Conversation Worldview

The Web of Meaning

Nick Joyce | I feel such a strong resonance with the work that you’ve done and also such a deep reverence for the discipline and the dedication. To open a book of over 500 pages that has such deep inquiry into meaning, into life, into all of these traditions, and such a deeply spiritual orientation to it  – but also such academic and contextual and structured orientation, and to really break down some of these big concepts and ideas and make them available for different layers of conversation that different people are ready to have…I’m really blown away and I just want to start there. Thank you so much.

Jeremy Lent | Well, thank you, Nick that is wonderful to hear.

A lot of what the book is about is showing how, what modern science tells us, whether it’s systems thinking, complexity science, or evolutionary biology, or cognitive science, actually points to the same deep wisdom that some of the greatest wisdom traditions of the world have been telling us for millennia. Whether it’s Buddhism, Taoism or indigenous knowledge from around the world. Similarly, what the cognitive understanding tells us points to the wisdom of the hearts, of actually of our feelings.

Western thought teaches that our mind is totally separate from our body, and therefore our feelings don’t have validity. And the notion of an integrated intelligence is not to deny the importance and value of that conceptual thinking, but to look at how we can use that very special, uniquely human gift and apply that to this recognition of what I call our animate consciousness, or our animate intelligence, which is the intelligence that we share with all of nature. That’s the intelligence we see not just in other mammals around us, like dolphins, or elephants, or chimpanzees who are highly intelligent in ways that we recognize; but even in trees, and ecosystems, and even in single cells – the deep intelligence of nature.

Within each of us as humans, that deep intelligence shows itself in the ways in which we feel, especially when we’re interacting with somebody. But because of the fact that we’ve all been socialized and conditioned, it’s difficult sometimes to trust our feelings.

Nick Joyce | Yes, absolutely. The theme for this Kosmos Quarterly is Realigning with Earth Wisdom. I’m wondering if you could speak a little bit to how you think people can get back in touch with our animate intelligence.

Jeremy Lent | What I call animate intelligence, and Earth wisdom, is a very similar take on the same thing, which is this recognition that life itself has spent billions of years here on Earth, evolving ways of doing things and being healthy as part of bigger ecosystems and showing incredible intelligence. Again, from our mainstream thinking, we’re used to thinking of humans as being smarter than any other creature, and that ‘artificial intelligence’ is somehow way beyond anything that nature has ever done. And in the book I compare the two different ‘AIs’: artificial intelligence and animate intelligence.

What’s amazing is, thanks to science we’ve begun to understand in recent decades, that even at the level of a single cell – (and we have 40 trillion of them in our bodies) – one single cell is capable of ways of making sense of the world in ways even our most advanced super computers can’t actually do. A cell senses thousands of things at the same time, and goes through unbelievably complex processes of figuring out what it’s doing, and communicating with other cells around it. This is part of an unfolding of evolution of billions of years.

NASA model of a human cell

And when you look at things – what we think of as inanimate natural things – like trees or plants, we now know that, not only do trees or plants have multiple senses, over a dozen senses, more than we can even imagine or think about, they even communicate with each other through ecosystems, and what’s been now called the ‘Wood Wide Web’ by biologist Suzanne Simard.

So there’s actually true collective intelligence all around us that we’re only beginning to recognize. That’s the intelligence of nature. One of the great elements of that Earth wisdom that’s evolved over billions of years is recognizing the power of cooperation. We’ve been told from our textbooks, from Richard Dawkins, and The Selfish Gene, and all that stuff, that nature has evolved to be supremely competitive. The opposite is actually true.

This is not wishful thinking. This is the result of scientific analysis of how evolution actually occurred, that the major steps in evolution, from prokaryotes, to cells with a nucleus, to multicellular animals, to communities, to mammals and to humans… every step increases an organism’s learning to cooperate with each other, which has led to the rich diversity of life on Earth right now.

