00:00:00 Introduction

00:04:00 Charles experience of gaslighting into greater self-trust through the corona pandemic days. 

00:12:00 Shadow versus light side of spirituality, health and self-improvement. 

00:18:36 Being an agent of change through friendship and self-knowing. 

00:23:28 Different causes for the desire to control society and each other.

0027:00 Blame as a trap rather than a key

0029.55 What is it about our society that is goes against life and our natural instincts?

00:33:18 Meaning of growth economy and it’s impact on our intimate lives.

00:39:17 Parenting, belonging, community

00:44:00 Trusting the principle of the gift and how Charles engages in gifting his work.

00:50:34 Tuning into forgotten questions, rather than living in habit and filters of reality. 

00:55:59 Conclusion



Charles: https://charleseisenstein.org/

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RAW TRANSCRIPT Please excuse all errors

[00:00:00] Olivia Clementine: I’m Olivia Clementine and this is Love and Liberation. Today our guest is Charles Eisenstein. Charles is a writer, speaker, countercultural philosopher, and the author of several books, his newest book, the Coronation, was released in the summer of 2022.

What I’ve noticed with your work is there’s a through line of relational interest, like on, on all realms, like economy, health ecology. Has that always been an interest for you? Have you always had an interest in the play of interconnection or was there a moment where you felt like, oh wow, like relationship is pretty vital, for the future I want?

[00:00:49] Charles Eisenstein: Hmm. Yeah. You know, funny as it may seem I kind of came to that through a logical [00:01:00] process. Almost like, almost I don’t know. It’s, it’s getting sort of trendy now to say that you’re on the spectrum, you know, the Asperger’s autism spectrum. But there was definitely some, you know, in a way everybody in our society is to some degree on that spectrum to the extent that our ability to relate and our full engagement in the world has been damaged in some way.

 And that we all have a kind of a sensitivity that doesn’t that makes us uncomfortable. in the world that has been presented to us to live in. So anyway, I’m not saying but, but, but you know, I kind of came from a place of, of who am I really? [00:02:00] And, and what is missing? Why do I feel incomplete? And that coincided with various experiences that I was fortunate to have where that feeling of alienation and incompleteness was temporarily met.

And it was always in moments of relationship to something, to a person or to a place, to a butterfly, to something like that. So the, these, these were the, the pieces that kind of came together into an understanding of, oh, actually what health is, what wellbeing is. It is relationship, which is even kind of contained in the words health or well, which both mean whole.

As in wholeness. Well, what, what is it actually that is whole here? What is the self what, what is it that is healing? So that’s, you know, and I’m not necessarily [00:03:00] proud to say it, but you know, I came at it from a very, very intellectual place, you know? 

[00:03:07] Olivia Clementine: Yeah. And I actually wanna dive into, a few things related to your, your recent book, the Coronation or Collection of Essays, kind of a combination of that.

And this piece, I have this line that you wrote ” what makes you crazy is to be an agent of your own gaslighting.” So that’s your quote. Mm-hmm. And this was in response to the backlash of you expressing during peak Corona times. And I wanna hear about both that time of darkness where this statement, you know, this, this what makes you crazy to be an agent of your own gaslighting, and also that turning point in how you now inhabit truth differently than you did prior.

Like the gift right of being gas lit. Yeah. 

[00:03:50] Charles Eisenstein: Yeah. So gaslighting, I mean, it’s, the word is actually maybe overused at this time, but what it really means is when you [00:04:00] contrive to make somebody doubt their own direct experience.

Her, her experience is that the lights are getting dimmer and dimmer. But she’s told, no, that’s not happening. Your direct perceptions are erroneous. You cannot trust your direct perceptions. So during the time of Covid, I had these very gut level instinctual responses to what was going on.

 And like, for example, the the whole idea of distancing. Of walking down of masking. I mean, these were the outplay of my nightmare of a dystopian society of separation where where not only are we boxed into single family homes and no longer have community and are [00:05:00] disconnected from nature, but now we even like no longer touch each other.

We no longer gather together. We accept as normal a technologically mediated social world. I was just like, on a gut level, I’m like, no. And I then, so, you know, because of that instinctive, Like primal rejection of that whole direction of society. I was very receptive to any kind of research or any kind of argument that said, well, you know, social distancing isn’t, it doesn’t work, masks don’t work.

Lockdowns don’t, don’t work. The costs are higher than the benefits, et cetera, et cetera. I wasn’t fully rational in my acceptance of those arguments. I was already conditioned to accept them just as the other side was conditioned to accept the justifications [00:06:00] for lockdown because their basic. Value system.

