Thursday, January 29, 2015

Is the Big Breakdown-Breakthrough Moment Almost Here?

I'm sure most of the people who would read my blog have heard of Charles Eisenstein, who is very hot on the circuit these days. I have been following his posts with interest, particularly because I feel his work on "the new story" is in alignment with Enough. But I've noticed something else. He is yet another prominent person who is admitting he does not have a clear vision of the way forward.  In a 3 post series he shares the story and aftermath of a near mutiny at his retreat in Bali.   He is supposed to be the expert, people are coming to him for answers he does not have. They are angry and frustrated. They want him to take charge of the group.  Through his posts, he is trying to come to terms with not knowing how to fix it and how to find the silver lining, the breakdown-breakthrough.  I witnessed a similar near-mutiny at the New Story Summit at Findhorn in late 2014 during which "mutineers" in the middle of the night had littered the stage with post-it notes spelling out "We don't know."  I use the term mutineers lightly because I believe they were divinely inspired truth-tellers, people who were courageous enough to face their uncertainty, discomfort and pain and to name it.  

Last winter, Margaret Wheatley was having what seemed like an existential crisis of her own, so went on extended retreat at Pema Chodron's convent up in my neck of the woods.  She wrote that she was losing faith in humanity as not much had changed since she first wrote Leadership and the New Science.  I predicted the fall of the expert paradigm when I wrote the  "Expert to Essence" section of my book three years ago. But it seems to be happening now with increasing public regularity.   These are tough times to be an expert, particularly in the higher consciousness community for which the expert paradigm is quickly losing relevance.

I know by all outer measures, the world seems pretty grim right now, and change seems to be happening far too slowly to meet the enormity of the challenges we face.  But I see every reason for us to feel optimistic about the future because I am looking in different places, the places that I believe birth the future and offer the kinds of solutions we cannot even imagine yet.   I see that much has changed in the subtle (causal) realm and feel the pulse of the spiritual women's movement quickening significantly just beneath the surface. I witness profound inner and outer breakthroughs every day in those who are dedicated to their spiritual growth. I see thriving social movements and green businesses finding firmer footing and more fans.  I see people moving out of jobs and relationships that no longer fit. I see people being less materialistic and more introspective. I see technology making it cheaper and easier for people with similar visions of the world to come together and to collaborate. But perhaps the greatest breakthrough is in our increasing ability to directly access what Rumi called "the field" and Rupert Sheldrake called "the morphogenetic field."  Ideas that come from this place are fully, instantaneously formed. They come from outside the box of our current Never Enough mindset, instead drawing from the well of abundant enoughness and connectivity.   One small example of this:  it is from this place that the Enough Message © came to me.

Despite acknowledging that the Enough Message was accessed from this divine field of awareness,  I still cannot assess the Enough Work without obvious bias. I have been its scribe and guinea pig for three solid years, so have a personal relationship with it that disqualifies me from possessing true objective perspective.    But I've never felt a more opportune moment for the simplicity and optimism of the Enough Message. From what I understand about the Enough Message, it is not complicated what we need to do to flip the paradigm.  All we lack at the moment is a simple common focal point for action, a shorthand if you will, a way to feel we are all in this together. The 60's had the peace sign. We need the equivalent of a peace sign for our present time.   I get a strong feeling that Enough could be that symbol because it is not a prescription but an inner, personal assessment of ourselves and the world.  Your enough is not my enough, so defining Enough invites participation, relationship and co-creativity.    At a time when even the experts are doubting themselves and some of the most popular TED speeches are about shame and vulnerability, I think we may very well have reached the breakdown-breakthrough  - the "enough is enough" - moment where "I'm not enough" is so intensely painful and so in our collective experience, that we are ready to do something radically different to shed it for good. 

In his post below, Charles searches for an answer to the question, "What should we do?" I love his description of how we cannot seem to find peace with whatever we try to do, and why, no matter how hard we try, we feel that we are failing.  I would add to his vivid map of the "I am not enough and am not doing enough" landscape, that the game is rigged by the Old Never Enough Story itself.  I would suggest that  believing "I am not enough and am not doing enough" is the cause of our ineffectiveness and not merely a symptom. Our embeddedness in the Never Enough belief system is like finding ourselves in a pool of molten tar. From within it, we cannot move far or quickly. But who is to say how quickly and effectively we would be able to take action from outside of it?  For most of us, the "not enough" limiting mental model of ourselves takes root long before we even reach kindergarten and certainly long before we have the capacity to challenge its validity. And so we ingest its poison without even knowing it, limiting our potency and effectiveness as change agents despite all our efforts, insights and good intentions.

