“The internal exploration of the Psyche through psychedelics, yoga, meditation, and group ritual could become a larger part of our future world”
From where we are now, a number of different futures seem possible. A lot of them look pretty dire, to be honest. If people want a different outcome, they are going to have to overcome their passivity and make it their responsibility and mission to actualize it – even if this costs them financial success or other rewards, in the short term. The fact is we need to get moving quickly – and move in a diametrically opposite direction to where we have been going over the last centuries.
If we continue to emit CO2 at current rates, we will unleash runaway climate change within a few decades, and most forms of life on Earth will go extinct. We may also go extinct, as a healthy level of biodiversity is critical for our own survival. At the very least, world populations will crash to a much lower level. The level of global suffering will be brutal – almost unendurable.
To avert this doom, the developed countries of the First World need to step up and reduce their emissions 8 – 10 % annually while they convert to renewable energy infrastructures. This requires something similar to the mass mobilizations of populations that took place during the Second World War. At the same time, we need to stop unnecessary industries, stop unsustainable growth, stop excess consumption and excess plane travel, and, to a great extent, stop eating meat. By some accounts, meat eating is the worst contributor to global warming as well as a major contributor to mass extinction. We currently consume 100 billion animals a year. 30% of the Earth’s surface is used for animal agriculture, cattle grazing, etc. Much of this land could be turned back into forests, which sequester CO2. Animal farming is also responsible for massive amounts of deforestation, as jungles are converted to soybean plantations to feed livestock.
I know this sounds impossible, overwhelming, and bleak. However, I think it is possible to turn that around, through an act of internal mental jujitsu. We can choose to see it as an amazing challenge and opportunity. Instead of promoting mindless consumption and endless growth, we can seek to build local communities based on love, trust, harmony, imagination, and creativity. I think the internal exploration of the Psyche through psychedelics, yoga, meditation, and group ritual could become a larger part of our future world – our new paradigm. We could also learn from traditional and indigenous cultures around the world, who express innate joy, and realize the inherent unity of nature, spirit, and humanity.
Looking at the idea of initiation from indigenous cultures, we can conceive of our lives as initiations – and the great initiation of our time is to overcome the distraction and vacuity of our current culture, confront the ecological crisis, and launch a new operating system for a regenerative human society. This is as great a mission and purpose as we find in all of the science fiction films that people love – Avatar, The Matrix, Star Wars, etcetera. We are actually living in a story of that magnitude, and we can choose to sign on to become catalytic agents of positive transformation.
Beyond a period of shared sacrifice that might last a decade or more, we could look toward the potential of a society based on shared abundance. For instance, humanity could establish an industrial system that is fully “cradle to cradle,” where all manufacturing processes have a beneficial impact on the ecosystems, modeling our productions on nature, which creates no waste. We can potentially use the Internet to establish new networks for free sharing of knowledge and resources. We could seek to establish a “post-work” civilization on a planetary scale where people’s basic needs are subsidized, leaving them time for the free development of their creative and intellectual gifts.
Daniel’s next book How Soon Is Now, comes out in February 2017, from Watkins Press. Join his newsletter at www.pinchbeck.io to stay updated and keep the conversation moving.