A lot of listening to Earth’s wisdom is to recognize what the Earth itself, what Gaia itself, is telling us about how life can actually be lived in a more flourishing way, both for individual organisms and to flourish as part of something much, much bigger.

Nick Joyce | Yes. It strikes me, throughout the book, speaking to indigenous and traditional cultures that are more connected to Earth wisdom, and also going back into looking at Plato next to Aristotle, that these very different orientations on reality have been around for thousands and thousands of years.

I’m curious how you make sense of the proliferation of the ‘story of separation’, this dominant Western worldview, as really coming in and having the power, very misappropriated power, to destroy and have significantly negative impacts on more Earth-centric traditions and cultures?

Jeremy Lent | That’s right. It’s a great point because it’s very reasonable for somebody to come into this kind of conversation and say, “If this is true, that this selfish separation worldview is wrong, how come everyone talks about it? How come it’s everywhere you go? There must be something in it, if it seems to be fully validated by the way the world works, what everyone says,” and I think it is important to look historically at how this all came about.

Steps arose, going back deep into history, of levels of separation that led to reinforcing feedback effects, which led to this story of separation becoming stronger and more dominant, even though it wasn’t actually a true story.

The first step of the separation coincided with the rise of agriculture 10 to 12,000 years ago.

People started to put fences up, and there was separation from what we cultivate from the wilderness ‘out there’, and then separation between humans. Like, somebody got lucky and was able to grow more crops, and then they could employ other people. Then they put up fences to keep their assets and their wealth separate from other people.

All this hierarchy has developed over time. But then, what is fascinating to look at, and the author, Riane Eisler, does a great job of looking historically, is how these, what she calls ‘dominator systems’, took over from partnerships systems. What you see is these hierarchers would come up with stories about how their in-group is better than other groups. For the first time, there was this ability to go and conquer some area next to you, and steal their assets, and take over their groups. When people did that, the ones that were more successful, got to tell the story of what happened.

We see these stories about the heroism of the warrior, and about how they were actually delighted to have massacred these other people. It was all about this kind of male bonding, and the hero story, and the warrior, and that got embedded in culture. In cultures around the world, it got to be that, people felt, if you’re going to succeed, you need to buy into this story of this kind of male dominance, basically ‘conquering’ as a set of values. But then in the West came a whole other layer of separation and domination with the rise of the scientific revolution in the 16-17th century timeframe.

There was this powerful sense of both conquering nature, through discovering that science can actually teach you to exploit the natural world, seeing nature as a resource to be exploited, and just as importantly, seeing other human beings, as resource for exploitation.

It’s no surprise that colonialism, and the scientific revolution of conquering nature, and capitalism, all began in the same period, in the same place. And this is this very, very powerful force of exploitation based on the sense of separation that has since taken over the world, mostly through brute force of colonialism over hundreds of years, and now through a combination of brute force and the more silent, but equally brutal power of financial and economic domination that the elites have, through capitalism forced on the rest of the world. So at this point, there’s almost no big media, no system, no national governments, no system out there that isn’t completely infiltrated by this story of domination.

Nick Joyce | And what is the solution? How do you see this moving forward into the future? Do you think there’s some insighting incident where we’ll have a planetary-wide moment where we recognize, “Hey, this win-lose game that we’ve been playing actually vectors towards lose-lose given the nature of us living on one finite planet together, and mutually-assured destruction and all of that,” – which became reality in the Cold War era? What do you see as a feasible projection into how cooperative culture can become a planetary norm?

Jeremy Lent | Yeah. One way of thinking about this is the overall ontological question: what is more powerful ultimately, these forces of destruction or forces of life? Of course we all know how true it is, how much easier it is to destroy than to build.

New growth, after fire

But we also see how life itself has this ability to regenerate and grow itself. In fact, one of the things I explore in the book is what I call the deep purpose of life. Because even though we’re told by mainstream society that life doesn’t have a purpose and that the universe itself is meaningless, actually, that’s wrong. Life, ever since it started on this Earth billions of years ago, has had the purpose to regenerate, to actually thrive and regenerate itself. And it’s done so successfully over billions of years.

