Why is the Novasutras movement growing a spiritual community, instead of focusing on direct activism and/or lifestyle changes to promote agaya and ubuntu? I talk about these ideas a bit in this video:
Change the Paradigm, Change the System
Unlike most activist organizations, Novasutras starts from the intention of inspiring a movement large enough to change the whole paragdim of civilization. We believe that we must change the underlying system, the ideas of our culture that are so fundamental, they go largely unspoken and unchallenged. In Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System
, beloved ancestor (late, great) systems thinker Donella Meadows says that it is at the vast and profound level that you can make the most change:
(in increasing order of effectiveness)
12. Constants, parameters, numbers (such as subsidies, taxes, standards).
11. The sizes of buffers and other stabilizing stocks, relative to their flows.
10. The structure of material stocks and flows (such as transport networks, population age structures).
9. The lengths of delays, relative to the rate of system change.
8. The strength of negative feedback loops, relative to the impacts they are trying to correct against.
7. The gain around driving positive feedback loops.
6. The structure of information flows (who does and does not have access to information).
5. The rules of the system (such as incentives, punishments, constraints).
4. The power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure.
3. The goals of the system.
2. The mindset or paradigm out of which the system — its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters — arises.
1. The power to transcend paradigms.
The Level of Urgency
Right now, our civilization is at a time of awesome and terrifying risk, approaching some tipping points that threaten to completely destabilize the way modern humans live. Things are already changing rapidly, but the ways that things are changing are not all good, and some of the things that most need to change are stuck.
We are on the crumbling edge of climate catastrophe. We have polluted air, water and soil in ways that may take millennia to heal. We are in the midst of a major species extinction crisis. Global economic and power structures are moving toward ever-greater inequity, a trajectory that has historically led to revolution and the collapse of great civilizations. People around the world are increasingly unhappy, with attendant problems of violence, substance abuse, and angry, polarized discourse. Each of these alone is bad, but they have synergistic effects that reduce our chances of resolving any of them independently.
Our chances of solving any one of these crises is much better if we work toward solving all of them at once. This kind of broad approach is not compatible with the usual strategies of political parties, NGOs and issue-driven social movements. Spiritual movements can
provide people with the kind of new cultural template that will allow for radical changes throughout the system.
Sources of Inspiration
New religions have often emerged from times of great turmoil and cultural upheaval. We are on the threshold of such a time of dire beauty*. It is up to us to decide how to proceed with our dangerous, beautiful assignment* in light of these challenges. Will you join in this dance to create a sane, reverent* civilization, and midwife together a renaissance that will rise from the rubble* of what is wrong today?
*phrases borrowed from Caroline Casey, with much respect and admiration