Outer Work – Social Change
I will give you some of my background, although the intense transitions of the last few years have left me feeling like a new person. Hmm, I wrote that sentence two years ago, and it is still true today. I was born in 1967 and was a very sensitive, intellectual and dreamy child. I was always consumed by questions like, “Where did I come from?””Why am I here?” “Where am I going?” so of course, embedded as I was in a culture that sees science and reason as the source of truth, I tried to “figure out” the answers. I graduated from Yale University with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy, but my development of reason and intellect brought me no closer to any truth I really cared about.
I didn’t know what I was searching for, but I knew that none of the usual options life presents a Yale graduate attracted me. I went to Taiwan, learned Chinese, and soon found myself working as a translator. I spent most of my 20s there, educating myself broadly (though not at all rigorously – it was more through osmosis) in Eastern spiritual traditions. I also read voraciously: books on health, nutrition, globalization, physics, and biology. Translation led to other business opportunities, and I became familiar with this dimension of the human experience. In Taiwan, I met my dear friend and ex-wife Patsy, with whom I have three children, all boys.
In my late 20s I entered what was to be a long period of intensifying crisis. It started when all my professional work became intolerable. It became excruciating to do work I didn’t care about. Even though a million reasons told me why it was irresponsible, impractical, and foolish to quit, I eventually could not make myself do it anymore. An irrepressible feeling, “I am not here to be doing this!” took control of my life. So I entered a long period of searching. I spent time teaching yoga, learning about herbs, and teaching at Penn State’s department of Science, Technology, and Society. All of these endeavors have contributed to my present and future, but none were really me.
The next five years were much like a birthing process. The old world dissolved, and the contractions birthing me into the new took the form of a collapse of all that I once held onto. Crises in health, marriage, and money forced me to let go of a “life under control.” In my helplessness, I accepted help, discovering a generous universe that has always met my needs, somehow, in unexpected ways. I have never made much money, but I have become rich in connections to other people. Friends and strangers from all over the world write to tell me how my books have affected them; they sustain my faith and nourish my passion for my work.
In addition to writing books and essays, I have been doing a tremendous amount of public speaking. Sometimes, especially when I am tired from traveling, I wonder if the world needs yet another man performing “speaker up in front of an audience.” Why not stay at home and use technology? But I find that something happens in person that is irreplaceable. For one thing, at live events I can see the expressions on people’s faces, and I respond to that in real-time, engaging in a sort of dialog. Secondly, my speaking is not just about conveying ideas. Something else rides the vehicle of the words, even if the topic is something mundane like steady-state economics. I sometimes describe my experience as a speaker as being plugged into a field that is not my creation, but is generated by the audience and by something beyond the audience. Besides, I find that my thinking stagnates and my heart atrophies when I am in front of my computer too much. I need to interact with real people, face to face. That’s why I travel and speak.
On the other hand, I am increasingly drawn to developing the non-verbal, embodied gifts that I’ve neglected. Like many people, I have a feeling that there is a Next Step about to happen, in my work and beyond. I don’t know what it is, but I do know its revelation will come through transforming experiences that reveal and heal things I was blind to. My work, my play, my family, my deep soul connections, my wholeness, my wounds… all of these are bound up together, evolving as one.
I am now remarried as of 2011 and have a baby, my fourth son, Cary, with my wife Stella. Besides mothering, Stella practices Chinese Medicine and other healing modalities. The two teenagers, Jimi and Matthew live with us too; the 9-year-old Philip only sometimes. My favorite moments are watching Jimi and Matthew play “pass the baby” with Cary, who thinks it is the funnest game in the world. Of course we have our challenges and I have occasional moments of seeing my whole life as a father as a collision-course of errors, but overall I feel extremely lucky to have such amazing, sensitive, talented, kind children.
Lately people sometimes treat me like a celebrity, which makes me feel uncomfortable, because I know I am just me. On the other hand, it has become impossible to answer every email and say yes to every offer to interact. I have to turn down most offers to speak, travel, write blurbs for books, and so on. Also the attention focused on me can get overwhelming. I understand why real celebrities need to insulate themselves. Even receiving appreciation can be too much to handle sometimes, although it has sustained me too through periods of setbacks and doubt. I do my best to stay accessible and answer as many contacts as possible.
