Jeremy Lent on Restoring Connective Tissue

Jeremy Lent on Restoring Connective Tissue

Breakthrough author and integrator of ancient wisdom and cutting-edge science, Jeremy Lent, is interviewed by AllCreation co-founder, Tom VandeStadt.

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This interview comes from our Summer 2022 Edition, "Restoring Connective Tissue."
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Tom VandeStadt 0:00
Welcome, everybody. Greetings to all of you who love Mother Earth, who love all who dwell within her awe inspiring and sacred biosphere. I welcome you to this AllCreation Podcast. I'm Tom VandeStadt, a co-founder of Thanks so much for joining us as we explore this additional topic, "Restoring Connective Tissue.

Jeremy Lent 3:50
Well, thank you so much, Tom. Thanks for that. Wonderful, welcome to the show. And yeah, I'm really looking forward to having a deep conversation with you on all of these topics that you just mentioned.

Tom VandeStadt 5:00
So from your perspective, are we in code red?

Jeremy Lent 5:06
Oh, yes, we're definitely I'd say we're in code flashing red. Because you know what's, what's even more terrifying is even the the stuff that we get to read about from the IPCC and the UN, if anything, understates where we may be headed, or where we're likely headed this century, because of this whole issue of amplifying feedbacks, which means that as we get past that one and a half degrees Celsius, temperature rise towards two degrees, there's all these things start happening with weather systems work can actually kick off new drivers that can lead us quite quickly from a two degree welds with three degree welds. And scientists, serious sober scientists from around the world now are absolutely just calling out with alarm, because what they're trying to tell the rest of the world is that we're entering a zone where a very civilization is at risk. If we continue on this path, this century, there's many people and increasing number of people. And again, these are not sort of collapsed Rotarians or whatever, but serious scientists who are realizing this is not compatible with a global civilization. And to your point, and I think this is the most important point, the whole climate disaster that we're heading to right now, even that is just a symptom of a deeper underlying problem, which is this ecological devastation that our global civilization is causing to the earth right now. So even if somebody came up with some sort of magic bullets, hard to even conceive of right now, but that could somehow shift the direction of the actual rising temperatures to sort of come back down towards at least a 1.5 Steady state or something, even then that would just be kicking the can down the road a little bit, because we're dealing with all these other issues, like deforestation, destruction of life in the ocean, total devastation, coral reefs are almost certainly going to be wiped out, literally wiped out this century, even if things start to improve. Everywhere we look that massive water shortages, where the UN predicts that billions of people will be facing severe water stress, like by the middle of the century, it goes on and on. So we have to look at the deeper underlying issue, there's something absolutely out of balance that has to be brought back into balance.

Tom VandeStadt 7:36
So climate change is not the only issue. It's really a massive assault on earth and all her living systems. Yeah, that we're talking about. And as you look ahead, 10 years from now, 20 years from now, at all the processes we've already put into place and set off. I mean, what degree of political and economic disruption do you envision how much human suffering?

Jeremy Lent 8:04
Well, I mean, if if things continue, even close to the path they're on right now, then we're going to be looking at some of the most more apocalyptic situations in human history. The question is, How bad are they gonna get and how quickly, but, you know, oftentimes, people focus on some of the more extreme and obvious elements of climate breakdown, like the massive heat waves or droughts, or floods, or like, huge mega hurricanes, although they're very real, those affect people directly. But I think some of the greatest systemic impacts are the incredible famines that can get caused. And the fact that large swathes of the earth will literally be unlivable, leading to, like massive climate refugee crises, where basically, we're talking about like things that Europe and Syria and some of these countries have been experienced in the last few years. Multiply that by 10 or 100 times we're looking at food crises, where literally people will be unable to even feed themselves. So when we're looking at situations where people won't even have access to water, and those situations, of course, lead very quickly to military conflicts, to the unraveling of political norms. And that's where basically elements of our civilization, everything from a global trade, to our electric grids to internet to all the different things we're used to, based on an incredibly complex and fragile sets of deep into connections, as these things start to unravel. That's why people are really worried about our civilization itself being under attack, not just like something like COVID where, oh, yeah, we're impacted a little bit. We can think of something like COVID as being like this little miniature dress rehearsal. For what we can expect coming unless we look at deep transformation, because the point is that, even though what I've described is so dire, I believe that we can shift the direction of where we're heading this century. But only if we look long and hard at what is really causing this problem and shift the deep underlying systemic issues around that, rather than try to fix a few things superficially.

