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Earth, the Business of the Future: From Ego Energy to Eco Energy Richard j. Lambert Productivity Breakthrough, Inc.

Just as we have a "turn around manager" to save a failing business organization, so it is held, we need a "turn around perspective" to retrieve the Earth from being in a deficit position. Hence the paradoxical emphasis upon the Earth as the business of the future. Two important distinctions are offered which together provide a new frame of reference for bonding the human and the Earth. The initiating event for the first distinction was a business conference whose purpose was to explore "the emerging domain of ego energy." In a parallel way, it is proposed we explore the yet to be discovered domain of eco energy. With "eco energy" we open our narrowed human window to cosmic perception. With cosmic perception, the energy of the universe can flow through us. The second distinction is between looking at and seeing. "Looking at" refers to treating our world as a collection of objects. As a collection of objects the Earth can be processed as a series of business transactions. With "seeing" we relate to our world as a communion of subjects. Such seeing offers transforming power for the human and the Earth to engage in the dialogue of powerful listening and speaking on both individual and planetary scale. These two sets of distinctions are sounded like echo chambers against ten ecologically guiding statements. These ten guiding statements become a realitytesting, experiential framework. Such a "turn around perspective" offers a different vision to be operationalized in our individual, community, and business lives. Then we can see clearly and respond with eco energy to the Earth, the business of the future!

Please address correspondence to Dr. Lambert, President, Productivity Breakthrough, Inc., 72 Carman Road, Scarsdale, New York 10583.

Population and Environment: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies Volume 19, Number 1, September 1997 © 1997 Human Sciences Press, Inc.




INTRODUCTION It is a commonplace observation that the glasses we wear filter and frame what we observe. How we observe persons, places, and things channel our modes of understanding. Still more, our modes of understanding differentiate how we interpret our human experience. We will explore, as though we are engaged in a common project, what happens when we put on a new pair of glasses with which to see. Here, what is called for, is both simple and difficult: the openness to see something new. In this project of reinterpreting our world, distinctions are important. Frederick Franck, author of Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing, assists us with a critical distinction. There is a difference between looking at and seeing— some person, place, thing, the Earth itself, not as an object but as a subject. More usually, I use an object but I can experience oneness with a subject. What are the consequences of our fixation upon looking at, and our blindness to seeing or lost clarity of perception? No wonder that once the art of seeing is lost, Meaning is lost, and all life itself seems ever more meaningless: "They know not what they do, for they do not see what they look-at." "Not seeing what they look-at" may well be the root cause of the frightful suffering that we humans inflict on one another, on animals, on Earth herself (Franck, 1993, p. 4). Along with the foregoing, there is another important distinction which forms the subtitle of this Earth essay. A few years ago there was a business conference sponsored by a university which concentrated on "several key questions [which] help to organize the emerging domain of ego energy." As I reflected upon this statement,I asked myself the parallel question, "Is there an emerging domain of eco energy?" If you research the literature, you find surprising increase in eco-journals, eco-conferences, eco-organizations, eco-courses, eco-articles, ecothinking, eco-books, eco-activities, eco-frames of reference, eco-degrees, eco-perspectives, eco-issues being debated, eco-ethics, eco-newsletters, eco-field studies, eco-events, eco-societies, eco-advocacy groups, eco-legislation, and a growing variety of eco-expressions and eco-sensitization. This list reflects an enormous range of human energy—physical and psychic—invested in multiplying eco-tasks, eco-projects, and eco involvement of all kinds. In this emerging new ecological context I would draw attention to eco energy as a mode of breakthrough consciousness for pro-


