Inspiring is an art. This art draws you into the powerful, transformative experience of creative inspiration, where you can create as nature creates, from a place of wholeness where anything is possible.
Like any other art, inspiring has no hard-and-fast rules. There are a few guidelines that you can try for yourself, though. These are based on the wisdom and experience of those who have come before you.
In 34 years of exploring creative inspiration, I have seen what works for artists, inventors, writers, athletes, poets and others familiar with the experience of inspiration. Here is the closest thing I have seen to a solid rule for the art of Inspiring:
Sounds simple enough, right? Yet it turns out to be surprisingly hard. If you tune into the news, your mind may be filled with worry. You know what I mean: pandemics, war, natural disasters, political turmoil, and so much more.
At the same time, you may be dealing with physical and psycho-emotional pain on a daily basis. How can you enjoy life under such traumatic conditions? That is an extremely valid question. Letting go of suffering can seem like a monumental task. Yet, you can take a break from suffering at least for a short while. That is a good place to start.
Some of the most eminent creators in history had unhappy lives. Vincent Van Gogh had paralyzing anxiety and depression that led him to take his own life. Sylvia Plath killed herself by putting her head in an oven. Dylan Thomas drank himself to death. None of them lived to see 40.
Yet, each of them had their moments of astonishing, earth-shattering inspiration. The art of Inspiring has many levels. Start with a single profound experience of inspiration and build from there.
Find something that brings you intense joy. That is how it all begins. Every moment holds the opportunity for play. Immersing yourself in that play with all of your focus and energy leads to inspiration. If your play is a form of creative expression, then you are on your way to creating inspired art. Whatever form of play you choose, concern yourself only with what you are doing and experiencing right now, at this moment. Forget about goals and results. They NEVER matter to the individual absorbed in inspiration. If you are evaluating what and how you are doing, you are no longer Inspiring.
Take a moment to enjoy life, giving yourself fully to the feelings and sensations that are yours to be had, here and now. In next week’s blog, I’ll show you how to turn that experience into Nature’s love play. That is where it gets super juicy and wonderful. Stay tuned!
I am thrilled to announce that my life's work has taken me in an exciting new direction! The playful creative practice to which I have devoted myself for over three decades now has a new name: Inspiring. That will also be the name of a newsletter that launches in November, as well as a series of videos and podcast episodes.
Creative inspiration is an experience of wholeness as powerful as any other peak experience (mystical union, trance, being high, orgasm, etc). What makes inspiration unique is that it is conducive to creative expression, to the flow of ideas, movements, sensations, and energy. This flow is the essence of life! Here is where passion, sensuality, and transcendence meet.
Finding out how to live in this flow has been my lifelong focus and obsession. I went straight to the source, interviewing the people who knew the most about inspiration, as well as digging through historical archives, reading voraciously, and testing hypotheses in the lab. Most importantly, I delved into different practices, disciplines, and techniques first-hand. That is how I ended up apprenticing with a Mexican shaman, as described in The Chanter's Guide; traveling to India to unravel The Way of Play; developing and testing the simple and potent practice of Repose; and laying out the ten basic tenets of Deep Creativity.
Now, it's time to get very practical. I am ready to share the playful art and artful play of Inspiring with those who are ready to embark on this wonderful, gratifying adventure with me. If you want to take your creativity to new heights, that is a good reason to explore this practice. And if you want to experience wholeness on a daily basis, tapping into the flow of essence from which all creative expression emerges, that is the best reason I can think of to master the art of Inspiring.
Living in a results-oriented society, we tend to focus on creative products as opposed to creative experiences. When you immerse yourself in the playful art of Inspiring, you will discover, as I have, that you just have to focus on the experience--on the here and now--and the outcomes will take care of themselves. This is a fundamental principle of creative inspiration. As the great art teacher Robert Henri would tell his students, "The object isn't to make art. It's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable."
Here is what you can do right now to get started. Join my Inspiring mailing list! I will be putting out a monthly online newsletter with some of my favorite tips and play activities. And stay tuned to this blog for some big announcements in the weeks ahead!
