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The Longer Struggle: Creating a Soul-Filled Society

Sharif M. Abdullah Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

It’s not by anything we think, not by something we figure out in our heads. We’re transformed by what we do.

—CHARLOTTE JOKO BECK 47

MENDERS ARE ALREADY active in the world, creating the consciousness, cultures, and institutions of a new society. The actions of Menders are not generally visible to mainstream media. We are “flying below the radar” of Breaker culture. In a society obsessed with overconsumption and the lifestyles of the rich and famous, Menders are plain boring. The goal of Menders is not to appear on a talk show or to have a thirty-second sound bite on a television news program. Their goal is to transform themselves and to contribute to the transformation of their society.

The Mender society will be built on the ordinary actions of ordinary people. It will consist of people eating, sleeping, working, washing clothes, finding each other, celebrating victories, and grieving together. The Mender society will parallel the world of the Breakers.186

Not all of us are going to walk on the Moon or expand our consciousness or become one with the Divine or find true community (or even true love). And even if we do, we will still find that we have to “chop wood, carry water.” Not all of us are going to commune with extraterrestrials or climb Mount Everest, but we will all, in the words of Buddhist scholar Charlotte Joko Beck, “make love, drive freeway.”48 In our focus on the peak, sublime experiences, we tend to ignore or take for granted the mundane experiences that make up most of our lives.

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What People Are Doing to Catalyze an Inclusive Society

Sharif M. Abdullah Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

It’s not by anything we think, not by something we figure out in our heads. We’re transformed by what we do.

—CHARLOTTE JOKO BECK 47

MENDERS ARE ALREADY active in the world, creating the consciousness, cultures, and institutions of a new society. The actions of Menders are not generally visible to mainstream media. We are “flying below the radar” of Breaker culture. In a society obsessed with overconsumption and the lifestyles of the rich and famous, Menders are plain boring. The goal of Menders is not to appear on a talk show or to have a thirty-second sound bite on a television news program. Their goal is to transform themselves and to contribute to the transformation of their society.

The Mender society will be built on the ordinary actions of ordinary people. It will consist of people eating, sleeping, working, washing clothes, finding each other, celebrating victories, and grieving together. The Mender society will parallel the world of the Breakers.186

Not all of us are going to walk on the Moon or expand our consciousness or become one with the Divine or find true community (or even true love). And even if we do, we will still find that we have to “chop wood, carry water.” Not all of us are going to commune with extraterrestrials or climb Mount Everest, but we will all, in the words of Buddhist scholar Charlotte Joko Beck, “make love, drive freeway.”48 In our focus on the peak, sublime experiences, we tend to ignore or take for granted the mundane experiences that make up most of our lives.

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4 STOP BLAMING OTHERS—YOU ARE THE PROBLEM!

Sharif M. Abdullah Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

TOGETHER, WE ARE writing the script for a new society. To develop this new story, we must be ready to receive new ideas, new insights, new information. The only way we can be open to the new is to empty ourselves of the old, the outmoded, the inappropriate. Zen teachers remind us that just as an already full teacup cannot hold any more tea, a person already full of concepts cannot hold wisdom.

The problem is that some of our limiting thoughts have been with us for so long, they have become our “sacred cows,” and as cows do in India, they block the traffic—of ideas. But unlike India’s cattle, these thought-cows have no life independent of our consciousness. Slaughtering them will only make the world better for all.

We must root out the fallacies and illusions that create, support, and sustain Breaker society. Before European explorers could cross the ocean, they had to see through the fallacy that the earth was flat and that they would fall off the edge, to be devoured by monsters. We are subject to similar illusions, ones that block our manifestation of a better world. Like the explorers, we have to get over our fear of falling off the edge.

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1 THE VISION

Sharif M. Abdullah Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

[O]ur greatest strength lies not in how much we differ from each other but in how much—how very much—we are the same.

—EKNATH EASWARAN 4

WHEN YOU WOKE UP this morning, you had a series of goals. Some were as simple as turning off the alarm clock, brushing your teeth, making sure you got to work on time. Other goals may have been more ambitious—writing the résumé that would land the perfect job, buying the right food for an important dinner, sitting in meditation for the sake of enlightenment. Your goals include the ordinary, the sublime, and everything in between.

Like people, societies also have goals. Some are as simple as making sure everyone has decent water to drink; others may be as complex as landing an astronaut on Mars.

Our goal used to be simple—stop Soviet expansion. The implosion of the Soviet Union also imploded our goal. Now, at the turn of the millennium, we must ask ourselves:What are we trying to achieve as a society? Without defining what we are against, what are we for? Goal setting is important: without a clear vision of an achievable goal, and an understanding of the philosophy and values behind that goal, we run the risk of becoming sidetracked, confused, burned out, or cynical.12

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6 HOW THE BREAKER STORY MAINTAINS ITSELF

Sharif M. Abdullah Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

IF IT IS SO EASY to write a new story, why hasn’t someone done this before? Why has the Breaker story been in the driver’s seat for over one hundred centuries? What keeps this consciousness in place?

A story represents a group’s long-term survival strategy. If a particular story helps the next generation to make it in the world, the story is repeated, refined, and enhanced.

Because we have survived as humans for over one million years and can trace our lineage back to the dawn of life on this planet, the preservation of our survival strategies, including our story, is embedded within our system.

The strong survival story of one species may, unfortunately, be a mixed blessing to others when the favored species is introduced into a new ecological system. The following are just a few examples:

In the Pacific Northwest, the logger story, “Cut down as many trees as you can,” may have been appropriate when it took twenty men and teams of mules more than a week to cut down and transport one tree.With a technology that allows one person to cut and move twenty trees in an hour, the logger story has led to the decimation of the old-growth-forest ecosystems.

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