This morning gentle reader I will conclude our brief exploration of ‘Entheos.’  Greenleaf continues, and writes:

As entheos becomes a more constant companion, one moves toward the minimum difference between the outside and inside images of the self; one becomes more willing to be seen as he is. Living as we do in an unreal world, to some extent we all wear masks. …and the urge to remove the mask is one of the surest signs of its potency.

 Then one becomes conscious of the good use of time and unhappy with the waste of time.  As awareness opens, one of the observations one is likely to make of our contemporary society is to note the number of elaborate and seductive devices lurking about that serve no other purpose than to waste time.

 A further test is the growing sense of achieving one’s basic personal goals through one’s work, whatever it is…however poorly recognized. 

 …Going with some of these tests is the emergence of a sense of unity, a pulling together of all aspects of life.  …all merge into one total pattern.  …as entheos grows, one becomes more decisive and emphatic in saying no!

 Finally, there is a developing view of peopleALL people are seen more as beings to be trusted, believed in and loved and less as objects to be used, competed with or judged.  It is a shifting of the balance from use to esteem in all personal relationships.  In an imperfect world one never achieves it fully; but there can be measurable progress. This is a critically important test.  Unless this view of people becomes dominant, it is difficult for the inward view of one’s own significant uniqueness to emerge. 

 Love of oneself in the context of a pervasive love for one’s fellow man is a healthy attribute and necessary for the fulfillment of a life.  Out of this context, love of oneself is narrowing, introverting and destructive. 

 The ultimate test of entheos, however, is an intuitive feeling of oneness, of wholeness, of rightness, of the dependability of one’s own inward experience, of living in the light of the great events of one’s history at one with the natural world; but not necessarily comfort or ease.

 …Don’t build your life around your work; do just the opposite – build your work around your life.

 Think of yourself as a person with unique potentialities and see this life as an opportunity for bringing these into mature bloom.  See every facet of your life as contributing to the process.

 Become the change you want to see in the world. –Gandhi

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Greenleaf continues and writes:

…I believe to be some valid tests, some indicators that there may be real growth of entheos.

 First, two paradoxes; a concurrent satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the status quo.  One is not so unhappy with his current level of achievement that he can’t live with himself.  Neither is he so pleased with it that he has no incentive to break out of it. 

 Then there is a concurrent feeling of broadening responsibilities and of centering down.  One is constantly reaching out for wider horizons, new levels of experience and at the same time the idea of “This one thing will I do” is in the ascendancy.

 There is a growing sense of purpose in whatever one does.  The idea of purpose becomes important.  …the most penetrating and disturbing of all questions, “What am I trying to do?” becomes a constant query.  One never loses sight of this question.  Yet, paradoxically, in order to become purposeful, none must also be purposeless.

 There are changing patterns and depths of one’s interests.  Old interests to which one was once attached drop away and newer and deeper ones take their place.  Choices must be made.

 Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. –Robert Frost

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


See out that particular mental attitude which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive. – William James

Greenleaf continues:

I see entheos as the essence that makes a constructive life possible; it is the sustaining force that holds one together under stress; it is the support for venturesome risk-taking action; it is the means whereby whatever religious beliefs one has are kept in contact with one’s attitudes and actions in the world of practical affairs; it lifts people above the prosaic and gives them a sense of timelessness; it is the prod of conscience that keeps one open to knowledge, so that one can be both aware and sensitive, when the urge to be comfortable would keep the door closed…

 Entheos does not come in response to external incentives.  In fact, it may persist when incentives operate to destroy it.  The individual cannot will it; it comes when it will and sometimes it goes when most needed.  But it does grow.

 All that can be willed is the search.

 There is no one pattern that I know of.  Each must find his own pattern.  One of the great challenges of emerging maturity: find one’s own growth pattern in the search for entheos.

 I can suggest some tests.  If one has a few tests in mind, these might help to plot the individual search.  We are reaching for entheos, the power actuating one who is inspired.  First some misleading indicators – some achievements that might throw one off.

Status or material success: …in the process of achieving one may be destroying much that is really important…

 Doing all that is expected of one: …what should I be expecting of myself?

 Family success: …it can be an egocentric, narrowing development.

 Relative peace and quiet: This may simply mean that the doors of perception are closed.

 Finally, busyness – compulsive busyness: …the drive to avoid the implications of growth.

 I have suggested six indicators…these can all be positive and worthwhile; but they don’t necessarily add up to growth of entheos.

 What are some valid tests, some indicators that there may be real growth of entheos?

