Interview with Charles Eisenstein

SUBHEAD: The Tower is no longer rising toward heaven, and eventually at some point people get sick of it and they abandon the project. The Sky Starts an Inch off the Ground. Image above: Painting of "The Tower of Babel" by Pieter The Elder Bruegel, 1563. From ( By Kurt Hardesty & Benton Rooks on 16 June 2010 in Reality Sandwich - (

You can watch a video of the interview at (

Who are you for the people who don't know, and what is it that you do, and your broad goal? I found you from the book "The Ascent of Humanity" and it's so much material it's really hard to summarize. What is it that you are working on and doing as far as culture?

Yeah well, its hard to answer that question in less then 600 pages. I think like most people in our generation -- we grew up with this feeling that there is something wrong with the world, or to phrase it more positively, that a beautiful world is possible or that things should be more beautiful.

You guys are probably younger than I am so maybe this process was abbreviated for you, but at least in my generation many of us went through this stage of conflict between our inner knowing that it's not supposed to be this way, and the messages that came from all around us saying,

"Oh yes it is, this is the project of ascent, humanity is ascending and improving and progressing, and sure we have some problems, but we will take care of those. Human thought is advancing, science is advancing and things are fundamentally OK. So participate, devote your talents toward the furtherance of this project."

So there is a conflict between everything that we are told and everything that we knew inside. So a lot of us became slackers, we participated half-heartedly, we sabotaged ourselves, we became addicted to things. Everyone had a different way of refusing to go along, or of going along half-heartedly. And, that was kind of my story for a while too. Until eventually it just became intolerable to participate even half-heartedly. And so I began to think, I just began to investigate, what is this ambient wrongness?

Why are we destroying the planet and destroying all that's beautiful? So I began to dig and dig and dig, uncovering one level of explanation after another, and then becoming dissatisfied with it, and going deeper and deeper, until I found something that satisfied me. And it really turned everything on its head for me because if a mistake -- well now I am summarizing the whole book -- for a while I thought we must have made some big mistake.

Like Derrick Jensen type stuff?

Yeah, right, like agriculture is a big mistake, symbolic culture is a big mistake, naming and distancing ourselves, but you know you can take it back even farther then that, to fire which created the distinction between the domestic and the wild, and that was the beginning of taming nature. And so now your going back 300,000 years. Or even to stone tools, 3 million years ago.

But then you have to say, what is the difference between a stone tool and a bird's nest? I mean all animals modify their environment. So what started out in being this terrible mistake, this Fall, became something that just built on previous degrees of separation going back you know, to the first cell. And you know, you take it that far back you start to think maybe this isn't a mistake, maybe it's part of a process, and this tide of separation, this extreme of separation is happening for a reason.

Yeah I think that perspective is what makes your work so much different from just about anything else I have run into is that, it's a continuous grey scale, in your book there is a continuous grey blurring from the first phospholipic membrane where there was an inside and an outside and its like well, there was no singular mistake so we can't go backwards so what are we going to do?


Well people can you read your book so I would love to get your ideas on : What can people do? It seems like there is a boiling point or there is obviously a lot of energy of change going on and you might be unsure on what will happen but what are people supposed to do when there seems to be this momentum? Is it just a personal change or do you believe in any political groups or organizations? Are you involved in any movements that you would put your weight behind as far as correcting this wrongness?

There are thousands of movements that I would endorse. It's both a personal change in consciousness and an effort, action to change the outside world. This whole thing about "Well, you have to transform your own consciousness before you can really make a positive difference in the world" -- that I think is another variation of this theme of separation. Yeah, you have to change your own consciousness but how do you do that? You do that through relating to the world, through your relationships and stuff.

So the world is actually -- if you want to talk about it from a spiritual perspective you could say the world is here as an agent for the transformation of our consciousness. So this whole thing about, you know, let's go to a cave, and in the dark we are going to figure out just the right solution to everything and then when we finally figure out everything we are gonna trot it out from the cave and unveil it then the next step is to persuade everyone that this is the right solution. That's what Descarte basically said. He said the way to find truth is you go to a really dark room and you think. And that's a kind of separation. And I don't have a whole lot of patience with that.

