Below is an audio recording of Dan Brown’s talk in Amsterdam today, including questions and answers. Also a transcript of the question I asked him and his response (at 01hr 01min 01 sec on recording 🙂 ).
It was lightweight talk. He’s very friendly and refreshing. He talked much about his parents influence on the Religion – Science tension (mother was a church organist, father was a mathematician). He did dwell for a short while on the importance of the mystical traditions, but not for long. Also talk on the writing process and book to film process. If I hadn’t asked the question, I think the whole evening would have gone by without serious mention of the major global issues he raises in Inferno. When he did speak about it in response, he was authentic and powerful – but then lightened the atmosphere at the end again with a joke. Hard for him to hold the tension of what he actually knows and writes about.
Peter Merry: I’d like to ask about the relationship between two themes in your Langdon series. Firstly the relationship between ancient wisdom traditions and new science, which you identified earlier as having interconnectedness as common ground. Secondly the state of the world and an interlocking cascade of crises that you focus on in Inferno. It’s my sense that our ability to integrate the insights of ancient wisdom and new science in our thinking and practice will directly impact our ability to navigate the unprecedented turbulence ahead of us. What’s your opinion?
Dan Brown: You’re absolutely correct and let’s hope we have time. … In the case of Dante and making it relevant to the world, was putting overpopulation in the novel as a driving force. The idea that Dante’s Inferno is not history. It’s a prophecy that we’re headed for a very ugly future, if we’re not careful. In the last 80 years the population on planet earth has tripled. Some people say that the rate of population growth is slowing. Well, I’d say it’s like getting in your car, and driving 100 mph towards a cliff, and about 5 feet before the cliff you break a little bit. It’s a little too late. So you’re absolutely right. We’re going to have to navigate some very turbulent times. And I’m not talking 100 years from now. Turbulent times in the next decades. And let’s hope that our spirituality and philosophy can keep pace with our technology. Or else we’re in a whole lot of trouble.
I realised this morning that there is a very large group of people in the world who have maybe the highest potential to be the most effective world changers at this time. They are a group who do their work from a deep place for caring, from a love that is hard to transcend. They sacrifice many of their personal luxuries in devotion to their cause. They often end up leaving their warm beds at night to be of service, going without the accepted norms of sleep. They think deeply about every choice they make as they always want the best for those they work for. They organise their lives for the good of a higher purpose.
They know they are unlikely to receive much thanks for their work, even from those it will most benefit. In fact, they expect rebellion and rejection from those they are supporting, and yet continue to love them unconditionally. They draw boundaries even though they are likely to prove unpopular. They don’t shout about their successes nor do they moan about their failures. They just get on with the work. And because they care so much, this work brings them their greatest moments of joy as well as the deepest moments of pain and suffering. And yet all of those emotions are accepted as part of the work.
There is no financial reward, in fact it only costs them money. So if they expect neither thanks nor money, why do they do it? Their greatest reward is to witness the fruit of their devotion as it grows and ripens in the world, taking on its own unique beauty, and feeding in its turn the world it moves in. And in that witnessing, seeing the best of themselves and the worst of themselves expressed and refined on the whetstone of life.
So who are these incredible beings, that most of us would aspire to become? Well, you may well be one yourself. These are the parents of the world. The mothers and fathers who devote a large part of our lives to the raising of our children. Work that is neither valued by our monetized economy nor by the very children themselves until it is often too late to express their gratitude. So could we mobilise these qualities in ourselves and apply them to the raising of our immature society into an adulthood that takes full responsibility for the impact of its choices on all life on this beautiful planet of ours? With unwavering commitment, full surrender and an open heart? Maybe. I hope so. The potential is boundless.
This paper aims to explore the connections between evolutionary biology and
living systems theory on the one hand, and on the other, a currently emerging
initiative called Global Balance which aims to move human civilisation into a
more co-operative way of behaving, bringing all parts of the system into
balance for a sustainable future. It concludes that the emergence of a global
system designed to meet the needs of all, is a natural part of the evolution of
the human species. By learning from evolutionary biology, social change
agents can create the natural design that will allow human civilisation to
develop its next scale of co-operation.
The paper is divided into three main parts. Firstly, we take a short look at the
Global Balance project itself, so you can have this in mind as we explore some
of the theory around it. We then move on to discover how an understanding of
evolutionary systems informs and supports the project. The third section then
takes one concrete map of evolutionary human systems, called Integral Spiral
Dynamics, and uses it to plot where human evolution is at the moment, and
how a project like Global Balance can best contribute to our healthy