Enough as a new sign of unity could express a refusal to internalize "never enough" disempowerment, victimhood and disenchantment ever again.  Enough could be a statement of conscious divestiture from old structures and old systems that abide by an exploitative, destructive  "Never Enough" ethic. But the most powerful potential for Enough as a symbol of unity is when we use it to claim and define the beautiful vision that we do want - enough for ourselves, enough for our communities AND enough for our planet. If we claimed this more complete, whole enough as a group, and held governments, companies and institutions to OUR standard, the world would have to meet us where we are - in a place of expanded consciousness where we only choose to be in relationship with people and institutions that pay it back and pay it forward.

See Charles' most recent post below.  (red accent added by me):  
Previous posts in his series:

Wasting Time

I'd like to comment on one of the responses to my piece about the breakdown followed by the powerful emergence at the retreat in Bali. The commenter said:

I haven't read the full story but my thought is this. Why are they wasting time moaning about the cutting down of the forests, and use that 4 days reflective time to stop it fucking happening? And use the money that they have spent getting there to buy some of it?

I quote this, because it is a question I ask myself every time I lead a retreat, or even speak at a two-hour evening event. It is also a question many of the participants are wrestling with. They are not, by and large, New Age spirituality addicts seeking an easy escape from engaging with the problems of the world. Quite the contrary: many of them are seasoned activists in environmental and social justice issues, sometimes (like the rainforest ecologist) with decades of experience. They come to this inquiry for much the same reason I do: dissatisfied with the methods and the failures of their movement, they sense a far greater potency is possible.

With few exceptions, anyone who has grown up in the dominant civilization is deeply programmed with the same story of self, theory of change, and habits of perception that are also responsible for ecocide and social injustice. That is why simply trying harder, putting more effort into doing what we have been doing, is unlikely to produce different results. After doing that for a while, we burn out. That is when the deeper inquiry begins; that is when invisible programming comes visible and is available to be changed.

At risk of being presumptuous, I hazard to guess that the comment above comes from a place of frustration and helplessness with which I am much familiar. We want to do something about the unfolding horror, but what? The jaded activist has an easy rebuttal to any suggested course of action.

Sign a petition? A submissive act that reinforces and validates existing power relationships; a useless exercise in self-righteousness that picks a single fashionable issue from among a million, which, even when the petition succeeds, leaves the system unchanged while lulling us into thinking we're actually "doing" something.

Donate to an NGO? What, and contribute to the infamous NGO-industrial complex that depends for its very survival on the continuation of the problems it supposedly seeks to solve? And which has grown too cozy with its ostensible opponents in the corporate and political sector?

Join a protest march? Do you mean the permitted kind, which feeds the mainstream media discourse about how wonderful our society is for allowing free speech? Or the spontaneous kind, which is usually crushed before it even begins?

Engage in direct action and civil disobedience? Sure, now you're going to feed the narrative of a few disgruntled extremists - then go to jail and congratulate yourself on being a martyr for the cause (if only anyone were paying attention.)

Start an organization? Yet another one, you mean, competing for funding, members, and mailing lists with a hundred thousand other organizations?

Buy up threatened rainforests? If only it would be more than a drop in the bucket. If only the government there would allow foreigners to own land. If only illegal loggers cared who owns it. If only something as flimsy as property rights couldn't be swept away by eminent domain should the government, at the behest of "investors," decide to develop its "natural resources."

OK, enough of that. My point in quoting the jaded, burnt-out activist is not to disparage any of the above tactics, all of which, I believe, have their utility. My point is that there are usually no easy answers. Accordingly, it is hard to know whether "doing something about it" is actually doing something about it, or if it merely satisfies an emotional need to believe that one is doing something about it.

Sometimes, whether in our personal lives or in our work as change agents, we come to a point of "I don't know what to do." At such a time, to continue going through the motions of previous doing is usually counterproductive. Why? Because the "I don't know" comes from a realization that whatever I've been doing isn't working, or isn't working well enough. That is the moment to sit back and ask why.

Part of the process of uncovering why is a phase of hopelessness and despair. It seems that the world will never change, that the powers-that-be are just too powerful, that our efforts will never be enough. After all, look how hard we tried. We gave everything, and still it wasn't enough. So we fall into helplessness, victimhood, and blame. Maybe it is those other people, those myopic self-interested greedy idiots who just don't care.