So I guess one of the questions that we wanted to ask you as well is what is your own personal practice? Is there something that you do or engage in a form of Yoga maybe? And then how to take that contemplative discipline, and make it more active and involved or engaged in these kind of crises that were facing it.

I don't really have a contemplative practice that I would separate from the rest of my life, you know? There are times when I will be out in nature and I will just stand there for a while. I do some yoga maybe 15 or 20 minutes a day.

Have you noticed that it seems like more people now are just being and doing these spiritual things without having to say "I'm doing chi gong, yoga, I'm doing shamanism, I'm doing zen" I've just noticed a lot of people seem to be integrating all of it, and not to a fault. Is that something that you have seen in your experience?

Yeah. I think so cuz, at least 20 years ago people would say Yoga or Chi Gong or meditation or whatever, that's my spiritual practice. But they wouldn't say reading classic novels, or playing the guitar is their spiritual practice. But now as Yoga and Chi Gong and shamanic journeying become more normalized, they stop being this special category "this is spirituality and that isn't". So yeah I think so.

So do you remain optimistic generally speaking? It seems that one of your themes in your work is that this process of separation that we have had to undergo with the evolution of civilization and everything -- the external processes of evolution of cultures and things like this -- that those are necessary to push us towards an even greater activism or spirituality that doesn't just separate itself or confine itself like you were saying.

I think that all transformational processes have some things in common and what humanity collectively is going through is no different, you know? And as these collective crises converge upon us they make "normal" unlivable. So whether we intend to or not we're pushed to a different way of being. So yeah I think it's inevitable and it's normal -- it's supposed to be like this. Transformation is messy: your old world doesn't work anymore, it falls apart, and then perhaps you wander for a while and explore this new larger space that your born into and then you begin to build something in that larger space too. In a way I could say I am really pessimistic in the sense that the world as we've known it is falling apart and it's unstoppable. But that would be like saying a fetus is pessimistic because the womb is just not gonna last.

Right. I was meaning to ask you because I'm also generally optimistic as a whole but I go back and forth between moments of despair as far as ego or working on an individual level. Do you think that we are in the darkest hour now possibly, or do you think that is that yet to come? Do you get any inkling or is this just up in the air as far as like will there be a smooth transition period or a horribly painful birth or do you have a sort of a feel as to us surviving at this point?

It's still up to us. We could still have a soft but bumpy landing, or we could have a pretty bad crash landing. It's really kind of up in the air right now. The longer we hold on, the worse it will be.

We should probably get into the financial thing then. I know you're working on a book that deals with possible solutions to the financial problems we are facing on the economic scale. I really want you to speak about how the gift economy that you're pushing could be an alternative to the federal system that we have today, and not only the philosophy behind it but the practical ways in which that might manifest, if you could speak on that.

Yeah I mean that's big topic, and probably various people who will see this will know this and that about the Federal Reserve, but I will say a couple things. As I've done research for this book I've become aware that every institution of our culture today has the germ of something beautiful and necessary in it.

The transition that we are going through right now, it's not like one of these revolutions where we sweep away the old and create something new out of whole cloth. I think that pretty much every institution that we have today is going to still exist, in this more beautiful world, like the same note at the higher octave, including the Federal Reserve, and including banks.

Because at the most basic level, or maybe like the Platonic Ideal of banking -- it's a really beautiful thing. It says: I have more money than I know what to do with, and I'd like to lend it to someone who really needs it but I don't know anyone who really needs it and I don't want to spend the time to do that, my talent is in making widgets, you know, so I am going to give it to you Mr. Banker, and you will help me find somebody who can put this money to beautiful use. That's a worthy role.

Do you see that kind of attitude coming from some sort of weird consciousness shift from a multitude of factors or do you think something like redefining how money works will naturally bring about that attitude?

I think its actually going in that direction already. There are a few barriers in the way of that happening, and those barriers will crumble when the system as it is stops working. One of the proposals that I play with a lot is to have negative interest on currency, depreciating currency, also known as demurge.

And part of that would be to have a carry tax or negative interest on bank reserves and on currency. And it's interesting that in the recent crisis, we got close to it, the risk free interest rate on short term securities which are pretty much equivalent to bank reserves, you know short term government securities t-bills and stuff, they went almost to zero.

Yeah but then they went around and then loaned that money at interest so it was kind of...