Tom VandeStadt 10:27
Well, let's start to talk about that a bit, then some of the systemic and institutional causes, and then we'll go a bit deeper into the underlying worldviews and assumptions that are so deeply ingrained, particularly in the west where they originated. But now globally, one of the things that I really appreciate about your writing and your speaking is calling out capitalism. You know, here in America, it's almost as if capitalism is sacrosanct. And there is an attitude among a lot of people that without capitalism, America is no longer America, a capitalism in America are just one in the same. And yet, you're very critical of capitalism, and really call capitalism and neoliberalism and corporations out for being drivers of this. Talk a bit about that.

Jeremy Lent 11:27
Yeah, so I think that's absolutely true. And we do need to recognize really, that capitalism is, it's a bit like the elephant in the room, that everyone's kind of trying to squeeze themselves around, and try to look at the very limited spaces left and not mentioned that there's this big elephant, there's actually a vast part of what they're actually dealing with. And I think what we need to recognize is one very simple and clear, part of what I'm talking about, is that capitalism itself is built on the requirement for continued growth, continued growth in profits and growth in shareholder returns. And the whole system is built on that way. So that, you know, when companies are valued in the stock market, they're based on a price to earnings ratio, which looks at their current earnings and says, Okay, let's multiply that by 20, for what they're really worth, because look how much they're gonna grow in the future. So if the expected growth rate just even slightly gets reduced, suddenly the stock price crashes, the whole system is built around, grow, grow, grow. And it has been like that ever since capitalism began a few 100 years ago with the first corporations back in Europe in the 17th century. And the point about that is it's based on always trying to then exploit and extract everything as fast as possible from the rest of life on Earth. So the thing is, one of the implications of that is that you can just keep growing at this rate without leading to these problems we're having. So right now, all the devastation we're looking at in the world is based on a certain amount of gross global gross domestic product, that's expected to triple by 2060. It's just boggles the mind to imagine triple the amount of consumption use the amount of emissions all this stuff. And there are some people come up with this idea. It's a very common sort of meme out there of green growth. Well, what we need to do is use technology to basically decouple our material use and pollution and stuff from GDP growth. And people try to claim it's possible by looking at certain numbers. But studies have shown that if you look at the whole global system, the actual material consumption, and growth in GDP tracked almost exactly. And for decades with almost no variation, and zero, basically decoupling going on, this is the issue we need to recognize. And there's a reason for that, because under capitalism, if somebody does come up with an improvement in something like say, I find a way to make renewables even more efficient, or you know, a new source of energy for far cheaper, consuming fewer resources, under this system, investors immediately pour into that new technology and say, Oh, now we can use it for this and that and they can increase, actually expand the amounts of stuff available because they found a new efficient way of doing something that's actually got a name in classical economics is called the Jevons paradox, because there was a an economist in the 19th century in England who first discovered that about the watt steam engine, which was one of the sort of first steps in the industrial revolution. And it was a way to basically extract coal far more efficiently than it had been before. So at first people thought, Oh, good. That way, we can use less energy to extract the same amounts of coal, To everyone's surprise Should people use more energy to extract massive amounts of color leading close to the Industrial Revolution? That's the paradox.

Tom VandeStadt 15:08
So endless growth on a finite planet, it just doesn't work.

Jeremy Lent 15:12
That's right, exactly. And that's what it's so difficult for people to get their heads around. Because we're so used to thinking about the system the way it is. Now, people go, what we can't stop that. And then what would happen? There's this famous phrase that goes around slough of Dziedzic is the person who it's attributed to saying that it's easier for most people to visualize the end of the world than it is the end of capitalism. And I believe that is largely true. But that doesn't necessarily have to be true. And this is a point, there are other ways in which we can organize ourselves politically, economically, financially, that doesn't have to be based on this endless growth.

Tom VandeStadt 16:00
Right. And we'll get into that in a bit when we talk about the deep transformation network, and people all around the world who are seeing this pretty clearly. Another thing I really appreciate is you don't just deal though, on that systemic institutional level, you really go down into a deep cultural history and look at the way that we have made meaning of the world in the West, and how problematic that is, and how bad has led to what you've just described. Yeah. Especially dualistic thinking reductionist science, that is so important. So if you would talk a bit about that, and the history behind that, and how that is gotten us to this place.

