Dr. Andreas Weber is a Berlin based book and magazine writer and independent scholar. He has degrees in Marine Biology and Cultural Studies, having collaborated with theoretical biologist Francisco Varela in Paris.  Andreas’ work is focusing on a re-evaluation of our understanding of the living. Andreas has contributed extensively to developing the concept of enlivenment in recent years. Andreas has put forth his ideas in several books and is contributing to major German magazines and journals. Weber teaches at Leuphana University and at the University of Fine Arts, Berlin.  Andreas is part of the staff of und.Institute for Art, Culture and Sustainability, Berlin, which is devoted to link the fields of art and culture with the field of sustainability, and to develop exemplary models of productive exchange.


Some of what Andreas shares in this episode includes:

00:00:00 Introduction 

00:02:00 Productivity and ecology of love

00:09:21 Rules of erotic exchange

00:13:00 Looking out to confirm our realness as an obstacles for relationship

00:17:00 Narcissism and success 00:24:00 Meaning of love from Erich Fromm and the risk of acting in accord with reality.

00:28:00 Non-duality, shared pool of aliveness and emotion

00:36:00 Serving others and self-enlightenment.

00:40:00 Hitting rock bottom and receiving gifts through existing 

00:44:00 Being the circle of the gift and the difficulty of trusting our existence as being enough. 

00:53:00 Surrounding and helping each other becoming real.


Portrait of Andreas Weber by Annett Melzer








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RAW TRANSCRIPT Please excuse all errors

Olivia Clementine: I’m Olivia Clementine, and this is Love and Liberation. Today our guest is Andreas Weber. Andreas is a Berlin based book and magazine writer and independent scholar. Andreas’s work focuses on a reevaluation of her understanding of the living. He teaches at Leuphana University and at the University of Fine Arts in Berlin. His books include Matter and Desire, the Biology of Wonder and Biopoetics. Andreas is part of the staff of und.Institute for Art Culture and Sustainability in Berlin.

So I thought maybe today we could unfurl a few areas of the ontology you articulate so artfully, you know, in the realms of relationship, awareness and matter.

Andreas Weber: Just be free to ask in any direction and I try to to, to, to follow you, to, to fulfill the needs expressed in your question. 

Olivia Clementine: That’s the answer you want in any relationship like that, that’s, that’s it right there.

Andreas Weber: Yeah. 

Olivia Clementine: Yeah. That’s wonderful. We’re already beginning just on topic. 

Andreas Weber: So true. (laughter) 

Olivia Clementine: You have this term, the ecology of love and the view of love as an ecological phenomenon. And you say that love is not a feeling, but a characteristic of productive relationship and will you speak on what you find to be a productive relationship? 

Andreas Weber: That’s, that’s a nice question. That’s a nice question nobody ever has asked before. I use some other attributes interchangeably with productive, I could also say fertile or fecund or life giving or, or, or something which is making your life.

So I’m using this not in the sense of capitalist talk or, or efficiency talk or the who, who, who’s, what’s the name of this lady who’s co counseling people on tidying up their rooms and throwing away stuff and, and so it’s, it’s not coming from there. It’s coming from actually the humanist psychology, like Rollo May and Erich Fromm, and Ernest Becker.

So, productivity is is happening in life. It means that it’s, it’s a sort of unfolding which you can also experience so, you know, when you’re productive. And the, the, the Marie Kondo, interpretation is just a very narrow version of what you experience When you’re productive.

Productive means that you are you’re contributing, you’re making life richer your own life and the life around you. And you have a feeling for this. And that’s very interesting. So I’m, I’m using that in this sense, actually in, in the sense of this feeling. And on the other hand, if you’re productive, you, you leave a trace in the world which is visible as more life.

If you’re a gardener and you’re very productive, then you probably have helped your, your fellow other than human plant beings to also be productive. And that’s the way I, I use it actually. And I mean, I’ve, I have a very clear experience of this, and I can absolutely tell you when when an interchange with someone is productive or it’s not productive, it doesn’t mean productive, doesn’t mean that it’s nice, it’s some something else.

It doesn’t mean that I feel a hundred percent safe. I’m the master of the situation. I’m not vulnerable. That’s, that’s not productive. It’s, it’s a different feeling. 

Olivia Clementine: Hmm. Will you say one more line and then what, what is the feeling then? 

Andreas Weber: That’s, yeah. I love this. I love this. So what’s the feeling? Okay, let’s break it down to the, to the core feelings. Like, because it’s actually a very simple, so, so the feeling is a feeling of connection, a feeling of being at home in yourself, a feeling of lightness, a feeling of sweetness, and a feeling of this is just right.