There are so many things you and I cannot control. COVID-19 has been a humbling reminder of that. But we do have control over how we feel. No matter what is happening around us, we get to determine the kind of relationship we have to life itself.
You can choose, as I have, to be inspired by life on a daily basis, to find passion and joy in the great gifts that come your way. Every day, as part of your morning practice, make the following proclamation: "I LOVE BEING ALIVE!" And don't just go through the motions. Put your heart into it. Say it like you mean it.
But maybe you don't really mean it. What if you feel that your life sucks? That is your right and your decision to make. Nobody's life goes as planned. We all face hard times. The human experience includes grief, failure, and disappointment. Very often, our sense of loss comes from the expectation of something more than what we have: more time with those we love, more freedom to do the things that bring us joy, or greater recognition and appreciation of our worth and talents.
Our expectations can be a destructive force. They cause us to make unreasonable demands rather than accepting life on its own terms. It's easy to love life when everything is going your way. But if you abandon that love when life fails to meet your highest standards, what kind of love is that?
We hear so much about unconditional love, which is a noble aspiration. You may believe, as I once did, that such love is an unrealistic and unattainable ideal. And for good reason. Most of us have never encountered or experienced it for ourselves. "True love is like ghosts," wrote Baron La Rochefoucauld, "which everyone talks about and few have seen."
As I described in my first book, The Chanter's Guide, in midlife I came to the stark realization that I had never really loved anyone fully or unconditionally in my whole life. I had a tendency to pick and choose the things I loved about people. Rather than immersing myself completely in the experience of life, I held back to some degree and sat in judgment of even the people I loved the most.
Then, I met a few wise individuals like Ammachi who served as role models of unconditional love. The first time I saw Ammachi, I watched the way she welcomed every person she met with open arms and an open heart. And that changed everything for me! Suddenly I knew that unconditional love was not an abstraction or a distant dream for me. It's my birthright, as it is for you.
All these years later, my daily practice of unconditional love begins with life itself. I choose to LOVE LIFE UNCONDITIONALLY and invite you to do the same. That means welcoming life and whatever it may bring. Even if you hit upon challenges, obstacles, and even the most seemingly tragic losses, keep your heart open. Everything can change in a heartbeat and often does. As author Marisha Pessl has observed, “Life hinges on a couple seconds you never see coming.”
Here lies the secret to inspired living: Love life with no conditions and no limits. You can do this and still aim high. Aspire to more while accepting what you have because what you have is a gift and a blessing. We don't know exactly how we got here or where we will end up. This life is a wild adventure, a thrilling ride filled with twists and turns galore. And it's all over much too soon. That being the case, you might as well enjoy the ride.
You know those moments that make you go "WOW!"? I live for those moments. Don't you? They are filled with wonder, astonishment and delight. They can also open doors to extraordinary creativity and personal transformation.
On Friday, February 19, at 5:30 pm Arizona time, I will be sharing my insights into these "WOW!" experiences, in a presentation entitled, "The Power of 'WOW!': Plugging into Your True Creative Nature." This presentation is an interactive Zoom event (including a little chanting) hosted by the Caritas Consciousness Project. Here is a description of what we will be doing:
Creative breakthroughs emerge from profoundly transformative experiences, which often start with a moment of “Wow!” For over three decades, Victor Shamas has devoted his life to the exploration and study of creative experiences. Besides offering insights into the nature of the creative process, these experiences have the potential to revolutionize our basic assumptions about human nature. In this presentation, Victor will take you on a journey into the heart of creative inspiration. Learn how to draw upon your “Wow!” moments to plug into the extraordinary creative genius that lives in your body. We will touch upon a number of topics, including fractals, the Cuban Spirit, Nature, spirals, the Pixar film Soul, and moments that make you go “Wow!”
