Articles, Uncategorized

Narcissists and psychopaths: how some societies ensure these dangerous people never wield power

Originally written by Steve Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Leeds Beckett University, and published in

Throughout history, people who have gained positions of power tend to be precisely the kind of people who should not be entrusted with it. A desire for power often correlates with negative personality traits: selfishness, greed and a lack of empathy. And the people who have the strongest desire for power tend to be the most ruthless and lacking in compassion.

Often those who attain power show traits of psychopathy and narcissism. In recent times, psychopathic leaders have been mostly found in less economically developed countries with poor infrastructures and insecure political and social institutions. People such as Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and Charles Taylor in Liberia.

But modern psychopaths generally don’t become leaders in affluent countries (where they are perhaps more likely to join multinational corporations). In these countries, as can be seen in the US and Russia, there has been a movement away from psychopathic to narcissistic leaders.

After all, what profession could be more suited to a narcissistic personality than politics, where the spotlight of attention is constant? Narcissists feel entitled to gain power because of their sense of superiority and self-importance.

Those with narcissistic personalities tend to crave attention and admiration and feel it is right that other people should be subservient to them. Their lack of empathy means they have no qualms about exploiting other people to attain or maintain their power.

Meanwhile, the kind of people who we might think are ideally suited to take on positions of power – people who are empathetic, fair minded, responsible and wise – are naturally disinclined to seek it. Empathetic people like to remain grounded and interact with others, rather than elevating themselves. They don’t desire control or authority, but connection, leaving those leadership roles vacant for those with more narcissistic and psychopathic character traits.

Different types of leader

Yet it would be misleading to say it is only psychopaths and narcissists who gain power. Instead, I would suggest that there are generally three types of leaders.

The first are accidental leaders who gain power without a large degree of conscious intention on their part, but due to privilege or merit (or a combination). Second are the idealistic and altruistic leaders, probably the rarest type. They feel impelled to gain power to improve the lives of other people – or to promote justice and equality, and try to become instruments of change. But the third are the narcissistic and psychopathic leaders, whose motivation for gaining power is purely self-serving.

This doesn’t just apply to politics, of course. It’s an issue in every organisation with a hierarchical structure. In any institution or company, there is a good chance that those who gain power are highly ambitious and ruthless, and lacking in empathy.

Narcissistic leaders may seem appealing because they are often charismatic (they cultivate charisma in order to attract attention and admiration). As leaders they can be confident and decisive and their lack of empathy can promote a single-mindedness which can, in some cases, lead to achievement. Ultimately though, any positive aspects are far outweighed by the chaos and suffering they create.

An anti-Trump demonstration in Washington DC. Shutterstock/bakdc
What is needed are checks to power – not just to limit the exercise of power, but to limit its attainment. Put simply, the kind of people who desire power the most should not be allowed to attain positions of authority.

Every potential leader should be assessed for their levels of empathy, narcissism or psychopathy to determine their suitability for power. At the same time, empathetic people – who generally lack the lust to gain power – should be encouraged to take positions of authority. Even if they don’t want to, they should feel a responsibility to do so – if only to get in the way of tyrants.

Models of society

There are many tribal hunter-gatherer societies where great care is taken to ensure that unsuitable individuals don’t attain power.

Instead, anyone with a strong desire for power and wealth is barred from consideration as a leader. According to anthropologist Christopher Boehm, present-day foraging groups “apply techniques of social control in suppressing both dominant leadership and undue competitiveness”.

If a dominant male tries to take control of the group, they practise what Boehm calls “egalitarian sanctioning”. They team up against the domineering person, and ostracise or desert him. In this way, Boehm says, “the rank and file avoid being subordinated by vigilantly keeping alpha-type group members under their collective thumbs”.

Just as importantly, in many simple hunter-gatherer groups power is assigned to people, rather than being sought by them. People don’t put themselves forward to become leaders – other members of the group recommend them, because they are considered to be experienced and wise, or because their abilities suit particular situations.

San hunter gatherers in Southern Africa

In some societies, the role of leader is not fixed, but rotates according to different circumstances. As another anthropologist, Margaret Power, noted: “The leadership role is spontaneously assigned by the group, conferred on some members in some particular situation … One leader replaces another as needed.”

In this way, simple hunter-gatherer groups preserve stability and equality, and minimise the risk of conflict and violence.

It’s true that large modern societies are much more complex and more populous than hunter-gatherer groups. But it may be possible for us to adopt similar principles. At the very least, we should assess potential leaders for their levels of empathy, in order to stop ruthless and narcissistic people gaining power.

We could also try to identify narcissists and psychopaths who already hold positions of power and take measures to curtail their influence. Perhaps we could also ask communities to nominate wise and altruistic people who would take an advisory role in important political decisions.

No doubt all this would entail massive changes of personnel for most of the world’s governments, institutions and companies. But it might ensure that power is in the hands of people who are worthy of it, and so make the world a much less dangerous place.

With much gratitude for this insightful article. Gaia Speaking


Poems that Reconnect

Intro by Joanna Tomkins

I find myself often pressured by my fear of the passing of time, by my feeling of not doing enough to change the course of events in these challenging times. And in doing I forget to honour the things that I do gift the universe, and other human and more than human beings around me, even if they seem not transcendental or “productive” in the business from the business as usual or “y.o.l.o.” perspective.

We are all essential parts, fractals in the Great Turning. We are like the messages that travel to and fro in the mycelium under our feet… There is no knowing what will be the penny that drops or the smile that tips the balance.

Let’s celebrate the pauses in between the breaths of inspiration and expiration. Let’s remember the magic that happens while we sleep, the digestion that happens while we rest, the flourishing that happens when we are rested…

Bodhisattvas, your warrior’s rest is an essential weapon for these times…

Gratitude for this poem….

REST by David Whyte

Rest is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is the essence of giving and receiving; an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually but also psychologically and physically. To rest is to give up on the already exhausted will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through established goals. To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we are there to put it right; to rest is to fall back literally or figuratively from outer targets and shift the goal not to an inner static bull’s eye, an imagined state of perfect stillness, but to an inner state of natural exchange.

The template of natural exchange is the breath, the autonomic giving and receiving that forms the basis and the measure of life itself. We are rested when we are a living exchange between what lies inside and what lies outside, when we are an intriguing conversation between the potential that lies in our imagination and the possibilities for making that internal image real in the world; we are rested when we let things alone and let ourselves alone, to do what we do best, breathe as the body intended us to breathe, to walk as we were meant to walk, to live with the rhythm of a house and a home, giving and taking through cooking and cleaning. When we give and take in an easy foundational way, we are closest to the authentic self, and closest to that self when perhaps, most importantly, we arrive at a place where we are able to understand what we have already been given.

In the first state of rest is the sense of stopping, of giving up on what we have been doing or how have been being. In the second, is the sense of slowly coming home, the physical journey into the body’s uncoerced and unbullied self, as if trying to remember the way or even the destination itself. In the third state is a sense of healing and self-forgiveness and of arrival. In the fourth state, deep in the primal exchange of the breath, is the give and the take, the blessing and the being blessed and the ability to delight in both. The fifth stage is a sense of absolute readiness and presence, a delight in and an anticipation of the world and all its forms; a sense of being the meeting itself between inner and outer, and that receiving and responding occur in one spontaneous moment.

A deep experience of rest is the template of perfection in the human imagination, a perspective from which we are able to perceive the outer specific forms of our work and our relationships whilst being nourished by the shared foundational gift of the breath itself.

From this perspective we can be rested while putting together an elaborate meal for an arriving crowd, whilst climbing the highest mountain or sitting at home surrounded by the chaos of a loving family.

Rested, we are ready for the world but not held hostage by it, rested we care again for the right things and the right people in the right way. In rest we reestablish the goals that make us more generous, more courageous, more of an invitation, someone we want to remember, and someone others would want to remember too.

~David Whyte, Consolations (2015)


Announcing the Gaian Gathering

The Work that Reconnects International Network has just announced the Gaian Gathering to be happening in the second half of 2023…

We will be bringing further information to you as this event gets closer.

About the Gaian Gathering

In these challenging and pivotal times, the Work That Reconnects (WTR) is a powerful resource for people who are suffering from anxiety and trauma related to environmental disasters and ongoing social injustice and who are committed to serving the Great Turning. The WTR Network is growing to meet this continuously increasing need by supporting the global community of WTR facilitators, practitioners and lovers with education, inspiration and connection.

In 2023, we’re excited to bring this support to our global community through a comprehensive Gaian Gathering. This global summit experience will be a combination of online events and guided gatherings of local communities around the world. Beyond the typical online summit experience, this gathering will include inspiring and educational content, opportunities to practice WTR together, training for community members to up-level their skills and facilitated conversations for collaborative learning. As we envision this Gaian Gathering we see it moving through the Spiral of the WTR and comprised of four main components:

Learn – Experience – Engage – Celebrate

Learn – This component will include educational presentations and panels to explore the foundations of the WTR and its many applications in our changing world. These events will feature world renowned speakers who have been inspired by and love the Work That Reconnects, like Fritjof Capra, Bayo Akomalafe, Jem Bendel, Matthew Fox and Nina Simons as well as several of our own WTR Facilitator Members.