Jeremy Lent 16:49
Yeah, well, I'm so glad you're, you're talking about that, because a lot of my work, in fact, over the years, has been to look at the underlying reasons for why we're in this place. And a lot of what I focus my attention on, is recognizing that different cultures choose their actions, and their focus based primarily on the worldview that they have. And worldview is something we're not even aware of, for the most part. Basically, a worldview refers to the way in which we make sense of everything around us, the way we frame it, and how we determine how things work and what doesn't work, what's valuable, and what's not how we should live our lives, the fundamentals of our life, we can think of a worldview a little bit like a lens through which you see something. So in just the same way they we look at the world through the lens in our eye, but until a biologist tells us that we have a lens in our eye, we don't realize that we just think that's reality. And in fact, of course, the lens actually does all kinds of things to change the way the lights come through our eye, so that we perceive it in a certain way. Similarly, a worldview patterns, meaning into the world around us in a way that we think is reality. But when only when we look at different worldviews Do we understand? Oh, actually, there's other ways we can make sense of things. So they look fundamentally different. And when we look at worldviews, what we recognize is that our dominant worldview is one that actually arose from the time of the scientific revolution in Europe, like hundreds of years ago now. But it's formed the bedrock of what we take for granted what we think is right. But here's what's so fascinating. Modern science actually shows us in recent decades that some of the things we all almost all of us take for granted, are in fact, not right at all, they're actually flawed. So just to give you a sense of what I'm talking about by some of these, these elements, in our dominant worldview, we think that, for example, humans are separate from nature. There's something fundamentally different about humans than the rest of nature. We think that even as humans, we're split between a mind and a body that we have some sort of mind that is somehow maybe connects us with spirituality or consciousness or something in our body is this kind of physical thing that our mind is housed in. So that's part of what we call it, dualism. And we also think that humans are basically selfish. Like we're separate individuals, and we're selfish, separate individuals. And not just the humans are selfish. But we think that nature is selfish. And most people think this is scientifically shown by biology that there's a selfish gene that is determined evolution. And so basically all of nature's is this kind of cutthroat fight between different species and humans out competed the rest, which is why we're a top dog. And the reason capitalism works was because it makes this way of everyone, by pursuing their own selfish ends can do it most efficiently in a market driven capitalism and that's why the system has worked so well for the last few 100 years. That's what most people believe. If ultimately is kind of what as well as about, every one of those things I've just said, have been shown by findings in modern science to be absolutely wrong. And once we begin to realize that we can open our minds to different way of making sense of things based much more on a sense of deep into connectedness, rather than the sense of separation that we get from the dominant worldview.

Tom VandeStadt 20:27
So in this dualistic thinking, you know, humans have come to see themselves as separate from nature. And they viewed only themselves as having any intelligence. And that nature has absolutely no intelligence, if anything, it's just a machine. That's the metaphor that we've come to use that nature is just a machine. And if nature has no intrinsic value, then we can just continue to exploit it.

Jeremy Lent 20:57
That's right, and you hit upon a key element, there is none, even that we're sort of better than nature are essentially different. But nature doesn't even have a lived existence. And that mechanical metaphor of nature was one that was existing a little bit prior to the scientific revolution. But during that period, the great breakthroughs of science were from that time, people like Galileo and Newton, and Copernicus, and Descartes, they all were fascinated by looking at this idea that if we think of nature as a machine, we can break it down to its tiny, little parts. And by doing that, we can then end up making sense of things. And that was a basically a program under science that was called reductionism. And reductionism worked incredibly well, it was actually to their credit to great success. And it was that breaking things down into little pots, that led to all the breakthroughs we've experienced over hundreds of years, and understanding things like electricity, and the germ theory of disease and some of the greatest breakthroughs in human knowledge we've ever heard. So there's no way in which I'm saying there's something fundamentally wrong with that. But what happened was, because of the success of that way of looking at nature, people began to mistake this metaphor that was very effective with the entire universe. So you've got this notion of through reductionism, of the sense that nature literally was a machine, it wasn't just like a machine to have to use in certain ways. And that the only way to make sense of anything was to break it down into these little parts, and any other way of making sense of things had to be mistaken or wrong, or woowoo. It just made no sense. So people now nowadays think that science is that reductionist approach. But in fact, that's not true. And in fact, there are many scientists have developed even as far back as the last 100 or more years, but certainly the last few decades, which look at the connections between things and realize that a lot of the ways in which we really understand the world arise from how we look at how they connect up, rather than by breaking them down to their separate parts. This is a systems orientation to the world. And that doesn't reject reductionism in any which way. But it says, in addition to breaking things down, we need to look at how they connect up to really make sense of things. And that's what's fascinating is that new way of looking at things actually leads us to recognizing deep validity in many spiritual traditions that arose 1000s of years ago, were these traditions that talked about the deep interconnectedness about life, but God kind of thrown out as kind of, you know, old woowoo stuff by what seemed to be hardcore, modern science. But now we recognize actually, there's deep validity to that.

Tom VandeStadt 24:03
Yeah, well, let's start talking about that a bit. You know, Joanna Macy, has written that we live in a time when a new view of reality is emerging, where spiritual insight and scientific discovery both contribute to our understanding of ourselves as intimately interwoven with our world. And that's really the task that you've set out to accomplish is to show how this spiritual wisdom which is really quite ancient, I mean, human beings have known our interconnectivity for quite some time, and how contemporary systems and complexity science is showing that what the sages knew was true. Talk more about that, about the wisdom that you've drawn from, from ancient China, from indigenous people from around the world, and also what you're learning from system and complexity science?

Jeremy Lent 25:01
Yes, for sure. Well, maybe a good place to begin is with this statement I made just a few minutes back about how modern systems sciences show how the connections between things are often more important than the things themselves. And that's sometimes a difficult thing for somebody in a modern worldview to get their head around. Well, how can that be? It's, it's the things that actually matter, isn't it? So one way of thinking about it, is to consider, like, say something like a candle flame. And if you look at that flame, it looks like it's kind of stable, right? You know, when you look at it, and you look at, you get a few seconds later, it's the same flame as there. But basically, every molecule in that flame is different. So the actual stuff it's made of is changing, but the way in which those molecules interrelate with each other with the wax and with the wick, and with the oxygen, that's what actually keeps the stability going. And what's fascinating is, we can even see this is true, if we think about ourselves like something, that's an interesting thing to do is to take a moment and consider a photograph of yourself and you are a little child, we've all got some sort of favorite picture that we can think of about that. When you think about that picture, you know, that person is you that little kid. But basically, what is fascinating to realize is there's not a single molecule that made up the physical being of that little kid that is in you now. Most of ourselves are always changing and are already different. There are a few cells that actually remain in us all through our lives. But even those cells are continually changing the molecules that they actually use to formulate themselves. So the question is, what is it that relates you to that little kid and that photograph? The answer is, it's the ways in which all of those molecules within the cells and the cells related to each other. It's the relationships between all the different elements that actually retain a robustness and a stability and a coherence. That actually is our true identity. That's what actually stays in us all the time. And that's the relationships. And that's what modern systems biology and complexity science explores is to understand those relationships. And what's fascinating to your point about traditional wisdom is that, even though in the West, we're just beginning to uncover the importance of these connections, traditional ways of making sense of things, always focused on these connections. So in early China, for example, about 1000 years ago, there was this powerful school of thought, we know it nowadays is Neo Confucianism, during the Song Dynasty about 1000 years ago. And they integrated three of the great Chinese traditions from the past Buddhism and Taoism and Confucianism. And they looked at a universe that consisted of all the stuff of the universe that were there called Chi, some people might have heard that word chi refers to basically natter and or energy other stuff, basically, that isn't universe. But they said equally important, was what they called Li. And li refers to those organizing principles, the principles by which all that she relates to each other. And in that conception, you can't have the stuff that she without delay, because the LI basically organizes all that stuff. And similarly, the league can't exist without the Chi, they require each other. And so when we look at systems thinking, it's saying something similar, that you don't have the universe without all the stuff that reductionist science looks at, and actually can't exist in the complex ways we look at the world without those relationships.

Tom VandeStadt 28:57
Right, right. You know, one thing that I really love that you do, when you contrast, the say, the Neo Confucian view of the world versus our western view of the world, you contrast this notion of gay Wu, which was the study of the way things are the study of nature, so that we can harmonize with it. Yeah, contrast that to say Francis Bacon, who sought to study nature so we can conquer nature, and control nature and extract from nature. Exactly. This the radical radical difference in these two worldviews? And the different trajectories then that these two cultures have taken.