moting in the twenty-first century a mutually enhancing human/Earth relationship. The approach will focus on ten guiding ecological statements. Through images, metaphors and storytelling the meaning of each of the ten statements will be elucidated and connected with eco energy. The claim is made that there is a further horizon to be discovered beyond ego, beyond individualism, beyond modern economic enterprise, beyond the nation state, even beyond the concept of world order. Thomas Berry, cultural historian and geologian, exhorts, "The human community and the natural world will go into the future as a single sacred community or we will both perish in the desert" (Befriending the Earth, 1991, p. 29). This statement forcefully images the significance of eco energy. I. "Learn to see all things swayed by sacred meanings. Even our cities should be transformed into sacred settings for the indwelling of the human spirit." Ask yourself this experimental question: "Why can two people stand at the rim of the Grand Canyon, and the two persons' perceptions be so opposed? One traveller says, "I look-at a big hole." The second person waxes almost mystical as she speaks about "seeing a geological revelation of Earth history." For her the layers of rock unfold a series of chapters as from a sacred book. In a parallel way what do people behold when entering a city? Is the reality, too often, grime and dirt, crumbling infrastructure, drugs and crime and multiplying problems? The question with power is "What is one's attitude toward this reality?" One attitude offers power to take responsibility. Not too long ago I visited one of the most blighted, gang and drug infested barrios in Los Angeles. The occasion celebrated the heroic laboring of one Mexican woman investing her own money, and more importantly her life's energy, to transform this neighborhood. On larger scale, what is this urban urgency? "The future of cities is one of the most important planetary considerations confronting mankind. A profound transformation is needed in the way that cities are conceived. Each urban area needs to develop an ecologically oriented Green City Program that delivers a high quality of life for all its residents, in harmony with its bioregion." Estimates show 5% of the world's population lived in cities in 1800. It is projected that 50% of the world's population will live in cities in the year 2000. Asia's urban population—1950: 200,000,000. Asia's urban population—2010: 1,800,000,000 (The Amicus Journal, 1992, p. 36). These data are not simply "Vital Statistics on Cities," but explosions of


new orders of magnitude. We need imagination, planning, empowered people translating plans into action, and vision proportioned to these orders of magnitude. During my traveling and management consulting in the state of California, 1 had the opportunity to listen to the dreaming of a close friend engaged in urban rejuvenation in California. As a result of our discussions he wrote a letter setting forth a bold proposal for urban renewal and personally delivered this letter to the hotel in San Jose, California where President Clinton was staying, for his attention and action. The challenge is offered, "What happens when people are inspired, beyond secular motivation, to some quality bonding offered by connectedness to a sacred setting?" "Sacred" can include the traditional focus of religion, but, in this new context, "Religion begins to appreciate that the primary sacred community is the universe itself. In a more immediate perspective the sacred community is the Earth community. The human community becomes sacred through its participation in the larger planetary community" (Swimme & Berry, 1992, p. 257). We would add, the city becomes a sacred setting as a primary habitation for the human community and the indwelling of the human spirit. II. "Delight in all creatures as subjects who radiate an interior richness." Thomas Berry expresses most directly and succinctly the insight that governs our entry into what he refers to as the Ecozoic Age: The first condition is that the universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects. Our plundering, industrialcommercial society is a perfect illustration of what happens when the person-spirit, interior dignity of things no longer receives the reverence it deserves (Berry, 1991, p. 96). For our needed awakening, we might shift from learning to unlearning. One approach to unlearning is to think counter-culturally. What happens when we engage in that kind of thought-experiment? We take something that is popular, even ingrained in our culture for example, that we need to consume to be happy—and think the opposite. "We do not need to consume to be happy." Go further, press the point seemingly to an absurd extreme, "Consumption has nothing to do with happiness." Urge the point to what many people, too instant in judgment, would feel an absurdity. Why not? "Because you do not need to do anything. All you need for your happiness is within you now!" Why can it not be affirmed that such is the ultimate in interior riches?


