Coming Decades | where we stand and where we’re heading. An astrologer speaks.
Here’s my next podcast from the far beyond. Coming Decades.
This is Paldywan the astrologer-historian placing our current time in a larger context – going back to 1892 – and giving some clues about future issues and developments in coming times – up to the 2060s.
With some interesting news about the late 2020s – only a few years’ time.
We have to get lost. This means that things aren’t going to happen as we expect, as they should. We’re going to get other stuff instead. We’re going to go out of our depth.
The bigger implications of the Covid outbreak are now beginning to unfold. As I mentioned a few months ago, this isn’t about Covid – it’s a deeper and bigger change. Covid was the catalyst, bringing a cascade of events to force a change in the human psyche, globally. Covid itself will be forgotten, in time – it was just the trigger.
In a sense, this qualifies as a classic case of ‘divine intervention’. Imagine you’re an archangel, trying to help the people of planet Earth with their self-created problem. Previous attempts to trigger fundamental change – say, the fall of the Berlin Wall or the horrors of Syria – have not worked sufficiently. The challenge therefore is to create a trigger situation where it hits home hard enough to upend and shake out the foregoing human mindset that creates the problem, but not so hard that it knocks people back fundamentally, rendering them incapable of change, because they’re suffering, struggling and dying too much.
Et voila. It took the form of Covid 19 – a brilliant creation, sophisticated enough to outfox the brainiest of people and the most controlling of authoritarians and bureaucrats. It creates enough damage to rock things, but not enough (yet) to fundamentally disable us.
There’s something much deeper going on than this – it’s a reality-reconfiguration. It’s so fundamental that even those of us with the loosest, widest, deepest thinking are rather lost. Yes, lost. Thoroughly disoriented.
A sure sign of this is the way that we’re all trying to map a certain vision onto the future, to restore something of the way things were before. For some people it’s all about where and when to go on holiday, and for others it’s all about who controls the world, and why, and what we ought to do about it. But the problem is that reality has shifted more than that. Even the most visionary, progressive ideas use assumptions and concepts from the past. We don’t really know what has shifted, or how exactly it happened. It’s just that we’re waking up in the morning suddenly realising that things already look very different. We’re rather lost, and getting more lost.
I’m one of the more visionary types around here. I’m well-versed in history and geopolitics, I’ve been on this path since the Sixties and have had time to think things through, I’m articulate, brainy and, guess what, to be entirely honest, I don’t have answers. Here’s the rub: anyone who proposes that they do have answers doesn’t really have them – they are projecting onto the future a framework, an understanding, that seeks to restore the past. I’d put myself amongst them: I too am doing this, in my way.
There are a lot of experts and pundits out there, advocating explanations, and recently we’ve entered a new phase in the battle of ideas and viewpoints and it’s very complicated and shifting. No one really knows what to think any more, so some of us suspend judgement or cop out, while others grasp on to sure-fire analyses of what’s happening and what happens next, megaphoning them at everyone else. As if reality is created through majoritarian agreement. No, it isn’t. Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Especially now.
This gets problematic, because it’s not just a simple question of right and wrong. Take conspiracy theories, a classic example of reality-projection, born out of a need to control the uncontrollable and to see the world as Big Brother’s plaything – a father complex. Well, problem is, much of the analysis that constructs this mindset is ill-interpreted and ill-founded, but there is also a lot of truth in it and some conspiratorialists are pointing at something really important. Unfortunately, their insights are obscured by a lot of loud noise, sensationalism, sales, over-analysis, misjudgement and right-wing politics. So, including in the world of smoke and mirrors, we’re lost.
Guess what, the great manipulators – those much-vaunted Illuminati, Trilaterals, Bilderbergers and Reptilians – are lost too, and we don’t have just one Big Brother – we’re also witnessing a war of the titans at the top of society. Eitherwhichway, this is an example of how it’s working at present – we’re obsessed with grasping at explanations, whether scientific, ethnic, religious or conspiratorial, or anything, as long as it sounds good and makes us feel safe.
Everything, somehow, is partially true, and ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are obsolete concepts. There is no right or wrong: there are simply outcomes. This is one of the operational rules of the 21st Century.
Now this gets interesting. A few years ago I wrote a report about the world in 2050. I sought to map out the issues and the scope of the complete planetary problem. I did quite a good job, as it goes, given the size and scope of the situation. It was reasonably clear what needed to be done – the social, ecological and other mega-issues we all know so well by now. But how to fit them all together and how to get there was the big issue, and today we’re faced with an enormous dysjunction.
Problem is, there’s the goal. That’s one thing. Then there’s where we stand today. That’s another. The two neither match nor connect. Given where we stand today and what we’re doing, we won’t reach the goal. Yes, we’re making big changes, but electric cars are not enough. It’s our inner grasp of things that needs to change. We’re faced with cosmological change. But we’re still in a phase of trying to restore the past. This includes the visionaries, the progressives, the leading-edge people – it doesn’t only concern those un-wokes who are perceived by progressives as needing to get real and catch up.
To get from here to there, which we cannot do with our existing sense of reality, that reality has to get shaken out in such a way that we get totally lost and disoriented. So that our fixities and structures get shaken out, on all levels. This would be a crisis and a catastrophe in one sense – a serious global mental health and organisational challenge – but the idea here is that it’s a way in which we might avoid actual, total catastrophe – such as the still-unresolved possibility of blowing up the world with nukes, or a systems breakdown or climate event so large that the majority of humans suffer and die horribly.
We have to get lost. This means that things aren’t going to happen as we expect, as they should. We’re going to get other stuff instead. We’re going to go out of our depth. It started happening last year, when we suddenly fell over a cliff we didn’t quite know was there, and we still haven’t grasped how high the cliff is. This falling sensation applies to every single one of us.
We’re falling, tipping over an edge, not sure what we’re falling into, but we’ve already lost balance. Arguably, this tipping phase began around 2008-2012, but it cracked and went critical in 2020, and now we’re on a slippery slope.
I don’t know what happens next, but here’s a key clue. We have a vastness of issues to sort out, and it all hangs around society, social choices, social justice, social power and societal healing. If these are not progressed in the next few decades, we will not handle the climatic, ecological, biosecurity, geopolitical and other issues before us. It all hangs around collective willingness, consensus, belief, consent, acceptance and cooperation. Human community. This has been put before us during the Covid crisis and this is what stands before us now.
But it isn’t about persuasion, leadership and followership, and it isn’t about recreating and replicating the past. Then comes the question: well, what should we believe? There’s an answer to this, quite well summed up by a chunk of wisdom from our old friend Jesus: by their works shall you know them.
In other words, look at the people who are doing things. And help them. I keep quoting a Xhosa saying: listen more closely to things than to people. Don’t give so much attention to ideas, beliefs and viewpoints. Try to do today whatever is best in this situation, as it stands, using your instincts, acting creatively and moving things forward from here, in big and little ways. Because this is about spreading our wings and learning to fly. Birds don’t see the air that supports them when they fly – they feel it and sense it. They fly by trusting in the air. That’s the way to go, and there’s much more to go.
But don’t just believe me because (I hope) I sound convincing. People like me, the ones pumping ideas into the collective psyche, are part of the problem. Ideas are a problem. That’s not an anti-intellectual rant: it’s just that, the way our ideas are configured, they’ve become a problem. We do need to use our heads, but differently.
Here’s a tip: get more happy and okay about not knowing what the fuck is going on. You’re unlikely to find out.
So, if you were an archangel, seeking to effect a Great Reset even on those who believe they are doing the resetting and in control of the process, you’d spin everyone round and cause them to get thoroughly lost. So that the cards get reshuffled quicker. So that solutions can come without having to drag through a lengthy processes of change and resistance to change. So that the constraints of the past can be freed, and the assets of the past can more truly be harvested – the brilliant, amazing aspects of human history, genius and hard work that have also characterised our current civilisation. So that we actually survive, without excessive, irreparable damage done.
Here at my place, there has just been a lovely fly-past of five hooting geese. They’re off to spend the day at the pools just by Tregeseal stone circle, two miles away.
2020 has brought us all a lot to think about and, for many, a lot of time to think about it. ‘What am I here for?’ and ‘What’s it all about?’. Some folks have had big reveals and pointers, others have had to dig deeper than ever before, and some have made little or no progress, and some have been run off their feet and burned out by it.
