Tami Simon: Welcome to Insights at the Edge, produced by Sounds True. My name’s Tami Simon, I’m the founder of Sounds True. I’d love to take a moment to introduce you to the new Sounds True Foundation. The Sounds True Foundation is dedicated to creating a wiser and kinder world by making transformational education widely available. We want everyone to have access to transformational tools such as mindfulness, emotional awareness and self-compassion, regardless of financial, social or physical challenges. The Sounds True Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to providing these transformational tools to communities in need, including at-risk youth, prisoners, veterans, and those in developing countries. If you’d like to learn more or feel inspired to become a supporter, please visit soundstruefoundation.org.
In this episode of Insights at the Edge, my guest is Lynne Twist. Lynne Twist is a hugely accomplished global activist, author and teacher. She’s an award-winning speaker who has devoted her life to sustainability and economic integrity. She is president and founder of the Soul of Money Institute and she’s the cofounder, along with her husband, Bill, of the Pachamama Alliance, which works to preserve the rainforest by empowering the Indigenous people who are its natural custodians.
Lynne Twist is the author of several books including The Soul of Money, and with Sounds True, an audio program on Unleashing the Soul of Money. Lynne Twist embodies the loving power of grandmother energy. A woman on purpose, a woman who gives, and gives so generously and with clarity, fierceness, and power. Here’s my conversation with someone I really respect, Lynne Twist.
I wanted to begin, Lynne, by sharing how it was a couple of years ago that I was at the Wisdom 2.0 event and you and I ran into each other. You said, very nonchalant, “What’s new, Tami? What are you working on?” I said, “Well, we’re partnering with Wisdom 2.0 and LinkedIn to produce a new program called the Inner MBA. It’s an online training on the wisdom skills needed in business today.”
You just looked at me and you said, “Count me in. Whatever I can do to help, whatever I can do to support, I’m in.” I thought, first of all, what a gracious, generous human you are to just say something like that. How rare that is for someone to … Most people are protected or guarded and you were just like, “Count me in.”
OK, fast forward a couple years. I write to you and I say, “Will you give the commencement address?” Because, of course, I remembered your offer, “Will you give the commencement address for our first graduating class of the Inner MBA?” You said yes, again. There you were. Now this all leads up to our conversation today, because in that commencement address, you offered something to our graduates and to me, and I thought it was so helpful. I want to bring that now to the listeners of Insights at the Edge. What you did was you located us in time, this time that we’re in. That’s the way I felt. I felt like in talking to Lynne Twist, there was this cosmic GPS that came in and said, “Here’s where we are. Here’s where we are. As emerging business people wanting to make a difference, here’s where we are as a human species at this time.” Let’s start there through the lens of Lynne Twist. Help us locate ourselves.
Lynne Twist: Wonderful. My goodness. Thank you, Tami. Well, let’s see. I feel that it’s helpful and I really got this from Buckminster Fuller, who I was so fortunate to know and study with and listen to quite a bit, how important it is to look at the continuum, the long continuum of time. It’s very helpful because we get so involved in the petty pace of the daily needs that we forget that we’re on this planet for a particular time and it’s not an accident, I think, when we show up, how we show up in the long continuum. Anyway, I think of us now as in the first century of the third millennium.
We just started the third millennium. We just passed the year 2000, and I know it’s all an invented calendar, but never mind, let’s locate ourselves in the beginning of the third millennium, only 21, 22 years into it and the first century of the third millennium. I love doing that because it also reminds me of the many, many, many prophecies that I’ve been privy to or that have been shared with me by Indigenous people that I know or other people who carry prophecies. There are so many prophecies about this time.
This first century in the third millennium is a time where there’ve been many prophecies that talk about this time as being very, very important, very pivotal, very … Another what you might call “axial age.” I love thinking about that, because it’s so tumultuous. It’s so both exciting and scary and confusing and unprecedented and wonderful and awesome that if you put it in that much larger context, the contents starts to make a little more sense.
TS: Tell me a little bit about the prophecies that have been important to you.
LT: Well, there’s a very powerful prophecy of The Eagle and the Condor, and there’s many interpretations of that. It’s an oral tradition from North America and South American Indigenous people. Many of the South American people, the Quechua people in the Andes, talk about the prophecy in a particular way that it’s the end of one Pachakuti. A Pachakuti is a 500-year cycle. It’s the end of the fourth Pachakuti and the beginning of the fifth Pachakuti, the next 500-year cycle. The last Pachakuti, the 500-year cycle that we’re just completing, began right around year 1500. Some people would remember the year 1492, it rings a bell, because the 500-year Pachakuti they’re talking about is the 500 years since the conquest.
