How is it
That we humans can compose symphonies,
and send men to the moon and back
as we slash and puncture
our Mother Earth,
Loot her “treasures” and scatter her “dross”;
rally our Tribe to slay those “others”,
while “lower” life forms become collateral damage
as if our survival did not depend on theirs?
How do we disentangle the “good” from the “bad”
as we renovate our corrupted systems
on the fly?
Not by denying the terrifying yet alluring future,
but by undertaking that path
which is ours and ours alone to forge
with mature, unblinking, heartfelt determination –
by getting out of the grandstand and onto the playing field.
That’s only the first step.
We are the launch crew of the New Republic of the Heart “Voices” blog. We are proud to present a group recital of the introduction from Terry Patten’s book, A New Republic of the Heart that has grown into the New Republic of the Heart community.
A New Republic of the Heart was written by author-activist Terry Patten during the 2016 United States election cycle and aftermath. He demonstrated keen insight and perspective at a time when most of us were still in shock.
But a New Republic of the Heart is more than a tale of American politics. Much, much more. It’s about the showdown being waged between our outworn, catastrophic actions and attitudes, and a way forward which has the potential to lift us out of the abyss, into a dazzling future.
The fate of our children, grandchildren, and everybody’s grandchild, born or unborn, is at stake.This shared fate will be decided, not by the world leaders or the ultra-rich, but by our collective action—or inaction.
So how is it that we, the most intelligent creatures to walk on this earth, have created so many magnificent works, and yet now find ourselves so close to self-destruction?
In A New Republic of the Heart, Terry Patten addresses this existential issue head on, and prescribes steps to make a soft landing in that better place, starting from where we are today.
We will now read a selection from the forward by prominent British author and scholar Andrew Harvey, followed by some of the brilliant nuggets of wisdom contained in Terry’s introduction to his seminal masterwork, A New Republic of the Heart.
We earnestly hope that our sampling will inspire you to check out this path leading to the future that we yearn for, and know is possible. Your grandchildren, and all grandchildren, will thank you.
by Andrew Harvey
(p. ix) The book you hold in your hands will take you on a journey that will awaken and liberate you. And it will empower you to change the world. I’m delighted to welcome you to a rare, sober, deep, spacious, seriously humorous conversation—a conversation many of us are longing for and trying to have. Terry Patten’s passionate intelligence calmly cuts through our consensus trance and speaks directly to what really matters right now. The voice of this book penetrates our collective sleep and awakens us from the dream.
(p. x) This book defines a new genre—it is a work of social commentary and a deep practice book; it is a brilliant synthesis of evolutionary neuroscience, integral theory, deep ecology, and spiritual wisdom. And it is a compelling call to inspired social activism. This is a truly consequential conversation about what is really happening, and what most matters in our time.
(p. xi) This book concludes by addressing us very directly about the open-ended nature of its sacred call. It is an initiation into a never-ending commitment and a never-ending cooperative adventure in becoming “the ones we are waiting for.” It acknowledges that many of us are already doing this work. And yet it also sees into and calls forth a future of integration that is still unrealized.
(p. xii) This is a major work of pioneering originality, accomplished with great intellectual grace and profound sacred passion. Enjoy it and be changed.
INTRODUCTION: What’s Really Happening?
by Terry Patten
(p.1) Our times are strange and wondrous—so strange and so wondrous that they far outstrip our comprehension! Even as we are verging on world-changing breakthroughs in science, technology, consciousness, cooperation, and leadership, we’re also verging on catastrophic breakdowns of our planetary ecology, as well as our cultural cohesion, economic and social order, and, of course, our politics. It is wild, significant, inspiring, and terrifying that this is all happening simultaneously. We are clearly approaching a moment of truth.
(p. 2) Although I feel chilled to the bone by some of what we might be facing, I am also uplifted and inspired to behold our most dramatically positive possibilities. It is becoming a cliché to state that we’re in a race between consciousness and catastrophe. So my focus is not on laying odds. It is on the inner work that can enable us to do the outer work of navigating this time of transition in the best ways possible.
BOOM OR DOOM?
(p. 3) Two compelling and mutually conflicting metanarratives, each with conflicting views of our predicament, are in competition among intelligent observers. The first is optimistic. It is a narrative of continual survival, adaptation, transcendence, and progression. In this view, our technological and cultural advances are entering a period of game-changing exponential acceleration.
(p. 4) The second, equally influential metanarrative is pessimistic and socio-ecological. It sees a more primitive and instinctual power as the dominant force driving both our development and our degeneration, and ultimately determining our fate. This darker side of that raw evolutionary energy or Eros manifests as an unquenchable and compulsive drive for survival, dominance, adventure, acquisition, conquest, consumption, and control.