I’ve always been rather purpose-driven. When I was about ten I wanted to be prime minister. By 15 I won a big public speaking competition with a notes-free speech about why Britain should join the European Community – seven years before it happened. Does Brexit, 55 years later, mean I’ve failed? By 18 I realised that politics was too dirty for me. So I followed another path and you got Maggie Thatcher and Tony Blair instead.
It took until I was about 34 to acknowledge that I was at last on track (when I started the Glastonbury Camps). It just had that feeling. Before that I felt like a footloose jack of all trades and master of none. When ‘received my instructions’ I quaked and resisted, but then I realised that, if I didn’t do it, it would not happen. And it needed to happen.
God doesn’t come down and say ‘This is your life-purpose‘. It’s not like that. It’s just that, when you’re more or less on it or you’re heading towards it, you feel it – you’re in the right place at the right time doing the right thing, even if others disapprove, discourage or block you. If you aren’t on it, you feel stuck in a blind alley, getting nowhere, with a meaningless life, as if you’ll stay like that forever. Depression and feeling an unfulfilled calling are closely related.
Purpose is programmed within us. It’s already there. Before getting born, we had a discussion with our angels about the purpose, the motivation, for going to the trouble of birthing ourselves, growing up and living a life on earth. Incarnation is hard work, even for people born in privileged circumstances. Two key things were covered in that discussion: what you were to learn and master, and what you were to contribute. Then you signed a contract in your soul, and it still holds.
Quite often you get clues when you’re about 8-12 years of age – visions of what we want to be when we grow up. Then, during your teenage years, this vision can be clouded and lost (often not helped by parents and careers advisers). These early-life visions can be literal or symbolic. I wanted to be an airline pilot. When I was 15 they ruled that short-sighted ginks like me couldn’t be pilots (that changed back later on, but too late for me). So that door closed. But later in life I realised that I had taken thousands of people on long journeys, up into heaven-worlds and landed them safely at the other end. Mission kinda accomplished.
By 18 I was aiming to become a diplomat, but by 20 I was involved in a life-changing near-revolution at the LSE that ended all that – yet in my adult life I’ve scored some pretty good informal diplomatic hits. So the vision and intention were symbolically correct, but the way things panned out was very different.
As life goes on, our purpose reveals itself through situations that present themselves. We find ourselves doing things we hadn’t foreseen but, when doing it, we feel remarkably fired up, or we make a difference, or we do something really meaningful, sometimes without even realising it. Even washing the dishes or cleaning the toilets can make a big difference in some situations – the chef at a peace conference can save thousands of lives without even knowing it, just by cooking good food for the delegates. So note this and follow it, because there’s your clue – even if it doesn’t make money, look realistic or gain approval, if it fires you up, why aren’t you getting on with it?
We must be willing, if necessary, to tread that path alone. In the Arab revolutions ten years ago, a big issue for people was ‘losing our fear’. Sometimes we must stand up and be counted – and if we hold back we can regret it for the rest of our lives. Like the near-revolution I was a part of fortyish years before, the Arab revolutions failed in the short term yet they started deep changes that will outlast the dictators who tried to stop them.
Here’s an interesting truth: it’s better to fail in something that ultimately will succeed than to succeed in something that ultimately will fail. This concerns posterity and holding out for what is right – and taking a bet that it’ll work, even when you’re not sure, and everyone and everything are against you. Even if you have cerebral palsy. Even if, or perhaps because, you’ve been damaged, disadvantaged and traumatised.
Three things block this coming out process: fear, guilt and shame. Too many people take the safe route in life, to please their family or fit in with the rules, or for fear of loss of security, or fear of being singled out and blamed, or fear of being exposed as unworthy or unable. Human society is riddled with such fears. Our planetary disaster is happening because billions of people are withholding their gifts, setting aside their callings and playing safe. We cook up good reasons to justify this but, in doing so, we are choosing complicity in a collective crime against humanity.
Out of fear, we hold back. This becomes a habit and institution. Then we forget what our instructions were, what the agreement was. Instead, we eat, drink, entertain, worry or work ourselves to death – unless or until a crisis shakes it up, strips our defences, propels us into unknown territory and slams the door shut behind us.
This withholding is dead serious. It means we’re omitting to make our contribution. It’s ours to make, and someone else isn’t going to replace you. Since so many are withholding, there’s a shortage of active server-souls. People have questioned my humanitarian work, believing it is dangerous (yes, occasionally it is) and encouraging me to stop and ‘be responsible’. But then, when I ask them to take my place because the work still needs doing, they wander off.
‘Charity begins at home‘ – sorry, for me that’s only a half-truth. Charity truly begins where the need is greatest. Need pulls the brilliance out of you.
The world is short of active altruists, and the suffering that arises from that is tremendous. It’s all about that old lady down the road who is alone and unvisited, because everyone was too busy and no one thought, no one imagined what it might be like to be that old lady. The world has a crisis of caring, and it’s all to do with withholding our gifts, callings and missions. Playing safe is a very dangerous planetary neurosis.
This brings us to a key issue. It’s not just our option to pursue our life’s calling: it is our duty. It is an imperative. If we don’t do it now, it won’t go away. This is a choiceless choice. Especially in these parlous times.
This isn’t about great and dramatic things. If you’re gifted at embroidery, do it. If you’re good at ‘just’ raising kids, or ‘only’ growing cabbages, you’re here for that. If you can bring light into the life of a hungry or lonely person, do it. Because, when you’re on your deathbed, these are the things you will remember.
And it changes. Life-purpose presents tasks but it is not a job. You can’t resign. It takes on different shapes, progressing as life goes on. One of my big life-lessons and contributions has been in ‘right leadership’ – something I did better in my fifties than in my twenties. I’ve scored a few goals, brought some benefit and made mistakes too. But I learned. It has gone from home-birth campaigns to organising biggish events to helping burned-out Palestinian social activists.
There are paradoxes. Nelson Mandela once confessed that, in his life, he had faced a deep conflict between serving his family and serving his people. He could only do one of them. After all, if you’re doing things that can endanger your family, should you stop serving your people to protect them? Or will your family also benefit if you can improve things for your people?
One of my gifts has been a capacity to struggle for, uncover and articulate insights that other people don’t quite get. I’ve been a speaker, author, editor, broadcaster and a pretty good contributor to public discourse. It didn’t make me rich or famous but I’m really glad I did it and shall continue till I drop – even possibly afterwards. Since I’ve been about 30 years ahead of the times, my work has not succeeded as much as it otherwise might, but after I’m dead it might lift off – you never know – and I’m leaving an online archive of my work just in case.
But perhaps it doesn’t matter. We can never fully see the results of our work and the part it has played in others’ lives. ‘Non-attachment to the fruits of our labours’, is how Buddhists see it. The aim is not to have an impact – it is simply to do your best. Once, when I was in Palestine I confessed to a friend that I didn’t feel I was making much of a contribution on that trip, and I might go home and come back later. She looked at me straight and said, simply: “Balden, when you are here we feel safe“. That hit me hard: sometimes, you don’t even need to do anything. I learned that what I thought was happening didn’t match what actually was happening.
Here’s another thing. Often we think this is all about giving. No, it’s all about interchange. It’s arguable that the people I’ve helped have given me so much more. If you wish to experience true generosity, go to poor people’s houses and countries.
Life purpose has its ins and outs. I’m good at thinking clearly in wider situations but I’m useless at articulating personal feelings on my own behalf – though I’ve done decades of work on myself to change this, and I’ve only made a little progress. But there are things that each of us must accept too: in my case, it’s Asperger’s Syndrome (high-function autism), and that’s what Aspies are like and what we’re good for. Greta Thunberg is a good example – and society is more open to her directness than was the case for me and my kind fifty years ago.
I’ve been nailed and hammered by so many people to be different from the way I am, yet I’ve found that trying to be what I believe others want me to be does not end up well. This has been painful – to be judged as a bad father, a failure, a fascist dictator, a goodfornothing, a criminal and even traitor. “When are you going to get a proper job?”. Something in me, rightly or wrongly, has soldiered on. I have regrets, but I don’t regret it.
