This is a very special episode in which I had the chance to introduce two of my heroes: Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman and science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson. They shared a lively conversation together that you now have the chance to eavesdrop on (with their permission).
They talk about when violence is legitimate in situations like the Tibetan or Ukrainian invasions, their personal relationships to the Dalai Lama, and how we might make Kim Stanley Robinson’s fictional climate solutions from his latest novel The Ministry for the Future start working in real life.
In this intimate conversation between two people who have wanted to meet each other for a long time, Robert Thurman and Kim Stanley Robinson also speak frankly about their politics and their ideas, both for saving the planet and for simple mental health in a world that’s filled with climate and social emergencies. As Kim Stanley Robinson put it, “spiritual and political advice.” I hope you enjoy their conversation.
[00:01:31] Kim Stanley Robinson: Hello, good to meet you.
[00:01:33] Robert Thurman: Hi, nice to meet you.
[00:01:35] Kim Stanley Robinson: Thanks for getting up early.
The Ministry of the Future and Green Earth
[00:01:36] Robert Thurman: The book has done really well you were saying!
[00:01:38] Kim Stanley Robinson: I would say it has done very well. It’s being translated into 16 or 20 languages.
[00:01:45] Robert Thurman: Oh, yes!
[00:01:46] Kim Stanley Robinson: The people who are already in the ministries for the future that currently exist under other names, they love this book because it says they are part of a bigger movement and they can succeed. The desperation for this story is also a kind of a joy at being recognized or acknowledged to be real already; and that’s a lot of people. So I’m pleased. I’m ready to keep on swinging. The Dalai Lama as he left our session punched the air like a boxer, saying he was going to keep on fighting. It was an inspirational moment. Let’s use him as inspiration and keep on fighting going forward.
Let’s use the Dalai Lama as inspiration and keep on fighting going forward.
[00:02:15] Robert Thurman: He’s staying until 110. Anyway, I loved that book. I’m stuck in the middle of the Olympics and the guy with the hand that got cut off and he’s figuring out the speed of light. That book is—you’re an 800-page man.
[00:02:29] Kim Stanley Robinson: Yeah, I apologize.
[00:02:31] Robert Thurman: No, no, I enjoy it. I’m enjoying it so much. And then I tried to start the other, Green Earth. I got a little bit into it and I can’t finish because then I suddenly realized from Scott that the Dalai Lama was the Rudra Chakrin.
[00:02:48] Kim Stanley Robinson: Yeah, yeah.
[00:02:51] Robert Thurman: How did you find Rudra Chakrin?
[00:02:54] Kim Stanley Robinson: Well, I can’t remember but when I was writing Green Earth, I wanted to inject these Buddhists into Washington DC culture and have them make a kind of diplomatic error, thinking that going to the National Science Foundation would be going to an important place, which is a kind of a joke. But they maybe were right. Maybe science was the place to go, the Dalai Lama writing about science being a force for Buddhism.
The Dalai Lama
[00:03:25] Robert Thurman: The Dalai Lama wanted to go. When he first came in 1979, he begged them to take him to NASA in Houston. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let him go because the Chinese would’ve considered it like he was being treated as the head of state or something.
So they declined to let him go. And then he would have liked to go to the National Science Foundation. He went to the Congress many times but he never got to the NSF I believe, because they always wanted to hide from the Chinese their full measure of like for the Dalai Lama, which they all did. For example, Clinton never invited him; Gore would invite him. And then Clinton would come over and drop in on Gore’s office.
[00:04:09] Kim Stanley Robinson: Yeah, I saw Nancy Pelosi introduce him at the basketball stadium in Washington, DC to give a talk. This would’ve been about 2006 and Pelosi was a little boring, she didn’t seem to quite get it.
But the Dalai Lama took over and at first he was speaking in Tibetan and his translator was translating, then the Dalai Lama just switched over to English and took over. He spoke to a crowd of maybe 13,000 people for two hours. A lot of Buddhists from all over the world were in DC and they came up on stage and they got a scarf around their shoulders, I’m forgetting the name . . .
[00:04:50] Robert Thurman: Khata.
[00:04:52] Kim Stanley Robinson: And I had the idea that Tibetans had found and released the Panchen Lama after he was kidnapped and got taken to Washington, DC and was pretending to be an ordinary attaché staff member. And the Dalai Lama seeing him, recognized him, and they recognized each other on stage. Because the people coming up to be greeted by him on stage were in ecstasy, or grinning. One thing that you know, that I did not know, is that the Dalai Lama is such a comedian. He wants to make you laugh.
