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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.

Photo Credit: Sergej Khakimullin/ Shutterstock


Last week I sat down for a telephone conversation with Joseph Chilton Pearce, an author who has had a big influence not only on my work, but on the way I have raised my children. He alerted me early on to the damage that hospital birthing, day care, television, and modern schooling do to the developing brain. A World War Two veteran, he could be considered one of the elders of the human potential movement, although he brings to it a sobriety bordering at times on pessimism. His books include  The Crack in the Cosmic EggMagical Child, and many more. His most recent is  The Heart-mind Matrix: How the Heart can Teach the Mind New Ways to Think.

Charles Eisenstein: I just wanted to tell you, your work has had a huge impact on me. 

Joseph Chilton Pearce: Oh, thank you, thank you. It has me too. (Chuckles) 

CE: I often feel like things I write are from a place that I haven't arrived at yet, and that they're coming from a field, and the writing of those works is what pulls me to that field, even if I'm not there yet when I write it. Do you ever experience that? 

JCP: Very, very much so. Something very similar to it. In fact one of the things I have found  most surprising is to pick up my last two or three books and re-read them, and be so surprised at what I had said. I think, my god, where did this come from? It's as though it was the first time I've heard that, whatever the particular thing is. In fact, I think the business of memory...I've been wanting to do a paper on memory and duration. I think we need to expand our term "duration" to include an awful lot. Its a great extension and far more creative than our notion of the Akashic Records. And there really is something very similar to the Akashic Records. And that is involved in duration. Duration is really the source of all creativity. What I've been calling duration. We have no real term for it....If I could I would certainly try to get that little essay down about creativity and duration and what duration really means. 

CE: I have just been looking at your book,  Heart-Mind Matrix. I've been reading your books for decades now, and there are always two feelings I get that are somewhat contradictory. One is the tremendous possibility and latent potential that is in all of us, and when I tap into that, I have the feeling that everything is possible. On the other hand, there is kind of a feeling of doom around your writing: nature's plan has gone awry, humanity is degenerating, we have lost the capacities we once had, and these trends are, if anything, accelerating. I wonder, what about you? How do you resolve this contradiction? Do you just live with this contradiction? How do you feel about it now, personally? 

JCP: My feeling for most of my life has been that we have an absolutely unlimited possibility within us, and an equal amount of self-imposed limitations. For every possibility, we have a self-imposed limitation. This is the story of our species; we have infinite potential, and yet we also have incredible impositions just blocking everything. From about ages 5 to 7, I had the idea that the sky was the limit, but then all of a sudden school came along, and with it came this enormous weight of restriction. Again, that's kind of the general story of our species. 

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