Jeremy Lent 29:43
Yes, yes. That's completely right. And that's a great contrast between those two traditions. Because, you know, people might be hearing what I'm saying then so we'll then think Well, so what what is, what does that actually imply that you really hit the nail on the head with that that our modern A scientific worldview looks at nature with the intention to control it to basically conquer nature. Like that's one of the one of those profits of the scientific age, you mentioned Francis Bacon. And he put out this clarion call, he said, we can conquer nature, we can basically, you know, tortured secrets out of her. And that way we can know what to do. And at the time, that was a revolutionary, exciting, wonderful thing that caused so much benefit. But that's what's leading to this destruction of nature. Right now, it's no surprise that that view of conquering nature arose right at the same time of the, basically the legal institution of the modern for profit corporation, and the basic economic system of capitalism. Because capitalism, if you will, is almost like the economic manifestation of the worldview that says nature is a machine. Because if nature is a machine, and if basically were called on to conquer nature, and to, like use it to our benefit, then well, if we let's if you will organize an economic system around that, that will be capitalism. Basically, the very word itself comes from this recognition that there's capital, which is the foundation of what we use to then earn a return on everything else, it's outside of the capital, essentially, that we can exploit and extract for the benefit of increasing capital. So sort of capitalism is really the economic manifestation of this worldview of extraction and separation. But this girl Wu that you were talking about the traditional Chinese thought, looked at, when they wanted to understand nature, they were equally curious. And there was great science that developed in China, very sophisticated science, all about trying to find out ways to harmonize with nature for the benefit of humans, and not necessarily destroying the natural world around them, but actually looking at creating a harmonic structure where everyone benefited. And this is again, one of the great insights. Now, the modern science shows that both indigenous wisdom and Chinese wisdom was pointing to, which is life itself, has evolved on that basis. And we talked earlier about how we believe from our dominant worldview, that life evolved through competition and The Selfish Gene, had this idea that got put out by Richard Dawkins some decades back. modern biology has shown that that is fundamentally untrue. That in fact, if you look at the evolution of life, over billions of years, since it first began, there have only been a few big phase transitions in the complexity of life from a single, simple cells to complex cells to multicellular beings to mammals that or the future big shifts, every one of those shifts arose not through different species out competing the others, but learning how they could work in a what is called mutually beneficial symbiosis with other species, where they take their specialist skills and apply them where the other species can gain from them, and they gain from the other species. And that is what we get from life today. If we walk in, in a forest today, that symbiosis is all around us and trees, and photosynthesizing the sun's energy to give it to all the animals who then transport their seeds, and then referred alized them through their waste products, and the fungal network underground that actually gives trees extra elements that they need. And trees use that fungal elements, that fungal network to transmit nutrients to other trees around. The whole thing is a symbiotic ecosystem. And if we can start to look at our human relationship with the rest of nature, not as how can we conquer it, how can we exploit it, that how can we be back in symbiosis with it, then we have a chance of shifting our trajectory.

Tom VandeStadt 34:10
It kind of seems that by separating ourselves from nature, the way we have, that we're separating ourselves from reality itself, which is which is really a kind of madness. I mean, there's an there's a Buddhist environmentalist, Susan Murphy, who says that until we can glimpse ourselves in that vibrant, seamless web of interconnectedness, we are living in a kind of madness, that is to say, not living in reality. Yeah. And it's it's this kind of madness and not living in reality that is driving the actual reality to be harmed.

Jeremy Lent 34:52
I think that's completely right. Well, sometimes people will call it a consensus trends, which I think is a very powerful way of looking at it that way. Everyone else is going around in this trance. And so we go, oh, I guess this is this is our reality. And that separation is a little bit like an anesthesia. It's as though our consumer culture is kind of feeding us this continual drip of a sort of anesthesia of consciousness that numbs us to our actual reality that causes us to just kind of live in this kind of dulled sort of consumer hedonic treadmill, rather than actually connecting with what really matters in our lives. And that's not just happenstance, that actually is part of the whole mindset of consumer driven capitalism, to make people always basically take their life's energy and use it for the purpose of always needing more and buying more and working harder so they can achieve more. So basically, people themselves become almost like rats on the wheel, essentially long as a consumer zombies being used by this system, to stay in this consensus trends and stay away from their true reality. There's actually a fascinating way of understanding that by actually taking another glimpse at that traditional Chinese way of thinking I was talking about before from Neo Confucianism, we looked at the lead those connecting principles between things. And they had a concept that they called Ren, which is written English is r e n, like Ren. And so then Ren basically meant this kind of profound sense of this deep interconnectedness of all life, this recognition that each of us as human beings, have all these different systems of life within us, and a part of this web of all life. And that led to a sense of a kind of unconditional love, almost like a loving kindness, a sense of the sanctity of everything around them. What's fascinating is that the word for the opposite of REM, in Chinese is Berlin, which basically means no rat. But that word boo Ren in modern Chinese means anesthesia. And when you think about what that means, basically, if you give somebody like a local anesthetic, because you're working on their teeth, you give them the anesthetic, and then you can touch their gum, but they don't know that being touched, because they can feel it. But the touch is real, but they're just totally unaware of it. So we can get that metaphor of boomerang sense of anesthesia, as basically being that our modern society feeds us with this anesthetic dread, that we are deeply connected. So it's not like we have to sort of, sort of get ourselves connected, all we need to do is open ourselves up to actually feel what is actually happening around us. And all of a sudden, a different world opens up to us, a world of love, a world of a greater identity, sharing with community, with all of humanity with all of life. And all of a sudden, everything can look different. And meaning can begin to infuse our lives rather than that sense of consumer driven meaninglessness.

