Maslow (1968) says that for hundreds of years humanists have tried to construct a naturalistic, psychological value system that could be derived from man’s own nature. These have all failed (p.165). He continues saying that our process of self actualisation completes as each of the lower needs are met and we are able to move forward to complete our humanness. Heaven in his terms is found within one as they self actualise. Contemporary organisational and counselling research is demonstrating a growing interest and research in the relationship with spirituality based on the assumption we are not merely physiological or psychological we are also psychospiritual (Jung, 1933).
Spirituality as a pervasive force in contemporary society is influencing several helping professions such as counseling, education, medicine, nursing, psychology, social work, education, and addictions treatment. And, it would be expected as coaching matures it too will need to include spirituality as a strategy to assist personal and organisational effectiveness. An explosion of professional and popular literature in spirituality is indicative of the resurgence of interest (Richards & Bergin, 1997).
The Dalai Lama defined spirituality by saying, “I believe that it is essential that we appreciate our potential as human beings and recognise the importance of inner transformation” (p.294). Other common perspectives share in the understanding that spirituality is the quest for meaning and mission in life, the search for harmony and wholeness in the universe, and the internalisation of a fundamental belief in an all-loving presence in the universe are lofty and honorable spiritual goals for humans. Ellison (1983) asserted that it is the spirituality of human beings that motivates and inspires them to search for meaning and purpose in life.
Mitroff and Denton (1999) found virtually unanimous agreement on the definition of spirituality among executives, managers, and workers at all levels in a variety of industries. In essence the definition of spirituality had two components: first that spirituality includes a sense of connection to something beyond the individual, and second that spirituality is a search for meaning, purpose, and integration in life.
Aquinas said that the life devoted to inner stillness and spiritual knowledge was the highest form of human activity. This would initially propose a dilemma for the career counsellor in assisting people to attain roles that are predominately orientated to the accumulation or production of materialistic. Eckhart resolves this by his comments that this dichotomy is solved through the integration of one’s activity with the spiritual self. Meaningful activity can validate one’s spirituality (quoted in Fromm).
Costello reflects this dilemma in an Australian context as he laments the loss of community and sense of purpose that people feel in their roles. He turns to Eastern wisdom and says,
“Perhaps life is not a race whose only goal is being foremost. Perhaps the truth lies in wt most of the world outside the modern west has always believed, namely that there are certain practices in life, good in themselves that are inherently fulfilling. Perhaps work that is intrinsically rewarding is better for human beings than work hat is only extrinsically rewarded. Perhaps enduring commitment to those we love and civic friendship toward our fellow citizens are preferable to restless competition and anxious self defense. . Perhaps common worship, in which we express our gratitude and wonder in the face of mystery of being itself, is the most important thing of all. If so we will all have to change our lives and begin to remember what we have been happier to forget.”
Costello (p. 69) points out the desire for humans to engage in roles that move past extrinsic reward. His own vocational journey in ministry reflects the inability of western materialism to determine one’s success.
“In hindsight I can see that my own vocation often entails the simple facilitation of the voices of others rather than the achievement or pursuit of clearly articulated goals (P.75).”
He reflects that many Australians have this sense of incompleteness. His perception mirrors Fromm’s “being mode” which is based on love, and the pleasure of sharing with others and seeing them reach their creative potential. This may involve productive activity but should not be made a pre-requisite for career success.