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The Middle Way: What We’re About

Art Earth Tech’s Gathering is taking place from 22 – 29 July 2017, and this week Institute member Rufus Pollock gives a synopsis of what we are about and how The Gathering reflects this.

The Middle Way: What We’re About

We provide a middle way. The gathering reflects this.

A middle way between the start-up and the monastery. A path that incorporates the best qualities of each whilst discarding their excesses.

We combine the purpose and engagement of the “start-up” life with the mindful living and reflective peace of the monastery. From the start-up we leave behind the stress, anxiety, the prioritizing of success over joy, from the monastery we leave behind the retreat from the world, the disengagement from practical matters.

Put simply, we are a community combining mindful reflection with pragmatic purpose.

In our experience, this is rare. Deep mindful practice often ends up as a retreat from conventional life. We become other-wordly and unengaged with “reality” and practical issues. We end up in a monastery or in some kind of new-age hippie-dom. On the other side, are those deeply engaged in the everyday world – activists, researchers or entrepreneurs. In this mode, we become all too this worldly, disengaged from a deeper reality. We struggle to maintain any balance between thought, spirit and body usually finding ourselves consumed by our thoughts whether buried in a computer screen absorbed by our ideas. Lack of a deep mindful practice ultimately results in inner and outer conflict. Consumed by our work we become burnt out, angry, cynical and ineffective.

We believe true, lasting change – transformation – requires us to combine the best of both worlds. Outer transformation – of our communities, our economies and our societies – is impossible without inner transformation. And inner transformation disengaged from purpose and engagement with the world can simply become escape and detachment – an endless retreat.

We’ve seen this ourselves. Commitment undistinguished from attachment creates burn-out and cynicism. We sacrifice means to ends. We accept unwell, unbalanced lives for the sake of achievement and success: be it an activist burning out to fight climate change, or the startup CEO sacrificing family and friends to sixteen hour workdays. Ultimately, means and ends can not be separated this way: unwell means make unwell ends.

We believe there is an alternative and we are busy trying to create it. We know we have a lot to learn, and plenty of mistakes to make. But we can promise the journey will be extraordinary.

Come join us.

By Rufus Pollock

Co-founder of Life Itself. Pragmatic Utopian.

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