But then, the conscientious person begins to wonder, Is my blame and victim story obscuring something in myself I have been unwilling to see? How have I been sabotaging and limiting myself? What beliefs about change are a product of my indoctrination in this culture and not the truth? How have I been perpetrating by my actions the same things I seek to overthrow? Why is my organization a microcosm of the same dysfunctional system that rules the planet? How is the world mirroring back at me my own inner ecocide and inner oppression? What can change in me, that would allow me to be as effective as those inspiring individuals I so admire?

It is questions like these that launch people on a journey of inner and interpersonal development. (They are not abandoning the cause or indulging in New Age narcissism.) That journey can be scary, for most of us harbor an inner cynic who, echoing the words of my commenter, demand that we do something about it - now! Don't waste time in moaning or self-reflection. There is no time to waste! Do you know how many trees were cut down while you were reading this essay? Perhaps you recognize that inner monologue, as well as the hortative tactics it mirrors, as an example of a failed approach to change-making, as a subtle echo of the domineering relationship to the Other that has brought society and the planet near to ruin.

I hope, my dear reader, that it is clear that I am not saying, "Don't take action." If I am saying anything beyond "I don't know what to do," it is to warn against reflexively acting from an urgent need to seem to be doing something. And also, to invite us all to trust the impulse to look inward, to do work on oneself, to accept that by healing the inner dimension of oppression and ecocide, we can become more effective at healing the outer as well. And perhaps sometimes, yes, to moan about the destruction, to let in the grief and the anguish, and especially to be witnessed in it in community.

All of this, surely, can proceed alongside continuing action, but often we require an empty space, a retreat, a time of non-doing in order to deprogram ourselves from old habits. We can trust ourselves to know when that moment has come in life, and also to know when that moment has ended, bringing a shift in perception, a new experience of self, and an expanded awareness of what is possible.  

Laurie McCammon is a planetary change agent, blogger, facilitator and author of Enough!How to Liberate Yourself and Remake the World with Just One Word, published  by Conari Press, out  April 1, 2016.  You can contact Laurie with comments at, Like LaurieMcCammon on Facebook or follow her on Twitter at @EnoughMessage

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Enough for Ourselves, Enough for Our Communities and Enough for the World

Just a few days ago, I was working on designing a website to introduce my upcoming book, Enough: Beyond the Myth of Lack. I was searching for a concise way to describe what it is I do - my mission, and my book's mission.

Suddenly, it was clear to me: My mission is to help people to remember they are enough so that we can work together to create a New Story in which there is

enough for ourselves, 
enough for our communities 
and enough for the planet.  

Just after getting that clarity about my mission, I stumbled across a viral video on YouTube entitled, "How Wolves Change Rivers." Obviously, you don't get over 14 million views by presenting a pleasant nature documentary on the lives of wolves.  The video must have been saying something more profound.  I was interested.  I watched the video and it took my breath away.  The wolves were demonstrating how nature creates enough.  It also demonstrates how our inability to sense the subtle ways nature does this almost had disastrous results.  

Humans play an unfortunate role in the story of the wolves presented in the video below.  Thinking we knew what was best, we removed wolves from Yellowstone National Park. Happily, the wolves were later reintroduced and the story has a happy (if not surprise) ending.  I believe that the Enough dynamic is all around us, in all the interwoven relationships in the cosmos and in our inner heart-knowing which is also rooted in relationship and in the subtle. We are getting better at seeing, better at sensing the subtle, better at trusting the quiet voice within that simply knows what is needed and what is right.

I was deeply touched by the story of the wolves, and I think it is because it tells a fundamental truth: we all are connected. We all are precious and irreplaceable, often in ways that are difficult to sense.   All species were meant to have enough, but also to give enough back to the systems that sustain them - pay it back and pay it forward.  Somehow many humans have lost this very basic principle which is essential to all naturally-occurring ecosystems:

To have enough, we must give enough.

Laurie McCammon is a planetary change agent, blogger, facilitator and author of Enough!How to Liberate Yourself and Remake the World with Just One Word, published  by Conari Press, out  April 1, 2016.  You can contact Laurie with comments at, Like LaurieMcCammon on Facebook or follow her on Twitter at @EnoughMessage

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Could Humanity Be the Last to Know That Lack is a Myth?

In her new book, Enough: Beyond the Myth of Lack Laurie McCammon, MS makes an intriguing claim: lack is not real. How could this be when we see evidence everywhere of dwindling natural resources, species extinction and global warming?

