Deep Adaptation Quarterly – May 2020

Every three months, we summarise new activities and resources in the field of Deep Adaptation. We do not cover news on the latest science, weather, or impacts, as there are many other sources for that. Please forward this email to people who might be interested (subscribe here).

Founder’s Commentary – Jem Bendell

Since I edited our last newsletter, most of our lives have been shaken by the pandemic and the varying responses from governments, organisations and communities. It has been a time of increased uncertainty, vulnerability, dismay, grief, reflection, and brave loving action. In addition, many commentators are trying to make sense of it all, to predict the longer-term implications and influence policy agendas. It is too soon to say what the long-term implication will be, but it is already clear that climate change and environmental degradation are making it more likely for outbreaks of disease that originate from animals. That was something I wrote about here and then discussed with Bloomberg.

Some people who are engaged in Deep Adaptation have been wondering whether the impacts of Covid-19 are the start of societal collapse. In some parts of the world, where millions of people are already facing hunger, it is adding to societal collapse. I hope that connecting with each other on the DA agenda has not numbed us to tragedies like that, and we can try to help as much as we are able. Perhaps with a donation to a group like Action Aid (or another that you might prefer). That seems futile in comparison to the sums that could be made available by government action. That means being politically engaged can be useful, especially as it is likely that governments won’t reimagine our monetary systems but return to cutting budgets as we emerge from the pandemic (or its first wave).

For most people engaged in our platforms, discussions have focused on the increased sense of vulnerability people are feeling in their own lives, mostly in industrialised countries. We discussed it on the Facebook group, where I shared and invited reflections using the four R framework on responses to Covid-19. In was also a theme in my last Facebook live Q&A and interviews with me by Reverend Michael Dowd and IPSOS-Mori. At DAF we have responded to this perceived need in a number of ways.

We have increased our online ‘deep listening’ sessions for you to support each other in sharing difficult emotions. We launched online ‘death cafes’ to help you explore your relationship with death and dying, as a way of helping each other with everyday life. We are also launching online weekly ‘Songs of One Breath’ – a form of multifaith connection and celebration, starting tomorrow (30 mins from 2.30pm UK time). We are also pleased that the DA Guidance database of practitioners is now ready for more traffic from our network. If you are a therapist, coach or facilitator, or would like to consult one, please visit it.

Also important is how we are better informed about collective responses that could reduce harm. Therefore, I have started a small research project with colleagues, which I would like your input on. We are looking at the kind of novel collaborations that are emerging, or could begin, in response to the expectation or experience of societal collapse. If you have 5 to 10 minutes to spare now, please send me your thoughts via this form. I will share results in the next newsletter. The survey closes in 2 weeks.

Being better informed is one thing but needing to be right is something else. Whether in my personal or professional life, in stressful moments, it has been normal for me to analyse and seek to be as smart as I can about a situation. I have witnessed that in myself and wondered if that is happening for other people at this time. Being curious about what is happening to humanity and how fast is important. But needing to be certain, to be heard and to correct others is not that helpful. I offered the DA agenda as a set of questions (around four Rs) and intended it to be a large tent for many kinds of responses and priorities. At risk of cliché, Rumi summed it up so well when he wrote “sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.” Or more recently, David Lurey, when he sings:

“When I think I know something… it’s when the beauty stops

When I think I know something… it’s when I’m far away from you.

When I know I know nothing… it’s when the beauty starts to unfold”

I hope to remember that vibe as the Core Team of myself Zori, Dorian, Katie and Matthew engage with the outputs of the volunteer-led ‘Strategy Options Dialogue’ over the next two months before sharing our assessment of what we can prioritise and enable in the coming year or two.

As the DA network grows, with over 15,000 people engaged on the platforms and over 100 volunteers, it appears that we might be fellow participants in a new social movement. To help the DAF evolve with that, we launched a Holding Group which will increasingly take over governance oversight. As a small team of 5 part time freelancers, we will keep looking for how we enable people to create and run their own projects in alignment with the DA aim of embodying and enabling loving responses to our predicament.