And, and their basic mythology of progress says that progress comes through greater and greater application of technology to life. And, and, you know, the conquest, this is the next step in the conquest of the microbial world. So, so I became, okay. So, so that was the, the situation. And when I began to voice these doubts and, and these protests people got very upset and offered me some very valid questions.

Like, Charles, how can you be sure that you’re not actually killing people? By by getting them to not take social distancing seriously. Do you know for sure? What is your evidence here? Ultimately [00:07:00] the evidence was secondary and in the end, actually, it turned out that my viewpoint was scientifically correct.

You know, back at the time it was said that transmission happened through droplets from coughing and sneezing and from hand contact with things. Ultimately that turned out not to be true. It turns out that it’s aerosolized particles that are not limited to six feet, you know, when you cough or sneeze et cetera.

I mean, I’m not gonna go through all of the evidence here, but you know, ultimately it turned out that, that my prejudice against masks and social distancing and lockdown was actually happened to correspond to the facts, but at the time I didn’t know that, you know, so, so anyway, like I, so like, I, I went through this process of really deep doubt, and because of the social pressure and the [00:08:00] bullying, you know, and, and the, the appearance that I was a minority of almost one part of me was like, well, maybe my, maybe, yeah, maybe they’re right.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with distancing and masking. And I never said, well, they’re right, but this doubt began to eat away at me. Also the, like the, the, the question, who are you to doubt the established consensus, scientific viewpoint? you know, here you’re picking on some fringe studies that the scientific establishment hasn’t accepted them.

So why do you accept them? Do you know more than they do? How, like, how do you know not to trust the science? And, and that was such a strong[00:09:00] such a, like a loud voice that for a time, I, I can’t say that I rejected, but I didn’t fully stand in my numerous direct experiences in my own life of events that blatantly contradict what science says is possible and, and even, you know healings that I’ve witnessed and experienced and, and read about, like in book after book, after book of healings of conditions that were medically incurable, that violated basic principles of medical science. Like what happens to all of those? So this was the gaslighting, was to throw all of that out the window from my direct experience to my deeply held convictions, to my, my values, my valuing of hugs and handshakes, and seeing each other’s beautiful faces and gathering together [00:10:00] to sing.

And, and to believe that even if that does cause marginally more deaths, it’s worth it. Not because it’s worth it for me to have my freedom so that other people and other people suffer, but even if I’m sacrificing my own life, . Like I wrote that in my initial essay on, you know, the coronation. I said, I said, if you could save your life by decreeing that no one on earth ever hug again, would you do that?

Is that worth it to save your own life? Most people would say no. So I’m like, well, why then are we collectively making that decision? Mm-hmm. And, and so this, I don’t know, I’m not sure if I’ve fully answered your question, but that was the process of doubt that I, I went through, which, which, you know, started out as like a very rational, healthy doubt. Okay, let’s really look at the source of my beliefs. But it turned into a very toxic doubt where I began to doubt my deep [00:11:00] convictions and direct experiences. 

[00:11:01] Olivia Clementine: Mm-hmm. So now how are you inhabiting that, that experience now of, of knowing that you have to trust your, there, there’s value to trusting your firsthand experience.

Like what’s come of it? What’s been the current iteration of you now? Post gas lit? 

[00:11:21] Charles Eisenstein: Yeah. It’s carried over into other areas of my life. In, for example, the way that I make choices about how to spend my time, what invitations to respond to. For example, you know, there’s like the irrational layer that says, well, of course I want to. Respond to the invitation that is going to give me the biggest audience that’s gonna, like, there’s all these rational reasons why I would choose X rather than Y.

But sometimes there’s just a feeling that [00:12:00] is completely counter to my rational explanations and often not counter. Often it’s aligned with my rational explanations, but sometimes it isn’t. And this experience of, of really having to go deep into self-trust has strengthened that that pipeline to my self-trust.

And I feel much more able to to make choices that, that I can’t justify. 

[00:12:38] Olivia Clementine: Yeah. Yeah. I appreciate that. And I’m thinking of what you’re sharing, you know, “I’ve seen all of these people recover from diseases that they shouldn’t have been able to recover from, from like a spiritual perspective or you know, it goes against science.”

What are your thoughts in terms of the correlation between this kind of self-protection in this time, in, in, once again in like [00:13:00] the height of Corona, that is still present in our current culture, this commitment to kind of spirituality being an immature version of the physical, we’re always like, In this place of, if it’s the spiritual, which to me is also the imaginative, the unseen, anything in that realm, it’s an immature version of when it actually manifests in the physical. 