 Nosce te ipsum: Know Thyself. –The Oracle

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


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.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


This is the unresolved question: What price do I pay for where I choose to stand? –Diana Trilling

In his 1962 essay, Greenleaf writes:

…this matter of choice.  Most of us live our lives the way we want to and use our time the way we want to and choose deliberately the moral ground on which we will stand.  Often we are terribly busy, sometimes compulsively busy.  But this too is a matter of choice

 …We largely choose to spend time as we do.  The time that we have that earlier people did not have…this time, what are we doing with it?  We should have more choices than our forebearers; yet we seem to have fewer.  We should have more time and we seem to have less.

 Could it be that time has been absorbed by activities that are designed to waste time?  Or, could it be that we are sometimes caught up in the speed of our culture, that we are devoting too much time to reacting to things that are pushed at us and not enough to paths of deliberate conscious choices?  Do we run our own lives, or does our environment run them for us?  It is a matter of choice.  To the extent that we let external forces run our lives, to that extent we are living our lives by default. 

 …There is one thing in common among people who have made resolute choices that resulted in a constructive influence upon their times: something happened to them when they were young.  They acquired a view of their own uniqueness, they grappled with the questions: Who am I?  Where am I?  Why am I here? 

The strongest principle of growth lies in the human choice. –George Eliot

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


In his 1962 essay, Greenleaf briefly explores ‘Paradox.’  When he wrote about servant-leadership eight years later he noted that at our healthiest we are living paradoxes.  In his 1962 essay, Greenleaf writes:

…there is an important internal attribute that does not have as clear an external reference.  It is paradox.

 Usually we think of paradox as an unwanted contradiction, an illogical notion or situation that shouldn’t exist.  I would like to present the idea of paradox as a necessary and desirable attribute of life.

 Webster’s Dictionary admits paradox to mean something seemingly contradictory but that may be true in fact.  I would like to explore here the paradoxical aspects of strong, responsible, successful people.  For instance, a leader – or anyone responsible for other people – may sometimes be both soft and tough at the same time, dealing with the same set of conditions. 

 This is the paradox: the seeming contradiction between a set of attributes that are quite opposite, the blend of which makes for great strength…

 How does one separate paradox, the necessary embodiment of contradictory qualities which strong people who are carrying responsible roles are likely to have, from those obvious undesirables: two-facedness and hypocrisy?

 The difference, it seems to me, lies in the motives and the quality of the person.  A man of lesser character than Lincoln might not have it said about him that, “He expressed and acted on these usually incompatible motives and ideas with such rare propriety and amenity that their union in his behavior and spirit passes not only without criticism but almost without comment.”

 The moral, I take it, is not to strive for that consistency which Emerson called “foolish” and “the hobgoblin of little minds” but to strive rather for those qualities of propriety and amenity the possession of which renders the paradox of inconsistency a source of strength rather than a liability.

 There is probably a logic underlying paradox, but it is not syllogistic logic.  It is more likely…what Emerson was trying to convey when he spoke of “The good of evil born.”  Man at his greatest…is paradox and it seems right that this should be his nature.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


In his 1962 essay, Greenleaf noted ‘three issues’ that emerged rather sharply out of my own experience.  This morning, gentle reader, I will conclude this topic as I share with you Greenleaf’s third issue.  Greenleaf writes:

The third issue that needs to be dealt with is the struggle for significance

 One of the hazards of prolonged schooling is that one becomes accustomed to living in a system in which the ends of the system are to nurture significance for the individual.  This is what a school is for.

 Once in the world of work, the institution one serves…uses people for its own ends.  All such institutions have other obligations and they commit people who do the work to these obligations.  Most modern institutions are also concerned that the people who do the work find personal significance in their work…

 But what is it that one is expected to find?  I see it as something latent in the individual to be fulfilled: not something fixed or predetermined like a seed, but a potentiality for growth into something new and unique.

 A health adulthood requires that each one find a way to nurture his own uniqueness, and find it among the choices of experience available to him…

 Often, too, significance is blocked by compulsive drives for goals that do not provide fulfillment…  When we achieve what we pursue…there is an emptiness…

 The warning here is that our society holds up values which confuse the search – status, property, power, tangible achievement – even peace of mind – which subvert the emergence of true uniqueness, the only real significance…

 Neither institutions nor aggregates of people have significance, except as it is given to them by living individuals who comprise them.  Even traditions, powerful as they sometimes appear to be, are not viable unless contemporary people understand and believe in them and, by their thoughts, words and deeds, give them current significance…

 Qualities like dignity, significance, integrity are internal attributes of individual people.  They should show on the outside; but the essence is inside, not outside. 


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment