• Podcast

    Charles Eisenstein: Crafting A New Narrative

    And your chance to be part of it
    by Adam Taggart

    Monday, June 1, 2015, 3:54 PM

Much has been written here at PeakProsperity.com of late about the need for society to adopt a new narrative to live by. One deeply-ingrained with sustainability and stewardship — else our current fixation with consumption and exploitation of nature's finite resources will meet a very predictable and unpleasant end.

So, for those that agree a new operating story is needed: Where do we start?

This week, author Charles Eisenstein joins Chris and Becca to discuss their upcoming participation in The New Story festival, a gathering specifically focused on sparking momentum behind this important movement. More details on the event, which takes place in Bethany CT on June 12-13th, can be found here.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Charles Eisenstein and Becca Martenson (45m:51s)


Chris Martenson: Welcome to this Peak Prosperity Podcast. I am your host, Chris Martenson. And with me here today are Becca. Hello, Becca.

Becca Martenson: Hi, Chris.

Chris Martenson: And Charles Eisenstein. Hello, Charles.

Charles Eisenstein: Hi, Chris.

Chris Martenson: Now all three of us we are all going to be presenting at A New Story Festival that is coming up in Connecticut. It is on June 12th and 13th coming right up and I am really exciting to be doing that because the timing in this, boy is it ever good for me. There is a vibe in the air – an electric energy among people that I talk to to be doing things differently. People really want – they want a new story and they are ready for a new story. And myself, especially included in that.

A common concern that Becca and I confront in our work, especially at live seminars, also on the website, is that people feel like they are living two lives and that their so called normal life is out of integrity with either their internal passions that lie in their hearts or what they know to be true about the state of the world in their heads or both. So here to talk with us about where we are in the story, where we’re headed, the joys and the pitfalls we might expect to find along the way we do have Charles Eisenstein lecturer and author of the books The Ascent of Humanity, Sacred Economics and The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.

So Charles, I’m really fixated on the idea that there is only one way forward that offers humans a decent future and that it involves the very thing you’ve been eloquently writing about for years. We have to change our stories. So how do we go about unpacking this idea for our listeners? It’s not about stories like Hansel and Gretel per se, but I mean our main cultural stories. I was really taken recently with your excellent and intimate telling of the story of the woman who planted corn. Because in there I thought that you illustrated the many layered cultural stories that serve to steer us firmly toward some actions, maybe away from others. Can you tell us about that story?

Charles Eisenstein: Where should I begin? You know, we are going to get to that in a minute. Before we officially started you were talking about so many people feeling maybe – you just said it – so many people feeling that they are living kind of a double life and that is not surprising because on the one hand we live among institutions and habits, such as the institutions of money and economics and government and school and so on, politics that are built on an old story or you can call it an old mythology. And they embody that old story. But on a personal level a lot of us have moved past that. You can say that our consciousness has changed. Our perceptions of the world have changed. Who we feel ourselves to be – that has changed. So how do we reconcile this changed self with the forces that are trying to keep us who we were and that don’t offer us reinforcement or even subsistence when we want to live from this new story, this new consciousness?

Everybody, even if you’re – so a lot of people feel this pull in the area of their work, their career where what they are doing for money isn’t what makes their heart sing, you know? At best for many, many people at best it is like well, you know, my job is challenging, it’s rewarding and so forth. But do I really care deeply about it? If money were not involved would I still do this? Is this my heart’s passion? Am I living my life or the life I’m paid to live? So for many people it is in the area of work, but it can also be in any part of life. Any way that we are programmed and corralled by the value system that we have inherited. So that is kind of the big picture.

And so the story you mentioned—and let me know if I am like going on too long. The story you mentioned, the woman who chose to plant corn—that is a native American friend of mine. Super smart young woman. She went to Stanford I think. She got into Harvard. Harvard like some special program for indigenous people or minorities or something like that. Some super prestigious graduate program. And she turned it down to go back to her tribe and improve her fluency in the language and plant corn and learn the old ways.

And that it is like a really fundamental subversion of the story that says—even this kind of enlightened version of a story that says, "Well, you know we are going to let the marginalized join the game too. They get to have a seat at the table too. They get to manage the world-destroying machine also. We are going to let them in too." And she is rejecting that whole thing and saying, "No. The most important right now that I can do for the planet, and maybe where the real power lies, isn't in what you guys say it is." So that is kind of what the article was about.

