"Where are our Sacred places?" Daniel Martin asked of us at the second Annapolis
Summit. "The obvious truth is that everything is sacred. And the concern is
the history of loss of the sacred in our times and the resulting mess...the
breakdown of systems, both environmental and social. There's no family that
is left untouched by the consequences - from street violence to unhealthy air
and water - from unfair resource distribution to the loss of community. At the
same time, nature is never spent, even in us humans. My experience and yours
already is the emergence of innumerable grassroots initiatives, beginning to
form around lost values, a realization of the lost sense of the sacred, a growing
recognition of the shared responsibility for all this. The modern religion of
scientific materialism with its narrow utilitarian consumerism that crushed
the sacred and replaced it with its own shrines - the Banks, the Corporate World
- they are our sacred places. It was the throw-away society that developed our
great tolerance for ugliness. Noise and pollution were accepted as the price
of progress. Progress defined as more - that turned our
lives into sacred consumerism and the mindless exploitation of our children's'
There's a book by Chicago Bulls' head coach Phil Jackson called Sacred Hoops that
describes the spiritual approach to achievement that he used to lead his team
to success. I quote from the book here, because it's an approach I recommend
for growth management. We are, as a culture, ill at ease with mind/spirit lingo.
We separate heart and mind giving the primary role in decision-making to the
mind. Some men get downright ornery when I make an effort to engage their inner
spirit, their tenderness, their subconscious connections. They feel invaded,
at risk, the shield goes up. Their eyes harden resentfully. They terminate the
conversation, walk out of the room. Others blossom, delighted to feel free to
make a deeper connection, to free their spirit. Many women respond with an immediacy
of release. Some are uncomfortable.
But many people are hungry for deeper connections, more meaningful
relationships with each other, with the powers of wind and storm, rain and sun,
connections that convey a sense of ineffable beauty and peace of mind.
It isn't often, however, that one finds this connection to spirit expressed in
the super competitive macho male world of sports. Phil Jackson says he directs
his players to act with a clear mind, not thinking, just doing. He tells them
to respect the enemy and be aggressive without anger or violence, to live in
the moment and stay calmly focused in the midst of chaos, so that the "me" becomes
the servant of the "we." The "paradigm of leadership" Jackson uses is based on
Eastern and Native American principles.
In Chapter seven, BEING AWARE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN BEING SMART, Jackson
says, "When I was named head coach of the Chicago Bulls in 1989, my dream was
not just to win championships, but to do it in a way that wove together my two
greatest passions: basketball and spiritual exploration. On the surface this
may sound like a crazy idea, but intuitively I sensed that there was a link between
spirit and sport. Besides, winning at any cost didn't interest me.
From my years as a member of the championship New York Knicks, I'd already learned
that winning is ephemeral. Yes, victory is sweet, but it doesn't necessarily
make life any easier the next season or even the next day....In basketball -
as in life - true joy comes from being fully present in each and every moment,
not just when things are going your way....
"The day I took over the Bulls, I vowed to create an environment based on the
principles of selflessness and compassion I'd learned as a Christian in my parents'
home; sitting on a cushion practicing Zen; and studying the teachings of the
Lakota Sioux. I knew that the only way to win was to give everybody - from the
stars to the number 12 player on the bench - a vital role on the team, and inspire
them to be acutely aware of what was happening, even when the spotlight was on
somebody else. More than anything, I wanted to build a team that would blend
individual talent with a heightened group consciousness....
"This isn't always an easy task in a society where the celebration of ego is
the number one national pastime. Nowhere is this more true than in the hothouse
atmosphere of professional sports. Yet even in this highly competitive world,
I've discovered that when you free players to use all their resources
- mental, physical, and spiritual - an interesting shift in awareness occurs...they
play better and win more, they also become more attuned with each other. And
the joy they experience working in harmony is a powerful motivating force that
comes from deep within..."
I'd like to suggest strongly that this approach needs to be applied to the interaction
between citizens and government for planning our way out of the morass we have
made for our families, our communities, for the land. We need to use techniques,
as Jackson has done, which are rooted in the past such as Dialogue - to engage
in truly collaborative planning. Government and citizens and consultants need
to get together to decide what the real tasks are, study and then act in
unison on the results. It's not working the way we're doing it now.