There is no right or wrong: there are simply outcomes. Write that on your toilet wall. We’re called to create the best outcomes we can, and for everyone. Become an expert in making something good out of disasters. Don’t indulge in your failings, inadequacies and wrongs – they go on forever – but throttle up your gifts, assets and contribution. Don’t leave it till later, because later means never.
In my life I’ve been a philanthropist without money. My wealth has been magical, not material. Sometimes I’ve thought of myself as a healer of perceptions. People outside the rich world see me coming and they think, ‘Ah, a European – he can raise funds for us’ (Christians do this more than Muslims). No, this is not what I’m here for, and I’m not good at it. I’m here to help with magic solutions, to raise people up, and it has been a challenge to hold to that because people and projects do indeed need money, often very legitimately so.
The worst bit is that some people get so fixated on the funding bit that they accuse me of being rich, mean and selfish, and they miss what I actually can contribute. It’s better to teach someone to fish than to give them a fish – a common saying in the humanitarian world. (Another is: teach a man and you teach a man, but teach a woman and you teach a generation.) I’ve had to learn to work for a good cause not just because it’s a good cause, but because it is run by people I can work with, and because it fires me up, providing a context in which to serve and contribute best.
So, if you’re struggling with life-purpose matters, here’s a recommendation. Do whatever lifts you up, and avoid whatever weighs you down. This is radical. It’s also far more practical than you might believe. When I was 50 I had a ‘dark night of the soul’ crisis and this truth emerged from it. It doesn’t mean taking the easy option – often you must take the scariest option. A lifelong peace activist, I realised that I had to head for the heart of darkness, so I committed to working in Palestine, sensing that justice for all, not exactly peace, is the main objective there. Justice brings peace, but peace doesn’t necessarily bring justice – so more conflict will follow. If Palestine and Israel can break through, the world’s conflicts will change – and wars and violence block world progress far more than we understand. So what lifted me up was the challenge to follow a difficult path.
Twenty years later, the Palestine problem continues and assholes still prevail, but this work hasn’t been a failure. Deep historic turn-arounds take time, often longer than a lifetime. Brian Eno once said, “I have a feeling I’m part of something that should be much bigger than it is“. Yes indeed – the last fifty years have been a frustrating time for change-agents. But many of the greatest breakthroughs in history were groundlaid by forgotten people you’ve never heard of – the people who prepared the way for those that history recognises. Without these forgotten heroes, you would not have the freedoms and blessings you have today.
Getting cancer and becoming physically disabled wasn’t part of my plan. But it has given me new purpose. I might live one year or ten, and this uncertainty is an awakener: what can I lay to rest and what am I still dissatisfied with? It has reminded me that, no matter how difficult things are, everything in life is a gift. If you choose to see things that way. So even if you feel you have no purpose or you can’t find it, that’s your gift, your resource, your background, and do your best with it. That’s where it starts.
Or perhaps you’re doing it but you downplay it, or you fail to see what’s happening as a result of your being there, or you feel you’re such a rotten, godforsaken shit that you’re a no-hoper.
When I was twenty I read a book by Alan Watts, a psychedelic guru, that deeply stirred me. It was called The Wisdom of Insecurity. Yes, the wisdom of insecurity. Sorry, folks, but in 2020, normality was suspended and this is what we’re being shown. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and pitch in. Make steps. Do it. And if you don’t do it, stop beating yourself up about it. Good luck.
I’ve had good news. I talked on the phone to the haematologist at Treliske hospital in Truro (about 40 miles away) and she seems pleased with my results. Although the readings from blood tests are slowly rising – this is to be expected, but I could be worse than I am – the PET scan I had a couple of weeks ago, to see whether any further damage was being done, turned out well. So I do not need to go back on chemo right now. I’m glad, because I’m tired of getting poleaxed by medication and fatigue. I need to revive before the next round.
But that’s not what I want to write about.
As promised, here are my thoughts on the next ten years or so. There’s a combination of a historian, futurologist, astrologer and seasoned observer coming through here, and long hours in bed have meant a lot of time to ruminate on these things.
I think the 2020s are going to be both difficult and more encouraging than the 2010s. Covid is the beginning of a process, and there are more storms to come – that’s the difficult bit. It’s going to be an uphill grind. Or a different kind of grind than the one we had before.
Looking more longterm, this process started around 2008-12, when the overall balance of global trends tipped critically, and it has been ramping up over the last ten years: the world crisis is no longer a thing of the future but it’s now present and here, in all departments of life and coming at us in waves. We have entered the inevitable period of price-paying for the profligate lives we’ve led in the rich countries and the destructive aspects of the world system we’ve created. Some of us saw this coming way back in the 1960s, but the majority didn’t agree or want to look.
During the 2010s we needed to be given gritty, distressing challenges to get us engaged, to grind us down and prepare us for what happens next. It was in many ways a dispiriting decade, but a lot of good things bubbled underneath. Many revolutions failed, but many people were changed by them. Covid is in a way a climax of that phase and the beginning of the next one. It’s a punctuation point.
The issue is this: since the world has delayed action on necessary human and planetary issues, there’s a lot of catch-up to do, and a lot of damage has been done. We’ve lost fifty years, and things can’t wait. Events are taking over. This is no lnger a matter of opinion.
There’s a long way to go before we find the full range of solutions – it will take the whole 21st Century. To progress, we need to be accelerated into a process of change that will take us out of our comfort zones and confront us with hard facts. Humanity needs to get itself mobilised. Now it’s a time of consequences, imperatives and seeking solutions.
Though a few might think it’s the only option, an all-out catastrophe would not help. Catastrophes hurt, disable, stun and set people back, and they are not the best recipe for change. We need to make big choices and get behind them – even if we’re arm-twisted by events to do so. What’s needed is a deepening series of crises that tip us incrementally into change-processes, forcing us over a succession of thresholds and pushing us to get really real about our situation and its many details, nuances and implications.
It’s especially about human society. Without substantial changes in our group psychology and behaviour, we will not get through the century intact. This concerns cooperation and sharing, and it brings up collective emotional issues about identity, power, who decides, and how much we really care about nature and human nature. It concerns Us and Them.
So people across the world are variously cleaving into progressives and resisters, new tribes and old tribes, and this is the new politics. Ultimately, humanity has to realise it is one tribe, but this will come clear only when Ronald Reagan’s late-1980s Reykjavik Proposition comes true: humanity will unite when it realises it is not alone. But without humanity cooperating as one planetary race, there will be insufficient resolution of environmental issues, tech hazards and the wide range of potentially fatal issues that face us now.
So we’re being accelerated, and it is reasonable to expect further crises ahead, and particularly multiple crises happening at once, or cascading crises with proliferating implications – as Covid is with the social and economic issues it has precipitated. The urge to restore normality is an unconscious reaction to this acceleration, part of the process of letting go of the past. Normality will not be restored, no matter how many dollars and scientists you throw at it. But there are still options. It’s just that the new normal is going to keep changing.
The 2020s are likely to be very different from the 2010s. The shit will increasingly hit the fan. But something else has been bubbling up underneath to meet this and change the equation: a growing surge of new ideas, perspectives, attitudinal changes, technological advances and challenging situations that nevertheless prompt progress and positive developments – as in ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.
Astrologically, an interesting and rare configuration is approaching in the later 2020s for which my best description is ‘cultural florescence under duress’. This will not be easy because we’ll be battling with more crises. But the difference is that the tide will be flowing more strongly then, and this loosens things up. It allows creativity, innovation, new ways of seeing things and new reality-configurations. There is likely to be a battle of ideas, perspectives and loosening positions, and a generational change in which Millennials will be coming to power (and my own generation will be dying off).
One of the big questions will be, do the people exist for the system or does the system exist for the people? Questions of systemic control, the rights of the individual, the needs of the collective and the balance of the three.
This will not be the old workers-and-capitalists battles of the 20th Century: it will be between progressive people and ideas at all levels of society, and resisters, some of them indisposed to change, some victims of change, some of them vested interests, and many who are older, marginalised and disoriented. These too need to be considered, because this isn’t any more about my side or your side of the argument, it’s about the complete outcome of all arguments, for all people and in all areas of life.