You can register by clicking on this image:
Please note that Caritas is requesting a $10-15 donation to help cover costs. However, nobody will be turned away for lack of funds. If you want to attend but cannot afford the cost, please email me and I will send you the Zoom invite. I am looking forward to sharing a fun and memorable evening with you!
Deep Creativity has 10 Tenets. The second Tenet is that: All creating is becoming. In 2021, we have an extraordinary chance to create the kind of world in which we aspire to live. Envisioning that world is important, but just as important is right action. So, in honor of this important NEW YEAR, I offer the following call to action, which I have written for myself. If you choose to take these words to heart, so much the better:
To create love, becoming more loving.
To create generosity, become more generous.
To create kindness, become kinder.
To create peace, become more peaceful.
To create respect, become more respectful.
To create compassion, become more compassionate.
To create freedom, become freer.
To create sustainability, become more sustainable.
To create cooperation, become more cooperative.
To create justice, become more just.
To create awareness, become more aware.
To create balance, become more balanced.
On Christmas day, Maria and I watched Pixar’s new film, Soul, with great anticipation. For one thing, we were excited to see the work of Maria’s eldest son, Aaron Koressel, who animated important sequences of the film and helped develop software tools used by the animation team. I had also encountered reviews describing the film as a masterpiece, partly because of its portrayal of creative inspiration.
As someone who has devoted his life to exploring creative inspiration (as described in my book, Deep Creativity, and my TEDx talk, “The Art of Creative Inspiration”), I was eager to see what Pixar would do with this topic. Although Soul has its moments, I found the film’s portrayal of inspiration to be less than inspiring.
SPOILER ALERT: What follows may give away parts of the movie for those of you who have not yet seen it.
Soul tells the story of Joe Gardner, a middle-school music teacher who is about to get his big break as a jazz musician when he has an accident that lands him in a coma and separates his soul from his body. At this point, Joe finds himself in the astral plane, where he seeks to reconnect with his body. In order to do that, Joe has to mentor a new soul, which means helping that soul find its spark.
The scenes taking place in New York City really sparkle. Joe's passion for jazz comes through strongly. But once he enters the astral plane, the premise of Soul begins to go off the rails for me. This realm, as portrayed in the film, is an odd place filled with inconsistencies. For some reason, Pixar has chosen to embrace a dualistic view of the universe, where the physical and spiritual realms are distinct--at least, sort of. In the astral plane, Joe can’t smell or taste anything, and yet he flinches when one of the new souls bites him on the arm.
The astral plane is run by entities described as the “coming together of all the quantized fields of the universe.” Although the concept is intriguing, these entities come off as uninspired bureaucrats and bean counters. Such characters could have provided an important link to a more modern and holistic view of reality. Instead of integrating consciousness with the body and the material universe, the filmmakers chose to perpetuate a cosmology that has helped alienate and disconnect humanity from nature and from the wonders of the physical body.
One of the underlying themes of Soul has to do with the importance of finding one’s “spark,” which the film clearly links to inspiration. One place where new souls go to search for their spark is the Hall of Everything, where “literally anything on Earth” can serve to inspire them. Oddly, this hall is largely devoid of the natural world, and although it includes foods like pizza, disembodied souls lack all sensation, including the capacity for taste. This poses a serious problem: How are new souls supposed to find inspiration in something they cannot experience for themselves?
I strongly maintain that inspiration is an embodied experience. You feel it in this b0dy, in this moment—passionately, deeply, and intensely. To a certain extent, the filmmakers agree with me. Soul offers examples of individuals finding inspiration in music, food, movement, and touch. And yet, the film’s key depiction of creative inspiration, in a realm called The Zone, strays in an entirely different and, in my opinion, misguided direction.
In Soul, The Zone is described as “the space between the physical and the material.” Actors, musicians, and other artists share this space with lost souls whose obsessions and anxieties leave them disconnected from life. In fact, the film equates the two groups: lost souls and artists immersed in the experience of inspiration.