One thing that you know that I did not know is the Dalai Lama is such a comedian. He wants to make you laugh.
[00:05:29] Robert Thurman: He really is. In fact, it’s sometimes actually shocked me.
[00:05:32] Kim Stanley Robinson: It must be the weirdest life ever. He’s made the best of a very strange hand that has been dealt him in this particular incarnation. His life is so strange and everybody treating him as if he were something quite unusual, which he is. But he is also, as he keeps saying over and over again, I’m just an ordinary monk. I’m a monk. I’m an ordinary guy.
[00:05:55] Robert Thurman: A simple monk.
[00:05:56] Kim Stanley Robinson: He has to insist on that, I think.
[00:05:59] Robert Thurman: Oh yes, he really does.
[00:06:01] Kim Stanley Robinson: He’s done such a good job of coping with the historical situation.
[00:06:07] Robert Thurman: He really has and people don’t know he’s created a miracle that of the 120,000—nobody knows the real number of Tibetans in India—25,000 are still monks. They’re very industrious. They’re like the Swiss, those who have worked have created prosperous settlements, and they all could have done that. You’d think they would, but the younger ones still, there are still a lot of them. And they come out of Tibet, they come from Mongolia, and they want that life of sublimation, the erotic energy into the visualizations and meditations, et cetera, because they admire him so much. He has somehow kept that alive. It really is amazing actually.
Is violence ever allowable in Buddhism?
[00:06:49] Kim Stanley Robinson: I have a question for you. I went to McLeod Ganj last April. There was a small group and it was beautiful. It was a wonderful experience. And I saw what you were saying about the Tibetans holding their culture together, being industrious. But what I also learned was that there’s an opposition movement. They want to use violence. They want to fight back.
[00:07:13] Robert Thurman: Oh yes, the young people, some of them.
[00:07:16] Kim Stanley Robinson: What do you think? I mean, it seems to me to create a really complicated kind of a situation going forward if the Tibetans can hold together and hold to non-violence.
[00:07:30] Robert Thurman: Well, you see there are people who are like that. Especially one guy in Dharamsala who’s always talking about it. There is a video actually that I saw once. That guy and Jamyang Norbu, another writer, they met His Holiness at one time and His Holiness was rubbing his hands together to them and said, Alright guys, you wanna fight? Okay, let’s do it. Now, where are we gonna get the guns? He says like that, showing great enthusiasm. And then of course they’re like, Oh, all the guns, yeah.
The point is they did resist very violently and very strongly in the east for 10 years. And the CIA helped them in a typical Eisenhower way. In other words, filing the serial numbers off the guns and giving them old guns. So, they didn’t have really serious help. And it’s not like the Ukrainians, the Chinese outnumbered them way more than the Russians do the Ukrainians. And they were not European, easily accessible by media, so nobody knew what was going on.
And the British betrayed them as they did in 1923. Winston Churchill blocked a Tibetan embassy from the 13th Dalai Lama to the League of Nations, like three times. They even caught him on a train going from Paris to Geneva. That’s the closest he got. So then of course it was only little clandestine help they had at first and they fought valiantly, although the Dalai Lama never told them to.
There is a Tibetan translation of a sanskrit sutra that says, If you’re a king and you’re invaded, it’s ethical to defend yourself if you can successfully do so and chase the people out. And then don’t invade them, but make a treaty and let them know not to ever do it again. But if you can’t defend yourself, it is unethical to defend yourself because you’ll kill quite a few on the way in, you’ll lose, and then they’ll be more vicious when they dominate you.
There’s no Holy War theory in Buddhism, unlike the Western theories, but there is allowable defense. Basically, the idea is to minimize the overall violence. If you can quickly push them back out, by all means do so.
There’s no Holy War theory in Buddhism but there is allowable defense. Basically, the idea is to minimize the overall violence.
[00:09:38] Kim Stanley Robinson: It seems to me there’s a strength in the Tibetan culture—language, people, their tradition, the difficult landscape they grew up in, Buddhism itself—that they can take the long view and say, We will just live on.
[00:09:57] Robert Thurman: They do that. That’s what they do.
[00:09:59] Kim Stanley Robinson: But how long can that go?
[00:10:00] Robert Thurman: Well, the problem is the Dalai Lama would love to retake rebirth now, he is already 87. I just saw him in October, I was gonna again try for the third time to retire from the job, the culture job. We’ve known each other since 1964, when we were fellow students. In a way he likes and doesn’t like me because I don’t treat him specially, except in a ritual setting.