We need to practice bursting the confinement of the anthropocentric, and open ourselves to delighting in the richness of the entire Earth community. We have an unparalleled opportunity as we near the twenty-first century to rediscover the person in this more comprehensive context. Ominously, it is being reported that we are experiencing world-wide rising rates of psychological depression. If the twentieth century ushered in the Age of Anxiety, its exit is witnessing the dawn of the Age of Melancholy. The first international study of major depression reveals a steady rise in the disorder worldwide. How serious is this internal demoralization of the person? "In some countries the likelihood that people born after 1955 will suffer a major depression—not just sadness, but a paralyzing listlessness, dejection and self-depreciation, as well as an overwhelming sense of hopelessness—at some point in life—is more than three times greater than for their grandparents' generation" (A Rising Cost of Modernity: Depression, The New York Times, December 8, 1992). This author, while working in New York City, has observed for years, not looking-at but seeing in people's faces low-grade depression almost universally. Why is no one reporting this disturbing phenomenon? What bold pioneer in human happiness will come forward and marshall people and energies needed to eradicate depression even as we have successfully stamped out the scourge of polio. I would claim that we can operationalize its banishment! For many years I have worked with groups, in all kinds of settings and situations—to help people rediscover the person and the richness of ordinary experience. My own doctoral studies have addressed the question, "How can we operationalize human happiness?" In general, how much human unhappiness is self-inflicted? What difference when we practice a different mode of seeing? Test for yourself this simple four step program for happiness which can benefit the human and the Earth: (1) Do what you are doing. (2) Then, do the next thing. (3) Do it with all your heart. And (4) while doing it, taking delight in it! III. "Be sensitized to the infinitely differentiated splendor of the Earth— and its wealth of resources—which should make our being blink in wonderment." What does it mean to become more sensitive? This question can be answered in different ways. Suppose we were to affirm that Americans are materialists. That truth might seem obvious if we draw upon the evidence that 5% of the world's population consume 30% to 40% of the world's resources. Yes, we seem to confirm that statement when we say that a child



born today in America will consume forty to fifty times the material resources of many children in third world countries. Yet can it be boldly affirmed that we are more committed to processing the material world into disposable products for garbage collection. Or, expressed differently, do we process "wonderworld into wasteworld"? Paradoxically, can it be asserted that true materialists cherish a blade of grass, delight in the migration pathways of birds and butterflies, relish the taste of orange juice, hear symphonies of sound in crashing waterfalls, feel psychic hunger for wilderness, pronounce thanksgiving upon the alchemy of rich soil that yields wheat even one hundred fold, learn to think with the dreaming genius of Earth! How do we expand our human being? Sit at night on the peak of a high mountain—beyond the pollution which has scaled down the observable canopy of stars from 2500 only a few decades ago to perhaps 250 in many urban centers—and count the stars. R-e-a-l-i-z-e (experience the full inpouring of reality) that we live on one small planet, circling a sun that is about one million times larger than the Earth, located in a solar system which is part of the Milky Way Galaxy. Some astronomers say that a galaxy can have possibly one hundred billion stars, and, it is further estimated, that there are possibly one trillion galaxies! We could say, if it did not sound frivolous, count and keep counting until you are lost in wonder. Count until you begin to feel the shedding of that squinting preoccupation with self, until you feel no longer like some isolated isoland but caught up in the celestial celebration with the energy of the universe flowing through you. Could this be an imaging for the initiation rite of the micro-phase human in some way human swelling to the macro-phase mystery of the universe. It is more surrendering to an evocative process wherein you can be awakened by a peak experience of reenchantment. One choice for people is to huddle fearfully within some chosen cave of comfort. Another choice for the possible human—blinking in wonderment—we can venture with our tracking and instrumentation to the outermost edge of our expanding universe! IV. "Take time to listen to the voices of divine presence like the song of the bird, the wonder of moonlight, the wind in the trees, and the majesty of a mountain." Did you ever think that we need unfamiliar experiences of familiar or ordinary experience in order to see what we have consciously or unconsciously avoided seeing? Let me make this emphasis clearer by sharing one of the meaningful experiences of my life.


A few years ago I had the opportunity to do environmental cruise lecturing aboard one of the five star cruise ships of the world. The special setting was in Alaska—one of the last (almost) pristine wilderness regions of the planet. In the predawn hours before my morning talk I would sit alone on the top deck of the ship, ten stories above the water line, and just observe moonlit clouds, the faint outline of land at a distance, the early flickering of light in the darkened sky. I would let seep into me the eloquence of silence. I would banish preconceptions and be open to greeting the day. More accurately expressed, I would be open to how the day would greet me. In brief, I would let reality speak to me rather than imposing my concepts on reality. I simply listened in the silence for whatever word might be spoken. On the morning that I was scheduled for my first talk, I had an unusual experience. So unusual that it changed my life. A voice spoke to me. Quietly, peacefully. A voice with power. "Dick Lambert get out of the way when you speak. Instead, let the voices of the entire Earth community speak through you." This prompting was clear and convincing. When I finished speaking about this Alaskan wilderness, the majesty of the mountains, about so many places where a person could stand a thousand years in the future and feel soaring joy and cosmic perception, I realized—no credit to myself—it was possibly the finest talk I had ever given. Something else emerged to my surprise. The desire to bring the Earth community back inside people, to let those voices sing inside each person in resounding chorus. When that happens, and to the extent that happens, then you begin to create a different human for the twenty-first century! Americans begin to let go of their individualism and confinement to their limited, ego-centered world and to rediscover the larger community of life. Then the words of Thomas Berry compellingly erupt with fresh meaning. "The human and the natural world will march together into the future as one sacred community or both will perish in the desert." You will experience a breakthrough in consciousness into a new world of seeing. V. "A human imperative—generate the insights of the mind and the insounds of the heart to live in compassionate harmony with the Earth." Here we are urging upon us the recovery of a lost wholeness. In Circles of Hope, Bill Cane reminds us that "We will be forever dizzy, confused—and—until we begin to live round and whole." Through a story of a black man who is attempting to show the circularity and connectedness of life upon a bishop, we have illustrated insights of the mind.



