Spiritual Capital: Wealth We Can Live by

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Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2004 - Business & Economics - 173 pages
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Our capitalist culture and the business practices that operate within it are in crisis. Capitalism as we know it today-an amoral culture of short-term self-interest, profit maximization, emphasis on shareholder value, isolationist thinking, and profligate disregard of long-term consequences-is an unsustainable system, a monster set to consume itself.

Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall argue that a critical mass of individuals acting from higher motivations can make a difference. They offer a radically new philosophy for corporate governance that alters the meaning and purpose of business and wealth creation. They describe a values-based business culture that focuses on the accumulation of ospiritual capitalo rather than material capital. Rather than strictly benefiting shareholders, spiritual capital benefits all stakeholders-including the whole human race, present and future, and the planet itself. Spiritual capital nourishes and sustains the human spirit.

Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall introduce the concept of spiritual intelligence (SQ), and describe how it can be used to shift individuals and our culture from a state of acting from lower motivations (fear, greed, anger, and self-assertion) to one of acting from higher motivations (exploration, cooperation, power-within, mastery, and higher service). They show how this shift actually happens in a given organizational culture. They look in depth at the issues that dominate corporate culture and examine the role of the leadership elite who must be the ones to bring about and embody this cultural shift. Finally, Zohar and Marshall argue that spiritual capital is a valid and workable form of capitalism and detail what we, as individuals, can do to make it happen.

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About the author (2004)

Introduction
Changing Ourselves to Change the World

Recently, while visiting Nepal, I had a dream that bears on the theme and unfolding of this book. In the dream I was attending a play with three acts, at a theater-in-the-round where the audience sit very close to the actors and feel part of the action. In Act One of the play, a group of Tibetan monks were chanting their prayers and performing the rituals of Tibetan Buddhism. The scene was very ordered, beautiful and peaceful and uplifting to watch. Everything was in its place. But then suddenly the wooden-beamed ceiling of the room began to collapse. Poles and plaster began to rain down on the monks and killed many of them. I ran from the stage in fear for my own life.


In Act Two of the play, Tibetan monks were again performing rituals, but they were old men, bitter and cynical. They were just going through their ceremonies as a matter of habit and appearance, and they were behaving cruelly, even sadistically, to the younger novice monks who attended them. This act of the play had no life. Indeed it was filled with very negative energy and I wanted to flee the theater.

In Act Three of the play, a group of very young novice monks were setting off on a journey. Some were walking, others riding yaks (long-haired, bull-like creatures). These monks were innocent, even naive. They were not certain of their goal, but they knew it was their destiny to travel and discover new rituals for their order. As in all the best dreams, they were riding off into a rising sun, filled with hope and a sense of adventure.2

I found the dream an uncanny representation of how our own culture has unfolded. The peaceful monks of Act One, performing their healthy rituals, represented a more traditional time, with "God in his heaven and all right with the world." It was a time of belief and values, a time when human beings knew where the goal posts were. The cynical monks of Act Two represented our modern era, dominated by capitalist materialism and bleak Newtonian mechanics. Theirs (ours) was a world of disillusion, bitterness, selfishness, and even perversion. It was (is) a world where people just go through the motions of once-meaningful things. No one was nourished. The young monks of Act Three, I would like to think, are where at least some of us are today, setting out on a journey to discover new, living rituals (practices, philosophies) that can take our race forward into a meaningful and sustainable future.

I very much hope that a critical mass of individuals can identify with the young monks of Act Three, finding new and broader foundations for our capitalist ethos and our business culture that will use to the full their potential both as material-wealth-generating mechanisms and as fuller human activities. Perhaps a few will find inspiration in the pages that follow.

It is the assumption of this book that our capitalist culture and the business practices that operate within it are in crisis. I describe global business as "a monster consuming itself." This is because the underlying ethos and assumptions of capitalism, and many of the business practices that follow from them, are unsustainable. Capitalism and business as we know them have no long-term future, and these limit the future of our culture at large.

The central theme of this book is that a critical mass of individuals acting from higher motivations can make a difference. Its purpose is to show how this critical mass of present and potential leaders can use their spiritual intelligence to create spiritual capital in their wider organizational cultures, thereby making those cultures more sustainable. The goal is a capitalism that is itself sustainable and a world in which sustainable capitalism can generate wealth that nourishes all our human needs.

