Before they are able to enter a new story, most people - and probably most societies as well - must first navigate the passage out of the old.
In between the old and the new, there is an empty space. It is a time when the lessons and learnings of the old story are integrated. Only when that work has been done is the old story really complete.
Then, there is nothing, the pregnant emptiness from which all being arises.
Returning to essence, we
regain the ability to act from essence. Returning to the space
between stories, we can choose from freedom and not from habit.
The more I did, the worse it got.
So I finally gave up the
effort and just sat there on the couch, a baby strapped to my chest,
mentally traveling through the book I had written, but with no
agenda whatever of figuring out what to write. It was from that
empty place that the conclusion arose, unbidden.
It is the source we must return to if we are to be free of the stories and habits that entrap us.
The old world falls apart, but the new has not emerged.
Everything that once seemed permanent and real is revealed as a kind of hallucination. You don't know what to think, what to do; you don't know what anything means anymore.
The life trajectory you had plotted out seems absurd, and you can't imagine another one. Everything is uncertain.
Your time frame shrinks from years to this month, this week, today; maybe even to the present moment. Without the mirages of order that once seemed to protect you and filter reality, you feel naked and vulnerable, but also a kind of freedom.
Possibilities that didn't even exist in the old story lie before you, even if you have no idea how to get there.
The space where
the old world falls apart
but the new has not yet emerged.
Our culture wants us to move on, to do. The old story we leave behind, which is usually part of the consensus 'Story of the People,' releases us with great reluctance.
So please, if you are in
the sacred space between stories, allow yourself to be there. It is
frightening to lose the old structures of security, but you will
find that even as you might lose things that were unthinkable to
lose, you will be okay.
It is not that you won't lose your marriage, your money, your job, or your health. In fact, it is very likely that you will lose one of these things. It is that you will discover that even having lost that, you are still okay.
You will find yourself in closer contact with something much more precious; something that fires cannot burn and thieves cannot steal, something that no one can take and that cannot be lost. We might lose sight of it sometimes, but it is always there, waiting for us.
This is the resting place we return to when the old story falls apart. Clear of its fog, we can now receive a true vision of the next world, the next story, the next phase of life.
From the marriage of this
vision and this emptiness, a great power is born.
This is a pretty good description of a place we are approaching collectively. Those of us who have, in various ways, left the old 'Story of the People' are the organs of perception of the collective human body.
When civilization as a whole enters the space between stories, then it will be ready to receive these visions, these technologies and social forms of interbeing.
When we collectively enter
the space between stories,
we can reach new potentials.
At the present moment, most people still tacitly believe that the old solutions will work. A new president is elected, a new invention announced, an uptick in the economy proclaimed, and hope springs anew. Maybe things will go back to normal. Maybe the ascent of humanity will resume.
Today it is still possible, without too strenuous an effort of denial or pretense, to imagine that we are just in a rough patch.
We can get through it, if
only we discover some new sources of oil, build more infrastructure
to ignite economic growth, solve the molecular puzzle of
autoimmunity, deploy more drones to protect us from terrorism and
crime, genetically engineer crops for higher yields, and put white
colorant in cement to reflect the sun's rays and slow global
As I will describe later, this does not imply that the activist should focus on obstruction.
Doing nothing arises
naturally from the breakdown of the story that had motivated the old
doings, calling us, therefore, to do what we can to hasten that
A bunch of bureaucrats and leaders will be sitting around, wondering what to do about the new financial crisis.
All the usual central bank policies, bailouts, interest rate cuts, quantitative easing, and so forth will be on the table, but the leaders just won't be able to bring themselves to deal with it.
arises naturally from the breakdown
of the 'old story' and the 'old doings.'
As I described with the examples of disarmament and permaculture, we are lost in a hell-scape carrying a map that leads us in circles, with never a way out.
To exit it, we are going to have to drop the map and look around.
What once made sense, makes sense no longer.
You are beginning to withdraw from that world.
Society does its best to persuade you to resist that withdrawal, which, when resisted, is called depression. Increasingly potent motivational and chemical means are required to keep us focused on what we don't want to focus on, to keep us motivated to do that which we don't care about. If fear of poverty doesn't work, then maybe psychiatric medication will.
Anything to keep you
participating in business as usual.
'Depression' manifests in the economic sense, as the instrument of our collective will - money - stagnates. No longer is there enough of it to do anything grand. Like insulin in the insulin-resistant diabetic, the monetary authorities pump out more and more of it, to less and less effect.
What would once have sparked an economic boom now barely suffices to keep the economy from grinding to a halt.
Economic paralysis could indeed be the way this 'stop' appears. But it could be anything that makes us give up our story and its enactments, once and for all.
I am drawing here from the Taoist principle of wu-wei. Sometimes translated as 'non-doing,' a better translation might be 'non-contrivance' or 'non-forcing.'
It means freedom from reflexive doing:
Action is thus aligned with the natural movement of things in service to that which wants to be born.
can be translated as 'non-doing,' or better yet
'non-contrivance' or 'non-forcing.'
In this, I draw inspiration from a beautiful verse from the Tao Te Ching.
This verse is extremely dense, with multiple meanings and layers of meaning, and I haven't found a translation that highlights what I'm drawing from here.
Therefore, the following is my own translation.
It is the last half of verse 16 - if you compare existing translations you will be astonished at how much they differ.