David Bohm was a scientist whose range of interests covered not only his primary focus of theoretical physics but also a wide span of topics including language, creativity, thought and social responsibility. The Dalai Lama once joked that David Bohm had become his physics teacher. Einstein often referred to Bohm as his “spiritual son” and believed that he had the genius and creativity to take critical steps beyond relativity theory.
As one of the most brilliant thinkers of the 20th Century, David Bohm made immense contributions beyond physics. His deeply held aspiration for social transformation and his belief that politics and physics are inseparable led him to develop an interpersonal exploration process he called “Dialogue”. While most of us take interest in the cultural and political environment around us, Bohm not only took interest; he felt a personal responsibility to steward a more generative way forward for all of society. Bringing together his research on human thought and language, his exploration of theoretical physics and his pursuit to develop his own consciousness, Bohm initiated the process of “Dialogue”. He felt this process held the possibility to resolve the many social problems facing our modern world.
Today, we are facing profound change and rising complexity, accelerating at a scale, intensity and speed never experienced before. To succeed in this new environment, leadership must change as well. Until this point in time, the most admired leaders have been led by those identified by Robert Greenleaf as “servant leaders”. But I believe that a more advanced generation of leadership is required – what I call the Renewing Leader. Renewing leaders embody the characteristics and values of servant leaders, but have matured to a more comprehensive and subtle level of development. They exhibit a capacity for extraordinary functioning and performance. At the heart of this kind of performance is a capacity for accessing tacit knowing that can be used for breakthrough thinking, envisioning and creating the kind of world we desire.
Renewing leaders believe that there is an underlying intelligence within the universe which is capable of guiding us and preparing us for the futures we must create. They combine their cognitive understanding of the world around them with a strong personal sense of possibility – the possibility of actualizing hidden potentials lying dormant in the universe. It is my view that these are the leaders who will flourish in the decades to come.
In discovering our own purpose and meaning, we enrich meaning in the universe. We create something significant that has not been there. We are part of it; and it is part of us. We are partners in the evolution of the universe. This is what David Bohm believed; it is a worldview I share with him.
The forthcoming documentary about David Bohm is not only an event that is personally meaningful to me, given my encounter with him in 1980; it is an event that holds enormous importance for the world. The need for wholeness in life and society requires a transformation of human consciousness. It is this and this alone that will help heal the fragmentation of contemporary society. Bringing Bohm’s vital discoveries to our global consciousness has the potential to change the world as we know it.