That means you too! So, if you have an idea, then please consider finding future colleagues via one of the Discussion Groups on the Professions’ Network.

The DA movement received some more mainstream media attention in the last quarter, including from the BBC. For people new to DA, they might assume that we prepare for disaster with bunkers, tinned food and weapons. What they discover is that we are prioritising a different path, that seeks to help each other transcend our fears and work together to reduce harm. As such, DA is a peace movement in response to anticipated and actual collapse. Therefore, we are explicitly non-violent. Whether we are effective is not the only concern for people engaged in this movement – because how we live and die matters.

When an American right-wing commentator proudly shouts last week that he will kill and eat his neighbours, we have a glimpse of how some scared men may react to the difficulties ahead. Other people may be less loud about their fears, but the argument that we must do ‘whatever it takes’ to stop and reverse climate chaos could arise from some similarly unprocessed anxieties about death. Hearing some people’s reactions to their increasing sense of vulnerability is why promoting means of reconciliation with our common mortality is part of the Deep Adaptation agenda. I was drawn to explore reconciliation with death and living with unbearable emotions with my last three Q&A guests, Dahr Jamail, Amisha Ghadiali and Sister Jayanti of the Brahma Kumaris.

The rest of this newsletter compiles information submitted to us by the DA volunteers, and so if information about your DA work with us is missing, then just look out for the next request for submissions, coming to you from Katie, Zori or Dorian in late July.

I hope to see some of you tomorrow, for the Songs of One Breath at 230pm UK time or my Q&A with John Doyle of the European Commission at 5pm UK time.

Thanks for reading

Jem

PS: Here is the survey link again for you to feedback!

 

Some Highlights on The Forum

From the DA Facilitators Group on Facebook – thx Katie Carr

Jem met with volunteer DA facilitators in March, to support the widening of DA’s “Deep Listening” approach. Since then, people have been bringing this approach to their organisations, with groups of CEOs, volunteers, communities, & more. One host commented that these were “not spaces where I ever imagined applying this approach but given the world we find ourselves in I felt it entirely appropriate. It has been incredibly well received and folk in those meetings are inviting this process into their own team meetings and community gatherings.” Another said “100 people attend[ed] It went extremely well, and the feedback was extraordinarily positive. It really touched people.”

We’re delighted to welcome Sue Brayne to our team of volunteer PDA facilitators, to bring Death Cafes online for the PDA community. Sue worked as a psychotherapist specialising in trauma, grief and bereavement, & is the author of “Living Fully, Dying Consciously: the path to spiritual wellbeing“.

If you have not joined us in a live video meeting yet, please read about Deep Listening, Death Cafes and Songs of One Breath. Then check the PDA events page for more details.

From the Community Action Discussion Group on DA Professions Network – thx Kat Soares

The Community Action Group recently introduced a peer assist process to their regular monthly gatherings. The first two were held on April 13th and 14th with a total of 16 participants. The peer assist process is a structured conversation that involves the sharing of a personal challenge and receiving support, guidance and wisdom from your peers on the call. It also includes a period for reflection on learnings from the supported and the supportees. Feedback on these initial peer assist processes is overwhelmingly positive and we intend to host them for the Community Action Group each month. We are also encouraging others with the CA group to take the initiative and host them themselves. See info here.

Deep Adaptation Strategy Options Dialogue – thx Kat Soares

The first quarter of 2020 saw an ambitious process to co-create a ‘strategy options paper’ for Deep Adaptation through a series of carefully designed and facilitated online workshops and through incorporating ideas from surveys and written submissions. More than 60 people, from across the network, have participated in this process, grappling with some challenging questions around what DA might do and how it can ensure its success. The hard work of integrating all the thinking and material from workshops is now underway and culminates in May with the submission of a draft strategy options paper to the core team for their consideration. See here for info.

The paper and the response will be communicated in the next newsletter. You can read some further background on the project here.