And I’m wondering if you see a correlation between this kind of downplay of the power of spirituality and this addiction to the immortality of the physical, to self-protection and body permanence. And if you see a tie between the extreme behavior as we’ve seen in the last couple years. The feeling of threat, right? On self-protection. 

[00:13:43] Charles Eisenstein: Yeah. So, so fixation on health, like health obsession. I mean, the thing is you notice like most of the health nuts actually aren’t that healthy.

So there’s, so the, the, the [00:14:00] fixation on health and longevity, it actually has a, a shadow side and, but it also has a, a light side. The shadow side is when you are disconnected from your purpose in life and you’re not sure why, like, why am I even here then almost out of nothing else. Well, I turn my attention to myself.

If I’m not outward focused, if I’m not mission focused, if I’m not focused on my creative desires, if I’m not focused on what I want to give to the world, if I’m not focused on the people I love whose journey I’m part of, then what else is there besides myself? And it could be my health, my body, you know, and doing all these supplements and all this kind of stuff.

But it could also be other forms of self-improvement. Could even those that we call spiritual, it’s all the [00:15:00] same mentality and none of these things are bad. It’s not bad to take care of yourself physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, but it’s not for its own sake. It’s because that is part of expressing yourself and fulfilling your purpose for being here.

So it’s only when, so it’s a means to be able to do that, to, to be able to do that. The problem comes when it’s no longer a means, but it becomes an end and it never actually succeeds when it becomes an end because our, on a soul level, we only create the amount of health and wellbeing that is necessary to do what we are doing.

So if you are not expressing yourself and expressing your purpose, which could be some grand thing, it could be some small thing. It could be to raise children in a beautiful way, for example. [00:16:00] It could be to beautify the small place where you are. It could be a combination of many things, but if you’re not connected to that, then your soul is like, well, I have no reason to be healthy. I have no reason to summon and transmit through myself the life force. So I become less and less alive because I am living, I become disconnected from my life purpose, so I become less and less alive. It’s totally logical on the soul level. 

So, so the word, the word spiritual can mean a lot of different things. And in the sense you’re using it, it, it kind of speaks to the things that we exile from practicality, the things that we discard, the things that are actually very sacred and important, but that we don’t allow in. And so a spiritual practice in that sense turns toward the things that have been left [00:17:00] out and brings back the neglected parts of life and parts of ourselves, even like the scientifically neglected the things that can’t be measured and quantified.

The things that are, are not recognized as real by the dominant narratives. Like spirituality includes those things and brings them back in. And the shadow side is that we escape from materiality into the spiritual. But here again, as incarnate beings, the purpose of spiritual practice is to be more effective and more complete in materiality. That’s why it’s called a spiritual practice. It’s practice for materiality. Cause this is where we are right now, and we have tremendous opportunities that exist. Nowhere else. Nowhere else can you build something beautiful from stone. Nowhere else can you plant a garden. I mean, we have, we have, we’re surrounded by other life here [00:18:00] that’s in this incredible material playground.

So, so the, it it, it is kind of a betrayal of our incarnation to repudiate all of those things and escape into the spiritual plane. So, so that, so there’s two sides of that as well. And, and again, it’s when spirituality becomes an end rather than a means that it it turns dark. 

[00:18:25] Olivia Clementine: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. I love that. I feel like you’ve probably learned a lot from what you were sharing earlier, just even about the the dark period into the, the more self trusting period. Have you learned certain ways of communicating in the last few years where you’re able to both listen to differing opinions and also share with people that have differing opinions? Are there like some some ways you’ve found to, to be in that? 

[00:18:55] Charles Eisenstein: Yeah, I mean there’s all kinds of, of, you know, tips and [00:19:00] skills and things like that. Like for example, the effective use of humor, being sensitive. When to speak and when not. You know, the power of attentive listening and all those kind of things, but it’s not actually so much a matter of skills and tips and tricks and things like that.

It’s much more a matter of, of clarity in myself and connection and being firmly anchored to what I know and to recognize what I don’t know and when I don’t gaslight myself and I am solid in what I know and I know that I know it, and I’m just really clear on that, then paradoxically, I actually have less need to try to convince others of it.

