Filmed at the seashore at Findhorn in Northern Scotland, Charles talks to film-maker Ian Mackenzie about grief, not-knowing, and finding a path forward.
I was just feeling some grief before you came and found me. Looking out at the water there, birds diving for fish, you know, seagulls out there. And I just felt such sadness that there are fewer of them than there used to be. And someday there may be none. And I thought, how important is it to me that there’s a future with birds and fish and seals? It’s not that I’m worried about my future. It’s not that I’m worried about, you know, will I survive on a planet where the biosphere is dead. It’s because it just hurts, what’s happening.
As soon as I’m in contact with beauty, the second thing that comes, usually, is pain. And I think it’s almost a conditioned response from having had that beauty crushed. When I was younger, the world that surrounded me was still very much the familiar old story that told me how to live a life. You know, you study hard, you get good grades, you get a good job, you make wise investments. And to repudiate that was very audacious. We live in a very, very brutal system. Not only brutal toward those that we can easily see as victims, but equally brutal toward the perpetrators. Otherwise how would they become the perpetrators? What has to happen to a human being for them to do the things that people do to each other?
A lot of people look at the state of the planet with despair, because the truth has been out there for decades now about what we’re doing to the biosphere, and what’s going to happen if we keep doing it. And it looks like the surveillance state, the military-industrial complex, the concentration of media and all that stuff is just stronger than ever. I think what’s happening is that underneath the surface, the ideological core of our civilization is hollowing out. The elites no longer believe their own ideology. They’re just going through the motions. Everyone participates but nobody believes.
In order to find your way, you must get lost.
There’s a vast territory between what we’re trying to leave behind and where we want to go. And we don’t have any maps for that territory. People are always talking about how do we create a movement, how do we turn our organization, how do we transition it from an organization to a movement? This is not something that one can do. A movement is not something that one creates. A movement creates us.
What we know how to create is based on a knowledge of creation, a knowledge or an understanding of cause and effect that’s part of the old story. We can’t limit ourselves to the understandings that we have already. We have to step into the unknown, which really means stepping into service, stepping into the gift, stepping into the thing that can happen that’s outside of ourselves, that we don’t know how to make happen. Because we have to believe in a more beautiful world in order to serve it. Or let’s say to the extent that we believe in it, we can serve it.