So, he says to me, Well, we’re going to be doing many more lifetimes. Not only can I not resign at 82 but I’m booked already for the next life for whatever we continue.
Spiritual and political advice: dark money, petropaths, and mini billionaires
I was thinking about talking to you and I’m just—I wanted to thank you Scott—I’m just so thrilled. I can’t tell you how much I am. I have something I want to tell you about. You wrote in The Ministry for the Future that somebody would envision a way which we can fight back against the dark money—because the only reason it’s been like this is the dark money. It’s only a few people, everybody else knows that they don’t want to be flooded and burned.
There’s very few people, relatively speaking, maybe 500 or 5,000—I call them petroleum psychopaths, petropaths for short—and they have been keeping this going for decades. Nobody on the supposed liberal side, some of whom have many excess dollars, have tried to fight back. I’ve even had a debate with one billionaire who claimed that we couldn’t do advocacy with money.
Nobody on the supposed liberal side, some of whom have many excess dollars, have tried to fight back against these petroleum psychopaths.
[00:12:08] Kim Stanley Robinson: There’s a lot of young mini billionaires. There are a lot of rich young people from Silicon Valley who immediately realize they have more money than they need and they want to do good. They don’t want the biosphere to crash. They are willing to try anything. They don’t know what to do. They haven’t got the lesson of Nancy Pelosi that you need to fight in the political realm, as well as all the other realms. But they are looking to change things by way of throwing their wealth into the cause.
[00:12:41] Robert Thurman: But then they turn libertarian is the problem.
[00:12:44] Kim Stanley Robinson: Well, that would be the dark side. Yes, the libertarian. Well, they need spiritual and political advice. I was at a conference where Stewart Brand, Jerry Brown, and I were the old men trying to advise these very rich and smart, young, well-meaning technical people.
What should we do? They said. And we said, Go to Washington, DC and establish a think tank, lobbying firm, advertising firm, and spiritual center, all in one.
[00:13:13] Robert Thurman: You told them? Yes!
[00:13:14] Kim Stanley Robinson: And they said, Oh, no, we wanna turn the control knobs on society directly. And I was thinking, Wait, that is what we just described to you. But they didn’t get it. So it’s process.
Now there’s a fine line you have to run here. We’re in such danger. The situation is so grave, the forces of darkness are so strong and entrenched and rich. When I say I see the turning of the tide, it’s a little bit projective, like a wish. But also I’m seeing real things. The template is real. I didn’t make it up, I reported on it. And when you report on it and put it out there, then people can seize on it as a vision and understand that they aren’t alone in this. The correlation of the forces, the attempt to find points of leverage, you can see it happening.
We’re in such danger. The situation is so grave, the forces of darkness are so strong and entrenched and rich. When I say I see the turning of the tide, it’s a little bit projective, but also I’m seeing real things.
So this is the thing that I asked the Dalai Lama and this is what I ask you. This change in people’s feelings of what’s real, what’s important, that’s the crucial thing, especially for the the privileged middle class, prosperous world. Given their power, this is why it is smart to advertise.
I’m wondering if that structure of feeling—that change in people’s feelings—does that happen before and then you pull along the politics and the economy? Or does it happen after you’ve managed to somehow change the—it’s a kind of chicken and egg problem.
[00:14:54] Robert Thurman: Well, what you do in your book is you allow 30 million or 20 million Indians in Bihar to die, to be fried in six weeks, that very painful first chapter. And that will cause movement, of course. Whether you’re Hindu or Muslim, your caste, everything, will become irrelevant when we’re all boiling in the river together.
And you’re right. But the point is that by that time so many people die. I really don’t like this idea that the kind of old wild-haired prophet says, Well, billions will die, but the rest of us will be there in teepees. Why should we have to do that? We can have people educated, all learning the dharma, all cultivating their open heart chakra by the millions. Why not? What’s wrong with that? There’s no reason we can’t do that.
We can have people educated, all learning the dharma, all cultivating their open heart chakra by the millions. Why not?
You are the brilliant visionary author who invented Carbon Coins. But why are they waiting for more catastrophes before really letting people imagine that? People can imagine that.
[00:16:03] Kim Stanley Robinson: This is something I was taught at COP 26 in Glasgow by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, one of my most important teachers there, a Jordanian diplomat who’s worked in the UN Human Rights office most of his life. He said, Stan, you don’t have to be in a plane crash to know that being in a plane crash would be a bad thing. You just have to point out the trajectory and say, Let’s not crash.