Cuz a lot, a lot of what’s going on when people are always trying to convince other people of their position is that they’re actually not fully solid in it themselves. When you’re fully [00:20:00] solid in it, then you don’t really need to get the confirmation of others. Like a lot of that is I’m right, aren’t I? Aren’t I Well, I don’t need to do that so much anymore. So I don’t have an agenda of getting people to reflect back at me what I know to be true. Instead, I can hold that place of truth and carry it kind of as, as an offering in readiness where if there, if I do sense, like some kind of opening, some kind of receptivity, maybe I’ll say something, but not as a way to conquer that person or to convert that person, but more as a friend.

Oh, you are, you are. impatient at the confines of your worldview. You’re grappling with contradictions here. Here’s something that might be helpful to you [00:21:00] in, in, in that spirit. Trusting that, that each person goes through a natural organic growth process where when they have grown up against the limits of a certain belief system, it becomes confining and the time has come maybe to molt to step into a bigger skin.

And maybe that’s the time where I might offer an alternative narrative where I might confirm a doubt that they are sensing but haven’t been, been able to express yet. So it’s, it’s really like, it is the attitude of a friend, not an adversary. And that, and that is possible when I’ve gone through this internal inventory of my beliefs and where do they come from and what do I, what, what [00:22:00] beliefs are part of who I am fundamentally, and, and that’s the solidity that gives me the patience and not all the time, okay.

But you know, when I am connected with, with my deep knowing, then I become, you know, yeah much less evangelical about it and much more able to, to offer what is needed at that moment for that person, because I don’t need them to change. I trust their ripening process and I trust that. Their set of beliefs has been magnetized to them, according to their state of being, according to the life experiences that they need to have right now. And when those are ready to change, [00:23:00] I’m here as an agent of that change. Plus the other way doesn’t work. You know, you can’t, I mean, everyone’s tried this. Yeah. To, to forcefully convince somebody with an array of evidence and powerful arguments that to change their mind, rarely, rarely does that work. 

[00:23:17] Olivia Clementine: And I guess on that front, what are your thoughts in terms of, you know, there, there’s a sense of deep threat when people are not choosing to do things the way, specifically around the body I wanna ask you about because we’ve had some extreme rulings that have happened this year, you know, Roe versus Wade and, and these kinds of things that are perpetually an issue, right, over history, this isn’t a new thing. 

Ultimately, if people were to have control of everybody’s body and what they do with their body, what is the ultimate desire of that? Like why is there such a longing to have control over people’s bodies and what they do with them?

[00:23:57] Charles Eisenstein: I, I, I think there’s different [00:24:00] tributaries to this river of domination, you know? Part of it is the paradigm of control generally, which measures human progress by our increasing capacity to control the world outside of ourselves. The idea that, that if we could only control the wind and the rain and the bacteria and the soil and, and the genes, and then we would live in paradise.

By the same token, if we could control the actions of every person and incentivize them or threaten them into behavior that maximizes the greatest good for the greatest number, then we would live in a social paradise. That’s, that’s the thing that’s, that’s hard to understand when you look at, you know, the great reset, you know, and Central Bank digital currencies and all of these [00:25:00] you know, smart homes, smart meters, all these ways to minutely surveil and record the action of every person at all times, every transaction, every posting to social media, every conversation, you know, which is, I mean, it could very well be that this conversation right now is being monitored by my phone, sitting over there like, I don’t know what is running in the background. So, so that it seems really nefarious and evil.

But if you are immersed in the mythology of creating paradise through controlling everything and everyone, then it’s totally natural. There’s no malignancy in that ambition. It’s, it’s a I mean ultimately it’s a delusion about the nature of the universe and our role in it. But it seems quite natural that we’re gonna engineer a better society.

Like how do you engineer something? You have to [00:26:00] measure it. You have to measure all the forces involved, and you have to make a plan and, and then enforce that plan. So the, the controlling of other people’s bodies fits very much to that ambition. And then there’s also

I guess issues of identity and belonging and a loss of power and relationship that gives people a hunger to dominate others cuz we don’t feel at home. when, when, when people experience a, a profound loss of control, say as a child, maybe they’re, they’re traumatized and abused very often, as everybody knows, they grew up to be [00:27:00] very controlling and abusive themselves.

So this, this is the almost universal state of human beings in modern society. Even if we haven’t been directly abused by, you know, an adult when we were children, or by a spouse or by some individual abusive person, like the entire system commits this diffuse unremitting abuse actually that is totally normalized that gives us feelings of, of powerlessness and disconnection and alienation. 

Like, for example, I think it’s abuse to take a little baby and put it among, give it to like a totally new caregiver. In daycare for eight hours or nine or 10 hours a day with no explanation, you know? And then among other kids, like the babies they’d never seen [00:28:00] before in an indoor environment.

