Here in Britain and across the rich world, the problem we have now with our economies arises from our not having had a full and proper cultural revolution in the 1960s-70s. What has happened is that the exaggerated materialism we adopted in the 1980s is seizing up, and we don’t want to recognise that it’s all going awry, tripping over its own shoe laces. Let me explain.
As Buddhists say, the only constant is transitoriness or change. The more we get involved in materialism, the more we attach ourselves to things that begin and end. And they do come to an end. A country, a people or a culture experiences an ascendancy if it answers a need, if it steps into a greater potential that somehow does something that people seek or history accepts or the future demands. But when it loses the plot and rests on its laurels, history starts passing it by.
Britain grew great in the industrial revolution on the basis of technology, sheer inventiveness and the capture of lands and resources worldwide that it could exploit. This was its mission 200 years ago. But in the 20th Century that leading edge, based on coal and steam power, was eventually lost, and the empire was lost at around the same time. The critical point came around the 1960s, and what arose at that time was a potential cultural revolution in our own country. One centre of it was Liverpool, where I grew up – once the world’s greatest port and then declining terribly.
This possible cultural revolution arose within the centre of society, mainly amongst educated and socially advantaged young people like me. We were society’s beneficiaries, not necessarily the underprivileged and downtrodden – though many of our parents and grandparents had started there. Holistic and adventurous in perspective, this movement covered most of the world issues that then were visible and important, from civil rights and social change to peace, to health, to farming, to the arts, to matters of spirit – the global village had arrived and, with it, the possibility of something completely new.
It was a means by which the West tried to renew itself, to begin reorientating its goals in order to redeem, correct and further develop what it truly was aiming for. It was aiming to make life better for everyone, globally, to free people from the drudge of hard labour, to free them up for more meaningful creative and spiritual possibilities. Instead, another, more materialistic, acquisitive, frenetic, consumptive future was chosen in the Reagan-Thatcher period – what I then called amphetamine economics. Many people bought into it or went along with it, hoping they might get rich. It is now seizing up. The whole model of material development is coming apart, eroded by its own inherent weaknesses.
Today in Britain we have a new prime minister originating from one of the former colonies – the biggest and richest, the Indian Raj. During its latter years, the Roman empire was similar – its emperors were Syrians, Spaniards, Brits and Croatians – and Rome’s vanquished and colonised peoples propped up the empire because they quite liked its benefits. Or perhaps they had already lost enough of their old ways to prevent them going back.
Having long been preached the virtues of democracy, the world’s majority, the relatively unrich, are now asserting majority rights. The world is going through the beginnings of a social-cultural globalisation process, no longer determined and steered by the rich world. What’s interesting here is that while, materially and our ways and values, we humans are becoming globally standardised (we all use roughly the same gizmos, supermarkets, burgers and plastic bags), socially and culturally we’re going through a re-diversification, a multiplication of differences, subgroups and identities – new tribes and nations are forming, based on internal connections rather than tradition or external imposition.
In the face of the standardising globalisation process, issues of personal and group identity and diversity are growing just as fast. We’re becoming a predominantly urban race – we topped 50% of large-city dwellers around 2008 and it could well be 70% by mid-century. This is a very fundamental change, affecting the psychology, experience and spirit of humanity. When people move to a city they move to a different world.
But we still have a big question. If you were an ET approaching Earth and wishing to talk to the people of planet Earth, where would you find our leader? Who can speak on behalf of all of us and legitimately make decisions on behalf of Earth’s people?
These are times of much more fundamental change than we currently see or understand. We’re immersed in it, entering the future facing backwards, and in too much of a hurry keeping the show on the road to stand back and smell the coffee. The full change has not broken out yet – we’re dealing right now in late 2022 with powerful undercurrents and rumblings. This rapidly rising wave is likely to peak in the late 2020s, when we tip into an utterly new process. A new age cannot come until the old age stops sabotaging it. When the critical, decisive, overwhelming change-wave comes, we enter a new phase lasting decades, probably fifty years. We stand right now on the edge of an avalanche of events and shifts, likely to start cascading in this decade. (The astrological details are here).
This will introduce a new, insecure, yet fast-moving period where, on the whole, the world transits toward big adaptational changes, toward solving the problem, but it will take decades before we know that the problem is sufficiently resolved. So much needs sorting out that we need to find a new, pragmatic way of doing it.
We’re entering a whitewater rapids phase in the 2020s-30s before we go over the waterfall, probably in the 2040s. We’re likely to be crossing the Great Divide in the 2040s-60s, around which time we cross into a new landscape – and the coin is spinning in the air to determine what it will look like.
The necessary shifts of global-scale values, ideas and priorities will, I think, take at least 25 years from now to slot properly into place, but the process has already started – it was sub-surface up to 2020 and the outbreak of Covid, and it’s accelerating. It’s like a rising tide – boats get lifted out of the sand and mud, and they float, and if the waves overtop the harbour walls the boats can break free of their moorings and a safe haven becomes a chaotic nightmare, even though the only thing that happened was a rising of the tide.
In geology, the erosive power of a river increases as the square of its volume – that is, if the volume increases three times, its erosive power increases nine times. Psycho-socially, and worldwide, this is what is happening. The flow is now turning into a more of a flood, the erosion is increasing, and there’s a long way to go before our imperilled civilisation is safe and okay to move into the future.
