Here we are mainly concerned with the “soul” as the shaping spirit within any vital process. These, the inner spirit and the outer form, are two distinctive ways of a single mode of being. In considering the soul of the future, I am concerned with the inner vision that we need if we are to make the intellectual, social, economic, and religious adjustments required for a viable future.
– Thomas Berry, The Great Work: Our Way into the Future
I am writing this at what I hope is the end of a long string of days where the temperature regularly soared above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Today is Labor Day and there is some respite from the malaise of the heat that afflicted us all summer. The temperature is cooler but the dryness caused by the drought and the ensuing wildfires such conditions give rise to are still with us.
The 2012 Presidential campaigns are in full swing, but it doesn’t seem to matter much because the malaise in Washington D.C. is more dispiriting than the heat and the drought. The number of jobs created in August was zero. The stock market responded accordingly, and millions of Americans suffer from the possibility of being permanently unemployed. Others worry that their life savings will be vastly diminished by the uncertain economic times we live in. These two issues are just the tip of the iceberg–the ones that happen to be in the headlines today. Yet, many of our elected officials seem to lack the will to move us beyond partisanship into what Thomas Berry calls “The Great Work” and Johanna Macy calls “The Great Turning.”
Berry, a Catholic priest, and Macy, a Buddhist teacher, call on the wisdom of their traditions when they speak of the “Great Work” and the “Great Turning.” Jesus, of course, spoke of the coming of the Kingdom, which is both within us and around us, both already and not yet. Macy draws on the tradition of the Shambhala warriors who appear in times of great danger, chaos, and confusion. Lest you be put off by the use of the word “warrior,” note that their “weapons” are compassion and insight or wisdom–virtues that are also needed to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Neither Macy nor Berry falls into the comfortable dualism of “us versus them.” Both make it clear that while we are victims of the problems that beset us, we are also the cause of them. Macy states, “The Shambhala warriors know that the dangers threatening life on Earth are not visited upon us by any extraterrestrial power, satanic deities, or preordained evil fate. They arise from our own decisions, our own lifestyles, and our own relationships.” And Berry emphasizes, “the Great Work of a people is the work of all the people. No one is exempt. Each of us has our individual life patterns and responsibilities. Yet beyond these concerns each person in and through their personal work assists in the Great Work . . . while the alignment is more difficult in these times it must remain an ideal to be sought.”
Such work calls for “soul-centered leadership”—that is, leadership that is attune to both “the inner spirit and the outer form.” And that is why the Seton Cove is launching The Institute for Soul-Centered Leadership. As you know the Cove already has a robust leadership and spirituality program that includes, The Leadership Pilgrimage, The Practice of Contemplative Leadership, and The Taos Leadership Intensive as well as the Sr. Mary Rose McPhee Lecture Series on Leadership and Spirituality. All of these programs emphasize the importance of drawing upon our inner ways of knowing—wisdom, integrity, imagination, intuition and creativity—as well as our outer ways of knowing—reason, logic, empirical evidence. It is essential that leaders draw on both kinds of knowledge in order to lead from a place of wholeness in a way that can be transformative.
The aforementioned programs will continue to be the centerpiece of our Soul-Centered Leadership Institute at the Cove, but look for us to add additional shorter courses and practice opportunities that can introduce new work in this exciting field of transformational leadership. In this calendar you will find a class on the Neurobiology of Leadership and a book study on leadership.
Like Thomas Berry, we believe that we “have been given the intellectual vision, the spiritual insight and even the physical resources we need for carrying out the transition that is demanded of these times.”
We believe that leadership that is centered in the soul is a leadership that radiates out from one’s deepest, truest self and become a force for deepening relationships and positive change in all facets of our lives. We believe the time to do this—as always—is Now.