The problem was that they didn't loan it out and interest, they didn't, they just kept it. All this equity that got pumped into the system just stayed as bank reserves, and wasn't being lent. Well I am oversimplifying the story a little but, you know, there wasn't a lot of lending going on. So then some actual mainstream economists proposed this, resurrecting these ideas of Silvio Gesell -- what if we reduced the interest rate on reserves into negative territory? Then even if you made a loan at zero interest, it would still be worth your while.

Now I don't want to go too much into the mechanics of that, but I just keep discovering these ways in which these proposals are all happening already. Another one is this idea of a leisure economy and economic degrowth, but instead of everyone working a little less, well instead of that, we have unemployment where 20% of the people work not at all, and 80% of the people more than they want to, all to produce more stuff then we need. It's crazy. And they keep developing more and more labor saving devices, which exacerbates the problem of overcapacity and make it necessary to work even less. And that is a problem when the way that money gets distributed through the economy depends on having a job.

So that could all change if there was some kind of social wage, or some way to get money to people who are not doing the things that will create even more money, but maybe who are doing things that restore the ecosystem and stuff like that. I don't want to get to much into it though because I want to also get a little bit more practical about gift economy and what we can do right now as individuals.

Yeah if you could go into -- what are the best ways for people to act now to bring about the nature of the gift while were still working in a non gift culture?

On a psychological level we can orient ourselves toward the gift. Were trained to think of work in terms of how can I make a living. And that training runs pretty deep. But if we reorient all of our thinking toward how can I best contribute to the world that I want to create, then that's a gift mentality.

I've found that when I do work that is in the spirit of the gift, I don't want to charge money for it, it feels almost like sacrilegious. And a lot of healers and musicians and artists have the same feeling. It's like, what I am offering is sacred to me, so it feels wrong to charge for it. "I am only giving the world this sacred gift if I get money first". That feels wrong.

On the other hand though, to charge money, any amount of money, feels like I am charging too little, I am reducing something infinite and sacred into something that is finite and profane, to change it into money. So, I should charge more! So any amount I charge is at once too little and too much. The model that I've been working with, and finding a lot of other people who are doing the same thing now, is to say I am not going to charge at all, I am going to offer it as a gift and if that gift inspires gratitude, then you can gift me in return. But I won't specify the gift and the return. I will let that be up to you and trust gratitude to guide you.

And really, think about it, someone might read something of mine or listen to one of my recordings or whatever, and one person might not be a bit grateful: "can't believe I am wasting my time on this crap", and the other person might say "wow this changed my life" and why should each person pay $15? That's ridiculous. One of them should pay nothing and the other should pay $1000. Or perhaps that gratitude will prompt that person to give in some other way. Maybe the gratitude isn't toward me but maybe it is toward the universe, for making this available.

It sort of reminds me of what Radiohead did with their last album and maybe we could get into what your thoughts on that were and what the role of file sharing is and how you see that whole play, that maybe file sharing is a kind of jump start to that gift consciousness or what your take on that is?

Radiohead is a perfect example. That's one of the examples that inspired me. And there are a lot of people doing that now. Gift economics is especially natural with digital content, such as music, video, text. Anything that you can download, because the marginal cost of production is zero, or very close to zero. Like, you're going to put this interview online and whether one person views it or a million people view it, the costs aren't going to be that much higher. If the cost to you for an additional copy is essentially zero, then according to economic theory, which in this case is true, the natural price point is zero also. And it just doesn't make sense, intuitively you know, "I could give you this at no cost to myself but I'm going to charge you anyway" -- that kinda rubs me the wrong way. So with music and with anything that you can put online, I think that the gift model is natural. The gift model for other things is a little bit more tricky but it works also.

So the counter argument to that though is that Radiohead is a well established band, they've already made a living selling records and they are financially stable enough to be able to do that. So its going to be hard to maintain that kind of gift consciousness if the whole entire system isn't already there with it. Because otherwise you have struggling musicians who need to work really crappy jobs, and if they're putting out their music and hard work and artwork out there for free, they won't be able to continue doing what they like and to only do that as a living.