So much so, that in fact really it’s more likely that the real issue is not what will survive, it’s much more a question of will human civilization survive this crisis? And how much damage will be done to life before it regenerates? Is it going to take tens of millions or hundreds of millions of years before it regenerates? Because it will regenerate. No matter how much damage we as a civilization do to it in this century.

But what I feel we need to do is also recognize that we, each of us, have life within us, and here is this potential to actually jettison this whole idea of being attached to a future, saying the future’s going to be like this or like that. But actually just put our lives in a shared commitment to life, to work towards that life-affirming future, a future of flourishing for humanity, a future of flourishing for life. And not be attached to the outcome – but be fully embedded in the process of what we’re doing. Recognizing we don’t know, none of us know how things are going to happen. But what we do know is, and what we discover in any analysis of complex systems is, there’s this nonlinearity to how things happen.

So when Greta Thunberg was sitting out there outside the Swedish Parliament by herself for days on end, nobody could’ve predicted that within a year or two there’d be millions of school children striking around the world and seeing her as their emblem of what’s possible in standing up for the transformation we need. And nonlinearities like that are embedded in our system. They’re happening all the time. They’re going to happen.

So what each of us then can take from that is not to step aside and say, “Okay. I’ll wait for that nonlinear event to happen. I don’t need to get involved.” But rather, this recognition that by us being connected with that transformation, each of us is part of putting in place the processes that could potentially lead to that nonlinearity.

Nick Joyce | Yes. Absolutely. I want to read something that was on your website that just summarized what you just brought forward so beautifully. Each part of the book on your website is broken down, and there’s a really beautiful header above a sentence, a dive into each chapter. This one was,

“Scientific reductionists claim the universe is utterly meaningless. Mainstream religious dogma has pointed to another dimension for the source of meaning. What if neither of these propositions are true? What if meaning itself arises from our interrelatedness? Modern research and systems theory, and cognitive science hints at a profound realization that wisdom traditions around the world have intimated for millennia. We enact meaning into the universe through how we attune to it. Meaning is a function of connectedness. Once we recognize our part in the web of meaning, we are called to devote ourselves to the flourishing of all life within it.”

I loved that. In the pandemic time that we’ve just gone through, we as a community here chose to keep meaning. We spent a few weeks meeting online and then really tuned into collective processes, probably about three circles the first three months of the pandemic, for really finding our relationship to death and finding the significance in the essential nature of the work that we were doing, which was coming together to grow food and find local solutions for meeting our needs. Looking at the fragility of global capitalism and saying, “Hey, this is definitely a moment to recognize and come together and address our concerns locally.”

But it also brought forward that when any part of this activist orientation or this standing for life is attached to outcome, there’s a false hope. Meg Wheatley talks about hope as a four letter word, and it’s actually the bypassing of the gravitas of the present moment to live in an illusion of hopefulness that the future will turn out ‘this way’. And that one of the more radical actions we can take is really to just act out our purpose through the connection with the web of meaning regardless of an attachment to outcome, but simply because it’s what life is calling forth from us.

I feel like it’s really not something I heard about until the last 10 years or so – letting go of needing it to be a certain way. Another elder named Pat McCabe had this profound experience where White Buffalo Woman came to her and said, “Your understanding of cause and effect is rudimentary.” Just pointing at this linear conception of how reality unfolds – that we’re so locked into – and that nonlinearity could also happen in the way of technological innovation, the techno-utopian track as well.

But for me underneath that, there’s still a core fundamental orientation to life and our purpose and role within it that techno-utopianism doesn’t address. The future I want to live in, if there is a future of civilization, is not one of everything being reduced and automated. It’s one of life resurging and working in right relationship. How we can we take the best of Indigenous culture and the best of the technological innovation and marry them into the most advanced civilization that we can imagine, and letting all of that be part of the conversation and the orientation, starting from within, regardless of outcome? What is my deepest calling of how I want to serve life?