So we have come to a need to rehumanise society. Another issue concerns social willingness to cooperate. If change is imposed, and if governments and those at the top of society fail to act in people’s overall benefit and society fails to come together to cooperate, then resistance, exceptionalism and non-cooperation will ensue, complicating things terribly – this issue has been tested in the Covid crisis.
So we’re likely to get an escalation of both problems and solutions, and we’ll be challenged to see when solutions are actually solutions. If we judge events on the basis of past norms, there will be a plethora of problems, but if we judge them on the basis of the possibilities they offer, they become a solution. Much hangs on this. In the Covid crisis, from which everyone is so anxious to escape, we have been given multiple solutions but we fail to see them – we choose to focus on the problem side, on what’s being lost. And yes, things are hard.
This year we have wobbled over a tipping point, toward rehumanising society and making the world more fit to live in. Millions of people are thinking deeply about their lives and about life itself. The rich world is at last starting to become aware of its consumption patterns, which need to reduce radically. And the developing world needs to find new ways of developing from those that have existed before.
Then there’s ‘mental health’, a term based on the presumption that conventional normality is good health. Chaos has broken out in people’s lives, and for many people it’s really hard work. Many, including me, have also had to face being very alone. But calling it a ‘mental health crisis’ avoids the main point.
We’re in a rather necessary spiritual crisis, affecting everyone in varying degrees and ways. For some, this has been really tough – the bottom has dropped out of their universe and many people are flailing. It’s all about facing our demons and fears and, as individuals, communities and societies, we all need to face them. Old values, expectations, judgements and preferences are becoming obsolete, and there’s a lot of grasping at straws, blame and escapology going on. This is a transitional inner growth crisis for many, a time of what disaster professionals call ‘epistemic insecurity’ – confusion over what and who to believe.
In the later 2020s, specifically around 2024-2028, we’re coming into an avalanche period, a torrent of events and issues – but I don’t think it will be as blocked and struggly as the 2010s were. There will be pain and also increasing relief – relief arising from a cumulative adjustment to and acceptance of what’s happening. But the pain often comes first and the relief tends to follow. We’re in the pain bit for now.
Conservative forces from the top to the bottom of society are beginning to realise that things are changing anyway – and this applies also to that part of ourselves that prefers our comfortable routines, habits and security. The part that wants to be the exception. The part that says, ‘I’m up for change as long as it doesn’t affect me’.
There’s a rule in geology: the erosive power of a river increases as the square of its volume. That is, when volume of flow increases three times, erosive power increases nine times. That’s what we’ll see in the 2020s: the erosive power of events. The flow and volume of change is increasing, and it’s eroding anything that gets in the way. Whether we like it or not, it’s coming at us.
But the good news is that a flood also clears out the channels and generates energy. The challenge for us all, for individuals, communities and nations, is to get used to living and operating in a far more tumultuous and challenging world.
What is the gift in that? It will make it easier to face the 2030s and 2040s. Because things are not going to slow down.
But there’s an extra issue here. Whenever the world fully accepts change, things will progress faster but it will still take time. Forests take half a century to grow. People need time to adjust and sort things out. Innovations need trialling. Cities take years to redesign. Soil takes time to reconstitute. This means that, even when the big decisions have been made, it will take decades to find out whether it will actually work. By the 2040s this could raise world neurosis levels to a peak – or it could bring a new kind of sanity. This is new territory – we’ve never done this before and we don’t know what will happen. So the decades following 2030ish could be a nail-biting period.
To put a time-perspective on all this, the two big dates of the 21st century are these: 2048 and 2065. The changes we’re in now are operating in a time-frame from 2012 to 2048ish. I won’t go into that now (my book Power Points in Time tells all), but it’s worth flagging up here.
The 2020s are part of the run-up to 2048 – astrologically a Uranus opposition Pluto. The conjunction, the beginning of the cycle, was in 1965-66, and the square, the growth-crisis, was in 2012ish. So 2048 is the climax of all that started in the 1960s. The 1960s were a time of dawning awareness that all was not well on our planet, and that we faced daunting times. Times that we now are in.
2065 I would call the beginning of the start of the future. The time of nail-biting might well be over, and we’ll know the facts of our situation – the crunch-time is likely to have been around 2048, followed by a rather shell-shocked post-crisis period following it, dealing with pressing realities and taking stock. By 2065 I would imagine that, whatever the state of the world, we’ll have a clearer sense of what comes next. It’s a Neptune square Pluto, the crunchpoint of a cycle starting in 1892.
So Covid has upset the apple-cart. The starting gun has been fired. And, to be honest, even though things are hard, do you really want normality restored? Do you really want to go back to the way things were before? It’s strange to say this, but in some respects, since cancer took over my life a year ago, it’s been coming clear that it’s the best thing that could happen to me. But I do also choose to see it that way – not just in my head but in my bones.
Well, that’s what I think anyway. Whether my prognoses resemble the reality to be, we shall see. None of us can presume to know the big answer. That’s quite amazing, really.
There’s a lot of conspiracy stuff going on right now. In my estimation, some of it is more or less correct, and quite a lot is projection and a rather paranoiac interpretation of life, history and geopolitics.
In a way, conspiracy thinking is useful. Divide and rule. Polarise the debate. Analysis paralysis. Release some useful information, knowing that some people will interpret things extremely, then rubbish them. This is partially deserved because of many conspiratorialists’ deficient sense of historical and political proportion. Shit does happen, yes, but a lot of what looks like shit isn’t really.
Nothing is as black-and-white as we might wish. It’s not just smoke and mirrors: reality is like that, a matter of perception and interpretation – Buddhists, the world’s first psychologists, have been teaching us that for over two millennia.
There’s a selectivity to conspiracy theories: it’s easy to rail against things we hate and resent, but we fail to go the whole way – conspiracy buffs still love their mobile phones, oppress women and believe whites are in charge. Some have a strange way of adopting populist right-wing politics.
I was a victim of conspiracy at age twenty, persecuted as a dissenter and dealer. The masons did it for me and I landed up in trouble, eventually seeking refuge in Sweden. I learned something from that experience: my oppressors lacked true intelligence and they were on the wrong side of history. I felt sad for them.
They are victims of a virus, an emotional-mental virus driven by fear, a narrowness of spirit that believes that self lies at the centre of all things. A fear of the vastness, of ‘God’, of the other inhabitants of the universe.
Here we come to Covid. I’m going to say something strangely controversial: Covid is a great gift. It represents a solution, a breakthrough, a relief, the beginning of a great healing. By saying this I seek not to deny the dead and the suffering (I’m getting my fair share). The best medicine does taste bitter. But Covid is saving us from far more deaths and much more suffering later on.
How so? Covid is accelerating change and bringing forward issues we need to face. We were too busy deluding ourselves, avoiding the big questions. It’s significant that Black Lives Matter is coming up right now – black people are beginning to assume their future role as leaders of humanity, following after the Chinese by the end of this century.
They raise a bigger question on behalf of all of us: is the system here for the people, or are the people here for the system? Thanks to African-derived people for bringing this up: their frustration is sufficient to actually rock the boat.
We’re being saved from a bigger catastrophe. We’re being let down slowly in an incremental series of shocks. Though some are dying and having a hard time, these shocks are saving us from a bigger, potentially terminal, catastrophe. The soul of humanity is in a process of redeeming itself. It’s a shock even to archangels as they watch a world die, and they debate how they might save eight billion hurt, damaged and excarnated souls from a destroyed Earth, who risk infecting the wider universe with their anger, ill-will, corruption and pain.
On the news, as I write, in a shocked tone they are announcing that the UK economy shrank by 20% in April. Well folks, this is a gift. It has long been needed. The economy will have to shrink yet more in order for us to achieve sustainability. People have had a revelation through Covid: a realisation that the lives they lived were not the lives they feel best living and giving to their kids.
Now we shall see who has the guts, the necessary despair, to follow through.
Problem is, there are conspiracies. And some things look like conspiracies but they aren’t. Covid was not caused by conspiring humans – that’s too narrow and reductionist an assessment. But, given that Covid is happening, power-holders indeed are making use of Covid as a way of increasing social control, reinforcing fear, making money and pursuing their agendas, driven by a fear of losing power, of facing their naked truth. But it’s not a neatly simple conspiracy, and there are also rivalries at the top.