And then three months later you take them out of that daycare and put ’em into another one, and then another one the next year. And then kindergarten, it’s another one. And then first grade is another one. And like these, these ties, like the baby, naturally forms, ties with this person who’s holding, holding her and loving her and changing her diapers and feeding her.

And then those ties are severed. And that happens again and again and again. I mean, I remember how bewildering it was to go to kindergarten and, and, and distressful, you know? But that’s totally normalized, and I’m not blaming, see, here’s a pattern, is to find the person to blame. That is, is, is part of our programming. It’s not the fault of the parents who put them in daycare. They live in a system that gives ’em almost no choice. 

You know, this is as long as we seek to, to, [00:29:00] as long as we see blame as the key to unlock all of our problems and to write every wrong, we’re always going to be trapped, because that prevents us from seeing the big picture when we’re focused on whose fault is it.

Okay. So, so yeah. So this normalized trauma generates feelings of, of powerlessness, alienation, loss of control that then feeds a control based society where, like, say if it’s the problem is abortion, you know, then the solution, the, the blame is, well, it’s these, you know, mothers. You know and then we have to stop them from doing that.

But, but, and that fixation prevents us from seeing, okay, what is it about our entire society that, that overrides the biological instinct to have and love [00:30:00] children? I mean, naturally we love babies. So where is anybody asking? Like in nature sometimes a mother mammal will eat her own young or like absorb her own young back into the back into her body.

If conditions aren’t right to raise a litter, rabbits do this. Like all kinds of animals do this inhospitable to raising a family that an animal will abort the pregnancy. No. I’ll try later. Try another litter next time. 

Well, we could ask the same thing. What is it about our society that is so anti-life? I mean, this is maybe, you know, the pro-life, pro-choice, like, well, our whole society is in a way anti-life.

Like, like why do you have to send your kids to daycare? Why are children such a burden? Why isn’t the value system [00:31:00] of the whole society gathered around life? Why, why aren’t mothers and, and parents generally, but especially mothers, celebrated and supported and given like every kind of support and every kind of status, why aren’t they the highest status people?

Why are they low status and economically abandoned unless they go out and get a job? Like, those are the questions we have to be asking. and, and those are the questions that the blame mentality, that the victim mentality, that the, the carryover from alienating trauma that leads to the desire to control obscures.

Those are those, those, we never look at those bigger questions. And instead we are incinerating all of our political energy, fighting each other. Blame, blame, blame, blame. And I guess I’m saying [00:32:00] this because I hope that by illuminating these dynamics, we might be able to transcend them. 

[00:32:06] Olivia Clementine: Yeah. And in terms of growth economy, and the relationship between, for instance, what, what you just mentioned mothers being not appreciated, right? Because they’re not contributing in a way, or this against life. It feels like growth economy is the antithesis to living. It doesn’t provide that space. Even though all of our necessities are taken care of, barely anybody has time to live in modern life. Growth economy just feels like a given. It feels like this massive beast that the possibility of not being a part of growth economy feels like a death sentence for many people. Like, if I’m not on that track, I’m gonna get behind and then da, da da, da, da, that I’m not gonna have savings and all the kinds of worries.

I know you’ve been a de-growth theorist and you’ve been a proponent of, of other possibilities. And I’m wondering, would you share some convincing arguments of [00:33:00] other possibilities besides growth economy? Like, what does that look like and, and how would someone engage? 

[00:33:06] Charles Eisenstein: Yeah. We have to understand what growth economy actually means.

In, in economics it means growth in the volume of goods and services that are exchanged for money. So if someone had been a stay-at-home mom and then instead sends the child to daycare and goes out and gets a job, that creates economic growth. A good in service called daycare is being purchased and the mother, the mother’s labor, instead of going to take care of the baby now goes toward, you know, inputting data in an office somewhere.

And that’s a, a service also. So the G D P goes up when this happens, but is anything new [00:34:00] actually created here? What’s, you know now a, a stranger is taking care of the baby, not the mother. But the child, you know, is so, so, so, so basically when the mother’s taking care of the child, playing Patty cake, reading her books taking her to the playground, no one is paying for those services.

So they’re not part of the economy. when a daycare center does that, then they can go to a bank, they can get a business loan, they can say, here’s how we’re gonna make a profit. Like, that’s that. It, it, it, you know, allows capital investment. It allows the economy to, to continue to function. It allows economic growth.