They call it the Pachakuti of dominance and darkness, the Indigenous peoples of the Andes, and that we’re moving out of—the Pachakuti of dominance and darkness—500 years of oppression and dominance. Certainly they felt that, but the patriarchy, you could say, in other ways of looking at it, into the Pachakuti of balance and light, which is the next 500 years. That’s the fifth Pachakuti. But in between the fourth and the fifth Pachakuti, the prophecy says between those, in that transition space, there’ll be 25 to 50 years of huge climactic events. This has been prophesied for millennia. Tsunamis, floods, fires, earthquakes, massive climactic changes that will humble all her creatures. Mother Earth, they call her Pachamama.
Pachamama will humble all her creatures for 25 to 50 years so they remember their rightful role in relationship with her as we go into the Pachakuti of balance and light. That prophecy has been told for a long, long time about this time, and that the prophecy says the Pachakuti of balance and light will be when the mind and the heart of our species, the human species, will remember that it’s one, and that for the last 500 years, the mind and heart of the human species have been separated, have been truncated, have lost each other. That’s one prophecy that I find very, very compelling. Then should I go to another one?
TS: Yeah, sure. These are terrific, please.
LT: Another one is called The Bird of Humanity. The bird of humanity comes from the Baha’i people and it’s also been validated and affirmed and comes through the Cherokee people as well. It says that the bird of humanity has two great wings, a male wing and a female wing. The male wing has been fully extended and fully fleshed out and fully strong and fully expressed for hundreds and hundreds of years. But the female wing of the bird of humanity has been folded in, not quite fully extended, not quite fully expressed for hundreds of years.
The male wing of the bird of humanity has had to become over muscular, overdeveloped, and ultimately, has had to become violent to keep the bird of humanity afloat. And therefore we’ve been flying in circles for hundreds and hundreds of years. This is the century, the first century of the third millennium, when the feminine wing, the female wing in all of us will fully extend itself, fully express itself in women and men, and the male wing will begin to relax and the bird of humanity, for the first time, will soar. I love that prophecy. It’s very, very hopeful.
TS: Now, just to take a moment here because I think when we look outside in the culture we can say all kinds of things about, will we actually merge into an age of balance and light or not? But I’m interested for a moment, Lynne, just in you. You as a person and how the mind and the heart and the masculine and the feminine are coming together in your own experience, and what that alchemy is like for you as an individual.
LT: Oh, Tami, you’re such a good interviewer. You’re so good. Well, it’s a huge thing in my life. I have named, along with many other people, but I’m one of them, named this century the Sophia Century. The century when women will take our rightful role in co-equal partnership with men and the world will come into balance. The Sophia, as you know, refers to divine wisdom, particularly divine feminine wisdom. And I find in my own life, in my own heart, in my own body, I feel much more room, space, freedom to express the divine feminine wisdom that I’m caring, that all people are caring.
Men are caring too, but women in particular. I find it in my relationship with my husband, Bill. He’s a business guy, he’s a dealmaker, a super athlete. But in 1994, ‘95, ‘96 when we cofounded the Pachamama Alliance, he left his business career behind and he became the CEO of what most people would call an NGO. He became much more accessible to his heart and his longing to make a difference with his life rather than doing deals, creating financial wins. He joined me in the work of the Pachamama Alliance that he cofounded with me, and he’s the CEO of it. He’s in Ecuador right now with Indigenous people.
I find it in my relationship with my children, and particularly my grandchildren, because—I’m going to reference Arkan Lushwala, another wonderful Indigenous person who carries prophecies in ancient wisdom. He has declared that this is the time when grandmother energy is the energy that will carry us through the wormhole we’re in, that it’s grandmother energy. Everybody knows what that means. When you think about grandmother energy, it’s different than mother energy, but it has a lot of that in it. That grandmother energy is steeped in wisdom and letting go and experience as well as care and love and holding.
Grandmother energy is available to everybody too. You don’t have to be a certain age or a certain sex. I can feel and I am a grandmother. I have grandchildren now, and I can feel the depth of grandmother energy in my body. I just took two of my granddaughters to the Amazon and we sat under what’s called a mother tree in the Amazon, one of the huge kapok trees. I can’t tell you, I’ll start crying if I talk about it. Sitting there with them in the forest, in the Amazon rainforest, in the heart of the world, in the sacred headwaters of the Amazon, sitting under the kapok tree, the holy tree for the Achuar people, the Indigenous people who we were visiting, sitting there with them.
I got a huge download of … What is it? Well, love, but not love. I can articulate obviously, enormous power. The enormous power of love from the forest, from the earth, from the trees. And obviously I love my granddaughters, but it’s way a million billion times what the love that any grandmother feels for her granddaughters. The love for life and that it is the love for life that will allow us to flourish, not just survive, but flourish out of whatever’s going on right now that’s testing us.