Tom VandeStadt 38:08
So this love you're talking about is really just a natural, organic process that happens, it's not a rule to follow, just by reconnecting that love for others in nature that we're connected to just it's there. Yes, there it's not something we have to do. It's that will way that the Tao was speaking of.

Jeremy Lent 38:31
That's exactly exactly right. So um, and, you know, oftentimes, like, say, serious scientific writers talking about saying, neuroscience, or complexity, science, whatever, we'll be scared to talk about words like love, or spirituality or stuff, because there'll be afraid that they'll be accused as getting woowoo and not serious, whatever. But from a systems understanding, we can even define things like love and spirituality, from that recognition of the deep connectedness of things. So in fact, in my book, web of meaning towards the later part of the book, I actually kind of describe love, really, we can understand love as being really like the realization and embrace of that connectedness, when we open our eyes to that connectedness, and kind of embrace it without being that is love. And that can be love, expressed in terms of just one relationship with another person, a close relationship. It can be a more sort of general love of all other human beings of all of life. We can look at it all these different fractal layers. But it's all about this recognition of connectedness of what is within us with everything that is outside of what we conventionally see as us.

Tom VandeStadt 39:48
So it seems like one of the first steps or perhaps the first step of reconnecting to the biosphere is reconnecting to our own bodies, because that's the first line of separation The disconnect from our own bodies,

Jeremy Lent 40:02
I think that is very, very true. And when we talked about this kind of dualistic worldview earlier, this dominant worldview we have, again, it doesn't just say that humans are separate from the rest of nature. It also says that I am somehow separate from my body. And that came from Descartes. Again, who's got that famous, quote, the foundation of Western philosophy, Cogito ergo sum, I think, therefore I am. And if you think about what that's actually saying, and saying, that thinking capacity, that enables me to sort of think symbolically and be aware of myself and all that stuff, that's the only thing that actually is fundamentally, my identity. And the other stuff of me like my body doesn't really have a full identity, just the way that another animal must be a machine, they don't have an identity. But again, this is where modern science shows how fundamentally wrong that is. In fact, what we now know from cognitive neuroscience is those thinking capacities, for starters, are something that is shared to varying degrees with many other mammals all around the world. And secondly, that it's actually not the only part of our existence, that we have deep animate intelligence within us. And what we really are as human beings, is a combined conceptual consciousness that allows us to think in those symbolic ways, and what we can think of as our animal consciousness, our embodied wisdom, which actually, is the vast bulk of what we are as as human organisms, and is also a gateway to connect us with the rest of life, because some of the deepest elements of what we have within our bodies are what we share with all of life. And again, modern science validates that if you look at genetic science, we know understand that about half of the genes we see in a banana are shared with us like, we look at something as separate from us as a banana, and about half of our genes are shared. And even higher percentages of this leave with every other creature around like flies, or not to mention high functioning mammals with whom we share massive amounts of genetic structure. And that's not just a G wiz fact, what that basically points to is that the way in which our bodies organize themselves, the way in which they actually are coherent, and allow us to have awareness and consciousness, are deeply similar is in biology is the term deep homology, meaning like the the deep history of our evolution is shared with all these other creatures around us.

Tom VandeStadt 42:44
Well, that now raises a moral issue. If we share this animate intelligence, in knowledge with all of the other life here on Earth, that raises serious moral issues, for example, how we raise animals in our industrial food system, and the cruelty, the cruelty with which we treat other animals. Talk a bit now about your vision of ecological civilization, and the morality behind that, and the underlying values that underpin the ecological civilization.

Jeremy Lent 43:27
Yes. yeah, I'd be happy to and, and maybe before I begin talking about the ecological civilization itself, let me just reaffirm what you just said, Tom, about the horrendous moral implications of things like factory farming, once we realize that other animals far from being machines, like people like they caught, so are actually sentient feeling beings, and in fact that any animal that has a nervous system, basically, and a brain capable of cognizing, which means basically the chickens and cows and pigs that we put in those factory farms, those are animals that suffer, and they may not think in the same way that we do. And they may not be able to write poems about their suffering or anything like that. But they are suffering in every bit just as terrible away from torture, and a diminishment of their own life possibilities, as we humans would. And so we have to recognize that this kind of factory farming that goes on and other ways in which we treat animals as basically just for our own benefits, not considering their beings, there is a deep and profound moral implication to that. It's quite possible that what we've done with factory farming where 80 billion animals every year are a tortured and slaughtered for our benefit is perhaps the greatest amount of suffering that has ever been caused on this planet earth since life began billions of years ago.

We have to face up to that.

