Sunday, June 26, 2011

Biggest epiphanies of my life

After a beautiful meeting earlier this week with Allan Savory and Bill McKibben, I was on the train home with my colleague and reflecting on the ‘how did we get here’ question. How did just about everything we believed in change so thoroughly in the matter of a few short years?

There were 7 ‘paradigm shifts’ that we noted that I thought I’d share. Nothing new to the folks who already live in this space, but definitely a shift from the ‘mainstream.’ Each of the shifts is a journey rather than a destination, and consequently, we use the tools we’ve come across to date to simply continue to walk the path :)

1 – Self-orientation towards other-orientation: Simple idea that harmony and happiness comes from moving away from focus on provincial self. Serve others, no strings attached, and happiness follows.

2 – Transaction towards trust: Thinking less market-oriented. Learning that giving and receiving are sacred acts that are two sides of the same coin, like a hug. Approaching more of life with that trust instead of the ‘mental scoreboard.’

3 – Isolation towards community: Community in the deeper sense of ‘noble friends’ – individuals who are cultivating the same values that you are cultivating. Surrounding oneself with these types of folks seems to have strengthened all the other shifts.

4 – Scarcity towards abundance: Understanding that what is most important in life (love, air, water, food, heat) is abundant and learning to operate from that space internally. Minimalism is a paradoxical component as consumerism is less attractive compared to abundance.

5 – Efficiency towards resiliency: Doing things ‘better, faster, cheaper’ reduces ability to handle volatility at every level in the system (from individual mind to global systems). In increasingly uncertain world, efficiency is disastrous.

6 – Reductionism towards holism: Dictionary defines reductionism as “theory that every complex phenomenon can be explained by its component parts.” This ignores subtle interconnections across time and space. Thinking in systems respects these inter-connections and acknowledges the limits of intellectual understanding.

7 – Conquering nature towards mimicking nature: Shifting from man as receiver of natures bounty to man existing in delicate balance with all other players. That means out of balance equals death for all. Consequently, mimicking nature leads toward balance and thriving for the whole.