THE CHALLENGE OF DEVELOPING A MORE DIVERSE & INCLUSIVE SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY, PART 4

“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

~ Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland

In Parts 1, 2 & 3 (LINK) (LINK) (LINK), I explored the issue of diversity & inclusion in New Thought spiritual communities from society-wide and local spiritual community cultural viewpoints. This final post is about how our individual psychology, if not properly understood, can create unintended barriers to creating successful programs. And no, spiritual communities where there is diversity and inclusion are not impossible – even in the suburbs!

 

beloved-community-i-have-a-dream

There is a concept described by the Spiral Dynamics Model (and in other places) called transcend and include. This means that as we develop to more complex levels of thought and values, we transcend our former levels, but they are included within us. This is true of any developmental perspective of human growth. We are all familiar with the Inner Child concept – where the unresolved issues of our past remain active in our subconscious and cause us to act from that unhealed perspective if not continually, at least from time to time.

“The more ‘enlightened’ we believe ourselves to be, the vaster we discover that which remains unconscious.”

~ James Hollis, Jungian analyst

We have within us the vestiges of thousands of years of humans living in tribes – groups of less than 100 people making their way in the world, some as nomads, some settled in place, but all with a fierce loyalty to the tribe and fear and suspicion of anyone not a part of the tribe. This tribal consciousness, identified as Purple in the Spiral Dynamics Model, is not only part of our collective past, but is also a stage in our individual human development. We have tribal relations with our family, our schools, etc., and this remains true in varying degrees for much of our lives. Spiritual community can bring forth tribal feelings of connections and being unique from other groups. It can unconsciously activate our desire for intimacy, protection, and safety among trusted companions. Centered around a teaching and/or a teacher/leader, spiritual community can carry many aspects of a tribal culture.

This unconscious aspect can act in a variety of ways on individuals, ways that may well result in subtle or not-so-subtle resistance to different people showing up to join the tribe. Even though at a conscious level, we may recognize the value of diversity, our subconscious may resist being truly welcoming and inviting diverse people into the heart of the community.

 

Such a response to diversity, or to the idea of diversity, may not even be at the level of conscious awareness. There may well be a sense of “why aren’t we more diverse?” or “Why don’t others stay around long?” But, if you ask a newcomer who is different from the other members, say someone of color or LGBTQIA, you may be surprised by what they are experiencing. It often takes some deep personal exploration of one’s unconscious patternsbiases and fears – before we allow ourselves to see these repressed aspects. While there are certainly people who are consciously biased and bigoted, it is likely that most of us simply have not done the personal work necessary to dislodge old tribal patterns of thought and therefore harbor impulses and fears which lead to behaviors signaling that we are not open and affirming to those outside of the tribe. When this is the case, we simply do not pay attention to the issue at a deep level, for our repressed aspects tend to control our perception – we don’t see what others see.

This tribal consciousness, combined with a human tendency to accept whatever goes on when we are children as “normal,” has led to an American culture where things such as white privilege can exist for centuries. Our innate biases tend to make us (white people) reject the idea of such a concept when we hear about it (LINK). Accepting that such things are real and are the result of conscious cultural behaviors can be very difficult, but necessary steps in our cultural awakening.

“Stark honesty, however painful, is needed on this journey toward the Self; the unconscious will not tolerate anything less. One must be willing to face many cruel truths, those we keep hidden from the light of day, and those we keep hidden from ourselves.”

~ Marion Woodman

 

 

The repression of both negative and positive instincts and feelings into the unconscious causes them to inhabit a shadow realm. While ego attempts to continue to censor the shadow impulses-the very pressure that repression causes is rather like a bubble in sidewall of a tire.”

~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés

These quotes strike at the heart of the issue that we face. No matter how willing we say that we are to open our communities to different people, our dominant consciousness will determine our behaviors. Putting up a rainbow flag but not being comfortable about LGBTIA people communicates a mixed message – and a mixed message is not a welcoming message. There is a learning curve across some differences in personal and cultural backgrounds which is much more difficult to traverse if we are bound by unconscious biases and fears.

Ultimately, each person is responsible for their own inner work – its degree, its depth, its sincerity. Certainly, spiritual leaders can and should be encouraging such work – and doing their own work in this regard. The culture of the local spiritual community, as described in Part 3 of this series, can have a significant effect on the personal spiritual and psychological development of its individual members. Is deep personal inquiry actually valued here – or just given lip service – or ignored completely?

Is spiritual leadership aware of the larger macro trends and dynamics affecting all aspects of spiritual community including diversity and inclusion, as described in Part 2 of this series? And if so, how is that awareness being integrated into the local spiritual community’s activities, planning, and ways of being?

And finally, if diversity is present in the community, or if it is a currently unrealized goal of the community, are there concrete ways of including diverse people in the heart of the spiritual community? If not, why not? A good beginning might be a very frank conversation among the community members and leadership about this issue and what may be getting in the way. There are consultants who can assist with this process, and there are programs within the New Thought organizations to provide guidance, support, and assistance.

Transformative change is never a painless process. But clear intentions and people who are doing deep work can work what would otherwise appear to be miracles.

“Only people with petty minds indulge in racial hatreds and distinctions. God’s perfect idea of man is the basis for every living soul, and we must believe this and act as though it were so. When we dislike people and groups, we are bearing witness to our small and limited viewpoints. The people in whom we fail to find good are born of the same Mind, operate under the same Law, and express the same Life as we do. Our inability to see their divine origin is our self-created stumbling block. Often, we are held back by our petty dislikes of other people.”

~ Ernest Holmes, “Guide to Richer Living”

 I have asked Tracy Brown, author of the recently published book, STAINED GLASS SPIRIT (LINK), to be a guest blogger here and to add her inspired thinking to the conversation. Look for that post in the near future.

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

I am pleased to announce that my two books, SACRED THINKING, and CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY will soon be available in Spanish. I owe thanks for this to a number of people who I will mention in the near future.

 

 

 

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THE CHALLENGE OF DEVELOPING A MORE DIVERSE & INCLUSIVE SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY, PART 2

‎”Diversity … is not polite accommodation. Instead, diversity is, in action, the sometimes painful awareness that other people, other races, other voices, other habits of mind, have as much integrity of being, as much claim on the world as you do. And I urge you, amid all the differences present to the eye and mind, to reach out to create the bond that will protect us all. We are meant to be here together.”

~ William Chase

I begin Part 2 (LINK to Part 1) this exploration of diversity and inclusion in spiritual community with the macro, or societal level – the grand scale of things, if you will. There are broad and deep patterns in our society and cultures which carry values and tradition like a kind of cultural DNA, resulting in patterns of behavior at a larger scale which affect the experiences of both local spiritual communities and individuals. Statements such as the opening quote from William Chase, which may seem to be valid on their face, may be easily dismissed or rejected due to these deep cultural values.