Education Group – thx Eric Garza

This quarter Katie Carr and Kathryn Soares hosted a series of three Zoom calls designed to build interest in the Education group. One outcome from this has been a few new posts and Eric Garza hosting a Zoom call with Pina Haas about the Education in a Time of Climate Crisis. This call was recorded and can be watched on YouTube. This group is ideal for engagement by volunteers with relevant expertise, to help promote reshaping education. You can engage it here

Créer un groupe francophone sur l’adaptation radicale? – thx Charles Abecassis and Xavier Verzat

Five people meet every Wednesday 2pm (Paris time zone) to develop a francophone on ‘deep adaptation’ which translates into l’adaptation radicale? Particpants are based in Barcelona, Lille, Cyprus, Paris. The group have helped enable the translations of Bendell’s writings and his forthcoming book in French in September (called l’adaptation radicale; with any proceeds going to DAF and XR France, 50/50). You can engage the group here.

If you would like your own activities within the Forum to be highlighted in the next newsletter, look out for the invitation to contribute which will be shared with you in late July by either Zori, Dorian or Katie.

Upcoming Events on the DA Forum

The number of events being organised through the DA platforms has exploded in number. Therefore, rather than listing them here, we recommend you consult the latest events listed on the PDA Facebook group and on the Professions’ Network. They include Q&As with Jem Bendell, courses, and all sorts.

Two events that Jem Bendell is participating in are his DA Leadership course in the UK in November, and an online public lecture on May 18th, about Universities in the Face of the Climate Crisis.

The DA Groups Network

Seventeen groups have affiliated with the Deep Adaptation Forum to promote more local engagement on this agenda. If you would like to be more active in your local area, then consider joining or starting a group here.

Recommended by DA Volunteers

In the next newsletter we want to include links to writings and Audio-Visual resources that are highly relevant to our participants. For instance, the video interviews by Dean Walker, Jem Bendell and Michael Dowd. For instance, Dean interviewed DAF Senior Facilitator Katie Carr about why and how DAF focuses on processes of relating as a foundation for everything. If you could volunteer to curate the compilation of these resources every 3 months, please contact us via this form.

Further Reading or Viewing

Some of the key articles from Jem Bendell over the last 3 months include:

How Everything Can Collapse – foreword to new book

The Climate for Corona – our warming world is more vulnerable to pandemic

The Worst Argument to Try to Win: Response to Criticism of the Climate Science in Deep Adaptation

Can you support the DAF?

The Deep Adaptation Forum exists to embody and enable loving responses to our predicament of facing or experiencing societal collapse, influenced by climate chaos. All DAF platforms exist without paywall and we intend to keep it that way for all our online services for the general public. Please help us maintain that as well as coordinate a growing range of volunteers and projects, by donating something here. How we spend the money is detailed here. Our crowdfund video, explaining our approach and inviting support is still online here.

Why Discussing Death Can Help Us With Life

Many people who receive a terminal diagnosis report experiencing a kind of renewal, a ‘coming back to life’. Suddenly being invited to reflect on one’s life can have the effect of bringing into focus what really matters, and bringing a sense of clarity and forgiveness to one’s relationships, and often one’s regrets. If you are part of a western, modern culture, it is likely that you have been socialised into believing that death isn’t a thing to be talked about in polite company. Our collective death aversion is being challenged in a way that is highly visible and affecting all of us around the globe right now. We don’t yet know how this pandemic will play out, how many of us will be directly affected by the virus-related death of a close family member or friend. But whether it’s to deepen our emotional resilience by becoming more able to express and process fear and sadness, or to make possible the difficult conversations about end-of-life planning, it’s time to talk about death.

That is why we’ve launched ‘DA Death Cafes’, regular online spaces, open to members across the various Deep Adaptation networks. These Death Cafes are not just about exploring how to talk openly and honestly about mortality and end of life issues. They offer an opportunity to engage with our death and dying against the backdrop of cataclysmic climate change, regardless of whether you feel this is a ‘dress rehearsal’, the start of an inexorable descent, or just one more step in the already-unfolding process of collapse. To join, visit the ‘events’ page of either the PDA Facebook group or the DAF Professions’ Network. These gatherings are organised by volunteer DA Facilitators group, who are responding to the pandemic by providing a range of online activities.

