Yesterday we launched my new podcast, Sowing the Seeds of Change. In our first episode, I talk with the wonderful and deep-thinking author, Charles Eisenstein.
I first met Charles in 2012 at Yale, and then we crossed paths again at the Global Economic Visioning Summit at Bretton Woods in 2018, where Charles kicked off the event with an amazing double-act with Daniel Schmachtenberger, where they very movingly described their hopes and fears for our future.
Charles is an essayist, speaker, and the author of several books including Sacred Economics, Climate: A New Story, and The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible. He has four sons and a little dog named Inka. He lives with wife and youngest son in Rhode Island. He tells me his garden and office are messy.
I know you’re going to love this conversation. We talk about changing our story from a Myth of Separation to a Story of Interbeing. We talk about Taoism, miracles, sacredness, success, happiness, breakdown, breakthrough, food production, gaslighting, love, death, trauma, raising kids, the matrix, and the joys of being a misfit.
Oh, and there are jetskis and psychedelics in there as well.
Charles is one of the smartest, most thoughtful people I know, who combines a sharp intellect with great compassion for humanity. He publishes thought-provoking essays on his website, at charleseisenstein.org.
The podcast is now available to my patrons at Patreon.com. It will be publicly available from Wednesday next week.
Here are my favourite quotes from our conversation:
A miracle is something that is impossible from an existing story of what’s real, but possible from a new one.
We’re not separate individuals, but we are a totality of relationship, we are the nexus point in a matrix of relations, we are our relations. In Africa, this is called ubuntu – my being depends on the being of all beings. And therefore when being is reduced in the world, for example, if a forest is cut down, or a species goes extinct, then I become less. If people are oppressed anywhere in the world, then part of me is oppressed as well. We’re all connected. This seems pretty obvious. But our world runs on the opposite. The modern constructed world runs on a denial of that truth.
The remedy is to understand that the deep, authentic human needs that drive endless acquisition and greed are tragically unmet in our society – the need to belong, the need for connection, the need for intimacy, the need to know the faces and places around you, to be embedded in a web of stories, in relationships, the need to be at home in this world – cannot be met by money. And if you try to meet it with more and more money, how much more money will be enough? No amount will be enough. So it’s like we have a society of winners and losers. And the tragic irony is that even the winners are losers.
If we want to really change society, we have to get out of the war mentality that sees the wealthy, the affluent, the privileged as a less moral sort of human being, who we have to take down. What we have to recognize is that it’s not working for them either. And then in a spirit of friendship, we can say, “hey, let’s change all this”, rather than a spirit of “you’re over-consuming, and we’re going to take away the things that you have.” That that would only be necessary if they really were the most joyful, happy people on earth. But they’re not. I don’t think that they’re necessarily less happy than the poor, but they’re not more happy either.
Our system reduces sacred nature into commodities, it reduces sacred humans into members of a class, and puts a veil between us and a world which is actually sacred in its entirety.
[We] program people to see the world, to see progress, as a matter of overcoming – finding an enemy and overcoming that enemy. This is a lot of how geopolitics works, our political culture, our medical culture. We’re very comfortable in a situation where there’s an identifiable bad guy. It’s a relief, because then you know what to do. You attack something, you suppress something, you banish something, you kill something, you destroy something. That’s our comfort zone, and that is culturally programmed. You win a war against radical extremists, against Islam, you wall off the immigrants, you find some identifiable source of all the problems, then you never have to look at yourself. And you have no access to the matrix of causes that includes yourself, that includes everything.
One of the conclusions of the story of interbeing. If you’re not really separate from the world, if all of the cosmos is mirrored inside of you, then any inner change corresponds to an outer change.