Posted on

Yammerin’ Interview #2: Self-improvement


#2 interview with Guy McPherson, on his Feb. 2012 Michigan visit:


What do you know about self-improvement?

A week before the talk I knew nothing. I did a little research. Contemplated the nature of my own existence.

And what did you find out?

I thought about Socrates and the Buddha and other ancient philosophers.

Why ancient? Why go there considering the here and now…

It’s trite to say there’s nothing new under the sun…. but, it’s true. The ancients took time to think, and to experience the world. We don’t much do that in this society.

What did you find out from Socrates and Buddha regarding self improvement?

Between S and B there is a wealth of wisdom about self and improvement…So I introduced some of those ideas to spark a discussion….Like the Buddha’s five skhandas……”heap” like piles of existence…….

Heaping piles of existence is an interesting visual of “self”….plus likely takes up a whole lot of space….

B contemplated and taught the difference between the self– and no self….between the ego and the immersion into the world as a human animal….Each heap necessary, but inefficient to form “I” or “myself”….

Isn’t that kind of risky to share a message by the B when you don’t know who your audience is?

It’s important for me to take risks, and I felt like linking “self-improvement” to my message of the twin sides of the fossil fuel coin was necessary…..for my own personal growth and perhaps helpful to others.

SO that’ leads me to my next question in terms of tackling the practice of “self-improvement…..what about the dependence our culture seems to have on HOW-to kinds of quick fixes or band aid remedies to addictive-chronic-serious issues…How then can we accomplish tidying up or tending to these “heaps”?

I think what we are immersed in a major and serious opportunity for life-change and what we face in the very near future is a crises of consciousness. If we are going to deal with that crises….we are going to have to deal with the root of that issue, rather than the band-aids. The root is us.

A few years ago someone taught me this short Buddhist mantra….“Om Muni Muni Maha Muni-Ye Soha”…their translation was, from what I recollect: “honoring of the Buddha’s teachings by cutting the root of my ignorant self”. This seems a little tricky because what we are speaking of now, is the need to be rooted.

We believe we are rooted in this culture, but this “culture” has us adrift. We should be rooted in our conscious selves and in our place.

In permaculture one of our principal considerations we answer to when implementing a human-made system is to ask the question if place and practice match-up—or in harmony….

Yes, and this is the message of these ancient thinkers. Socrates and Buddha can help us become rooted in ourselves as human animals….and rooted in our communities…..connecting both….we are the ones we’ve been looking for……

So after Zach and Nellie gathered us all in with their music and songs…which seemed to be their personal messages about self and self-improvement….what did you see happening in that orange room with the discussion that you led?

I saw that we were exhibiting, as a group, a point I was inviting folks to share in. There is no self, independent of other selves. We were building community while talking about building community. We were practicing “anarchy” in this beautiful orange room. Letting each person in the circle express them selves by talking about “self” and taking responsibility not just for ourselves but also for the group.

How does this self-improvement work have bearing on your message of the failures of industrial civilization and your desire for it’s collapse?

These bonds….as demonstrated that evening between the human beings present, are also connected to the bonds between human beings and the living planet, bonds between our superficial selves and rooted conscious selves.

What about the present day leadership who likely don’t embrace S and B’s philosophy?

There is no present day political leadership taking action on self-improvement as we spoke of in that circle. We can not sustain industrial civilization, and at the same time also apply S and B’s philosophy to our lives. Our present day political leadership embraces, as you have said a few dozen times in my presence: a powering over-filthy rotten system. They do not practice or embrace the idea or philosophy of a self-maintaining, self-improving healthy planet, which happens to also include individual, human animals.

We didn’t spend much time contemplating Socrates messages in this interview… but I do agree that our evening pondering Self-improvement was quite wonderful.

And, in closing, I’m going to take this opportunity to share music by Zach Power that was part of our circle discussion of self-improvement via this link: