The soil in which Renormaling is rooted

Markus Feenstra
Markus Feenstra
Here are some of the people and stories in which the roots of my story about Renormaling find the nourishment they need to flourish. Others will have their own lineages to honour.

Pablo Servigne and Raphael Stevens How Everything Can Collapse (2020 English edition)

"Today we are sure of four things: (1) the physical growth of our societies will come to a halt in the near future; (2) we have irreversibly damaged the entire earth system; (3) we are moving towards a very unstable non-linear future where major disruptions will be the norm; and (4) we are now potentially subject to global systemic collapses. So, like many economists, climatologists, physicists, agronomists, ecologists, soldiers, journalists, philosophers and even politicians, we deduce our society may collapse in the near future."

"During our research, we progressively had the feeling of being hemmed in on all sides. Worse, we found that all the 'crises' were so interconnected that one of them could trigger a gigantic series of domino effects among the others."

"In fact, there are not even any 'solutions' to our predicament, just paths we can pursue to adapt to our new reality

To realize all of this is to trigger a major shift. It is to see that utopia has suddenly changed camp: today, the utopian is whoever believes everything can just keep going as before. Realism , on the contrary, consists in
putting all of our remaining energy into a rapid and radical transition..."

Today, the paths we might pursue - and there are paths - are barely marked, and they lead to a radical  change in life, a life less complex, smaller, more modest and respectful of the limits and boundaries of the living world. Collapse is not the end, but the beginning of our future. We will reinvent ways of partying, way of being present to the world and to oneself, to others and to the beings around us.

Willis Harman World Business Academy and Institute for Noetic Sciences - private correspondence (1993)

"'I believe the indications are quite clear by now (although by no means obvious to all) that a fundamental worldview shift is taking place. The general direction of the shift is exemplified in what we might call the ecological-feminist-new spirituality movement. The new worldview is holistic; everything is connected to everything else, in ways far more subtle than the physical. The locus of authority is shifting away from all external authorities, from priests to scientists, toward trust in inner authority and inner wisdom."

"This worldview shift is at such a deep level that it is comparable to the scientific revolution in that all institutions will ultimately be affected (at about 10 times the rate characterizing the shift from medieval to modern times)."

Somewhat related is the second conviction, namely that the 'sustainable development' challenge of the 1992 'Earth Summit' is the critical challenge of human history. The question which the Rio conference legitimated is really the question of whether modern society in anything like its present form is, in the long term, viable and sustainable. This is not really bad news, although it may sound that way. It is simply a wake-up call, inviting us to become more fully conscious of what this human adventure is all about."

"It is becoming clear that nobody knows how to create a sustainable global society. One reason is that the global economy has to change fundamentally, and nobody knows how to do that without having it collapse first, and then rebuild." 

"People in the World Business Academy are there for various reasons. Most are attracted to the idea of 'new paradigm' business as described in our recent book the 'New Paradigm in Business'. A few, but only a few, are deeply concerned about the new role of business on the planet. Many are still asking, about the Academy: What do I get?"

"Business has prospered in countries with strong traditions of democracy, rule of law, and guaranteed human rights. Those favourable environments were created, not by people who primarily asked 'What can I get?' but who were instead motivated to help create a better world."

"The name of your enterprise is Win Win. That implies, I'm sure, doing things in such a way that investors win, management wins, employees win, customers win. But now we have to go much further.

"The 'losers' in society, and in the world, have to win; future generations have to win, the other creatures we share the planet with have to win. 

This might have seemed idealistic not too long ago; now it is very practical. It is a matter of reconceiving the system on the new basis so it won't self-destruct."

"So the real organizational learning that has to take place (in my opinion) is learning to be part of the evolving new system, rather than the disintegrating old one."

"Let me say bluntly what I'm getting at. At this stage of my life (age three quarters of a century) I am not interested in pussy footing around the real issues, as many of us have felt we had to do in the past. "

Donald Hoffman - The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes (2019)

“Conscious realism makes a bold claim: consciousness, not spacetime and its objects, is fundamental reality and is properly described as a network of conscious agents."

"Conscious agents offer a promising new framework for the construction of theories in Neuroscience. This framework does not assume that biological neurons and their networks are the building blocks of cognition. Instead it takes consciousness as fundamental and then has the task of showing how spacetime, matter and neurobiology can emerge as components of the perceptual interface of certain conscious agents."