And and if you take these things, then you see that they might not always occur in situations I’ve described as situations in which I understand myself or somebody else, or the whole situation altogether is as productive. But it speaks a lot to my idea that love is a practice and love is actually ecological in terms of it is the right practice of, of forging relations.

Cuz there then there you find these feelings, which, which is, as I describe them, I think you could easily map them back to you. I mean, everyone. To their experiences of moments when they were considering themselves as being in love or loving or being loved. So, so that’s, that’s very much connected.

And so you see, what I’m doing in my work or in parts of my work is actually to, to start from the intuition that, that the term love and the related feelings and the related practice are very important in understanding our ways to relate, our ways of being embodied and fleshed relational beings.

So we need to go there and look at them, but we can’t look at them through the traditional lens of how our western civilization in the last 200 years has conceived of love as either romantic or, or Christian Charity style love. We, we also have to understand in the core, what actually is this the, the, the right way to relate.

So it’s a double movement in a way. So I, I, I see something and I think this is very valuable, but in order to really access it and in order to, to make productive views of it, I need to understand it in a way. It, it really works and not in the way some traditions want to see it. Hmm. As you see, it’s a double movement.

It’s, it’s somehow it’s starting on a terrain, which I know is, is great, but not knowing the terrain, but still knowing it is great. And then by going there mapping out the terrain and And through this finding that which is actually valuable on it. 

I’m really grateful for for your insistence that I the name, the feeling I was talking about, because this is so important in coming into contact with what is real.

It’s, it’s so important. And, and that’s what I always try to do. And I might not always succeed, but if I don’t succeed, I at least have very much the feeling that something is missing. I really try to think with my heart and, and not only to, not at all find abstract classifications, it’s this double, double-sided approach that I, I have this intuition and then I try to understand it.

And if this understanding somehow clicks with my emotions and with the intuition, then I think, okay, that’s something I can use. Or, that makes me happy. And if not, I, I don’t use it. I cannot use it. I need to search again. So. Thanks. It’s great. So if you have another, if you have more of this need, please ask me a try to be very concrete, very specific.

Olivia Clementine: Well continuing kind of maybe to offer a little bit of foundation on some of your theories. You have erotic exchange rules. And I thought maybe we could touch on the first four for the sake of time. If you’re open to that. I can read them if helpful. 

Andreas Weber: Yeah, please. Please tell me the rules. I’ll, I’ll explain them to you. 

Olivia Clementine: Okay. Okay. So first one, every participant can produce their aliveness only by themselves and cannot acquire it through another. 

Two, to experience ourselves as alive, we must bestow aliveness on others. The you precedes the I and then three, the others offering is a gift, not a reward for service.

And four, through giving back this gift, the other who sees me in reality, I can become what I am. 


Andreas Weber: Yeah. That’s very radical actually what I, what I said there. Yes. And okay. Let’s, let’s start with the first one again. Can you, can you read again? 

Olivia Clementine: Every participant can produce their aliveness only by themselves and cannot acquire it through another.

Andreas Weber: Yeah. Well, that’s a very hard one for, for everyone. Who, who, who, who, who, who has, who actually And I mean this, it’s somehow a shared situation of most of us living in, in, in, in the westernized society and in these times that we we are somehow cut off from being alive and actually what all it means also cut off from being productive.

But it means in, in its most basic dimension, it means cut off from being able to simply accept our own real existence as, as it is, as we are. So, so, so that’s, that’s the basic, the basic difficulty, which is it’s truly devastating that this is happening because we accepting that we are real and that we are real in the way we are is the, that’s the ground zero of everything. That’s really the base on, on which, on, on the only base on which you can build any true relationship because that’s the base in, in reality, that’s the base. Of what really is there. It’s the bedrock. So, if you want to build a building, you need to have foundations.

And if you, if you don’t build it, somehow set it on onto the, onto that part of the earth, which is not moving, then it would somehow crash or sink or whatever, get cracks in the wall. All these things, you know, we know from our psyche, from our inner experience. And the interesting thing is, it’s another long story is that, that we are living in this, in this society, which for, for many hundred years or thousands of years is so, so keen on denying to humans that they really can be themselves without danger.

That being themselves without danger is possible and is nice and is non-violent. So this is somehow denied. You could even say, and then I come back, you could even say with somebody, I’m, I’m also quoting in, in my book Matter and Desire the German psychologist and doctor he said that or more or less in the spoke, he said it a little bit different, but I, I paraphrase it in the way that if we’ll be punished, if we understand that our own essence is love. That’s punishable. 