Some things look like conspiracies but they are often coincidences, fuckups or groups acting in concert since they share interests – there is an ingrained, conditioned tendency amongst humans to act in self-interest and we’re good at it. Also, conspiracies, even the great Illuminati themselves, even when advised by the greatest of professors, do not have all the answers or exercise their full intelligence, because they are limited by fear. And as white men, their time is ending.
And as an educated, relatively privileged white man, my time is over.
Conspiracies rarely work properly. They can jog things in certain directions to an extent, but look more closely at the main issues that have been labelled as conspiracies in recent decades. Most were screwed up, or circumstances overrode them, or they’ve created unintended consequences. Oil interests did not succeed in the Iraq war. The British empire fell, and badly. PNAC, the Project for a New American Century that devised 9/11, is producing the opposite result longterm to what was intended. Organisational systems are clunky. There are wild cards. And the world system is inherently flawed and self-destructive.
If Covid was indeed thought up by a conspiracy, then they needed to think further. It wasn’t a good plan. They could have done better. The mobile phone and EM conspiracy is far more effective than Covid, though fortuitously Covid has given it a lift. No, if Covid was devised, it was devised by nature and higher powers, as a perfect awakening plan. Shake up the humans, twist their arms, put a spanner in their works – give them a revelation exposing where power really lies.
Besides, are you not part of a conspiracy? If not, why not? People think Big Brother is the only show in town – this is a father/authority complex that obscures clearer vision. No, it is not the only show. History is on the side of the conspiracy that has thus far been suppressed: the people, nature and the ways of the universe. The Unconscious always wins because the Conscious and the Ego are but concepts, complexes. However, they’re strong, and people sincerely believe in them. If in doubt, head for the nearest security – we all do it.
This concerns competing viral thoughtforms. There is the Logic of Destruction and the Logic of Life. We’re all being faced with another layer of a perennial question: which side are we on? The battle for the hearts and minds of humanity is hotting up, and our children and grandchildren have come here for it. There’s more to go.
There’s also a further truth hidden behind this. Life is a movie, a phantasm, a fiction. Everything we have ever experienced passes. There’s light and dark within all of us. Light shines awareness on hidden things, and darkness gives meaning to light.
Both levels are true. This paradox doesn’t make sense, but rationality is a construct, an explanation, not a reality. So, listen more clearly to things than to people. The fear of death that so dominates the Covid crisis arises from a fear of facing a deeper truth: the unavoidable truth that life is like a fart in the Void and we’re all forgotten. Everything that starts comes to an end.
So give thanks – we live in blessed times. The curtains are being opened, stage by stage. The main problem is summed up by philosopher Edmund Burke: for the triumph of evil it is necessary only that good people do nothing. And that the goodness within all of us remains dormant, withheld, concealed unless we let it out.
So yes, be aware of hidden dynamics in our society, of where the power is believed to lie, but get on with your life while you have one.
Follow your truth. Be willing to self-question and re-evaluate. This way, the evolution of humanity is accelerated. This way we avoid disaster. This way, we teach our children well, conveying a lesson they won’t be taught in school. To qualify as humans we need to pass the tests of heart and soul. Pass this, and we qualify for the next stage.
Well, that’s what I believe, at least. With love. Palden
This year we’ve stumbled into a yawning abyss called society. There are approaching eight billion of us here on Earth, in various stages of individualisation. Departure. Uprooting. Alienation. Social distancing.
It’s partially a cultural issue and partly to do with urbanisation. Urbanisation is the largest movement of people in the world today. All the world’s population growth is in cities – rural population is declining, paradoxically creating more space for nature. Stranger still, one of the biggest pandemics of today is loneliness.
Yet we’re suddenly facing each other. Saturn and Jupiter are passing into Aquarius, the sign of society, membership, belonging, ideas, plans, principles and ‘how things ought to be’. When Pluto moves into Aquarius in 2024-5 for eighteen years until 2043, well, we enter a social process. Since 2008 we’ve been in a systemic process, and what matters next is people. Last time Pluto was in Aquarius, we had the French Revolution.
Some people give up on humanity, dedicating themselves to the natural environment, or wishing they could or would do so. But if we people don’t change, environmental issues won’t get resolved. We’re transitioning from exploiters to guardians of nature. To do that, we need also to transition from exploiters to guardians of our fellow humans. The main variable is the destruction we permit ourselves to go through to get there. Humanity’s crimes against itself rest on omission and commission.
Uranus and Neptune went through Aquarius in 1996-2003 and 1998-2011 respectively. That took us through globalisation and the social impacts of the economic crisis, which began with food riots, through to the Arab Revolutions – and it didn’t stop there.
No politics or religion were involved in the Arab revolutions: young, marginalised people just wanted to get a life. This matter is still pending. The current frontline is Sudan, with Iraq and Lebanon close behind. And Hong Kong, and Chile, and the emergent ramifications of Covid.
Many issues are pending and our planet has grown anxious. Angst about anything and everything. Partially this is psychological, a winding up of tightening hearts and minds, and partially it is circumstantial, since the world is getting crazier, more complex, polarised and dangerous.
We’re facing up to each other. My freedoms aren’t your freedoms, those people over there aren’t like us, and yet we’re all in the same crowd, utterly dependent on each other.
The world is cleaving into thoughtful and inconsiderate people, empathics and libertarians, public and individual priorities, matters of control, influence and freedom, with surprisingly large sub-surface reservoirs of social schism lurking underneath. “Who’s going to die first?”, “Who can I blame?”, “Who’s going to get the last loaf of bread?”, “How much do I care?”.
Not that anyone really knows what’s going on, and that’s a key part of the training. We’re out of our depth. This is bigger than we can see.
It’s not exactly a disaster. Change always looks like a disaster when we’re plummeting into it. Then it becomes crisis, and then transition, then a stunned quietness, then relief, revival and a new reality. It’s a question of the extent of pain and loss we humans must go through to get there, but get there we shall, by fair means or foul.
What’s wrong is that some people bear this burden of change far more than others – this is a fundamental issue of principle, of sharing. You can’t have privilege and deprivation when, like it or not, you all sit in the same boat.
It’s also about inner resilience – the capacity to make something good out of a bad situation. And social resilience – the capacity to change our social and community ways to meet whatever life throws at us, and regardless of whatever went on before. How to make life as easy as possible in the circumstances we get. How to feed and look after each other, and how to organise that.
It’s a big shock. Things have been going the other way in recent decades – or was it centuries? Humanity is meeting itself. This is the planetarisation of consciousness, the deeper aspect of globalisation. The bit we’ve stumbled upon is the horrifying realisation that we’re all so profoundly different. Yet, just somehow, we’re all part of a human family. And we’re in danger of making a mess of it.
Some of us run forward to change things while we have the chance, and some run back to safe territory to try to keep things the same – and there’s a bit of both in all of us. The bit of ourselves that we don’t like, we blame on others. If we are to survive, the twain must meet. We must get along with people we disagree with. But wait, they’ve got kids and grannies too – they’re just like us.
This is what’s emerging in the collective psyche, and it’s the big theme for the coming years. Is the system here to serve the people, or are the people here to serve the system? And what tribe do you belong to?
Until recently we were focused on climate change and a plethora of issues that all confusingly melted into a soup of horror – sub-surface political angst.
And now, this, this thing that we all wish we could get control of and cannot. How much it’s a virus and how much it’s a miasm, an epidemic of the psyche, is open to question.
If we dig a level deeper, we’re faced with a test of faith. Not my faith or your faith, but faith.
When the chips are down, how much are we prepared to sacrifice ourselves for what we believe to be good and right? Or is it safer to withhold, let others take the strain and see what happens?
There’s some good news too. But that awaits another day.
I’m not in the habit of giving speeches at seven in the morning on a Sunday. But this happened this morning – I spoke at an online medical conference in India about the potential social and economic outcomes of NovaCovid19.
There was quite a lot of academic waffle, but it was interesting. There were dogs and children in the background and a nice lot of chaos too. I’m so glad that I am extra-academic in my work, not least because, in my experience, academics have a problem stretching beyond their current viewpoint. Right now we see a truimphal science riding high, but the problem is that science is in partial denial of the full scope of the issue.