VMEMEs Simplified

Spiral Dynamics (LINK) is a good model to use to look at these values, and we will do a bit of that in this post. Since most New Thought spiritual communities are in the United States, let us use that nation as an example of how these broad cultural DNA patterns show up. The dominant values systems (vMEMEs in Spiral Dynamics terms), are different today than they were 50 or more years ago, and new systems continue to emerge as older systems fade. In the developed world, where Modernist-Orange and Postmodernist-Green are on the rise, people are making choices about being in community (or not) differently than when Traditionalist-Blue was more present in the mix. At Blue, you seek conformity, membership, authority, and obedience. Your parents and/or grandparents probably went to church because they were supposed to, and that values system was strongly supported by the family and the larger culture. All that began to change with the rise of Modernist -Orange in the mid-20th Century and Postmodernist-Green in the late-20th and early 21st Centuries. Orange is individualistic, believes in scientific rationalism, and is entrepreneurial, seeking to escape the “herd mentality” of Blue. Those centered at Orange are more comfortable in a secular society, or one in which religion is on the sidelines.

The emergence of Green brings a return to a communal values system, but one very different from Blue. Green wants intimacy and is very relativistic (“Who is to say what is right?” – Blue’s response, “We are!”). Green values diversity, whereas Blue values conformity. Orange will do business with anyone but will tend to associate with those who have similar values. Those at Green view Blue as stodgy, rigid, and old-fashioned; those at Blue tend to view Green as ‘woo-woo” and untethered to proper authority and values.

Spiral-staircase

‎”We should NEVER mistake conformity for harmony…uniformity for synthesis…(we should) know that for all men (and women) to be ALIKE is the death of LIFE in man, and yet perceive HARMONY that transcends ALL diversities and in which diversity finds it’s richness and significance.”

~ Dr. Howard Thurman

Each nation and the regions within nations have their own mixture of these vMEMEs or values systems. In the United States, as a general rule, the east and west coasts tend to have more Green and less Blue; the center of the country more Blue and less Green. Cities tend to be higher on the spiral than rural areas, which makes sense because, after all, spiral stages are based on complexity of Living Conditions. Big cities tend to be more complex than rural areas and small towns. Orange has a bit heavier presence in urban areas but is present everywhere that commerce and science are important. These are generalizations and there will be pockets where the relationships are a bit different.

There are other factors as well, including demographics – where people live and the racial, ethnic, chronological, and cultural makeup of different places. Some areas have a significant known LGBTQ population, some do not; some have higher percentages of certain racial and ethnic groups than others. All of these factors have an effect on a spiritual community which is trying to become more diverse. Again, urban spiritual communities will tend to be more diverse because cities tend to have more diverse populations than suburban and rural areas. More people in the Green vMEME in urban areas, fewer in suburban, where Orange dominates, and rural areas where there is more Blue.

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“He who loves community destroys community; he who loves the brethren builds community.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When I was the spiritual leader at CSL Simi Valley, California (2008-2015), a suburban bedroom community for Los Angeles with a population at the time of about 130,000 people, the racial makeup of the city was 92% white, 7% Hispanic, and 1% other, according to census records. Our chances of growing beyond the 3 African-American members already there were rather slim. The Hispanic population was very Catholic. A small population of Indian-Americans (almost all recruited from India to work at large tech and financial companies in the area) mostly attended the two mosques in town or did not attend services. There was one New Thought community (us); two mosques, one synagogue, 13 Mormon stakes (500 to a stake), two Catholic churches, six mainline Protestant Churches, and 140 fundamentalist Christian congregations in the city at the time. There were 0 organized and visible LGBTQ groups.

We did make efforts to be more diverse, but with little success from a demographic standpoint. We were able to expand membership and add more young adults by live streaming and other activities. When I left, there were still 3 African-American members. I was replaced by an African-American minister, but the demographics of the city and the center have not changed dramatically. Demographics matter.

This does not mean that you give up, but it does mean that spiritual leadership needs to be aware of how to prioritize resources and energy regarding what is achievable. The US suburbs are, after all, the result of a system from the mid-20th Century based on racism. There was a huge migration of white populations out of cities, enabled by the automobile, the G.I. Bill, and practices of red-lining by realtors, banks, and insurance companies, to ensure that minority populations could not move to the suburbs in large numbers. While some things have changed over time, the overwhelming whiteness of most of America’s suburbs has not.

I am not saying that these items are excuses. But they are factors in the makeup of spiritual communities. And, as we will see in the next two posts, there are other factors, within our spiritual communities themselves, and within us as individuals, which make it even more difficult to effectively invite greater diversity. All of these factors must be acknowledged and included in the plans and strategies which emerge from our visioning and planning about greater diversity and inclusion in our spiritual communities.

“The range of our possibilities at the present time does not extend far beyond the range of our present concepts. As we bring ourselves to a greater vision, we induce a greater concept and thereby demonstrate more in our experience. In this way there is a continuous growth and unfoldment taking place.”

~ Ernest Holmes

 

Understanding the area demographics and the larger societal patterns are important. There is a wealth of easily accessible data on trends and patterns in worship attendance and religious affiliation. All of it shows that we are in a time of decreasing participation in organized religious activities. The Orange vMEME is often the place where people leave traditional religion and become secular or not affiliated. It is also the stage where they become open to New Thought. New Thought principles tend to appeal to those at Orange and Green on the spiral. There can be differences in how the spiral values systems exist within various populations within a community – and to me, having a broad representation of vMEMEs in a spiritual community is another form of diversity, one which is rarely examined. Also, different groups within a larger community can be at different stages on the spiral – this is especially true of recent immigrants from places where the dominant spiral values are different from those in the US. Many recent immigrants from places other than Canada, Europe, and Australia will be more comfortable in a traditional congregation of some sort. Research shows that the Catholic Church in the US is stagnant in overall growth – it is only not shrinking because of immigration from Latin American countries.

If Orange and Green are interested in New Thought spirituality and are growing in numbers, why isn’t New Thought growing in attendance and number of communities? I believe that there are two main reasons for this (and recognize that some local communities are growing and thriving, but the overall trends are stagnant or downward). One reason is the overall patterns toward secularization are very strong – there is little societal motivation to join another church after leaving one’s church of origin. There is not much which can be done about that pattern. The second reason has more to do with New Thought itself.

In the early 20th Century, when New Thought was growing and expanding, with new branches and churches opening in pretty significant numbers, the overall population was just beginning to move from a Traditionalist-Blue Values System into a Modernist-Orange Values System. There was still a significant societal value regarding attending worship services. Adopting Christian imagery and terms (church, ministry, sanctuary, hymn, prayer, etc.) helped to make the transition to New Thought less threatening for those leaving more traditional denominations. And remember, most of the New Thought founders, including Holmes and the Fillmores, considered themselves to be Christian. Additionally, those with a Jewish heritage flocked to New Thought communities in many places.

By the late 20th Century, the Blue vMEME had faded quite a bit. Orange was the dominant vMEME and Orange valued scientific rationalism over religious doctrine. Societal pressure to attend worship had faded significantly. Sundays rapidly became secular days, with the sacred time for worship no longer protected. Stores were open, youth league games were scheduled, and the standard Monday to Friday from 9 to 5 workday became the exception rather than the rule. The emergence of the Green vMEME made the Christian imagery and terms even less appealing to many. In much of the US, as in much of Europe, worship attendance is not only not supported by the larger culture, it is increasingly frowned upon.

Because of these factors, New Thought’s Christian trappings have gone from an overall asset to a liability over the last century. This was made clear in research done in 2007 & 2008 by the two Religious Science organizations during the re-branding process (LINK) that led to the name Centers for Spiritual Living. That research led to some changes, but has been largely ignored in recent times, the branding has not been updated and more research has not been conducted. But there is no question that the larger patterns and trends continue to change toward greater secularization in the general population, particularly those centered at Orange and Green on the spiral.

