#3 - Jeremy Lent | Unraveling the Web of Meaning: Love, Kindness, and Personal Growth
🗓️ Recorded September 26th, 2022. 📍La Bizière, France
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Here you can read more about Jeremy Lent and his work:
- Jeremy Lent's website: https://jeremylent.com/
- Liology Institute: https://liology.org/
- Deep Transformative Network: https://deeptransformation.network/
- Jeremy Lent on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JeremyRLent
About this Episode
Can you imagine the profound impact of searching for meaning during a life crisis?
Join us as we speak with Jeremy Lent, author of "The Patterning Instinct" and "The Web of Meaning," about his personal journey of enlightenment and understanding.
I met Jeremy when I worked as Interim CEO for the NGO Gaia Education. I was introduced to Jeremy through a fellow friend Daniel Christian Wahl, whom I also met through Gaia Education.
After my first meeting with Jeremy, I was left with a feeling of being humble. Here I was, in the room with a great thinker with a mind you want to dive into. I can listen to Jeremy talk for hours. The result of the meeting ended on a professional level with becoming a new Gaia Education program - and I knew I wanted more time together with Jeremy. So when we started our podcast, Jeremy was among the first people I wanted us to talk to.
I highly recommend his books: "The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning" and "The Web of Meaning: Integrating Science and Traditional Wisdom to Find Our Place in the Universe."
They are profound and deep and leave you with several aha moments. One of the thoughts that affected me most strongly was his comment that: "The first thing that humans domesticated was themselves"...
In this podcast episode, we explore the evolution of meaning-making in human history, the consequences of living in a disconnected society, and the power of love, kindness, and transformation in promoting change and healing.
We dive into the cognitive shifts that occurred as humans transitioned from a nomadic hunter-gatherer existence to a more sedentary agricultural lifestyle and discussed the importance of connectedness, community, and kindness in finding meaning in our lives. As we discuss the implications of the ecological crisis on our civilization, Jeremy shares his insights on hope for a better future and how to begin healing from the deep-rooted conditioning we experience from a young age.
Finally, we explore the Deep Transformation Network and the importance of taking responsibility for our actions and choices as we strive for a more connected and meaningful existence.
This episode is an insightful and inspiring exploration of the search for meaning, the power of kindness, and the potential for profound personal and societal transformation.
Don't miss this opportunity to learn from Jeremy Lent's wisdom and experiences.
Jeremy Lent is a writer, speaker, and thought leader who explores the deep cultural and psychological roots of our global systemic crises. He is the founder and president of the nonprofit Liology Institute, which promotes a worldview that integrates scientific understanding with indigenous wisdom and spiritual insight. In addition, he has co-created the Deep Transformation Network, a community of thought leaders and change-makers committed to creating a more sustainable and regenerative future.
Lent is also an accomplished speaker and has presented his ideas at venues such as the United Nations, the Harvard Divinity School, and the Stockholm Resilience Center. He is a sought-after thought leader in the fields of sustainability, social justice, and consciousness.
Lent's work challenges us to re-examine our basic assumptions about the world and our place in it and to develop a more holistic and integrated understanding of our relationship to the natural world and to each other.
Overall, Jeremy Lent's work offers a compelling and nuanced perspective on the challenges facing our world today and provides a roadmap for creating a more sustainable, just, and compassionate future.
Clips from this episode
"So many people are living with an emotional scar from their childhood, and we call it normal, so how do we arrive at a point where we can start healing something that’s not recognized as a problem?
It’s not just a matter of looking at the destruction of the richness of nature. We also need to look at the depth of the underlying source of the problems. There is an unnatural conditioning that takes place from the first year onward, with watching tv and getting conditioned by the media. People get conditioned into destructive ways of thinking.
One of the causes for the hope that I see exists is that the conditioning has to change something that is there in human beings, to begin with. So this leads to this sense of a possibility that every single human being is born with this evolved sense of wanting to feel love, wanting to be connected, wanting to connect with a natural world, wanting to care - and this is actually the exact opposite of what our dominant culture tells us.
Humans are not selfish and rational and only care about themselves, but the exact opposite.
And so the culture has to condition us to remove ourselves from what are basically intrinsic human qualities within us, but we all have those evolved qualities within us.
And that means that the transformation is called for is not really that difficult. It's more of an undoing where we need to remove the barriers and allow what is.
It's a healing process inside each of us. And the word healing itself has an interesting etymology because it comes from the same root as the word whole, like, holistic. So the healing itself is a matter of becoming whole again. It is a matter of actually connecting with the different parts of us, and I do believe that one of the ways in which that healing is possible is to bring a lot of kindness to it."
Jeremy Lent and Cecilie talk about how children growing up in today’s society are removed from the natural world and deeply wounded from the absence of the community - removed from their family and community-nest. And how with this removal from the natural way of living, we are removed from the natural care we would feel towards nature and our fellow humans. Jeremy also reflects Darcia Narvaez’s book ‘Restoring the Kinship Worldview: Indigenous Voices Introduce 28 Precepts for Rebalancing Life on Planet Earth’ - Darcias latest book is along the same subject and is called: “The Evolved Nest: Nature's Way of Raising Children and Creating Connected Communities.”