You don’t have to be in a plane crash to know that being in a plane crash would be a bad thing. You just have to point out the trajectory and say, Let’s not crash.
In my book, I’m often misunderstood that we’ll only act when there’s a spectacular heat death. I don’t think that’s right. I think once you think about the spectacular heat death of millions, which could happen in the Midwest of America, it could happen in the Southeast, as well as in India. Once you’ve thought that, then you need to act, you can already start to act.
[00:16:56] Robert Thurman: Well, that’s what your book does. But I’m telling you, I have seen it in the hands of at least four billionaires lately. They like it and they claim to have read it right through. Then they move on quickly, Oh, I gotta make breakfast for my son next week because I got divorced and whatever. They think about something else because we can still act like there’s a kind of normal going on.
I think they just need a fire. And you lit it. I’ll probably die before 2040, but then the Dalai Lama insists I have to come back. I’ll be like a three-year-old Greta Thunberg or something. I’ll be a female. I don’t know. But I just think we need to do it now anyway.
I’ll probably die before 2040, but then the Dalai Lama insists I have to come back. I’ll be like a three-year-old Greta Thunberg or something. I’ll be a female. I don’t know.
Listen, so tell me, how did you get started in all of this? You’re 70, so you didn’t get stoned until 1970 probably.
Buddhism in the modern world
[00:17:50] Kim Stanley Robinson: That’s right, you pegged it precisely. It was going to college. It was the Vietnam War. It was the Vietnam protests. My radicalization was in the early seventies in southern California, in San Diego. I was a body surfer, a beach kid.
[00:18:09] Robert Thurman: Oh, how cool.
[00:18:11] Kim Stanley Robinson: But this is the great thing, Gary Snyder came to campus, gave a reading. I wanted to be a poet. I understood that Gary was an alternative to the alcoholic, patriarchal jerk American male writer. Gary was how to do it right. He himself then was only 40 years old.
So I started reading, I read DT Suzuki, I read Alan Watts, I read Gary. The Zen Buddhism—and I know you’ll recognize this—the American Buddhism, California movement that is new age, hippie, stoner, informal zen in its most California, lightweight . . .
[00:18:57] Robert Thurman: Oh yeah, but wonderful. Well, some of it very intense though.
[00:19:01] Kim Stanley Robinson: But not me. I can never meditate more than 10 seconds at a time.
[00:19:06] Robert Thurman: You realize that’s lucky.
[00:19:07] Kim Stanley Robinson: Well, I don’t know but I—
[00:19:08] Robert Thurman: I’m telling you it is lucky. I had gone to India and didn’t find the right guru but I came back when my father died and I met a guru in New Jersey. And when I would start leaving the body—because I was so flipped out when I discovered Nagarjuna and so on—he would interrupt me and say, What are you doing? People would think you are crazy.
I would sneak out in the woods near this place in New Jersey and he would say, People will think we’re crazy, having crazy boys here meditating in the middle of the night. What are you doing? He would just stop me from meditating.
I would sneak out in the woods near this place in New Jersey and he would say, People will think we’re crazy, having crazy boys here meditating in the middle of the night.
A real Tibetan teacher never teaches you to meditate until you’ve corrected your irrational egotism. Because you’ll create an ego space where you feel very tranqued out and you become addicted to that, and then you shut down your analytic insight.
A real Tibetan teacher never teaches you to meditate until you’ve corrected your irrational egotism. Because you’ll create an ego space where you shut down your analytic insight.
And believe me, don’t whine about not being a poet. When you write about that guy’s laboratory and the Olympics. Well, when you discuss how you can make a billion on a pharmaceutical in great detail, it’s like poetry.
But the one big news flash that I’ve gotten in the last 50 years is that nothing means nothing. There’s no such thing. Nobody’s going there. It’s not a dark space. There’s no place to go.
Shamanism and Shakyamuni’s Buddha world
[00:20:28] Kim Stanley Robinson: I have a question for you. With Buddhism, you go back to the Buddha in 600 BC. But I’m thinking to myself that in the farthest spread of the world, you see the same religious practices, shamanism, they call it. But I’m thinking that’s the original religion; that’s the original set of insights. It spread worldwide before it began to deviate by local changes. In Tibet, they had the Bon religion and that looks to me like shamanism.