To give an example, one of the speakers mentioned that susceptibility to NovaCovid is related particularly to air pollution – evidence of this is now emerging. Yes, true, and there’s more. It is related to internal pollution by antibiotics, vaccines, chlorine, poor diet and a modern cocktail of toxins. This is partially why Africa is not as badly hit as Europe and USA.
This narrowband approach I found when compiling my Possibilities 2050 report on the future – all experts and available reports to draw on avoided many of the big questions, particularly psycho-social issues, holding fast to to the data, to knowns, to what is held important now and in the past, not in the future – which is valuable but it is not everything. And then of course there are those with an agenda, seeking to reinforce convention or to impose ideologies or questionable perspectives, however redemptive, on others.
I was the only speaker to stay within my allocated eight-minute slot. That says something about an aged hippy thinker amongst a load of academics! A German scientist gave a long ramble about the use of the Hindu Agnihotra ritual in reducing susceptibility to Covid – yes, interesting, but it deserved two, not twelve minutes.
I was looking at the longer term effects of NovaCovid (which is what they call it in India, the pharmaceutical and Ayurvedic centre of the universe). The first is the reality shake-out that has hit us, loosening up people’s thoughts and feelings which, in the end, will improve psychosocial resilience – inasmuch as societal resistance to change and the urge to re-normalise is harmful and constraining. I mentioned how this is the first of possibly three or four crises that are likely to come in the next 15 or so years.
Covid is not primarily a health crisis – the primacy of the virus will fade. The core issue is ecology, economics and human society, and Covid is the catalyst. This is one of the evolving ecological crises of our time, caused primarily in this case by deforestation and human encroachment on nature. Future crises will similarly be catalysed by specific events and causes, but they will still mainly concern wider, deeper issues.
This is about the rehumanising of society, particularly in the West. This is the third crisis adding to the West’s decline in global influence – the first was around 1990, the second around 2008-9 and the third is now. The next is to come. Each time, the West declines by 10% and, relatively, The Rest rises. A key reason why the West is declining is that it has prioritised business over society and, in truth, continues doing so – as in Maggie Thatcher’s much-vaunted statement “There is no such thing as society”. Well, we have found otherwise in the last few months.
Longterm revival is more likely in Asia, Africa and eventually Latin America than in developed countries, since there is a global readjustment going on in which Western consumption levels, production and geopolitical weight are reluctantly in decline. This reluctance is mainly because of our vested interests and the addiction of us Westerners to our comforts and excess consumption. We need to cut consumption by over half in order to achieve sustainability. We are being overtaken on the outside by The Rest, the majority, who are more resolutely oriented toward change and who have less to protect and more to gain from change.
I see this amongst contacts in East Africa, who are now more advanced in such things as permaculture than we – they are beginning to lead the way and the West is running out of steam and initiative, no matter how wonderful and deserving of leadership we believe ourselves to be. This is important.
I was impressed by the degree to which Indian researchers were following international research, especially from Asia. But in Britain, when we talk about ‘scientific’ we don’t read others’ academic papers since we define ‘scientific evidence’ to be valuable only when it’s British, American or, at a push, European. But the people who know their stuff most are the Indians, Chinese, Koreans, Taiwanese and Singaporeans. It shows up in the evidence.
One of the key issues of the 2020s will be sovereign insolvency – state and systemic bankruptcy, especially in countries borrowing heavily to maintain economic levels through the pandemic. This insolvency will be bad for Brexit, bad for nationalism, bad for Great America, bad for Hindu nationalism, bad for Bolsonaro. This growing indebtedness and artificial money-creation is a fatal move, bringing up the next question.
This NovaCovid issue will define a new globalism, since increased national self-sufficiency and resilience, while apposite, only go so far, and then we’re back to global issues. Viruses, people, money and ecology know no boundaries, and many boundaries are obsolete anyway. When the world economy stutters, only something akin to a new Bretton Woods economic reform will allow nations truly to revive.
Yes, the World Bank, the IMF, financial hubs and particularly the shadow and offshore banking sectors. Many nations will go down, either to be taken over, break up and regionalise or to reconstitute in other ways. This is likely to happen by the early 2030s. Sovereign insolvency will be the agent of this change.
How much will things actually change after NovaCovid? Probably by 10% initially and 20% in 5-7 years. I think we’ll see a ‘VU’ recovery. That is, a quick initial bounce-back, then another fall owing to systemic structural weaknesses, followed by a slow and incomplete revival, though not to previous levels. Then other crises will follow to prune things more. Next one 2024?
Here I’m very aware of the symbolism of the bone marrow cancer I am experiencing. It’s a disease of the life-blood, the very life-giving essence that keeps me alive, and it leads to a rotting of the bones, which become shot through with cavities, weakening the bones and the structure of what holds me up. If I fall, my bony frame’s resilience to impacts will be the big question.
Which goes to show, yet again, it’s not what you do (since falling down will happen), it’s the way you do it. This is what’s happening in society – a collective bone marrow cancer. We don’t have a tumour – although top-level structures in society could be regarded as tumorous – we have a condition of the life-blood and a big immunity issue. Lack of immunity to the inevitable, to the passage of change and transformation.
We have a collective blood condition – not just economic but infusing the psychosocial and motivating structure of society. A lot of people are using NovaCovid to think again about their lives. A disadvantage of this will be that many of the best people for engineering change will leave the heart of the system to bring change to their personal lives, leaving behind people inside the system who are less able to bring about change – this was one of the causes of the fall of the Soviet system around 1990. The people who create the problem cannot resolve it.
Universal, comprehensive healthcare in those countries lacking it and increased global equality have been global priorities for years, but they have only now come properly into focus. However, the capacity of governements, investors and the system to invest properly in these is in question, owing to the probability of sovereign insolvency and economic downturn. This means a deeper social transformation if the care and health crisis that has been revealed by NovaCovid is to be acted upon.
We shall need to stop leaning on and looking to governments for leadership: we’ll need social consensus and collective self-discipline if top-down governance is going to weaken and if social healthcare and care in general are to grow. Back in the 1970s a bumper-sticker used to say, ‘If the people lead, the leaders will follow’. Well, now the people need to lead, but we are also very inexperienced in that, we lack solidarity, consensus and social steadfastness – what the Palestinians call sumud, the capacity to hang in there regardless.
This is all very well, but it means a voluntary sacrifice of individualism, exceptionalism and personal freedom. Many of my friends won’t like this bit – it constrains their oh so important personal freedom. Well, get over it, because it’s coming. This is why countries like Sweden and Palestine are doing quite well with the virus – they already have this mutualised societal self-discipline. They do it despite government, not because of it. It also means that volunteerism will be on the rise.
The core issue here concerns strengthening society and its psychosocial resilience. There’s more to go on this question. An initial majority urge to restore normality will obstruct progress until we lurch into the second Covid-related downturn, which is likely to be U-shaped, slower to sink and slower to rise. And the bounceback will rise only to about 80% of previous levels. Structural change is afoot too.
There’s going to be a humdinger of a social and political crisis in coming years. Existing political parties and leaderships are not sufficiently up to the job of good, effective governance. As people realise the full implications of the personal and community changes they are undergoing, a proportion will not wish to return to the good old days. They don’t want to race rats any more – they want to Get A Life. But there’s also the question of social disagreement – it does not work to look at the folk over there and say they’re wrong. They aren’t wrong, they are themselves, fully valid humans who are part of the social process. Blaming those over there for our situation is weak, weak, weak, to quote our dear old friend Tony Blair.
Much now depends on people at the top. But it depends greatly on the mass of the people. Especially in one area: social control, particularly digital. A battle is afoot: our lives will either be controlled by corporations like Amazon, governments and background powers, or we increase social freedoms. But into these social freedoms we must incorporate collective self-discipline.
In other words, people need to learn how to form a consensus incorporating everybody. Without this, goodbye democracy. Democracy isn’t the answer to everything and, to quote Churchill, it’s the least worst option of all those that have been tried, but two qualities of democracy do hold true: the people need to be able to express an opinion when we have one, and we need to be able to change our leaders when necessary. Authoritarian systems have a succession and duration problem and, in times of change, this is critical.