All of this shows, I hope, that there are many moving parts in today’s society which impact how diversity and inclusion programs can be developed and integrated into spiritual communities.

In Part 3, we will explore factors in the cultures of local spiritual communities which affect diversity and inclusion.

“In our time we have come to the stage where the real work of humanity begins. It is the time where we partner Creation in the creation of ourselves, in the restoration of the biosphere, the regenesis of society and in the assuming of a new type of culture; the Culture of Kindness. Herein, we live daily life reconnected and recharged by the Source, so as to become liberated and engaged in the world and in our tasks.”

~ Jean Houston

As always, your comments are welcomed. Please share this blog post with others who may find it of value. Thank you!

Copyright 2019- Jim Lockard

THE CHALLENGE OF DEVELOPING A MORE DIVERSE & INCLUSIVE SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY, PART 1

“Our knowledge is not reliable; it is partial and undermined by the fact that the unconscious has a separate truth dimension, of which we are mostly oblivious. Ironically, the deeper truth resides in what we habitually dismiss as illusion, fantasy, myth and distortion.”

~ David Tacey

As I introduce this multi-part series, I will say right up front:

  1. I wish to see diversity & inclusion succeed in every way possible in New Thought organizations and spiritual communities.

  2. I am an old cis-gender white male and I recognize that “my people” have done great harm with regard to all of us recognizing our Oneness. I am no longer in active ministry either, and you may take what I write with appropriate skepticism.

  3. My purpose is not to discourage anyone from doing work to increase diversity & inclusion. Rather, it is to aid in the likelihood of success by helping everyone to realize that this issue is more complex than it may appear. It is not just a matter of inviting those who are not already in your communities to start coming; it is also about recognizing the larger dynamics involved and being willing and able to make what may well be significant personal and organizational changes to increase the likelihood of your invitations being welcomed, and that once diversity is actualized, inclusion happens naturally and organically.

 

Diversity Inclusion Montage 1

The addition of diversity as a value and the creation of the Diversity and Inclusion Commission are signs that Centers for Spiritual Living is serious about making our organization more inclusive and diverse. In many parts of the organization, this is a major part of the conversation, not least among our younger ministers. I am sure that equivalent steps are being taken in other New Thought organizations as well. After all, how can we create #TheBelovedCommunity without diversity and inclusion?

When I travel around and visit many of our member communities, I notice that while diversity may be a value, it is not necessarily a reality. In most of our member communities, one would have to be told that diversity is an organizational value – it would not be obvious. I also note that in most cases, where you see diversity – of race and ethnicity especially – it is in areas where diversity is present in the larger community. Even then, the leadership of local spiritual communities must make efforts to create an environment where diversity can flourish, where people are welcoming to those who are different, and where those differences are not invisible, but are recognized, honored, and included in the life of the spiritual community.

I am writing this series of posts to do at least two things: first, to encourage greater diversity of all kinds in New Thought spiritual communities, and second, to help spiritual leaders understand why actualizing greater diversity can be challenging. Most spiritual leaders who have engaged with this issue have come to realize there is a difference between what people say that desire – greater diversity and inclusion – and what actually happens.

In this series, we will examine the different factors which affect the makeup of our spiritual communities. These include large demographic factors happening nationally and internationally, local demographics and cultural factors (values systems as in Spiral Dynamics) where a spiritual community is located; the psychology and culture of the spiritual community itself; the individual psychological factors involved, such as unconscious patters and biases through a Jungian lens; and, New Thought principles and how they allow us to interact with these other factors.

Actualizing greater diversity and inclusion (which are two different things, by the way), is more than just a decision. It involves a number of dynamics across a spectrum of human values systems, patterns of belief, and behaviors. Many well-meaning efforts fail to address these issues and do not result in the desired level of diversity – in fact, they may make things worse.

Malcom Gladwell’s statement “Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind,” is one of those quotes that people may agree is true for different reasons. Those who have accepted the value of diversity and inclusion as welcome, even essential, may see it as a call for those who have not to come to accept the wise world view already accepted by some. Those who do not see diversity and inclusion as all that desirable may see it as a call for those who are so self-righteous about the issue to stop badgering them and “wake up and smell the coffee.”

The human tendency to feel more comfortable with one’s own kind is ancient and ingrained in us to a significant extent. For our tribal forebearers, inviting diversity into a community could well have been a death sentence for a variety of reasons. Banishment from the tribe, was likewise akin to a death sentence. This tribal values system is a part of each of us, and while it may be more intelligent to move past it in our postmodern world, there are reasons why not everyone will be on board – or at least not at the same time.

On a more individual basis, when diversity and inclusion are treated like a pill which must be swallowed, the natural tendency of many people will be to resent both the need for the pill and whoever is administering it. Statements of justification, however valid, will run up against ingrained values systems and beliefs in the unconscious mind (meaning that they are inaccessible to direct conscious intervention). This leads to resistance. Telling me that something is good for me is not the best way to get me to eat or drink it – “eat your spinach!” My personal programming from childhood tells me to immediately be suspicious that it will not taste good. So, I will resist and perhaps demur. As an adult, I can fairly easily overcome this resistance and take a taste, but the resistance is there, nonetheless.

“Resistance blooms naturally in the presence of change. You will encounter resistance in attempts at ascendance, physical or spiritual.”

~ Gregg Levoy

If you tell me that it is mandatory that I taste the “good for me” substance, I may well review my agreements with you and/or your organization to see if I have other options. I will do this even if I agree with you that the substance may well be good for me. I don’t like being told what to do and I especially don’t like being told what to value. I will unconsciously rebel, at least to some degree, in such circumstances, even if I agree with you on a conscious level. How this resistance is responded to by spiritual leaders and other community members is critically important. If those who resist are belittled or shut-down, their resistance will likely harden. The breakthrough may never come.

The other morning, as I opened my French language homework (Dorianne and I are studying French) and saw what the assignment was, I recoiled and briefly considered leaving the course of study. Now, I am not going to do that. I will “eat my spinach,” but I won’t be entirely happy about it. I will do it because, as an adult, I see the value in continuing, despite my discomfort. It is helpful that I am continually reminded of the value of knowing how to speak with my neighbors here in France.

The value of diversity and inclusion, on its own, may not be a strong enticement for some. We in the United States live in a nation which elected Donald Trump as president, and the values associated with the worldviews represented by that choice – among them being a desire for less diversity – are clearly prevalent enough for its adherents to gain political power. In the UK, the Brexit vote was made largely out of a visceral desire to make that nation less diverse. Similar electoral results in Italy, Austria, Poland, Germany, Brazil, the Philippines and other places should get our attention. Diversity and inclusion are not currently universal values of humans in developed nations; in fact, they are relatively new to the scene in human cultural development. Spiral Dynamics (LINK) can be helpful in understanding these dynamics.

You may respond, but this is New Thought, and we are different – we are more conscious, more loving, more open than the average in our larger culture. And I agree with these statements, in general, people in New Thought spiritual communities are more likely to see diversity and inclusion as values worth supporting. This is critically important, because an openness to a different way of being, even if not universally supported, is necessary for any community to be willing to go through the ordeal of actual change required to actualize such a value where it is not currently manifest. Because we also know that saying that we want diversity and inclusion is different that actually making the changes in behaviors, both collective and individual, which are necessary to make greater diversity and inclusion a reality.