Well Radiohead, it's not like they didn't make any money off that album. People voluntarily gave them money. They didn't have to give them anything but they gave them huge amounts of money. And so like on a practical level the counter argument to what you just said is that "Sure they make less from sales of music but you know if it goes viral then they eventually do benefit -- people sometimes will buy the album you know, or they will go to the concerts more."

So even from that practical point there's a counter argument to that. But to me the really telling thing is that OK, how did the old model work for the vast vast majority of bands? It was almost impossible, almost impossible to make it as a band in the era of content that was controlled through intellectual property. I remember reading some essay by some band how this much of the money goes to the promoter, this goes to the record company, then there's the t-shirt sales of which they get 50 cents per t-shirts and they end up touring and having this exhausting schedule and making almost nothing even if they are pretty popular. The old model wasn't working, so I think that there is really nothing to lose.

So the gift thing seems to work very well for generating what I have started to call spacious things or empty things, like art. Stuff that is generated from form but its form. They are using music to create something intangible that doesn't really have a set value. One of the other groups out there that is becoming slightly more popular is that Venus project thing have you heard of that? Where they promote: lets just make things as abundant as possible. So maybe if we combined the two ideals where, how does a struggling artist start with just gift, they still have to eat. Do you see a culture where we've got some areas that are just provided for as much as possible like food, housing, nobody is on the street, you know the very dredges of society will be living at 25,000 a year, they are taken care of, and the wealthy people would be the ones that are truly participating in this gift thing? Is there room for slackers in the new world?

Another idea that I like is the idea of a social dividend. The idea is that the bounty of nature, and the accumulated wealth of thousands of years of technological advance and innovation, that should be the property of everybody. Everybody should benefit, just by being born as a human being everyone should have an equal right to benefit from this enormous accumulation of technology which allows us to meet our wants very easily with very little labor.

And so reflecting this, everybody should get an annual income that represents their share of this bounty. Kind of like in Alaska where every citizen gets like $3,000 a year as a share of their oil revenues. Because Alaska keeps control of the oil, I don't fully understand it but it doesn't give concessions to oil companies. It says, "You can pump the oil and we will let you have a nice profit but no windfall profits, and the essential profit from owning this resource will go to the public."

And this idea goes way back, you can read it in science fiction stories in the 1930s. It was promoted by a monetary visionary, also known as a monetary crank, in the 20's by the name of Major Douglas. But it keeps coming up. And when there's a stimulus check, and everyone gets some money just for no reason - that's kind of an example of that to. I think just to meet our basic human needs we shouldn't have to work that hard for that. Hunter gatherers didn't have to work that hard for that and their most advanced technology was a digging stick and they only had to work like 20 hours a week to meet their needs. Why should we have to work any more than that?

So you're picturing a sort of thing where we use our technology maybe not as an infinitely driving thing but use it to make a very nice foundation for everyone as their inheritance for being a human and then stacking a gift economy on top of that? And some peoples gift would be maintaining this bottom system for everyone no matter what?

Some people would love to grow food.

Right. Or design hyper fast electric trains or something like that where everyone has some form of housing, some food of food, some form of transportation, and then stack some kind of -- that would obviously be a gift but...

I don't think they necessarily have to be distinguished like that, its just natural for those needs to be very easily met. And today what we have is a condition of artificial scarcity that forces people to work more then is necessary to maintain human needs and human happiness. Most of the stuff we're producing doesn't contribute to human happiness.

When you look at the biggest growth industries in the last 20 years you know -- housing, you know building houses that are bigger then anyone needs. you know the average size of the house as doubled or more since the 1950s, and people live in these huge houses that they can barely even inhabit.

The piles of plastic junk, the armaments industry and all that supports it. The incredible redundancy. Everyone in my neighborhood has a lawn mower which they use 20 hours a year. Would we be any poorer with 1/10th the lawn mowers? Every other house has their own complete set of power tools which they use 1 hour a year. Would we be any poorer if the whole neighborhood had just two sets?

It would be much nicer actually because we'd be sharing, we'd be interacting. Basically because we're cut off from sharing and we're cut off from gift culture, we're artificially poor. That's good for the economy because everyone has to buy their own set of power tools and everyone has to buy everything. And that's essentially why -- even though our needs can theoretically be met way more easily then they could 10,000 years ago -- that we still work harder today.

So we really are pretty much already there on every front its just a matter of redefining the magic of money.