Experience – Events from this component will be woven into the schedule of the
gathering to allow participants to experience the WTR and move more deeply into the practices and shared experiences that transmute our anxiety and grief into empowered action. In addition to online WTR experiences, music, movement and ritual engagement, this component will include facilitated guidance for gathering local Communities of Practices to plant seeds of resilience in communities all over the world.

Engage – This component will create opportunities for participants to engage in
collaborative learning, up-level their facilitation skills and deepen their practices and gather together around certain topics and affinities. This aspect of the gathering will include Conversation Cafes and training as well as opportunities for participants to initiate ongoing connections with each other through our newly designed Online Community forum space.

Celebrate – Throughout the gathering, we will create opportunities to celebrate and honour Joanna Macy, founder and Root Teacher of the Work That Reconnects, as she moves towards her 94th birthday.

Articles, Resources & Networks, Uncategorized

Meet the Doughnut and the concepts at the heart of Doughnut Economics

Who would have thought that doughnuts could change the world?

by Joanna Tomkins

They certainly get our attention, don’t they? In the same way we may ourselves once have been addicted to eating doughnuts, our policies are still addicted to promoting growth, even if it harms us each and and every time.

But… now we have got your attention, as you will see hereunder in the graphics, the doughnut in this model is in fact the shape that represents a “safe and just space for humanity”

The text hereunder, originally published on the DEAL website, offers a comprehensive and convincing introduction to the Doughnut or Donut model. This umbrella is very exciting because its design has enough strength and simplicity to allow policy makers to regroup under it. I personally studied international business at university in France and Spain and I was so put off by some of the contents of the studies, particularly the economical theories, seminars with bankers and practicals in marketing, that I swore to never work for a large corporation. Much later, after I rerouted my career towards arts and also started to work in Africa as a wilderness guide, I went back to university in Barcelona to study Post-developmental African Studies. This was before I moved to Cape Town, wanting to learn about some of the original philosophies on the Continent and the forces at work behind the neocolonialism that still stifle them today. I rallied around the ideas of Serge Latouche (Farewell to Growth, 2007) and his peers. Since the 1980s, voices such as his have been loudly coining terms such as “economical footprint”, “eco-feminism, “overshoot”, etc, and claiming urgency. Yet, those voices have been drowned by the constantly renewed pressure from the Industrial Growth Society.

Finally, in the last few years, at the same time as a larger part of humanity starts to call for socio-economical justice – the one with the privilege to do so and be heard- , some strong, credible and conscious voices have created new alternative economical models that can be understood by many. They are now becoming mainstream and can offer politicians solid solutions to build resilience in the communities whose welfare they are responsible for. Gratitude.

If you are interested in learning more, please read some of the Stories on DEAL. This one for example about how the model has been adopted by 5 major cities around the world:

If you know how this model could be introduced to the University of Cape Town, or the City of Cape Town, please get in touch with me, I’d love to get involved.


The Doughnut offers a vision of what it means for humanity to thrive in the 21st century – and Doughnut Economics explores the mindset and ways of thinking needed to get us there.

First published in 2012 in an Oxfam report by Kate Raworth, the concept of the Doughnut rapidly gained traction internationally, from the Pope and the UN General Assembly to Extinction Rebellion.

Kate’s 2017 book, Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist,  further explored the economic thinking needed to bring humanity into the Doughnut, drawing together insights from diverse economic perspectives in a way that everyone can understand. The book has now been published in over 20 languages.

This 2018 TED talk gives a summary of the book’s core messages, and you can read Chapter One here..

The Doughnut’s holistic scope and visual simplicity, coupled with its scientific grounding, has turned it into a convening space for big conversations about reimagining and remaking the future. It is now being discussed, debated and put into practice in education and in communities, in business and in government, in towns, cities and nations worldwide.

Kate Raworth

The Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries.

What is the Doughnut?

Think of it as a compass for human prosperity in the 21st century, with the aim of meeting the needs of all people within the means of the living planet.

The Doughnut consists of two concentric rings: a social foundation, to ensure that no one is left falling short on life’s essentials, and an ecological ceiling, to ensure that humanity does not collectively overshoot the planetary boundaries that protect Earth’s life-supporting systems. Between these two sets of boundaries lies a doughnut-shaped space that is both ecologically safe and socially just: a space in which humanity can thrive.

What is Doughnut Economics?

If the 21st century goal is to meet the needs of all people within the means of the living planet – in other words, get into the Doughnut – then how can humanity get there? Not with last century’s economic thinking.

Doughnut Economics proposes an economic mindset that’s fit for our times. It’s not a set of policies and institutions, but rather a way of thinking to bring about the regenerative and distributive dynamics that this century calls for. Drawing on insights from diverse schools of economic thought – including ecological, feminist, institutional, behavioural and complexity economics – it sets out seven ways to think like a 21st century economist in order to transform economies, local to global.