And we’ve seen over the last, well, let’s just say two generations, a very rapid migration of more and more intimate aspects of life into the economy. [00:35:00] But, but are we better off when most cooking is done in supermarket, delis, and restaurants instead of in the kitchen? Are we better off when children are being supervised all day instead of playing pickup games and running around the neighborhood playing hopscotch and jacks and cops and robber? And tag, are we better off then? Are we better off when you pay contractors to do all of your yard work rather than doing it yourself or neighbors helping neighbors do it outside the money economy? So a lot of economic growth, it doesn’t mean that more is being done necessarily. It means that it is part of a money transaction instead of a gift economy.

I’m not sure how much I want to go into economic theory here, but the justification for it is that it’s much more efficient [00:36:00] for, you know, a few daycare center workers to take care of 30 kids than for every mom to do it themselves. Therefore, the, and, and it’s more efficient for the mom to, you know, do her specialized function in the economy so that, that then she’ll have more leisure time because the work of child caring is being done more efficiently. Well, that leaves out all of the things that cannot be contained in efficiency, which is everything qualitative. Like yeah, you can, it is maybe more efficient for a few daycare workers to change all the diapers and to, to, you know, feed the children and do all these, these things that you can quantify.

But can you pay them to actually love the children? Can you buy that to actually be patient, actually take the time, actually [00:37:00] connect authentically to them to actually care? 

No, and that’s the kind of thing that we lose in the world of economic growth. We lose the things that actually make life precious that make it intimate when you outsource intimate functions like cooking and taking care of children to strangers. And I would add to that singing together, like that’s another thing that’s become a paid service or a product. Whereas if you spend time in less developed parts of the world, you notice people sing a lot more.

We used to make our own songs even in, you know, Ireland, if you go especially to the more rural parts in the pubs, what do people do? They sing. We used to sing on the school bus actually, but now everybody’s on their device, so, so this is what eco or you have to understand what [00:38:00] economic growth is. Now we have an, an economy that only works when there is economic growth, which is why I, you know, spent some part of my life writing about economics.

 I wrote a book called Sacred Economics. That asks, okay, what is it about our money system that makes it only function in a context of growth, which means more and more of life entering the realm of services, more and more of nature. Entering the realm of commodities and products like that doesn’t make us better off.

You know, we are not happier or healthier as a society than we were 50 years ago or 70 years ago when per capita, g d p was a third of what it is today. Are we three times happier? No. Economic growth does not deliver the, the promise that is encoded in the word goods. More and more [00:39:00] goods, but that’s not more and more good.

[00:39:06] Olivia Clementine: So much in there. I it’s also tough, right? Like cuz the, the system, the reference to childcare, we used to have communities where other people would also help with children. It wasn’t just on the mother or the father. Right? And that’s a huge, it’s a loss, I think, you know, even going back to the term belonging. Belonging was interwoven into our societies not long ago. Like we didn’t have to think about how to belong. And, and now there’s, you actually have to make the commitment of like, how am I actually gonna belong in my community and what does that entail? How do I actually reweave that? So if I do choose to stay at home with my children, I have a web of other people.

There’s the burden of both not belonging and the burden of how do I actually make these changes so I can be available to my family or my communities in the way I want, where it’s not all on me. 

Right. [00:40:00] Where there is like a larger holding and I’m wondering what your, what you’ve seen in terms of reweaving those webs, right? And, and starting to not feel like it’s all on, on you. 

[00:40:11] Charles Eisenstein: Yeah, it’s not easy. You know, it’s, this isn’t the fault of the parents because if you say, okay, I’m gonna I’m not gonna put them in daycare, as you’re saying, well, what’s left?

It’s not like we have a huge extended family living in the neighborhood, aunts and uncles and grannys and, and, and close friends who will collectively look after the children and, and packs of kids ranging, you know, across different ages that look out for each other. Like, we even had a bit of that when I was a kid.

It was, it was starting to disappear. A lot of kids weren’t outside. They were watching the television indoors instead. But there was still kind of a collective life a community. And when that evaporates, [00:41:00] like you can send your kids outside, but there’s not a kingdom of childhood out there waiting for them.

There’s not a vibrant social life waiting for them. So what are you gonna do? Are you gonna be their friend? Are you gonna be their playmate? You can but it’s a sacrifice because you’re an adult and you wanna also use your gifts for other purposes. And so you send ’em to to daycare. So that, that is kind of a symptom of the loss of community.