Transcript of Self Directed Episode 3
E3 - Unraveling the Web of Meaning: Jeremy Lent on Love, Kindness, and Personal Growth
Please note: This transcript is autogenerated by AI voice recognition - so there might be some transcription errors, and the AI also sometimes puts the wrong speaker name - But better than no transcription - Enjoy. 🙂
Jesper Conrad: We have invited Jeremy Lent, whom I met through some of my work for an NGO called Gaia Education, And when I met Jeremy, I was thinking this is some clever guy. I need to know more about him and also his work. So that's why we invited you today, Jeremy Welcome.
Jeremy Lent: Well, thanks so much. I'm happy to be here, to be in conversation with you both. Thank you.
Jesper Conrad: Perfect. Jeremy. You have written two books and done a lot of fantastic works. Your books are called the Patterning Instinct, the first one, and the second is called the Web of Meaning, and when I read those part of it is there was many times I stopped and then I was saying to my wife oh, this is very interesting, you should hear this. So first of all, i recommend everybody out there to check out the books And take your time.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, it's not like you know it's not a page turning novel you read when you come home really tired after seven.
Jesper Conrad: No, you need to set aside the time to die. But, jeremy, your own process with writing these books. how did it start? You mentioned something in your first book about the dead of your wife, so was this what kicked it off, or where did it start for you?
Jeremy Lent: Sure, yeah. Well, in a way the two books are both really about meaning in one way or another. The first book that you mentioned, the Patterning Instinct its subtitle is a cultural history of humanity's search for meaning, and it was looking historically at different ways of meaning making. And this more recent book, the Web of Meaning, is about a way of finding meaning in our lives that is like scientifically rigorous and also really spiritually meaningful, basically. And so, to answer your question, actually the book themselves, the results of my own kind of search for meaning that took place over a number of years And, as you say, this kind of this got catalyzed by a real major life kind of crisis, almost like a crucible, like a melting of the things I'd built up in my life in the sort of midlife. And my is now about, i guess about 15 years ago or so, that this whole process unfolded, because the first part of my life even though when I actually grew up and I went as a student, went to university in England, i was, i felt everything in this culture around me just made no sense And I felt a strong sense of rebellion against it. But the way my life and I sort of left the country and went to the United States And where my life sort of turned, ended up in a very different place, though. I ended up basically marrying somebody, raising two step-sons from a prior marriage of theirs, and went into business in fact and got an MBA And actually, and was quite successful In fact.
Jeremy Lent: I started an internet company during the first phase of those internet days back in the late 1990s. I took it public And it was like this whole big sort of escapade or whatever. But then things crashed around me, basically because my wife at the time she passed away some years back, as you mentioned. She became quite sick And I wanted to look after her full time, which meant leaving my role as CEO of this company. But it was very early in that company's time, even though it's a public company. It was still young And it became one of those dot com crash kind of victims that happened during that first dot com crash back then 19, around 2000, in fact.
Jeremy Lent: And then I spent years feeling everything had sort of crashed around me in my life. And my first wife she lost a lot of cognitive clarity, she kind of went through cognitive decline, it's borderline dementia So, even though I was looking after her for years, but she was no longer the person that I was had that deep connection with And I was felt very isolated And the company basically crashed. Everything had sort of. It was a little bit like having a bell jar around me which crashed and what was left And I determined that whatever I did with the rest of my life was going to be truly meaningful And I wouldn't take somebody else's word for it. I wanted to figure out for myself what is meaning really. So I started this whole kind of search for understanding that I wanted whatever was going to be truly meaningful to be something that my brain like cognitive that I could feel was valid. I didn't want to do a leap of faith just because some guru tells me this is the light, just go okay.
Jeremy Lent: I wanted to really credibly believe it And I wanted it to feel meaningful to the rest of me, my body, my heart, like my felt sense. And what I found was that the normal ways in which our dominant culture tells us to understand things scientifically make no sense to those other parts of me. Because I started I hadn't really done much studying in this stuff, but then I spent years reading about where do these ideas of what we just take for granted come from? What is it that makes us human? What is reason? How are humans different from other animals? And what ideas about God or soul? What are they? Do they exist? So I was asking all these big questions And it was a little bit like peeling an onion, like I'd sort of say, okay, these people say this, but what sources do that come from? So I'd start to go back historically and discover about the scientific revolution in Europe. And then, where did that come from? All the way back from early Christianity and then all the way back to early Greeks, and then discovering that people like the early Chinese could make sense of things in a completely different way. And then a great discovery I made was that what I thought was hardcore science, like people like Richard Dawkins talking about the selfish gene or whatever that might be was actually based on on outmoded ideas.
Jeremy Lent: And as I started to read scientifically new investigations in system science and evolutionary anthropology and all kinds of stuff, i realized there was a very different way of meaning making. So the books that I wrote, the Patterning Instinct, which is looking historically, i mean that first book, was really the book that I wished I could find. I was looking for all these different books to make meaning out of this stuff, to put it all together. And as I started to sort of start make notes, i thought, well, maybe I can, for my own benefit, sort of put this together, but then maybe I can help that help other people who want to take that path themselves. And so it is a little bit of a guide to looking at the different meaning makings that humans have done from hunter-gatherer times to the present, which helped me to make sense of things.