I can’t really tell you my plans for the future; it all depends on what is revealed to me in the next phase of my personal exploration. Besides, the world is approaching a state of flux that could easily render most plans irrelevant. I will continue writing and speaking for at least another year or two. My main interest now is in exploring the boundaries of what is “possible” according to our received beliefs, received habits, received technologies, and received ways of knowing. For humanity to take that Next Step, we are going to have to violate what is politically practical, socially practical, and even technologically practical. The same holds on the personal and relational level. I have caught glimpses of the impossible in all these realms and I am excited about what lies ahead.
Coeo – “The Geo-Social Network for Conscious Changemakers” is a huge directory and community building project by Matt Dowle. Matt is a software engineer who knows his stuff and is potentially building a very important platform for bringing together a MUCH wider range of builders of the new earth that this website would ever be capable of. If you join his community you can chat with other community members, medite with others, post projects to like minded people and scope out the wide range of good works that are happening all over the world.
Projects Matt is planning in the future:
Coeo Radio – The response to this proposal has been overwhelmingly positive and we are working to make Coeo Radio a reality. Over 20 members have expressed an interest in hosting a regular show. If you are one of these people we will be in touch with you soon.
The New Earth Directory – As part of the ongoing development of the Coeo Graph (along with the Coeo API), I have been developing a new website focused specifically on enabling the co-creation of the most comprehensive, open-source data repository of individuals, organizations and projects working for a better future. You will soon be invited to participate in the co-creation of this ground-breaking database.
Funding – An opportunity has been presented to me which I believe may provide a solution to the ongoing challenge of funding Coeo. This proposal would not only help to secure the future of Coeo, but could also present an opportunity for you, the members of Coeo, to benefit and potentially gain the financial freedom needed to follow your passions. I’m currently considering this opportunity carefully. If, on reflection, I feel it resonates ethically and morally, I will send out a specific email about this in due course.
Relationships – The development of our unique relationship software continues in collaboration with the behavioral experts Hillcroft House.
Collaborations and Cutting-Edge Technology – I have spent many hours over the past couple of months speaking with a growing number of organizations and individuals who have expressed an interest in collaborating with Coeo. Amongst them, groups working at the cutting edge of decentralized web technology (holochain), and others developing innovative legal approaches, to those exploring new economic and organisational models for society.
I lived at the Findhorn Foundation from 1977 to 1984 and left there having married and with two young children. It was a wonderful experience. They are doing very excellent work still today.
The Findhorn Foundation is a dynamic experiment where everyday life is guided by the inner voice of spirit, where we work in co-creation with the intelligence of nature and take inspired action towards our vision of a better world. We share our learning and way of life in experiential workshops, conferences and events that take place within a thriving community and ecovillage.
The Foundation has two main sites. The Park, nestled amidst dunes and forest, bay and beach, is an ecovillage that is home to many of our staff and a larger community of people living with shared values. Cluny Hill is a stately Victorian former hotel, five miles away from The Park, which houses staff and welcomes participants in our workshops and events. Our retreat house on the island of Iona, and the satellite community on the neighbouring island of Erraid, also welcome participants for life-changing experiences on the wild, wind-swept west coast of Scotland.
The Findhorn Foundation is an NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information, holder of UN Habitat Best Practice designation and is co-founder of the Global Ecovillage Network and Holistic Centres Network. The Foundation is at the heart of a community of more than 500 people who every day support and live the vision of creating a better world by starting with themselves.
Through more than 50 years of living and exploring together, three key themes have emerged as guiding principles for our work in the world.
Work Is Love In Action
Co-Creation with the Intelligence of Nature
The Shift Network empowers a global movement of people who are creating an evolutionary shift of consciousness that in turn leads to a more enlightened society, one built on principles of peace, sustainability, health, and prosperity.
Stephan Dinian, author of Sacred America, Sacred World: Fulfilling Our MIssion in Service to All founded the Shift Network many years ago. They offer a wonderful selection of online courses in every imaginable topic which support their mission. I will paste their mission below.