I’m a little bit ahead of myself, so what I’m calling for is actually very difficult to do, and as you probably know it takes a long journey to go there and to at least have a glimpse of the possibility that you can really stay with yourself and that it’s actually great to do so.

It’s the only option we have if we want to relate. To really be with ourselves and start from there. What does not work is asking others to give us that it doesn’t, it never works, although we all try and it always fails. So, so the idea that, okay, I actually can’t, can’t accept that I am real and I don’t like the way I’m real so I need somebody to tell me that I’m okay. That’s what most people do. You can do it in many ways. You can do it by having a great career or by being very powerful or by consuming a lot of gadgets and stuff. So actually all the, all the hallmarks of our capitalistic distraction society somehow are, are made for this.

And, and you can also, you can do it, you can try it in your. Friendships and in your intimate relationships, you can, you can make children so that they can tell you you’re okay. That’s what happens normally. And but it never really works. And so you’re not, if you, if you do it like this, you can’t really build a connection to some somebody else, not a, not a truly productive one.

And a little added comment on, on this observation that having children is an easy way to find somebody who tells you every day you’re okay, is that children who sense that need in their parents, they start to only look at their parents and completely start to be afraid of that, what’s real in themselves if it does not accord with the needs of the parents. So then we have the next generation with a problem with the same problem. 

But somehow it’s, it’s inevitable to trust in your own reality. Another way to put the sentence, I think, if I still remember the sentence correctly actually, is that you can only be in relation if you can be with yourself.

So only if you can truly can be with yourself. You can truly be related. If you cannot be with yourself, you cannot be related. It will always crash. If you’re in a very beginner state stage, you will blame the others for, for it crashing. Mm-hmm. And tell them so they feel guilty.

So it’s, it’s all very bleak, but I think it’s, it’s a lot of this is, it’s not always happening and to everyone, and it’s not, let’s say the, the only thing in, in relationships we have, but it’s, it’s very common. And, and I mean another, cuz you encourage me to do this. Another little path into the, the forest from here is that this is also characterizing human, western human relationship to other than human beings.

This is also the, the, and there it’s even very clear that we, we use and abuse and consume other than human beings for Something that we perceive as necessity for our own being, for our own autonomy. It’s a very dark thing actually. It’s so sort of becoming a zombie and always needing input.

Olivia Clementine: Would you say that we do, that we abuse these non-human beings or unseen beings even potentially because we are not connected to our own aliveness? 

Andreas Weber: Yeah, I mean I should be a bit more careful and, and not make, such a super quick direct connection but it’s the same, it is the same motive, I’d say. And it has to do with our, with the problem of facing the truth of, of who I am in, its it’s bliss and also in its hardship and and finding others who, who we can use in order to fill the gap of that which is not there.

And I’d say that’s, that’s the cultural motive of the occidental abuse of other than human beings. It’s just this, the same motive. So we could also say in the extreme, somebody who refuses to be herself can be diagnosed with narcissism or whatever, borderline all these, all these personality disorders, which are very much similar.

And so our culture is narcissistic, borderline narcissistic in, in their use of others as filling the gaps of their own selves. And there you can also see that clearly if you do so, this is not love. Although you might tell the other, I love you so much, don’t go, I need you. I love you. You know, this combination, which is already, it’s already an oxymoron.

So you already know that somebody who tells you, I need you, I love you. One of the, the two is wrong. And if, if he is compelled to tell you that, then, then the I love you is wrong. Actually, the I need you is, is true. But it, it’s not even true because in true truth, he needs himself and doesn’t know. Yeah.

So I think there’s a, there’s a close connection to this. The tendency of suffering from narcissism in our personal lives and cultural narcissism and as a whole, culture as a whole, civilization and narcissism is a symptom of your suffering, but it’s also making others suffer.

It’s really sacrificing others for the prop self, the false ego. And so it’s not a solution, never but it’s happening. And to me it’s just really striking to see that this, this disturbance, which we find as a concrete situation in so many lives, and so many people have this profound this profound malaise of relating.

You can also diagnose this to a whole civilization. I find this really striking actually. And, and then again in a more concrete term. If you weigh this diagnosis in your hands and then you look at the details of the civilization, you see at, at our times, you see so many narcissistic leaders in air quotes.

Can’t really call them leaders, but people with power. I mean, it’s more or less the norm that people with power are complete narcissists. So what is that actually? It’s one of my suspicions is that actually in order to advance in our hierarch hierarchies, you need to be narcissistic.