"The interface theory of perception contends that there is a screen -an interface- between us and objective reality. Can we hope to pierce that screen and see objective reality? Conscious realism says yes: we have met that reality and it is like us. We are conscious agents and so is objective reality."

"Conscious realism says that, despite the limits of our imagination, a science of objective reality, of conscious agents and their interactions, is indeed possible. We can concretely imagine a space with at most three dimensions, but scientific theories routinely imagine a spaces with more dimensions, spaces that stump our imaginations. In like manner we can concretely imagine conscious experiences only within the tiny repertoire of Homo Sapiens, but we can devise a scientific theory of all conscious agents, including those whose experiences stump our concrete imagination."

"Conscious realism advances an ontology radically different from the physicalism that dominates modern neuroscience, and science more generally. Radically different, but not radically new.

Many key ideas of conscious realism and the interface theory of perception have appeared in prior sources, from ancient Greeks such as Parmenides, Pythagoras and Plato, through more recent German philosophers such as Leibniz, Kant and Hegel, and from the eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, to mystical strands of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. 

If conscious agents and conscious realism contribute something new, it's to assemble old ideas from philosophy and religion into a theory of consciousness that is precise and testable. This allows the ideas to be refined under the watchful eye of the scientific method. 

Jordan Hall (2017) and Daniel Schmactenberger in the War on Sensemaking (2019) and other conversations

"In 1740, Jacob Dickert began experimenting with a long barrelled musket with a groove in the barrel. They called this new innovation a “rifle”. Thus began the last war.

This war unfolded over centuries and phases, but was fundamentally about the deliberate and strategic use of industrializing technology to deliver escalating levels of destructive energy. Power during this era most certainly came from the barrel of a gun and the alliance between technology and industry proceeded from battle to battle to move us progressively higher and higher on the ladder of destruction. Until at Hiroshima we reached the final level and the beginning of the end of the last war."

"In 1917, a young Edward Bernays was asked to help the American war effort by applying his uncle Sigmund Freud’s theories of the unconscious to a new German technique called “propaganda”. Thus began the current war."

"While we continued to fight the last war in trenches and hedgerows, a new form of war was developing in medias res. This war wasn’t one about destructive force in the energetic sense. This war was fought on an entirely different battlefield — sense and meaning. Guns, germs and steel began to give way to spies, lies, distraction and seduction."

"By the 1970’s it was clear to anyone who was watching that the old way of waging war was over. It mattered little how many bombs were dropped on Vietnam. The real war was to be found in the battle for hearts and minds.

If anything, the current war is even more dangerous. As our ability to make shared sense evaporates and as meaning and purpose are fragmented into so many shards, it becomes increasingly difficult to make good choices. In fact, it becomes increasingly difficult to even want to make good choices.

The kinds of AIs that optimize your news feed are higher power AIs than the AIs that beat Kasparov at chess. Kasparov is far better at chess than you are at controlling your attention, and he also knew he was playing a game.”

“Exponential tech is inexorable. We cannot put it away. So, we either figure out anti-rivalry, or we go extinct. The human experiment comes to a completion. That’s the core thing.”

"By my estimation we are getting rather close to the Hiroshima of the current war. Perhaps we are in the moral equivalent of trench warfare, perhaps we are storming the beaches of Normandy. It’s hard to say. After all, the main thrust of the current war is that making any sense at all is getting harder and harder.

I suspect that we have a little ways to go. We have not yet hit “rock bottom.” But I hope that soon there will be a deeply shared acceptance that none of our current institutions are trust-worthy and a deeply shared conviction that we can and must (re)build trust ourselves."

“There’s a path where we can make it, but it’s not a given at all that we do. Rather than ask whether we do or not, how do I help determine that we do? That’s what being an imaginal cell in the transition from caterpillar to butterfly really means—taking some empowered responsibility for being someone who is recognizing that you can’t just run the instruction manual that was given historically and the new instruction manual doesn’t exist yet.”

 Sam Harris and David Whyte - Making Sense podcast on The Boundaries of the Self, (2021) 

Sam: “It’s also interesting the way friendship reveals the boundaries of the self; for instance, one often finds it difficult to be charitable to oneself and 

so much of our self-talk is frankly poisonous and it’s never the sort of thing we would say to a friend. 

One way of correcting this is to just consciously imagine how you would treat your friend in this circumstance...”
David: “Yeah.”
Sam: … where you are currently lacerating yourself with self-judgement and a door to compassion swings open effortlessly once you put the lens of friendship over it, rather than your default relationship to yourself and your failings.”
David: “That’s very well said and it’s really interesting to extend that thought to how you speak to yourself. It’s interesting that most of the dialogue that we have with ourselves in the mirror is quite negative. 

If you spoke to others in the way you speak to yourself in the mirror, you would never have another friend in your life.”

Sam: “You would clear your calendar rather quickly.”
David (laughs): “Exactly!”

George Gurdjieff from Beelzebubs Tales, In Search of the Miraculous, Meeting with Remarkable Men, Views from the Real World and other sources

Human beings have many I's

“If there are phenomena, the reality of which we cannot deny but which cannot be fitted into our accepted conceptual framework, then something is wrong with that framework and we must look for another.”

“A man may be born, but in order to be born he must first die, and in order to die he must first awake.”

“In order to awaken, first of all one must realize that one is in a state of sleep.

And in order to realize that one is indeed in a state of sleep, one must recognize and fully understand the nature of the forces which operate to keep one in the state of sleep, or hypnosis. It is absurd to think that this can be done by seeking information from the very source which induces the hypnosis. One thing alone is certain, that man's slavery grows and increases. Man is becoming a willing slave. He no longer needs chains. He begins to grow fond of his slavery, to be proud of it. And this is the most terrible thing that can happen to a man.”

"Personality in man is what is "not his own" . . . what come from outside, what he has learned, or reflects, all traces of exterior impressions left in the memory."

"Sincerity is the key which will open the door through which you will see your separate parts, and you will see something quite new. You must go on trying to be sincere. Each day you put on a mask, and you must take it off little by little."

"One of man's important mistakes, one which must be remembered, is his illusion in regard to his I. Man such as we know him, the 'man-machine,' the man who cannot 'do,' and with whom and through whom everything 'happens,' cannot have a permanent and single I. His I changes as quickly as his thoughts, feelings and moods, and he makes a profound mistake in considering himself always one and the same person; in reality he is always a different person, not the one he was a moment ago."

“Man has no individual I. But there are, instead, hundreds and thousands of separate small "i"s, very often entirely unknown to one another, never coming into contact, or, on the contrary, hostile to each other, mutually exclusive and incompatible. Each minute, each moment, man is saying or thinking, "i". And each time his i is different. just now it was a thought, now it is a desire, now a sensation, now another thought, and so on, endlessly. Man is a plurality. Man's name is legion.”

"The power of changing oneself lies not in the mind, but in the body and the feelings. Unfortunately, however, our body and our feelings are so constituted that they don’t care a jot about anything so long as they are happy. They live for the moment and their memory is short. The mind alone lives for tomorrow. Each has its own merits. The merit of the mind is that it looks ahead. But it is only the other two that can "do."

"What you call the subconscious, in in my opinion the real human consciousness."

"With objective consciousness it is possible to see and feel the unity of everything. But for subjective consciousness the world is split up into millions of separate and unconnected phenomena. Attempts to connect these phenomena into some sort of system in a scientific or philosophical way lead to nothing because man cannot reconstruct the idea of the whole starting from separate facts and they cannot divine the principles of the division of the whole without knowing the laws upon which this division is based."

"The evolution of man is the evolution of his consciousness, and 'consciousness' cannot evolve unconsciously. The evolution of man is the evolution of his will, and 'will' cannot evolve involuntarily."

"There do exist enquiring minds, which long for the truth of the heart, seek it, strive to solve the problems set by life, try to penetrate to the essence of things and phenomena and to penetrate into themselves. If a man reasons and thinks soundly, no matter which path he follows in solving these problems, he must inevitably arrive back at himself, and begin with the solution of the problem of what he is himself and what his place is in the world around him. For without this knowledge, he will have no focal point in his search."

Jalāl ad-Dīn Rumi- from "the Soul of Rumi and Soul Fury as translated by Coleman Barks

The Guest House
"This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond."

"When the dawn of great friendship
begins to come over us, the souls
of those then alive will begin to fly.

Human beings will be in a new place
where they can see the friend
without the distorting inconvenience of eyes."

"There is a cave inside you.
Far back at the end of that cave is a brightly lit market square.

Everyone has a deep friend and something that they love to do,
a beloved and a craft.

But this lively market
in the far reaches of the cave within you
is more amazingly hidden than anything you have yet found."