(p. 4) My life and work have been fueled and inspired by the optimistic evolutionary metanarrative. But I’ve been shaken, sobered, and educated by my intensive study of the science and journalism supporting the pessimistic metanarrative, which more realistically accounts for the latest current data. The history and evolution of humankind, and even of each individual life, reveals a struggle between the forces and effects of the evolutionary-creative Eros and the instinctual-power Eros.
(p. 4) And while we may place our hopes in the first narrative, we cannot dismiss the mounting evidence that supports the second. No one can know for sure which of these metanarratives will shape our future. We are suspended between two antithetical possibilities, as well as a spectrum of possibilities between the two extremes. I believe that even though certainty is beyond our grasp, we are the prime actors in the drama. And even without any certainty, we can greatly influence the outcomes.
(p. 5) (That means that) I must remain “in conversation with” the leading edges of the dark ecological narrative, and with the leading edges of the humanistic technological narrative of progress. At the same time, I do well to stay close to the insight that even though I care deeply about the future of life, I can trust reality itself (however much death and loss it may contain) never to really be a “problem.” Regardless of its nature, the future is not a dilemma, and it doesn’t need to be solved. And this does not change another truth: I want to pay attention when what I love is threatened.
WHAT WE CAN DO
(p. 6) We know that both the worst and the best in human beings, and our potential for rapid radical change, all emerge in times of crisis.
(p. 6) Technological and scientific breakthroughs will create openings for fundamental change. They will be a necessary part of the path forward, but they are not sufficient. The same is true of the wisdom born of high states of consciousness. And it is true of enlightened organizational practices. Leadership in any of the ways we have understood it until now will be crucial, but it too will not be enough.
(p. 6) What will be required is “whole system change”—a broad transformation of all human civilization. That’s enormous and unprecedented, so of course it will take a while. It implies constant transformation and aliveness, inner and outer. To take this seriously on a personal level is to confront an impossibly grand imperative. In effect, our predicament is calling on us to simultaneously volunteer for the supreme commando raid behind enemy lines and to join a metaphorical monastery and give up our lives to the wholeness that sustains us.
(p. 7) Our thriving may depend most of all on our courage and generosity, our ability to defy our fear, to be happy for no reason at all, to cooperate with others locally in our community, and to bounce back creatively after traumatic setbacks. These are the kinds of virtues—and the kinds of bonds— that will probably really matter.
(p. 7) We can choose to act on the basis of what is best in ourselves. We can try to engineer and serve a comparatively “soft landing” to our overheated, turbulent trajectory, a benign transition from gross unsustainability to a sustainable human presence on our planet. And we can care for one another, even under the worst-case scenarios. In any event, we can wake up together into responsibility instead of sleepwalking into apocalypse.
(p. 7) In this pivotal moment of truth for our species, a whole wave of radical conversations is inevitable. For these conversations to really make a difference, we must break through our personas and our inauthentic poses. This is a deeper level of discourse than has hitherto seemed thinkable in public—disarming, tender, and authentic. To my knowledge, we have never had such public conversations.
(p. 8) Any such conversation requires an extraordinary degree of intelligence, freedom, clarity, and intimacy—and perhaps it can only take place in a moment of supreme urgency like this one. But now the stakes for humankind are our collective fate—a life-and-death choice. As Samuel Johnson noted, “Nothing clarifies a man’s mind so much as the knowledge that he shall be hanged in the morning.”
(p. 8) Important conversations will refine practical solutions to our current social, political, economic, and environmental crises. Some among us have already been having those conversations for years. But they haven’t yet produced the urgently needed outcomes. Those conversations will deepen, extend, and continue.
(p. 9) When we emerge from the isolating trance of our fragmented subcultures and begin to act with others with the understanding that we really are all in this together, something important happens. We enter together into a profound shared experience. We enter into a new consciousness and creativity that are not available to lone individuals. No one, regardless of their enlightenment, can be what many of us can be when we are awake together, united in consciousness, vision, fellowship, care, and purpose.
(p. 10) This book represents my attempt to complete the enormous unfinished work of my generation. We may not be able to leave behind as healthy a planet as we were given. But I wish to bequeath to my son, and all our daughters and sons, a supremely valuable legacy. I hope this book can be a catalyst—one of many—to help us grow into the new version of humankind that is envisioned here.