Chris Martenson: I love that because it really speaks to this idea of how do we go about changing things within the confines of the status quo if they are products of the status quo? It is sort of this conundrum that infects a lot of things—global climate change movement, people who are attempting to really agitate for some big changes. And the status quo is just so brilliantly good at maintaining itself. And it has so many fingers in our personal stories, the larger cultural stories, it is everything about ourselves. I am imagining this woman, how difficult it must have been from a social standpoint to turn down that Harvard offer. Because from the outside a lot of people are going to be saying, "Are you nuts? This is how you – you were invited to the club. You get to do good things when you get in the club, right? And you can make real change there." But what she is saying is I think an increasing thing people have come to, which is, "Uh, no you can't really. You can’t change the status quo by getting subsumed by the status quo." If you can, you are a very, very unusual person I think.

Charles Eisenstein: I don’t want to write off that approach entirely. I mean maybe there are people who can work within the system to change the system. I imagined Lyla, her name is Lyla, becoming a professor some day at Harvard and teaching anti colonialist courses and so on, and critiquing the status quo. But in the back of their minds, the students are going to be thinking, “But you are benefitting from the status quo. You’ve accepted its rewards; why should I believe you?" In a way, the status quo—one of the ways it maintains itself is by giving voice within kind of contained inconsequential spaces to dissenting opinions. You know 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.

I’m overstating the case. A lot of academics are fire brand activists and really shaking things up, but you know those bribes can be very attractive and you get to have some status also. Even as you decry the status-bestowing system you also get to have the status. It’s not a simple choice. I don’t pass judgment on anyone who chooses – ultimately the real revolution here is to trust ourselves. To end the war against the self. It’s not to exchange one set of ethical principals for another set of ethical principals.

Becca Martenson: I agree with you so much there, Charles. Everything that we’re saying here I see reflected in the personal journey work that I do with people. And you know all of the cultural status quo narratives are reflected internally with the belief systems that operate very personally within each one of us. And what I see again and again is that when people are courageous enough to be reflective and notice those stories internally and see and identify which stories are serving them and which stories are not serving them, it is very, very challenging. It takes a lot of courage and energy to leave the familiar path—to leave the path that has been cooking along in a somewhat comfortable way for our whole lives and to journey off into uncharted territory. And frequently what I see is that when people are in a period of great transformation there will be these seductive beliefs from the past that were the old operating system, that want to come in and essentially pull the individual back to that familiar comfortable pattern through, whatever—self sabotage or many, many different ways that that can express. It requires so much consciousness and courage and dedication to keep stepping off of that familiar, comfortable path either personally in your own inner work or in your life work or as a culture as a society. It’s not easy.

Charles Eisenstein: I’m always very careful to avoid invoking the terms of the old story even as I’m trying to tell a new story. So one of the key notions of the old story is the idea that life is hard. Progress comes only through great struggle. And virtue, goodness, morality, wealth, health, etc. etc. come through overcoming one’s self. Winning some kind of battle. So sometimes that gets translated into the transformation of consciousness or spirituality, you know, that it is going to be this really hard thing that requires great courage, sacrifice and dedication. That is – I am not saying there isn’t a place or a moment where we act with great courage, sacrifice and dedication, but maybe the journey isn’t defined by those things. Maybe the – you know, Chris at the beginning said we are going to have to change our story.

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 crisis that won’t go away, that can’t go away, are kind of an early to middle stage of this breakdown.

Chris Martenson: It is very much a psychological process and I’ve been reading and delving more into what psychology has to offer us around denial. It is actually a very rich area and I am learning a lot in there and understanding that denial has multiple stages and phases. There are lots of them, but grossly we can say there are three big stages. The first is outright just denial: "Oh no that can’t be happening." And then the second is minimization: "Well, that might be happening but it is not really that bad. Humans have done these sorts of things before and survived."

And then the third stage would be getting to the actual projection stage where you have to blame somebody for this particular outcome that you finally can’t avoid. But none of that – all of that has to happen before you break out of denial into the next stage of the turbulence around it.

What galls me a little it is that this is just a normal human process. I guarantee you I have parts of denial in myself, maybe around aging, mortality, I've got them in there. And it is just normal. We should—if we were an intact, healthy culture, we would A.) recognize that it is normal. B.) that it is there, and C.) that we would have some sort of way of holding people more carefully, knowing that when their stories break down around them and they have to move to that new story that it is a turbulent time. But we shouldn’t say it is bad or good. It might be intense. But strip away the judgment around it and just say it is a thing and it happens, and can we do it better? Because it’s going to happen anyway.