Jeremy Lent: And this more recent book, the Web of Meaning, is actually looking at the. Essentially it's the ways in which I finally put together some of these connections between all these great insights from great traditions from the past, from modern science. But it's not about like sort of me, jeremy, saying, oh, i figured it out, this is what it's. It's more than anything looking at all the great insights that others have made And just basically the book is is called The Web of Meaning. In a lot of ways I'm just kind of making the connections between the insights that have arisen over time and in modern times by people in different disciplines to show there really is an integrated way of meaning making that is based on, ultimately, a deep sense of interconnection, very different from this sort of separate based kind of worldview we have now.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, And and I and, yeah, our listeners know, and I think I maybe have mentioned it to you when we work together, but we are an unschooling family And actually one of the things we we what you said reminded me of is that we do what we work most with.
Jesper Conrad: It's connecting with our children, and there is something fun when I look at people dreaming about making eco villages and stuff that they create something for themselves, but they send this children away to the system that indoctrinate them into a more classical way of thinking, right. So there, there's an angle there I haven't figured out, but there's something I think that that needs to. Yeah, i could look forward to a change there that they also took in the the homeschooling and unschooling. There is something I think maybe it was from your first book that blew my mind, and it's this story about when man started to have, when we started to domesticate ourselves Right, when we started to change our perspective to look into the future, it sounded like more or less we lived in and now, earlier Can you explain a little about that, because it was Yeah.
Jeremy Lent: That is that is very interesting, and really that early book, the patenting instinct. It looks at these how meaning making shifted. There's only been a couple of really profound transitions in the human way of meaning making And we spend most of our lives, of our history, as humans and then pre-humans are sort of lineage, as nomadic hunter-gatherers, basically just being connected with nature, taking what nature offered and relating to it. And then there was this rise in agriculture. It really was a rise in sedentism when people settled in places, but that correlated a lot with the rise in agriculture And one of the shifts there's cognitive shifts when that happened was exactly what you're describing. So we began to start thinking about the future and developing a sense of like a greater sense of sort of past and future and making investments basically for the future. So a simple example is, if you do start to move into agriculture, you obviously you want to keep your seed corner or whatever, like the sum of your harvest you need to keep in order to plant the next year. So you can imagine during lean years when there was a bad year and people were hungry and then somebody had to make the decision no, we've got to keep, even though we're hungry now we can't eat this corner. We have to keep that aside to plant it for next year. So this kind of different way of thinking And there's a great story that an anthropologist from the early 20th century talked about.
Jeremy Lent: And early 20th century is important because this is when there were still nomadic hunter-gatherers, unsort of varnished, if you will, by contact with the more dominant civilizations in Africa or South America or whatever. So this was an anthropologist in Africa And he was working with these nomadic hunter-gatherers And he noticed like one of the things that they loved from civilization, basically When people brought to them, was hoop iron, so little strands of iron they could use to make hooks or things that they found really useful. And so he spent months or years with them, really appreciated them and wanted to give them a real gift. So one time he went away and he came back and he thought I'll get a whole massive hoop iron and give it to them. Then they'll have hoop iron for years to come and they'll be really happy about that. So he gave them all this hoop iron. Say here you go, here's a gift. And they said great thanks. And then they used some of the hoop iron to make sort of hooks and this and that. And then they moved on a couple of weeks later and they left all the bags and everything else that he'd given them And they just took what they had, what they wanted right then. And he realized that their whole conception was not to kind of store things for the future but to actually be present and take what was around for them right then. And of course they'd be thinking somewhat in the future. They'd be thinking about what they're going to be having for dinner tomorrow, or hunters might go out in a few days hunts to find game to bring back for. But so it wasn't like only being in their present but not having this sense of investing in the future.
Jeremy Lent: And there's another story around that that really gives a more, such a powerful sense.
Jeremy Lent: Another anthropologist, actually with a group of hunter gatherers in South America, noticed that when they caught game they would eat it And then again just move on. But he knew about the technologies for smoking foods to maintain it, because other people around them from different groups had, they'd seen that happen. So he said to them one day why don't you smoke your food once you have more than enough, and then you can have it with you and then you've got some leftover for when you're hungry later on. And they looked one of them looked at him and said I don't need to store my food like that. I store my food in the belly of my brother. So there's this notion that there, what gives them a sense of security, or gives them a sense of not having to worry about the future, is their community, that they know if one of them is sick or is having trouble getting food, they'll be able to rely on others around them. Such a powerful way of looking at that difference between one way of meaning, making it another.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, and it makes me think about my parents are growing old now, you know, and And we have left over the care taking to assist them more than to the family. So, even though I feel closely connected to my parents, then some part of me is still thinking, oh, they will end up in a home at some point or someone will help take care of them. So I think that some way along the line we have lost some of that community, the closer community. Feeling like you describe here, jeremy, with your whole process of this research and writing and creating two books. What has happened in your life in sense of meaning? Did you find the meaning you search for?