Doesn’t it seem possible that this set of practices that you’ve been practicing, and that the Buddha taught, that they’re more like 50,000 years old?
[00:21:18] Robert Thurman: Definitely, more like 500,000. The Buddhists have three Buddhas before this Buddha, maybe a hundred thousand years between them. I don’t know if the earth has folded over or what has happened, but shamanism is definitely in the same plane. However, the one difference is that more and more animals get to be funneled through the human form into this Buddha world, this is Shakyamuni’s Buddha world.
Actually, among the thousand buddhas that come here during the billion years that this earth is inhabitable, he’s one of the thousand sons. They have the wonderful legend of who volunteered to come when we only had lived a hundred years on average and we had a lot of violence and wars. He was one of the very few born in Kshatriya warrior class rather than the Brahman high intellectual class.
But he also taught us tantra, where we could accelerate and compress the experience of many, many lifetimes into a single lifetime in the sort of matrix-like dream reality. That’s why I love that movie. In that dream reality we could have been trained by Morpheus to do martial arts thinking that we’re breathing air. We can in this life, as a human, and tantra enables us to do that. Buddhists would agree with that, but not that the shaman though, on the other hand is ready to make a whole society of shamans.
The Buddha taught us tantra, where we could accelerate and compress the experience of many, many lifetimes into a single lifetime in the sort of matrix-like dream reality.
Everybody can meet the ancestors. Everybody goes up the tree. Everybody finds the world tree in their central nervous system. Everybody has psychic neuroscience, I call it inner neuroscience, where they put their imagination at a stable point in the center of the throat chakra, and then they can instantly learn lucid dreaming and so forth if they could actually do that. Which I don’t pretend I can, I’m just reading the result of their 3,500 years of written science.
Everybody finds the world tree in their central nervous system.
[00:23:19] Kim Stanley Robinson: I think what you’re saying is that Buddhism is that moment when everybody takes on shamanic powers and not just the special intermediary. So it changes from almost like Catholic to Protestant, only in this sense that you don’t need a special intermediary, you do it yourself.
Buddhism is that moment when everybody takes on shamanic powers.
[00:23:37] Robert Thurman: Yes, exactly. That’s always what it was. Buddha Shakyamuni—even though there are these glorified visions of him, which I’m sure are true—with those other Indians that he was talking to, mostly Brahmans and Kshatrias, would allow anybody from anywhere.
There were geniuses among the lower ones and he would ordain the barber before the prince, then the barber would be the superior of the prince in the order. So he was putting that turnaround into society with this beautiful thing that he invented. But he also said, I’m a simple monk.
He could’ve gone back to the throne that was his at any time; his father wanted him to. His father was so embarrassed that he was begging for food from poor people. He sent caterers out there with all kinds of feasts and Buddha would just give that to everybody else. He would still beg.
He was just a wandering homeless man letting people drop completely out in this moment of extreme fruition. He was a whole community of people. He wasn’t just one person. He was many people. And I’m sorry, but to me you are clearly one of them. There’s no question in my mind.
The Buddha was a whole community of people. He wasn’t just one person. He was many people. And to me, you are clearly one of them.
Living a rich life by integrating Buddhism into everyday experiences
[00:24:55] Kim Stanley Robinson: Well, I am so ignorant that I’m ecumenical to the extreme. My Buddhism takes the form of every day I turn into a dog for an hour and chase a Frisbee around. I have that same mindless, present flow state. But my teacher, Frederick Jameson, maybe he’s my guru. He’s been my teacher since ’71. He’s still teaching, he’s 88 and he’s on fire.
[00:25:20] Robert Thurman: Where is he?
[00:25:21] Kim Stanley Robinson: He is in Connecticut but he’s teaching at Duke University. And it’s still French literature, it’s still modernism, it’s still Marxism. I’m listening to his classes as a kind of a podcast. They record him now because he’s teaching from a distance at Duke. I got the keys to the kingdom where I listen to his lectures.
Three days ago I was harvesting olives from a tree in order to cure these olives; this is one of the few things I can do that’s interesting where I live. And he was lecturing in my ear on Cézanne and on the French modernist as their changing of reality. So, he was talking about Cézanne’s paintings as I was in a Cézanne painting, to the extent that California Central Valley can be. It was a beautiful addition to my moment, a kind of a cross temporal thing.
The following day I was in my garden weeding and planting new strawberries, and he was playing Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring to show that modernist music was trying to break your brain from the older harmonic tonality and turn it into something new and fresh.