"The world is round," the black man kept repeating. "It isn't flat. You can't sweep the garbage over the edge of the world, because there isn't any edge. You can't push people over the edge when you don't want them around anymore either. The world is round. And if you keep trying to shove stuff over the edge and push people over, you better watch out. Because the world is round, and sooner or later, they're gonna come back up around the other side and bat your ass!" (Cane, 1992, pp. 7-8). A story has a way of breaking through our defenses, and the surprise of the humorous thrust completes the penetration. A story has power, especially when you realize that all stories are about you. What about the insounds of the heart? It was a strange sequence of events. After my Earth lecturing in Alaska, my heart yearned to go deeper into the wilderness. When I returned home, the phone rang. I was invited to go on a wilderness expedition down the Snake and Salmon Rivers in Idaho. This journeying involved a small selected group of corporate executives, wilderness experts, and academic specialists. Its purpose was to explore wilderness for personal inspiration, insight, therapy, and executive development. The first night we camped forty-five miles from the nearest telephone. I awoke at 4:30 A.M. Fully awake, I propped myself against a tree and I was mesmerized by the stars overhead glittering with briliiance in the night sky. Before beginning our day's white water rafting, in the morning's virgin stillness, we formed a "wisdom circle." We wanted to share something heart-to-heart about the meaning of our experience thus far. One man shared a night's dream. He was canoeing down the river alone. Instead of banks on either side of the river, there were tall commercial buildings which arched over the water blotting out the landscape. Suddenly, he was aware of angry shouting. He looked up. To his surprise people were leaning out of windows. They chanted tauntingly, "Get off the river." Then long streamers of computer print-out paper were hurled at him. He shuddered at their abusive language. Something else showed the cause of their hostility. In their hands they clutched dollar bills. With tightfisted gestures they reached out as though to throttle him. As a violent crowd leaped out of the water and threatened to overturn his canoe, startled, he woke up. As I reflect back upon our wisdom circle, and relive the telling of that dream, I ponder if that story images prophetically the violence latent in ego energy and its almost exclusively narrowly focused, self-centered agendas. This might be contrasted with the nurturing power yet to be discovered and unfurled in eco energy? I think about how we barely left footprints behind


after camping. Whereas ego energy is more intent upon forcefully stuffing Earth into our commercial enterprises rather than leaving behind for the next generation an Earth flashing forth greater grandeur. VI. "In our 'Race to Save the Planet/ be passionately engaged with life as an experience of celebration, and with human happiness and purpose refocused to promote a mutually enhancing human/Earth relationship." Augustine wrote about the restlessness of the human heart and affirmed that the heart would only find rest in God. In medieval times the towering cathedral was the over-arching symbol. In more recent times thinkers have asserted that it takes many institutions to satisfy the restless human. Today, we have institutionalized consumerism as the all-consuming economic furnace into which is poured our restlessness for more and ever more. In the process Earth enterprises must forcibly be conformed to the human's industrialized processes, rather than human enterprises subordinated and rescaled to Earth enterprises. Who, in the industrial West would dare to suggest that happiness—life as an experience of celebration—is more to be found in a process of subtraction than by a process of addition. We would propose that you test this process of subtraction by returning to our proposed self-testing. Since we asked you to think "round and whole," we will draw the happiness prescription in the form of a circle. 1 Do what you are doing 4 While doing it, take delight in it 2 Then doing the next thing 3 Doing it with all your heart Sounds simple. We propose one microexperiment. If you have one glass of orange juice each morning between age twenty and age seventy, in those fifty years you will have consumed 18,250 glasses of orange juice. Question: How many glasses of orange juice will you have mindlessly swallowed without awareness rather than fully delighting and tasting this delicious food of the Earth? Select something, conduct your own experiment. Become aware of the countless things that your heart reaches out for over the course of a lifetime. How many of these specific desires do you thoroughly relish and enjoy in present-moment freshness? Reflect upon your experiences. Assess your level of awareness of each moment of life. The discovery can be startling. The implications for human happiness can be devastating! The



