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Book Review: The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible -by Charles Eisenstein

During my preparation for my journey to South America, I was recommended an entire library of books to read by the facilitator guiding my experience. I knew that I wouldn't have enough time to absorb the entirety of the selection, so I was forced choose only a few select titles that I believed would be the most beneficial for time down south. Some of those titles were: The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk MD, The Fellowship of the River by Joseph Tafur MD, Rainforest Medicine: Preserving Indigenous Medicine and Biodiversity in The Upper Amazon by Jonathon Miller Weisberger, and The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible by Charles Eisenstein (just to name a few). I had also brought a few of my own choices such as the first three books in the Dune series by Frank Herbert and Johann Hari's Lost Connections. Unfortunately, Eisenstein's book ended up lost in the shuffle of my Kindle, only to recently rediscover it in the past few weeks. It proved to be one of the most influential books that I've had the pleasure to read in quite some time, and resonated so beautifully with the current journey I have found myself on. So without further delay, here is my attempt at reviewing this man's beautiful and thought provoking non-fiction literary achievement.

The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible Book

Charles Eisenstein Book Review

Written by Jamie Switch

In The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible, Charles Eisenstein beckons readers to embark on a profound journey of self-discovery and collective transformation. Through lyrical prose and insightful reflections, Eisenstein challenges conventional paradigms, inviting us to envision a reality grounded in interconnectedness, empathy, and love.

"The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible was published in November 2013. It argues that many of the social, economic, political, and environmental problems covered in his earlier works can be traced to an underlying worldview that he calls the "Story of Separation"—that humans are separate from each other and from the rest of the natural world. A new story that is emerging, the "Story of Interbeing", is a "story of the world that we really care about". The book describes this as a time of transition between these stories: "Internally, it [the transition] is ... a transformation in the experience of being alive. Externally is it ... a transformation of humanity's role on planet Earth". He deconstructs the old story while describing the new. For example, the best way to interrupt the story of separation is to give someone an experience of non-separation. Publishers' Weekly described it as "a revolutionary and interactive book—in the sense that it inspires the reader to think out of the ordinary", adding that Eisenstein "will be noted in antiquity as one of the seminal and pioneering storytellers of this new world"."

(Synopsis sourced from Wikipedia

Eisenstein's prose dances with a poetic rhythm, weaving together threads of philosophy, spirituality, and activism to craft a compelling vision of a more harmonious existence. Drawing upon a diverse array of anecdotes and wisdom traditions, he paints a vivid portrait of possibility, urging us to transcend the limitations of fear and separation. The book invites readers on a transformative journey, challenging conventional narratives and beckoning us toward a new vision of what life can be outside of the imposed beliefs we find ourselves indoctrinated by every day of our existence.

Central to Eisenstein's message is the notion of interbeing, the recognition that we are all inextricably linked and that our actions ripple out to touch the lives of others and the world around us. He challenges us to move beyond the confines of ego and embrace the power of compassion to heal the wounds of division and scarcity that afflict our society.

"You have probably experienced the old story’s power to draw you back in. You have a transcendent experience of unity, flow, connection, compassion, or the miraculous, and see with total clarity how you will henceforward live in a different way. It could be the kind of experience people describe as spiritual, or maybe as mundane as fully realizing the impact of high-carbon lifestyles on the planet. It could be an inspirational book or seminar, a training in nonviolent communication, a course on yogic philosophy. In the days and weeks following the experience, you live effortlessly according to what you realized. Maybe you see everyone around you as an emanation of the divine. But after a while, what had been clear and effortless starts to require an effort to remind yourself, to recall the experience. You need discipline where you needed none before. You have to make a practice of seeing the divine in all, whereas it had been obvious and effortless. Or you start driving your car more again, making compromises. Life goes back to normal. What is happening here is that usually, people cannot hold a new story by themselves. A story can be held only in community, which is why people seek to establish communities dedicated to spiritual ideas, sheltered from the corrosive influences of the dominant Story of the World. To some extent, we can do the same by surrounding ourselves with people who are living similar values."

(Excerpt taken from Chapter 18, 'Scarcity')

The book's message is one of hope, rooted in the belief that another world is not only possible but already emerging, pulsating with the energy of change and renewal. He challenges us to transcend the limitations of fear and separation, inviting us to step into our roles as co-creators of a more sustainable planet.

"The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible" is not merely a book; it is a call to action, a clarion invitation to awaken to our true potential and co-create a reality that reflects the deepest yearnings of our hearts. Through stories of personal transformation and collective resilience, Eisenstein inspires us to reclaim our agency and become agents of change in a world hungry for renewal.

While Eisenstein's theories offer an inspiring alternative to conventional wisdom, they may also warrant thoughtful scrutiny and reflection.

One aspect of Eisenstein's thesis that merits examination is his portrayal of interconnectedness as the antidote to societal ills. While acknowledging the importance of empathy and compassion, Eisenstein may oversimplify the complexities of human behavior and systemic injustice. Real-world challenges such as poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation require multifaceted solutions that go beyond individual acts of kindness.

Furthermore, Eisenstein's emphasis on the power of belief and intention to shape reality may border on idealism. While mindset and perspective certainly influence our experiences, they may not alone dismantle entrenched systems of power and privilege. True transformation demands both internal shifts and collective action to address structural inequalities and create meaningful change. Perhaps that is why he suggests that we 'surrounding ourselves with people who are living similar values' and form community with those who share in this new philosophy. To disengage ourselves in numbers to affect real change. In that I agree.