Jeremy Lent: Yeah, thanks for asking that question. The simple answer is yes, that I did go through this whole existential meltdown and I spent years wanting to piece things together. I was fortunate. I went through processes, very deep, profound processes, that I had to refer to almost like an awakening that people might talk about, like really getting the sense of deep feeling of unconditional love, insights that have remained with me since that time, even though obviously the felt sense of something like that begins to fade. But some of the deeper insights have stayed with me.
Jeremy Lent: To me, what I think the fundamental insight I got was this sense of meaning arising from connectedness, that you don't need to look for meaning outside, you don't need to look for meaning as some sort of domain or some place out there or some treasure at the end of the rainbow or anything like that. That actually, once you begin to recognize that meaning itself arises from connectedness, it shifts everything around. You realize that you don't need to find a purpose to something. You need to be present with it and feel into the connections. If you think about meaning itself, say, somebody asks you what's the meaning of a word, well, you open a dictionary and you look up that word in the dictionary. What it basically gives you is almost a set of other words that might be more familiar to you. That it triangulates to A word is a little bit like this and like that and like that. Those words themselves connect with other things. A word itself has no meaning, but within the context of a language a word has the meaning through all the relations that it has with other aspects of that.
Jeremy Lent: Similarly with our lives, when sometimes people have gone through a point in their time when they felt everything was meaningless or whatever, and that oftentimes leads to a sense of depression, alienation, that meaninglessness almost always arises from that isolation that our modern society creates. There's very deep existential isolation we're talking about. There's a sense of, as part of that shift from hunter-gatherers to agriculture, there's a sense of separation from nature, but that separation from nature has escalated significantly from simply putting up fences and separating nature from our cultivated land. There's separations that came with the rise in Western thinking, which saw meaning as being a separate universe. Basically, like Plato had this idea, there was a permanent good, an eternal good out there and the world was polluted. We had a soul in our human identity that connected us with divinity and it was imprisoned in the body, which is just this kind of prison, this poison, basically, and Christianity inherited that, and then the scientific revolution basically took that even further. And so, basically, all of nature is nothing other than a machine And humans is Descartes, like I think, therefore, i am. This sense was like only our thinking capacity, that symbolic, conceptual capacity that makes humans unique in many ways. That's the only thing that gives us identity, and that sense of separation from nature still led to a sense of separation from each other, to this modern society we live in right now, where we're told that humans are these separate individuals with minds separate from body, each person separate from each other, leading to this whole neoliberal interpretation of economics and how society is meant to be, which is all based on a fundamental misconception. And that's a lot of what my work is about is expressing What I basically discovered through my own investigation, that is, that connection with others, connection with the different parts of ourselves, connection with others around us, with all of humanity, and ultimately, maybe most importantly of all, is connection with all of life, and realizing that we're not separate from nature, we're not separate from life.
Jeremy Lent: Each of us is not that. We're connected with life, we are life. Life manifests within each of us And we're all part of this this sort of massive, amazing unfolding that shifts everything And that has really infused my life with meaning. And it's also it's not just a kind of a warm glow kind of thing, because along with that sense of being connected with all of life comes the pain, that basically the torment of seeing how life is being torn apart and devastated by our modern civilization. So along with that connection, that deep connection with everything around us, comes a sense of being driven to do something about this devastation that's taking place too. So part of connecting is connecting with the bad and connecting with the recognition of our own role in that devastation, what we can do about it.
Jesper Conrad: Wow, there's so much to pick up on.
Cecilie Conrad: It's hard to figure out what path you would want to take. I think this is your podcast.
Jesper Conrad: No, no, no. But it made me think more about the connectedness with nature. We today just took a beautiful walk in nature together as a family. I have been raised in the Western culture where nature is beautiful, feels more than it is the wild nature and its monoculture and stuff like that Part of me find it taking into pain difficult. I think a lot of people do, because if we look at the fields as open wounds in Mother Earth, then it's hard to go and take a walk in nature and still enjoy it. Sometimes I'm thinking but how? and I believe I have quite open eyes towards the world and the connectedness But even I find myself wanting to just take blindfolds on and only look at the pretty things. And then if I look at people in a more normal life that goes to work and buy frozen pizza or whatever, then to come and talk from a point of blame against humanity, I'm in doubt if it's the best way forward and how we can change that shift. What are your thoughts about that?
Jeremy Lent: Great questions. Yes, thank you. These are some of the toughest questions. Basically, there's a quote from Aldo Leopold, one of the early environmental thinkers of the 20th century. Becoming aware of this deep connection with all of nature is opening, i think, to a world of wounds which is just like you're describing. He said that back in the 1950s, when the wounds were a little scratched compared to what is happening right now to the world. But on the other hand, there are ways to work with that.