So it helps you to be disturbed. And they even, even self-help have books about advertising yourself. If you’re not so successful, you need to talk great about yourself. And so it’s like self-help books, which help you to make yourself a narcissist. If you’re not, if you’re still not one, then you can learn it from books.

Even if you follow this, you, you raise your chances of being successful. I think it’s true. It’s that bad. You really have, have more options. But being successful does not mean being productive in the sense I talked about.

And it doesn’t mean being happy. It, it remains something very hollow. And now you can see, by the way maybe in this example, it shows it quite well that this way of using productive is always a two-sided thing. It’s something which is visible from the outside. So people who have to do with the narcissist, they know that it’s not that productive to be in, in touch with them.

But in, on the inside, it’s also if you’re not productive, you’re feeling bad, actually, you’re feeling empty. You’re feeling, not a self in a way. I don’t really know how it is, but I think it’s actually not a good feeling. It’s something which really makes you run away from yourself trying to find others who, who tell you how, how great you are.

Okay. You need to call me back in the road where, where we have to go. 

Olivia Clementine: Well this is perfect cuz it ties us into the second one. To experience ourselves as alive, we must bestow aliveness on others. The you precedes the I. 

Andreas Weber: How should I start? Is that we, at some point we realize that it goes even further than basing to my own individual truth.

It goes even further than that. Namely, that this truth is somehow only given through others. So it’s not even my truth. It’s, it’s that which is there with me or for me, but it is not something of my making. It’s not something which I truly own, which is it somehow brings us into mystical terrain actually.

And, and it’s something about which I’m thinking a lot right now this experience that that if you completely let go and accept that what you find is not the, the bleak you, which you have been fearing, but you find something which is much more than yourself. So it is somehow not you, but it’s carrying you.

So allowing your aliveness means to honor aliveness in itself, and that means in others. And, and enhancing this in others or, or being interested in this, in others. And, and again, this is it’s something we know, we have this experience. So, so the gardener example from before is that giving these other, the human beings their space will make them blossom.

And then you walk in your garden and you’re completely awed by all this beauty. And it’s the beauty, you gave space by allowing others to be alive. So this is immediately somehow coming back to you and, and embracing you in its bliss. 

It’s somehow a rarity among humans of the early 21st century, unfortunately. But if you really help someone, And he or she is really happy. Normally, it makes you happy. I mean, it, it doesn’t always happen. Like Oscar Wild was already living in the 19th century, he had this famous adage that if you really want to make a friend an enemy, do him a huge favor.

And I, I’m sarcastic right now, but don’t believe that I did not already experience exactly this stuff. Because we have so, such a difficulty of being participants in life, all these things are somehow distorted, and are somehow quirky. But it doesn’t mean that in their way that they do function. There’s a strange and dialectical relationship between being yourself and helping others to be themselves. It goes even so far that Erich Fromm who has very much influenced me can give a definition of what it means to love by this relation.

He says to love means to be interested in the aliveness of another. And I mean, isn’t that a beautiful definition? To love means to have an interest in the aliveness of the others. So an interest means an active interest, an interest in terms of, I work for this. Yeah. And now everyone can with this definition, it’s a little measuring tool like a vault meter.

You can measure the, the voltage of your mains with it. If you experience, don’t, don’t do it if you’re not experienced, but then you can see, okay, it’s 235. And so this sentence is a vault meter for the voltage of your actual relationship. You can see if somebody is interested in your lifeness, it’s easy.

The same, someone who tells you don’t go, I need you. Is he or she interested in your aliveness? Or Are your parents interested in your lifeness? Or is your boss interested? People don’t do this normally. It’s very interesting that we don’t do this. We are not really doing this because it is again, a way of facing reality. And that’s terrifying because if we really come into contact with reality, if we really feel it, then we will act accordingly. We only need to really feel it. So if we really go there, if you really understand that our actual partner is not truly interested in our lifeness it means to take hard decisions.

And we don’t want to take these hard decisions because it’s also somehow nice. Only that there is this nagging feeling that I’m not really myself, et cetera, et cetera. So it’s something we try to avoid. On the other hand, it’s also a measuring device for our own behavior. So how much are we interested in all the life around us. So are we interested in aliveness? Are we actually nourishing aliveness? And of whom am I contributing to the aliveness of these magnificent, I’m looking out of my windows here, I’m sitting in this double bay window of these magnificent still barren trees. Am I really interested in their aliveness?

