“Cautious, careful people always casting about to preserve their reputation or social standards never can bring about reform. Those who are really in earnest are willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathies with despised ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.”
~ Susan B. Anthony
Engaged spirituality requires a strong consciousness. When those engaged in activism have not done their personal psychological and spiritual work to a sufficient degree, they can do more harm than good. They lose their poise, fail to act from a compassionate heart, and are swept away by the energy of events. Only when one has been trained with some degree of rigor in spiritual principles and practices, and has applied themselves to regular practice over sufficient time is one likely to be capable of acting from such a consciousness.
“You can’t be a wimp when you’re doing justice work.”
~ Bishop Yvette Flunder
The Postmodernist-Green values system now dominates New Thought organizations and many local spiritual communities. If, as we evolve along the spiral, we do not bring forward the healthy aspects of the Traditionalist-Blue and Modernist-Orange levels (transcend & include), then Green will become unhealthy, because the values at the Green level do not support what organizations need to thrive. Green is, in part, a transitional stage between 1st and 2nd Tiers of the spiral – between levels of complexity and their value systems. Many of the values (both healthy and unhealthy) essential to the Blue/Orange organizational structure can be abandoned with the movement into Green.
Green sees consensus as the ultimate form of decision making and shared leadership as the vehicle for generating consensus. But while consensus is laudable, it is rarely achievable unless everyone at the table is operating at or beyond the Green Level of Existence. Someone at Orange or below on the spiral will not value consensus and will feel forced into compliance, even though that may not be the intention of leadership.
“Consensus comes with another flaw. It dilutes responsibility.”
~ Frederic Laloux, REINVENTING ORGANIZATIONS
In fact, Green is where the Blue/Orange form of organization goes to die. Die so that it can be re-born at the 2nd Tier level, as the caterpillar goes into the chrysalis to die as the caterpillar and be re-born as the butterfly. The caterpillar has no knowledge of what is coming, a huge transformation; the butterfly has no knowledge of where it came from. Organizations entering the chrysalis of Green, without awareness of the dynamics involved, are like the caterpillar – they are blind to what is coming, what is beginning to emerge from within them. And while in the caterpillar to butterfly transformation, nature knows what to do, in organizational transformation, we must depend on the collective wisdom of the group.
Green is where we begin to shed the old forms of fear-based structure, of centralization and hierarchical authority, of mistrust of people at every level. We have some insight into Integral-Yellow level organizations thanks to the work of Frederic Laloux (LINK to REINVENTING ORGANIZATIONS) and others. What we see emerging at 2nd Tier levels are things like self-organizing teams where full authority is moved to those who actually do the work.
“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
This requires 2nd Tier leadership at the top of the flattened organization, as leaders centered in the 1st Tier generally lack the degree of trust and vision needed to actualize the Yellow organization. In fact, most of the structures in Blue/Orange organizations arose out of a lack of trust in people. However, Laloux give us a glimpse into what can be. We see the beginnings of this with the increasing decentralization of authority in Centers for Spiritual Living and Unity. But this is only the beginning of the movement into 2nd Tier, and Green values often limit the functioning of the organization or spiritual community while it is still in its First Tier structure. This makes the transition more difficult, even treacherous, than it need be.
“Nothing is more curious than the self-satisfied dogmatism with which mankind at each period of its history cherishes the delusion of the finality of its existing modes of knowledge. Advance in detail is admitted: fundamental novelty is barred. This dogmatic common sense is the death of philosophical adventure.”
~ Alfred North Whitehead
Where in our New Thought organizations, with their predominance of Green leadership, is there the vision and the power for change? Where is the authority held in organizations to require ANYTHING of leadership in local spiritual communities? It has dissipated like the morning fog as we have moved into new cultural evolutionary ways of being. Leaders who try to exercise authority are ignored or shouted down, sometimes lovingly, but they surely are hampered in their ability to lead.
This shows up in many ways – one is when ministers who teach accredited classes in CSL (I cannot speak for Unity here) freely replace significant content from the accredited curriculum and yet see no ethical issues in signing off on certificates of completion from CSL which say that the student has completed the required curriculum. If CSL leadership questions this practice, they are rebuffed with a “how dare you question me?” attitude. And the leaders tend to back down, because what else can they do without upsetting someone?
Why does this matter? Shouldn’t ministers have the freedom to teach what they want?
I think it matters because the CSL organization and local spiritual communities had an original intention – a Prime Directive if you will – to teach the Science of Mind philosophy. If every community does that differently (and, let’s be honest, not every unique way of teaching the material is equally effective), where is any sense of uniformity within our movement about our basic reason for being and our spiritual principles?
Simply put – New Thought leaders need to up-level cultural evolutionary awareness, as in Spiral Dynamics™, Theory U, and the work of Frederic Laloux.
My reason for bringing this issue up here is to give some context to the issue of whether to engage in social activism, or any form of engaged spirituality. If we are drifting away, however unintentionally, from our core reason for being, how can we engage in this important conversation from a common set of principles and values?
There are two steps to effective engaged spirituality:
Realization and actualization of the spiritual principles of the teaching.
Engagement with the outer world that is consistent with those principles by people who have developed #1.
In my opinion, before (or at least, as) we decide what forms of engaged spirituality we will take, we need to decide to become a unified body teaching the same basic spiritual principles in an atmosphere of love, compassion, and full accountability. This means that, at minimum, every student who takes classes in the Science of Mind at any CSL center will learn the same principles and practices. There will be a common understanding of these and a common vocabulary. We all recognize the importance of bringing the highest possible consciousness to what we do; so why should involvement in engaged spirituality be any different? 2nd Tier organizations may self-organize and decentralize decision making, but they do so in an atmosphere of adherence to the basic principles and values of the organization.
This blog series, I hope, will lead to some serious consideration about how we go forward as New Thought organizations and spiritual communities. To do so, we must understand where we are developmentally on the spiral, and bring the best of those values systems present forward in our visioning and decision making.
“Job Description for Spiritual Seeker: Full time position available for person who strives to be mindful and aware of the deeper context of life. Must be intellectually curious, open-minded, and willing to change. Reverence for creation, personal humility, and a strong commitment to social justice will be necessary. Study, prayer, dialogue and meditative practice are expectations. Cross cultural experience important. Compassion and kindness are requirements. Starting date: now. Salary: zero. Benefits: unlimited. Apply in person to the Maker of Everything.”
~ Bishop Steven Charleston
As always, your comments are appreciated.
Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard
CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,
By Jim Lockard
Available in paperback or Kindle editions –