We're there and we've always been there and at every juncture, with every labor saving device, we've faced a choice: Should we work less or consume more? And every single time we have chosen to consume more. The Venus Project has a really beautiful spirit to it, but to me there is still a little bit of a flavor of technological utopianism. It says that the next wave of technology, nanotechnology or whatever, all these other technologies we're talking about -- that's going to finally usher the age of abundance. But like you said, we're already there. We've always already been there, and without making a different choice between work less or consume more, it's always going to be just at the horizon. We're never going to get there.

Do you think that on some fronts, like energy production for instance -- I feel like we do need to throw a couple of hail Mary's technologically to support 7 billion people while we maybe let the population die off or decide that we're good at this level -- energy wise as far as food and transportation and all that or is that really already just good?

Our food system right now is highly dependent on oil, but that's because it seeks to maximize yield per human labor input. A truly sustainable agricultural system would be much more labor intensive. Pretty much everyone would have a garden, and instead of 1% of the population being farmers, maybe 5 or 10% would be farmers. We would have 5 or 10 times more farmers then we have today. It would be much more local, much less energy intensive. You wouldn't have transcontinental trucking and all that.

We could easily use half -- I will be conservative and say half -- but I really think we could use a tenth of the energy that we have today and be richer in almost every way that's important. I mean France uses half the energy the United States does per capita and the last time I noticed their quality of life is pretty high.

The one thing I feel like were not there is -- I mean I wanted to ask you this Charles -- Do you think that there is a sort of Elite at the top of the pyramid that dictates and control things, "the financial elite" and if there is, how do we approach that problem of a very small amount of people controlling and making ideological or philosophical decisions on how things are run. How do we actually approach that sphere that 1% that owns 80% of the world's goods and everything else? I mean how do we talk to them or address that issue?

I mean I might be naive but I tend to think that the global conspiracy of the power elite is unconscious. Its a conspiracy without actual conscious conspirators. These elites are themselves pawns of an ideology that transcends every human being, and that no human being is fully conscious of. So in a way they act as if they were conspirators, and the effects are similar.

So the conspiracy stuff is -- I guess our culture causes these things that seem so organized and so screwed up that for the average mind who starts to look into this they can't fathom it not having a head to it -- that its just an emergent property of us, sort of?

Yes. And also the conspiracy theories tempt us into the mindset of "the problem of the world is evil, and if we could only conquer evil then everything would be fine." This is the mindset of ascent, you know the ascent of humanity that I talk about. It's this endless campaign to defeat evil, to overcome nature. That's where evil got its start, evil didn't get its start until we began to distinguish between weeds and useful plants. Sheep are good and wolves are bad. And so then the wild is evil, that's the big bad wolf, and the inner reflection of it is the inner wild that we also try to overcome.

So that the ascended person or the superior person is someone who can control the desires, who doesn't succumb to pleasure, and who has conquered this inner wild. And so, its really a very similar mentality to "lets pull out all the weeds, lets destroy the weeds once and for all" just like the scientists in the 50's who said "with DDT, we will someday eliminate all pests, and we will have an agriculture that's completely scientific, without any random variables."

And this is the same mentality as the Bolsheviks, and every revolutionary to this day that has said the solution is to sweep out all the old, to sweep out all the evil and have perfect control. And so I think that in a subtle way, the revolutionary mindset that says, "Let's topple these evil elites, and end their abominations" is insufficiently deep. It is an insufficiently deep revolution. It's an attempt to use the master's tools to dismantle the master's house. And even if it's successful it's only going to create a different variation of what we have already. It's not really a revolution ya know? It's just a different variation of separation.

Right and what revolution hasn't resulted in another thing that just needs to be overthrown.

So maybe we can make a small transition and talk about what the role of education is in all of this? I was really inspired by your speaking on one of your youtube videos the origins of education being basically industry metaphors. So you have classes and grades, which are basically methods for categorizing objects in industry and industrial times. And maybe speak about how we might be able to form an alternative education system?

One of things we're doing with this project is we're putting online classes basically for free and we have older people like John Ebert who has been studying mythology and for years and just putting out free lectures and seeing who comes to them, and who wants to kind of join in on the virtual classroom. So I think one of the ways that we could bring about this conscious shift to a new thing like a gift economy is still to utilize the tools that we have and create that virtual space -- that virtual classroom maybe.