“We aim to create a sustainable, peaceful, healthy and prosperous world — what we sometimes call heaven on earth for shorthand.
“We hold a vision where, not only are everyone’s basic needs met while living in peace, but the very best in all of us is expressed and humanity’s full creative potential is set free.
“This is a world in which we know we are one sacred family and are united in our divinity, while celebrating our diversity.
“Undeniably, there are immense challenges on the road to this ‘better’ world and as Albert Einstein famously said, “You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created”.
“Because of this, we are working to upgrade the ‘human operating system’ by…
Supporting people to unlock their full potential through transformative education and media.
Inspiring everyone to bring their unique gifts to the world and create real, tangible change.
Celebrating and spreading the most effective and innovative ideas and practices that are transforming the way we live.
Sharing openly about our own efforts in social change via lobbying, activism, philanthropy and more.
Connecting global citizens who are called to create a better world into a network of millions around the planet.
“Our intention is to share the very best in personal and societal transformation, so that together, step by step, we’re shifting the way we do things on this planet and creating a beautiful world that works for all.
“We call ourselves the Shift Network because it will take millions of connected, activated, inspired citizens to enact the changes that are possible. A network of inspired hearts, awakened minds, and dedicated souls.
“This is what we’re creating and we’re well on our way, having served over 800,000 people worldwide with customers in 150 countries and having featured over 1,000 thought leaders in domains as diverse as spirituality, peace, holistic health, psychology, parenting, enlightened business, indigenous wisdom, and sustainability.
“We’re committed to shifting our world, sober about the challenges that lie ahead, and inspired by what is possible.
“And of course, we’re so very grateful for your partnership in this important work.
The Gaiafield Project promotes the study and practice of subtle activism, which affirms the power of consciousness-based approaches like global meditation and prayer events to support social and planetary transformation. The Gaiafield Project develops subtle activism principles, practices, and programs, builds connections between leaders in the field, and co-creates a global network of subtle activists to support a shift to a global culture of peace.
“Subtle activism is an umbrella term that describes a wide variety of spiritual or consciousness-based practices intended to support collective transformation.”
David Nicol, from his “Subtle Activism: The Inner Dimension of Social and Planetary Transformation” book.
Another quote I liked from David’s blog in February 2017:
A Way Forward through Chaotic Times
A Way Forward through Chaotic Times David T. Nicol, February 2017
One of the characteristics of our strange new post-‐US election world is that things are in such flux it is difficult to orient ourselves to the new environment and know what actions to take. It is as though a bomb has blown open a gaping hole in the established structures of thought, leaving most of us scrambling to make sense of our new reality.
We are being required to re-‐ evaluate our most fundamental assumptions about how things are and where we thought we were going. In this psychic maelstrom there are real dangers. We can hear in our times the echoes of previous traumatic episodes of history, and many of us are working hard to assess whether or not our situation will likely unfold in similar fashion.
However, this opening also creates an unprecedented space for the influx into society of radically creative ideas and energies. Thus we also have an opportunity to make rapid, non-‐linear progress in our collective evolution. Much of my work over the past ten years has involved tuning into and working with collective fields of consciousness.
What I sense emerging on a deep level in the collective right now are new energies of unprecedented creative power. It is as though there is virtually unlimited support for completely fresh ideas and directions, whereas old, habitual arrangements seem by comparison almost lifeless. We are all up-‐leveling to a fundamentally new world and are being asked to discover our new shape in this emerging reality.
The sense is that creative evolutionary forces are vigorously engaged in a process of absorbing, metabolizing, and re-‐calibrating to the shock of the disruption. The depth of the blow will in due course catalyze creative responses of equal and opposite magnitude.
But these responses will not arise from the same states of consciousness we currently identify with. In grappling with the crisis, we ourselves will undergo a fundamental transformation. We are all being called to a higher level of integration, individually and collectively.
