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Toward an Ecology of Spirit1

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When we ask about ‘The Nature of Organizations’ we are not simply asking about their characteristics. We are asking, quite literally, about organizations as part of nature – infused with the same energy force or Spirit that links the Spirit of the living universe and planet, to our own personal Spirit, to the Spirit of our organizations. This requires a new way of thinking about organizations and our role in them, a way of thinking based upon what we call an Ecology of Spirit.

In this chapter the author describes his own journey of Spirit, at times painful, from his early days as a Roman Catholic monk and priest, to his work as a street-worker in American inner cities, to his present work in the Canadian Arctic. For the past two decades he has worked in the North with Inuit and Dene (Indian) peoples in the areas of community and organizational development. His discovery of an Ecology of Spirit has emerged from the convergence of two streams of thought: the traditional teaching of the aboriginal elders and the lessons of the New Science which has abandoned the machine model of organizational development and sees organizations as living organisms.

In the final section of the chapter the author offers some practical suggestions. He discusses the need to discover a new way of being in organizations based upon our ability to discern Spirit, discover our own inner Spirit, and animate the Spirit of our organizations.

In the early 1980s I spent a lot of time sitting in community meetings in small Inuit settlements in the Eastern Arctic. I was the superintendent of the Department of Social Services and the purpose of these meetings was to deal with community issues, explain the department's services, and get feedback on how we were doing.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3726/978-3-0353-0376-6_10

Publication date: January 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • Business within Limits
    The book explores the Deep Ecology perspective and Buddhist Economics for transforming business toward a more ecological and human form. It argues that ecology and ethics provide limits for business within which business is legitimate and productive. By transgressing ecological and ethical limits business activities become destructive and self-defeating. Today's business model is based on and cultivates narrow self-centeredness. Both Deep Ecology and Buddhist Economics point out that emphasizing individuality and promoting the greatest fulfillment of the desires of the individual conjointly lead to destruction. Happiness is linked to wholeness, not to personal wealth. We need to find new ways of doing business, ways that respect the ecological and ethical limits of business activities. Acting within limits provides the hope and promise of contributing to the preservation and enrichment of the world.
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