Jeremy Lent: This is one of my own struggles in the last few years of my life is getting opening up to the enormity of the crimes that this civilization is doing against nature, against all of life basically, and feeling into it. And it's as if you begin to feel into it. It's a little bit like opening into an abyss, i mean personally for me. It reminded me, when I first experienced that, of the time when I was a teenager. I grew up in a Jewish family in England And so it was like when I was in my early teens or whatever, that I discovered about the Holocaust, and I remember reading one time about the concentration camps and the Holocaust and being Jewish knowing that the only reason I was even alive was because my grandparents would have left Europe and come to England rather than be caught up in that Holocaust. And it was this sense of the enormity, almost like as if when you look at the sun and you see it, it's so bright and you have to look away because it's just more. And you know you're obviously your instinct is it'll blind you if you spend. And it was almost like the other extreme of that. Looking at the darkness, it was so bleep that you could just glimpse it And then you had to look away. You had to look away too much. And that stayed with me all my life.
Jeremy Lent: And as I started to feel into the enormity of what's being done to life itself on this earth by a civilization, i had a similar feeling. It's like too much. It's like this infinite chasm of this massive crime against life we're doing and the incredible, unfolding genocide of life that's happening and the extinctions and the loss of so much great complexity, and that's really hard. And then you go like, how do I work with that? And there are ways I feel you can do it. One is to be in community, is to turn to others who are also feeling this way, because it's only this is part of us being human. It's only by connecting with others and sharing that that we can hold that pain. But holding each other's grief, holding each other's pain, we can actually. It's almost like this alchemy We can actually hold it in a way that can be healing together.
Jeremy Lent: And secondly is by engaging, is by recognizing what does life want from me right now about this And I've done some deep inquiries into this, including, like the use of sacred medicines, to kind of ask these questions the deepest place I can And for me the answer I get is like life is once me and all of us to feel into its pain, to feel into the gravity of what's going on, but not so much that we get pulled into the abyss and feel a sense of hopelessness and despair and just sort of can, almost like a swamp. It wants us to feel it just enough to then turn and use that feeling towards engaging, and towards engaging to save what can be saved of life against this devastation right now. Because once you recognize that you are life, there's this wonderful quote from the great 20th century humanitarian, albert Schweitzer, who really had these deep insights And at one point he said I am life that wills to live in the midst of life, that wills to live, and I think that is one of the great, profoundest insights there are in terms of our identity. And once you realize that, then you sense like the engagement to do something about it is not where you sort of feel, oh, i should do something about it, like if I'm going to be a good person, but it's more like if somebody is coming at you and they start to hit you, you like push back, you say no, and you like you do something to defend yourself. You don't think, oh, i should do this. It's an instinct for self preservation.
Jeremy Lent: Similarly, once we are, identity expands to all of life. We're driven to engage for life And at this point I can speak for myself, but basically dedicated whatever years I have left of this existence to be for the benefit of life. And I feel that when we can do that, when we make that shift, it enables us to feel, to absorb the gravity, but not to get overwhelmed by it, but to know that this is the meaning, this is what life is calling from us in this generation, in this time is for enough of us to devote ourselves to that shift towards life, that we can actually do something about it, because I think the other key point and then let me kind of stop this No, no, no, but I think the other key point that you are mentioning, jasper, i think is so important is we don't have to feel any negativity about humanity or about ourselves as human beings. We can recognize and we need to recognize those of us, for example, who live a privileged life, who are in the global North and who, basically, whose footprints basically his carbon footprints, necological footprints are unsustainable just because of the life that is given to us in the global North. It's important to recognize that's the case, but then we don't have to be consumed by guilt about it, because we recognize that this is what we were born into, this is our conditioning. But what we can do is, from that place, start to say I'm going to utilize this privilege that I have to try to take whatever energy and influence I have in the system to shift it, to transform it into something better. And ultimately, we need to recognize that it's this dominant civilization that is causing this catastrophe, it's not human nature itself. So many times people get into this sense of fatalism. Well, that's humanity for you. That's what happened. It's this tragic existential tragedy of humanity that we're so smart, we end up destroying life, and that's what's good. No, that's not the case.
Jeremy Lent: We're talking about the humanist peoples around the world. Initially, when they moved into different continents, they did cause imbalances. They did cause extinctions of megafauna, of major animals. In North America and South America, in Australian places, that's true. Then they also, over generations, found ways to live in relation to the land, not just sustainably but regeneratively, where they actually built symbiotic relationships with life around them. That was for the benefit of other animals, of the plants around them, as well as for themselves.
Jeremy Lent: And you see this in places all over where indigenous cultures settled, whether it was in North America, in Hawaii, in Australia, in India, you see different cultural ways in which they learned to treat life as sacred and find ways to thrive and live in symbiotic harmony with life. It's possible for humans to do that. The great challenge we have is to find a way for a world civilization, a highly developed civilization like we have right now, to reorient itself, to do that with life on earth. And that, to me, is really the most exciting opportunity and the most existential need we have as a human race right now to look at these deep questions and to find a way to move towards what many people, including myself, call an ecological civilization, basically a civilization that's founded on a different basis, founded on one that is life-affirming, that is, looking for regeneration with life rather than consuming it.
Cecilie Conrad: So if the core of your idea about moving to more, something more sustainable for the individual, who would feel this meaningfulness deeply rooted, and for the planet, that would benefit from people taking a different course in the root of this is the I need a word capability. Is that a word Of the individual, not the isolated individual?