That will allow us to hear and receive and know and take in the feedback from the mother, which is climate change, which is the pandemic, I think. Huge feedback to our species that if we can, rather than operate out of fear as we go forward, operate out a kind of love that is so strong, so unshakable, and so deep that there is nothing more powerful than that love for life. Sorry about that. Just lost it there, but maybe I found it there. That’s the personal experience of the feminine coming through me, the divine appointment that my appointment is lifetime, and I’d say your appointment, it is lifetime, that I think we’re all being tested to discover, connect within, fully express.
TS: You know, Lynne, I’m glad we got right into it. When I experienced you offering this commencement blessing, I had a moment and I was like, “I wonder what’s going on inside of Lynne Twist. Not her ideas, which are brilliant, not all of the things she’s accomplished, which would take me the full hour just to name them, not even great stories. But I was like, something is happening inside at a frequency level—I don’t know what other word to use. A feeling level. I was like, that’s the thing I really want to know more about, and how you’ve made yourself available to feel that and to have that come through you. I wonder if you could share more of the inner availability that you have for that love and grandmother power to come through.
LT: Well, the real answers is I don’t know. That’s the truth. I’ve always been an open person. I don’t value privacy or the things that many other people really crave and treasure. And I respect that, but my house is open, my home is open, my heart is open, my life is open. I’m an open book. I don’t have anything that I’m hopefully hiding. Or maybe there’s something there, but I don’t even know myself. But one of the greatest gifts that I’ve received … I did have the great privilege of working with Mother Teresa when I was a young woman in The Hunger Project.
You can’t get more better and more real teachings about love than being in the presence of a living saint like Mother Teresa. In fact, her in particular. I have had, in my life, with The Hunger Project, the opportunity to sit in ceremony with women and the … After their children starved to death in the great famine in Ethiopia in 1984, 1985, and sit with them as they mourned and wailed over the death of their children to starvation. You can’t find a place in your heart deeper than wailing with a mother who’s lost her child to something so horrendous as starving to death at her breast. A baby dying at her breast.
I’ve seen the depths of despair up close and personal, and I’ve had the joy and thrill of being a woman who’s walked in the world and had the privilege of making a difference with her life. Then most recently, it’s not that recent, 25 years, 27 years working in the Amazon rainforest and really opening my capacity to love to the community of life. When I say that I mean insects, worms, vines, leaves, fungus, the extraordinary beings in the forest. I was recently with extraordinary shaman named Manari Ushigua in the last couple years, walking behind him in the forest of the Zapara people in the Sacred Headwaters of the Amazon. He had his machete and he was cutting a trail.
He was cutting a way through for himself and for me, and he was barefoot and bare chested. I had all my equipment on to keep myself in the bugs and all this stuff, high boots and long sleeves and mosquito repellent. At a certain point walking behind him … We were alone. No one else was there behind us and he was taking me through the forest and showing me something. At a certain moment, he stopped and he turned around and said, “Can you feel them?” I said, “What are you talking about? What do you mean? What do you mean?” He said, “Stop. Can you feel them?” I just stopped and listened and tried to see what he meant. Then he said, “The millions and millions of skulls.”
In that instant they were there. The souls of the butterflies, the souls of the snakes, the souls of the monkeys, the souls of the trees, the souls of the leaves, the souls of the insects, the souls of the leafcutter ants. Suddenly, they all had souls and I could feel them. I could feel them as a part of me. That’s another thing that will bring me to tears, because I had never ever thought of it that way and I’d been working in the forest for years. Had a relationship with the trees, yes, as beings, but not everything.
Since that moment, I now have a love relationship, I’ll say, with the natural world, the community of life, and of course, the great mother herself. To expand the capacity of my heart to love like that has been monumental, game changing. I don’t know words, but—and given me much more access to using the taproot of love to do the work that I do, which has always been where I came from, hopefully, but now it’s so much more vast and so much more infinite, and it probably was always there, but now I know that.
TS: OK, I’m going to have to go in even more with a magnifying glass. It’s OK. Because when I hear you say that you could feel the souls, the souls of the insect, the butterflies, the worms, everything that was in the forest, I have my own imagination of what that might be like, but I want to actually know what it was like in your experience when you say you could feel the souls. What does that mean? Like a vibration or what? If you could describe it to me.
LT: Well, it’s like when you’re so moved about something that you disappear. When you’re witnessing a sunset and it’s so breathtaking, or the birth of a child that, in a way, you’re not there, you are there, you’re not there. Your identity dissolves. You’re, what some people would call, ego is … I don’t think it ever goes away completely, but I didn’t have it at that moment. My identity, my Lynne-ness was gone and I was the souls of the creatures that were around me. People have this experience in when they take, sometimes ayahuasca, which we participate with, or they take one of these mind-altering substances that, as you dissolve your identity … I don’t want to liken it to that because I’m not sure it is. Well, it was like that. Like that.