And so to your point about ecological civilization, it's a basically it's that it transforms the way we look at life, and how we can organize life in a way that rather than looking at everything from the point of view of extraction, and exploitation, as such as our current civilization does, it looks at life itself as the basis for how we can actually construct our society. So the reason it's called an ecological civilization, and I should say, by the way, that term is not my term. It's a term that's used by many profound thinkers around the world and has been for a number of years now, I've totally embraced it. When I came across it, it was like, yes, because I felt it was the perfect phrase that got a sense of the depths by which we need to change things that is not just like, looking at an ecological economy, or an ecological culture is looking at an ecological civilization, we have to transform the civilization itself. But it captures the way in which we can transform it towards basically these principles of life. And because if you look at ecologists basically ecosystems, what we discover is that ecosystems are based on principles that have allowed them to be not just sustainable, but flourishing and resilient, in many cases, for millions of years, through changes in climate, through all kinds of disruptions, these ecosystems can accommodate that, and stay healthy and resilient. And the notion of an ecological civilization is to start off by saying, what are the principles that we can learn from nature that we can apply to human society and our own way of organizing, that we could maybe allow our civilization to also be one that could be sustainable, allow for for flourishing, into the indefinite future.

Tom VandeStadt 47:02
So in your book, you know, a number of these principles by which life self organizes. And so by basing a new civilization on how life actually functions and how life organizes and how life flourishes, we're getting back in tune with reality itself. But if you would identify some of these principles,

Jeremy Lent 47:27
Yeah, sure, those are fundamental. So perhaps the most important principle is one that we touched on earlier in this conversation is, essentially that secret life came across when it evolved its complexity over the billions of years, it's been on Earth, which basically is mutually beneficial symbiosis, which essentially, which makes sense when you think about it. If one species is basically extracting and taking advantage of another species, that's not going to work out too well over the long term. Because they, the other species will fight back, find a way to fight back, we'll just die out and what it's all over kind of thing. But when different species work out, oh, I can offer this specialized skill to you. And you offer your specialized skills to me, and it works for both of us. That's, that's a marriage made in heaven. And that can last indefinitely. So when you apply that to society, basically, it moves away from this sort of capitalist system, where essentially, groups are trained to exploit and extract as much as they can from other groups in society, where if you can take advantage of a group, then you're doing well, and then you're just get more strength, so then you take advantage of that group even more so. And then a group tries to fight back. And so everything is about competition, and basically, exploitation. So with mutually beneficial symbiosis, we'll be looking at a society where different skills got actually synergized to work together for the benefit of all, where basically, every single group, every individual within a society, rather than getting exploited, could actually contribute for the benefit of the society as a whole. So that's one fundamental principle, a separate one that is very close to that, but actually expands in a different direction is that when we look at the way nature evolved, it evolved fractally and some people may be familiar with the word fractal. You know, those kinds of core patterns. Basically, fractals are patterns that repeat themselves at different scales. So you see that things like lightning, the branching of the like the break here, bronchioles in our lungs, or neurons in the brain, or coastlines. You see it everywhere in nature, because they show basically self organized activity, and ecosystems work fractally where different systems work according to a particular set of patterns and then are part of bigger systems. So just like you have said As a part of an organism, which are part of a species, which are part of the whole population. And similarly, what that means when we apply that to human society is that the health of each part requires the health of the entire system. And the health of the entire system can only be truly flourishing, if all the different parts of themselves healthy. And we know that about our own bodies, we know that if something if I've got difficulty with an organ, like say, my liver or whatever, that's going to affect different parts of my system. So that might make me feel a bit weaker, and then I won't get to exercise so much, which can then affect my lungs, which can then affect my heart. And so all the different systems interact with each other. If we apply that to human society, we recognize that our society can only truly flourish when we look to each of the different pots and make sure that they're flourishing. So those are two principles.

Tom VandeStadt 51:00
Yeah. Again, it's paying attention to all the connections that are connecting us on multiple levels. Right? Yeah, yeah. Well, we started out by talking about the dire trajectory that we're on, you know, we know that we need to act quickly and do a number of things. So tell us a bit about your deep transformation network.