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. Does that make sense?

Charles Eisenstein: Yea. I guess so. I think – I’m very much in a state of "I don’t know" right now, and really resisting this role of the expert. Like yea, I don’t know if we should be trying to accelerate the demise of the old story, if we should let that take care of itself and build a new one instead, if we should, as you said, try to make the transition more graceful. I think all of these frameworks, all of these lenses have some use. There is truth in what you say. There is truth in "ignore the old and build anew." There is truth in "stand our ground and say no to the worst of the destruction at any cost." There is truth in all of these things. And I can’t offer – I can probably actually offer a persuasive argument for any of them. Persuasive, yet contradictory arguments for all of those all things. 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.

And so what is true north for you? For me it is kind of a feeling of aliveness. So if I’m trying to make a choice, do I accept the job at the investment bank and try to make change on the inside and use that money for good, or do I flip them the bird and go live in a yurt on a permaculture farm? Like if I am trying to make a choice like that, I can give myself any number of reasons for each one. People are really good at fabricating rationalizations that seem to – that dress up their choices in this clothing of reason and ethics and principal. The way that I make the choice is, well, what really feels alive to me. The aliveness could take the form of... it doesn’t have to be excitement and ra, ra, ra, but it often is. What is going to make me feel excited to wake up in the morning? What is going to make me feel alive? Sometimes people write to me and ask for help in making choices like this. That is where I say "hey, if it feels like the most alive thing for you to take that job at the investment bank, trust that feeling of excitement. Because when you practice that, practice trusting that, when that job becomes no longer exciting then you will trust that as well."

We don’t know. Like, you make the oddest, seemingly inconsequential decisions and they take you into some whole universe that you didn’t even know existed.

Becca Martenson: That is so true. Charles, that really echoes the exact frame of reference that I use in working with people around decision making as well, which is that going inside and feeling what it will feel like, each one of the decisions. If you are at a fork in the road, what will it feel like to be that? What will it feel like to be the other? Where is the joy? Where is the excitement? And when you go through the feeling channel, as opposed to the thinking channel, it is amazing how clear that can be. The issue is I think in the way that we are all raised is that we are not raised to actually trust those feelings. Feelings are meant to be sort of cautiously skirted around perhaps. But to actually really trust our feeling body, our feeling self, is fairly unusual.

I’m doing some coaching right now with son and his friend. We just finished watching The Crash Course together. We are at the "okay so now what?" You’re 17 years old, you’re 18 years old, how does this impact the choices that you are making in your future? The way that I am counseling them is to really start with their passion. What gives you joy? What do you love? You don’t have to map out your whole life right now. All you have to do is take the next step. What feels good to you? What is exciting? What brings your passion to the surface? And step towards that. Then you can, just as you said, if that means going to be an investment banker you’ll know if you develop that trust internally when that is not the right choice anymore.

We don’t live in the world of go work at your grandfather’s company for 50 years and get your gold watch. People are shifting and changing careers and directions all the time. It is not like when we make one of these choices that is it forever. It is either good or bad and you are in and it is the whole thing. We are lucky to be able to be in this period of change and flexibility. I really agree with that method of following that sense of aliveness – where is the aliveness?

Chris Martenson: Let me take a slightly different approach on that – here is my problem, Charles, I track the data. When I read about the seventh whale washing up on the beach of California or the complete collapse of the fisheries in the Pacific Ocean and maybe it is the fact that there is a countable number of harvests left in the soil the way we are currently farming it worldwide or any of these larger ecological issues—or maybe it is just the economic issues. The entitlement programs can be paid back if and only if—actually they can’t. But 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. Obviously, that is too much for the world already.

So I look at that and I go wow, there is a big, big gap in the stories we tell ourselves, right? Think of that one story: Our economy is going to grow at 3.5% for the next 100 years, according to the congressional budget office. I think anybody with a crayon can work out that is probably not going to happen. But everything in our story is predicated on that. All the decisions we’re making about how we are prioritizing spending and what you can depend on or maybe not with Medicare, entitlements, what your retirement is going to look like. There is a whole lot of nested narratives hinging on something that is just demonstrably false. At least to me.