possibilities of "subtraction" and elimination can be exponential. Surprisingly, only rare people bring an experimental attitude to test such bold affirmations. VII. "Be educated by the genius of the Earth in its evolutionary splendor, in its emergent life systems, and in the human as its most original mode of expressiveness." Is it not a stunning paradox that the Earth which has brought forth the human from its evolutionary womb in a travail almost beyond telling can now be brought closer and closer to the brink of bankruptcy? How can this be? By the profligate human squandering the Earth—its "one time resource." How many people have reflected upon the Earth as the primary corporation and realize that if the Earth falls to bankruptcy, everything else falls to ruin? At the same time, in a stunning story of inexhaustible richness, the human is the Earth's most original mode of expressiveness. The human is that being in which the Earth reflects upon itself in conscious self-awareness. In soaring self-enlightenment the human can achieve such technological sophistication that it can wrap itself in an encyclopedic mantle of information-devouring satellites. Perhaps irreversibly, with human arrogance more dominant than a profound and available sanity, the human has chosen not merely to intervene in Earth dynamics but has taken upon itself comanagement of this planet. Sketched in briefest illustration is both the frightening power and the challenge of the human exercising creative expressiveness or despotic control as we stand out toward our world in an original way! VIII. "With the full substance of our humanity, let us relate in mutually enhancing ways to the entire Earth community." Let us conduct another experiment. How do we express ourselves spontaneously in ordinary language? We participate in a meeting, an event, a program—or whatever occasion. In other words, there is only a "part" of ourselves which is involved. When we meet someone, we often say "I made contact with" some person. Again, it suggests something superficial. So it can be stated in the course of a day we may have many contacts but, rarely, an encounter. The potential of an encounter is that it may change our lives. More rarely do we meet someone face-to-face, or experience the person-to-person healing dynamic. Co back over the past two or three days of your life. Observe yourself—slowly. What happened when you met another person? Did you actually see the other person's face? Did you ever


stop to think that there is nothing more naked than the human face? Yet when was the last time that your seeing penetrated to the inner being? How much do you remember the concrete features of your own face, so that (assuming minimum talent) you could draw your face revealing some quality of your inner being? Or could you provide another person with an accurate self-description? Such an experiment only touches on the fringes where we begin to explore relationship, human feelings, awaken to seeing, reach out to others, even beyond others to all forms of life and beauty to be found and cherished and mutually supported on this Garden Planet. In the process of such mind-expansion we begin to grow toward "the possible human," learning to relate with the full substance of our humanity. IX. "Inspired by the Dream of the Earth let us find enterprises worthy of human energy and sustained development." I recall attending a World Future Society Conference and viewing a slide presentation of pictures of Earth from a space capsule. On this dramatic odyssey, slowly circling the Earth, one could see in stunning detail, using close-up photography, the damaged condition of our planet. Is the damage irreparable? Is the present destruction of the Earth becoming the inevitable future of the human? Something else in that presentation was significant. At the end people rose in a spontaneous standing ovation! What had been experienced was close to a conversion experience in its impact. Most of us for the first time felt in its totality the stunning power and magnificence of this miracle planet. Further, we felt this new understanding of the human as the Earth become conscious of itself! From such an overview, ranging from the micro to the macro in scale, is there some archetype insight that can guide us into the next century? In crossing from the twentieth to the twenty-first century, we are leaving the old context and stepping into a new context—the Ecological Age. For an introduction to this new context read The Universe Story by Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme. The role of the human becomes clearer when we enter into the universe story. We must expand both our vision and our energy of the human venture. We must learn to encompass more than immediate family needs. We must include in one embrace family, business, community, nation, world! For the sake of future families, we must now make the needs of the Earth as important as the needs of our immediate family. We are compelled to think about the future.