And if there’s no community, then, you know, it might actually be better for them. At least they’re, you know, with some other kids, at least they have some playtime during the day. It might be if that, you know, that’s maybe the best choice. So, as you were saying, like that brings us to, okay, how can we create the larger conditions for [00:42:00] beautiful childhood, beautiful life where it’s not just.

Dependent on the efforts of the parents or parent in the single family box. Like once you have it set up like that, then you need actually money to live a decent life. When, when all of the things that were once sourced from community are no longer available from community, you have to source ’em from somewhere.

Either it’s your own reserves or it’s what you pay people to do. So that’s, that’s the larger situation. And how do we return to a healthy society where, where we’re connected to each other again. It’s a long journey and, and I don’t have a shortcut to that, but I know that when we hold that as important and, and sacred, even when we hold[00:43:00] children, being at home among other children in freedom in the outdoors. When we hold that sacred, then at least we have a load star to navigate our choices by. 

[00:43:20] Olivia Clementine: And in terms of gift economy, I’ve been inspired by your trust and willingness. You’re someone who has a few kids, you have people that depend on you, and I’m wondering how the gift economy, how you’re working with it right now in your business and work life, if you’re willing to share, if it’s not too private. 

[00:43:41] Charles Eisenstein: It’s more of, of, yeah. I would say it’s more of, of trusting the principle of the gift. We don’t really have a gift economy right now in developed societies. [00:44:00] But we can take steps. Toward the gift economy and it starts with embracing the principle of gift, which basically recognizes that ultimately everything is a gift.

Our lives are a gift. Our breath is a gift. We didn’t earn it. We didn’t earn the sun, we didn’t earn the water, we didn’t earn nature, you know, we didn’t earn the soil. So, so ultimately, but even our very lives, we didn’t earn our mothers taking care of us, you know, when we were helpless, utterly helpless babies.

So that recognition of gift as the basic operating principle of the universe, which doesn’t say, it’s not to say that we don’t work hard. Giving and receiving ultimately come into balance but to, to recognize that as a basic principle then motivates. [00:45:00] A desire to live by that. And so, and to take steps toward a world that recognizes gift as fundamental, and that is built on gratitude and generosity and sharing.

So what that means for me is that I pretty consistently make all of my work, all of my output, my my words, available without charge. I don’t put things behind a paywall. Even my books, you could find them online. You know, I have ’em on my website if you don’t wanna pay for them. My online programs, same thing. The payment is voluntary, even in-person gatherings. Usually the way I do it, if I’m the one in charge, you know [00:46:00] I’ll have people pay for hard costs, room and board, but the program fee that is voluntary and it comes through trusting comes from like, what, why do I do that, that way? 

For one thing, like if somebody can barely afford to come and, and it’s gonna come out of their grocery money, you know I don’t want that, you know, I don’t want their money.

They need it more than I do. So that’s one piece. The other piece is, how can I say how valuable this will be to you if I charge $200? Like, what if the value for you, what if you’re quite wealthy and the value to you is $5,000? You know? Or what if you’re quite wealthy and you think I’ve just wasted two days of your time and the value to you is zero.

You know, like, like I, I would like to trust that, to trust the generosity and the [00:47:00] gratitude of other people because when I find that, when I step into that way of seeing others, I invite them into that world themselves. And I’m kind of holding a pole a magnetic pole that coalesces the world into its orbit.

 And, and so, you know, over the years it’s worked out so that I have been able to support and raise four children and to do my work through voluntary subscriptions, you know, donations on my website people buying my book, even though they theoretically wouldn’t, don’t have to buy it. Like, you know, it’s, it’s worked for me and I’m not saying everybody should do it the way I do it, but for me, that’s what I’ve been called to do.

And [00:48:00] other people, like, I seriously think that like, you know, like a lot of healers, you know, they wanna work by gift and I’m like, is that really coming from gift or is that coming because you’re not valuing yourself. And so sometimes it’s good to charge money and to like, you know, get that over with and affirm that this is something valuable I’m offering and establish a little ritual called payment. I’m not a moralist, you know, I’m not saying you should, you shouldn’t, you should, you shouldn’t. And this is the right way and this is the wrong way. All I’m saying is that my calling has been to do it this way, and that calling comes from holding the truth of the gift nature of the universe. And as others hold that truth, they might be called [00:49:00] to do the same. They might be called to do something very different.

[00:49:06] Olivia Clementine: You seem, you seem very interested too in process. Like a lot of what you’re sharing today speaks to process versus end goal too. And I’ve heard you say that you like to think about things that nobody’s thinking about. Like if there’s a problem, you like to ask the questions that nobody’s asking. And, and I’m wondering if you have certain methodology around that. Like do you have a, a way that you get to that place of question versus conclusion in your daily life? You know, both in like, just being around people, like being open as well as in your own process of writing and inquiry.