TS: OK, good. That’s that’s helpful. Now, you mentioned that you’re calling this century the Sophia Century and you also talked about your marriage with your husband. You’ve been married, what? 50-some-odd years and describing how, when you first came together, it sounded like it was perhaps more of a traditional marriage, but how it’s evolved over the last five-plus decades. I’m curious what inner work you had to do to claim your full Sophia power in your life that could be helpful to other women who are in a process of that, taking a stand in their own Sophia power. What are the breakthroughs you have to be willing to take this or that on inside yourself?
LT: Oh, wow. Gosh, Tami. Well, I just finished a book called Living a Committed Life: Finding Freedom and Fulfillment in a Purpose Larger than Yourself. That’s my path. Maybe it’s not for everybody, but it’s my path. So many people do such beautiful inner work as Buddhists, or their meditation practice is something they love so much. I didn’t start there. I started with making a difference with my life, really, and committing myself to ending world hunger, which, when we made that commitment way back in 1977, it was totally impossible. And yet taking on the impossible shapes you into the person you need to be to fulfill it.
In other words, my path has been the purpose way larger than myself, something I could never accomplish in my own lifetime, perhaps, or I could never accomplish alone, has shaped me into the kind of person who could maybe even do that. That’s a funny answer to your question, because you’re asking about my inner life and I’m talking about something out there kind of. But I really mean to say that the way I … My past to transformation came from Buckminster Fuller and his commitment to create a world that works for everyone with no one, nothing left out.
Whether he first said that sentence or not, when he first said it. When I first heard it—he probably said it many times, creating a world that works for everyone with no one and nothing left out—my whole body went into a [inaudible]. Or I couldn’t—it was vibrating. I realized that’s why I’m born. I want to do that. I want to be that. Being that kind of a commitment, being the commitment to end world hunger. Now, the way we talk about Pachamama Alliance to bring forth an environmentally, sustainable, spiritual, fulfilling, socially just human presence on this planet—that’s a commitment that makes my heart full.
I would say that I’ve been shaped by my commitments that are larger than my own life. That has put my petty concerns about whether I look good or whether people like me way in the background. I still have those little thoughts, but they’re not in the foreground. They’re not bothering me so much, because I’m up to something. I’m up to something way larger than I can accomplish unless I surrender to be used, to become an instrument of my commitment, to become a channel for what wants to happen. That has homeschooled me, as Paul Hawken says. That has shaped me into a person who’s more capable than I thought I could ever be. I do meditate and I do pray and I do take care of myself and I do love work, but my path has been more about through the power of commitment.
TS: Yes, and what’s so interesting to me, Lynne, I just want to underline it for a moment, is here you heard this lecture by Buckminster Fuller in the 1970s, at some point in San Francisco, as a young person and that it could have that huge of an influence on you. Something he said—the whole course of your life changed. I think the reason that’s so important to me is sometimes I think about all the podcasts I’ve done, all the programs Sounds True’s put out, and I just think, God, if there’s a few sentences out there, if there’s something in this conversation that has anything, even 10 percent of that impact on somebody, it can be such a big deal. I just wonder what your thoughts are about that as someone who goes out and talks and gives so many presentations.
LT: Well, I hope that some of the things that I say, which mostly I’ve heard from other wonderful humans like you and your wonderful podcast, have done that for others. People write to me and say to me, yes, that is the case. I was just on a podcast. I don’t know if I can call it a podcast, but the thing yesterday, Humanity Rising, Jim Garrison’s wonderful things he does every single morning, for this was 401. I was on the very first Humanity Rising broadcast, and I was on the one yesterday, which was number 401, and Charles Eisenstein, we were on together. And we had a conversation and there were other wonderful, amazing people on there.
One of the things that we were talking about was endangered species—that was the week of endangered species conversations—and Thursday was about the endangered species he called us, humans. At one part of the conversation, we talked about this thing, about surviving, that will our species survive our own extinction? We realized that surviving is not the goal, actually. That’s an inaccurate goal, because we could survive in bubbles or have some weird mechanical future that has us survive. It’s not the right goal. The goal is flourishing, thriving as a species that is a contribution, like Thomas Berry said, “a mutually enhancing human-earth relationship,” where we are contributing to the community of life, where we are nourishing ourselves and we are flourishing.
That conversation had a huge impact on me, and then I got hundreds of responses. It wasn’t like I said it, or Charles said it, it was in our conversation. It wanted to be said. What I want to acknowledge is that you, Tami, create environments, ecosystems, for what wants to be said by Paul Hawken, by me, by you, by Marianne Williamson, by the people you interview, the people who show up. This is a time and a place, and it’s probably always been true, that what wants to be said needs to come through. When it does, it comes through maybe you or me, but it does change the trajectory. I’ll never forget when Buckminster Fuller sat at my dinner table with my children.