The light of awareness is strongly illuminating the shadow right now, at both personal and collective levels. It is an opportune time to look unflinchingly, but with great compassion, at our own places of personal weakness and egoic resistance. Where do we drag our feet in our process of becoming awake and whole? What dysfunctional patterns of behavior and thought do we tend to indulge, even after years of inner work? What places do we feel deep down are ‘impossible’ to shift? Where do we stubbornly hold onto our defensive structures, although on some level we know better? Just holding these questions sincerely can invite a more pristine awareness into even these extremely challenging parts of our psyches.
In this process, it is crucial to understand that we are not doing it alone, nor are we doing it just for our own benefit. The crisis into which we have been thrown has made it clear that we are linked together in an epic evolutionary drama, and we all need to do our part. As we heal and integrate the places of deepest resistance in our own psyches, we contribute to the development of a collective psychic capacity to integrate the most fearful and defended aspects of our society.
To accomplish this inner work may require a certain level of individual courage, but it is not occurring in isolation. We are rising in awareness together, and we can all help each other lean into the hard places. Much of the work involves simply having the humility to acknowledge that we, like everyone else, have our shortcomings, and then allowing ourselves to receive the support of our fellow travelers and the heightened energies of transformation available right now.
The threat of losing that which we hold precious about human civilization and life on Earth is indeed precipitating a collective awakening in human consciousness. Our shared sense of vulnerability is bringing a greater poignancy and immediacy to all our connections. There is a widespread sincerity to ask real questions and a willingness to go to a deeper level. These conditions can lead to the emergence of something truly remarkable in collective human awareness, even while we face grave dangers.
“I think the most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” Albert Einstein
The Mission of the Pachamama Alliance
To empower indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest to preserve their lands and culture and, using insights gained from that work, to educate and inspire individuals everywhere to bring forth a thriving, just and sustainable world.
The vision that informs the Pachamama Alliance’s work is of a world that works for everyone: an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, socially just human presence on this planet—a New Dream for humanity.
Pachamama Alliance, empowered by our partnership with indigenous people, is dedicated to bringing forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, socially just human presence on this planet.
Our unique contribution is to generate and engage people everywhere in transformational conversations and experiences consistent with this purpose. We weave together indigenous and modern worldviews such that human beings are in touch with their dignity and are ennobled by the magnificence, mystery, and opportunity of what is possible for humanity at this time.
We are here to inspire and galvanize the human family to generate a critical mass of conscious commitment to a thriving, just and sustainable way of life on Earth. This is a commitment to transforming human systems and structures that separate us, and to transforming our relationships with ourselves, with one another, and with the natural world.
If present trends continue, the probable future for life on Earth will be defined by periods of substantial social, environmental, and economic disruption, if not complete collapse.
Humanity already possesses sufficient resources, technology, and know-how to reverse these trends. What is missing is the sense of urgency and the popular and political will to act.
Without concentrated human intervention, certain tipping points will be reached that will make our present trajectory irreversible.
Guiding Values and Principles
The universe is friendly and the evolutionary Force that put the stars in motion is still moving through all of us and is a dynamic, self-organizing process whose grace and guidance we can trust.
Human beings are by nature collaborative and cooperative and innately desire the success of the human species and all life. When barriers to our natural expression are eliminated (i.e. resignation, myths of separation and scarcity), we cooperate for the common, long-term good.
Human beings are not separate from each other or Nature. We are totally interrelated and our actions have consequences to all. What we do to others we do to ourselves. What we do to the Earth we do to ourselves.
Indigenous people are the source of a worldview and cosmology that can provide powerful guidance and teachings for achieving our vision—a thriving, just and sustainable world.
One of the most effective ways to produce results is to empower other organizations through skillful alliances, and a principle of skillful alliances is that amazing things can be accomplished when people aren’t worrying about who’s getting credit.
People’s actions are correlated with how they see the world—the story they tell themselves about the world. Transforming the way that people see and relate to the world and the possibilities they see for the future is a powerful way to effect social change.
Consciously and unconsciously created systems of ongoing oppression and inequality exist in the world. The outcomes generated by those systems are directly in opposition to our vision of a thriving, just and sustainable world.
We are accountable to—and stand in solidarity with—those whose access to material resources and free self-expression is limited by unjust systems of power and privilege.