To me that explains a lot of the cognitive dissonance, or that dis-ease that people are expressing.

Charles Eisenstein: Yea, I think even if on an explicit intellectual level people haven’t thought through the kind of things that you are talking about, people are getting it. There is kind of a hollowness underneath people’s participation in the routines and lifestyles and lifeways of the old story. They might still be putting their money in the 501—whatever they’re called—I don’t even know the names of these things – their retirement funds, their life insurance policies, the pensions, you know, social security. It doesn’t have the same feeling of this kind of absolute security that it had a generation ago where Social Security was just part of the fabric of reality. Of course you are going to have Social Security when you retire. I don’t think people believe in it anymore. Their participation is half hearted more and more.

I look at it kind of like a – like the whole system is like this – like an egg or a big ball that is hollowing out from the inside, and its surface structures seem just as strong as ever, if not stronger. The surveillance state, the military industrial complex. All of those systems of control and dominance are more imposing than they have ever been. But nobody really believes in them anymore. Even the elites don’t believe in it anymore. They don’t believe their own propaganda, their own ideology, and this kind of cynicism and inpatience with it. In a private moment you get some of these guys and you are like "Don’t you want to walk away from the whole thing sometimes? Quit the charade?"

I can’t remember where I saw this but this guy interviewed something like 90 members of Congress and democrat, republican, tea party didn’t matter, off the record they were like "yea, I don’t believe in any of this. I am just kind of going through the motions." What if everybody thinks that? It is like the emperor’s new clothes. Everyone is pretending that things are fine.

I read this – now I can’t remember his name either—a Spanish intellectual that was saying that 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. I think this hopefully isn’t too tired a metaphor, but it is very much like the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the '50s or the '60s the Soviet elite believed whole heartedly in their system. "We will bury you." That is what Krushef said, "we will bury you." It seemed obvious, Sputnik, you know, the most rapid industrialization in the history of the planet. This was like a thriving socialist society. Of course we are going to bury you.

By the '80s though even though the apparatus of the Soviet state was just as strong as ever, the core had hollowed out. The elites didn’t really believe – they weren’t really Marxists anymore. Not really. That was just their vehicle to power. I think the same is happening even on a deeper level now. 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.

One by one these crises that you are talking about, Chris, you know we can insulate ourselves from them for a while, but these crisis are not a story. You know? Like the collapse of the fisheries, whatever Carl Rove says, we are not going to change that fact by pretending otherwise. So these crises are going to invade our lives and pierce our stories no matter what. And when they do that, those stories are going to unravel. And they are already getting really fragile because of this hollowing out.

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.

Because this is what happens in my life. I will be delivered from my old story, my old habits of thought, my old habits of being. "Yea, you know I’m free of that now." Only to realize that I am actually still programmed by deeper elements.

Becca Martenson: Yes. 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.

Chris Martenson: You know what strikes me about all this is that, in this unwinding, it is going to be turbulent territory because each threat as it unravels in that warp and woof, as you say, all sorts of other things come under attack. So think about what I learned in elementary school about the American way, right? We are the good people. We are number one. We have freedom and justice and fairness for all. I put my hand over my heart, recited these things. And then of course you read about how what should be a crowning moment in achievement in America, the naming of the first female black attorney general right? I mean wow that should be great. And one of her first acts is to completely exonerate banks that were caught committing massive felonies by giving them a little slap on the wrist fine and didn’t even dain to tell us how much they might have earned from their illegal activities in comparison to the size of the fine they were getting tagged with, right?

And what caught me with that was usually the comments—I was reading this in the Wall Street Journal—usually that comment section is like an ignorant swap meet of partisan politics. You know it is just not a place to learn much. But the outrage in there was astonishing. It was 95% people going "this is an outrage. This is no longer good." And I couldn’t detect – it took quite a while for the partisan people to gain control and try to blame it on Democrats versus Republicans. But the initial outburst was: This is just an affront to, I think, that core story that we have justice as part of the American way. There is a lot tied into that.

Ferguson taught us we don’t have justice to people who weren’t aware of it. Poor people always knew that. Minorities always knew that. But middle America, middle class America started to figure that out. Baltimore continued that conversation and then the next free pass for the bankers has just sort of cemented the view that hey maybe that is not part of the core story anymore. If it is not, what new story is going to take its place? Are we now war lords? Are we now Brazil style 1% versus everybody else thing? What are we? So it's up for grabs.