The starting point of Doughnut Economics is to change the goal from endless GDP growth to thriving in the Doughnut. At the same time, see the big picture by recognising that the economy is embedded within, and dependent upon, society and the living world. Doughnut Economics recognises that human behaviour can be nurtured to be cooperative and caring, just as it can be competitive and individualistic.

It also recognises that economies, societies, and the rest of the living world, are complex, interdependent systems that are best understood through the lens of systems thinking. And it calls for turning today’s degenerative economies into regenerative ones, and divisive economies into far more distributive ones. Lastly, Doughnut Economics recognises that growth may be a healthy phase of life, but nothing grows forever: things that succeed do so by growing until it is time to grow up and thrive instead.

Dive deeper into the seven ways to think like a 21st century economist with our series of 90-second animations

The five layers of organisational design.

Why design matters

What would make it possible for an organisation to become regenerative and distributive so that it helps bring humanity into the Doughnut? DEAL has run workshops with enterprises, city departments, foundations, and other kinds of organisations that want to explore this question, and the implications are transformational.

At the heart of these workshops is a focus on design: not the design of their products and services, or even of their office buildings, but the design of the organisation itself. As described by Marjorie Kelly, a leading theorist in next-generation enterprise design, there are five key layers of design that powerfully shape what an organisation can do and be in the world:

Purpose. Networks. Governance. Ownership. Finance.

Together these five aspects of organisational design profoundly shape any organisation’s ability to become regenerative and distributive by design, and so help bring humanity into the Doughnut. 

Doughnut Principles of Practice

To ensure the integrity of the ideas of Doughnut Economics, we ask that the following principles are followed by any initiative that is working to put the ideas of Doughnut Economics into practice.
Embrace the 21st Century Goal

Aim to meet the needs of all people within the means of the planet. Seek to align your organisation’s purpose, networks, governance, owner-ship and finance with this goal.

See the big picture

Recognise the potential roles of the household, the commons, the market and the state – and their many synergies – in transforming economies. Ensure that finance serves the work rather than drives it.

Nurture human nature

Promote diversity, participation, collaboration and reciprocity. Strengthen community networks and work with a spirit of high trust. Care for the wellbeing of the team.

Think in systems

Experiment, learn, adapt, evolve and aim for continuous improvement. Be alert to dynamic effects, feedback loops and tipping points.

Be distributive

Work in the spirit of open design and share the value created with all who co-created it. Be aware of power and seek to redistribute it to improve equity amongst stakeholders.

Be regenerative

Aim to work with and within the cycles of the living world. Be a sharer, repairer, regenerator, steward. Reduce travel, minimize flights, be climate and energy smart.

Aim to thrive rather than to grow

Don’t let growth become a goal in itself. Know when to let the work spread out via others rather than scale up in size.

Be strategic in practice

Go where the energy is – but always ask whose voice is left out. Balance openness with integrity, so that the work spreads without capture. Share back learning and innovation to unleash the power of peer-to-peer inspiration.

Articles, Uncategorized

The great African regreening: millions of ‘magical’ new trees bring renewal

By Ruth Maclean for the Upside, the Guardian

First published on Thursday 16 Aug 2018

Farmers in Niger are nurturing gao trees to drive Africa’s biggest environmental change

Rain had come to nearby villages, but not yet to Droum in south-east Niger. The sand under its stately trees looked completely barren, but Souley Cheibou, a farmer in his 60s, was not worried. He crooked a finger, fished in the sand, and brought out a millet seed. In a week or two, this seed would germinate and sprout, and soon the whole field would be green.

Cheibou’s peace of mind stemmed from the trees encircling him, which had been standing long before he was born. Despite appearances, these were not any old acacias. They were gao trees – known as winterthorns in English – with unique, seemingly magical powers.

From the peanut basin of Senegal to the Seno plains of Mali, to Yatenga, formerly the most degraded region of Burkina Faso, and as far south as Malawi: gaos are thriving in Africa. And over the past three decades, the landscape of southern Niger has been transformed by more than 200m new trees, many of them gaos. They have not been planted but have grown naturally on over 5m hectares of farmland, nurtured by thousands of farmers.

Near Dogondoutchi, about 200 km east of Niamey. The setting is in a “Dallol” which is a broad, sandy valley completely devoted to rainfed cropland.
A valley near the town of Dogondoutchi in the east of Niger. The valley is completely devoted to rainfed cropland. Photograph: Gray Tappan

According to scientists, what has happened in Niger – one of the world’s poorest countries – is the largest-scale positive transformation of the environment in the whole of Africa. This is not a grand UN-funded project aiming to offset climate change. Small-scale farmers have achieved it because of what the trees can do for crop yields and other aspects of farming life.