Otto Scharmer, a well known MIT professor, colleague of Peter Senge and author of “Theory U” is offering a series of massive online courses called transforming business society and self. Otto tackles all the big issues in the world and does his best to cultivate people’s leadership capabilities and to move them into prototyping the emerging future that we wish to see. The course I took with him on his MIT Ulab platform had over 40,000 people from 182 countries. It was an amazing experience.
Otto has a very wonderful website for the Presencing Institute at www.presencing.com and the MIT Ulab platform for the course I took is at https://www.edx.org/course/u-lab-leading-emerging-future-mitx-15-671-1x Otto offers all his courses free of charge.
Rick Ulfik is the founder of “We The World” and the WE Campaign at WE.net which includes a lot of resources for collaboration and action in making the world a better place. Rick has a lot of fabulous projects such as the 11 Days of Global Unity Tele-Summit which was in Sept 11-21, 2017.
Check out his websites including “An Urgent Message From Your Children” at WeYourChildren.org and the GlobalUnityCalendar.org where you can see and post social change and cultural events worldwide.
Below is a message from Rick sharing what its all about:
In order to have a peaceful, caring, just, and sustainable planet, my wish is that We, The World has Full Participation Support now from all our friends and allies, including you, so we can expand our strategic collaborative plan for large scale coalition-building, collective action and the promotion of “WE Thinking” that prioritizes the Common Good for people and the whole web of life.
We believe it is essential to end the pervasive fragmentation of transformative grassroots movements that makes progress towards ending poverty, militarism and climate disruption so much slower than it otherwise could be.
With your generous support (and if possible, connecting us with any Visionary Investors you might know) we can implement our comprehensive “WE Strategy” to properly address the systemic obstacles that perpetuate Rising Inequality, Intolerance, War, Pollution and the Mass Extinction of Species. Our goals are:
1) To greatly expand our already substantial coalition-building
accomplishments and establish unprecedented cooperation and
coordination between the world’s transformative grassroots
movements for change, and
2) To spark a cultural and political shift towards “WE
Consciousness” and the Common Good in which the wellbeing of
each member of our society and all forms of life are valued
and prioritized – from personal attitudes to government policy
With deep gratitude, appreciation and love,
Rick also publishes a magazine TRENDS in Global Grassroots Organizing and he has a wonderful “Declaration of Interdependence” on his website at http://we.net/declaration/ which you can sign. Info below.
PREAMBLE to the Declaration of Interdependence
In acknowledgment of the many existing documents and efforts that promote peace, sustainability, global interconnectedness, reverence for life and unity, We, The World hereby offers the following Declaration of Interdependence as a guiding set of principles. It is inspired by the Earth Charter, the essential values of which represent those of the many peoples of the Earth.
We, the people of planet Earth,
In recognition of the interconnectedness of all life
And the importance of the balance of nature,
Hereby acknowledge our interdependence
And affirm our dedication
To life-serving environmental stewardship,
The fulfillment of universal human needs worldwide,
Economic and social well-being,
And a culture of peace and nonviolence,
To ensure a sustainable and harmonious world
For present and future generations
Well.org is a project of Pedram Shojai (an “Urban Monk” by his own telling) which started addressing the problems in our medical/health systems and has broadened into an amazing project addressing the economic systems of our times. His work addresses what I would call sacred economics. He addresses the possibility that there are ways we can behave right away in the way we use money, and make it reflect our values. We can make our money support the good works in the world, of which there are many, whether through the way we spend or the way we bank or invest.z
Pedram has created a new movie called “Prosperity” and it so very inspiring and stimulating to creativity to watch it. It got me all revved up, motivated and excited because it profiles a lot of GREAT projects that are happening in the world that I didn’t know anything about! Now I need to get busy and put them all up on this directory. There is so much good happening out there!
This particular movie is about how economics can be sacred… can be an expression of our highest consciousness. We can support with our earning, our spending and our investing, the good works in the world – the businesses, banks, projects that are creating the new earth right now in our midst. No longer do we have to give our money to those businesses that are harming our environment or putting profits over the well being of their employees. This is such good news.