[00:49:50] Charles Eisenstein: Yeah. So I am interested in the forgotten questions, which no one or maybe very few people are asking, or maybe they are asking [00:50:00] them, but not out loud and someone needs to say them out loud. So a lot of the recognition of the exiled questions comes from deprogramming from stepping outside the normal paradigms, belief systems, lenses and habits. Really, it’s really about habits. So I mentioned one of the habits earlier on, which was find the culprit. You know, find the person to blame and that’s how many people reflexively respond when they face a situation of injustice.

 [00:51:00] Or, or something, you know, like, I mean, I could take the, the, you know, pandemic response as an example. Like, and I don’t know about your audience, but I think that there was an awful lot of horrible policy that caused huge amounts of unnecessary illness and suffering. And so the habit is who are the dastardly villains who deliberately perpetrated this crime? That’s the habit. 

Well, if there is any other explanation, you’re not gonna see it. If you’re fixated on finding the dastardly villains. If you put down that lens, then so much more opens up to your vision that had been invisible before. And that’s that. So that’s, that’s what I’ve learned to do, is to put down some of these [00:52:00] habitual rubrics, habitual filters on reality, and then other things become obvious. And, and so that’s just one of them.

Find the villain, you know, find the enemy. There’s a, a lot of these cognitive filters and organizing principles that, that we’ve learned you know, in modern society through our schooling, through our economy through our education and science. A lot of ’em are built into science. Like, like one of them would be find something to measure. 

You know, find the reductive cause look for who’s in charge, you know, as a, as a theory of change. Convince somebody in charge to change something. 

Yeah, there’s, there’s, I’m not gonna try to catalog all of [00:53:00] the these hidden templates and habits, but that’s the basic principle, is that, that then reveals questions that are not being asked. 

[00:53:11] Olivia Clementine: Is it intellectual or is it more sensory based?

[00:53:13] Charles Eisenstein: The, the intellectual part is one layer, but it’s like, if you notice like that you know, who’s the bad guy here? There’s an emotional layer to that. Like you, you, you know, there’s a feeling of, there’s a feeling, you know? Injustice and indignation and, and I’m good. I’m innocent and they’re bad and it’s not fair.

You know, like all of that, that whole corpus of, of emotion and psychology and, and belief like that, that is, It’s actually an injured, it, it goes along with an injured state of being. And the organizing filter [00:54:00] of good versus evil of heroes and villains of us and them is part of a state of that injured state of being.

And so when people go through various kinds of healing, then they’re, they might become much less judgmental, much less vindictive just much less prone to seeing the world in that way. And what has happened is not purely an intellectual enlightenment where they, you know, have gained new tools and seen through the illogic of their old story.

It’s that change has happened all the way down to the bottom. And so the, cognitive layer changes as well. 

[00:54:49] Olivia Clementine: Hmm. Yeah. Is there anything that’s current for you right now? Like a, a particular curiosity that you’re immersed in?[00:55:00] 

[00:55:04] Charles Eisenstein: My, my work goes through kind of inner and outer cycles, you know, and, and right now I’m, I’m kind of, I’ve been in kind of an interface for the last month like, something’s fermenting that isn’t really in words yet.

[00:55:22] Olivia Clementine: Yeah. 

[00:55:22] Charles Eisenstein: So it’s hard for me to talk about that. 

[00:55:24] Olivia Clementine: Yeah, I understand. 

[00:55:26] Charles Eisenstein: Yeah. 

[00:55:26] Olivia Clementine: Yeah. Well, I’m so thankful for your inner and outer process and your willingness to share other, other possibilities. I know it’s been a great gift in my life over the years, and I know for many people it makes a great impact. So thank you for your willingness to, to wander through all of these territories and share them with us.

[00:55:48] Charles Eisenstein: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Thank you Olivia. I, it did seem like we skipped around a lot, but I, I do feel like there’s kind of a unifying, unifying thread there. So I hope, I hope people do come away with [00:56:00] like a feeling of the conversation, you know? That deeper layer, the feeling level, the, the, the transition that our souls are going through that is really into a, a next consciousness and everything from, you know, economics to the way we, we raise children, you know, to politics, to our relationship to the other life forms on earth.

All of that and, and to our belief systems and our opinions, like all of that is part of this transition and I would just end by expressing my gratitude that this is happening to us. And I’m very happy to be alive today.