The key word here is wealth. My own definition of wealth is "that which we have access to that enhances the quality of life." We often speak of a wealth of talent, a wealth of character, or a wealth of good fortune. The word wealth itself comes from the Old English welth, meaning "to be well." But the dictionary definition of wealth, reflecting the economized culture that has produced our modern dictionaries, emphasizes first, "a great quantity or store of money." Our usual definition of capital follows from this, defining capital as the amount of money or material goods that we possess. Capitalism as we know it is about money and material wealth.3

Spiritual capital, by contrast, is wealth that we can live by, wealth that enriches the deeper aspects of our lives. It is wealth we gain through drawing upon our deepest meanings, deepest values, most fundamental purposes, and highest motivations, and by finding a way to embed these in our lives and work.

Spiritual capital is a vision and a model for organizational and cultural sustainability within a wider framework of community and global concern. It is capital amassed through serving, in both corporate philosophy and practice, the deeper concerns of humanity and the planet. It is capital that reflects our shared values, shared visions, and fundamental purposes in life. Spiritual capital is reflected in what an organization believes in, what it exists for, what it aspires to, and what it takes responsibility for.

My use of the word spiritual here and throughout the book has no connection with religion or any other organized belief system. Religious organizations and religiously based cultures have undoubtedly built some genuine spiritual capital. But they have done so within the limitations of belief systems that exclude those who hold other religious beliefs and those who have no religious belief. The broader kind of spiritual capital needed for organizations, communities, and cultures participating in today''s pluralist and global society must draw on deeper, nonsectarian meanings, values, purposes, and motivations that might be sacred to any human being.

In the same spirit as this broader spiritual capital, spiritual intelligence is the intelligence with which we access our deepest meanings, values, purposes, and highest motivations. It is how we use these in our thinking processes, in the decisions that we make, and the things that we think it is worthwhile to do. These decisions include how we make and how we allocate our material wealth.

Spiritual intelligence is our moral intelligence, giving us an innate ability to distinguish right from wrong. It is the intelligence with which we exercise goodness, truth, beauty, and compassion in our lives. It is, if you like, the soul''s intelligence, if you think of soul as that channeling capacity in human beings that brings things up from the deeper and richer dimensions of imagination and spirit into our daily lives, families, organizations, and institutions.

To understand the book, it is necessary to see the crucial link between spiritual intelligence, spiritual capital, and sustainability. This link is the central unifying thread running through the book. It can be expressed as follows: We need a sense of meaning and values and a sense of fundamental purpose (spiritual intelligence) in order to build the wealth that these can generate (spiritual capital). It is only when our notion of capitalism includes spiritual capital''s wealth of meaning, values, purpose, and higher motivation that we can have sustainable capitalism and a sustainable society.4

Spiritual intelligence is the intelligence with which we access our deepest meanings, values, purposes, and highest motivations.

SQ, spiritual capital, and sustainability are crucially linked. SQ''s sense of meaning, values, and purpose generates spiritual capital. Spiritual capital''s wealth of meaning, values, and higher motivation are necessary to sustainable capitalism and a sustainable society.

Sustainability itself requires that a system be able to maintain itself and evolve into the future. Sustainable systems in nature are systems whose elements cooperate in producing a balanced environment that nourishes the whole. They are holistic (the parts interact internally), self-organizing, and exploratory. The earth''s ecology (Gaia) is an example, where plants produce the oxygen that animals need, animals in turn produce carbon dioxide needed by the plants, the various plant and animal populations stay in balance through a combination of cooperation and competition, and water is recycled through processes of evaporation and rain. The ecology as a whole uses the diversity within it to breed evolution (genetic mutation).

People, organizations, and cultures that have spiritual capital will be more sustainable because they will have developed qualities that include wider, values-based vision, global concern and compassion, long-term thinking, spontaneity (and hence flexibility), an ability to act from their own deepest convictions, an ability to thrive on diversity, and an ability to learn from and make positive use of adversity.

I discuss three kinds of capital in the book: material capital, social capital, and spiritual capital. The building of each kind of capital is, I believe, associated with one of our three major human intelligences: rational intelligence (IQ), emotional intelligence (EQ), and spiritual intelligence (SQ).


See Table


5
Material capital is the capital most familiar to us in our present capitalist society. It means money and the things that money can buy--money to spend, money to invest, money with which to buy material advantage, power, and influence. As the founders of capitalism maintained, we pursue this kind of capital with our rational intelligence (IQ). IQ is the intelligence with which we think.

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