“It’s a magic tree, a very wonderful tree,” said Abasse Tougiani of Niger’s National Institute of Agricultural Research, who has travelled all over Niger studying Faidherbia albida – the gao’s Latin name.

Shielded from the sun, crops planted under the canopy of a tree usually do not do well in the short term, although there can be longer-term benefits. That’s one reason why many west African rainforests have been decimated. But with gaos, it’s the other way round. The root system of the gao is nearly as big as its branches, and unusually it draws nitrogen from the air, fertilising the soil. And unlike other trees in the area, gao tree leaves fall in the rainy season, allowing more sunlight through to the crops at a key moment.

Used along with mineral fertilisers, crop yields double under gaos, and the gao-nourished soil holds water better, ensuring a better crop in drought years.

A seed-pod of the gao tree.
A seed-pod of the gao tree. Photograph: Ruth Maclean/Ruth Maclean for the Guardian

Counterintuitively, the great gao regreening is only happening in areas of Niger with high-density populations. With less space to expand into as more people are born, hard-up farmers are increasingly realising that the trees can regenerate degraded land.

“It’s literally a story of more people, more trees,” said Chris Reij, a sustainable land management specialist. “The whole point is that the trees are not protected and managed by farmers for their environmental beauty, but because they are part of the agricultural production system.”

Inadvertently, the farmers are also doing their bit to offset climate change. Trees are crucial for storing carbon, absorbing it out of the atmosphere. “In mature, fairly dense areas, you get 30 tons of wood per hectare. Half of that is carbon,” said Gray Tappan, a geographer.

The guards of Droum gather outside the district chief’s palace.
The guards of Droum gather outside the district chief’s palace. Photograph: Ruth Maclean/Ruth Maclean for the Guardian

Efforts to restore 100m hectares of degraded African land by 2030 are underway. The ambitious Great Green Wall project to surround the Sahara desert with trees and other plants has changed beyond recognition after debate over whether desertification – the process by which soil loses its fertitlity – is realProgress is slow. In Niger, where temperatures often reach the 40s, the trees create a cooler microclimate, and rabbits and jackals are coming back.

But none of these grand political projects explains why gaos have caught on. The trees’ pods make very nutritious animal fodder, and fallen branches make good firewood, meaning Droum’s women and children – whose job it is to collect fuel for cooking fires – rarely have to venture further than a few kilometres to find it.

A Droum resident with the village’s mature gao trees.
A Droum resident with the village’s mature gao trees. Photograph: Ruth Maclean/Ruth Maclean for the Guardian

Women in Droum have also made medicine from their gaos for generations. “People come all the way from Zinder [Niger’s second largest city] to buy it,” said Husseina Ibrahim, a busy mother, next to a pot of boiling gao bark. “I’m the only one who makes this here. It’s great for me, it earns me a bit of money which I pay into the women’s cooperative.”

Tales about how the gao came to be so revered abound. Legend has it that crimes against gaos have been taken very seriously since the mid-19th century. “If you touched a branch, you would go to jail,” Tougiani said. In splendid brocade robes and curly-toed velvet slippers, surrounded by self-portraits and stick-wielding guards dressed in red and green, today’s district chief in Droum takes a slightly softer approach.

Gao bark powder and infusion, which locals say cures haemmerhoids.
Gao bark powder and infusion, which locals say cures haemmerhoids. Photograph: Ruth Maclean/Ruth Maclean for the Guardian

“It’s shameful to have to come before the chief and explain yourself. Often that’s punishment enough,” Maman Ali Kaoura said. Droum’s reoffenders face fines of between 5,000 to 10,000 West African CFA francs (€8 to 15), a huge amount for hard-up farmers.

A sense of ownership has been key in the regreening of Niger. Until the mid-1980s, every tree was considered to belong to the state. When this changed, regreening began, as people were happier to look after trees that belonged to them. In areas with the best cover, they organised patrols to protect their trees from passing farmers and neighbouring villagers seeking firewood.

Once people discovered that “one gao was equal to 10 cows” for fertilising, as Tougiani put it, the tree’s popularity took off. Several schemes, including one where farmers with more than 50 gaos were paid 50 CFA for each one, helped it along.

A Droum farmer opens his millet store.
A Droum farmer opens his millet store. Photograph: Ruth Maclean/Ruth Maclean for the Guardian

But their loyalty to their gaos could make areas around Zinder the most vulnerable to a disease that Reij and Tougiani have recently spotted killing trees near Niamey, the capital. If it spreads, the losses could be enormous, particularly in places where there is a near-monoculture of gaos.

“I’m worried, because it’s green oil for farmers – it’s their wealth,” said Tougiani. “If they lose Faidherbia albida, they’ll lose their way of life. They’ll have to leave the village.”