"... human beings come into this world to do particular work. 
That work is the purpose, and each is specific to the person. If you don't do it it, it's as though a priceless Indian sword were used to slice rotten meat." "Remember the deep root of your being. Give yourself to the one who already owns your breath and your moments." 

Dalai Lama - from my recollection of a story told me by Azim Khamisa in 2007 who had asked the Dalai Lama whether he had ever got angry, and, when he did, what happened:

The Dalai Lama is sitting at a table in a restaurant, and his anger comes into the room. He waves his anger over to the table he is sitting at, with a warm smile, and invites it to sit down. His anger comes over and takes a seat at the table. He then welcomes his anger to the restaurant and asks it what it wants to eat.

His approach is further elaborated in Tsultrim Allione's book Feeding Your Demons

Thich Nhat Hanh - The Next Buddha May Be a Sangha (1994)

Renormaling 19d logo only.png 6.63 MB View full-size Download

"If there is no sangha available where you are, then practice looking deeply in order to identify elements of your future sangha around yourself. It is possible the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. 

The next Buddha may take the form of a community, a community practicing understanding and lovingkindness, a community practicing mindful living. 

And the practice can be carried out as a group, as a city, as a nation."

"Members of your sangha may be your child, your partner, and a beautiful path in the wood. The blue sky and the beautiful trees are also members of your sangha. Please use your talent and your intuition to create a sangha for your own support and practice. We all need a sangha very much."

Our practice should be supported by the people around us, and we can learn how to support them in return. We support them by looking deeply so we can recognize the seeds of peace, joy and loving kindness in them. 

We touch these seeds, we water these seeds every day in order to make other persons bloom like flowers. And when these persons bloom like flowers, we all become happier. We have to help each other in our practice. The practice of meditation is not an individual matter. We have to do it together.

The Buddha, Shakyamuni, our teacher, predicted that the next Buddha would be Maitreya, the Buddha of love. We desperately need love. And in the Buddha’s teaching we learn that love is born from understanding. The willingness to love is not enough. If you do not understand, you cannot love. The capacity to understand the other person will bring about acceptance and loving kindness.
Farid-Ud-Din Attar - The Conference of the Birds (1177) translated by Sholeh Wolpe (2017)

Thirty birds make a Simorgh 666 KB View full-size Download

"The birds of the world gathered from near and far.
They said: No nation is without a leader;
why is that we don't have one?
A body without a head is without direction.
Let's seek a sovereign, without delay."

"There is a leader for us, I tell you,
who lives over there on Mount Qaf 
(a mythical mountain made of green emerald that circles the world).

Simorgh is that Beloved's name, the leaders of all birds,

who is closer to us than our own blood veins;

yet we are far from that Great One, so very far!"

"No one in either world dares
to seek that Absolute Sovereign.
The Simorgh does not reveal its home;
how then can science or wisdom even seek
or ever hope to find it nest?"

"When the birds heard this story,
at last they understood their connection 
to the great Simorgh
and comprehended its ancient mysteries.
Now they were eager to commence the journey.

They gathered on the Path as one voice,
companions in longing, and said: Hoopoe,
bird of experience, how are we to manage this flight?

Never have so many weaklings gathered
to embark on such an exalted flight."

"They travelled for years, 
crossed deserts and mountains,
They spent their whole lives traveling 
toward the Great Simorgh.
How can I recount what befell that bunch?
One day if you take up this same journey,
you'll know their tribulations for yourself.
You will experience what befell these birds
and learn of what they suffered."

"Thirty bodies without wings or feathers
arrived feeble and sore,
hearts shattered,
souls surrendered,
bodies broken."

"When the thirty bedraggled birds read
what was written on the revered parchment
that the herald bade them read,
they understood that everything they had committed
in their lives was recorded there."

"Shamed and mortified
the souls of the birds
turned repentant and became ash.
Thus, purified of themselves and what they had been,
the spirit of the Almighty shone
and bestowed upon them new spirits."

"They saw the face of Simorgh,
but in a reflection.
And when they looked closer,
they saw the reflection was their own:
Simorgh....  si morgh....
which means thirty birds."

Edward Matchett from "The Core of True Genius" (1996) which is out of print, and hard to find as well as Creative Action: the making of meaning in a complex world (1997). He interviewed Einstein and others during his research into genius on behalf of the UK Industrial Research Council.

"You have to be in love with life and all creation, visible and invisible. Out of this love, you're ready to give something back in return for all life has given you."