How much do I contribute to them? So am I loving or not? And, and as you can imagine to me it’s more or less synonymous with am I productive? You see, when I’m productive towards you, it means that I am interested in your aliveness. And at the same time, if I am interested in your aliveness, and I’m productive towards allowing yourself, creating more aliveness for yourselves then the feelings I earlier told which are related to that. They will be in myself, they will be my feelings, and they will also be your feelings by the way, you see. So we, we are somehow tapping in this shared pool of aliveness. And and that’s what, again, in the, in the language of our civilization, then we, we could then identify as love because we have these feelings.

And somehow we would say, okay, these feelings mean love. But you see, if we call them love, and at that moment, all the baggage of our civilization comes tumbling down on our heads and we start to, to have this foggy vision and we don’t understand actually what is going on. And then we think, okay, I have found my love for my life and I can lay back and everything is okay and nothing bad will happen anymore.

And then we kind of step out of this. Of this profound understanding of how productivity in reciprocity makes life going on. And, and we shouldn’t, we should know this. It would help a lot to be more realistic and more giving towards the other. 

Olivia Clementine: Yeah. If I, if we’re coming back to the feeling realm, feeling into what you’re sharing, it feels like if we’re embodied in that experience, if we’re actually in the experience of reciprocity, in the experience of feeling another’s aliveness rather than mental, like, this is mine. This kind of possessiveness. 

Andreas Weber: Oh yeah. Then you’re very far that you are very far from productivity. 

Olivia Clementine: Exactly. Yeah. But it sounds like a training, it’s this retraining of staying with the sensation rather than returning back to mentalizing what is ours and what is not ours. 

Andreas Weber: I think that’s very, it’s very good. And I mean, you’re in, in Nepal, so you’re in the, in one of the hotspots of spiritual training. And as all trainings are, it starts promising and then it becomes very hard. And it pays off only after some time. Because they just simply make you more able to be alive and you never want to lose alive because that’s what we are all, all looking for, because that’s actually what we all have and we know we have. So we want to get, get hold of it, have, have a hold of it, but somehow we can’t. 

But you said something else. Let me think. The difference between, or the opposition between being in this shared space of productivity and having some mental concepts. So we are using the word mental and I think we both know what we are referring to, but I think it is more precise to substitute our common Western use of mental by the word judgmental. Because it means having judgments. And you were talking about what is mine and what is yours. So it is judgments about possessions or rights which are actually po invisible possessions property un material property.

And this is what happens. It’s actually completely different from what I suggest. This is what happens through our education and through the ways we learn to relate. So we, we come to the world and open our eyes very much different from that. But then we are trained in being A good westerner and even people who are not born in the West, they’re trained to be a good westerner because somehow the global theme of civilization is dominated by all this.

And we start to view ourselves in terms of these enclosed areas or containers, and we forget the performative or the processual nature of all our being. We forget that everything we have cannot be enclosed and is not somehow put into, into any box, but it’s always created and it’s only created if it is created together with someone else.

So that’s actually how it is happening, I think. It’s even how it is happening on the biological plane, how organisms are creating themselves in togetherness. But that’s not our imagery. We have completely different metaphors. We have feudal metaphors everyone sitting in, in their own castle and then fighting about about land and about colonies and these things.

It’s really interesting. In trying to follow this, this idea of being productive by allowing the other, their productivity, what you create then is also an emotional space. And interestingly, this emotional space is shared. So you’re working for someone’s productivity and in a way you could say you’re not looking at yourself in this, you’re somehow walking away from yourself. You’re interested in the aliveness of someone else.

And if you are, if you are helpful there or if you’re allowing, there, I don’t speak about doing everything for somebody else. So he, he or she doesn’t need to work. So that’s not what I say. It’s just being allowing of someone else unfolding their aliveness. The interesting thing is that the emotional space is a shared space.

So by this transformation of your interest into the interest of someone else, You share a space. And I think it’s very important. So you’re very autonomous and you’re in a way, not even someone because you’re focusing on someone else, and then you find yourself in this space, which is enjoyable, and in which you are together with someone else here.

In this shared joy, you couldn’t really say, is it your joy or is it my joy? You know? And I think, again, this will remind you of accomplished moments of what in our civilizations idiom, we would call love, is that you cannot distinguish to whom this emotional space belongs.

And that’s actually the great thing about it. So you’re entering into a space of felt productivity. In which there is not a really dual I and you, there’s only a sort of we experienced through from different standpoints. And that’s what we all long for, isn’t it?