Cecilie Conrad: but, for each thinking person to be able to feel this connectedness to other people, to themselves, as we have layers of consciousness, so we can be connected to ourselves and to whatever life in any form around us. And I can't help but thinking that here's the rub. Like so in the in the northern western culture, we have children And before they are one year old, we do something really weird We give them to someone else for most of the time, and I'm a psychologist and I'm also an unschooling mother And for me it's the most crazy thing. We. It's worse than the climate catastrophe. How did we come up with this idea And how did we convince all the parents? This is a good idea?
Cecilie Conrad: Yes because it's not. They all know, they all feel it deep in the heart the first time they do it and the second time they do it.
Cecilie Conrad: And you need a cheering group of social workers, teachers, parents, doctors, all kinds of people to convince this mother to give away her baby to someone else for up to 10 hours a day. This is local in my mind And what I think is maybe we grow people who are so deeply hurt in their connectedness, but it's really hard to. This is where the pain is. Yes, connected is very, very vulnerable If you lost the natural connectedness that you were supposed to have.
Jeremy Lent: I agree, i agree completely with what you're saying, cecilia, and I think this is the, this is the core. This is like. What happens is we build defenses, even when we're pre linguistic, like you say, just infants Because we get traumatized through this unnatural and natural behaviors that we're relating to, and then those defenses slowly get built, layer upon layer, which causes these disconnections within ourselves. I think that's so true And what you know, what you're describing, make me. I want to ask you are you familiar with the work of the evolutionary psychologist and biologist Dasha Narvize? I'll spell her name. The first name is Dasha, is D A R C I a, and her last name, narvize, is N A R V A E Z, and I can send you links and we can put this in the program notes, whatever on the podcast.
Jeremy Lent: I'm a brilliant evolutionary biologist who's very connected also with studying indigenous cultures And and she's developed a concept, what she calls the evolved nest. And the evolved nest refers to exactly what you were just talking about, cecilia, and basically she's saying, as humans and hominids evolved, they evolved to in just the same way that a, an egg in a bird's nest evolved, to be settled in that nest and be set on and kept warm, and then the little chick stays there and gets fed and and that's how a bird learns to flourish. Humans have an evolved nest And that's a cognitive and a behavioral kind of nest And basically what that means is when they're born, they're born into community. They're born into in fact it's not just a like we have right now are sort of single family, parents kind of thing, where the mother and father is expected to take all the responsibilities they're born into basically a group, group care, where there's and surround even people who aren't relatable will look after them and other kids around that, of all different ages then taking responsibility to take care of them and all and all that stuff. And basically in in that evolved nest and children grow up, learning to connect with all of nature and around them, to see themselves as embedded in the natural world, to connect with community around them, to build their identity as basically being part of community and to learn not so much from this conceptual sit down at school and repeats, you know, after the teacher and your alphabet and all that stuff, but to learn and actually in a lived and budded way, through how they see their other siblings and and kids around the Mac, and not to be stuck with one parental relationship, basically, but to just understand their whole community is looking after them And actually oftentimes will give them a lot more freedom of action, freedom to make mistakes, than we allow our own kids in in society today.
Jeremy Lent: But when kids of actually could evolve in that way, they develop what really are more like normal quote unquote like actually for normal, like human, natural ways of living. Their identity is is connecting with others, is connecting with all of life around them, seeing humans as being part of life And and it's And. So what she explains is that when we live in our and when kids are brought up now, exactly as you described, they're basically taken out of that evolved nest from that first few months of their life onwards. And being out of that evolved nest, they develop scar, they develop traumas and and then they learn.
Jeremy Lent: Our culture says that's normal, and so basically, what is normalized is a traumatized way of living as a human being, not living as a full human being, living as a wounded, separated human being, and that's what we're told, is what we're meant to do. And then our economics, our economic drivers, basically tell us that's what you meant to do, and to be successful, you have to act basically like an asshole in order to succeed in what you're doing and and it becomes a self fulfilling, self reinforcing, a process that leads to our society the way it is now. So there's no question in my mind, starting at the very roots of it, starting with infancy, and then for those of us who have been ourselves traumatized by our own childhoods on learning, some of our own behavior, on learning and some of our own conditioning is equally important. Now I'm noticing that your screen just froze then And sorry we lost you for a second, because the Wi-Fi is weird, right.
Jeremy Lent: Yeah, I suddenly noticed you were frozen By the way. oh, yes, I say the recording is at your end, So that might.
Jesper Conrad: I don't know. It's on the cloud. Yeah, we have it.
Jeremy Lent: Oh, okay, Yeah that's probably the problem And it's on again.
Cecilie Conrad: Yes, so we read something different. I read I need to get back to the author's name but the title of the book was Legitimate Peripheral Participation. We read a lot of these things on Indigenous people and nomad people, but we have a good load of scientists from Scandinavia. So when I studied, we read the local guys, but they seem to arrive more or less at the same points. And I'm just thinking.