We had him for dinner and my daughter was eight and she said this amazing, profound, insightful child comment. Bucky turned to Bill, my husband and I, and he said, “Never forget that your children are your elders in universe time. They’ve come into a more complete, more evolved universe than you’ll ever understand except through their eyes.” That sentence had such an impact on me as a parent. Every time I get a chance like this now, I share that with people and it has huge impact on people’s capacity to parent in a new way, in a way that allows their children to be wise, and to be evolved, and to be people that they learn from. That’s an example, and I know that’s what your life is about, and mine too.
TS: Well, let’s keep delivering here, Lynne, and opening the channel, which as you said, that this first 25 to 50 years has been prophesied as a time of great disruption, but we have the opportunity, at the end, to move into a period of balance. May it be so, God willing. My question to you would be, what do you think is required, is being asked of us, how are we being called now to be participants so that in the second half of this Sophia Century, we can have balance and light and not the disruption we’re experiencing right now?
LT: Well, I think if people are willing and open, like the people probably listening to this podcast are, to live in that context, then the choices, then they know and can be accountable and responsible for, we can be accountable and responsible for—that the choices we make, every day impact the future of life for the next 1,000 years. When you live with that consciousness, that awareness, it sounds like it might be a burden. However, it is actually the opposite. It ennobles your life. You realize how powerfully you can live in a way that makes a difference.
To consciously make choices, to know that the impact of your choices really are not trivial, but they actually do, literally, impact the future of life for the next 1,000 years. Also, to know or to maybe I’ll say assert, but I feel like I … This is in my inner knowing for me at least, that we’re in an evolutionary leap, that as a species we’ve come to a place, like all species do, in the evolution of species where they need to evolve or die and we are there. Thinking about ourselves as a species rather than a clan or a tribe or I’m white or I’m black or I’m blue or I’m green or I’m a man or I’m a woman or I’m powerful or I’m weak or I’m poor or I’m Republican or I’m rich. All of those labels, to get rid of them.
I wish on the television, they would not put the name of the person and then that they’re a Republican or a Democrat. I wish they would just not put that on there, because you can’t listen to who they are because you listen through a filter of some label. If we could get rid of all those labels and just listen to each other as human beings, be with each other as human beings, as we walk each other through the portal of the evolutionary leap, that maybe every one of us won’t make it.
But as a species, we need to take the leap and to figure out what is that in my life? What kind of a leap do I take that has me really not just get incrementally a little bit better and wiser and a little bit smarter, a little bit more disciplined, all the things that I want for myself, but really take an evolutionary leap? I think when I had that experience with Manari in the forest and I had this experience of the oneness of all living beings, that was the beginning for me of my evolutionary leap. Now, when I look for wisdom, I do go to your podcast, but I also go outside to the trees. I really have a relationship with them. It’s not, you know, middle-age humor, weird. I get real, solid, powerful information.
TS: Can you give me an example of that?
LT: Well, I’m working with Suzanne Simard who I recommend—
TS: Oh, wow. Wonderful.
LT: —invite on your podcast. She’s just awesome.
TS: For our audience, she’s the author of a book, Finding the Mother Tree, and a BC researcher, British Columbia researcher.
LT: Yes, she’s a forest ecologist and she wrote Finding the Mother Tree and her Mother Tree TED Talk has millions and millions of views. She now, and I are very, very close colleagues in a project we’re doing. She’s educated me about how the mother trees download all kinds of wisdom through the mycorrhiza and funky network to the trees in the forest that they know are in some ways their children or nieces or nephews or cousins. There’s a whole society. There’s a whole communication system constantly going on.
Now, once I’ve read her book and become an advocate, a colleague, an ally of Suzanne’s, Professor Simard’s, I know that when I’m confused or upset or lost or in a quandary, there’s a tree that I’ve chosen in the Presidio. I live next to the Presidio, it’s like a three-minute walk from my house. If I go to that tree and put my hands on the trunk, it’s a very large tree, and my heart next to the trunk in a certain place where I like to be with her, I come, I center, I feel, I somehow know. I don’t get a specific answer to a question, I get in touch with the fact or the, let’s say, energy of natural knowing. I come back to my house in my office and something shows up. That’s a specific example.
TS: Yes. Interesting hearing you talk about our evolutionary leap and being part of it. What happened inside me was I thought this is a time for each of us to be bold in whatever way in our own life. To be people who can take an individual leap as part of the leap for our species. I wonder what you think about that.
LT: I think that’s absolutely true. In fact, I advocate, wherever I can, for us to dream big now. Big, big, big. Another person I love is Dan Pallotta. You should have him on your thing if you haven’t had him. He’s awesome. Dan Pallotta has 10 million views in his TED Talk. He’s a great friend of mine. He talks about how we’re in this mess because we don’t think big enough to tackle the problems that we have in a way that gives us the vision we need to tackle them.