What a disservice this is to aspiring young artists! As someone who has had the privilege to live in the experience of inspiration and to observe and talk with countless others who share deep personal knowledge of that experience, I can say that The Zone is an interface and not a void. In other words, when you're in it, you gain access to an entire universe of possibilities. Consider what opens up to your imagination during moments of inspiration: colors, sounds, textures, scents, movements, flavors, energy, and rhythm. You catch glimpses of nature’s splendor, which ranges from the infinite to the infinitesimal.
In moments of inspiration, you feel more alive, not less. The landscape of The Zone as portrayed in Soul is much too dark and creepy a place, populated by lost souls filled with despair and anguish. I understand the filmmakers’ point that the kind of obsession displayed by Joe Gardner in his passion for jazz can become so extreme that it may cause the individual to miss out: on the precious little things; the here and now; and the myriad others sources of joy and delight to be found in life. Yet the spark of inspiration that can drive the artist to obsession is the same one that draws you into the fullest experience of being alive. It is all simply a matter of balance.
In fairness, there is much to love about Soul. The film captures elements of beauty and wonder. It is filled with memorable scenes, images, and sounds. I appreciate that it seeks to tackle such a big and important topic as inspiration. Although the film may have missed the mark, at least for me, I commend the filmmakers for the courageous way they tackled an artistic endeavor of this magnitude.
Two weeks ago, I posed this question to many of you: “Name at least one feature of the kind of world you aspire to live in.” I found your answers to be inspiring. For one thing, there was so much consistency. Here are the seven most popular responses, in order:
Creativity and Play
In 24 hours, I received 100 responses. What you described for me is your vision of utopia. When Thomas More came up with this term, utopia, he meant it as a pun because it could be derived from one of two Greek words meaning either a “good place” or “no place.” Our ideal society may exist only in our imagination, but that is where all human creations begin. If we cannot envision it, we most certainly cannot create it.
The good news is that we can come up with a fairly cohesive vision of the kind of society and world we want to create. It took a day for all of you who took part in my informal survey to paint a picture of this ideal place. I believe that if we assembled a global council charged with the task of generating a utopian vision for our planet, we would arrive at consensus about its basic qualities, which would include most if not all of the features you identified in your responses.
The bad news is that this utopian vision seems unattainable to most of us. In a separate survey, I asked for your take on the following statement made by comedian George Carlin a few months before his death: “It’s circle-the-drain time for humans.” The vast majority of you agree with Carlin’s position that the demise of our species is inevitable.
Why is that? The problem is that we don’t know how to get from Point A to Point B. It is one thing to envision utopia and another thing entirely to create it. The forces that have to be overcome appear insurmountable. These include runaway greed, intolerance, short-sightedness, and a seemingly insatiable lust for power.
But the quest for utopia is not a fool’s errand. In fact, I would argue that we have no choice in this pursuit. It is built into our biology. Our basic instinct as parents is to seek a better life for our children. Only the most selfish and dysfunctional parents lack this drive.
We have a parental duty to future generations. All the children of the world, present and future, are our children. We must make sure that the world they inherit from us is richer not poorer; more beautiful; more peaceful; teeming with life; and guided by love, kindness, compassion and respect.
If we give ourselves completely to the task of creating a better world for the next generation, we will succeed, but only if we have the right tools at our disposal. Such tools will allow us to magnify our vital creative energy and direct it with precision towards the realization of our common vision.
Here is what I have learned about these creative tools after three decades of research and exploration: They have to engage the entire body and not just the mind. In fact, the mind can be an enormous obstacle to creativity. My TEDx talk, “The Art of Creative Inspiration,” focuses on a body-centered approach to major creative breakthroughs. That approach is generally undervalued by those who study, write and teach about creativity, which is why the video of this TEDx talk has been gaining momentum recently, with 1000 new views in the past month.
When you learn to channel the creative power of your body, you can create an entire universe. This is not hyperbole. I know what it feels like to have all of creation emerge from deep inside of me during moments of inspiration. At such moments my imagination is free to go anywhere or to create anything. And my intuition allows me to absorb and internalize any or all of it.