The law of evolution controls all growth processes in the natural world, other than those that can be thwarted in and by man through the misuse of free will. Faith in and understanding of this law is so important that if all modern knowledge - now so vast and detailed - and all ancient knowledge was to disappear, it could be recreated, quickly and easily, through the careful application of this one law."

"The law of Evolution is living and active. It holds within itself an accurate sense of appropriate form."

"Appropriate form is the constant focus of true genius. A standard definition of appropriate form is the optimum solution to the sum of the true needs of a particular set of circumstances."

Compliance with the law of Evolution is the discipline of true genius, the 'discipline of union' - the union of the temporal with the eternal. 

"This gives a person who is responding (to the law of Evolution) many advantages over those who are not, including ready access to knowledge, genuine capability and wisdom in respect of any area of study and application, whether or not that person has any prior schooling in this area.

"A genius is not a creature of habit. There is a freshness of approach - almost childlike - that can never be predicted accurately."

John G Bennet Making a Soul (1954) Making a New World and many other books

"It is not to the mind, not to the intellectual power that we have to look, but to the heart

"What is the instrument? What is it that enables us to be aware of wholeness? The heart does not make wholeness, the heart is not putting things together, and the heart really is not even understanding and knowing about wholeness. What it is able to do is to respond, to allow the wholeness to take possession of it. Then if wholeness takes possession of the heart, the mind is able to do its work without making this separation."

If we ask ourselves what it is that is constantly being transformed in man himself, we can see at once that it is his experience, his sense perceptions, his thoughts, his feeling, his joys, his sorrows, his strivings, his moments of enlightenment and his moments of love."

"Man is wanted not only for what can be produced by the automatic transformations of energy of his automatic existence but for a higher purpose also, and for this reason something has been put into him that makes him ask questions. That something that makes him asks questions is his truly human part."

"Out of every life is the possibility of something that serves the need of another life, and out of human life also there is the possibility of energy needed for a higher level of existence."

"The special property of man that makes him different from any other being of whom we have knowledge is that he can acquire conscious control over his own energies and so
bring about a transformation of his own being that can be called acquisition of a soul."

"To replace all negative attitudes towards the existing world by a feeling of confidence and love towards the new world which is being born, towards the still unborn child that is the future mankind, to arouse in oneself constantly this love of the future humanity. 

Every time one observes in oneself some kind of negative attitude, to take this as the reminder that we human beings live on this Earth in order to serve and particularly to serve the future, and to serve with love, with hope, with confidence that it is possible for mankind to be born again."

If once we understand that the earth, sun and stars must be alive - and, moreover, alive with a far greater intensity of experience than we can ever know - then we may may well ask ourselves whether these may not be the beings whose needs furnish the reason for our existence.

Idries Shah - Tale of Mushkil Gusha from World Tales (1979)

“One day, when he got home very late, the girl said to him: ‘Father, I sometimes wish that we would have some nicer food and more and different kinds of things to eat.'”

"Very well, my child," said the old man; "tomorrow I shall get up much earlier than I usually do.  shall go further into the mountains where there is more wood, and I shall bring back a much larger quantity than usual. 

(We hear the formulation of a wish for a finer kind of sustenance, and the woodcutter proceeds to work longer hours, collecting more wood to fulfill his daughter’s yearning. After an arduous day and night toiling in the forest, he finds himself cold, hungry, exhausted, and lost.)

“He had been full of hope, but that did not seem to have helped him. Now he felt sad, and he wanted to cry. But he realized that crying would not help him either, so he lay down and fell asleep.

“Quite soon he woke up again. It was too cold, and he was too hungry to sleep. 

So he decided to tell himself, as if in a story, everything that had happened to him since his little daughter had first said that she wanted a different kind of food.

As soon as he had finished his story, he thought he heard another voice, saying, somewhere above him, out of the dawn, "Old man, what are you doing sitting there?"

“‘I am telling myself my own story.'”

"And that is that?" said the voice.

The old man repeated his tale.

"Very well" said the voice.

And it told the old man to close his eyes and to mount, as it were, a step.

"But I do not see any step,"
said the old man.

"Never mind, but do as I say," said the voice.

The old man did as he was told.

As soon as he had closed his eyes, he found that he was standing up and as he raised his right foot, he felt there was something like a step under it. He started to ascend what seemed to be a staircase. 

Suddenly the whole flight of steps started to move, very fast, and the voice said, "Do not open your eyes until I tell you do so so".