(p. 10) My hope is that, having read this far, you will choose to enter this conversation. For me it is a first step in a process of building connections, conversations, relationships, and communities that both nourish and embody the higher potentials of our species—one that will provide a solid integral foundation on which we may begin to build together, in the clear, pure words of Charles Eisenstein, “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.”
A BRIEF TOUR THROUGH THE BOOK
(p. 10) This book reflects my own process of coming to terms with our current planetary crisis in all its complexity and uncertainty, exploring the nature and implications of global citizenship, and clarifying a radical new understanding of practice and activism. It addresses not only the external crisis but all the internal processes by which we understand—or fall short of understanding—what is truly going on, and by which we become the change we want to see in the world.
(p. 10) Part One establishes the multidimensional context. It summarizes our cataclysmic ecological predicament, the wholeness underlying our interconnected, more-than-human world, and the evolutionary and integral visions that establish a basis for a more integrated consideration of how we live meaningful lives in a time of crisis. It synthesizes important insights and ideas that readers can also find in other contexts.
(p. 10) Chapter One surveys our critical evolutionary predicament and crisis, including both its perils and promises—from the state of Earth itself to the trickiness of understanding our situation clearly, including the wickedness of the problems themselves as well as how our own brains and psyches make it maddeningly hard to fully understand and effectively respond to them.
(p. 11) Chapter Two faces the sober facts, and responds with activism. Appreciating the gift of life, and loving life, we allow our hearts to be pierced by the maddening situation we find ourselves in; we consider how we can ground ourselves in an unconditional happiness that doesn’t depend on “reasons” to be happy; and, finally, we consider the esoteric anatomy of activism—the absolutely complementary nature of inner and outer work.
(p. 11) Chapter Three considers reality’s undivided wholeness—the most basic, obvious, and elusive truth about ourselves and our environment—and how our usual approach (especially in “civilized” societies) is to bypass this perspective in favor of endless fragmentation and analysis, which contributes to the pathology by which we have wrought ecological havoc on our whole planet.
(p. 11) Chapter Four views humans in the context of our sweeping evolutionary story and sees into this pivotal moment when we shift into a much accelerated evolutionary future.
(p. 11) Chapter Five introduces an integral way of understanding our multidimensional reality, appreciating how all human perspectives are partial views of a larger truth. Beyond the cognitive, emotional, and spiritual limitations of our typical fragmented thinking are more holistic perspectives that offer a basis for a “radical integral ecology.”
(p. 11) My original thinking is largely concentrated in Part Two, which explores an integral understanding of the nature of individual and collective spiritual practice, purpose, social responsibility, and evolutionary activism. These explorations point the way toward an integrated practice that is both personal and social and that enacts whole-system change—a process that is profound, radical, and all-inclusive. I explore how we can begin right where we are, in our relationships with one another—and in our conversations—to seed a broad-based cultural transformation.
(p. 11) Chapter Six describes integral practice grounded in the awakening of free consciousness and love. It unpacks the holistic understanding of life, the humble, curious, joyous disposition, and the flexible improvisational disciplines of a comprehensive, integral spiritual practice—and how it becomes a creative relationship to life’s unfolding that can inform every new moment.
(p. 12) Chapter Seven explores the unique adventure of practice that unfolds for each individual soul, and how it can enable us to live our deepest purpose, which we can often best understand through old stories, archetypes, and metaphors.
(p. 12) Chapter Eight shows how such holistic inner work expresses itself creatively in all kinds of outer work that creatively address the need for whole-system change and the multidimensional nature of culture and society. Evolutionary activism can take a multitude of forms, including in-the-system political activism, protest against the system, and activism that obviates government, going around the system. We look at four specific examples, and consider a broad range of integral approaches to political change.
(p. 12) Chapter Nine looks at the powerful synergies activated by communities of practice, as a source of hope for the future, and describes the tender, fierce, passionate nature of authentic communication, as well as the lessons learned through the integral community’s experiments with “we-space.” Here we begin to speculate about how this new tribalism will shape our near future.
(p. 12) Chapter Ten explores the nature and effectiveness of conversations, and the structures and boundaries that attend to them. It considers what it takes to engage deep, generative mutual exchanges, and explores significant conversations about the human future that are taking place within three groups of leading-edge thinkers—but that need to be happening between the groups.
(p. 12) Chapter Eleven is about our unique role, in this place and time, for transforming civilization and planetary life. We are “it,” whether we like it or not, and it is up to us—through our inner and outer work—to enact all necessary changes for creating a living, sustainable, exciting future. This work expresses who we truly are and it will go on forever, even “after it’s too late”—which it never is.