ENTHEOS, PART I. . .

The way to do is to be. –Lao Tzu

In his 1962 essay, Greenleaf introduces us to the concept of ‘Entheos.’  Seven years later, when Greenleaf began to write on the ‘servant theme’ this concept became one of the major tap roots that nurtures and sustains the ‘servant.’  Greenleaf writes:

…this is the way I would like to see my potential emerge.  In whatever way and in whatever measure is my lot, I would like somehow to live my life so that the net impact of my existence upon my times is a plus.

 …to begin by searching for meaning in a word that has fallen into disuse.  That word is entheos (from the same roots as enthusiasm, which means possessed of the spirit).  These two words, entheos and enthusiasm, have had an interesting history in the English language coming down side by side through separate channels of meaning from the sixteenth century.  Entheos has always been the basic spiritual essence; enthusiasm, until recently, its perverter and imitator.  Entheos is now defined as the power actuating one who is inspired while enthusiasm is seen as its less profound more surface aspect.  Etntheos might be thought of as enthusiasm in depth.

 For whatever value it may be to the aspirant for ethical leadership I want to suggest meaning for entheos and, at the risk of laboring it, I want to build a concept of growth around this one word.  For those who have a concern to make their best possible contribution to the evolving ethics, it is important to see entheos as the lamp and to keep one’s own private lamp lighted as one ventures forth into a confused, pressure-ridden world, but nevertheless a hopeful world for those who can maintain their contact with the power that actuates inspiration.  From the little I know of history I cannot imagine a more interesting time to be alive than in the 1960s, provided one can make it with entheos.

 

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