I am thinking of a school as another example of something in which there is the germ of something beautiful, and what school is going to look like. And this is something I have explored a lot because I have kids you know, and school hasn't worked very well for them. And we have tried different things and some have been better then others.

Have you looked into Waldorf stuff? I am just starting that teacher training and I was wondering. It seems like its very in line with all of this stuff.

I think Waldorf's got a piece of it. The democratic free schools have a piece of it. The original philosophy of Montessori has a piece of it. There is a lot, it's coming together.

Do you see a national adoption of some sort or do you think we'll just start these localize things that have their own individual flavor?

I think obviously the standard education system is in a deeper and deeper state of crisis, and I think what will happen is eventually that when it really falls apart all of these other models of school that are being developed and tried out by activists and parents everywhere will serve as pilots, as templates for a new system.

As far as the online stuff, I'm thinking what is the purpose of a classroom, what is the purpose of school? Certainly one purpose is an interchange of ideas, real dialogue. Otherwise if it is just an online lecture how is that different from television, how is that even a classroom? Everyone is at home by themselves, why not just read a book? But if there's some kind of personal dynamic going on... I mean a lot of university classes have become like television. Everyone goes and sits in this giant theater, and the star, the professor is up front lecturing, and everyone takes notes and then he goes away and they have exams and stuff. They could have a video monitor up there, for all practical purposes.

It kind of gets into what the Greeks were doing in the Platonic academy. They would basically hold classes, outside and be walking and talking amongst each other from what we know about it. And to be interacting and dialoguing, in that sense. But how do we revitalize the platonic dialogue or reshape it for the 21st century world? And what kind of practical physical manifestations of an alternative school -- what would it be to actually manifest that on a wide scale?

I don't know. I think online stuff can be adjunct to physical meetings but I think physical interactions are indispensable.

I definitely think so too. Do you think interactions like this could serve as an approximate? Or should we try and--

Yeah I don't know, I mean this could be good.

Especially if we got internet 2 up and the bandwith is all of the sudden amazing you've got 12 people in real time -- or would that be a sort of seductive illusion of what we are actually looking for?

I have done tech conferences and things like that that were sometimes good, usually kind of not satisfying. Um, this is pretty good and I'm imagining if there were 10, 15 or 20 of us instead of 3 of us.

We've tried the upper limits of that and it starts to get pretty laggy. But it would seem pretty cool if we got an upgrade on bandwith.

Yeah I mean because everyone can't necessarily be in the same physical space and not everyone has an attraction to this kind of thing, or even wants to put themselves out on the internet, so its a kind of bridge to what might eventually develop in a physical space. But it does work to bring people together who can't necessarily be in physical space with each other.

I think it definitely has a place. I mean I am glad were doing this now.

But I agree I think we can't be complacent with it. We can't just be satisfied with this. We really have to take it as far as we can and keep it evolving you know. How to do that and how to start to disrupt what we would normally think of as education.

I wanted to actually get some of your thoughts on mythology. And how mythology and your idea of separation relates to this concept that a lot of mythologies and a lot of cultures have of the four ages. So you start with the golden age, and you go to the silver age, and bronze, and then you're in the iron age. And according to Hindu mythology, we're now in the Iron Age, Kali Yuga, where spirituality is very difficult to attain -- our hearts are hard and our minds are very narrow, and there's this idea that a golden age maybe existed somehow in the distant past and that towards the end of the iron age, that golden age makes itself known again, that the Iron age cycles back into this circle, back into the edge of the golden age. And its also sort of a spiritual devolution too rather then an evolution, so to maybe get your thoughts on that and how it relates to separation.

There are a lot of traditions that have this idea of a devolution or a fall. It's certainly in the Bible. It's in Taoism too: Taoism is always talking about the sages of old, enlightened kings of old and how people in general were more enlightened in the past. And I wonder if part of it also doesn't come from psychology -- the lost golden age of childhood. And our progression into the development of ego, and eventually though the age of ego reaches its own extreme, and morphs into a new golden age and expanded sense of self that harks to the openness of the child -- but integrates the entire experience of separation.