Jeremy Lent | This is such a core thing, and it’s really important to look at it closely. I think anyone who has opened up their minds to what is going on in the world around us right now and who actually cares about things beyond their closed ego identity, who’s kind of opened that identity to something beyond that, looks at it and can’t help but be caught in this place of feeling this sense of troubled despair and wanting to feel that sense of hope. And then these camps develop.

Some people might be familiar with the Deep Adaptation Movement that was started just a couple of years ago by the environmental fellow in UK called Jem Bendell who looked at what’s going on and called it out in a way that many academics were unwilling to. And then suddenly he got this incredible viral response for what he was saying. I’ve actually a couple of years ago wrote some critiques to Jem Bendell saying that calling for deep adaptation – that’s his term – should really be a calling for deep transformation, because I was concerned at seeing people getting pulled into that orbit of just basically saying, “Okay. It’s already too late. Collapse is inevitable. What do we do from here?”

At the same time, we need to recognize that it can be exhausting to carry this hope and want something to get better. Then, see how bad things are and thinking, “How do I reorient around hope if it seems so unlikely?” And for those of us taking a look at this bigger context, these are feelings that really there’s never been any archetype or any historical wisdom tradition to feel into.

Ultimately it’s this place of giving myself to life, of asking each morning when I wake up, “What can I do for the greatest benefit of all life?” I have those words embedded on the wall right above my screen here as we’re talking.

By asking that question, it takes me away from the sense of doom and it also takes me away from any kind of sense of forced optimism. But it gives me the power and energy to really devote myself to what actually matters, to that life-affirming future that may or may not be there, but is there in my soul and spirit and there in the souls and spirits of millions and millions of people around the world. By being in that place, it can be enacted in the very reality of that shared experience.

Nick Joyce | Yes. Yes. From that place, I’d say is where I focus my time and attention. We work on a project here in Boulder called One Boulder. The orientation is really that level of service and devotion to life. It is such a powerful and pioneering declaration. Previously, I was traveling and teaching a lot. I’d get to this moment in these temporary contexts where people would awaken and have that experience. Then I realized that they were going back to where they came from.

So my orientation has been, “how do we actually build support networks and support structures for people who are having that realization so that we can stabilize each other.” My friend Charles Eisenstein talks about the purpose of community by imagining we’re under the ocean. And every once in a while you surface and you see the sun, and you have this moment of interconnection. This is the beauty of life. This is what feels good.

Then at some point you inevitably get sucked back under the surface. But when we come together and connect, and as long as one of us in our group of people who are committed to serving life is able to keep their eyes above the water, stay connected to the sun, we stabilize this awakening capacity within us. I’m curious what you see as those ways of us supporting each other in that declaration, in that choice to serve life, to step into that next octave of the collaborative context of that internal choice. How can we stabilize each other in that?

Jeremy Lent | Right. I love that analogy, surfacing to see the sun. In a way, we can actually think of the connectivity of all of us who are in that place together as creating our own light source, if you will, so that we become the sun in that metaphor. So it’s actually our connection itself that is what creates this potential for this flourishing future. I think that’s what’s so key, and that’s what we learn. We learn when we look at life, as I was describing before, the billions of years of evolution of life. That it’s when different orgasms learn to connect up that they actually were able to go to a whole new level of richness, diversity, and flourishing for all.

The same is true of humans. We’re told that humans are selfish and separate from each other. The exact opposite is true. Actually what makes humans differentiated uniquely from other primates is that millions of years ago our pre-human ancestors were there in the Savanna having to deal with these dangerous places they had not evolved to deal with together. They discovered that through community they could actually learn to empower each other and end up not just surviving but thriving.

