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Living With the Contradictions: A Human Potential Visionary Talks About Our Infinite Potential and How We Also Block Progress

Joseph Chilton Pearce, one of the elders of the human potential movement, lives with the contradiction that everything is possible, yet nature's plan has gone awry.

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My dear friend and great supporter Michael Mandisa had an essay about just that, infinite potential and self-imposed limitations. All the things that limit us are imposed from within. I've mentioned that in states of total suspension of fear and anxiety, I've been able to accomplish things that ordinarily would have been totally impossible. That's gone on for a long time, but in short amounts, because with the great weight and limitation of public opinion and the limitations of within, we backtrack, chicken out. Then, it comes in kind of a sweep and we realize who we really are, what we are really about. 

My big concern in recent years has been the living earth, which is just fact now, there's been too much excellent, excellent research on it to ignore. We have betrayed the earth to the point that all of it is now, little by little, getting out of balance. Not that the earth is out to punish us, it doesn't have that kind of intelligence, but we're throwing it so raggedly out of balance that earth is going to be a very difficult place to be in the future. I'm thinking of the mountain top removal, the great, huge damage to the Appalachian mountains in search of cheap coal. There was a big article in one of the major magazines that put together all the damage ever done to this earth, but nothing can equal the damage that's happening right now to the Southern Appalachians as they remove whole mountains that have seams of coal. We don't seem to realize that the living earth itself is seriously damaged by all this. 

CE: So, do you think the potential or the self-limitation is winning out, or ascendant? 

JCP: Oh, the limitation is winning out. We simply give up on so many of our potentials because of the enormous pressure sustained from the public in general. That seems magnified everywhere I turn. I will finally say that I'm rather pessimistic. 

CE: A few years ago, I listened to an interview with one of your elders, Pete Seeger, the singer, and he's nobody's fool. He's no soft liberal; he's really very radical. He said, on his 90th birthday, "Something is really different now. We've turned the corner, and I believe that the future is going to be much, much better." That kind of stuck with me, and then just last year, I happened to have a conversation with one of his elders, Grace Boggs. She was an elder figure in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960's. She's almost 100 now, and I told her about Pete Seeger, and she said, "Oh yes, I agree. I've become in the last few years incredibly optimistic." And again, she's not somebody who is ignorant of the problems facing our planet and society. The fact that these two great beings were optimistic kind of told me, "Charles, you're not crazy." And I wonder if I can somehow transmit that to you, or what do you have to say about it? 

JCP: It all depends on what extent to which we're looking at this. I'm quite convinced that there will be a saving remnant among us, but its likely that the ranks will be pretty thin. There are certain movements now that cover the entire earth that we've never had to face before simply due to technology. There are certain problems our children are having that children have never had before, all because of technology. To my way of thinking, technology has brought with it far, far more damage to things than it has benefits. I'm not a lover of physical science, particle science, any of that stuff. The word itself simply means knowledge, but this knowledge is now based on particle science or material science; its become the new religion of material science. It rules our mind, and this religion has a very, very bad god behind it. Certain patterns of thinking are now being induced electronically over the whole earth. 

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