And I think that there is real wisdom in these traditions. In these myths, in these stories. I think it really is like that, that we are in the extreme of separation. And then there's all the 2012 stuff you know.

Yeah what's your take on that?

It would be cool if it kind of all actually did happen in 2012. But I think that it's tapping into the same intuition that the Armegeddon folks are tapping into. "Our days are numbered, this cannot last." There's all kind of neat stuff. Earlier I was talking about the Age of Stone starting millions of years of ago. Fire started hundred of thousands of years ago. And then you can keep doing that, you know. Symbolic culture started tens of thousands of years ago, agriculture, thousands of years ago, the machine age hundreds of years ago, the information age, decades ago. And so these ages are telescoping, toward a singularity. And the change that comes after that is qualitatively greater then any of these other transitions have been. Which is pretty exciting to me.

Yeah and that's basically what the four ages myth is, its like a winding down of a big clock and so as it gets closer to the winding down there's also a sort of pinching, or a fastness in a sense as well. Everything compresses, everything sort of happens a lot quicker. And I think many of us on a personal and intuitive level can relate to a speeding up of things, in general. Just our relationship to time.

Yeah. An older guy asked me when I thought that things changed, when things speeded up or there was this shift. And I said, 1980. Because that was the year that -- everything just felt kind of different that year. It was when Ronald Regan was elected. And that was the year, even though I was only 13 years old, that was the year I gave up hope. That was the year that I knew that the project of civilization is doomed. The 70's were an extension of the 60's. "Were gonna create this beautiful world of the flower children" and we've been ascending to it for all human history and now were gonna complete it." That became impossible to believe when the 80's hit. And everyone in that spiritual movement kind of turned inward. So my friend Bill said that was interesting because that was the year that the Schumann resonance sped up.

Whats that?

That's the electromagnetic pulse of the earth itself. Some people say the heartbeat of the earth. I haven't actually looked into the science of it so I don't know, but it is said that it has been the same for thousands of years and that all of a sudden it speeded up significantly in 1980.

I have been noticing that even on a personal level it seems like everyone is speeding up. It doesn't matter how old you are it seems like we are all arriving at -- like the younger people -- I have friends that are 16 and they are where I was when I was 25.

Yeah that happens to me all the time.

Yeah and I'm not even like jealous I am just really impressed.

Yeah I totally get that! I constantly meet people in their 20's who are where I am at now, and they've been through like a one or two year process to get there, whereas I went through a 20 year process. They have done in 2 years what took me 20.

Right and I went through like a 7 year one.

And so its like -- you're right, we are all kind of compressing, you know. Kind of like a sonic boom. yeah that's cool.

One of the fans on youtube wanted to ask "What are your thoughts on the nonlinear evolution theory, seeing as how some indigenous cultures have somehow avoided the separation process entirely, or the process that most other humans are in the midst of.

There's this indigenous culture in Mexico where they -- if you base the culture around Zen it would be them. Their main form of exercise is to run for 3 days with a soccer ball so they can't even zone out. They are having to kick this ball through the canyons. And their main activity is sort of meditation, and they just run away from all trouble. They live in the hardest places ever -- no cancer, everyone is happy, they have a gift economy, and they just kind of missed the boat as far as our ascension.

I am going to give you a kind of mythical explanation for this, OK? So basically the human race got together X thousand years ago and said we're going to go on this adventure. And we're going to lose ourselves as completely as possible in this world of separation, because we're going to have all of these experiences, we're going to develop new things, we're going to discover wonders, and then we're going to take all of that and come back to wholeness, and recollect and remember who we are.

And so we're going to go on this journey of separation. And in order that we not get lost we're going to plant some seeds that preserve the knowledge that we need to bring us back. Some of these seeds took the form of wisdom stories, myths that people carried with them, that have the power to bring us back to our origins and our true nature.

Another form that these seeds took was spiritual lineages, where the truth is passed on in secret from master to disciple over many generations until the time comes for it to blossom forth and infect the consciousness of all people. And another form that these seeds, these time capsules took, were certain people around the earth who foreswore, who forewent this journey of separation so that they could preserve the mindsets and ways of being of connection and reunion.