For Cheibou, losing his trees is unthinkable – they were his birthright. “I have nearly 100 gao trees in my fields, which I inherited from my father,” he said. On his way back to the village, he paused by a particularly large one, and cracked open its round seedpod. “This one was here when I was a boy. Just like it is now.”

A note from the Guardian:

Ever wondered why you feel so gloomy about the world – even at a time when humanity has never been this healthy and prosperous? Could it be because news is almost always grim, focusing on confrontation, disaster, antagonism and blame?

This series is an antidote, an attempt to show that there is plenty of hope, as our journalists scour the planet looking for pioneers, trailblazers, best practice, unsung heroes, ideas that work, ideas that might and innovations whose time might have come.

Readers can recommend other projects, people and progress that we should report on by contacting us at

A note from Gaia Speaking to the Guardian:

We thank you for your independent journalism, which is such an important aspect of the Great Turning, your holding actions create awareness around the negative and the positive actions of thousands of individuals and corporations worldwide. Your writing in turn sparks initiatives in people’s hearts, by informing them about issues that would otherwise go unnoticed, but also by giving them hope through a sense of possibility and togetherness with stories like this one. Gratitude.

Subscribe to the Upside here:

And support the Guardian’s fearless, leader-read, independent journalism here:

Articles, Resources & Networks

Paradigm as Choice in the Great Turning

with Woman Stands Shining (Pat McCabe)

One of the most invigorating experiences for me in the last two years, since I became a WTR facilitator – and recently also as volunteer for the International WTR Network, is to listen to the conversations that take place on the WTR webinars. I feel such relief when I hear my thoughts reflected in the words of others in such a away.

I highly recommend to browse through the recording that are on the page below and listen to some of them. Even in the aftermath, the buzz of the Community that gather around these thoughts is tangible, and I’m sure you will gain a lot of insight and inspiration.

A lot of links are shared, so you will find the experience grows your branches out towards other authors and thinkers too.


And if you prefer to be present in live, please don’t miss the one coming this month, on Saturday, 25th March at 9 am PST or 20 pm SAST (in South Africa). Here’s the link to join and a bit more info. I’ll be there.

Join the international network mailing list on their website if you want to received future notifications.

Hereunder is the information published on the WTR international site.

Much love and gratitude, Joanna

Register for this webinar here

The suggested requested donation for this webinar is between $25-$35USD. However, no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Please donate generously within your means but feel free to join us even if you can’t contribute financially. 

The Great Turning requires profound shifts in consciousness and in our perceptions of reality. In a society that’s so heavily influenced by the Power Over Paradigm that defines reality in static, concrete terms, we often don’t realize that it’s within our ability to choose to see and experience reality through different paradigmatic lenses.

As a holy earth surface walker of the Dine’ people, Woman Stands Shining (Pat McCabe) understands that the Power Over Paradigm is not the only way to understand and move through reality. She knows that the Earth operates within the Thriving Life Paradigm and that it is well within our ability to choose alignment with that paradigm.

Join us in a rich conversation as we explore our capacity, as humans, to participate with Earth in service to Thriving Life and muse on questions like:

  • What structures (hidden, overt, internal, external) exist to keep the Power Over Paradigm firmly in place?
  • How can we, here and now, wherever we are, cultivate a Thriving Life Paradigm within our own consciousness and in the world around us?
  • What are some radical, joyful, meaningful ways to step into that lifegiving empowerment?

We highly recommend listening to this episode of the Science and Nonduality (SAND) podcast with Woman Stands Shining (Pat McCabe) before our live webinar, if you’re able. It’s not required at all, but is a perfect lead-in for the conversation we’ll be having on March 25th. 

Woman Stands Shining (Pat McCabe), is of the Diné Nation (often known incorrectly as “Navajo”), and was also adopted into the Lakota Spiritual way of Life. She is a mother, grandmother, activist, artist, and international speaker. She identifies as a “radical bridger” of worlds and paradigms, with a focus on sharing from her own deep inquiry into Thriving Life Paradigm: “How do I become that being, that human, whose presence and way of being supports and causes all other life to Thrive?” She calls upon her lived experience from her indigenous cultures to make hypotheses and proposals to “Modern World Paradigm” as all of humanity is faced with its current crisis of relationship, with ourselves, with each other, and with the Earth.

Articles, Resources & Networks

The Work that Reconnects International Network, Going Forth

The Weavers and Volunteers working for The Work that Reconnects International Network are currently preparing a new website and an important online conference, both due later this year, in a huge collective effort to share wider and louder the valuable support resources that the network offers.

The Gaian Gathering has been in the collective dreams of the network for several years and 2023 is the year it comes into fruition! This global summit will combine online events and guided gatherings of local communities around the world. Watch out for further updates!