Charles Eisenstein: Yea. I’m wondering if even the attorney general herself in her own mind—what was she thinking? Probably something like "well, this isn’t right, but you know this is just the way things are. In a better world they would get a much stiffer punishment, they would get the corporate death penalty or whatever, but you know that is not the way things work." I find that when 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. Chris, you were talking about the third stage of denial, which is blame. So people take that insight that they are puppets and they imagine that there are these invisible puppet masters—that the shadow government, the power elite, I mean you can take it as far as you want, the reptilian ETs control everything.

Not that such narratives don’t give us a lens onto reality, but I think ultimately that kind of blame is a diversion from systems change. Like any time you blame something that isn’t the real culprit, you are actually being duped. And your change efforts are then diverted onto something that actually isn’t going to breed change. You saw that in Egypt when the people rose up and they deposed the dictator. Problem solved, right? Because he was the bad guy, right? No. They got a new dictator eventually. Like everybody who is in that position does the things that come along with that position. Some are a little bit better, some are a bit worse. So what I am saying is that the people we project power onto are not the people who actually have power, or at least they have no more power than anybody else. 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.

Chris Martenson: I have been really taken lately with what the quantum physicists have been up to. They have done some really ingenious experiments. 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.

So what I like to do is leave my mind open to this idea that we as humans are both very immature in terms of our species isn’t even a million years old yet. What will we know when we are 10 million years along? And second of all, that there is a lot that we don’t know yet. I think a lot of the conceit of the Cartesian, Newtonian thing is that we are on our path to knowing everything, but that is just down one path of knowing. And there are these other paths of knowing that seem to have a lot of very strong anecdotal evidence, and now increasingly measured quantum evidence that says no there is something more going on here than just this narrow little word you have been raised to believe is true.

I find that exciting. Because I actually find it depressing to think that the whole world, all of the universe could be calculated if you could just know the trajectories of every particle in motion. That is just – I like the mystery out there and I am convinced there is a lot of mystery yet that we don’t know. I want to know what my dog smells. I would love to know what a bee sees. They have senses outside of my ranges so I don’t even know on a physical level what is possible. On other levels it seems to me increasingly we are getting a lot of evidence that says maybe we should just hold open the idea that we don’t know everything yet. A little humility would be called for here.

Charles Eisenstein: Yes. Part of our existing story is that reality is this thing out there. The universe outside of ourselves is composed of things that don’t have the qualities of a self. Don’t have intelligence, consciousness and so on. Just a bunch of stuff out there. Like you said, if you know the initial conditions then you can calculate the final conditions any time in the future. It is the Newtonian world machine, as Fritjof Capra called it. And this isn’t just a philosophy. It also has economic consequences, technological consequences—I mean based on that world view, we are trying the world as if it really were just a bunch of stuff. Like why wouldn’t you? I am not going to, if I am a decent person, I am not going to ruthlessly exploit you, Chris, just to maximize my advantage. Like I am not going to screw you over, beat you senseless, take your wallet. Punishment aside, I have some empathy. I know that you will suffer. I’m not going to do that. But if I saw you as just an automaton. For example, if I had some racist lens and view you as subhuman, that would kind of legitimate my exploitation of you. We have made progress as a civilization. Obviously there is still a long way to go, but blatantly racist attitudes are no longer acceptable in main stream society. At least we can say that. There is no longer any debate about whether black people have souls or not. So we have made progress there.

But we still see nature as precisely that. As something that—natural resources that we are under no moral compunction to treat well. Maybe there is a practical reason; if we don’t treat it well it will be our own demise as well. Even most of the environmental movement, aside from deep ecology, their arguments at least are still based on the universe as thing. Why should we care about climate change? Why should we care about plastic in the oceans? The answer is "because if we don’t, something bad will happen to us." But if I said "well why should I care about my son?" And you say "well, if you don’t something bad will happen to you," there is a problem with that. And if that is your argument, then my taking care of my son depends on deterrence, and that is never going to be enough.

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.