Jeremy Lent 51:22
Yes, well, really, that arises from this recognition that we are all interconnected. And there's so many people around the world. In fact, this is something that we can feel encouraged by, there's millions upon millions of people around the world who see that things are going wrong. And they recognize that something is profoundly wrong. And they oftentimes feel very isolated, because people around them are part of that consensus trance that we were talking about earlier. And so they go well, there's nothing much I can do. And so oftentimes, people will be working on one particular thing. And that's great, whether it's, it can be, say, activism, political, or environmental activism, or it can be kind of spiritual growth, or it can be community connection, all those things are critical. But we can only get to the transformation we need when we're realizing that we're all parts of this deepest systemic shift, and tying all those different elements together. So the idea behind this deep transformation network is basically to allow anybody who recognizes that we need a deep transformation society, to start to build part of a community, a global community to share these ideas, and to actually work together to realize how deeply interconnected all these transformations are within our society. So one beautiful thing about this network, which is only just started a few months ago, it's already got well over 1000 people in it and people joining every day. And this kind of conversations that take place some live conversations with different pioneering thought leaders. And then there's other group conversations and shared articles, and online, all kinds of stuff happening on this platform. The idea is partly to actually each of us get a sense of community get a sense of being part of something bigger. So that can actually lead to really a wonderful feeling of almost liberation. It's not me alone, trying to change the world. It's like me with all these other people can open our minds to all these other possibilities. It also leads to this ability to synergize, that whole notion of mutually beneficial symbiosis. People can share ideas, other people say, Oh, that relates to something else over here. And we can build a sense of this transformation, that's actually possible.

Tom VandeStadt
Yeah, you know, our theme for this edition of all creation is restoring connective tissue. And I really see the deep transformation network as a form of connective tissue, connecting people in the here and now all around the globe around this vision for a future. So also connecting us hopefully, to a better future. So I want to thank you for all the work you're doing with that I've joined the network, and I found it challenging, inspiring. At the last Tuesday group meeting that we had, I got to get in a small group with a woman from the Bay Area and a woman from Johannesburg, South Africa. Wow, I never would have been able to do that otherwise, so So that's fantastic. In the time that we have left to share a bit about what keeps you going. I know I've heard you say that you kind of live on the cusp of despair, just by acknowledging all the pain and you know what could happen? And yet you call yourself a possibility terian and you just plug away at doing what you see is possible to create a Better World what is what is your spiritual source? And what is helping you do this?

Jeremy Lent
Yeah, yeah. Well, thank you for asking that. And, yeah, I do feel that any of us now who look at where things are headed and look at the destruction taking place, not to mention the incredible inequalities in our societies around the world. It's very easy to fall into despair. And I'm not one of those people who puts out a sense of false optimism. I don't say that, Oh, yeah, it's okay. You're, we can invest in renewables will be okay. We need to look very clearly at the recognition that we are headed, even with all the destruction taking place right now to something even worse, unless we do this transformation. And even that transformation won't happen right away. And I feel into that, and I think we need to recognize the to have those feelings is actually a part of what it is to be alive on this earth today. And to be connected to have that Ren that we were talking about earlier, to realize this deep connection with all of life. But then, when I find myself in that place, and part of that feeling itself comes from that sense of expanded identity that I am life. There's this amazing quote by the 20th century humanitarian Albert Schweitzer that really resonates powerfully with me that he basically said, I am life that wills to live in the midst of life, that wills to live. And that recognition that is not that I'm connected with life, but I actually am life that really drives me that gives me the sense of I look, then to life itself as a source of what does life want from me? And then the answer I get from that question is basically that yo life does want me to feel into that pain enough to be energized, enough to care enough to change what I'm doing in my life, to really struggle for life's own future. But life doesn't also want me to fall into some sort of pit of despair, and get stuck there. It wants me to be engaged to engage with others. And just like life has those networks we were talking about earlier, there's mycorrhizal fungal networks underground that transport the nutrients for the trees. That's what I think life wants from all of us, as humans to be our own network of transmitting these ideas to each other. So that together as a group, we have the potential to turn things around. And that recognition that it's not about what I can do myself, but it's about how I can amplify and how I can resonate with the work of others, and how as a system of transformation, we can make our civilization redirect. That's what gives me a sense of what's possible.

Tom VandeStadt 57:53
Well, that's great. Thank you so much. In your book, you note that the Blackfoot Native American people, when they greet each other, never ask each other, how are you? But rather, how are your connections? And I find that so powerful, and I find myself greeting myself every day by just asking myself and paying attention to how are all my connections, right. And I'm so grateful to you to have brought that to me. So Jeremy, I want to thank you, again for this wonderful conversation. I encourage all of you who are listening to this podcast to check out the deep transformation network. Check out Jeremy's works. He's all over YouTube. And we'll have links for you to follow. Again, Jeremy, thank you so much for taking this time to talk to our folks.

Jeremy Lent 58:52
Well, thank you, Tom! Thank you for this great conversation. And thank you for all these wonderful connections that you have just been helping to co create right now. Thank you.

Tom VandeStadt 59:01
Thank you!

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