In the past years, the organisation has both strengthened and widened its web, by inviting in much novelty in all areas of thinking, being and doing. This represents a vast attempt to move away from the old paradigm, opening up to the astounding potential of transformation that is awakening in us at these times of the Great Turning. Some of the themes for reflection that have been highlighted over the last few years have been included on the website under the umbrella “Evolving Edge”.

This new breadth encourages more resilience within the network by shifting our patterns of thought, encouraging discussions and resources around topics such as white privilege, trauma informed practices, undoing oppression, collective and ancestral trauma, etc…

Secondly, the ongoing evolution of the network also intelligently considers the emergence of more multidisciplinary formats and specific applications for the original Work that Reconnects methodology. Indeed, whilst all the workshops and events by registered facilitators are always inspired by the Foundations of the Work that Reconnects and its Spiral, they now often are themed in areas like the Arts, Permaculture, Nature Quests, Parenting, etc. This allows the Work to expand as a tool in wider, younger and more active circles. And of course since 2020, many new formats have emerged online, following broad acceptance on distance workshopping by audiences worldwide.

And thirdly, I would add that some of the the other aspects that make the Work that Reconnects so stable in these wobbly times are its inherent diversity and inclusivity. Indeed, Joanna Macy already included different fields of knowledge in the philosophy at the roots of the Work, from indigenous wisdom to buddhist principles, or from deep ecology to systems thinking. She thereby made sure to utilise the principles at the base of the most resilient strains of knowledge available on Earth and inspired by Earth. Additionally, the co-founders guaranteed that the training remained open source, so as to make it available to a wide variety of facilitators worldwide, independently of their area of activism, location or income.

Increasingly, the resources and practices of the Work that Reconnects are incorporating contributions by activists from a variety of influential organisations worldwide, helped by the ease of online conversations and events. These activists often in turn have been inspired by the Work that Reconnects or Joanna Macy over the years and this reciprocity is at the base of the strength of this web.

Most of the recordings of the webinars organised over the last few years are available here:

Above is the last one I watched. As always, I found it revitalising and brimming with active hope and insight.

We invite you to join the Community as a Friend of the network if you have not already on

You will also receive the Deep Times Newsletter termly. Watch out for the next edition which talks about the vocabulary of these shifting times. The more we consolidate the “Gaianist” vocabulary, the more emergence and resilience can be birthed… Think “Great Turning”, “Business as Usual”, “Post-colonialism”, “Whiteness”, “Ecological Civilisation”, etc… We need a solid ground of expression to move forward as one humanity.


Find your Calling – the place where ‘your deep gladness, and the World’s deep hunger meets’

True Nature Soul Quest with Rachael Millson – starts May 2023

As we find ourselves at the beginning of a new year, more and more of us are sensing that, collectively, we are in the process of huge transition – a critical time in our planetary and species’ history and evolution. The crises we find ourselves in connect to both culture and nature and how we each choose to live our lives in this moment is significant for many reasons. Not least with respect to what type of future we want to leave for the coming generations of beings, both human and non-human.

What is needed now is for each of us to stand in our full power, together, to invent new regenerative human cultures and ways of living, that will allow us to live in harmony with the Earth, and with love, compassion and justice for our fellow humans.

At the deepest level, the crises we are facing stem from a type of forgetfulness. We have forgotten who we are, forgotten our true selves as sacred beings. We have bought into the current world mythos of separation, not seeing the truth of our interbeing, and we have forgotten that we are nature, it’s not something apart from us, to be used as a resource alone. It’s from this worldview, of separation, and of mechanistic linearity, that cultures have been formed and systems have been invented, and continue to grow. If we want to see widespread systems-change, we need to question the very basis on which our cultures have been formed. And this begins with a radical personal journey of transformation.

Yet how do we respond to the call that so many of us are hearing, for more depth and meaning, and for a different way, a more beautiful way for all, for life on earth to unfold? There are many actions that can be taken, but perhaps the most important and the bravest, is the willingness to radically come back to the truth at the core of our beings, and to awaken the unique spark and inner resiliency of genius that sits there. Once we find that inner genius (that has been alive all along, but often hidden under the confines of what society and culture has taught us about ourselves), we can begin to live our lives in full alignment with it, weaving it into life in the here and now, despite and because of all the troubles we are facing.

And by developing a sacred reciprocal relationship with nature, collectively we will shift towards decisions that can truly regenerate our home planet.

If you would like to explore your deepest nature, live in alignment with wild nature, embody your inner genius and Soul’s purpose, and contribute your unique gifts towards a more beautiful world, join the True Nature Soul Quest, a 4-month intensive journey into the mysteries of nature and soul.

Contact Rachael Millson on


Climate Change as a Spiritual Practice – with Adyashanti

We’d like to share the recording of a deeply anchoring and supportive conversation between Jonathan Gustin and Adyashanti around the important following questions:

How can Non-Duality inform our way of meeting this Climate Crisis?