I think actually if you get there, it’s a profound experience of the nature of this world. Somehow you’ve reached very much into its insight. And you can only truly somehow keep this connection, if you’re not putting first the idea of at all costs going to this place because it’s so nice there and so that it becomes your personal istic interest. You see the difference? So you, you could also say, okay, I know that there’s this place and it’s so pleasurable and I feel so protected and so ecstatic. I always want to go there as often as I can, and I’m actually looking for partners who allow me to go there. You see? Then, then it completely turns around and then you might be able to go there for short moments, but you can never stay there, so you’ll start to be a haunted being. 

There’s always searching for the next ecstasy because, then you’re on drugs. You’re trying to get the next kick and you can get this through being in relationship, but you, you can never stably truly anchor yourself in a form of shared life. So, if you do it for your own sake, you’ll never obtain it in a way, if you do it for your own sake. If you do it truly because the idea appeals to you that it’s great to help others to be themselves then you can walk there and you walk there with others. 

Olivia Clementine: So if the intention is to allow others to have that experience of aliveness, then that’s a sustainable pathway rather than a personal, continual experience?

Andreas Weber: Yeah, it’s actually a lifeness first, but before I elaborate on that, I’d say that this 180 degree shift of putting myself first in seeking enlightenment, whatever, nirvana that’s the huge misunderstanding of spiritual attitudes of the east by the esoteric west after the 1900 sixties and the spirituality industry we see at the moment, it’s a huge misunderstanding that you do these things for yourself.

It’s not true, and you never get them. You’re just continuously yearning for something. 

And it doesn’t work this way. And it is not meant to be this way. It is meant to be, I think and feel and intuit and have been taught that you are in service of life. So you’re not even in service of the other, you’re in service of life. And this idea the Erich Fromm definition of love as having an interest in the aliveness of another is actually your interest is in the aliveness. And so serve aliveness in the other. And you see, it’s not such a big difference if you serve aliveness and you can serve it in the other, but you’re at the same time immediately, you also serve it in yourself because it’s the same aliveness.

You could say you need to nourish love and not single individualities, but love as such.

If you encounter it through the face of another or through the fur of another or the foliage of another, then it is necessary to nourish it there, wherever you encounter. It’s also necessary to nourish it in yourself. It’s not really different, but, the true difference is actually between serving this something which is not yourself or serving yourself a personal self.

And our times have completely forgotten that there’s something which is inside of any of one of us, and any being actually, which is more than just a self and which is shared by all selves. It’s not part of what we think is important. So all these spiritual seekers who are trying to reach this point of being embraced by bliss and they want it for them themselves, then they’re not only wasting their time, they’re also wasting the aliveness of the cosmos in a way. 

Olivia Clementine: So beautifully said, wasting the aliveness of the cosmos. Well, do you want to go to number three? 

Andreas Weber: What’s that again? I, it’s very consistent. I, I’d love to be, to be this consistent. 

Olivia Clementine: Yeah. Okay. So three is the others offering is a gift, not a reward for a service.

Andreas Weber: Okay. Yeah. It’s another very important term or key word. When I say that the important thing is to care for aliveness as such. Then it becomes clear that you don’t do it for someone specific, not in the last means.

And you don’t do it for yourself. So you don’t do it with any afterthought of getting something out of it. And you do it without any calculation. You don’t do it because of strategic thinking or game theory or whatever. If I do this now, then you can do later. 

This other term, namely gift comes into the scene. So if you imagine yourself at the place of that being In whose aliveness I’m actively interested then what I do or I might not be necessarily doing anything. So my attitude, which is if it is truly helpful for your aliveness, you will perceive this as a gift.

You will perceive this as groundless offering which is just there helping you to flourish. And you might even be angry like it happens at our civilization. That you receive this gift without actually meriting it. You’ve done nothing to, to receive it.

This is at once a profound experience of the cosmos and on the other hand, it’s a profound contradiction to our way of viewing the world where normally, You always need to do something in order to deserve a reward, right? That’s the way we put it. What have I done to deserve this?

Well, actually nothing. You just are and you’re showered with gifts. I think that’s, that’s actually the right attitude. And you see there’s also the link to, if you just are, if you manage to just be, then you’ll be showered with gifts. Let me tell you, it works.

I mean, it sounds mysterious, and it is in a way, but it works. And I think people who really have hit rock bottom in their lives they will tell you that when they were reduced to just being, then very often they somehow received a sort of promise of aliveness or a sort of power, or a sort of happiness coming from nowhere.

I found this in, in many stories. So people need to be, sometimes, not, not every, always, but people, humans, in our circumstances, we need to be told the hard way that it is great to just be, because then you understand that everything is given to you like, like your life in every breath.