At some point, the incoming tide will breach the harbour walls and we enter a different movie – the power and the glory of the open ocean. Paradoxically, this critical change could happen quite surreptitiously – it could be that, one morning, we wake up and everything suddenly looks and feels totally different. Though on some level of our being, we knew this was happening.
It’s time now for us to transition onwards, ride the waves and get more used to doing so, because we’ll have more of this in future.
Try to identify those stuck parts of your life that aren’t moving – things that no longer lift or light you up, or not as much as before. Entertain the idea of changing things more than you previously thought. Be ruthlessly honest and fiercely real – getting real is an important process, since it’s about recognising and taking ownership of the truth of things in your life, including the beliefs and justifications you’ve lived by thus far.
It’s okay to get stripped naked (metaphorically): vulnerability and insecurity bring with them amazing gifts. Safety and security are ebbing away, and the more we get used to changing, shifting times and circumstances, the better we shall be.
Pain is made up of two things: the issue that creates the pain and the way we choose to experience it. Do we make it bigger, with all the fuss, drama and inner friction we create for ourselves? Or do we realise that, no matter how difficult life seems to be, there’s a way forward, things’ll work out, and there’s cause to be grateful for what we have?
Get down to bottom lines and worst fears. If you bring your fears to the surface, looking at what you fear, often it becomes clear that you can actually move forward, you will make it, and you don’t need to let fear stop you from doing what you know you need to do. Use fear as a way of moving forward: if you fear it, consider actually doing it. Because, whether or not your fears come true, you’ll be far better prepared for the worst than if you hadn’t ever faced this stuff. If you’re prepared for the worst, the chances are that you’ll either survive it or, more likely, it won’t actually come – because many of the adverse events of our lives come to us precisely because we fear and avoid the issues that lie beneath and behind them.
I’m not saying this because I myself have mastered it. Issues like this are what I myself have been facing recently – Saturn-Pluto stuff – and this is what I’m trying to remind myself. (Partially, you see, I teach myself though communicating with you.) When you’re faced with bigger-than-nornal adversity – in my case, cancer and all that goes with it – the feeling tones and experiential intensity of life get amplified and you can get rubbed up deeply and movingly, sometimes by quite small things.
One of the issues for me has been a combination of loss of mobility, infection risk, increasing electrosensitivity, dependency on others and relationship breakdown which has meant my social life has dwindled catastrophically. I can’t hang out with people (unless they switch off their phones – sometimes a big ask). One advantage, however, is that, to plug the gap, I’m writing blogs, making podcasts and doing forays up to England to do events instead. So you win some and lose some.
I’ve been using this time for ruminating over the next step in my life. Time is not on my side, but it’s worth spending it well. It’s now nearly three years since I was diagnosed with cancer, and I’ve got used to my new reality. I seem still to be alive, to my surprise, and I seem to have a few years left. The last year has been something of a nightmare, though in the process something new has dropped into me. So I want to change things.
I have evolved a plan, and I’ve visualised a small and a big version and worked through many details, and something is clarifying here in my eyrie down in Cornwall. For me, it’s phase three of a forty year evolution – not new stuff at all, but I have realised it has not been taken as far as it can go. The big question I’m ruminating over is whether I have what it takes to do it – and the bucket is there to be kicked anytime. Actually, inshallah, I think I might have what it takes, but I’m a strangely realistic visionary and in a weak position in life, and I want to get to a 100% feeling inside. That’s why I’m sitting on it.
If you can get to that 100% feeling in your bones, you then move into a position where it might be possible to move a mountain. We come here to Earth to find out. While a potential might be there, its actualisation is no twenty-minute procedure. It’s that wee matter of 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.
As for the cabin where I live, on an organic farm at the centre of West Penwith, it’s called The Lookout, because that’s what you do through its big windows. Except it’s as much a look-in as a look-out. Especially on rainy days. In winter I stay warm with and cook on a lovely warm woodstove.
So now I’m sitting on it, gestating, cogitating, writing notes, checking my feelings. Being time-rich, I can do this. I’ve given myself until winter solstice to clarify things and until Imbolc (early February) before committing and coming out with it. All I have, really, are insights, experience, a vision and a wee bit of social cred.
But it’s not time to talk about it yet. The basic intent is clarifying, but there’s more to go on the method and the manifestation. If any of my readers feel a jiggling of something when you read this, please cogitate it and whether you might be up for it. I shall need to find out during 2023 whether there are sufficient people prepared to give this years, and to stick with it – including after my death. Because, for me, there’s no point starting it otherwise. I’ll find out by doing more events and putting out feelers and seeing who turns up.
It concerns world healing. But just keep it under wraps for now and cogitate it, please. If I get to that 100% feeling, I’ll tell you fully what it is, with my usual lucidity. And if I don’t, I shall leave a body of ideas behind, which will help someone else pick this up and run with it. And I might be able to help from the other side.
Toward this end, this week I started a new project, building an audio archive of twentyish of my best talks and workshops from the 1980s-2000s – because these will form part of that body of work.
Weighty stuff, on a rainy, drippy Scorpio day. Time for a round of tea. Jon the farmer rumbles past, down in the yard, on his tractor. Someone in the workshop is banging something metallic. Our cattle herd is being moved down from the hill to the lower fields by the woods. The bronze age barrows up the hill are shrouded in wet mist. And life goes on at our farm.
Love from me, Palden
Photos are of Gurnard’s Head, a cliff sanctuary on the north coast of Penwith, Cornwall. Here’s a map.