One of the secrets to realizing a utopian vision is to use this vision as a filter. Although the bodies we inhabit can give birth to a whole universe, there are only certain parts of that universe we want to keep. Virtually every artist knows that creativity is in large part a process of omission. French sculptor Auguste Rodin observed, “I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don’t need.”
This is where the mind and body come together in the act of creating. First you allow all possibilities to flow through your body, and then you use your mind’s capacity for discernment to capture those elements that serve your vision while surrendering those that don’t.
As I have noted elsewhere, a creative revolution is coming. Why? Our species is in dire need, and as Plato noted, “Our need will be the real creator.” We can create utopia together. It’s a matter of sacrifice, determination, and mastery of the skills needed to usher in a positive new era. Who's in?
During a recent visit to the White Mountains of Northern Arizona, Maria and I walked by a mansion proudly displaying a sign with the following message, “KEEP AMERICA GREAT.” In three words, this sign captured the essence of conservatism, which is: Everything is fine the way it is. Leave it alone!
Conservatives maintain that existing institutions and policies must be preserved in the name of social stability and continuity. There are certainly times when this position makes sense. As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But the summer of 2020 is not one of those times.
As I write this, the United States has recorded over six million cases of COVID-19, with nearly 200,000 fatalities. Unemployment has reached its highest levels in over 60 years. Major American cities face violence and unrest in response to a tidal wave of police brutality and systemic racism. Political divisiveness is tearing apart our families and communities. Climate change is taking its toll on our country, with raging forest fires in California; one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded striking the Gulf Coast; and record-breaking heat waves producing temperatures as high as 130 degrees in Death Valley.
At a time of unprecedented crisis, we must take our cues from Nature. As evolutionary biologist Elisabet Sahtouris points out, “Nature is conservative with what works well and is radically creative when crisis strikes.” We see evidence of rapid adaptation and change throughout the natural world. For example, mussels and other sea creatures have already adapted to live in the more acidic ocean conditions caused by climate change.
Other species have done more than just adapt to less tolerable conditions. They have actually altered those conditions in ways that have made the planet more livable. According to Sahtouris, there was a time, approximately two billion years ago, when only single-celled bacteria populated the Earth. These bacteria were so prolific that they caused worldwide crises of hunger and pollution. The problem was that they were all competing for the same food sources and producing the same waste products. In short order, they evolved specialization so that the waste product of one organism would be the food source for another. These bacteria were also able to harness solar energy, invent breathing, and establish elaborate communications networks. Perhaps most importantly, they came together to form cooperative communities, which are the precursors of the nucleated cells found in our own bodies today. And they did it all without the benefit of a brain.
Now, imagine what we humans can do with our extraordinary creativity. The first challenge is to put conservatism on hold for now so that you can embrace change. Whether you like it or not, major change is coming. Scholars and sages have long understood that every crisis represents an opportunity—and a choice. If you choose to hold onto the past, you will be crushed by the enormous forces that are being unleashed right now. It would be like trying to stand up to a giant ocean wave.
On the other hand, you can seize the chance to harness that energy in productive ways. The crisis we now face is actually a set of converging crises, all of which stem from our own alienation. We perceive ourselves as individual entities: alone, isolated, and self-contained. Our sense of disconnection—from other people, other species, and the Earth itself—have led to the unsustainable behaviors we see modeled on a daily basis in our leaders and institutions: aggression, conquest, divisiveness, greed, hostility, intolerance, jealousy, racism, and selfishness.
Now is the time for what Sahtouris calls “creative cooperation.” We have now entered into an age of global cataclysmic change. The current pandemic is just a taste of the disturbances that are going to impact our lives on a daily basis. If some of the experts I’ve interviewed on the Nature Am I podcast are right, here is some of what we can expect to deal with in the next decade: food shortages, runaway inflation, energy rationing, massive unemployment, drought, and the health effects of an increasingly toxic environment.
The only way we get through these challenges is by looking beyond our perceived differences and pulling together as one. “Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence,” wrote psychologist Erik Erikson. “We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.”
