Charles Eisenstein Essays On Friendship

I will give you some of my background, although the intense transitions of the last few years have left me feeling like a new person. I was born in 1967 and was a very sensitive, intellectual and dreamy child. I was always consumed by questions like, “Where did I come from?” “Why am I here?” “Where am I going?” so of course, embedded as I was in a culture that sees science and reason as the source of truth, I tried to “figure out” the answers. I graduated from Yale University with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy, but my development of reason and intellect brought me no closer to any truth I really cared about.

I didn’t know what I was searching for, but I knew that none of the usual options life presents a Yale graduate attracted me. I went to Taiwan, learned Chinese, and soon found myself working as a translator. I spent most of my 20s there, educating myself broadly in Eastern spiritual traditions. I also read voraciously: books on health, nutrition, globalization, physics, and biology. Translation led to other business opportunities, and I became familiar with this dimension of the human experience. In Taiwan, I met my dear friend and ex-wife Patsy, with whom I have three children, all boys.

In my late 20s I entered what was to be a long period of intensifying crisis. It started when all my professional work became intolerable. It became excruciating to do work I didn’t care about. Even though a million reasons told me why it was irresponsbible, impractical, and foolish to quit, I eventually could not make myself do it anymore. An irrepressible feeling, “I am not here to be doing this!” took control of my life. So I entered a long period of searching. I spent time teaching yoga, learning about herbs, and teaching at Penn State’s department of Science, Technology, and Society. All of these endeavors have contributed to my present and future, but none were really me.

The next five years were much like a birthing process. The old world dissolved, and the contractions birthing me into the new took the form of a collapse of all that I once held onto. Crises in health, marriage, and money forced me to let go of a “life under control”. In my helplessness, I accepted help, discovering a generous universe that has always met my needs, somehow, in unexpected ways. I have never made much money, but I have become rich in connections to other people. Friends and strangers from all over the world write to tell me how my books have affected them; they sustain my faith and nourish my passion for my work.

In addition to writing books and essays, I have been doing more and more public speaking, both at conference and smaller events. This has been a welcome addition to my life. I find that my thinking stagnates and my heart atrophies when I am in front of my computer too much. I need to interact with real people, face to face. Until recently this need was met by a part-time position on the faculty of Goddard College. It was a beautiful job while it lasted: I really treasured my relationships with the students and my colleagues.

I am now remarried and still living in Harrisburg, PA with my three children, two of whom are now teenagers. My life seems to be entering a new phase as my work intensifies and my home life stabilizes. I used to answer every email and say yes to every offer to speak. Now I can’t always do that, although I still try to respond to everyone who contacts me, in part because I consider this to be an important part of my work, and certainly among the most enjoyable.

At this point, I have no specific plans for the future. The world seems to be in a state of such flux now, that I cannot make any plan but to ride the wave. I do intend to keep writing: essays and articles for the time being, and then other books. I will probably write another book soon on gift, and perhaps a short book on degrowth economics. My next major book will probably be about the world-creating power of story, and how, on a personal and collective level, we can exercise that power to participate in the building of a more beautiful world.

About Charles

I often have difficulty knowing what to say in a public bio. On the one hand, I probably don’t know you (the reader) very well, and am uncomfortable sharing too much intimate detail about my life. On the other hand, if I leave out what is real (and possibly embarrassing) then what remains is a sanitized biography, factual perhaps in what it says, but phony for what it omits. That said, I will do my best to present what I think will be most useful in contexting the ideas I work with in my writing and speaking. Read More →

Gigi Coyle (E23)

This conversation with the amazing Gigi Coyle was recorded with a small live audience on a houseboat, where Gigi was recovering from knee surgery. Gigi is a source of valuable wisdom for activists and change-agents today; a veteran of 1970's feminist and environmental movements, she has turned to deeper levels of activism. We connected on topics of ritual, surrender to a path, the importance of water, community, ambivalence and paradox, living our songlines, myth as a conveyor of truth, and more. I wish more people would have the chance to ... More →

Opposition to GMOs is Neither Unscientific nor Immoral

Is the engineering of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) a dangerous technology posing grave risks to human and ecological health? Or are GMOs a potent new tool in the onward march of modern agricultural technology in its race to feed the world? In a recent opinion piece -- Opposition to GMOs Isn't Just Anti-Science, It's Immoral-- Purdue University president Mitch Daniels offers an impassioned plea that we embrace GMOs in agriculture. Daniels’ argument runs as follows: The health and ecological safety of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) is unquestionable “settled science.” Therefore, ... More →

Joanna Harcourt-Smith (E22)

Joanna Harcourt-Smith is a fascinating woman whose life story spans her origins in Europe's power elite to a marriage to Timothy Leary. Our conversation spans questions like, "What has to happen for hate to turn to love?" I'd say that is the underlying theme of the conversation, which touches on politics, despair, race and class, and the idea of "being useful." Also I think this recording conveys her extraordinary energy and presence, her tremendous zest for life and acceptance of what is. Joanna is a true elder. ... More →

Oprah Winfrey Interview (7.2017)

Charles and Oprah sit down and discuss the themes of civilization, human cultural evolution, how change really happens in the world, and the importance of interbeing. After two weeks, the full length video was made available only to Oprah Winfrey Network viewers.  You can view short clips of the show here: Link to the full Episode Transcript below of the full episode follows: Thanks to volunteer Marcy Gold for the transcription. A translation of this transcript in German can be found here.  Charles Eisenstein on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Super Soul ... More →

The Age of We Need Each Other

Fifteen years ago when I began writing books, I had high hopes that someday I would be “discovered” and that “my message” would thereby reach millions of people and change the world for the better. That ambition began to disintegrate soon after when after years of labor The Ascent of Humanity found no takers in the publishing world. So I self-published, still hoping that word-of-mouth would propel it to best-seller status. That would show all those publishers! I remember looking at the sales numbers in August 2007 – its fifth ... More →


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