Sue Brayne and Justine Corrie, in conversation below, are members of a team of Deep Adaptation volunteer facilitators who will be hosting ‘DA Death Cafes’, in close collaboration with the Deep Adaptation Forum.

Sue worked for many years as a psychotherapist specialising in trauma, grief and bereavement. She has an MA in the Rhetoric and Rituals of Death and is co-author of several academic papers on end-of-life experiences. She currently facilitates retreats, workshops and Death Cafés and is the author of Living Fully, Dying Consciously: the path to spiritual wellbeing.

Justine Corrie has been working as a Core Process psychotherapist since 2012 – a therapeutic model which brings together Buddhist psychology of self, transpersonal and western trauma-informed models to orient towards the person’s core state of inherent health. She is also a group facilitator and has been a Positive Deep Adaptation facilitator since September 2019 after she read my paper, Deep Adaptation: A map for navigating climate tragedy. She lived and travelled extensively in Asia in the 90’s and during 2015 and 2016 volunteered in the Jungle camp in Calais and Grande-Synthe in Dunkirk where she initiated support systems for the network of grass-roots volunteers across Europe. Justine’s personal experiences of death and dying has inspired her to facilitate death cafes and to address our cultural reticence to speak openly and honestly about loss, bereavement and the dying process, especially as we are facing a very uncertain future.

Over to Sue and Justine (originally posted on Sue’s blog here):

Sue: Can you explain the impact that reading Jems Deep Adaptation paper had on you.

Justine: There was a deep relief and resonance in reading his paper. It was about so much of what I’d been considering for many years. I’d already been active in facilitating Inner work for social change groups for a number of years and had been fairly involved the previous year with Extinction Rebellion, supporting regenerative culture at a national level. I’d also been engaged in my own grief process around climate collapse and felt I would be a good fit and resource with the emerging PDA facilitation group.

Sue:  You and I met on Jems Deep Adaptation retreat in September last year, and you took part in the death café. What was that like for you?

Justine:  Again, it was such a relief. I’ve been aware for a very long time that in our western culture the mainstream relationship to death is a really unhealthy one. I found taking part in the death cafe was a really welcome experience and something I have yearned for. It’s a space to have those easy flowing open, honest, real conversations about probably the most important part of being alive, which is that we’re all going to die.justine

Over the years I’ve been influenced by a lot of eastern culture and spiritual practices. I lived in India on and off over a period of 10 years and death is regarded so much as a part of life. If you go to Varanasi  and down to the burning ghats, you see bodies being burnt in front of their families. It’s a serviceable, open, organic process where people are very much in contact with death. The family tends the bodies of their own. They are not sent to an undertaker. Death is very integrated into life.

Sue: Yes, its quite an experience. I will never forget walking to the post office in Varanasi and finding a body being carried past me on a stretcher at nose height by relatives who were taking it to the ghats. And, this is going on right at this very moment in Varanasi, because its part of Indian culture.  It makes me wonder why we have become so precious around death. Why do you think we have removed ourselves from it?

Justine: I wonder whether it’s to do with our disconnection from the earth. I’m quite interested in our Neolithic ancestors. Thousands of years ago ‘churches’ were open spaces without roofs. Their ‘church’ was the earth – and above, an open connection to the stars and sky. Their dead were taken ceremoniously into these earth temples and either left out under the sky or placed into burial mounds where they would gradually decompose. Those chambers would be open, and people would be going in and out of them taking in different bodies, so the death process was much more part of everyday life. Death was looked upon as something cyclical – you died and then your body went into the earth to ultimately return to life again.

Neolithic cultures understood this idea of birth, death, and rebirth which we can see in Hindu and Buddhist cultures as well – and, to an extent, also in Christianity. But there’s a different dynamic in Christianity – a different mediation – because suddenly there’s a disconnection from the earth. A roof is put on the church and the earth is replaced by a different kind of altar and there is this patriarchal God in the midst of it all with priests and lots of paraphernalia. Suddenly death, along with life and our connection to the Earth and all that’s sacred, is something that’s mediated by a priest and death brings us to St Peter standing at the Gates. It’s no longer a direct experience.  So, for me, it’s a disconnection from the Earth and also from the body.