What happened over millions of years is that we humans developed what are called moral emotions. It’s not just that we have to overcome our selfishness. We actually feel it in our hearts, in our guts, the sense of compassion – or shame if we do something wrong. That sense of outrage if we see somebody else do something to take advantage of others. The sense of fairness. All of these things we feel deeply because they’re actually part of our human heritage.

Another world is possible

It’s when we connect with those things and each other that we actually can create a force that is even more powerful than the force of money and violence and military power and all of those things that are destroying the world right now. Because if you think about it, every new human being that’s born is born with this evolution of billions of years of life and millions of years of human evolution. And as that infant grows up, their natural tendency is to be in community. Their natural tendency is to have a group identity. The natural tendency is to see life and want it to be rich and flourishing.

Now this conditioned civilization that we have right now only gets to have its way when it subverts the natural way in which a human being would grow and tries to tell them, “No, that’s not the way it is. Actually, you’re meant to be selfish. Actually, you should cut off your connections with others. Actually, you should be ashamed of any sense of vulnerability you have and show hardness to the world.”

So people have to overcome their innate tendency through their conditioning, and that is the secret weapon, if you will, that all of us have, the working towards transformation by connecting with each other and by offering love to each other and that sense of interbeing and compassion. By connecting with those deep human emotions, we actually offer this invitation to people everywhere – young people as they’re growing up, a different way of life that actually feels better, that actually feels right to them. What we have to do is actually help people to connect with their true intrinsic human living nature.

Nick Joyce | Yes. Yes. So this relationship between a society that is conditioning us to continue to demonstrate the dominant ways of being, and individuals who are awakening through whatever cathartic ecstatic experience into a recognition that there’s actually a more meaningful way of living…

I used to live in intentional communities. That was my background for a decade – land-based ecovillages and projects like that. Then at some point I received instructions to go back into the heart of a small city and to land what I had learned from that level of intimacy and that level of relating and start to pollinate that in a place where more people live, at a community center in the heart of a city and much more accessible.

But what I’ve noticed is there was a factor I wasn’t reckoning with, which was when you come into a city and you just have a community center as opposed to living off a piece of land together, everybody is still addressing their individual domains of human concern. How do I make money? Where am I going to live? Where do I get my food? And all of these aspects that were built into the more integrated model of an ecovillage are sort of making it more difficult for people to rise up against those odds and the life force it takes to address their concerns to live here and work on a collaborative project.

I know the last chapter is about where we are now and where we could be headed. Are you seeing possibilities for systems level, societal level, structures that can support people? I suppose an ecovillage is one, but I want to see these sprouting in more accessible contexts where everybody can get a taste and it can actually help them address those human concerns.

Jeremy Lent | I think that is super important and as you say, in that last chapter, I basically just touch into a vision shared by a lot of people around the world, what’s called an ecological civilization. This sense of, what if we would actually rebuild our civilization on a different foundation, one that rather than being based on wealth accumulation and exploitation is actually life-affirming? One that is based on the principles of life, the principles of what makes ecosystems flourish for millions of millions of years, often resiliently and richly. And so to your question, part of that ecological civilization would involve different ways of organizing at community levels. And I think one of the most important concepts that is becoming more and more discussed and understood is this notion of the commons.

For most of human history, we lived sharing resources in a communal commons where the resources were part of what the group had access to, and they weren’t even viewed as resources in the way that we do as something separate, but they were viewed as a living and symbiotic environment for collective flourishing.

Through millennia, and centuries of enclosure, and the rise of capitalism, the commons now, for most people, is this kind of quaint term about some sort of medieval village or something. But actually, there’s this notion of the commons as a new ancient form of actually organizing how humans act together.

There’s a radical commons thinker, David Bollier, who’s co-wrote with Silke Helfrich, a great recent book called Free, Fair, and Alive, which looks at the notion of the commons from a profoundly different point of view, that it’s not just the commons as a shared resource, like air or water that we have to learn to manage together, but it’s actually like a verb, commoning, and a person becomes a commoner as a whole different way of approaching life and community. And the wonderful thing about the commons is that it’s something that can be applied on the ground, as you’re saying, in a city, and it can be applied in real estate.

You know, a few people can get together and say we’re going to set up a trust in common with each other to buy a property or a few properties, and actually set the rules so that it doesn’t become part of this real estate buy and sell market game, but actually becomes a place where we can build community together, live, and actually serve each other with resources we have to offer. It can be things like solar energy. You can have a commons where you create shared communal structures, to help people to get solar panels on their roofs, or a shared solar farm within a small community or neighborhood where people can share electricity. This is so exciting because it offers a way for people to work together, to do what you’re talking about, that sense of shared energy and excitement of really making a difference and doing it with the power of each other and actually transforming our society from within.

So that, rather than have to talk about some revolution with all of the negatives of bloodiness and horrible trauma that goes with that, we can actually look at societal transformation from within, where the bad destructive structures of society can begin to just weaken and unravel, and we can actually build the future we want in our own grassroots and focus on what we can do together, and then connecting up with what others are doing elsewhere.

Nick Joyce | Beautiful. Yes. The primary orientation of what we’re up to here is we actually gamified the process of growing the commons and looked at both, it’s a cultural evolutionary process for people to become capable of stewarding collective resources. You know, there’s also been this theory of ‘the tragedy of the commons’, which is so steeped in this very worldview of separation and “the more I take the better for me” in this win-lose game dynamic. But there is a cultural evolutionary process for people to become stewards of a commons. And so I think a lot of what’s happened in the commons movement is there’s been a hopefulness or an idealism to it that like, “Oh, we’ll just call everything ours,” and yet you see the same kinds of tendencies coming up.

So, what we’ve been designing is a protocol-based commons where you’re actually able to track the contributions We use a social capital marker, it’s a points system. For example, I would send you points because it really helped me thrive to hear your understanding of this different way we can live together. And so it becomes a visible indication and reflection of the contributions of people into the commons and not just on a monetary level, but also just celebrating your devotion to life that I’m seeing and how that’s positively impacted me, and then reflecting that back transparently to the rest of the community.

Jeremy Lent | Beautiful. Beautiful.

Nick Joyce | Are you involved in anything where you live that’s moving in the direction of the commons, or what are you seeing popping up around you that’s exciting?

Jeremy Lent | Well, here in the Bay Area there’s all kinds of exciting commons based activities going on. I was talking about real estate and we have here in Oakland, close to where I live, a fantastic organization called the East Bay People’s Real Estate Cooperative, EBPREC. I think you can actually find them on that website where they’re doing similar to what I described and actually getting great funding and investments to basically take Oakland back from the developers and build communities. And the other example I gave of solar energy, it’s from a real live example on the ground in Oakland called People’s Power Solar, which is doing something very similar at the grassroots level. And there are tons of organizations around here. It’s a matter of connecting with them.

And so I think one of the most important things that any of us can do who are involved in these grassroots groups is put some amount of time to communicating out there to the rest of the world what’s going on. And there’s a lot of different networks out there trying to raise and amplify the message of that so people can actually get inspired by what’s going on elsewhere. And there are certain principles that can then be applied all around the world.

It is not so much about commodifying things, like McDonald’s, or Uber, or whatever it might be. Here we’re talking about what I like to think as basically fractal scaling – where the idea of a fractal is it’s a pattern that repeats itself at different layers, different scales, but each time is unique. So the principles might be the same, but each is a unique expression. So similarly, you can have principles of how you build a real estate cooperative, or a solar cooperative, or anything like that and they can be taken by others and then applied in a unique way to that particular place so it becomes unique to that place on the ground and also shared in terms of core principles that work for everyone everywhere.

Nick Joyce | Yes. Rather than designing and setting this concrete fixed franchise model that’s kind of dead and doesn’t have a flavor of the fractal nature of the local context, to reduce these models down into first principles that have served and can apply – sort of like permaculture or these other more pattern or principle based design methodology.