Cecilie Conrad: You know, i can also feel this deep despair on the horizon And sometimes, well, i always think that it makes no sense for me to dive into despair. It also makes no sense to give up and forget about it. So my personal take is that I lead a meaningful life and I do the things that I feel that the universe is calling me to do, and I hope that I'm somehow inspiring and maybe making some changes just by living this life instead of what could have been. So it resonates a lot for me what you're saying. Also, i think that it's just a very deep scar in a lot of people, and a lot of people, as you said, when we had this internet problem that cut off our conversation. We have this problem that we have so many people living with this scar and we call it normal. So how do we arrive at a point where we can start healing something like solving a problem that's not recognized as a problem?
Jeremy Lent: Yes, i think that is also such an important question, because the issues we're dealing with are so deep that even just it's not just a matter of just looking at the destruction of the richness of nature that we've been talking about, but just when you look at the depth of the underlying source of the problems, then you can also feel hopeless.
Jeremy Lent: How can we ever make these changes happen, because they're so deep?
Jeremy Lent: But one of the causes for hope that I see that exists, it continues to exist is that this unnatural conditioning that takes place, and it takes place all around the world, like you say, from the first year onwards, and as soon as people, as little kids, watch TV, they get conditioned, or anything on the media, they get conditioned into these destructive ways of thinking.
Jeremy Lent: But the conditioning has to change, something that is there in the human being to begin with. So what leads to this sense of a possibility is that every single human being that is born is born with this evolved sense of wanting to feel love, wanting to be connected, wanting to connect with the natural world, wanting to care, actually being the exact opposite of what our dominant culture tells us. Human beings are not being selfish and rational and only caring about themselves, but the exact opposite of that, and so the culture has to condition them to basically take away that intrinsic human qualities within us. But we all have those evolved qualities within us, and what that means is that that transformation that is being called on is not really that's difficult. It's more an undoing like basically taking away the barriers and allowing for the healing process.
Jeremy Lent: Yes, and the word healing itself has an interesting etymology because it comes from the same root as the word whole, like holistic.
Jeremy Lent: So the healing itself is a matter of becoming whole again. It's a matter of actually connecting with the different parts of us, and I do believe that one of the ways in which that healing is possible to me, one of the most important sort of qualities that come to that healing is to bring a lot of kindness to it Is that when we look at these conditioned places within ourselves and all of us who have been brought up in this conditioned world, we recognize parts of ourselves that are destructive, that dismiss other people as other, or that might have implicit racism or all kinds of things that our conscious mind recognizes as destructive. But we see that that got imbibed in us in early years and it's difficult to let go of. But when we can turn to those elements within ourselves with kindness and a curiosity, we can begin to allow that And rather than feel I've got to fight this battle within these parts of myself and our own internal consciousness becomes a battleground, which then causes more heat and violence and difficulties.
Jeremy Lent: We can actually turn to them with love. And this is where a sense of unconditional love is not just this kind of beautiful, expensive spiritual understanding, it's not just a concept that doesn't apply empirically, it actually works each day. We can apply that unconditional love which we can really interpret as being more like this realization of the deep connectedness of all of life, of everything around us, and that realization of connectedness. But that love can apply to those parts within ourselves. And again, if you look at the etymology of the word kindness, it's also interesting because it comes from the old Norse word kin, which, like the word, kin and kindness come from the same word. So kindness is almost like a recognition of kin, a recognition that we're all part of the same family.
Jeremy Lent: Basically, all the different parts within ourselves And then when we apply that even to those parts within ourselves that we might have difficulty with, then we can learn to apply that to others around us And that can just set a different tonal quality in how we repair, because we're not going to actually get to the transformation that is needed by looking at the people who are living the conditioned life causing the destruction and saying they're bad.
Jeremy Lent: And you need to recognize how all the harm you're doing you're so bad because you're causing this destruction That's not going to get anywhere And in fact the opposite it just exacerbates the rifts, the divisions. But by reaching out and seeing that soft beating heart of life within those people, by seeing the layers of trauma within them that led them to choose those lives they lead, and by offering it at sense of openness to love and openness to the possibility of connection, is a way that and basically most people in the world can begin to open up to, which can allow them to begin to be curious and to begin to start to do their own investigation into meaning, their own search for meaning, if you will.
Cecilie Conrad: This is. can I say something? So this is it's just. I love it, but it's so much more complex than you know. let's say, trying to lower your consumption of plastic products or buying an electric vehicle, and I think you know it's almost like there has arisen a group of environmentally conscious upper class, upper middle class people who has become the market to consume differently And this has it's kind of a rising star. This is how to do it. Now we fix it because we I don't know.
Jesper Conrad: Now we buy new stuff.
Cecilie Conrad: That goes on so well, right, exactly, i buy my oats in a cotton bag instead of a plastic bag. That's what.
Jeremy Lent: I'm talking about Right exactly.
Cecilie Conrad: So simple and superficial in relation to the deeply rooted problems, but also solutions that might be be having a huge impact compared to it doesn't really matter if you buy organic rice or not. What really could matter is how do you handle your presence in life, how do you handle your relation to yourself and others? How do you handle your family life, if you have one? Can you exist within a community that's larger than your core family, and how can you handle that? How do you handle those that are not exactly like yourself? Can you handle that?