You know, you’re breathing while you are sitting here with me and I’m breathing. And the maple tree is breathing and the acaia tree is breathing and the grass is breathing. So you’re breathing and you’re receiving air, which refreshes your body, which keeps you going, which gives you life.

And you get it. What have you done to get this air? Actually nothing. You are, and you receive it. So this is a gift. And the way your cells and the tiny beings within your cell cells build you up in every microsecond against all these breakdowns which are happening in biological organization.

That’s, again, a gift. I mean, your body is given to yourself from life in every microsecond. Just that we completely take it for granted in a way, but we are already immersed in receiving gifts and in terms of your breath, it is even easy to spot where it comes from. And because it comes from the plants, you see, you receive the gift of the plants every three or four seconds when you breathe in.

Isn’t that beautiful? I mean, every three or four seconds you receive the gift of life from the plants who actually don’t stop giving it. Although they had all the reason to say, well, actually, let’s stop this, that the humans are so ungrateful, they are so indecent. We really can’t do this anymore. They can also be very nice, but they have lost all manners and we stop. No, they don’t. So they go on giving and amazingly they even get something back from you. You also give them, Breath, which is your body. So every three or four seconds you’re breathing out. And what you’re breathing out is, as we all know, carbon dioxide, the big problem in the atmosphere. You breathe it out and the carbon, so carbon dioxide, it’s carbon and oxygen, C n o, co2, one carbon, two oxygen atoms, and the carbon in this. And I’m, I’m not charring of repeating this. I’m always saying this because it’s so mysterious and so simple. The carbon is you. That’s your body. It’s your body.

You’re breathing out your body, and it’s replenished by your food, but it’s not your food, which is burned, which goes out of your mouth, like out of an exhaust tube of a car. No, no, no, it’s not, it doesn’t work like this. It’s your body. So you’re giving your body to the plants. I think it’s relatively radical.

You see, you’re giving your body to the plants, so you’re doing that, which you will do after you die. And you’re also giving your body to the plants and to so many more little persons. But you’re doing it already. You’re already doing this, and you do it even without questioning because you, you have no say in it because happily, it’s very, it’s very fortunate actually that, that our bodies are much more intelligent than our judgmental minds.

So your body knows that it’s great to give this gift and you see, you get a gift in return, but you don’t get the gift in return because before you have given , it’s not that. You just can’t help and the plants can’t help. And so it’s all there. And if you’re thirsty, you can drink.

Maybe not really because you’re living in the 21st century and the forever chemicals in your tap water. But it wasn’t always like this. It’s not the, let’s say the, the real state. It’s, it’s the disturbed state by capitalism.

Capitalism is actually taking those gifts given by those persons who can’t help giving and transforming them into death in my own pocket. That’s what capitalism does. It will exist as long as there are persons who can’t help giving. So it will exist as long as there’s still one little life.

Only when every life has expired, then capitalism will expire. Well, let’s see. Maybe we can shake it off before some will be able to shake it off before. What I’m talking about in my work is that if we really, truly look deeply enough, then we understand that we are living in the circle of the gift.

That’s how Lewis Hyde, the American philosopher and, and essayist calls it in his very beautiful book on the gift. So we are living in the circle of the gift. We are the circle of the gift. Your body is the embodied circle of the gift. Your body is also the embodied watershed and the embodied water circle.

And so it is the natural consequence or the, the necessity of understanding how we do exist, how we are to to procreate this form of existence in the way we are construing our relationships. So it means we need to repeat this, this form of giving. And if we understand this, then we also know that we will always be given when we give.

So you see, there’s a profound trust built into understanding this. And it’s this trust, which is so difficult for all of us to surrender to. Just yesterday I had a long discussion with my students in my seminar I’m teaching about this. And they came up with this idea of trust, which wasn’t even in the text we were talking about.

It was there, but it was never mentioned as a term. And they somehow found it and they were kind of like so incredulous that there can be cultures who obviously have this. Light footed trust that life is just carrying them. And we don’t really manage to go there and say, okay, and I know because I, I, I also, I’m also struggling and maybe I’m struggling on a level of a certain awareness, but I’m also struggling to understand that I have really have no influence in what I will be given.

Only that if I understand that I am part of this circle, that life becomes so much better for everyone around me. Somehow the answer is just a footnote to the answer, to the first question again. It’s very much about accepting to truly exist and then so many things come with that, which are not logical in the sense, but they come on an experiential level. And then the world shows how it is in a way we somehow did not dare to expect. And then it is like this and you say, wow. So it truly is like this.