“I am not saying there are no limits,” she says, “What I am saying is that most of the lack we see around us is the result of human choices and that such conditions do not exist naturally. Because the lack we see is a result of man-made choices, we shouldn’t accept it as ‘just the way things are.’ We should challenge the premise that keeps lack perpetually in place. Homo sapiens appears to be the only species on earth who lives according to this “Never Enough” myth. Wouldn’t you think we’d pay attention to how the other 8.7 million species successfully create healthy, sustainable ecosystems that work for everyone without depleting the systems upon which everyone relies?”

McCammon points out that if you examine human biology, you will find a nervous system designed to cope with short bursts of stress, but not one built to sustain a perpetual state of heightened alert. “And yet, isn’t this exactly what is perpetrated by politicians, mainstream media and advertising who would have us believe we don’t have enough and aren’t enough, or that if we are one of the fortunate ones to have enough, we should be afraid of losing it any minute?” Whole industries, she points out, such as luxury goods, insurance, and cosmetics are built upon this idea that we aren’t enough as we are. “We never seem to look back over our decisions to buy more stuff and ask if those decisions ever brought us the feelings of adequacy, belonging and accomplishment we expected them to. “ She believes that this insatiable longing to feel enough results in all kinds of hoarding and over-consumption, which greatly adds to the material burden humans place on the planet. She puts it this way: “When we lose our sense of belonging, we tend to fill our lives up with belongings.”

“What we tend to forget is that what one person needs to be happy is actually very different than what another person needs to be happy. In other words, my enough is not your enough. But when we get caught up in a consumerist society, we are apt to believe we must check off  the same list of standardized boxes in order to prove we are enough. This list becomes a story that rules our lives, creating achievement anxiety, shame and guilt. In truth, we could do without a great deal and never experience it as a sense of lack.  And conversely, when we have too much, there is a palpable stress burden placed upon us. In essence, we've traded a portion of our freedom for the material objects we possess, whether it is labor we’ve invested to buy the item in the first place, or labor and time required to maintain what we’ve bought. Then there is the emotional burden of worrying about our things – are they safe, in good working order, might someone damage or steal them from us, is there a better, updated version we should have instead?”  McCammon believes that the stress burden of things greatly complicates our lives and distracts us further from cultivating the real source of happiness - an inner sense of enoughness. "Enoughness comes from a felt sense of our own beingness, a sense of belonging to a universe which could not possibly be enough without us. Many things in the material world may leave us craving and wanting more, but most of us are absolutely starving for meaning - to know that we really do matter. What I've found is that the universe is absolutely barraging us with subtle messages that we do matter, each and every one of us."  

To understand how, when and why we forgot our "enough" roots, McCammon turns to anthropology, mythology and systems theory. According to McCammon, the “Never Enough Paradigm” began more than 5,000 years ago when humanity entered the Agrarian Era. This monumental shift in perspective involved moving away from total dependence on nature to take on the mantel of “masters of the material realm.” The progression of the “Never Enough Paradigm” accelerated in the industrial and digital ages, representing the height of intellectual prowess and physical efficiency, but crowded out the heart and acknowledgement of the spiritual and the sacred. Everything, including humans and the earth became objects in the drive to have more. We no longer oriented towards our depths. All that mattered was at the surface, in what we do or have. 

“The brain is very fond of breaking things into parts for analysis and manipulation, but it isn’t as good at perceiving subtle relationships and nuances, cause and effect at a distance, or whole systems dynamics," says McCammon.  The human capacity to perceive interrelationships and holism, she claims, is essential to survival of our species, and yet it has been greatly devalued in our society.  "It is not optional. Intuition and subtle reception aren't fluff.  They are cutting-edge. Both capacities are absolutely essential to keeping up with today’s science and technology which are huddled right now in the realms of the subtle, interconnected and intangible, such as quantum physics, scalar waves, wireless networks, and cloud-based technologies.” McCammon suggests that all we need to do is look at our cutting edge technologies and ask how they reflect the corresponding frontier of human consciousness. "It is always a mirror and a metaphor for the inner work we need to do to move forward. A greater awareness of subtle interrelatedness is where we are going. This means beingness. This means spirit. This means essence. It is unstoppable and inevitable.” To attune to the subtle, Laurie suggests that we explore something referred to as heart intelligence, which has been proven by science to be real and measurable. Heart intelligence is inherent and has always been evidenced in indigenous and feminine ways of perceiving. “The idea is that we are becoming more whole again in our ability to perceive. This means mind and heart. Yin and yang. Material and spirit. We’ve done our work on testing the intellect for 5,000 years. Now it is time to focus on the heart.“