Diversity Inclusion Montage 2

To this I add the very important and often forgotten concept of how change occurs. We recognize in all New Thought teachings that in order to manifest something different in one’s life, one has to effect a change in consciousness, which leads to a change in conditions. As Michael Beckwith has said so many times, “What must I become to manifest my vision?” So, this question can be expanded to say, “What must this spiritual community become to manifest our vision of greater diversity and inclusion?” When I see and hear discussions about increasing diversity and inclusion, I rarely hear this approach. More often it is something like this, “We are already welcoming and affirming, why don’t we have greater diversity?”

This second statement puts the power outside and seems to indicate a belief that my experience of life will change without me changing. In other words, this statement is at best a misunderstanding of New Thought principles.

In the next posts, I will explore diversity and inclusion efforts from the macro to the micro – from the society at large, to the culture of the spiritual community, to the individual psychology involved. Then, in the final segment, I will explore how to effectively apply New Thought principles to each of these areas in order to increase the likelihood of creating and maintaining successful diversity and inclusion programs.

As always, your comments along the way are encouraged! As are stories of success or lack of success in doing this work in your own spiritual communities. Please share this post with others who may find it of interest.

 

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

I am again honored to be a presenter at the Inspired Writer’s Retreat: March 23 & 24

at the beautiful Château de Bossey near Geneva, Switzerland.

Chateau de Bossey.jpg

For more information and to register:

INSPIRED WRITER’S RETREAT (LINK)

LIVING SYSTEMS SEEK WHOLENESS THROUGH HEALING

“Carl Jung said that if you find the psychic wound in an individual or a people, there you also find their path to consciousness. For it is in the healing of our psychic wounds that we come to know ourselves.”

~ Robert A. Johnson

“Carl Jung saw that the human psyche strives always toward wholeness, strives to become more conscious. The unconscious mind seeks to move its contents up to the level of consciousness, where they can be actualized and assimilated into more complete conscious personality.”

~ Robert A. Johnson

When we begin to see things as Living Systems, rather than as independent organisms or structures, our perception and understanding can expand to greater capacities. Living systems (LINK to Prior Post) can best be seen as integrated with their environment, as being massively complex, beyond what our human brains can fully grasp, and as being interdependent on other systems and bio-systems for mutual existence. The underlying intelligence of living systems seeks the fullest realization of wholeness – to express itself fully and in the healthiest way possible. There is a deep primal urge within all living systems to do just that – express fully.

“An inner wholeness presses its unfulfilled claims upon us.”

~ Emma Jung in “The Holy Grail”

You are a living system, as am I. Your family is a living system, as is your spiritual community, your workplace, your city, state, nation, and all of humanity. The earth is a living system. A benefit of seeing these things as living systems is the transformation of our perception and understanding from linear, separate sense of what we are to a systems understanding. For example, I cannot be fully understood without taking my family into account – and that can be done in innumerable ways, via genetics, culture, etc. We can never fully understand any living system but using the concept can help us guide these systems with greater wisdom.

Living systems have immune systems. You as an individual have a physical immune system and emotional and spiritual immune systems. These are elements of you which act to protect some aspect of you and keep you healthy. Groups have immune systems as well; some aspect of group immune systems are visible, most are not. It is important to come to see that at the deepest and most holistic levels, every living system wants to heal anything in the way of the fullest expression of that system.

“The manifestation of emotional and psychosomatic symptoms is the beginning of a healing process through which the organism is trying to free itself from traumatic imprints and simplify its functioning. . .. when properly understood and supported, this process can be conducive to healing, spiritual opening, personality transformation, and evolution of consciousness.”

~ Stanislav Grof, Shift Magazine, June-August 2004

Beautiful Nautilus

Healing is something intrinsic within all living systems, from the smallest to the largest. And coming to see that the appearance of symptoms is a positive step in the healing process of a living system is revelatory. We can then shift our emotional and mental approaches to being helpful rather than harmful (such as seeing the symptom as something alien to be defeated). Our political systems are evidencing negative symptoms in more and more profound ways today – this means that larger human living systems are in the process of healing themselves for a move to a higher evolutionary level of existence. Can we become better at stewarding this process? Can we at least stop acting in ways which obstruct the natural ability of living systems to heal? Can we heal the parts of ourselves which, out of fear and ignorance, cause us to make the symptoms worse, threatening the whole system with collapse?

“The soft flakes of healing are falling all around you all the time, even on your shadow.”
~ Emma Curtis Hopkins

Whatever is being identified as “being wrong” in yourself, in your family, in your spiritual community, in your nation, must be viewed and treated as a healing in process. We must shift our attention and intention to greater truths than we have been conditioned to believe up until now. Wholeness seeks to express via the emergence of new, sometimes radically new, ways of being. Emergence and evolution are the vehicles which facilitate these onward expressions in every living system. We are either in or out of harmony with these processes.

A new kind of leadership is required for this transition. As Nora Bateson writes, “Whatever leadership used to be—it used to be. Now, it has to be something different. Now, we all have to be more than we were.” We simply cannot continue the path(s) we are on if we are to make the significant changes – what have been called whole system changes – which are required for the forward evolution of humanity. Leaders, including spiritual leaders, need to be prepared differently, selected differently, and need to operate differently in the near term of our emerging future. They must become versed in complexity, in systems thinking, in radical change processes, and in helping to shepherd others who are unprepared for the age we have entered – an age of unrelenting change affecting every living system.

Our spiritual practices can be about creating an inner willingness to trust the larger wisdom within ourselves an all of us. We must cultivate our inner wisdom to be harmonious with the truth that every living system seeks its highest form of expression. This is an elegant way to view ourselves and the world. Fortunately, it is also a realistic way to view the world.

“So perhaps change is less about fixing a broken world and more about uncovering hidden wholeness in all events, all organizations and all people and remembering our personal power to make a difference. This old story has greatly changed the way that I am a physician and also a teacher. It has given me new eyes. Everyone and everything has in it a seed of a greater wholeness, a dream of possibility. Perhaps what I once saw as ‘broken’ or ‘lacking’ might just as easily be seen as the growing edge of things … a place to be valued and nurtured in our patients, our students and in ourselves.”

~ Rachel Naomi Remen

As always, your comments are appreciated. Please share this post with others who may be interested. Thank you.

 

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

More and more spiritual communities are using this book for spiritual leadership development. You can order bulk copies from Devorss.com. Or, just get one for yourself or to give as a gift at Amazon.com (.ca .eu)

 

THRIVING SKILL: POLARITY MANAGEMENT, PART 2

“The I Ching, the Chinese Book of Changes, recognizes the continual shifts that go on within the individual. The Yang power, the creative masculine, moves ahead with steadfast perseverance toward a goal until it becomes too strong, begins to break–and then the Yin, the receptive feminine, enters from below and gradually moves toward the top. Life is a continual attempt to balance these two forces. With growing maturity, the individual is able to avoid the extreme of either polarity, so that the pendulum does not gain too much momentum by swinging too far to the right only to come crashing back to the left in a relentless cycle of action and reaction, inflation and depression. Rather one recognizes that these poles are the domain of the gods, the extremes of black and white. To identify with one or the other can only lead to plunging into its opposite. The ratio is cruelly exact. The further I move into the white radiance on one side, the blacker the energy that is unconsciously constellating behind my back: the more I force myself to perfect my ideal image of myself, the more overflowing toilet bowls I’m going to have in my dreams.”