I’ll say what everybody knows the quote from Lao Tzu: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” We need vision now, big vision, big vision. That’s one of the things that I love to listen for and create wherever I can. That’s why the Pachamama Alliance’s mission is to bring forth an environmentally sustainable, spirituallt fulfilling, socially just human presence on this planet. I think that’s how Paul Hawken has written Regeneration, we can end the climate crisis in one generation if we are committed to regeneration.
Regeneration, to me, includes regenerating what it means to be human. I think the pandemic is morning sickness for a pregnant species. When you’re pregnant and you don’t know you’re pregnant and you have morning sickness, you think you’re sick. But when you find out you’re pregnant, you can tolerate the illness that comes with pregnancy. You love throwing up in the morning, because you’re going to have a baby. I think we’re entering a burst canal and it might be a painful one, and the burst might be painful, but we’re giving birth to a new kind of human being.
If we’re willing to allow that to come through us and to think really big about what kind of a world is the world, we really know we can co-create with evolution and keep that vision as powerful as the challenges and obstacles that we see between us and that vision. We’ll get through these obstacles, we’ll transform them. They will give us the strength to leap into that new vision and become the species we need to be to not only prevail, but flourish on this planet.
TS: Can you describe the new human being to me? What’s the new human being like, perhaps in ways that are different? What are our new capacity or ways of being?
LT: The new human being has access to all the capacities that we now consider to be “lesser than” or perhaps suspect—like intuition, like instinct, like spiritual power, like capacity to manifest, like understanding we have a divine appointment, like accessing the divine feminine, both for men and women. That all of those capacities, those extraordinary, we call them, because we think they’re not available to everyone, except they are, those capacities have as much credibility and clout as strategic planning, as being good at numbers, as being a great athlete, as what we’ve defined, in the patriarchy, as the high bars that are what we call success.
That these other qualities—that are often demoted to “lesser than,” or we’re not so sure about them, or they’re too woo-woo—that they get the same clout, reputation, respect by all of us, including myself, and we access them the way you access the talent of a good masseuse or an extraordinary accountant, someone who’s excellent with numbers. That we realize these are talents and treasures and that everybody has them. Some people have a little bit more of this and a little bit less of that, but we all have them and we need all of that.
They all become available, accessible, and they have respect. They have our respect and there’s room for them to be fully self-expressed and not doubted, and that we use them. Our relationship with astrology, our relationship with the enneagram, things that are sidelined. I think all of that is part of the divine feminine expression. It has enormous power that’s so untapped in today’s world. When we unleash it, that’s a whole nother human being. That’s a whole nother human being.
TS: Now, Lynne, I want to track back for a moment. You mentioned this speech you heard from Buckminster Fuller about how we can create a world where there’s enough for everyone. In your book, The Soul of Money, there’s a great deal, a very intelligent attention that you put on this whole notion of living from a sense of sufficiency, there’s enough versus a sense of scarcity. Here is the question I have for you. I’m going to be a vulnerable here, which is, I think a lot people, myself included, we feel that sense of sufficiency at certain times.
Walking through a forest, being with the tree, at certain moments where we feel peaceful. But there are other times when that feeling of scarcity comes up. It’s different for different people, for different reasons. For some on people, it has to do with financial pressures that they feel on their life, or some lack of love. Someone might feel, in their relationships, something like that. My question to you is, when we notice that feeling of scarcity come up, like we’re committed to this other way of being, and we know it, but there are still these moments where that’s not our actual experience. What do you recommend?
LT: Well, the sufficiency principle I’ll say that I, and it’s in a framework called The Soul of Money, that the capitalist system, the commercialization of everything, the commoditization of everything, the consumer society has so overtaken everything—I’m going to say this is a preamble to answering your question—that we think we live in an economic system that’s taken over the ecological system rather than the economy is a subset of the ecology. Eco-eco.
We’ve made our home the economy rather than the ecology. Eco means home. We need to reclaim our home in the ecological world, and then we can have an economic system, but it needs to be consistent with the laws, the natural laws of the ecological systems. But we have done something very different. We’re living in the economic system, which is based on scarcity. The whole book is really pointing to that our psychology, our philosophy, our education, our religion, everything is based on the economic scarcity model. That’s false, because we do have enough for everyone everywhere to have a healthy, productive life.
But we behave as if we don’t. We hoard so much that we leave out millions and millions of people. We generate the world of scarcity when it isn’t a world of scarcity. OK. Now, back up about personally. We personally have bought in, I think, all of us in an unconscious, unexamined way, the belief that there’s not enough time, there’s not enough love, there’s not enough sex, there’s not enough money, there’s not enough square feet in my house, there’s not enough this, there’s not enough that. But it’s almost like a siren song of a consumer culture, there’s not enough and I’ve got to have more.
That’s what I want to free people of, because there are those moments, as you described, when you know you are enough, there is enough, but then in a minute it’s gone because of advertising and marketing. This economic system has taken over everything. For me, the principle of sufficiency, and then I’ll see if I can be more personal in answering your question, is to let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need. It’s hard to distinguish that in a world that wants you to get more of everything. If you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need, it frees up all the energy that’s tied up in the mythology of that chase, that franticness, to turn and pay attention to what you have.