Cecilie Conrad: These things are so complex and actually quite hard to do. So I'm really happy we got to this point in our conversation, because I think it's really important also to recognize those who work with self-love or work to fight depression or deep scars or anxiety, or who take a leap of faith and do something different and feel all alone and strange, but now they I don't know took their children out of school or quit their job, something like that, and they feel very awkward and everything around them is a pressure to go back into mainstream. These people are changing the world rapidly. They are doing a great, great job for the planet and for humanity, and I think sometimes they are represented when we talk about them or hear about them, as in Danish it would be naulapilne. So it works that like looking too much after themselves, being absorbed within their own processes.
Jeremy Lent: Yeah, maybe in English like self-absorption, basically.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, yeah.
Jeremy Lent: Yeah, i think I agree with everything that you're describing right there, and a lot of what this leads to is this need for basically what I call deep transformation. And, in fact, jesper and I got to know each other because of a course that I was initiating on the Gaia education system, which actually is starting again right now the 10-week course again, which is called the principles and practices of deep transformation, because that's what is required to really and what we're talking about is transformation within ourselves, in how we relate to community and with our society as a whole, and you can't really succeed in one layer of that transformation without the others. So some people may be committed environmentalists, may be working really hard on trying to change some of the external systems out there, but if they're not working on that transformation within themselves, there's a danger that they might exacerbate some of the same conditions that lead to this distraction in the work that they're doing And in each of these layers is true, but the one thing I would add to what you're saying is just even the simple choices of like using a cotton bag, yeah, to put your oats in, rather than a plastic bag, whatever there's no doubt that. Those things alone, if people feel that that's sufficient, that I'm doing that and so I've done enough. That's just basically tricking yourself. That's a complete basically yourself, like just basically lying to yourself to make yourself feeling better.
Jeremy Lent: But that doesn't mean that it's not important to. Every one of the small steps are important and they do have value, but only once people realize this is just one small step as part of something bigger. But each of those things matter basically, and that's really what a lot of what I suggest in this book, the Web of Meaning, is this realization that all the different parts matter, and what is important is to look at how each of the different parts can then amplify something else, like we each need to make changes in our own lives or whatever, once we make these discoveries. But it's not necessarily easy sometimes to do it all in one go, and so we make some changes, but then remaining open and curious and asking those tough questions and asking the questions, that makes something in us feel uncomfortable and really, oh, am I, you know, when I'm driving to buy this stuff, is there a different way I could do that? or the lifestyle I'm leaning, or the work that I'm doing? am I actually making the harm greater? and asking the difficult question, but again doing that with kindness and not saying, oh my God, i'm a terrible person, i can't handle it, let me do it, but actually going.
Jeremy Lent: Okay. What is it that drove me to that originally? How can I change in a way that don't cause in the short like massive trauma for those around me or myself, towards a more flourishing life for others around me and for myself? These are the questions we can ask And that does ultimately lead to this process of deep transformation, but as a deep transformation doesn't have to be like a violent transformation, like cut everything off, that's bad, but more like how can it be transformed so the healthy new way of being can arise from within and the other stuff can just basically get less and less relevant and just fall, fall aside.
Jesper Conrad: What I really love, jeremy, about using the word deep transformation about it, is that it places the responsibility inside, as I think there have been a long time where people are, you know. then they go on a demonstration and say you, society must fix the problems, but it is us, the people, who need to change our consumption of different things and also just our inner being. But to respect the time, then we have almost gone an hour and I would love to ask you if people would want to know more about you and your work, and what should they do? How could they go down that road where they say I want to know more about Jeremy and his book and work? Yes, sure.
Jeremy Lent: Sure, thanks.
Jeremy Lent: Well, i mean, a simple way to find out about my own work is just to go to my website, which is just JeremyLentcom, so it's pretty easy to remember and you'll be able to explore more about these books, the web of meaning and the patterning instinct.
Jeremy Lent: But something else I'd invite anyone who's interested in really this themes we've been talking about to also check out a new network that I initiated this year, actually called the Deep Transformation Network, and you can find that, and again, we can put the link in the program notes, but it's just at wwwdeeptransformationnetwork. So network is the suffix at the end, very easy to find, and this is a group of over 2000 people now who have just joined this network, from around the world, who were basically committed to this deep transformation, who realized there's something profoundly wrong with the world and want to engage with others in helping to find the pathways toward that different kind of civilization. And you can just join there, basically join in the conversation. There's a lot of live network meetings. We have live interactive conversations I have with leading thinkers from around the world and these topics. It's a great way to really get more and more engaged in these different ways of being Perfect.
Cecilie Conrad:, I'll enlist and enroll myself.
Jesper Conrad: Absolutely. I think we could talk for hours, Jeremy, but I would rather reschedule for another day and then dive deeper into one or two subjects.
Cecilie Conrad: We can do a round two, yeah.
Jesper Conrad: So, first of all, super thanks for your time. We are so happy that you wanted to join our project and podcast, and for us to be able to share you with more people is a gift for us. Thank you.
Jeremy Lent: Thank you so much. It's been an honor to be in conversation with you both, and thanks for what you're doing. It looks fantastic.
Cecilie Conrad: Likewise, see you later.
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