~ Marion Woodman, “Addiction to Perfection” (LINK)

Here, the great Marion Woodman gives an excellent example of how to understand and use polarity management. (Link to Part 1 of this series) In dealing with polarities, we must manage them in the sense of staying in a healthy balance. This may be at the center at one point, and nearer to one side or the other at another. When we see such situations as problems to be solved, we invariably remain out of balance. A polarity map of Yin (feminine) and Yang (masculine) might look like this (there can be many more upsides & downsides for each polarity):

Polarity Management 9

Notice how the focus is to keep the upsides of each pole in play and to minimize the downsides – this requires being in balance in relation to the energies of both poles in the polarity relationship. 95 to 99% of the problems we are asked to solve in formal education are problems with a single right answer. Of the remaining 1 to 5%, virtually all of them are problems with more than one right answer that are independent. Polarities have two or more right answers that are interdependent. Our experience in leadership brings us a higher percentage of polarities.

  • It is possible to manage a polarity well. When you do, you maximize both upsides while minimizing both downsides. This helps you attain and sustain your higher purpose.

  • It is possible to manage a polarity poorly. This is what happens when the issue is seen as a problem to solve in which those in power are able to keep a focus on one pole to the neglect of the other. In a power struggle over poles of a polarity, you will find yourself in the downside of “winner’s” preferred pole. With polarities, over time, there is no such thing as win/lose, there is only win/win or lose.

There is, of course, much more to polarity management. I am just giving you a taste of the model so you, dear reader, can decide if this is something you wish to explore more deeply.

Here are the six steps to the polarity management process from Barry Johnson:

  1. Define the issue.

  2. Include key stakeholders.

  3. Build the polarity map.

  4. Understand how polarities work.

  5. Assess realities with this polarity.

  6. Determine action steps and early warnings.

In a spiritual community there are polarities almost everywhere. Here are a few affecting how the spiritual leadership thinks and acts (LINK):

Polarity Management 10

When these polarities are seen for what they are, the approach to them changes – becoming more complex and multifaceted. A longer view comes into play, since there won’t be a solution, as such. Polarity management moves you into the realization that you are in a long-term relationship with the polarities affecting your spiritual community. My suggestion is to read Barry Johnson’s book POLARITY MANAGEMENT (LINK) and to do some research for online resources on this important model.

Beautiful Flower - Water Lilly

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

~ Anaïs Nin

Your comments are welcome!

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

I will be Keynote Speaker at a very special event in La Jolla, California – January 19-21. Please consider joining us! (Event Link)

Positive Gathering Jan 2018

THRIVING SKILL: MASTERING POLARITY MANAGEMENT, PART 1

“For every complex problem there is a simple solution. And it’s wrong.”

~ Unknown

Complex Problem

When things are not going the way we want them to, we are conditioned to see them as problems to be solved. In fact, in many cases, they are not – they are actually polarities to be managed.

There are, of course, some problems to be solved – such as getting the sound system to work for your Sunday service, or hiring to fill a vacant position. But many of the things which challenge spiritual leaders the most are polarities – and there is no solution – only the possibility of managing them in such as way as to maximize the desirable aspects (upsides) and minimize the undesirable ones (downsides).

“All the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally insoluble. They must be so, for they express the necessary polarity inherent in every self-regulating system. They can never be solved, but only outgrown.”

~ C.G. Jung

Barry Johnson’s groundbreaking work on Polarity Management (LINK to PDF) (LINK to book) brought us a very useful model for visualizing polarities and working to manage them in a positive manner.

“Polarities to manage are sets of opposites that can’t function well independently. Because the two sides of a polarity are interdependent, you cannot choose one as a ‘solution’ and neglect the other. The objective of the Polarity Management perspective is to get the best of both opposites while avoiding the limits of each.” 

~ Barry Johnson

A simple example of a polarity are the aspects of breathing – inhaling and exhaling. They are interdependent – you can’t do one to the exclusion of the other. You can’t just inhale or just exhale. An imbalance in the two will lead to negative consequences. Johnson developed polarity mapping to help see the interrelationships within any polarity.

Polarity Management 5.png

In this simple example, you can see and personally experience how the two aspects are interrelated. There are many polarities which exist in the world of spiritual community (and in many other settings as well). One that we often face and which I have blogged about over and over is the polarity of Stability and Change.

Polarity Management 6

You can see on this map that the upsides of Stability include Consistency and Predictability (there are certainly others), while the downsides include Stagnation and Apathy. On the other side of the polarity, the upsides of Change include Progress and New Energy, while the downsides include Inconsistency and Frustration. The flow lines show that both sides of the polarity are in flux and the goal is to keep the flow going so that the upsides of both sides are maximized, and the downsides minimized. This is clearly a more complex process than simple problem/solution management, but one that is critically important – trying to “solve” polarities just doesn’t work.

The value of polarity management is the expanded view of the dynamics present and the ways that they are interrelated. If the spiritual leader’s attention is toward seeing one or the other side of the polarity as a problem to be solved, she will miss the opportunities to see the interrelationships which need to be managed. The result is likely to be a greater presencing of the downsides of both sides of the polarity. You can see this in the maps below.

The more complexity present, the more valuable polarity management becomes. Things come into view more quickly and can be managed in a direction which optimizes the upsides. The issues which are polarities cannot be solved, and there is an ongoing process of management – what works to optimize upsides today may not work tomorrow. There is a recognition of an ongoing dynamic process, with each side of the polarity contributing to the successful implementation of strategies toward the goal. So, it’s not change against stability – it is the balancing of the two to optimize the upsides of both moving forward.

“Instead of contradicting each other’s view, the task is to supplement each other’s view in order to see the whole picture. Each of them has key pieces to the puzzle. Paradoxically, opposition becomes resource.” 

~ Barry Johnson

In our increasingly complex world, Polarity Management is one more tool in the kit of an evolutionary leader. In Part 2 of this series, I will explore some other examples of polarities present in spiritual community and ministry and go into some more detail about the model itself.

Polarities Statement

“Peace does not mean an absence of conflict, because opposition, polarity and conflict are natural and universal laws.”
~ Bryant McGill

Your comments are always welcomed!

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

A TIME FOR HEART-CENTERED COURAGE, STRENGTH, AND PERSONAL TOUGHNESS

“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”

~ Robert Schuller

For many people on our planet today, times are tough. Even in the United States, among the most prosperous nations on earth, many are suffering in serious ways – from poverty, disease, discrimination, and the like. Others are finding the political turmoil of current times to be very difficult to live with – they are feeling increasingly hopeless.

We can look at all kinds of reasons for this – but that is not the point of this post. What I wish to address here is how to apply New Thought spiritual principles to our lives at times like these – including being careful how we label such times. We are in the midst of vast emerging change driven by cultural evolution. It is critical that we stay deeply and consciously rooted in our spiritual nature so that we remain strong and effective in directing our lives.

“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word love here not merely in a personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace —not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.”