When you pay attention to what you have, it expands. Just like when you stop trying to scramble and get more time and pay attention to this moment, this moment, and be totally present, it expands before your very eyes. That principle, the principle of sufficiency, is really about presence. It’s really about being with what you already have and knowing that it’s yours to be with, and then to share. To share. When we share what we already have, our experience of what we have expands. Even though it may seem like, well, you have less of that. No.
When you share what you already have, it expands before your very eyes, it expands in your experience. If you have financial problems, and I work with people who do, of course, ni the Soul of Money Institute. If you start to really look and see what you have and make a real difference with what you have, and begin to share it in a way that’s consistent with your own integrity, it starts to grow in the nourishment of that intention. In reality, I’m not really talking about an amount, but actually amounts actually do grow as well. This wonderful phrase that you’ve heard me say a million times, but I’ll say it again: what we appreciate truly does appreciate.
It really does work that way. Even in time, sex, money, possessions, it really does work that way, if we can free ourselves from the mania of the scarcity mindset. Now, I want to just acknowledge there are people who need more money, more water, more access to food, more jobs, more housing. I’m not talking about those situations, I’m talking about the unexamined mindset that haunts all of us, especially those of us who do have what we need, and has us clamoring for more all the time, which generates a world where those who really truly do not have enough can’t get access to anything, because those of us who do have enough are always trying to get more.
As Gandhi said, “There’s enough for our need, but not for our greed.” If we can shift from our wants, and it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t want stuff. I want things. I would love to have a Tesla, etcetera, but I don’t need one. But I’d love to have one. That’s OK. I’m talking about something else and I know you do get it, but I’m just trying to be articulate enough to let people know you can free yourself from that mania by just stepping out of the consumer culture for a moment. Paying attention to what you already have, seeing how you can share it, whether it’s time or money or possessions, more generously. That actually is the source of recognizing and living and dwelling in the truth, what I call the radical pricing, surprising truth of the space of sufficiency.
TS: The very first move you made, it was so powerful that I want to highlight it, how to separate our ecological embeddedness from a kind of economic trance. I wonder if you can say more how to view money and economics when you’re no longer caught in the consumer brainwashing around it. But instead you’re like, “Oh, I’m an expression and part of the earth, and this is a financial system that’s over there.” How that shifts things.
LT: We are living in a world where marketing, advertising, and even for this podcast, will probably be little interruptions of, I don’t know if there will be advertising, but you can hardly listen to anything without it getting interrupted with some blaring advertisement about something. It’s very, very hard to do what I’m about to say. But I’ll just say that the experience of really being connected to our home, eco, the ecological miracle that we are an expression of—we don’t live on the earth, we are of the earth. That’s where we came from. That we are part of all of that, gets blocked and truncated and disrupted by this huge monster, the economy.
All economy is not bad, but the economic system is so rooted in scarcity and there’s not enough, and more is better, that we get caught in that in every aspect of our lives. To free ourselves from that is pretty hard. But I was going to just tell a little baby story. I was asked to do a TED Talk on Wall Street. I thought Wall Street? I’m not an investment manager. I didn’t go to business school. I’m not a billionaire, I wrote a book called The Soul of Money, but it’s not really a Wall Street kind of book.
But some guy, who was doing a TED thing on Wall Street, said, “We should have her. She’d be an interesting change.” I remember I got up there and there was an audience. It was an early TED Talk before there were a lot of controls over how you do a TED Talk. I just got up there and started talking. I looked out on it, all 500 people. It was in the board of trade. It was in where people trade. What’s it called? That place where you can ring the bell. It was there.
TS: Yeah. On the floor of the trading. The trading floor. Yeah. OK.
LT: They have a little auditorium there. It was there where all those people yell and scream at each other. It was in the auditorium and they were almost all men. I stood in front of them, and I said, “I only have so many minutes here, but I want to leave you with a thought. Perhaps the economic system is a subset of the ecological system in which we live. Just imagine that. That it’s merely a subset of the ecological system in which we live. Rather than the economy is about taking the ecology and turning it into money. Maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe, and I want to suggest you think about this, that the fact that we even have an economy is given to us by the extraordinary generosity, the infinite bounty of the ecology. The economy is an opportunity to be economical with how we use the gifts of that extraordinary ecological system.”
I remember it was like … People were like [LAUGHTER]. But at the same time, I got unbelievable response from that talk. I’ll just say that there’s a way of living where we realize that everything, the computer on which I am speaking to you, the microphone that makes this technology possible, is from the earth.