One important way we can practice creative cooperation is by developing a resilience plan for our local community. Such a plan would prepare our community to withstand major disturbances and disruptions to global supply chains, which provide basic necessities like food, shelter, water, and energy.
To learn more about what you can do to build community resilience, please check out this interview with Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute:
What are you longing for the most right now? The pursuit of freedom, happiness, love, health, security, peace, and abundance all share a common factor. At their core, they are a search for:
In 2020, wholeness is what most of us are craving—and lacking. Something is missing from our lives, which is why we don’t feel complete. This void manifests within each of us in different ways. You may be longing for human touch, whereas I yearn for a more sustainable way of life.
We may think that the fulfillment of our desires will make us whole, bringing a sense of fulfillment into our hearts and our lives. In actuality, satisfying a perceived need or desire rarely brings total fulfillment. That is because the deficiency we feel is not the same as the one we have been seeking to remedy. If we feel a lack of wholeness, it is because we lack the ability to perceive wholeness in ourselves or our surroundings.
The wholeness we are seeking has always been present within us. That is why Blaise Pascal wrote:
I call this wholeness Nature. You are welcome to choose your own language, keeping in mind that what we are naming is always the same. There is only one wholeness, and in all cases, our names and concepts fail to capture it.
Nature abides in all of us equally, while also surrounding and engulfing us. Experiencing the wholeness of nature is like being immersed in water. There is no way to tell where the water ends and your body begins because you are made up of water. All of the membranes in your body, including your skin, are permeable to water, which means that water moves in and out of your body fairly easily. So, a water molecule that is outside of your body one moment can be inside of you the next—and vice versa.
Early in my career as an environmental chemist, I discovered a simple idea: Whatever we know or think we know about Nature, there is always more. Science and philosophy may give us a glimpse into Nature, but never the entire picture. That is why we have trouble resolving basic questions about the relationship of mind and matter, or deciding if matter is comprised of particles or waves, or reconciling the differences between one theory and another.
Later in my career, after I switched from chemistry to psychology, I discovered another important idea: Human nature is simply Nature. When we focus on our individual and group differences, we may fail to notice the underlying commonalities. All of us have the same basic needs, regardless of age, sex, race, religion, political party, or any other division. We are made of the same stuff, breathe the same air, and share the same Earth.
What I am seeing right now is that most of us are stuck: our minds are trapped in a viewpoint or ideology that is incomplete at best. Our attitudes, opinions, arguments and theories all fall apart when pushed to the extremes. So much of Nature lives beyond the fringes of what we can conceptualize or understand. There is always a higher-order reality that we have yet to grasp, which means that questions requiring an either-or answer often make no sense.
Progressives and conservatives may argue about whose approach is more effective, when in fact Nature displays elements of both. In Nature, masculine and feminine are equally important. Competition and cooperation both have their place. There are times of balance and imbalance, stasis and change, growth and decline. There can be no beauty without ugly, no truth without falsehood, no peace without violence. Although Nature may tend towards one end of the continuum, it allows room for both. The higher-order reality is always more inclusive—not less. Beyond all differences is wholeness.
If you value truth, embrace wholeness. When asked to check off the box that pertains to you, choose: ALL OF THE ABOVE. Our true nature—who we really are at the very core of our being—is masculine and feminine, gay and straight, Black and White, Christian and Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish, Democrat and Republican, human and non-human.
The wholeness of Nature is both immanent and transcendent. It abides in all of us—and then some. Search for Nature anywhere in the universe and you will find it. Search for Nature beyond anything in the universe, and you will also find it. At every moment Nature is engaged in a dynamic, never-ending spiral dance that we perceive as life and death; as creation and destruction; as unfolding and enfolding. And yet at every moment, Nature is also perfectly still, indivisible and whole.
