Inner Growth and Cultural Transformation

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In this essential contemplation, we explore the connections between inner growth and a deeply rooted cultural transformation.

To meet today’s unprecedented challenges, we are required to mature into a more conscious and whole life. That means waking up individually and coming together in more enlightened collectives.

Terry Patten, A NewRepublic of the Heart Tweet

A Call to Become More Deeply Human

As individuals, we go through phases in life in which our accustomed circumstances break down — and with it the stories we have built around them. Although these transitions are emotionally painful, they also hold immense potential for inner growth.

We live at a moment in history in which the overarching story of our globalized culture is breaking down: The story of separation is coming to an end. In this story, we experience ourselves as separate from other people and the environment we live in — and we mostly act in such a way. However, as we become conscious of our human actions on a global scale, we cannot any longer distract ourselves from the consequences of our careless actions or deny them entirely. Although it is emotionally painful, we cannot believe in the story of separation anymore. To put it in the words of Charles Eisenstein: We are entering a space between two stories. In this space of not knowing what will come next, we cannot believe in the old story anymore — but a new one has not yet emerged. When old stories fall apart, inevitably we feel loss and disorientation. We enter a phase of great disenchantment with our old ways of being. Like the cold water from a mountain river, suffusing into a deep lake, an overwhelming fear of uncertainty broadens underneath the whole of our experience. We have been shielded from experiencing this fear by a myriad of cultural mechanisms we have put in place to make us believe we’re in control. Luckily, this fear born of uncertainty is also comprised of our immense potential for inner growth — it is a necessary catalyst to reconnect on a deeper level.

From here, it isn’t a far stretch from asking: What could a new story be like? On an individual level, the answer to this question will look very different for each one of us. Collectively, however, the new story might not be as new as we thought. Although mostly with a pre-rational mindset and mixed with many superstitious beliefs, the new story has been lived by many indigenous cultures who understood earth to be a living organism and humans as an inseparable part of it. The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh has coined the term interbeing to describe this new and ancient story. Charles Eisenstein describes it as followed.

Earth is a living organism. Each biome, local ecosystem and species contributes in unique ways to the health and resiliency of the whole. They are the organs and tissues of the Gaian organism. All beings, plants and animals, soil, rivers, oceans, mountains, forests etc. deserve respect as alive and sentient subjects — not mere things. Any damage to the integrity of the planet or the beings on it, inevitably damages human beings as well — whether or not the causal pathways for that damage are visible. Similarly, a healthy planet will benefit the physical and spiritual health of humanity. The psychic climate comprising our beliefs, relationships and myths, is intimately connected to the atmospheric climate. Likewise, the political and social climate are co-resonate with the atmospheric climate. The purpose of humanity is to contribute our gifts to the beauty, aliveness and evolution of earth. The converging crisis of our time, including the ecological crises, are an initiation for our civilization.

Charles Eisenstein, Climate: A New Story Tweet

We may emerge on the other side of that initiation as lead characters in a new story of interbeing — as protectors of the very planet we are currently pushing towards the breakdown of its equilibrium. While exploring the space in between stories both individually and collectively, we are called to discover our immense potential for inner growth and cultural transformation. We are called to become more deeply human.

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Resources for Meditators

We have compiled a list of individuals and initiatives that offer a variety of meditation resources. Most teachings with a certain depth are still to be found within a Buddhist context (Dharma). However, the listed Dharma teachers have a secular orientation.

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