartridge division, that division performed at a consistently high level of achievement over time.

“What I have learned from working in organizations where we had truly phenomenal results day after day after day is that leadership does not come from position; it comes from a place of contribution. It can come from anywhere in the organization. It is based on who is in a position to see what no one else can see, to make the contribution that everyone can get behind and support. My experience from working in organizations for over thirty years is that it is in our nature to be motivated by two things. First, we all want to make a big contribution, not just a contribution but one that is significant. It drives us in terms of purpose. Second, we all want to belong. We are social and emotional beings. We know now from what have learned through neural and cognitive science that we are hardwired to be together and collaborate.”3

Sandow and Murray-Allen also discovered that the people involved in achieving a goal rarely showed up on the organizational chart. In fact, they discovered that most of the people working on a particular objective were from outside of HP and included customers, competitors, suppliers, and anyone else who needed to be a part of it.

Jay Bragdon calls this phenomenon “relationship equity.” “Relational equity is the foundation of financial equity,” he writes. “How companies relate to employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders matters more than most people think. Corporate leaders who understand this build cultures that inspire systems thinking and organizational learning. Those who do it well catalyze a powerful, reinforcing cycle of profit, which turns their firms into innovation hothouses.”4 Employees might describe this as taking your whole self to work, doing work that truly matters, and contributing to a hopeful future.

Tools for Transformation
To accelerate the evolution of leadership and innovation from the old model to a new one, we need to let go of a few habits.

1. Overreliance (or addiction) to linear and analytical thinking. Life does not operate on a runway; it operates as a network, a web of complex and interconnected systems.Linear-logical thinkers link one thought to another in an orderly sequence until a story or thread is constructed that makes logical sense. Analytical thinking takes a concept apart to its more manageable pieces. Both were effective in a simpler world when interrelationships could be ignored at minimal risk. In the workplace, linear thinking is heard whenever older generations depict the exceptionally creative Gen Y as “the entitlement generation” who need to “suck it up” and “pay their dues” on the same career runway they experienced. As creativity becomes the talent du jour, linear thinking can still offer support for implementing creative ideas. But seeing the value in different ways of thinking and processing information must come first. It starts by listening with the intention to understand rather than to be right.

2. The temptation to file and sort new ideas and incoming data so it feels like they have been handled.This is one of the greatest temptations and pitfalls of reacting to complexity. Clarity is achieved by seeing the system, not getting lost in the details. Everything is connected to everything else. The moment you file it, you’ve lost the link to an interrelated dynamic. Fish might be managed by one government department, forestry by another, and the environment by a third. Though administratively convenient, nature ignores such political boundaries. Further, there is a temptation to place anything outside the norm in the “woo-woo” or “New Age” file, where you’ll find alternative health, quantum physics, and holistic thinking. This habitual dismissal of new concepts unnecessarily narrows options and diminishes the capacity to see the whole picture. Developing sufficient self-awareness to know when your coping strategy is “file and sort” versus “listen and absorb“ is critical.

3. Negative thinking and limiting beliefs. Uncertainty can provoke fear. Deepening the skill set and ability to regulate emotions reduces stress and opens possibilities. Limiting beliefs operate both consciously and unconsciously. The former are readily identifiable, the latter are not, so it takes a deepening of our inner skills to spot the telltale patterns and know what to keep and what to release. Upgrading personal mastery and expanding self-knowledge are inherent and imperative in such a process.

Systems thinking recognizes that we are a part of the system, not above it. Identifying attachments to old patterns of thought, belief, and habit about how the world works allows new innovations and our greater human potential to emerge.

Organizations as Living Systems
“Companies that model themselves on living systems typically practice what I call living-asset stewardship (LAS),” writes Bragdon in “Capitalism as a Human System.” “To them, profit is not so much a goal in itself as the means to a higher end of service. When such ends are condensed into a compelling vision — one that calls forth the life-affirming instincts and future hopes of employees — the firm becomes a profoundly inspirational workplace. The operating leverage in this is easy to understand. Employees who work with their hearts as well as their minds are more productive than those who simple ’do a job.”5

Project Shakti (meaning “strength” in Sanskrit) was started by Hindustan Lever, Unilever’s Indian division, in 2000. They turned to local women entrepreneurs to distribute products to their rural communities. By 2008, there were 45,000 women distributing $3 million worth of products to 100,000 villages. For Unilever, the rural Indian communities, and the women entrepreneurs, this is an “everyone wins” solution, creating a vast rural marketing network through the resources of the community. By trusting that the local community networks would do what would best serve the entire system, Unilever tapped into a deep well of motivation, creativity, and commitment. Unilever is also behind the establishment of the Marine Stewardship Council, now recognized as the good housekeeping seal of approval for sustainable fishing.

Such initiatives represent good examples of next-stage corporate evolution as well-intentioned businesses move toward a higher level of planetary stewardship. Perfection is not the goal; “self-actualization” is a process so mistakes will happen. To stay on track and overcome the temptation to lose focus, organizations must commit to continual learning and maintain allegiance to a higher purpose.

When control is replaced by trust and the joy of being in service to something larger than oneself, tacit knowledge emerges — the innate know-how unique to each person. The power of our human potential is unleashed and the community as a whole becomes healthier. The simplicity of complexity is that by making a leap of faith, trusting people to do the right thing, supporting development of an employee’s wholeness (self-actualization), and actively stewarding our relationship with nature, organizations will nurture the most powerful source of innovation — the human spirit.

* * * * *
by Dawna Jones
Fluent with the science behind self-actualization, Dawna Jones develops leaders who can function in any environment, helping them to clear hidden barriers to achievement while restoring entrepreneurial intuition. She knows it is the power of the human spirit that drives creativity and radical innovation and contributes big-picture thinking and deep personal insights to that process. (



1. Robert Costanza and others, “The Value of the World’s Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital,” Nature 387, no. 6630 (1997).

2. Joseph H. Bragdon, “Capitalism as a Human System: The Value of Relational Equity,” Reflections: The SoL Journal 10:1 (2009).

3. Anne Murray-Allen in interview with the author, January 2010.

4. Joseph H. Bragdon, “Capitalism as a Human System: The Value of Relational Equity.”

5. Ibid.

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