In Conversation, much will depend on one’s sense of who one is, on how far one has got in one’s inner enquiry, how open and honest, how conditioned and prejudiced, how riddled with belief and opinion one is, how funny and friendly, confident or shy, and so on. 

  Sitting in a Conversation Circle, much depends on ‘Where One Is Coming From’ – a little like tacit appraisal at a cocktail party, of oneself; or a stranger arriving on a desert island, and could-be cannibals enquiring, in the nicest possible way, “Where are you from ?”  Which world, what sort of peoples, what they do and don’t do, what they eat, what sort of beliefs, what morals, friendly or up-tight, creative-cool or dull, and so on.

  Advent, meaning approach to Christmas, more realistically to ‘mid-winter’, a time we may imagine to be snatched from horizonless travail for feasting in the warm embrace of one’s friends and loving family, we are told is upon us; part of some earlier indoctrination.  This year, the reality for many will be a testing shortage of funds for food and fuel, coupled with glitzy enticement to overspend; the young glued to cell-’phones, computer-games and TVs; adults exhausted, sightly tipsy, wondering what on earth it’s all about; the Judaeo-Christian-Muslim mythologies having been blown out of the water, and ‘political leaders’ around the world posturing foolishly, mostly out of touch with the peoples’ lives they seek to control.  

  We seem to have become used to the idea of our lives spanning eras of accelerating change and development.  We might as well add population growth, species and resource depletion, burgeoning pollution, etc.  And escalating worldwide financial mayhem, known to some extent by the world populace via feathered media releases; covertly known and avoided, by the ‘men in suits’ whose lives veer between anxiety sickness and wanton extravagance; between fleeting superficial success and dark despair.  We can call it the ‘money culture’, as money, the modern god, dictates and over-rules all else, as directed by those foolish virgins, our ‘political leaders’.  If money is your ‘god’, expect only confusion, personal compromise verging on catastrophe, and unhappiness; a sense of being lost in space.  Happy Christmas ?

  Despite its negative aspects, ‘Political Economic Growth’ has appeared to raise living standards, to increase life expectancy, improve medical care with fewer mothers dying in childbirth, to provide cleaner drinking water, and to result in better-fed populations.  And yet, In the early years of the Industrial Revolution (c.1750-1850), Adam Smith in his extensive volumes and editions of ‘The Wealth of Nations’ decried avarice and injustice, factions and special interest groups be they bankers, corporate, trade-union lobbying, or any like, taxes and tariffs, and the interference of government in people’s affairs.  Around the turn of the nineteenth century, (c. 1800), the writing was already on the wall.  Thomas Malthus predicted over-population, climate and environmental catastrophes, a limit to financial manipulation, and eventual famine.  And in the mid-nineteenth century John Stuart Mill wrote of logic, jurisprudence, and social liberty as justifying the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state and social control.  

  At the University of Kansas in 1968, Robert Kennedy declared that “Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.  It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.  It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile”.  And, “If our colleges and universities do not breed men who riot, who rebel, who attack life with all the youthful vision and vigour, then there is something wrong with our colleges.  The more riots that come out of our college campuses the better the world for tomorrow.” [1]  

  Is the manipulation of money a right way to manage one’s life and the lives of one’s children and colleagues ?  That it has failed hundreds and thousands of millions of people throughout time, destroying so many and so much, and has brought life on earth to the brink of global collapse, is broadly evident.  For centuries, ‘the love of money’ has been called ‘the root of all evil’ [2], which may be translated as the love of wealth, power, status, thus greed, hatred, division, and so on, is obvious even to children.  That it has determined perverse paths of religion, education, politics, and ‘justice’, and that those wrong ways have led inevitably to the downfall of humankind and widespread compromise-cum-destruction of life, is self-evident.  That it has compromised the good nature, honesty, and well-being of so many for so long, cannot be denied.  We can conclude that figments of ‘financial economy’ are not only delusory, but are seen as ‘wrong love’, a wrong way.  It follows that the challenges facing humankind are mainly egoic [3] (‘the root of all evil’), and that that is where we need to look within to sort ourselves out.  Time to think it all out again.  

  Generally speaking, our natures share much the same essentials of Life, Love, and the Uni, which can be seen as foundational.  Similarly, we share many common experiences of modern living, particularly financial challenges.  Modern generations have endured questionable ‘pay-bargaining’ and eras of politically-based strikes over pay and conditions.  Our differences tend to be found in self-interest, questionable beliefs, adoption of misleading propagandas, competition, profiteering, shortages, mistrust – so many elements that push us apart rather than draw us together.  A reasonable person would see that any family or organisation needs to share its aims, ideals, plans, togetherness, support, and rewards, equitably.  Open and honest discussions, with the shared intention of supporting everyone involved, fairly, and without elements of self-interest, could surely pave the way for common solutions ?  We are not yet an entirely failed species. 