~ James Baldwin

There is more to you than meets the eye; more than you can even imagine. You are born out of and remain within an Infinite Spirit and your good, your peace of mind, are not determined by external factors, by who is in what political office, unless you allow them to be.

whitelion

New Thought teachings are about the realization of an empowerment, a birthright, which has always existed and never been diminished. It is not a teaching about how to hide from harsh conditions – it is a teaching about how to transcend them by transforming consciousness.

“Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful…and decide what you want and need and must do. It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that’s the deal: you have to live; you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It’s the easy way out.”

~ Zadie Smith

There are, of course, times when we are seriously wounded, times when a retreat is necessary for healing, however, such times are relatively rare when you think about it. I hear people saying they just want to go and hide until everything is better. These voices are more numerous today, driven by the antics of the current administration in Washington, or by some other more localized difficulty. These issues do not warrant hiding or retreating, they warrant standing in our full power and integrity. We are all capable of crafting creative change in our systems – all of them. This requires the deep realization of inner strength and a practice of being in dominion emotionally – even on Facebook and Twitter.

“People need to be encouraged. People need to be reminded of how wonderful they are. People need to be believed in—told that they are brave and smart and capable of accomplishing all the dreams they dream and more. Remind each other of this.”

~ Stacey Jean Speer

Most of life is challenging in one way or another, and we have our own devices to make it more challenging than it needs to be much of the time. It’s called self-sabotage, and it is yet another proof of our power over our experience, isn’t it? Metaphysics tells us that everything that comes into our experience contains the potential to bring forth something new and more useful from within us. What is being called forth from you in these times?

“Be patient and tough. Someday this pain will be useful to you.”

~ Ovid

Toughness is something that is rarely talked about in New Thought circles today (in my experience anyway). We talk about being loving and heart-centered and often speak of these qualities as if toughness were not an important aspect of their expression. I think that in trying to move away from the perceived authoritarianism of our past (and of our own personal pasts), we have become so non-authoritarian as to be largely ineffectual in the world – and, I suggest, this is also too often the case in our own lives. The pendulum has swung a bit too far in the opposite direction – there is little to no authority in our organizations today – and too little in how we practice our teaching. (LINK to posts on the Green vMEME) We are called to find a more balanced approach – to express our authority in ways that are both clear and compassionate.

 

“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”

~ Anne Lamott

There are limits to our ability to apply our principles. We may not like to hear this, but it is the truth. Those limits may be conditional – I may not have developed the consciousness to simply think peace on earth into existence yet – but I suspect that many are more than conditional. I believe that we do not single-handedly create realitywe influence external reality, which we co-create with others. We are the sole creators of our experience of that reality. This means that we must find ways to cooperate with others to change things beyond our individual capacities to heal.

The word courage means strength of the heart. Loving peopletruly loving people – are very tough – they do not abuse others and they do not allow others to abuse them. Toughness in a heart-centered person respects boundaries, speaks Truth to power, holds themselves and others accountable, and expects the best from themselves and others. They live courageous lives, which, when practiced regularly, becomes a natural way of being.

“We must combine the toughness of the serpent with the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

I question I often ask myself is “How does a student of New Thought refuse to engage the outer world when so much of that world is in pain?” Aside from personal fear, which is normal and can be overcome, how have we come to align with belief systems which propagate suffering and inequity, or which believe in scarcity and lack? How do we not stand for justice, help the needy, spiritually educate those willing? How do we bicker, argue, and engage in endless circular conversations on social media (including our list serves)? How do we fail to do our own spiritual practices in a rigorous way – leaving our fears not soothed, our wisdom and strength not energized?

 

I plan to focus the remainder of 2017 on crafting a new vision for my life in 2018 – to be more present, more authentic, more focused on being my True Self, and more of a contributor to the world around me. And to be a better husband, father, friend, and citizen (of the world). I can’t think of a better way to spend my time.

“You must be willing to change. You must be willing to break the deal you made with the devils within. You must be willing to leave the past and not be tempted to rebound when times are tough. You must be willing to let go of everything and anyone that takes you back to your mistakes. You must be willing to have hope. You must be willing to have hope that you can change and that you will and that you will be better. You must believe you are worthy of change and you are worthy of improvement and you are worthy of being the best. You must be willing to set aside your negative notions about life, about hardships, about people, about things, about yourself. You must be willing to stop feeling sorry for yourself while looking at the world move around you. Get up and make something of yourself.”

~ Jack Barakat

Your comments are welcome in the section below. If you find this blog to be of value, please consider following it – you will get an email whenever a new post is published.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

I will be speaking at a special event in La Jolla, California in January – the information and registration is at this link: http://lornabright.com/gathering/

Positive Gathering Jan 2018.png

 

 

CONSENSUS AND THE EVOLUTION OF PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATIONS, PART 1

“You must constantly transcend your present positions, indeed, even perhaps contradict them altogether.”

~ Johann Wolfgang Goethe

Consensus (LINK) is a form of decision-making used in a number of New Thought organizations and spiritual communities. This series of posts is designed to explore the evolutionary nature of consensus and its pros and cons.

I believe that people and organizations (which are people in groups) evolve by design. That is, they change over time in a developmental manner, moving through generally understood stages of growth. Individuals and organizations evolve physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. They evolve toward greater complexity, an evolutionary process driven by the increasing complexity of the world around them. If they fail to adapt (evolve) to the external level of complexity (living conditions), they suffer to one degree or another, since they are unable to fully engage with the world in which they find themselves. If they get too far behind, their suffering is more serious.

Cartoon - Evolution - More Steps

In the individual, this evolutionary process involves many factors, as mentioned above – our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual natures are all evolving at different rates. It is important to understand concepts and models such as emotional intelligence (LINK), spiritual intelligence (LINK), Presencing (LINK), and Spiral Dynamics(LINK). We are at different places along the developmental measures of these various models and instruments; so, in effect, each of us has a different “evolutionary code”; we are unique in that way.

This, of course, makes groups and organizations even more complex mixtures of individuals and their developmental levels. I have explored a number of these factors in this blog over time, and in my book, CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY (LINK). Spiritual Leaders lacking an understanding of the dynamics involved will be at a loss to guide their communities forward through times of rapid external change. Decision making processes, the topic of this post, emerge like other elements of organizational behavior, as spiritual communities move on the spiral (see Spiral Dynamics LINK). We may think that we are having new ideas, but they are more a reflection of what is newly emerging within us as we adapt (or fail to) to increasing external complexity.

“Evolution has not shaped an all-knowing computer, but rather a modular computer for making different decisions based on different contexts.”

~ Jason Collins

Which brings me back to the Green Level of Existence, Values System, or vMEME (LINK) (LINK). Each level or vMEME on the spiral will have decision-making processes which align with the vMEME values of that level. For example, at Traditionalist-Blue, something resembling a monarchy with a form of bureaucracy is a likely decision model; at Modernist-Orange, we get democratic forms – people vote, and we get autocratic leadership in many settings.