This is perhaps the biggest question of our time. Getting through the 21st Century and its challenges will be done either through increased top-down control or through collective consensus and social strengthening, and it looks at present as if the former is winning. But the matter is not yet decided. It gets decided in the late 2020s and the 2030s, and it’s big. And, guess what, some of the biggest potential contributors to this new phase, owing to their long-established collective experience in making something good out of a bad situation, are Palestinians. Followed by Africans, Iranians, Cubans, Vietnamese…
And now I’m going back to bed. I’m active only a few hours each day – my energy is lower than it was, and I’ve begun wondering how much willpower I have to continue holding myself up and looking after myself in this care-poor nation of ours. Here you can be awarded a grant for hiring home help but it is not delivered at the time when you actually need it. My house is slowly becoming a wreck and I need help with it. Is anyone in St Just or Penzance interested? I am rung weekly by social service types who give me lists of phone numbers to ring but say they cannot help. Ah, thanks.
This is one microscopic aspect of the decline of the West, and also of the decline of Paldywan Kenobi. I do hope my family will come visit me while I’m still alive. I’m dead glad I didn’t take the blood transplant route I mentioned a few months ago – this was intuitively inappropriate and it would have meant I’d have needed 3-6 months extra care. Which is not available. So it’s back to bed for me. Byee!!
It’s all about the law of opposites. We can’t get it together: it is together. That was the Whole Earth Catalog 50 years ago. There is always balance. Everything compensates out. We don’t see this – we get occasional glimpses of it and it comes clear when we’re dying.
You might think that, lying propped up on pillows much of the day, I’m doing fuckall. But I haven’t worked harder in my life. Believe me, I’m a Grade A workaholic, so my work-narcomania settings are set high. Mercifully it has mostly been meaningful stuff, though not as widely seen or read as it might have been. Nevertheless, lounging in bed has been very fruitful, and I’ve remarkable global outreach without really trying.
Cancer has changed me more than I thought it was possible to change. I’m not sure who I am any more, while I’m stuck with the same old me, yet in a new life where the game has thoroughly changed. Most of the day I’m in a strange, mindless, undermotivated stupour, yet I’ve done more inner journeying, both consciously and semiconsciously, in the five months since I keeled over with cancer than I have done in a lifetime. At times it feels as if I’m being utilised as a remote consciousness drone by higher powers. I’ve been seeing things from the viewpoint of the universe experiencing itself, beholding another microfacet of creativity’s coalface. Read that again. Right now I can’t encapsulate it any better.
Life is really hard. For me and for so many. Perceived hardship levels have suddenly parachuted millions of people into a reality-mire. All of a sudden, us cancer types have more company. It was rather like that for the Palestinians when the Arab revolutions broke out in 2010 and dictators fired into the crowds in Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain – suddenly the Palestinians had company.
Yet hardship is a position, a judgement that is adopted and assumed. Truth is, everything charges its price and yields its benefits, and a certain equanimity is called for. Everything always compensates. It can stretch out over time but it is inbuilt into the situation we find ourselves in. Better situations, such as affluence, can be worse, and worse situations, such as deprivation and underprivilege, can be better. Revelation: the uncovering of truths that always were there. It all depends how we see things.
This compensation has been the case for me. Exhausted with life and in a severe cancer droop, I feel uncannily inspired. Neptune is doing an opposition to my Saturn – first pass is right now. A symptom of this is that, in my vacuousness, I’ve become strangely capable. Some days I can’t cook my dinner and concerned voices endlessly ask me how I am… but it raises a vexed Commander Data look from me.
What to report? My life is happy and productive, thank you, and I’m hardly lifting a finger. My body aches like… well, the Swedes have a perfect description… helvetes djävla skit (hell’s devilish shit). I think Lynne used to wonder whether I’d lost my marbles when was chuckling at the ridiculousness of being creased up with searing pain.
Everything compensates. Reality is an agreement, a form of groupthink defined mostly by influencers and soapboxers. It has been stacked with moderntimes aspirational hyperactivity that has spun out of control. This has led to seizure, and we’re now faced with enforced inactivity. The engines have stalled, and we have opportunity to stop and look at our lives. A sudden compensatory reality-subsidence has crept up on us. Both Covid and cancer are great gifts – depends how we see things – though this needs stating with a compassionate heart.
My aunt Hilary worked with Alan Turing at Bletchley Park. They thought they were cracking Hitler’s codes. Actually, they were inventing computers and artificial intelligence, without really knowing how the future would unfold. Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Today we have a pandemic but coronavirus will be forgotten. The virus was carrying an information upgrade for the collective psyche. in the fullness of time this is a good thing. Things are shifting radically from bottom up, and those at the top are reduced to responding rather than leadership and control, and they’re getting struck down too.
Meanwhile, under the surface, geopolitically the initiative has tipped from West to East. A small sign of this is that the world leader in dealing with today’s Covid crisis has been… Taiwan. We thought this was a health crisis but it’s a global game change with new, clear, as yet unspoken rules. Coronavirus is just the carrier.
For me, the lockdown started in November, though my cancer journey has been reframed by Covid. Utter change, for me individually and for the world, eachn in our own ways. Tulki my son said, “Well Dad, you were sitting at your desk before and you’re sitting at your desk after”. Yes indeed: everything changes. Before enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water, and after enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water. This is simply the law of paradox, of opposites.
During the late-60s attempted revolution at LSE I came to see that bringing down the elite is not the answer. Absolutely everything has to change. Or it won’t change. Yeah, this ‘change everything’ approach is taken to be a classic new age pipedream or perhaps an evangelically-inspired apocalyptic madness. A bit like UFOs. Yet here we have it – we’re now on a practice run. Force majeure is proliferating. Anyone can get ill, anything can happen.
People keep telling me to get well soon. Has this noble wish genuinely been thought through? Similarly, will a post-Covid restoration of normality lift up our hearts?
I’ve been home on the farm in Cornwall for over a month now. It has done me a world of good, coming home. Glad to be out of England too. I’m more or less keeping it together here. No more pills to take. But I’m zonked, wondering why I’m here. Even where ‘here’ is. Yet when I think of you all, you’re right here with me.
Coronavirus gives humanity a ripple of grace. It’s an update preparing for an upgrade, and it had to subvert our well-armed virus protection to do it. DNA is more about informational algorithms than it is about stuff, and hereby groupthink is being reprogrammed. There’s more to go on this process, taking at least thirty years, but I think it will go faster and easier than is expected. We have a demonstration of the kind of mechanisms involved going on right now.
The cancer specialist at Trelliske hospital rang me today saying she was amazed at my test results. No surprise there, thought I, and I told her so. Why? One reason I’ve had cancer is that, as an Aspie, I’ve never felt understood. This has engendered antipathies and misunderstandings that have led to painful consequences and have finally worn me out. And here I am, and my cancer process has involved an enormous forgiving of the past.
Yet my results are good, I think, because of the way I’ve looked after myself throughout my adult life. I’ve offered my services to the doctors to use me as a guinea-pig for research, but no, they aren’t interested. Looking after myself has given me a spirit-rooted robustness and a deep-level immunity that makes life and death more of a choice of the soul. If I’m needed here on Earth I shall stay, and if I’m needed Upstairs, that’s where I’ll go. It’s okay.
Some might believe that I have a case of one of today’s much-vaunted mental health problems. Well, lots of people are suffering anxiety and depression, and there’s a simple therapy for this: a month in Gaza, without money, making you dependent on the goodwill of the Gazans to help you survive. That’ll put things into perspective and remove many mental health problems rapidly. People in conflict zones have taught me that the world doesn’t end and the sky doesn’t fall in. We have a situation, that’s all. It’s hard, but it’s here.
That approach has helped me face cancer. It’s not the end of the world – it’s the universe on a growth path, exploring its full range of possibilities through me. Even so, I’m reaching age 70 and at last my hair is slowly beginning to turn silver. And I’m still guzzling CBD, cider vinegar, beansprouts, selenium and vits. But the greatest of medicines is the gift of helping others. We become healed by healing others, and I’m still at it.
