"The Times They Are A-Changin"
Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'
1964, Bob Dylan
I was fifteen years young in 1964. Thirty years later, in 1994, I founded Touch the Future, an archive of interviews gathered with great souls and teachers, united by their passion to awaken a true and accurate vision of what it means to be human. Dear friend and mentor, Joseph Chilton Pearce, described this common passion; “to discover and understand our Astonishing Capacities and Self-Inflicted limitations.”
Since that time, for twenty-seven years, I have written and spoke about what is living in me, having touched and been touched by several hundred of these amazing teachers: of course Joe Pearce, David Bohm, J. Krishnamurti, Jean Leidloff, Marshall Rosenberg, Gabor Maté, neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp, Darcia Narvaez, Keith Buzzel, one of the worlds most respected G. I. Gurdjieff specialists. Several decades with pioneers in birth psychology, including James W. Prescott, David Chamberlin, Thomas Verny, Marshall Klaus, Suzanne Arms, Jeanine Parvati Baker, Marilyn Milos, Ashley Montagu, Michele Odent, Barbara Findeisen, William Emerson, Ina May Gaskin. Scientists like Marian Diamond and Bruce Lipton. Original play researchers, Fred Donaldson and Stuart Brown. Early childhood specialists including Bev Bos. Compulsory education critic John Taylor Gatto, in addition to years in the national un-school and home school community. There is Tim Gallwey, Michael Murphy, George Leonard, athletes, and performance specialists. Media, corporate exploitation, and globalization visionaries Jerry Mander and Ralph Nader. Buddhist Scholar Samdhong Rinpoche, a close colleague of the Dalai Lama and the First Prime Minister of Tibet in Exile.
This past year Tom Cowan and I connected, along with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. I have interviewed Joseph Mercola and Barbara Lou Fisher, and follow their views along with James Corbett, Arthur Firstenberg, Catherine Fitts, Allison McDowell, Whitney Webb, and others. In India, some years ago, I have the good fortune of sharing a panel on Globalization and Jerry Mander’s works with Vandana Shiva.
The strange reality is; often, especially young people today, don’t know who many of these people are, or what essential gifts and insights they share. Pop culture screams so loud that these and other voices fade like the morning mist. And yet, these teachers are whispering in me every day.
They helped shape who I am, how I perceive myself, humanity, culture, civilization, and all of nature. I share this with no self-aggrandizement. On the contrary, I am stunned at the unity and diversity of these encounters. Each has given part of themselves to help me, and anyone who will listen, to see myself and others with greater clarity, insight, and true understanding. As David Bohm shared one afternoon, “We each are standing on the shoulders of others.”
Pearce often described how the opening of higher capacities, modeled for example by these teachers, lift our basic capacities into the service of the higher. Biology, and our essence as human beings, is this transcendent dynamic. This overcoming the limitations and constraints of the lower into the embodied experience of the higher is at the heart of what we call evolution. Empathic uplifting, transcendence, is the heart of our primal relationships with family, our children, and the natural world. Esalen Institute founders Michael Murphy and George Leonard shared; “The meaning of life is what we make of it.” We are all teachers, and that moment-by-moment expression defines the meaning of our life.
In addition, at seventy-two, I’m privileged to be the father of a blossoming, almost seven-year-young daughter, Carly Elizabeth, and my son Eric, forty-five, and John-Michael, thirty-six. Many of the families I interact with are my sons’ ages. A very special gift, indeed.
Darcia Narvaez recently published a paper titled; The Missing Mind, a brilliant description of Western Conquest Civilization, compared to the Indigenous Pre-Conquest self-world-view. Self-world-view is synonymous with ‘reality.’ Is this missing mind the cause of humanity and nearly all species entering the Sixth Great Extinction? What exactly is missing, and if it is missing, how can a mind the lacks this missing quality ever know what it is missing? A question Pearce raised more than once.
Krishnamurti observed; “Because we don’t know ourselves we are destroying each other and this marvelous earth.” And also, “It is the responsibility of each human being to bring about their own transformation which is not dependent on knowledge or time. David Bohm was more specific;
We are faced with a breakdown of general social order and human values that threatens stability throughout the world. Existing knowledge cannot meet this challenge. Something much deeper is needed, a completely new approach. I am suggesting that the very means by which we try to solve our problems is the problem. The source of our problems is within the structure of thought itself.
We don't really understand the nature of our thought process; we're not aware of how it works and how it's disrupting, not only our society and our individual lives but also the way the brain and nervous system operate, making us unhealthy or perhaps even in some ways damaging the system.
To center our thoughts on something illusory [the self as a mental image, the ego and thought as culture, belief, and conceptual knowledge], which is assumed to have supreme importance is going to disrupt the whole process. It will not only make thought about yourself wrong, it will make thought about everything wrong, so that thought becomes a dangerous and destructive instrument all around.