Green vMEME

At Postmodernist-Green, where values include egalitarianism, relativism (one belief is no better nor worse than another), every voice must be heard, a bias against hierarchy, and a high regard for feelings, consensus is often the decision-making process that is favored. Before I go into the pros and cons of consensus decision-making in Part 2 of this series, I need to point something out. Those centered at Green strive to be non-judgmental and they seek intimacy in groups and spiritual community. This arises due to the immense complexity of thought at the Green level. It creates a broader and deeper view of possibility, and widens the field of choice, but at a cost. I’ll let philosopher Ken Wilber point out an issue with Green’s tendency toward no judgements:

“It’s the calamity you’ve discussed, the calamity of our generation, that we’ve come to think that you’re morally good if you don’t make judgments. But that’s exactly wrong. You’re morally good if you make the right kind of judgments. And you have to learn how to make wise judgments in order to make moral decisions. But what we do, because we understandably don’t want to marginalize anyone or unfairly judge, is to say, therefore, don’t judge at all. And so we stand back with no moral compass, no judgments, no discriminating wisdom, and basically the whole show goes to hell because of that. So in the midst of saying that nothing is better or worse than anything else, even on a relative plane, if you then have an experience of satori or kensho or oneness, it reinforces your broken moral compass. And this broken moral compass, combined with your realization, is what you call spirituality.”

~ Ken Wilbur

When it comes to making decisions, holding people accountable, and dealing with conflict, spiritual leaders who are centered at Green often find themselves unable to act clearly and forcefully. Green tends to have a high tolerance for dysfunction due, in part, to the value of not upsetting people. Green-centered leadership will often let disruptive behavior go on for some time without speaking up about it, as being non-judgmental becomes more important than accountability. This creates real problems for the spiritual community, who must operate in a sub-optimal atmosphere. Also, the fact that Green is the level where spiritual communities are often moving toward a possible transition to 2nd Tier (LINK), the absence of strong leadership can be devastating.

In Part 2, I will look at the pros and cons of decision-making by consensus, and why that form of decision-making works only at the Green Level of Existence.

As always, your comments are encouraged! Please consider following this blog and sharing the link with your friends.

Photo Jul 04, 1 26 08 PM.jpg

My view this week in Connemara, Ireland

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,At

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

(LINK TO AMAZON.CA – Canada)

(LINK TO AMAZON.CO.UK)

And at DEVORSS.COM

TRANSITIONING THE GREEN LEVEL OF EXISTENCE – WHERE ORGANIZATIONS GO TO DIE, PART 4

“It is an ironic habit of human beings to run faster when they have lost their way.”

~ Rollo May

ELP Butterfly

In Parts 1 through 3 of this series (LINK), I have suggested an idea about the nature of the Postmodernist-Green Level of Existence from the Spiral Dynamics™ Model. Namely, that the Green Level is where organizations go to die – in the sense that the caterpillar enters the chrysalis to die as the caterpillar, but to emerge as the butterfly.

Green nature has many facets, and it also provides a “launching pad” into 2nd Tier Levels of Existence. 2nd Tier is starkly different from 1st Tier. The preparation for what Clare Graves (LINK) called the ”momentous leap” from the Green Level to the Yellow Level is nothing if not significant, requiring a massive change in consciousness.

“To move beyond the Green memetic mindset and consciousness requires that you start to really and honestly understand, appreciate, and respect your own and other people’s incomparable cosmic singularity. So long as you compare yourself with others (equality is a term of comparison) you will remain in the mode of deficiency. When you realize your and other people’s incomparability, you enter the existential mode of abundance and start to live in the world of abundance and plenitude.”

~ Yasuhiko Genku Kimura, President & CEO, Vision-In-Action, LLC

2nd Tier consciousness is not fear-based. That is a huge distinction, as most of our energies when we occupy 1st Tier levels go into self-protection, ego defenses, and creating the structures which provide these. As we move to 2nd Tier, this changes, moving into an empowered, love-based ego structure. There is currently no well-defined pathway into 2nd Tier, but this transition clearly requires significant changes in one’s self-image.

“Human consciousness does not emerge at any depth except through struggling with your shadow. I wish someone had told me that when I was young. It is in facing your conflicts, criticisms, and contradictions that you grow up. You actually need to have some problems, enemies, and faults! You will remain largely unconscious as a human being until issues come into your life that you cannot fix or control and something challenges you at your present level of development, forcing you to expand and deepen. It is in the struggle with our shadow self, with failure, or with wounding, that we break into higher levels of consciousness. I doubt whether there is any other way. People who refine this consciousness to a high spiritual state, who learn to name and live with paradoxes, are the people I would call prophetic speakers. We must refine and develop this gift.”

~ Richard Rohr

Sign - Self Knowledge

When an organization or spiritual community emerges into the Green Level of Existence, one of four outcomes is possible:

  1. A long period occupying Green due to either unhealthy expression, a lack of 2nd Tier Living Conditions being present, or a lack of 2nd Tier development by the spiritual leadership. This is a good thing when there is movement toward a healthy expression of Green.
  2. A transition to 2nd Tier occurs over time – this requires a healthy Green foundation to be successful.
  3. A regression to Orange due to unhealthy Green or a change to Orange-centered leadership.
  4. The organization or spiritual community ceases to exist.

Major challenges for spiritual leadership within organizations or spiritual communities that are entering or centered in the Green Level of Existence are twofold: (1) to guide them toward a healthy expression of Green and (2) to shepherd them through the transition to 2nd Tier when that is appropriate. And, if it is time for a spiritual community to cease to be, wise leadership will hospice that process.

While arrival at the Green Level may not have occurred for many spiritual communities, it is on their agenda. As Living Conditions (the cultural world around us) grow more complex, humans are called to adapt to that complexity by moving their Level of Existence farther up the spiral. Here are my suggestions for spiritual leadership who are recognizing these dynamics:

  1. Grow your knowledge about cultural evolution. Models such as Spiral Dynamics (LINK), Theory U (LINK), and Edgewalkers (LINK) are important tools in this regard. Get a coach/mentor to work with you – this is not a solo journey.
  2. Seek to expand your capacity to be creative and bold. Evolutionary leadership skills are essential to determining who will thrive in the future. Success will come to those who are willing to make decisions that require deep knowledge and the willingness to risk being judged (LINK). Remember that significant transformation is on our agenda. How will we respond to that challenge? We are not planning for catastrophe, we are setting the stage to thrive in the chaos.
  3. Grow the knowledge of your community leadership team as well – ensure that you are developing evolutionary leadership capacities in your spiritual community.
  4. Speak about evolutionary growth – personal and communal – when you address your community members. Your future leadership team is in the audience every time you speak.
  5. Remember that, for the most part, people with different value systems are not corrupt or lacking understanding – they are operating from the values system of their Level(s) of Existence. When spiritual leaders are aware of this, they can expand their field of compassion to include those with different values than their own (whether higher or lower on the spiral!). The key is to encourage healthy expressions from each of the levels present.
  6. It is critical that spiritual leaders understand and model the healthy aspects of each Level of Existence present in the community. To do this, develop an awareness of the spiral, and do the deep personal work to develop greater capacities for compassion.
  7. Those centered at the Green Level will advocate for processes like governing by consensus and shared leadership. It takes wise leaders to recognize that consensus is only viable when everyone is operating from the Green Level.

Those centered at Blue and Orange value authoritarian leaders and majority rule. When consensus is imposed, they will find it very difficult to respond authentically – they will feel coerced. Shared leadership feels good to those at Green, however, it often results in a lack of clear accountability, which is a significant liability for any organization with Blue/Orange structures and proceduresGreen will tend to insist that everyone else be as “evolved” as they are, and have little patience with those who currently occupy the same places on the spiral that those now at Green occupied a short time ago. The tendency of those centered at Green to insist that no one feel discomfort or use abrasive speech can also be an obstacle to progressive growth.

