Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
The Graduate Institute is hosting a weekend series of panels and workshops (June 12, 13, 2015) on Creating the New Story, where three "uncommon voices leading us into the new story of resilience, interdependence, the gift economy, and joyous community."
The three presenters are Dr. Chris Martenson, Becca Martenson, and Charles Eisenstein.
The three recently had a conversation, and you can listen to or download the 45 minute podcast or read the transcript here. Chris Martenson is creator of the (somewhat) popular Crash Course, and operates the website peakprosperity.com. Eisenstein is a thinker and writer who gained some notoriety at Reality Sandwhich, and during the Occupy movement - he's author of Sacred Economics, and The Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, and was featured in Velcrow Ripper's Occupy Love documentary, and the shorter doc (12 minutes) on Eisenstein himself, by Ian MacKenzie: Sacred Economics.
Below are some quotes I extracted from the recent podcast. Some may be a bit out of context as stand-alone quotes, but hopefully this will intrigue you to listen or read the full transcript. Remember, these are quote excerpts, not the flow of conversation.
...you take all the smart people, you lock them in a room and you call it academia and you dangle some trivial rewards in front of them and they won’t make too much trouble there because it is just academic.
Well another way to frame that is that the story is changing. And it's happening—this process is happening to us. Because when I look at what has propelled me to change my story or what has changed my consciousness, I have to admit that it wasn’t some stupendous courageous act of will, but rather it was the old story falling apart. It became, even when I tried to cling to it, even that didn’t work. Eventually I was like "okay I give up." I think that that is happening to our society too. No matter how tightly we cling to the way things have been, and no matter how strenuously the elites try to maintain normality, it is inevitable that they will fail unless you believe that infinite growth is possible on a finite planet. Then maybe they’ll succeed.
What I see all around in me in personal life and beyond is that big change happens through a process of crisis, breakdown, emptiness, followed by the emergency of something new. So I think the same is happening on a collective level. And these crises that won’t go away, that can’t go away, are kind of an early to middle stage of this breakdown.
What I want to try to get to in this podcast and all of my work is not to cast judgment on how people are doing—are people doing this better or worse? Should we all be activists or not? None of that. It is: How do we most effectively help each other navigate the changing story so that we can do it maybe more gracefully than less gracefully. With more joy and consciousness than the opposites of those.
For me in this in-between place, this space between stories where we are in unfamiliar territory and we have no map, we need to seek another kind of guidance. Becca was referring to this too, you know, this—you can call it "inner guidance" or "self trust" or listening – I look at it as a compass rather than a map. When there is no map you need a compass instead.
...the $50 trillion shortfall is still predicated on 3.5% growth forever. If you track that out, by the year 2080 the United States has an economy the same size as the entire world’s is today. That means the United States in 2080 will be consuming as much as the whole world does today.... There is a whole lot of nested narratives hinging on something that is just demonstrably false. At least to me.
the power of the mass media does not come from everybody believing the mass media. In fact, nobody believes the mass media. Their power comes from the fact that everybody thinks that everybody believes in mass media.... These deep stories about what does a normal life look like? What is the purpose of life? Who am I? What is real? How does change happen in the world? These are the warp and woof of our mythology, of our story of the world, of our story of the people that creates reality, that creates our systems. Which are all stories. They are all agreements. Money is just an agreement. The government is just an agreement. The state of California is an agreement. None of these have any reality except for our agreements about them.... Any time one of these crises slams into us, it just kind of fractures the structure of our story even more. I think it is – I don’t know how long it is going to last. I don’t even know if the collapse is going to be a single defining event. I think probably it won’t. I think we are going to have a series of crises, each one of which deepens the unraveling.
It’s a spiral. Everything. Healing is a spiral and the change is a spiral; it is not a linear process. We have to keep circling around at a deeper level to these old cords that bind us because they can be very subtle and quiet once you get through those noisy outer layers.
I talk to people who are in positions of power, they feel helpless to do anything but what they are doing. Their perception of their own freedom is very narrow. They feel highly constrained. We project power onto them but they don’t actually have the power. They are functionaries of the system....
Because real power, when it comes to changing the world rather than being a functionary to maintain the status quo—real power comes through our ability to change the story.
And they’re under such tremendous pressure to merely maintain a story that perhaps the woman who chose to plant corn, she’s not – well in the old story she is kind of shirking the opportunity to exercise real power. But that view validates the metaphysics that locates power in the halls of our current power structures. What if that is not really where the power is? What if the power is, I don’t know, like with the land spirits? You know? What if the world doesn’t—like on a really fundamental level—doesn’t work according to the inherited Newtonian, Cartesian force-based causality that we almost take for granted?
I think the revolution that we are in has to go to that level ultimately. It is not just about manipulating force in a more clever way.
A lot of people are familiar with this idea that light can behave as a particle or a wave and it depends on the observer and they have measured this a thousand times. Yea and that kind of weirds them out. Just a week ago results got announced where they had done the same thing with atoms. Not light particles or waves, but whole atoms demonstrated the exact same behavior. Quantum physics is now telling us – if this doesn’t cook your noodle you don’t understand quantum physics yet. It is telling us that matter itself does not actually exist in any particular locus of reality until it gets observed. That, at a very fundamental level, makes me question a lot of things.
I think part of the change in our story, the transition in our story that we need to go through, is to reinvest the non-human world with consciousness, intelligence, sacredness, and beingness, which also makes us no longer alone in the universe.