Becca Martenson: I’m so glad you are bringing that up Charles. I think that is the crux of the matter. I do believe that is really the source of all of the expressions of destruction that we've got here is that fundamental disconnection that we have that says, number one, that we are separate and number two that the rest of the world just is a thing and it is not consciousness. I know from my own personal explorations that my relationship with the natural world as—I’ll say family—is some of the most deep, fulfilling, connective you know, very embodied experiences that I can have. And that what I find as I connect with the natural world as family – as relations – what I find is that there is so much help out there. When we open up that awareness of connection I look and I say "well where can I give and where can I receive? Where can I open up that giving and receiving loop with the natural world, as opposed to just consuming and using?" And again what I find is that there is so much help. There are levels of existence here going on that are far, far, far beyond anything that we can imagine and it is—in many ways I feel like the experience that we are having is like 1% of the truth of what is possible. It is super exciting to me because there is so much to learn. And it is also very sad to me that we are confining ourselves so stupendously to this tiny perspective of what is going on.

Charles Eisenstein: Amen.

Chris Martenson: And with that—we could keep this conversation going, and we will. There is just so much to talk about. And so Charles I do want to bring up that for people listening on this New Story Festival coming up. It is for the Graduate Institute. It is an accredited institution. It is dedicated to the education of the whole person, body, mind, spirit. The event starts with Charles, Becca and myself at a VIP dinner to help raise funds for this great institution, that is Friday, June 12th that is in Bethany, Connecticut. Then the New Story Festival open to the general public, that is on Saturday June 13th in Hamden, Connecticut. Details at my website. You can also find it on Facebook and also at the Graduate Institute's website. I will put a link at the bottom of this podcast. And so this is just a taste of the things that we are going to be talking about, which is this new story. It is happening. How are we participating in it and how are going to be with it?

Charles, thanks so much for your time today and I am really looking forward to whatever we’re going to do next.

Charles Eisenstein: Yea. Looking forward to it as well.

Becca Martenson: It’s going to be fun. I hope everybody comes. Thanks, Charles.

Charles Eisenstein: Okay. Thanks guys.

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  • Tue, Jun 02, 2015 - 10:14am



    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: May 03 2014

    Posts: 534


    Talk about perfect timing!

    You don't have to look any farther for an example of the subject of this podcast than looking North to Canada's indigenous people's. Canadian Justice Sinclair is releasing his report (I think today, June 2) of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a six year examination of what the residential schools have done to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. In short, it shows what can happen to a culture when you take children out of their homes, educate them in residential schools for 100 years, and try to make them "little white people". Chief Justice, Beverly MacLachlin, has called it Cultural Genocide. South Africa used the Canadian example for setting up "Apartheid".

    When you remove those stories that have maintained a culture over thousands of years and try to replace them with the current economic "tomfoolery" we are seeing today, is it any wonder the Canadian indigenous peoples are upset with what has happened to them. The American approach of physical genocide of native populations has been part of the "Cowboys and Indians" culture and look what it has done for them. How many more oil spills, water depletions, or climate change stories are we going to have to listen to, before we get the message. A finite world needs a different approach. The narrative is long overdue for a change. Good podcast for those of you suffering a severe bout of cognitive dissonance! Might be a good point for discussion at your upcoming conference. 

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  • Tue, Jun 02, 2015 - 3:25pm


    Quercus bicolor

    Status: Gold Member

    Joined: Mar 19 2008

    Posts: 1081


    promote this interview

    Excellent interview.  I'm going to listen to it again.  My takeaways for now:

    1. It's counterproductive to promote the old story by (perhaps unconsciously) incorporating it's beliefs into our discussion or actions around creating a new story.
    2. It doesn't have to be hard to move in a new direction.  In fact, it's quite easy natural to act in a way that is in line with a new story when you become fully conscious that the emperor who is the protagonist of the old story is naked.

    On another note, I never say this excellent interview promoted in the lead story position on the home page.   Perhaps this is the reason there are so few comments.

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  • Thu, Jun 04, 2015 - 7:53pm



    Status: Bronze Member

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    Posts: 343



    I don't have time right now to contribute much to the conversation, but as there are so few comments on this thread (I agree that this should get lead story position for a bit) I wanted to jump in quickly.  This is one of the most profound and impactful conversations I've heard on PP ever.  Really enjoyed Becca's contribution and perspective.  The most powerful point for me was the idea that we are not separate from nature, but a part of it the same as we are each a part of a human family.  Charles as always did an amazing job of putting that to words especially in the last 10 minutes of the podcast.


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  • Mon, Jun 08, 2015 - 1:39am



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    Joined: May 03 2015

    Posts: 1


    New Story is the timeless Old Story...

