The New Story Summit: Voice of the Elders

Excerpts from Kosmos Interview Satish Kumar
Indigenous elders from around the world open the four directions. From left to right: Ousmane Pame (Senegal), Visolela Rosa Namises (Namibia), Karumbu Ringera (Keyna), Kalani Souza (Hawaii), Pat McCabe (Diné tribe USA) | photography | Hege Sæbjørnsen
Indigenous elders from around the world open the four directions. From left to right: Ousmane Pame (Senegal), Visolela Rosa Namises (Namibia), Karumbu Ringera (Keyna), Kalani Souza (Hawaii), Pat McCabe (Diné tribe USA) | photography | Hege Sæbjørnsen

Kosmos: Satish, what is your perspective on the New Story?

Satish Kumar: The New Story will be a story of reunion, reconnection. In the last couple of hundred years, we have come to believe that nature is separate from us and we are separate from nature. Nature is out there, and we can do what we like to it. We can cut down the rain forest. We can put animals in factory farms and slaughter them as we like. We can over-fish the oceans. We can pollute the rivers. We can pollute the water and change climate. We are somehow superior to nature. We are somehow rulers of nature. That’s the old story. The new story is that we are part of nature. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist master says, we are interbeings. Nothing is separate. The New Story is that we are all interrelated. We take care of each other. We are dependent on each other. Therefore, replenishing the soil, replenishing society and being part of one continuum—that’s the new story.

The scientific world, the materialistic world, the world of commerce, the world of business, the world of individualism, the world of capitalism, world of communism—all these worlds are the old story now. Where we think we exploit nature, we exploit people. Market rules, profit rules, money rules. We work for name, fame, power, money, profit. That’s the old story.

Kosmos: Where do you see The New Story being lived right now?

SK: The New story is emerging. It is emerging in communities, like Findhorn community, like Schumacher College, like ecovillages. The New Story is being played out through art, culture, music, and communities. And through the ecological movement and ecovillages movement. We are waking up. We are not slaves of the market. Our human life has a greater meaning than making money, making profit, and working for the market or for multinational corporations. Multinational corporations and a market economy have transformed human beings into instruments of making money. Human beings should be the end. And money should be the means to an end. Caring for nature should be the end and money should be a means to take care of nature. The New Story turns that around, and makes money into means. And nature, humanity, and human welfare, human well-being, human happiness—these are the ends. So, these are the kind of transformations that we are creating. And this is happening now.

Large numbers of young people are waking up. And they are saying, “We are not here just to work for multinational corporations and make money for them. We are here to live. We have to find the meaning of life.” The old story is a story of measurement. And the New Story is to bring measurement and meaning together. You cannot measure meaning.

Kosmos: So, an economy that serves meaning, and serves our inner being, and serves ecology, the rest of living creation. What does that really look like on the ground level?

SK: It’s an emerging story. And in this emerging story, people are are moving away from the fossil fuel-based economy, to a more renewable economy. That is what is called the ‘transition town’ movement. There are three hundred towns in Britain that are making this transition. Taking energy from solar power, from wind power, from water power—all this is part of the New Story.

Then there is the old story of food. It doesn’t matter where or how it is grown as long as it is packaged in plastic, put on the supermarket shelves, and bought as a commodity. In the New Story food is not commodity. Food is sacred. We need to be connected with soil, with animals that we take care of. So, the relationship between food and humans is the emerging story. We respect food, and we participate in growing it. Earth is a living entity. And if it’s a living organism, then we have to have a reverence for all life. Food should be local, organic rather than grown with chemical fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides. And then, we should also have natural food, rather than consuming genetically engineered food. So, New Story is a story of wholeness, relatedness, connectedness.

Kosmos: How do we change our relationship to money?

SK: We do that by transforming our consciousness. Transforming our values. Transforming our way of making money. So, at the moment, for example, maybe ten percent of money in the world is related to goods and services. Ninety percent of money is just moving around the world, chasing money. So, money has become the ruler. And we have become the servant.

We change by changing our consciousness and by saying, money should not be a commodity. Money should be a means to an end.

Kosmos: Well, can I interject one question? Yes? You’ve been working with these ideas for so long. Is there anything new in the New Story for you? Why did you come here?

SK: The New Story Summit at Findhorn is an expression of awakening—an expression of rising consciousness, changing consciousness. And I have come here to participate in this process of new awakening and new consciousness. I think in the next five to ten years, we will see a big awakening. So, I have come here to proclaim this New Story—that New Story is a story of living in harmony and peace with humanity and living in harmony in peace with natural world and living in harmony and in peace with ourselves.

Kosmos: Sir, what is this impulse that so many people are feeling? How do you explain so many people at one time waking up?

SK: People are increasingly becoming disappointed and disillusioned with politics and business, and especially with the market economy. They are meeting the physical needs of human beings, maybe. They are providing food. But not good and healthy food.

They are providing clothes, but not healthy clothes. There is no beauty, there is no aesthetics, there is no organic feeling. There’s no good feeling about all these material needs. However, they are providing them.

But, when you come to the spiritual needs, the emotional needs, the needs of our inner life, then politics and business and technology are completely impotent. They are completely unable to meet and address the needs of human beings. But, we human beings are spiritual beings. We have soul. We have spirit. We have mind. We have consciousness. We want fulfillment, we want happiness, we want satisfaction, we want joy. We want imagination. We want art, culture, music. Our modern world of old story is completely failing humanity. This is the reason that increasing numbers of people have become and are becoming disillusioned from politics. People don’t like voting. Whoever you vote, government gets in. Whatever they promise, they never fulfill. What’s the point of voting? And therefore, people are looking for something which is more meaningful, which is more authentic. Our old story politics, and old story business and economics, is lacking authenticity. They are not authentic. And people are looking for something authentic. Something genuine. Something sincere. Something true. Something honest. These are the qualities missing from the old story.

This is why so many people have come here to Findhorn, to proclaim that we want a New Story. We want authenticity. We want sincerity. We want truth. Not just advertising and not just glamour.

Kosmos: Can you talk a little bit about education? And the role of the teacher, and education in the new society, or the New Story?

SK: This New Story can happen only if we transform education. At the moment, education from primary school, to when we finish at university is about being brainwashed. The children are being conditioned to think that the purpose of life is to get a good job. You get paid but you don’t get satisfaction from your work. New Story education wants to bring profession and vocation together. At the moment, this old story education provides you a profession. But not vocation. You do it only because you need to work to earn money to buy your food, buy your clothes, pay the bills. Our life has a greater meaning, and a greater purpose.

I want to see a New Story education, which is not only about intellectual knowledge—not only about measurement—not only about academic achievement. It is also about heart, feelings, emotions, relationship, love, compassion, generosity, beauty. All these values are part of the heart.

Then, I want education to also give us skills. Modern, old story education, is de-skilling our young people. When you come out of the university, you don’t know anything. You don’t know how to grow food, you don’t know how to cook food, you don’t know how to make clothes, you don’t know how to make pots and pottery, you don’t know how to build a house. I want New Story education to be skilling human beings and young people to provide basic human needs. Technology and all other things are icing on the cake.

You know, Khalil Gibran said, the children come not from you, but through you. Your children are not your children. They are lives longing for itself. They come here with their own destiny. Give them your love. They will find their own way. Worry about yourself, that you have no skills in your hands. You have no education of understanding the meaning and the purpose and the compassion and the relationship. You have just a profession.

Satish Kumar is editor of Resurgence and Ecologist Magazine