How can we root ourselves in the peace of our true nature without avoiding the heartache of the world?

How can we welcome grief and anger without becoming overwhelmed or lost in separation?

In the Zoom conversation that we witnessed he mentioned interesting concepts around “optional and non optional suffering”, or absolute and relative suffering to address how we feel about the world at present.

He said that “Compassion is the link between the absolute and the relative” and that makes it a tool to navigate these times and make sense of where our “stuckness” can end, when despair or grief overwhelms us… So, in a sense “It’s ok not to feel ok”

Rachael and I invite you to listen to the recording here to enjoy this online gathering, which includes Zen buddhism references and some meditation and deep reflection practices too.

This conversation was preceded by a conversation With Joanna Macy on June 14th 2022, under the same theme “Climate Change as a Spiritual Practice”. The recording is here (watch from minute 05:35 only!) and an article by Rachael hereunder…

Adyashanti is an American spiritual teacher and author from the San Francisco Bay Area who offers talks, online study courses, and retreats in the United States and abroad. He is the author of numerous books, CDs and DVDs and, together with his wife Mukti, is the founder of Open Gate Sangha, which supports and makes available his teachings.

Jonathan Gustin is a purpose guide, psychotherapist, meditation teacher, and integral mentor in private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 25 years. Jonathan is the founder and lead teacher of the Purpose Guides Institute and Green Sangha.  He also serves as adjunct faculty at John F. Kennedy University in the Consciousness and Transformation Studies program. Jonathan has co-taught with human potential pioneer George Leonard, Buddhist activist Joanna Macy and depth psychologist Bill Plotkin.  For more information on Jonathan Gustin check out the following: Purpose Guides Institute website


Online Networks: the Tricycle Buddhism Network

The Work that Reconnects integrates, among other teachings, the values present in Buddhism. There are many schools of Buddhism and religious and political interpretations of Buddhism, therefore it is overwhelmingly complex to study all its variants and also some of its practices may not be indicated for certain individual circumstances. Yet, there are great resources available, in which I personally have found refuge and wisdom again and again when confronted with the tyranny of contradictions that riddle my time of Earth.

I’d like to recommend the introduction to Buddhism offered by Tricyle to those of you who are interested in a clear summary of some of its spiritual principles. Hereunder is the link to the page and an extract of the first chapter which will introduce the Four Noble Truths the Eightfold Path. I hope this will serve as some guidance for you today or in future times, when facing difficult transitions and transformations.

Much love and gratitude, Joanna Tomkins

What is the eightfold path?

A gold sculpture of the Wheel of the Buddhist Law from thirteenth-century Japan. In this ritual object, each of the eight spokes and corners represents one aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path. | Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Buddha began and ended his teaching career with a discussion of the eightfold path, guidelines for living ethically, training the mind, and cultivating wisdom that brings an end to the causes of suffering. He spoke of the path in his first sermon immediately after his awakening and in the last teaching he gave on his deathbed 45 years later. The eightfold path is the fourth noble truth, the way to awakening.

The Buddha is often described as a great physician or healer, and the eightfold path (also called the noble eightfold path, “noble” because following it can make us better people, like the Buddha) can be viewed as his prescription for relief. Suffering is the disease, and the eight steps are a course of treatment that can lead us to health and well-being; we avoid the extremes of self-indulgence on the one hand and total self-denial on the other. For this reason the Buddha called the path “the middle way.” The eight steps are:

  1. Right view 
  2. Right intention 
  3. Right speech 
  4. Right action
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort 
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

The path begins with right view, also called right understanding. We need to see clearly where we are headed before we begin. Right intention means the resolve to follow this path. Right speech and right action refer to what we say and do—to not harming other people or ourselves with our words and behavior. Right livelihood means how we live day to day, making sure our habits and our work don’t cause harm to ourselves and others. 

Right effort refers to focusing our energy on the task at hand. Right mindfulness means awareness of the mind and body with discernment. With mindfulness, we might pause and consider whether what we are doing is harmful to ourselves or others. Finally, right concentration refers to dedicated practice, whether it is meditation or chanting. In other words, once we have directed our minds and lives toward awakening, we can proceed. Though the eightfold path is always listed in this order, it is not strictly sequential, and does not need to be followed in only this order.

The eight steps can be divided into three areas for training: ethical conduct (sila), concentration (samadhi), and wisdom (prajna.) Right speech, right action, and right livelihood concern ethical conduct. Right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration relate to the practice of concentration. Right view and right intention are related to the development of wisdom. 

The eightfold path may not always be easy to follow, but we make the effort because we believe it will lead us out of suffering.

Published on TRICYLE – Buddhism for Beginners