    Hello Chris, Becca and Charles,

    Listening to your broadcast on a 'new story' was a profound experience for me. Since I fell down the rabbit hole in 2010 the only way to gain a foothold was to travel through inevitable process of denial and then to meet each human discriminatory faculty head on and engage and sharpen its range of effectiveness.

    After the denial stages was the intellectual heavy lifting of history and a continual education into the world of finance and its gluttonous effects on humankind. This lead to the art of psychology and for me the teachings of Carl Jung. I was then able to dissect the dynamics of 'projection' or what Chris describes as 'running into a belief system'. It was plainly obvious to me that good, intelligent, well meaning people were missing the enormous elephant in the room on a consistent basis!

    Alas the deeper prodding of Jungian Analytical Psychology helped to navigate the origins individual intellectual paralysis but there was still the intuitive eye of the needle that had to be pierced. Where does one go from here after the denial, the intellectual and the psychological faculties have applied their unique balm to the situation?

    It has been my experience that one finally arrives at the letting go stage where myth and metaphor springboard one into the higher realms of individual meaning and purpose. Understand that this timeless overlay of the human condition can only be effective once the contours of denial, intellect and psychology have been traversed.  Otherwise I believe one is searching for an answer and NOT experiencing the question. 

    A rather steep landscape for humanity, but it is my sense that this is where the direction that has never been available before these questions were formed will be discovered and lived. 

    Let me give you an example from my life.

    In your brilliant and refreshingly honest discussion you expressed the nature of a personal decision making process for all of you. Charles had mentioned that passion was an indicator of direction. I have to agree. But what happens when you have a strong passion in two areas? Here is what happened to me.

    In between tree planting contracts, I was visiting my sister who was studying Art at Emily Carr College of Art and Design in Vancouver B.C. Canada. A perfect opportunity for me, as I would be able to sit in on classes, hang out, observe and take part in a life long fascination of the inquiry 'what is art?'

    At the very same time I got a phone call from some climbing buddies of mine who were coming though town the very next day and heading to Red Rocks, a climbing spot in the U.S. Would I go? 

    They needed to know in the next 24 hours. And so I vibrated w anxiety for the next 20 something hours until the 11th hour when they needed to know or continue south. I had a half hour to decide. 

    At that point I remembered something that I read of Caroline Myss, a medical intuitive whose books and lectures I had found helpful. The method was to go inward. Find a quiet place. Get calm.

    In that state one is to visualize the outcome of each possibility with as much detail as possible. In experiencing the visualization you then observe the Body's reaction to the projected outcome. The choice then became to go with what ever decision makes one feel grounded, secure and quite simply - good. 

    I noticed that the climbing trip visualization made me feel like I was chasing something and so I chose to stay and do some painting. I decided all this within 10 to 15 minutes while sitting in a public washroom because there was no other private location at the time. 

    Here is the mythical part!

    Coming to a resolution brought forth emotions. I went outside to breathe some fresh air and possibly cry some tears due to the stress relief. I stepped into a narrow gap between two buildings and there in front of me were three prepared abandoned canvasses. 

    I have come to know that this type of deep inquiry, soliciting the body's reactions to projected outcomes, has aligned me to a strand of information beyond the intellectual. I have propelled my self past the snares of the intellect and into the web of relationships that the earth and its ever evolving and repeated cycles stitches all classes and forms of beings together at its prime vibration of Meaning. 

    This practice of throwing oneself open to the possible coincidence is living the question.

    Another way to gain direction, clarity and meaning is to engage the Metaphor. If, as the Buddhists say, we are living a dream then it would be helpful in our search for meaning to apply dream study techniques to our baffling western world.

    Here is what I have come up with. 

    Gold is the ultimate metaphor of value. It adorns all religious sacred objects no matter the denomination. In the study of dreams Carl Jung discovered that the psyche chose gold to symbolize the soul. And for close to 6000 years human kind has used the yellow metal for trade/money.

    After WW2 the US was awash in Gold/Value and the world was awash in US dollars. The Bretton Woods agreement set the United States as the center organizing body for world/political trade, that being done the US was metaphorically the Ego of the world psyche.

    Now along comes some wars for the US and a few social programs. The US closes the gold window. The ultimate value of gold is removed from the world monetary system. With that act the inflation of the US currency began its exponential rise into the stratosphere. This egoic center of the political world (US) begins its demise into an inflated ego. Jung comments:

    An inflated consciousness is always egocentric and consciousness of nothing but its own existence. It is incapable of learning from the past, incapable of understanding contemporary events, and incapable of drawing the right conclusions about the future. It is hypnotized by itself and therefore cannot be argued with. It inevitably dooms itself to calamities that must strike it dead. 