How can it be all of these at once? Perhaps time and space are not what we think they are. The line between real and imagined gets blurry around the edges. And when we examine them closely, waking and dreaming are not so different. Albert Einstein noted that “reality is an illusion, albeit a compelling one.” That is why my strongest recommendation, at this point, is to stay flexible. Don’t adhere too strongly to any belief, attitude, or idea of reality because now more than ever, our reality is being questioned, challenged, and disconfirmed.
This leads me to one last idea, and it’s a big one: Reality is the dream from which we have yet to awaken. When you are dreaming during sleep, you have no idea that you are living in a dream world of your own making. Once you become lucid or are awakened, that changes. You see clear evidence that it was all a dream. What if the same is true for what you call reality? That just means you are on the brink of a great awakening that will open your eyes to a higher-order reality, wholeness beyond all divisions and distinctions, and your true essential nature. What seems like unendurable chaos might just be the start of this great awakening.
Last night, I watched this powerful video, in which Trevor Noah captures with such eloquence the common link between the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police; the rioting and protests that have ensued; and the global pandemic that has impacted every aspect of our lives.
What we are seeing, claims Noah, is a breakdown of the social contract that we have made with our society and specifically our government. He says, “We agree on common rules, ideals and practices that define us.” And we play by the rules because we want society to work for everyone. In exchange we have certain expectations from society—especially from those in power. Right now, these expectations are being violated in the most egregious ways imaginable.
Just consider the following:
The social contract that has been thrust upon us since birth has been rendered null and void. When public servants act like profiteers; when law enforcement personnel act lawlessly without consequence; when captains of industry seek only to amass personal fortune at the expense of everyone else; and when those in power have absolutely zero accountability to most of the people they represent, the social contract is no longer valid.
This is a done deal. There is no need to protest and riot. We simply need to create and enforce a new social contract. That contract is among ourselves, person-to-person. Pandemics, natural disasters intensified by climate change, and the chaos and injustice we are witnessing on a daily basis are teaching us one very important lesson: WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. Instead of focusing on our differences, we have no choice but to find common ground.
It is time for a DECLARATION OF INTERDEPENDENCE. Let’s focus on what connects us, regardless of race, religion, sex, age, or any other factor. I believe we all have one common link, which is: NATURE. We are all embodied, sentient beings with the same basic needs, which psychologist Abraham Maslow identified in his famous hierarchy of needs:
In his final formulation of this hierarchy, Maslow placed self-transcendence (ST) at the very top. That is because he realized that our highest motivation—our true nature—lies in transcendent oneness with the people we value or cherish the most, not to mention the places, animals, plants, and ideals that we hold sacred. If you have ever loved someone or something so much that you would lay down your life for them, then you know what I mean.
The only way we are going to make it through these cataclysmic times and find light at the end of the tunnel is by valuing and cherishing EVERYONE the way we do our spouses, children, parents, lovers, pets, and dear friends. There is no other viable alternative.
Social engineering has led us to focus on our perceived differences and turn those differences into hatred, violence, discrimination, and disdain. In other words, those in power benefit from our animosity, and so they fan the flames of anger and prejudice on a daily basis. That is why the social contract imposed by the rich and powerful has no worth: it is not in our best interests. Let’s turn our back on it and replace it with something far more inspiring and sustainable.
We must reach out to each other, especially those who are most different from us, and say something along these lines:
YOU AND I ARE ONE.
WHAT YOU FEEL, I FEEL.
I HONOR AND PROTECT YOUR WELFARE AS I DO MY OWN.
WHEN YOU THRIVE, I THRIVE.
LET US COME TOGETHER FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL.
I know this is hard to do. That is why I have my doubts about the future of humanity, as I imagine you do. But extreme times demand extreme measures. Looking beyond our differences to find commonality, even when confronted with individuals and groups that stand for everything we despise, is our only hope. The social contract of the future will be one that promotes unity, cooperation, caring, and sharing. Why? Because in a rapidly-shrinking world, there is no other choice.
I want to hear from you! Please share your questions and comments. And sign up for my newsletter, where I will pass along the insights, ideas, and inspiration that come my way.