It’s incredible. Mm-hmm. 

Olivia Clementine: Yeah. It’s so true. And should we review number four? Because it’s tied into this? 

Andreas Weber: Yeah. The good thing is, I, I always forget the questions until you ask them again. So what is number four? 

Olivia Clementine: Well, it’s, it’s interesting cause you, they’re all weaving into each other as well, but 

Andreas Weber: yeah, Well they’re actually, they’re like Different perspectives on the same thing.

I, I realize. Yeah. Yeah. It’s always, when I start making these points, I think in writing, they’re, they’re kind of like, okay, I can see, look at it from this perspective, and then I can look at it from that perspective. But it’s the same thing. Okay. 

Olivia Clementine: Number four. Through giving back this gift, the other who sees in me reality, I can become what I am.

Andreas Weber: So you see, it’s also these four, these four sentences are so sort of a letter of trust. You can climb up. And the interesting thing is that, that your relationship to yourself doesn’t work through insisting on your own autonomy in being cut off from others. So fortifying yourself that that is not the way to go there.

The way to go there is by opening up and and risking yourself giving away yourself. That’s interesting. The the way it works. And I mean, as I’m not doing these things the theoretically, but always on this experiential level, I really have experiences on that, which I know that it works like this.

Mm-hmm. It’s not always open and possible, so I’m not here to tell you do it like me, and then it, it’s not at all but I’m practicing. I’m training. 

Olivia Clementine: In a moment, yeah, in relationship with a being, when you’ve found yourself, you know, maybe your feeling world wants to merge with another being but there’s a part of you that maybe feels afraid to open up, you know, to not withhold love, what are some ways you’ve risked? 

Andreas Weber: Well, yeah, I mean, I sense limits to what I’m talking about really.

When I feel that I am not willing to to give away that, which needs to be given away, that’s when I see there’s a limit, and then it’s also an important point because it’s a checkpoint where you can also check is this relationship, is it worth that or am I being exploited? I mean, if you put yourself into the giving mode, it attracts all sorts of scammers who sense, oh, well there’s somebody in the giving mode that’s fantastic. It’s like walking through a crowded shopping mall with your money half hanging out your back pocket somehow.

Then it’s also a moment to stop and ask yourself is it you or is it me? But even if you say, okay, so obviously it’s me, I’m somehow hesitating. I mean, then there’s the point where sometimes it’s difficult to do it, and I know these points .

It’s very sad to realize that there was an instance I didn’t go there. I refused bliss by being, by being too afraid to be radical. What also happens is that you can misunderstand the needs of somebody else and or project your own needs on them, and then think you’re doing a great job and you’re not doing it. Actually, it’s also a possibility, but there’s always the way of being open and of asking and of becoming real.

You know, like you suggested right at the beginning when you said, okay, now you’re talking about this, but could you please describe your feeling? You know, that’s it, it so much helps if you do this and I’m actually doing this routinely now in teaching settings. I start with a check in with our feelings.

How are you feeling? How’s everyone feeling? And changes the atmosphere and some don’t know, some probably don’t want to say some what’s, what’s truly going on. But most actually people are after this, the first little block, then they start to be really keen on becoming real when they sense that, okay, I can do it here.

Then they become loquacious and full of feeling. And I mean, this is something you can always try to come into contact with truth. I’d say you won’t always succeed, but it’s always there as a possibility. Become real. Try to be real. And there’s so much power coming with that.

And there’s so much healing coming with that. Although there are also so much tears coming with that, but they’re the healing also. I think it was Thomas Merton, the Catholic US American Catholic mystic. How did he put it? Something like, the sacred person is the person who is totally true to him or herself. That’s actually the meaning of it.

And then, then again, Wilhelm Reich, the German American psychologist, I quoted at the beginning, shortly after the beginning said something very similar on the historical person of Jesus Christ. He characterized him as being completely true to himself so that he had to be killed because being completely true to yourself means that you are able to love. And then you need to be killed in this civilization cuz you’re not allowed to be truly able to love. And if you’re true to yourself, then you accept this. So it’s a slightly different interpretation of the historical figure.

Not completely in line with the canonical church interpretation but I think it’s very fertile. So what I want to say with this is that there will be much mistakes on your way if you try this, but what counts is the sincere following of what you perceive to be real. That’s the thing which counts and the attitude to really surrender to this reality and showing up in yourself. And so it has to do with surrendering, but then in the end that which is alive in yourself is not something you own. It’s not something you own.