  Notions of Wealth demand Ownership, and yet, logically, one cannot ‘own’ anything one cannot carry.  Notions of Ownership are better seen within an understanding of an environmentally based Natural Collective, and one’s belonging therein.  One’s few personal possessions, (clothes, toothbrush, tools, jewellery), may be seen as belonging to the individual, openly yet discreetly.  We move through the rest as we move through life.  Of far greater moment are an individual’s integrity, perception, caring and creative and positive interactions within a family and collective.  Notions of Wealth and personal accumulation can be seen as underlying the problems that have long faced humankind on Earth. 

  Every environmentally based Natural Collective will face challenges of survival and maintenance, of endeavour and organisation, of hierarchy, pecking-order, and motivation.  Natural exchanges will revolve around both individual and collective adherence to integrity, perception, caring and creative and positive interactions in their everydays, and in collective meetings, where every voice will be weighed, and in their celebrations. 

  Sitting in Conversation Circles, one observes simple guidelines for everyone’s benefit – speaking one’s truth from that deep inner place within, expressing oneself carefully, creatively, descriptively, and succinctly, listening to others intently – which can be immensely liberating.  One exchanges from an accepted point-of-view that everyone brings special gifts and intelligence to the table, insofar they are free of inner nasties.  In this form of ‘sharing’, we can listen and learn and ‘welcome the differences’ as they so often enlighten us.  

  So many people are not ready for this sort of Open Conversation.  So many put their own self-interest first.  So many are confused by what they were taught and have believed to be the way for them and their community.  So many continue to ape ‘keeping their heads above water’; so many feel a social need to display something they don’t feel; so many experience hunger, cold, homelessness, particularly the young, (so many contemplating suicide).  They are our young.  How could we be so careless ?  

  How can we ‘come in from the cold’ ?  How can we overtake the ‘professional’ conventions we have been trained to observe ?  How can we become the real people we would love to be ?  So many people are not ready for Open Conversations.  So few have embarked on their profound inner learning, for-real.  So many put their own self-interest first, their heads in the sand.  So many are confused by what they were taught and have believed to be the way for them and their communities; ways that have brought us close to imminent chaos.  So, what is this profound inner-learning all about ? [4]

  Many scientists will deny the existence of soul, that super-special something within that we sometimes seek to return to, that is the Real Us, our connection to Love, Life, and the Uni.  We can applaud the ancient teachings of Vedant in India, of Zarathustra in Persia, (Iran), of the ancient Greek philosophers, of the ancient Chinese mystics, all 2,500 to 3,000 or so years ago.  And we might as well as acknowledge the Ibrahamic Religions for their reaching for biased misunderstandings of the divine in the last 2,500 years; the point being that notions of the divine, creator, prime-mover, can as well be seen as ‘Cosmic Consciousness’, ‘Universal Intelligence’.   

  That our souls share that same immensity, that each human-being’s soul is a part of that, that that ‘Cosmic Consciousness’ is the most fundamental part of who we are; that we can know that in ourselves and in each other, beckons us to a new age.  It takes a while and a hard inner-slog to get anywhere with such understandings, let alone to ‘real knowledge’.  

  Profound Learning is no more than a label for introduction to paths that can help to support each and any individual find their own way.

  Meanwhile, in the United Arab Emirates, at the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, (CoP 28), the ‘men in grey suits’ posture and exchange largely meaninglessly.  After 28 years of mostly faf, we have experienced the hottest year ever with environmental and climate emergencies all over.  In Ukraine, Palestine and all over, appalling atrocities, human failures, continue, while the world watches.  What hope ?

  Perhaps, in ‘Profound Conversations’, we can together find simple ways forward for us now and for survivors in the future.  Perhaps, in Conversations, we can together find consensus on some fundamental challenges : how to control human populations in the future, how to exchange and share with each other positively, carefully, and caringly, how to touch on the commonality of our specialness.

  It’s going to take time.  The sooner we lend ourselves to it, the better for our children, for Love, Life, and the Universe, for all. 

  Time to awake to a new dawn.

  Happy Mid-winter !

[1]  See also ‘Kicking our growth addiction is the way out of the climate crisis’. Larry Elliott article for the Guardian, 2022.  

[2]  Saul-Paul to Timothy, (1Timothy 6:10).

[3]  Rivalry, competition, ambition (as opposed to aspiration), avarice, fear, greed, wanting more, and so on.

[4]  See also ‘Gateways’ – Reflection no. 8.

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