So today all of these things are coming together at once as we near the end of this journey, and we need kinds of help to pull us into the age of reunion. So now all of these obscure scattered tribes who have preserved the old ways, preserved the sacred ways, are being discovered and received. We're receiving their wisdom now, and we're only able to receive it and ready to receive it now because the journey of separation is over, we're done with it. It's over and we're done with it, but we need help to enter the new story. And so they have kept it safe for us. They've preserved it. And the wisdom lineages have preserved it, and our sacred stories have preserved it. So all of these things call into awakening that little spark that never died out in any human being, that's always been there, but it needs a catalyst to make it blossom into flame again.

And so that's essentially why I think that there are some people who never went on the journey of separation.

That's very beautiful and it disrupts that idea that we have of this straight line of human progress of human progress and evolution mostly based on those kind of techno-utopian myths of Francis Bacon, and the New Jerusalem and the New Atlantis which he liked to call it. Which would be this techno utopian that you have exposed. And you've called it tower building as well, and I think that's an important thing to speak on. Because that's the primary myth of our culture is : we are going to better through technology, and this is going to make everything better. And I think that we can use technology in the correct way, and we have sort of touched on this earlier but, maybe we could get into how we started to build the tower of babel, and why that myth is still with us and why its so embedded and in 21st century America why it is just everywhere.

Yeah "just a few more improvements, a few more discoveries, and then we'll be in paradise, we will have reached heaven." A lot of this is in The Ascent of Humanity book, that you know, "We've conquered smallpox and now we're tackling cancer, and next it will be heart disease and finally the common cold, and then finally we'll be in health paradise.

Life spans have been increasing and soon were going to cancel the genetic causes of aging and control the telomeres so our cells don't stop reproducing and perhaps we'll even preserve our consciousness on computers and meld with indestructible machines! Onward and upward, we're going to have to make a few sacrifices now though.

To reach the age of computerized ease, first you have to input all the data which is tedious work, but it's going to be worth it." To reach the paradise of the machine age, you're going to have to dig a lot of coal but it's going to be worth it. Sacrifices now to reach heaven in the future. It's in religion too. You have to sacrifice now for heaven later. You have to suppress your desires now for rewards in the future.

That's the mentality of agriculture too, you have to sow now, that ye shall reap later. And you know in the story they built the Tower higher and higher and higher. And then you can imagine from the top of the tower they looked up and said "are we any closer to the sky" ? "No but let's keep building. Maybe if we build it twice as high we will be closer to the sky." And then it begins to crumble everywhere and you end up spending as much time fixing it as you do building it higher, and that's where we are today.

We're devoting tremendous energy to even maintaining the edifice of civilization where it is. Life expectancies aren't going up any more. New diseases aren't being conquered anymore. In fact new ones are coming into being. Old ones are coming back. Human life isn't improving. We're not becoming more leisurely. The Tower is no longer rising toward heaven, and eventually at some point people get sick of it and they abandon the project. And when they do that they realize that the sky starts an inch off the ground. Its just a shift of perception away, it's already there potentially.

So do you think that these myths that seem to have so much application to our current state -- Do you think that there were really ever cycles, or were these more prophetic? Like they saw where we were headed and wrote these myths of the past to give us a reference point. Since we use the past as a reference point they inserted sort of false past to help us in the future? Or has this maybe happened and it was lost as some people seem to think?

In a way I think that this is a true story, there really was a tower of Babel, we really did try to build it to heaven but I also think that this really truly existed outside of linear time.

Yeah, John Ebert one of the people who write with us talks about this idea of a "truth effect", that even if mythology does not necessarily recount a historical or factual event that it can still teach us fundamentally about either spiritual things that maybe existed outside of time or outside of mind even, and that they can teach us this archetypal story, or truth, that's always been there in the collective consciousness so to speak if we want to talk about it in Jungian terms. So its that idea that idea that's the reason why mythology is important because it can revitalize that sense of timelessness, timeless truth.

Yeah absolutely. And it can communicate things to us on an unconscious level. We can listen to a story like that and not understand the metaphors, not be able to parse it the way I just did with that story. But it still has an effect on consciousness. And that's why these stories are recognized as sacred. And many of them are passed down -- traditionally some of these teaching stories were passed down verbatim. It would be considered sacrilegious to alter them. Video above: "Money Talk - Part 1" with Charles Eisenstein. From (


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