[00:26:28] Robert Thurman: They overcome the intense thing for property.
[00:26:31] Kim Stanley Robinson: Yes, so I’m living a rich life that has Buddhism, Marxism, turning into a dog, Gary Snyder, but also California, and a kind of embodied . . . I was so happy.
I’m living a rich life that has Buddhism, Marxism, turning into a dog, Gary Snyder, but also California.
[00:26:46] Robert Thurman: I love it. Don’t you know, every New Yorker wants to move there and join that to trundle into the waves, and we’re all scared shitless because we’ve already been trounced in Long Island.
[00:26:58] Kim Stanley Robinson: I’m scared of the ocean, but I’m saying that there’s a way of integrating our experiences that is Buddhist to the core, but it has an extra—there are these Japanese monks that run with a kind of boat on their head around Mount Haya, it is essentially running meditation.
This has saved me from thinking that I’m a bad Buddhist but I don’t think the Buddha cares about that. I don’t think that the Dalai Lama cares about that. I mean, is there such a thing?
Enlightenment and the structure of feeling
[00:27:29] Robert Thurman: Of course, the Dalai Lama loves everyone; he is absolutely sincere. He says, I never gave a general talk anywhere on Buddhism with the motive of making anybody be a Buddhist. Everyone should learn everything from everywhere, but keep their grandmother’s religion. Or she will be unhappy. But they can be enlightened through every path.
If you go to the depth of reality, that’s where enlightenment is. And you have to be open to be real. And that’s what it is. It is not some ism. It is not some system. It is not a theory. It is not religion. The word dharma, which has 11 meanings—that the Buddha said from 2,000 years ago—one meaning comes from the verb to hold something: holding you in your duty, in your custom, in the pattern of law. And it still has that meaning.
If you go to the depth of reality, that’s where enlightenment is. And you have to be open to be real. It is not some ism. It is not some system. It is not a theory. It is not religion.
It also means holding a phenomenon in its individual behavioral characteristic. Buddha added a set of meanings where it means holding you in freedom from suffering. It’s holding you in the one true reality, nirvana, which is actually the reality of right here and now, every single thing all the time.
[00:28:49] Kim Stanley Robinson: We can always fight the good fight without labels, names, saints, or political leaders that then take over the freshness of our thinking. All that can be made new by just doing the right things.
And of course we’re in a political battle. You can’t get too simple minded about it. It’s a specific political battle. But you’ve been so scholarly. I mean, you’re the last person I should complain to about getting too simplistic because you’ve taken it to be a discipline with a technique and a kind of a science of thinking. So that’s what we need.
We can always fight the good fight without labels, names, saints, or political leaders that then take over the freshness of our thinking. All that can be made new by just doing the right things.
[00:29:31] Robert Thurman: That’s what vipassana really means; “vi” means to analyze and “passana” means seeing, so analytically seeing. The ultimate reality, perfection wisdom is the transmutation of the energy of hatred. Because intelligence and hatred are totally linked. Also, to take everything apart to find out what it is. That’s why people don’t understand.
I love scientists for their methodology and their Popperianism, which is actually catching up with Buddha: taking everything apart and never allowing so-called law to become dogma.
[00:30:10] Kim Stanley Robinson: Yes, I can see the hunger for the story in the response these last couple of years. It’s been astonishing, alarming, and a little bit painful. Because to see that kind of hunger is to realize that people are living in dread because they don’t think things can work when things really can work.
People are living in dread because they don’t think things can work when things really can work.
So in the fight over ideas—this is a Marxist term from Raymond Williams—we live in a structure of feeling. We have animal emotions because we are animals. And the feelings can be structured by language, by culture, by history, by other people.
That structure of feeling, I feel, is now. It’s that famous moment that Gramsci talked about, the old order has fallen apart, it doesn’t work and it is clearly going to kill us all. The new order has not yet been born, but it’s being imagined. It’s in a moment of birth. It has to happen fast. We’re trying to bring it, in the new structure of feeling it won’t make sense to poison the biosphere in order to do trivial things and that’ll just be the common sense. So anything that hurries that up, we need.
The old order has fallen apart, it doesn’t work and it is clearly going to kill us all. The new order has not yet been born but it’s being imagined. It’s in a moment of birth.
We’re grateful to you, Scott, for trying to stir the pot, bring us together and make that happen faster, this structure of feeling change.
[00:31:33] Robert Thurman: Absolutely, thank you so much.
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