“We live in a bourgeois cocoon of niceness and anything that breaks out of that is very threatening and disruptive to people. We have to work towards having honest speech with each other. When we have honest speech, we have to speak out about the things that are unjust and unfair. We need a more honest and abrasive speech to bring our talk into connection with our social reality. Any intent to curb that kind of speech is a desire to not have reality pointed out to us. But if we don’t have reality pointed out to us nothing will ever change.”

~ Walter Brueggemann

  1. At 2nd Tier, leadership moves away from both authoritarian leadership and shared leadership. In most organizations operating at 2nd Tier levels, anyone can make any decision at any time! (LINK) Imagine leading such an organization. Can you see now why the “leap” to 2nd Tier is so momentous?

What is required of spiritual leadership in these times is a deeper step into our own authenticity. If something new and different is required of us in these times of accelerated change, that something is already within us, awaiting our permission for it to emerge. The process is not one of becoming different, but of becoming more of who we already are. Finding our inner genius, our inner lover of life, and bringing them forward is our calling. We in New Thought have the tools to do so.

“Do not adopt the letter of my teaching, but the spirit, and you will find, as I did, that you will begin to formulate a system that is true for you. I learned for me, and you must learn for yourself that you must develop your own faith and confidence in your own interpretation of God, humanity, and the universe.”

~ Ernest Holmes

spiral_staircase_photography

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,At

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

(LINK TO AMAZON.CA – Canada)

And at DEVORSS.COM

TRANSITIONING THE GREEN LEVEL OF EXISTENCE – WHERE ORGANIZATIONS GO TO DIE, PART 2

“How does one become a butterfly?” Pooh asked pensively.

“You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar,” Piglet replied.

“You mean to die?” asked Pooh.

“Yes and no” he answered. “What looks like you will die, but what’s REALLY you will live on.”

~ A.A. Milne

Caterpillar - Image of Butterfly

The transformation story of the caterpillar into the butterfly is one that every metaphysician knows and has used as a vehicle for understanding deep change. The caterpillar spins the chrysalis without knowing about the butterfly; the butterfly, emerging from the same chrysalis, knows not of the caterpillar. Each is, essentially, the other, but their existences are very different. Something emerges within the caterpillar which tells it to spin the chrysalis and, once inside, what are known as imaginal cells emerge; the cells which contain the image of the new level of being: the butterfly.

Initially, the remaining vestiges of the caterpillar’s immune system destroy the imaginal cells as they appear. But over time, more and more emerge and they become the directing intelligence of the process of transformation. If all goes well, a butterfly will emerge from the chrysalis – the crawling creature takes flight as something different and yet the same.

In many ways, the transformative transition from caterpillar to butterfly mirrors the transition of people, communities, and organizations from 1st to 2nd Tier on the spiral. If a  spiritual community is to move from the Green Level of Existence or vMEME to the Yellow Level, it must undergo transformation. It must, in essence, shed the 1st Tier structures, values, and ways of being, or DIE to them, so that the new 2nd Tier structures, values, and ways of being can emerge.

ELP Butterfly

“A butterfly is not merely a caterpillar with wings. It has a completely different metabolism, feeding on, and processing, nectar instead of leaves, flying large distances instead of crawling from leaf to leaf. By the same token, Integrative Culture represents not merely a change in itself. It also represents a change in the way change is sought.”

~ Philip Slater, The Chrysalis Effect: The Metamorphosis of Global Culture

When an organization moves into the Postmodern-Green Values System, it begins the process of shedding the Blue and Orange structures, values, and ways of being. Often, this is not a conscious process, in which case it may well go badly. When there is no awareness of the emerging dynamics or of the Living Conditions affecting the organization, the new is likely to be fought, like the caterpillar’s immune system fights the imaginal cells. This can result in getting stuck in an increasingly irrelevant place behind an advancing world, or in the ultimate demise of the organization.

Cartoon - Transformation without Cahnges

At first, what is emerging within us both individually and collectively, will seem alien, and our tendency is to cling to what we have done in the past. The caterpillar has the advantage of having the chrysalis as a sort of isolation chamber, and of turning into a formless goo, which makes acting to delay or divert the process very difficult. Even then, sometimes the organism does not complete the transition; no butterfly emerges.

Human minds are so much more complex than the purely instinctual caterpillar, therefore,  spiritual communities or organizations and its leadership must stay conscious and intact during the transition process as 2nd Tier values and ways of being emerge. This does involve a “death” of the Blue/Orange structures, most of which are the result of a fear-based consciousness of organizational design. 2nd Tier organization is very different; it has very different ways of being. The process must be wisely guided, fears must be addressed, and principles practiced as the transition unfolds. Members of the community/organization will be centered at any number of Levels of Existence as this occurs, so there will be those who see no need for the changes and who want to return to the so-called “tried and true” practices of the past.

“Anything from the past, like an idea of what man of this or that culture might or should have been, is now archaic, and the transformation we are experiencing is really of the whole sense of humanity; what it means to be a cultured and world-related human being. This is a whole new thing. And so we have all of us to leave our little provincial stories behind. They may guide us as far as structuring our lives for the moment, but we must always be ready to drop them and to grasp the new experience as it comes along and interpret it.”

~ Joseph Campbell

56097673 - leaving my comfort zone safe secure take risk nametag

We do not throw out the past, but neither do we view the past as the source of our future ways of being. The answers of the past are not the answers of our present nor of our future. We must depend on the emergence of new Levels of Existence – healthy Postmodernist-Green and Integral-Yellow – to bring us new answers and more appropriate values systems for the world we are entering.

“Many see looming catastrophe, but few of us have realized that this crisis is driving us toward positive change, a quantum transformation.” 

~ Barbara Marx Hubbard (via Twitter)

Indeed, our times may seem catastrophic, but always within the chaos is the seed of the next level, the new world. The butterfly of New Thought will be as different from the existing ways of being as the actual butterfly is from the caterpillar. As we enter the chrysalis of change, we cannot know what will emerge, but we can shepherd the process with wisdom, compassion, and high expectations.  We nourish nourish and support our own imaginal cells – the people who bring new ideas, new models of ministry & spiritual community. These are the evolutionary leaders of the future who will look and act very differently than the leaders of the past.

“Others will arise who will know more than we do; they won’t be better or worse, they will be different and know more than we do. Evolution is forward.” 

~ Ernest Holmes, Sermon By The Sea, Asilomar, Saturday, August 15, 1959

In Part 3, I will explore a bit more about the Green Level of Existence and a longer piece by Clare Graves, developer of what is now called Spiral Dynamics. In Part 4, I will offer some suggestions on how spiritual leadership can best move forward through these times of great cultural evolutionary change and the organizational transitions that arise from that change.

“Nature will not let us stay in any one place too long.  She will let us stay just long enough to gather the experience necessary to the unfolding and advancing of the soul.  This is a wise provision, for should we stay here too long, we would become too set, too rigid, too inflexible.  Nature demands the change in order that we should advance.  When the change comes, we should welcome it with a smile on the lips and a song in the heart.”

~ Ernest Holmes

 Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

 

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CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

(LINK TO AMAZON.CA – Canada)

And at DEVORSS.COM