McCammon shows how the last 5,000 years correspond to humanity’s adolescent stage of growth. “This means that we aren’t, as we have assumed, at the pinnacle or adulthood of our species. We have yet to enter adulthood as a species, which is characterized by taking responsibility for our actions and fulfilling our desire to widen our affiliation from ‘me’ (humans) to ‘we’(all beings on earth). We have been exploring tribal mentality so far in quite an adolescent way. Although the tribe has expanded over time from smaller to bigger – from family to village, to religious or political affiliation, to country - it doesn’t become truly mature until it reflects an ability to think globally and universally.” The motivation and action to fuel global change arise naturally from an expansion in what McCammon calls affiliative consciousness. Affiliative consciousness is incorporating more “other” as “we,” a departure from separation consciousness. “This is why it is pretty useless to try to convince someone whose primary consciousness is himself, his job or his family’s economic well-being that he should care about what his employer is doing to contribute to global warming. He is not a bad person. He just can’t see beyond his own affiliative bubble right now.” says McCammon. “But what this also tells us is if you are someone who deeply cares about the earth or other species or regions of the globe, you are already embodying the expanded consciousness. You are the proof of the ripening maturity of our species. You are proof that humanity’s capacity for solving the earth’s most threatening and complex problems is amid a great transformation and expansion. And the good news is as this circle of affiliation expands, so does humanity's own felt sense of security, joy, empowerment, purpose and fulfillment - automatically.”

What does this have to do with the book’s primary focus, “enough”? “If we look at all the forms of suffering in the world today, we find a common cause, the belief in lack or “Never Enough.” McCammon says, “The imperative to get more is so reinforced from an early age that we are blind to how it distorts everything from our self-esteem to our relationships to our consumer and career choices, leading to the waste, exploitation and hoarding so prevalent on our planet today. We have mistakenly believed that 'survival of the fittest' was our primary orientation as human beings, and this false idea with no basis in science unfortunately has lingered on, taking on benign or overly-positive names such as competition, achievement, winning, success and growth. Self-preservation and individualism became the name of the game, driven by the belief that we were not born enough, so must prove it over and over again through what we do or own. All this keeps us from being available to participate in the bigger game, which is participating in our planetary ecosystem in a way that sustains enough for ourselves, our communities and our planet.”

To illustrate how ingrained the idea of “Never Enough” is in our thinking, McCammon poses a question to her readers, “If I were to ask if you are enough, what would you say? Most people would conclude, ‘ No, I am not enough yet. I haven’t achieved all I want to yet. I have goals I haven’t reached, so no, I’m not enough.’ But here’s the trick. I didn’t ask if you have enough or if you have done enough. I asked you if you are enough.  Do you see how quickly we skip over beingness? A newborn baby hasn’t achieved or owned anything, but would you say he is enough? Does a newborn need to do anything to be deserving of his family’s or society’s love and care? Of course not. We need to cultivate a sense of our own beingness, deservedness, worthiness and preciousness, a sense that we are enough because we are here. Then we find we do not need our achievements and our possessions to do the heavy lifting for us. We can relax and focus on doing what we really love to do. Really, the stories we carry about not being enough cause us so much deep suffering, so much 'stuckness' and disempowerment.  All this suffering is optional, not mandatory.  Do we really love our 'I'm not enough' story so much that we won't let go of it? Nature builds in an aversion or pain response for a reason - to guide us to safety, health and well-being."     

Enough: Beyond the Myth of Lack is a book whose optimistic tone is a refreshing departure from the bleak, urgent arguments posed by so many that it is almost too late to correct the damage humans have done, an assumption she states is only true if we remain in the adolescent “Never Enough” consciousness. “And this is not going to happen. We are part of a much larger evolutionary flow, a design which is the based on the dynamic of enough, and we are waking up to it, realizing we have outgrown the Never Enough Story. Exponentially more intelligence, creativity and courage becomes available to us when we embrace that we, too, are part of the universe’s big Enough design. We are enough to address every man-made problem, and to do it quickly and efficiently together.” The latter chapters of Enough are devoted to highlighting the global explosion of independent social movements and green businesses that McCammon says are proof that the Enough awakening is already happening in earnest.  All of this is to say that she wholeheartedly believes that  "An Enough future is inevitable. The shift is happening now. And each and every one of us are enough to be part of it."

Laurie McCammon is a planetary change agent, blogger, facilitator and author of Enough!How to Liberate Yourself and Remake the World with Just One Word, published  by Conari Press, out  April 1, 2016.  You can contact Laurie with comments at, Like LaurieMcCammon on Facebook or follow her on Twitter at @EnoughMessage