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Author Archive: "Daniel Pinchbeck"

Why Do I Bother?

Recently a few people have asked, "What motivates me in undertaking my work?"

Unfortunately, even with the option to live an increasingly jazzy life as jet set bohemian or psychedelic pseudo-guru, I can't seem to find happiness or peace in this world as long as it creates such vast amounts of needless suffering. I despise the inequities promulgated by our current financial system — a crime against humanity perpetrated by a tiny elite who find it appropriate that they should prosper obscenely while vast multitudes beg for scraps or starve to death in ignorance. I can't stand that we allow so many millions to rot in prison for crimes that should not be crimes, such as exploring their own adult consciousness with chemical substances. I am horrified that we let girl children around the world be sold into the sex trade, while our bland tasteless clothes get made by other exploited children working in factories. I find it unbearable how even in this so-called "free world" most of us, myself included, fear persecution or ridicule or worse for speaking what we know to be true and feel in ...


Extinction of Ego as Mechanical Ballet

Those of us living in the fast lane of the information superhighway rapidly approach a maximum density of data and communication, a black hole where there is no signal left, and everything becomes noise. Under the force of this incessant barrage, our experience of being a person is undergoing a shift. Being inside of one's subjective self no longer feels particularly static or stable ; our identity seems, instead, increasingly permeable, relational and relative. We discover that our personality gets perpetually shaped and reshaped by the flow of images and messages that press on us like a second skin or a high wind that blows against us. It becomes increasingly obvious that we are like cybernetic functions, only able to put back out what we first take in.

The ceaseless assault of new information in every area of study, so much of it seemingly so crucially important if we could only find the time to grasp it, shakes us from any presumed sense of certainty or authority. The deepening uncertainty, on so many levels, leads many people to regress, out of anxiety, into a reductive and simplistic mind-state. Rather ...


Keeping Me Up Late in Denver

I am in Denver today, where I spoke on a late night talk radio show on Clear Channel, before my bookstore appearance here tomorrow night. The topics we covered in the show included large, complex systems ­— such as the global financial system ­— and what happens when they collapse. The host of the show said that he had a "pessimistic" perspective, looking over history as a series of failures leading to wars and revolutions. I said that my approach was to think of history from a design science point of view: The designer develops a prototype in the laboratory, and watches it work for a while until it breaks down, then builds a new model to address the flaws of the old one. Governments, political and economic systems are, in a sense, experiments in human social design where we explore different ways to make these odd, alienated little units of individual consciousness collaborate and work together for the greater good. Although the wreckage from past experiments have been costly in terms of human lives and suffering, it is also not surprising we haven't gotten it right ...


What Would a “Post-enlightenment” Culture Look and Feel Like?

We are so accustomed to a certain base level of conflict, drama, and brute violence in our world that it is difficult for us to imagine another state of being — and if we try to, the guardians at the gates of the establishment will quickly rush over to mock us, shake their fists at us, and say we are "naïve." Don't we know that "human nature" is fixed and immutable, that greed and war will always be with us, that the rich will always grind the poor into the dust, and so on?

But actually there is no fixed human nature one can point toward. There have been and continue to be many human cultures — tribal societies — that had no interest in amassing material possessions, and thus no greed as we understand it, no poverty and wealth, no oceans of human misery, no giant war machines (although they did have local battles for glory or spoils). Many of these societies were matriarchal rather than patriarchal.

It was Gandhi, apparently, who noted that children are not born literate. We must teach kids to read. Literacy is, quite obviously, ...


Coherence between Thought and Action

It is Sunday night, the end of an intense week for me. The documentary that features me as narrator and interviewer, 2012: Time for Change, came out in Los Angeles on Friday, October 8, at the Laemmle Sunset in Hollywood, and debuted in New York at the AMC Village East on Friday, Oct 15. At the same time, my new book, Notes from the Edge Times, was released by Penguin. Last weekend, I suffered with a bad cold and then had an extreme allergic reaction to the dogs living at the house where I stayed in LA. This became a full-scale asthma attack in NYC that sent me to the Beth Israel Emergency Room for treatment today, as my breathing was getting extremely shallow.

The lungs are one of my constitutional weak points. In Chinese medicine, the lungs are associated with grief and mourning. I don't know exactly what I am grieving for so intensely. As the author of a previous book on the prophecies of the Classical Maya and other traditional cultures about this time, I have ...


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