    Hmmmm sounds familiar when one pontificates the actions of any Government organization or the lack of action on the legal front. 

    In closing thank you so much for your excellent commentary on the world as we see it now. I have been so impressed as your site continues the active question. When the world's egoic center is facing a psychological breakdown we are experiencing  a massive shift in which we all need to discover and live the question.

    That question is different for each person, but asking others to answer it for us is NOT the answer. The situation requires consciousness. As the physical world asks us to elevate our own consciousness we must step into NOT knowing. From that place we shall all witness each other contribute what is needed to get us through this crisis in consciousness. 

    I have attempted to answer many of the these questions and others in my offering, The Metaphor of Meltdown... check it out if you like.

    Thank you again for all the great work and information.


    Doug Hamel

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  • Mon, Jun 08, 2015 - 11:46am



    Status: Platinum Member

    Joined: Apr 13 2008

    Posts: 1453


    I agree with the other reviewers...great podcast

    This was a very different and enjoyable (satisfying)  podcast, Charles, Becca and Chris.  I really hope you have more such conversations together, addressing our larger narrative, and how our individual stories are shaped by this larger story.  I think it "scratches an itch" that many of us are experiencing; how do we proactively lay the framework to change things in a meaningful way, especially for our children and those who come after us?  The alternative is to just passively wait for collapse to force the change to our conceptual framework, in an ad hoc manner.  (Not that the collapse still won't happen -it is too late to stop that I think- but at least we can try to help seed a healthier conceptual framework/narrative).

    Best wishes this coming weekend at the New Story Festival!


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  • Mon, Jun 08, 2015 - 8:01pm

    John Lemieux

    John Lemieux

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Mar 02 2012

    Posts: 208


    Best wishes also

    Left PP several years back but caught this on my PP newsletter e-mail.

    Now very familiar with Charles E. so didn't read.  But loved the comments! For me it was a journey starting 2007 of increased awareness. Beginning with the seemingly intractable situation of biosphere destruction. Then PP type sites/books  revealing economic/energy situation ect.

    But eventually reaching a place that is more in line with above discussion/comments. Always more of a feeling rather than thinking type personalty. So PP no longer seemed to help me in my journey. Not surprised though that that this resonates with Chris/Becca ( could sense it all along despite all the talk of survival prepping, guns and gold ).

    I now boil it down to the choice we all make individually and collectively between Love and Fear.

    Believe all I can do is to try my best to focus on, and always choose the former. It's the only thing that makes any sense to me in this insane situation. J.





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  • Thu, Jun 11, 2015 - 8:18am

    David Allan

    David Allan

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Nov 15 2009

    Posts: 108


    A new curse word

    I've just learnt a new curse word. 'Functionary'. This is just another way of saying 'my ego is bigger than my morality'.  I'm not as forgiving as Charles.

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  • Sun, Jun 21, 2015 - 2:42pm

    Mr Nola

    Mr Nola

    Status: Member

    Joined: Sep 04 2011

    Posts: 2


    Regenerative Capitalism and succesion

    I recently saw this article posted on FB in the Regrarians group.


    After downloading and skimming the report  fieldguide.capitalinstitute.org/whats-a-regenerative-economy.html  I was struck by how closely it parallels the idea of creating a new narrative.

    "The universal patterns and principles the cosmos uses to build stable, healthy, and
    sustainable systems throughout the real world can and must be used as a model for
    economic-system design." John Fullerton

    The report engages the idea of biomimicry as an approach to finding an economic system that works. I believe the error in that is that our collective intellect has somehow contrived to take us out of the "bio". Granted we can mimic parts of the natural world, moving one successful systemic model to another application where it isn't yet present. But we are deeply, inextricably and fatally intertwined with the natural systems the Capital Institute suggests we mimic.

    We have aplauded ourselves for being the only (known) creatures that are capable of abstract thought but it seems that capability has lead us to believe we are outside the biological systems of our planet. Aren't we actually just living through another form of natural succession? My hope is that when the 3E fire burns through our biome there are a few tall trees left standing and we don't have to begin again with nothing but weeds to lead the way.




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