Sustainability and the Psyche


Flying to Santa Barbara from Boston takes all day and two changes on the way. Except for the inevitable nervousness about missing connections, it was a pretty uneventful flight. I had gotten a window seat so I could spot the mountains as we got over the West and was not disappointed. The last remnants of snow were visible from my window as I peered over the wing.

I am on my way to speak about sustainability to a group who largely think of culture change in terms of personal transformation and enlightenment. But I thought as I kept my gaze focused on the beauty of the Rockies that we all, from my techie outlook to their psychological and anthropological stances, would have the same thoughts. How long are we going to be able to marvel at the world’s riches? The mountains alone would be enough, Dayenu. But the stark contrast of the glistening snow makes the scene even more awesome. And, if things go as they are today, the snow will disappear earlier and earlier, and maybe not come at all. A few of the world’s highest ski areas have closed because the snow has gone.

I’m waiting for the conference to start and worrying about how I will present my piece. I usually do it with the help of a Keynote (Mac’s improvement of Powerpoint) presentation, but the cavernous room has no curtains and the California sun is very bright. In thinking about it, I can recognize many crossover themes. Sustainability shows up as much the same idea, but in different words. I talk about it in terms of flourishing. The is the same word that runs through this community’s language. In this primarily Jungian crew, individuation is the process for getting to the state where all that one can be shows up.

Our means for achieving the transformation of values and action are different, but again our beliefs are very close. Without a shift in human consciousness towards caring and community, all we will ever do is to put Band-aids on the world and on our psyches. I don’t find many in the technocratic world I live in most of the time who understand the need for transformative change. I expect to find a more welcoming audience here. Transformation is a more deeply grounded idea in thinking about the human psyche or soul with roots deep into the mystic and the psychological. I hope to leave with more ideas about how to interweave what I know I will learn here into my own practices.