Knowledge without insight will ultimately lead to self-deception because of the pressures implicit in knowledge. There is little realization of the ultimate inability of science to avoid the self-deception implicit in the active functioning of knowledge that is not penetrated by insight.
Insight is universal, and its origin or essence is not restricted to great scientific discoveries or to artistic creations, but rather is of crucial significance to everything we do. The negative operation of insight removes blocks and barriers implicit in thought and knowledge [and by inference technology], while the positive is the new perceptions that this removal makes possible.
The key point is that everyone must be able to question with great energy and passion. It's necessary to sustain this questioning in spite of whatever difficulties may arise. This questioning is not an end in itself and its purpose is not mainly to give rise to answers. Rather, it's essential in the whole movement of life which can only be harmonious when this ceaseless questioning frees the mind of the tendency to hold indefinitely to contradictory and confusing knowledge [cultural and alleged scientific beliefs]. If your question in this way, there may be the energy of insight that is crucial for opening up the mind to new directions.
To do this is a tremendous challenge, not only because of our habit of wanting important ideas to be secure but because of very deep and subtle questions involving how the mind operates.
At present insight is not generally given great value in society or in education. Rather, there's a very strong bias in favor of accumulating knowledge, and doing this far beyond the point where it actually makes sense, while the spirit of questioning, necessary for insight, is ignored and, in fact, is discouraged if this questioning disturbs strong beliefs.
There's also a great deal of discussion for the need to foster creativity. When you look closely, however, what is actually being done is often developing the imagination, which is not enough for creativity. Imagination may be part of creativity, but without insight, neither imagination nor reason nor anything else is going to be creative. We have to see is that insight itself has very high value. Then we'll have a different attitude toward knowledge, values, and education. The whole of life will be a field in which there is no end to the possibility of fresh and original perceptions.
We can describe insight, and the intelligence it invites, as a highly sensitive, aware state that implicitly awakens childlike wonder, open and free curiosity, grounded in empathy, care and compassion for our life entangled in the natural world, which is our authentic nature and identity. Insight, as a normal and integral aspect of consciousness, brings a distilled quality of empathic appropriates to our creative use of reason and imagination. I suggest this state David calls insight, is the quality of mind that is missing, along with its implicit ‘identity-reality’ that Darcia, Joseph Chilton Pearce, and others describe. Not being modeled in childhood and culture, a core and fundamental quality of mind fails to develop, and this twists, limits and distorts our fundamental perception of who we are and our true place and function in the natural world. “What’s in a name?” asks Juliet in Shakespeare’s masterpiece. “All are punished,” is the closing line of this epic tragedy. And so it is today, compounded and driven mechanically by technology.
Without a deep and penetrating insight into the nature of our own thought process, we become enchanted by self and culturally generate mental images, that indeed are destroying ourselves and the natural world. The essence of the Buddhist path and Krishnamurti’s estimated 250,000 pages of talks and dialogues focus on this need for knowing who and what we really are. Keith Buzzel, and the works of G. I. Gurdjieff, look squarely at this challenge.
I share this narrative as a prelude to the way The Times They Are A-Changin, is changing my life. I feel passionate about two converging drives; First, to transfer and assist Carly Elizabeth and her peers, to embody every ounce of wisdom, empathy, self-understanding, unbearable optimism, and creative passion the above teachers gifted me and the world. And Second, to prepare Carly and her generation to discover the vision, creative tools, and insight-intelligence to meet the burning ecological and social challenges we, my generation and those previous, have bequeathed them. And to discover and live a fully embodied, transcendent human life. Easier said than done, especially with a missing mind that technology only compounds.
I maintain that none of the current social systems; parenting, compulsory education, government, religious doctrines, corporate structures, or basic entrepreneurism, are meeting this challenge.
There is also the challenge that Carly and her generation, the most important ever as a tipping point, won’t have the depth, the experience or awakened interest to receive, digest and embody this gift until their mid-twenties, or early thirties, at which point I may be long gone. And even then, who knows? As a wise Tibetan shared with Alexandra David Neel many years ago, “at least you must try.”
Because the answer to this challenge is unknown and unknowable, in the coming weeks, if you are interested and willing, I will create a collection of Pub Chats - Our Life & What We Make of It, informal TED-like talks, twenty minutes each, as a way of playfully sharing what Kahlil Gibran intended with The Prophet, not that I am claiming to be anything at all. Pubs can be traced to Roman taverns in Britain and in many places, especially in villages, pubs are the focal point of local communities. It was here, in the Pub, that close friends came to share, that artists, writers, and poets gathered to explore what was most alive in them, the quintessential extended family experience that is now Gone with the Wind. If these candid and informal chats come close to striking that essence, I will continue every week or two and see how it goes. Coming soon, Pub Chats - Our Life & What We Make of It.