Written by Terry Patten / Daily Good
The following is an adapted excerpt from A New Republic of the Heart by Terry Patten, published by North Atlantic Books, copyright © 2018 by Terry Patten. Reprinted by permission of publisher.
In this pivotal moment of truth for our species, a whole wave of radical conversations is inevitable. For these conversations to really make a difference, we must break through our personas and our inauthentic poses. This is a deeper level of discourse than has hitherto seemed thinkable in public—disarming, tender, and authentic. To my knowledge, we have never had such a public conversation. Any such conversation requires an extraordinary degree of freedom and clarity and intelligence—and perhaps it can only take place in a moment of supreme urgency like this one. But now the stakes for humankind are our collective fate—a life-and-death choice. As Samuel Johnson noted, “Nothing clarifies a man’s mind so much as the knowledge that he shall be hanged in the morning.”
We are in territory that can clarify our minds—perhaps the calm before the storm. This historical moment may be the last window when we can initiate such a conversation in an environment of relative tranquility. Such a conversation requires a level of trust, vulnerability, and truthfulness that our culture seems to preclude, and we tend to shy away from it. It isn’t easy to examine and feel our deepest fears, or to acknowledge our unsustainable, addictive way of life. In a way, it is like a Twelve-Step “moment of clarity” out of which unexpected changes of habit and character become mysteriously possible by “a power greater than ourselves.” That power may be the pressure of evolution itself.
Important conversations will refine practical solutions to our current social, political, economic, and environmental crises. Some among us have already been having those conversations for years. But they haven’t yet produced the urgently needed outcomes. Those conversations will deepen, extend, and continue.
A new, very different soul-level conversation is called for. It can only occur in a very different state of consciousness. It also requires new, more spacious and holistic and dimensional and nuanced structures of mind. It requires integral consciousness and the integrated intelligence of our whole being—what I call integral heart intelligence (which integrates mental intelligence and a powerful will with intuitive wisdom).
These collective evolutionary capacities emerge when individuals consistently practice transformative inner disciplines, individually and with each other, and with the united intention to serve a greater good.
We are going to be drawn out of our comfort zones, but perhaps into something deeper and more real, meaningful, and rewarding. Periods of great adversity often produce exciting and satisfying lives. There is a kind of love possible during times of war or natural disasters, a kind of vivacity and authenticity.
In this way, we might actually do something even better than surviving the coming crises and catastrophes that might await us. We might learn to thrive in a way that perhaps we were not doing even before our runaway planetary emergency began to threaten every comfortable structure of existence.
We might become something so far beyond what we are, who we have been, and how we have thought and lived and loved and spoken and treated one another and our planet, that we might for all practical purposes be a new species.
This is a grand idea, and yet it is reasoned from evidence. And it is simple. When we emerge from the isolating trance of our fragmented cultures and begin to act with others on the basis of the fact that we really are all in this together, something important happens. We enter together into a profound shared experience. We enter into a new consciousness and creativity that are not available to lone individuals. No one, regardless of their enlightenment, can be what many of us can be when we are awake together, united in consciousness, vision, fellowship, care, and purpose.
Intimate, candid, catalytic soul conversation can open a doorway out of our collective trance, our conditioned alienation, our collective bad dream. It is a cluster of conversations that lead into an integral culture and consciousness that is the next stage in our evolution. And in that consciousness, all our other necessary conversations about practical and political solutions to urgent problems can be fruitful in a way they have never been until now.
[This work is] profoundly humbling. I don’t imagine I stand on some superior moral or spiritual ground. I am a student of this process and these ideas—a teacher who teaches what he most needs to learn. I need this soul conversation as much as you do. [This] is my attempt to begin the conversation with you, and with as many people as possible.
[Here I present] my attempt to complete the enormous unfinished work of my generation. We may not be able to leave behind as healthy a planet as we were given. But I wish to bequeath to my son, and all our daughters and sons, a supremely valuable legacy. I hope this can be a catalyst—one of many—to help us grow into the new version of humankind that is envisioned here.
My hope is that you will choose to enter this conversation. For me it is a first step in a process of building connections, conversations, relationships, and communities that both nourish and embody the higher potentials of our species, and that will provide a solid integral foundation on which we may begin to build together, in the clear, pure words of Charles Eisenstein, “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.”