Jeremy Lent | This concept of fractal scaling is something that will be in the next book that I’m working on right now, which will actually be about the pathways toward an ecological civilization. And that’s where I’ll be exploring that in more detail.

My great hope for this book is that it could actually have an impact in helping a big swath of people who actually care about things, but have been so conditioned by media to not be aware of what’s really going on, to open their minds to both what is wrong and what’s possible for transformation.

I do hope that the book helps to inspire people and see where they are and what their work is doing within that web of meaning. And so, in fact, the way I finished the book is asking people to really sit back and consider to themselves what is that sacred and precious strand that they are weaving in the web of meaning, that recognition that none of us are going to do it by ourselves, that the work each of us does, on the one hand, is this tiny infinitesimal part of the transformation that’s needed. And on the other hand is connected in such a way that it is actually part of this great global transformation.

So it helps us to feel both freed, that we’re not trying to fix everything all by ourselves, and also feel a sense of empowerment, recognizing that what we’re doing is actually part of something that is truly going on around us, something that’s vast and huge and has the potential to transform our whole civilization.

Nick Joyce | Beautiful. This offering is a really holistic orientation for people to return to and remember that they’re part of this larger movement.

Jeremy Lent | Right. Exactly.

Nick Joyce | I guess one last question would be, as the author, Jeremy Lent, what’s your why?

Jeremy Lent | In simple terms I can share with you something that I kind of affirm to myself in my own internal meditation every morning, which is the simple statement that I am an agent of life and I am a beacon of light in the dark. And that’s really what I’ve given my life to.

And my intention is that everything I do regarding the book, regarding any form of interaction, both personal or public, written, spoken, or felt, is to do it as an agent of life, to really devote basically every breath, every element, every cell in my being to life, because to me that is the ultimate divinity that we have as living entities on this earth to give ourselves to.

Nick Joyce | Well, thank you so much for this time today and for that calling and the emanation that you are. Thank you for writing The Web of Meaning. I’m very excited to see more and more people reading it across the country and around the world. And thank you for your deep insights and your deep devotion to the unfolding of a more beautiful world.

Jeremy Lent | And thank you, Nick, for your deep thinking and this beautiful conversation that you facilitated.


Jeremy’s book:

The Web of Meaning | Integrating Science and Traditional Wisdom to Find our Place in the Universe

“A profound personal meditation on human existence and a tour-de-force weaving together of historic and contemporary thought on the deepest question of all: why are we here?”
— Gabor Maté M.D., author, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts

Publisher: New Society Publishers
Pub. Date: 2021-07-13
ISBN: 9780865719545
Format: Hardback – 464 pages

About Jeremy Lent

Jeremy Lent is author of The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning, which investigates how different cultures have made sense of the universe and how their underlying values have changed the course of history. His new book, The Web of Meaning: Integrating Science and Traditional Wisdom to Find Our Place in the Universe, was published in Spring 2021 (New Society Press: North America | Profile Books: UK & Commonwealth). For more information visit

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About Nicholas Joyce

Nicholas Joyce is a whole systems designer and energetic architect. Formerly on the board of the Global Ecovillage Network and Foundation for Intentional Community, he now spends his time focused on ONEBoulder, a unique and gamified approach to introducing practices and principles of regenerative culture to a city of +100,000 people. With a decade of experience studying, consulting and even founding a couple intentional communities, Nicholas brings an exceptional depth and breadth of practical tools and applied wisdom to designing social systems and facilitating effective group process. Deeply attuned to the ever-present energetics of people and places, Nicholas has an uncanny ability to diagnose and repair complex breakdowns in the visible and invisible structures that underly all human endeavors. In a world full of doing, Nicholas coaches regenerative leaders on how to access the infinite and lead from being, illuminating personal and collective trauma and bringing greater ease, harmony, and dignity to life-affirming projects. Find out more at

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