These are medals from the earth. We have so mined and extracted the things that we love so much from the earth that we now have this enormous power to now really, really give back to her, in not only equal measure, but in enormous bounty. How can one live in a way that’s what you’re in touch with. The enormous bounty that we have the opportunity to return to her. That’s different than living in scarcity and trying to figure out how many more square feet of your house can you put on in the next year and who are you going to get as a contractor and how much do you need to pay them? All of that is practical.
Yes, we need to do that. But can we do that in a way we are regenerating life. Paul Hawken, at the end of his book and also on his website, and I know you know this probably as well as I do, says, “There’s questions to ask yourself before you take any action. Is this going to regenerate life or degenerate life? Is this going to steal from future generations or heal that which we want to give to future generations?” There’s a whole list of questions that you ask yourself before you make any large expenditure or any large choice. It really is … It’s beautiful. It makes you sing when you get to the bottom of a list and you make a choice, you feel so good about who you are. I think that’s the way we can live now and it will make us happier people.
TS: OK. Lynne, just a couple final questions. You’re clearly someone who’s super on purpose. You said it yourself. You’re on purpose. Your life has been filled. You and your husband, together, your life has been filled with a bigger sense of purpose and it’s energized you so much throughout your lifetime and now in your grandmother years, and it’s just gorgeous. What would you say though to that person who says, “I wish I had more of that purpose in my life, but it doesn’t seem to be appearing. I wish it were. I wish it was the case?”
LT: That’s a great question because that’s … I’m just finishing my book and I want to do a different ending, and I think you’re helping me with that. I think everybody who’s been born during this time has a role to play. It’s not a big role or a small role. There are no big roles or small roles. There’s just your role. If you play it, you’ll have the kind of life you dream of. How, what that role is, is by feeling. Feeling, not thinking. Feeling has gotten a second place to thinking. Thinking is wonderful, but feeling your body, your heart, your feeling energy is such an incredible compass.
If you feel good, feel really deeply good, not just a little bit of a high, deeply good about your choices you’re making, those are the right choices. If you do that, choosing what’s yours to do will show up for you. You’ll see a through line through your whole life. What did you care about on the playground when you were five, six, seven? Were you the kind of kid who was a bully or were you the kind of kid who picked the bright kid first, or did you take care of the kids that were left out? Where were your strengths? Where were your weaknesses? Where is your heart and soul?
When you look back and see, what is the through line of goodness of heart, of truth, of moral integrity in my life? How can I take that forward in a way that creates my evolutionary leap? We do workshops that help people with that, and your podcasts help people with that. What I say to people, if you are willing to know that there is, you have a divine appointment, or you wouldn’t be here. I just know that’s true. I found mine. I was so lucky.
Maybe I was just lucky, maybe I was just awake, but Buckminster Fuller helped me. Werner Earhart, his training helped me, podcasts like this helped me and I stay in the zone of the messaging that’s coming through. That’s helping us find our rightful role in relationship with a long-term future of life. We all have one. Stay in this stream, Tami’s stream. Stay in the stream of awakening. Stay in the stream of wisdom. Stay in the stream of people who love, who care, and your dharma will find you. You don’t need to find it, it will find you.
TS: It does seem though that you might need to be willing to take a risk of some kind. There might be some bravery required. Do you think so?
LT: I think there’s a lot of that involved. Bravery is one way of talking about it and another way is surrender, or you might say, not succumb, but surrender. There’s this thing that I want to just say, you didn’t really ask it, but modesty is the same as arrogance. It’s just the flip side of arrogance. It’s trying not to be arrogant. It’s another form of arrogance. But if you tell the truth about who you are, really claim it, take a risk and jump on out there, what happens is humility, your humbled by the power of your own choice. You’re humbled by the power of your own risk. You’re humbled by the power of your own courage. Don’t be modest, just go for it. Just go for it, and you will find your groove and you’ll be humbled by your own power.
TS: Lynne Twist, I love your grandmother energy and the love and light that pours through you. Thank you so much. So, so much.
LT: I love you, Tami Simon, and the love and light that pour through you and all that you do. Thank you for being with me.
TS: I’ve been speaking with Lynne Twist. With Sounds True, she has released an audio program called Unleashing the Soul of Money, and there’s also an excerpt from that program that’s available called “Meditations on Money.” Lynne, as well, was the commencement speaker at our very first graduating class of the Inner MBA program. It’s a-nine-month virtual training program for people in business who want to lead with their soul—I’ll just say it—all lit up and on fire to make a difference in the world. You can find out more at InnerMBAprogram.com.
Thank you for listening to Insights at the Edge. You can read a full transcript of today’s interview at SoundsTrue.com/podcast. And if you’re interested, hit the Subscribe button in your podcast app. And also, if you feel inspired, head to iTunes and leave Insights at the Edge a review. I love getting your feedback, being in connection with you, and learning how we can continue to evolve and improve our program. Working together, I believe we can create a kinder and wiser world. SoundsTrue.com: waking up the world.