Additionally, Eisenstein's narrative may inadvertently perpetuate a sense of spiritual bypassing, wherein individuals seek to transcend worldly suffering without engaging with its root causes. While inner work is undeniably valuable, it must be complemented by concrete efforts to address social injustice and inequity. Eisenstein addresses this in Chapter 20, Nondoing and writes:

"Our discomfort with a teaching like “You don’t have to do anything” comes in part from our thorough indoctrination into the work ethic, which holds that without the discipline of doing, nothing gets done. If there were no grades hanging over their heads, no paycheck at the end of the week, and no internalized habit of work such devices have created, then most people wouldn’t keep doing what they do. Only those who work for the love of it would continue—only those whose work gave them a palpable sense of service, of contribution, or of meaning."

(Excerpt taken from Chapter 20, 'Nondoing')

He continues with:

"Yes, it is scary to not do, or rather, to not impose doing. Most of us have grown up in a society that trains us, from kindergarten or even earlier, to do things we don’t really want to do, and to refrain from things we do want to. This is called discipline, the work ethic, self-control. Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution at least, it has been seen as a cardinal virtue. After all, most of the tasks of industry were not anything a sane human being would willingly do. To this day, most of the tasks that keep society as we know it running are the same. Lured by future rewards, chastened by punishment, we face the grim necessity of work. This would all be defensible, perhaps, if this work were truly necessary, if it were contributing to the well-being of people and planet. But at least 90 percent of it is not. Part of our revolution is the reunion of work and play, work and art, work and leisure, of have to and want to."

(Excerpt taken from Chapter 20, 'Nondoing')

For those seeking guidance on the path toward a more just, sustainable, and compassionate world, Charles Eisenstein's visionary work is an indispensable companion. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, often finding myself rereading sections to full grasp the concepts he proposes. So much of his writing resonates with something deep inside of me that I have long felt but struggled to find the words to express. With wisdom and grace, he invites us to dream boldly, act courageously, and embrace the possibility of a more beautiful world, one that our hearts have always known is possible.

About the Author

Author, teacher, speaker Charles Eisenstein

Charles Eisenstein (born 1967) is an American public speaker, teacher and author. His work covers a wide range of topics, including the history of human civilization, economics, spirituality, and the ecology movement. Key themes explored include anti-consumerism, interdependence, and how myth and narrative influence culture. According to Eisenstein, global culture is immersed in a destructive "story of separation", and one of the main goals of his work is to present an alternative "story of interbeing". Much of his work draws on ideas from Eastern philosophy and the spiritual teachings of various indigenous peoples. Eisenstein has been involved in the Occupy, New Economy, and permaculture movements.

Eisenstein graduated from Yale University in 1989 with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy. He lived in Taiwan for nine years, where he became fluent in Mandarin Chinese and worked as a translator. He married there, had children, and later returned to the United States. He describes his late 20s through his mid 30s as "a long period of intensifying crisis". During this time, he held short-term positions as a construction worker, college instructor, and yoga teacher, but spent most of his time as a stay-at-home dad. He then spent four years writing The Ascent of Humanity, which was published in 2007 and became his first commercially successful book, launching his writing career. Eisenstein has four sons; one with his current wife, Stella, and three with his previous wife, Patsy. He currently lives in Rhode Island, New England.

Other Works By Charles Eisenstein

The Ascent of Humanity

The Ascent of Humanity, published in 2007, draws together Eisenstein's thoughts about the history of human civilization. It explores the development of what he calls the "separate human realm", drawing distinctions between hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies. In Eisenstein's view, a greater sense of separation from nature began with the emergence of agriculture and has been accelerating to the present day.

Other themes include the role of various languages, mathematics, art, religions and other symbolic systems to structure subjective reality at the levels of the individual and of culture. He argues that these have a strong, largely unconscious effect on attitudes toward time and the natural world.

It was read on the Unwelcome Guests radio show and the reading was later released as an audiobook.

Sacred Economics

Eisenstein wrote his 2011 book Sacred Economics as part of the New Economy movement. The book revolves around the theme of how the current monetary system based on interest and usury, along with the abandonment of the gift economy, led to social alienation, competition and need for an economic system predicated on continuous growth. It has been either fully or partially translated into at least nine language. Accordingly, his primary goal is the reestablishment of some form of gift economy as a means of strengthening relationships in contrast to money economies which commodify our relationships and render people interchangeable. He asserts that money is created by the conversion of free human interactions into paid services. Eisenstein himself attempts to practice the gift economy in his own life.

The book explores additional economic proposals including a negative-interest currency following Silvio Gesell, social dividends, economic degrowth, and a personal emphasis on right livelihood over financial motivation. In other writings, he has also advocated for universal basic income. He describes and rejects what he describes as the myth of scarcity which he claims fosters greed and anxiety.

Climate—A New Story

Climate—A New Story was published in 2018. It is described as 'flipping the script on climate change', and addresses the framing, tactics and goals of our approach to environmental issues. Eisenstein proposes that if we were to feel that the rivers, forests, and creatures of the natural and material world were sacred or at least valuable in their own right, then our response might be more wholesome and ultimately effective. He decries valuing the living world simply for its carbon credits or for preventing the extinction of one species or another.

Other Work

Eisenstein has published op-ed pieces in The Guardian and The Huffington Post on topics including genetic modification, the patenting of seeds and debt. He is a contributing editor at the website Reality Sandwich. He appeared on Oprah Winfrey's Super Soul Sunday on July 16, 2017.

Eisenstein periodically publishes essays on his website.

Charles Eisenstein book review has been researched and written by Jamie Switch on Sunday March 3rd / 2024

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