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Introduction to Spirituality as the New Black Art

This post and the 9 others following are mainly from the article of Dr. Gianni Zappalà, Associate Professor at the Centre for Social Impact, UNSW, and Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Sydney and Director of Orfeus Research, a boutique consultancy that assists organizations develop responsible citizenship strategies through research, evaluation and training.

The title of this article is “Spirituality is the new black …and it has social impact!” Its source URL is http://www.csi.edu.au/uploads/31642/ufiles/CSI%20Background%20Paper%20No%201%20-%20Spirituality%20is%20the%20new%20black%20-%20Part%20I.pdf

If you want to read the whole article, please click that URL.

This article is Part 1 of the Background Paper on spirituality published by the Centre for Social Impact, which is located at Level 6 East Wing, Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052 with telephone number 61 2 9385 6568 and Fax number Fax: 61 2 9385 6161. The website of this Center where you can find this material and other materials on spirituality is www.csi.edu.au

This Part 1 deals with the definitions and concepts of spirituality.

I found this article a very good introduction to the topic of spirituality. That is why I have put it after my topic on the functional meaning of spirituality.

With the kind permission of the author Dr. Gianni Zappalà I am posting here, in my blog on spirituality, his article in 10 parts. I will be writing in my comments or reflections before and after I present a portion of his article. His article appears in italics, to distinguish it from my comments which will be in non-italics or regular or roman text. As far as possible I have not truncated his article, lest I put something which can be misunderstood out of context. Incidentally, I find this method convenient for me in generating my own thoughts on the matter.

The article is quite heavy, I must say, as it should be, because it is dealing with fundamental terms and ideas in succinct expressions. That is why I have divided it into 10 parts and I may elucidate some of the sentences which may sound difficult for my blog readers to understand. Here is the first part.

Dr. Zappala starts his article with a quotation from David Hay in his book Something There – The Biology of the Human Spirit, published at London by Darton, Longman & Todd, in 2006. The quotation is "The enlightenment also has a down side, including the propensity to ignore or positively reject the reality of our spiritual nature, bringing in its wake a widespread sense of ultimate meaninglessness."1

This quotation implies that if we reject spirituality we are doomed to a life of ultimate meaninglessness. Nobody of us in his right mind would want that.

Then Dr. Zappala proceeds to the Introduction of his article:

Introduction

Spirituality is an increasingly significant factor shaping social trends and institutions in the 21st century. Indeed some have argued that it is the mega trend of our time and is informing and underpinning an emerging world view.2 As a recent book on the shifts occurring in society stated:

Humanity finds itself in the midst of a major shift in worldview... the shift involves a movement away from a material view of the universe and our place in it to a more spiritual view…Nature is no longer merely a neutral object for scientific investigation or a resource for industrial exploitation. It is a sacred order infused with intelligence and purpose – one with which humanity needs to cooperate..3

Before I lose any readers, let me first say that I am not using the term spirituality synonymously with religion. As this paper will make clear they are different constructs, and I regard spirituality to be a biologically prior and innate trait of humans that in some cases may lead some people to religion as we commonly know it but is certainly not the same thing as religion. This may explain the seeming paradox noted by political philosopher Charles Taylor, namely, that we are witnessing a resurgence of interest in spirituality when most social scientists accept some variant of the secularization thesis.4 Spirituality and religion are not only diverse but diverging in different directions. As has been observed in the Australian context (but is generally occurring throughout the Western world), „at a moment when Australians are experiencing a spiritual awakening, the churches that once guided that quest are being left out of the action..5

This paper is the first of several that will examine the implications of what is often referred to as the „spirituality revolution. or „spiritual turn. for organizations and business. A key aim of this project is to situate the current discourse on corporate responsibility and corporate citizenship within the broader transformation that is occurring in world views. We may not always know or explicitly acknowledge it but we (and the institutions we form) all think and act according to the assumptions of a particular world view. Having a model of the world is foundational to most people contemplating (if not answering) the most basic existential questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? But world views also create constraints – they keep us (and the institutions we lead and work in) from seeing the assumptions that underlie our beliefs and subsequently our behaviour. As a recent report stated:

An increasingly greater proportion of people are recognizing that habitual ways of thinking and doing must change or we risk catastrophic outcomes. And yet the shifts in perspective being called for seem to exceed our capacity to respond. We are constrained by a limited way of thinking about the world and our potential – a worldview – that we have inherited from the past and that may be incapable of overcoming the challenges it has created.6

We stand at a point of transformation and as has occurred at other times in history (e.g. theCopernican revolution) the dominant world view has reached its use by date. In this forthcoming series of papers I will argue that we are between world views and that this transition has implications for reforming one of the most powerful institutions of the modern era – the corporation. Attempts by one of the most recent reform movements to „civilize. the corporation, namely the loose alliance of thinkers, practitioners and activists within the „Corporate Responsibility movement. have been limited by the extent to which its proponents remain within the framework of the current dominant world view. I will argue in forthcoming papers that the movement needs to embed itself more fully in the emerging world view (one that is being underpinned by a new spirituality and science) if it is to achieve its goals.