X. "In the unfolding of this New Story, may we put on a new imagination, Re-Vision the human, and be shaped by an ecological consciousness as a way into the future." Unfolding this New Story. Once upon a time there was a dream. The dream exploded in a fiery caldron of infinite possibility. Infinite possibility charged with almighty power. Charged with the grandeur of God! What else could it be charged with? Imagine a microchip of infinite possibility. Infinite possibility compressed together in the hollow of a slingshot. A slingshot of such propelling power that hundreds of billions of galaxies will emerge over the vast trajectory of fifteen billion years. What could dream into existence the architectonic energy of an expanding universe even until now? Put on a new imagination. Imagine ten billion years unfolding the grandeur of the galaxies. Imagine four billion more years in the shaping of Planet Earth. Yet, so far, in this far-flung universe no one has uttered the word, "Behold!" Why? Is the eye the most recent extraordinary invention— as one writer speculated—about six hundred million years ago? Until recently no human has stood on the tallest mountain with an eye to be enthralled by Earth beauty and cosmic perception. Even with the story of the galaxies, the story of Earth, the story of life, the longest waiting is the story of the human. Still, without the eye how could the human venture be given significance? It would seem, coiled within the inmost womb of possibility was the invention of the eye. Re-Vision the human. The human would be immeasurably enriched if one could begin to have full awareness of what happens in an ordinary conversation, in an ordinary day at work, in an ordinary day at home, in an ordinary sunrise, in glimpsing any of the ordinary scenes from the natural world, in any ordinary experience. When we become aware, we discover that the ordinary is really the disguised dress worn by the extraordinary. When you learn to see again, everything is really wonder-filled. We begin to re-vision the human when we wake up to life. Simply standing on a street corner, busy with traffic, I can have a conversion experience in which I no longer look at myself as an axis around which everything revolves. Rather I see myself as living a richness with the human community where I embrace everyone as brother and sister. That is the threshold of love. Today, beyond this human threshold of love, another love beckons us—to embrace the natural world. Then the human expands beyond self, beyond the human community, to situate oneself within the larger Earth community. When one can see the human and the natural world moving


and dancing together into the future as one sacred community, we have crossed the threshold to re-visioning the human. Be shaped by ecological consciousness. The eye is the organ with the power of seeing. Not only for beholding without—birds and butterflies, the human face and crashing waterfalls—but the seeing of meaning within— problems and mystery, grandeur and desolation. Earth is cherished as the Garden Planet. So it can be said that if we are not ravished by wonder we are possibly asleep. Is the modern human hungry to give five minutes a day to the contemplation of beauty? If we do not bring the beauty without to nourish the spirit within, how can we ever exclaim, "This Earth is paradise!" Can we transcend pain and suffering to embrace paradise? We say that we do not see God. How can that be? Because we have lost the literacy of seeing things swayed by sacred meanings? Such seeing is living an ecological consciousness. CONCLUSION A way into the future. When the human begins to feel at home in this larger Earth community in mutually supporting ways, then one is in alignment with, perhaps, the new axis of history for the twenty-first century. One moves beyond ego energy and begins to experience the interactive, expansive power of eco energy as the Earth community sings inside you in resounding chorus! If conceptual exhortation does not move you, I propose that you be experimental. Act as if what has been affirmed is true. Then you will make an astounding discovery—when you change everything changes!—and the energy of the universe will flow through you.

REFERENCES The Amicus Journal, (Summer 1992). Vital statistics on cities. Berry, T. (1988). The dream of the Earth. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books. Berry, T. (1992). Befriending the Earth. Mystic, CT.: Twenty-Third Publications. Cane, B. (1992). Circles of hope. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. Franck, F. Zen seeing, Zen drawing. NY: Bantam Books. A Rising Cost of Modernity—Depression (December 8, 1992). The New York Times. Lambert, R. "Sociology's View of the Individual in the Modern Social Order: What Does It Say For the Management Consultant Today?" Ph. D. dissertation, Fordham University, 1986. Swimme, B. & Berry, T. (1992). The universe story. NY: Harper San Francisco (Harper Collins).