When my brainz are clear, I’m getting on with my book Shining Land. A sample chapter is available here. I guess it’ll be out by the end of 2020, if I can find a publisher. If not I shall place it online with a number of my other books – see here. Knowledge needs to be free: I’m a great believer in that. But obviously, the cost of printing and distribution of physical books costs money, so these need paying for.
Time to go. Bless you all, and see you again. And remember: everything is alright in the end, and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.
I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. My cousin Faith visited recently, bless her, pointing out how my life has become one of super-concentrated uncertainty. It’s funny, when you’re caught up in the intricacies and subjectivities of your own life-bubble, how a simple observation like that really helps see things more clearly.
I’m on cycle five of a planned six cycles of chemo and steroids and am expected to plateau at a stable level when all the intense treatments I’ve been having end in April. My readings are still improving.
At the three-weekly meeting with the haematological specialist, Deborah, I asked whether there would be follow-up drugs and she said No, none at all. That was a surprise, but it now frees me up to design my own myeloma self-management regime, so it feels like a release. But into what? Swimming in a sea of uncertainty, hazard and possibility.
It’s a challenge to maintain a good state of being and spirits. There will be periodic blood checks to make sure my myeloma levels haven’t risen and, if they do, I’ll go back on chemo and steroids if necessary and if it feels right. I hope to delay that through good self-management – and we’ll see how that pans out in real life.
Bone marrow cancer doesn’t go away – you just get minimisation. Myeloma or a related issue will eventually do me in. If I’m one of those unfortunates to catch coronavirus and kick the bucket, then there will be work to do Upstairs with others who die, who are perhaps struggling, unready for death-transition – helping them get their relationship with their soul sorted out. So all is not lost.
But then, every one of us gets done in somehow, sooner or later. So, when Life does you in, do it well! It’s one of the great breakthrough opportunities Life gives us. Screw the workshops, trainings and books – this is for real and it comes for free.
I’ve treated this bone marrow cancer as a spiritual challenge, but it’s very much a human one too. I’ve been digging around in all the fears I seem to have, and they’ve been digging me out too – there will be more.
Mercifully, I don’t get depressed. When I was young I had terrible dark depressions until I realised, during an inner journey, that there’s always a lump of gold down there in the dark depths. I met the dragon guarding the treasure, knowing it would annihilate me if I were afraid. Yet somehow my depressions had made me more fearless, making me give up on many customary defences and attachments since they seemed to do no good. Suddenly I saw depression as an asset. Since then, things have been different: depressions have transformed into times of interiority where I go quiet – unsociable and shut off to some – and it’s often a creativity-cooking period. A time for meta-processing, preparing the ground for breakthrough.
This chemo-induced tunnel I’ve been drifting through recently has been weird and difficult. I would have been depressed if I were inclined that way. Fatigue, spaced-outness, a kind of dementia, feeling I was getting nowhere, feeling of lack of progress and perspective… but the end is now coming into sight. When this intense phase of chemo ends in April or May I shall move back down to Cornwall.
And start again. Again. Much of my preceding life has been zeroed, and now I need to find a new level that works, for whatever time I have left. A life-redesign.
Guess, what, after that down period, my body has made a breakthrough. I can now stand unsupported for a longer time and walk short distances. It’s like going back to toddlerhood – the moment when you start standing up. It’s not a gradual process – it’s a sudden overnight activation of circuitry that allows you to do all the necessaries to make you stand and walk. It’s suddenly there, as if you’d always been doing it.
Talking of uncertainty, I’ve been thrown into it and now I’m watching the world getting pushed that way too. Despite the best efforts of those addicted to the status quo and striving to preserve it, things are slipping out of control, and this is symbolised by the coronavirus outbreak. We’re helpless whatever we throw at it, in the hands of fate. We actually need this – collectively at least. Blessings to those individuals, particularly doctors, nurses and helpers, who pass away – they make this sacrifice for us all, though it is meaningful only if we actually change and learn lessons.
We need this loss of control. There’s too much feigned certainty in our world and it’s a defence mechanism, a wall of groupthink denial. It needs to melt and break up faster than the icecaps of the Arctic and Antarctic. We need to lose our fear: and the fear epidemic is growing larger than the coronaviral epidemic. Fear, guilt and shame: in these three big blockers of global progress, the personal and the collective interlock through groupthink.
But we humans… we have a determined need to stage a “Final Clearance Sale – Everything Must Go!” orgy. It’s a perverse unconscious wish for what Mahatma Gandhi called satyagraha, truth force, the power of consequence, of inevitably, unavoidably changing facts. Something to stop us in our tracks, giving us an epiphany opportunity. To get through the 21st Century, we need this to go viral. It needs to rock the hearts and souls of billions, at the same time and with one underlying, shared thought and priority. That’s how the world will change.
Some of us have worked with this question for decades and we haven’t yet pulled it off. How it will happen has, in the last decade, looked more difficult than it did in, say, the late 1960s or around 1989-93. Another window opens in the later 2020s, driven largely by a younger generation – whom my generation would be well advised either to assist or to get out of the way of. We oldies have to get used to less comfort. We don’t actually need chocolate and holidays in Tenerife to be happy.
The astrological conditions of the late 2020 (a mutual sextile of Uranus in Gemini, Neptune in Aries and Pluto in Aquarius) could be given the description ‘florescence‘, a flowering of ideas whose time has really come and an overdue rising to the surface of what was underneath. The past suddenly becomes visibly obsolete. This could go either way – toward social control or mass-empowerment – but there’s a window of opening soon.
It’s getting rehearsed right now with coronavirus: the issue here is firm, appropriate, good governance and leadership under conditions of duress, and the key issue is public trust, discipline and intelligent behaviour. Accountability applies in every direction – we must give leaders the power they need while we, the human crowd, retain the power to determine key issues. But we must do it wisely, pulling power back also from extremists, spoilers, corrupters, fighters and advantage-takers. Public wisdom is the big question.
It’s rather like that toddler standing up for the first time, as if it were a habit that always had been there. It will be like that. We saw it in the Velvet and the Arab revolutions – remarkable acts of crowd bravery, discipline and good behaviour. It was damaged and corrupted only by the tear gas and bullets of the authorities – and this can be stopped only when satyagraha, the truth-force of what is really happening, overwhelms the habit of repression.
Dare I say a politically unwelcome truth, we have a well-habitualised addiction to being repressed – the threat of loss of this addiction gives us our fear, the fear of being unable to pay our bills and so being exiled from normality and security, all alone, shunned, helpless and wrong, a sinner who failed.
It’s in those darkest times that the buildup of truth-force happens – and that’s the meaning of our time. The Trumps, the conservatives, the warmongers, the toxic males and rampant capitalists have won. But they haven’t. They stand on precarious ground. It’s in the balance, right now. Something is building up.
When I was young, I made a vow that I’d do my best to help bring the world to an irreversible tipping-point of change in my lifetime – only then would I feel ‘mission accomplished’ and the release it brings. Since around 2000, growing older and seeing how the world wasn’t really, fully changing, I let go of this, transferring my efforts to work that might bear fruit posthumously.
But while I’ve recently been facing cancer a glimmer of hope has revived in my heart. It gives reason to stay alive. I want to see it and contribute to it. An ageing old crock of a dissident can do it just as well as a youngster. Come brothers and sisters throughout the land, the times they are a-changing.
An old friend and soul-sister, Sian, is taking me home to Cornwall next weekend for nine days, on a reality-testing mission to see how well I cope on the farm. Lynne can have a break from me. Sian and I have worked together for over 20 years in a tight group called the Flying Squad, doing ‘world work’ – consciousness work and group process to work with the underlying issues behind world events. We’ve been through a lot together, and her offer to take me home and through a reality-initiation is a magic initiative.
That’s what happens next. In gradual jumps, I’m coming back to life, returning from the bardo.
Thank you all so much, who have sent me healing and good vibes to help me on my way. I really appreciate that. Thanks also to Tomten the cat, who has slept dedicatedly on my bed, at times lying on my most painful parts and acting as an amazing pain reliever. Thanks to the amazing nurses and doctors in Torbay – remarkable people working within a very complex and rather screwed up health system.
Above all, thanks to Lynne, who has busted a gut for me, borne a heavy load and worn herself out looking after me. That’s amazing. She has been a star. Something like that can never be repaid. There’s an enormous life-lesson in that, for both of us.