Traditionally spirituality has been somewhat marginal in the social sciences. As Charles Taylor stated in his 2007 Templeton Prize speech, „the culture of the humanities and social sciences has often been surprisingly blind and deaf to the spiritual.. Another pioneer of the scholarly study of spirituality, David Hay said, „I think people are naturally spiritual…and the culture surrounding them crushes it out of them – sometimes suppresses, sometimes represses it. And this leads to a great deal of unhappiness..7

But the winds of change are slowly blowing through the corridors of university social science faculties and business schools, slowly „restoring our sight and hearing. with respect to this key human dimension. Indeed, spirituality has become of increasing interest to management scholars and practitioners, political scientists, sociologists, social scientists more broadly, especially those concerned with wellbeing and health8, and most surprising (or perhaps disturbing!) of all, economists. As a feature article in a leading financial daily stated:

Spirituality is not just a personal quest of the twenty first century; it.s a multi-disciplinary subject. It.s cropping up in physics, in biology, health care, sociology, management, social welfare…even find economists writing on it.9

Leaving aside for the moment issues of definition, consider the following indicators of the rise of interest in spirituality in the business and management studies:

*The publication of several special issues of management journals dedicated to the issue of spirituality and organizations, spirituality and the workplace and/or spirituality and leadership;10

*A growing number of conferences, books and articles on the same topics including the first handbook on spirituality and workplace performance in 200311 and the founding of the academicJournal of Management, Spirituality and Religion in 2004;

*The formation of an approved interest group on Management, Spirituality and Religion as part of the Academy of Management in 1999;

*An increasing number of courses on spirituality and business being offered in MBA programs and the establishment of academic centres for teaching and research in the area in at least eight universities in North America including Princeton, Yale and Harvard.12

Before we turn more fully to examine the work and ideas contained in these journals and books, we need to lay some ground work for thinking and understanding the concept of spirituality, and that is the subject of this paper.

The footnotes in this section are here:
1 David Hay, Something There – The Biology of the Human Spirit, London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 2006, p.xi
2 Patricia Aburdene, Megatrends 2010 – The rise of conscious capitalism, Charlottesville: Hampton Roads, 2005
3 Edmund J Bourne, Global Shift – How a new worldview is transforming humanity, Oakland, CA: New Harbinger, 2008, p.53
4 Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, Harvard University Press, 2007
5 Deirdre Macken, „Faith in modern spirits., Australian Financial Review, April 5-9, 2007, p.48
6 Institute of Noetic Sciences, The 2007 Shift Report: Evidence of a World Transforming, IONS, 2007
7 Interview with David Hay, „A child.s spirit., Encounter program, ABC Radio, 19 November 2006.
8 Andrew J Weaver, Kenneth I Pargament, Kevin J Flannelly & Julia E Oppenheimer, „Trends in the Scientific Study of Religion,
Spirituality, and Health: 1965 – 2000, Journal of Religion and Health, 45(2), 2006, pp. 208-214.
9 Macken, op.cit, p.48
11 R.A. Giacalone & C.L. Jurkiewicz (eds), Handbook of Workplace Spirituality and Organizational Performance, Armonk, NY: M.E.
Sharpe, 2003.
12 On MBA courses, see C. Driscoll & M. McKee, „Restorying a culture of ethical and spiritual values: A role for leader
storytelling., Journal of Business Ethics, 73, 2007, pp.205-17. In 2008 I developed and taught the first (to my knowledge) graduate
course on spirituality and business at the University of Sydney as part of the Master of Public Policy/Public Affairs program.

Here now is my own reflection on this section:

What Dr. Zappala is saying is that spirituality is now a force to be reckoned with. It is shaping our society and our institutions. It is no longer marginal, as it was in the past. We are moving away from a materialistic view of the universe to a spiritualistic view.

If only the Catholic Church did not suppress the writings of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., this trend would have happened a long time ago. Fr. de Chardin already posited the aliveness and spirit present in all beings, even the stones and iron that we step on. This was a far away idea from that of Aristotle who classified creation under the animate and inanimate beings. The inanimate beings were considered those which do not have life, such as the soil and the elements. Surprisingly this is still being taught in seminaries which are supposed to train the future leaders of this Church. The Catholic Church has a long way to go in the path of spirituality.

We are now discovering that all things are breathing with life, with the spirit.

Also if the Catholic Church had only heeded the interpretation of Scripture scholars that we are composed of body, soul and spirit, instead of just body and soul, as Aristotle taught, this renaissance on spirituality would have happened a long time ago, most probably within the Church.

What has happened is that the ones who rediscovered spirituality are not primarily in the religion or theology segments of our academe. They are in the social and business sciences. What a paradox! We may soon or late have sociologists and business executives teaching our priests and nuns about spirituality!

I can only give a brief reflection here, as the longer it is, the more probable it will be that my blog readers will be weary. They will weary their spirits.


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Here are my other blogs which may be of help to you:

http://bit.ly/spiritdev for your spiritual growth

http://bit.ly/alterhealthcare for your health

http://bit.ly/novotrends for learning about the new trends around us

http://bit.ly/bepaidonline for earning some income from the Internet

Here are your links to download the e-books for FREE. To download a copy of A NEW CHRIST by Wallace D. Wattles click this website http://bit.ly/anewchrist. To download a free copy of A NEW EARTH by Eckhart Tolle click this website http://bit.ly/ebookanewearth. I hope that you enjoy reading these free e-books and profit much from them, as I have also profited greatly from them.

4 comments:

  1. Spiirituality has got to do with the minutest things we do as human beings - the food we eat, dress we put on, our friendships, homes etc. This is spirituality in the positive sense. There can be spirituality of evil. Our survey: "Keeping Human Relationship Together" studies in Spiritual Psychology has explained it well. Prof. Anthony O. Nwachukwu (www.gtfeducation.org)

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  2. Thank you, nwagod1, for your comment. Yes, spirituality is bound up with everything we do as human beings.

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