Sue: Im just wondering if this disconnection from the earth and our body has created our sense of entitlement in our western culture? Its the attitude that its my rights to have whatever I want,including medication to extend my life sometimes way beyond my sell-by-date.

Justine: I think that’s probably in there. But I think this disconnection from the earth and from our bodies means we don’t like the idea of ourselves decomposing.  That’s why we hide it away – there’s this sanitation process going on when we’re dying.

Sue: Yes, I agree with that. I also believe this sanitation process feeds into the whole concept of us playing God. I was listening to someone speaking on the radio about their 90-year-old father.  This person was outraged that should he catch Covid-19 he was not going to be offered hospital care. The person said, Someone is playing God with his life.But it struck me that we are playing God by giving life-extending treatments anyway, because we are interfering with the natural process of life and death. But this side of things is seldom spoken about.

Justine: COVID-19 is certainly bringing death very strongly to the surface right now.  This reaction and sense of ‘preservation of life at all cost’ seems to me to be inextricably linked to an absolute terror and denial of death. That was a piece in Jem’s paper which really resonated with me. He cited the work of Ernst Becker and Sheldon Soloman and Terror Management Theory – how the fear of death lies at the heart of human experience and the denial of death fuels so much unconscious behaviour. Soloman suggests that human culture itself, is a direct response to this deep, mainly unconscious terror. I’m a big fan of Sheldon Soloman’s work! I think we need to be much more inquiring about how ethical it is [to provide life-extending treatments] especially with limited resources.  Is it ethical to put so many resources into keeping people alive, sometimes against their wishes who 50 years to 100 years ago would  have been dead by now anyway – often at a huge cost to dignity and quality of life? I think this is what we are facing right now. COVID-19 is actually giving this to us as a gift. It’s making us look at these really powerful questions and moral dilemmas.

Sue: I know youve worked in some refugee camps in France, and youve had a very different experience than most of us to witnessing the rawness of death. I wanted to ask about your experiences and how this has affected your views on death and dying.  

caravan

Justine: I spent a fair amount of time in the Jungle in Calais during 2015/16.  Similar to many people I was really moved by what I saw on the news reports. People who’d travelled through adverse conditions for thousands of miles, only to find themselves in these horribly hostile conditions, sleeping outside, often with no sleep bag, no shelter, no food, no shoes on their feet.  So, I started a collection locally thinking I would just take my car over and ended up a month later with four truckloads of donations from all around Somerset.  When I arrived, I discovered that there was this emerging kind of infrastructure of volunteers who had been there for a while. And, it was growing – a lot of people self-organising, providing support in the camps and working together with the refugees.

Obviously, there was a huge amount of trauma in the camp. But not only among the refugees but increasingly, vicarious trauma and burn-out amongst the volunteers and no support in place whatsoever. Having had the experience of working with activists and activist burnout, I felt this was something I could directly support. So that’s where my focus went.  I ended up visiting the camps 8 or 9 times over the course of a year. With every visit I made relationships with people in the camps too, so apart from providing trauma care for long-term volunteers, I was also going in and out of the camps, providing caravans for young refugee families and one as a safe ‘talking space’ for volunteers. So, I witnessed much of what was happening within the refugee population too.

Sue:  I imagine you saw some very distressing situations.

Justine: The most distressing thing for me was how many young children and babies were living in such appalling conditions. I’m a mother and I felt huge compassion and empathy for the parents of young children in the camp, and for the many unaccompanied children who were surviving alone. These were such desperate circumstances combined with a toxic mixture of very vulnerable people, a lack of basic sanitation, hunger, violence and human exploitation. This is what societal collapse looks like. So many of the refugees had only recently been living lives very similar to ours – professionals with good jobs, middle-class university graduates, young families with dreams and aspirations – all reduced to living under tattered tarpaulin in the mud of northern France. I had to keep reminding myself that we were living in the 21st century. It brought up a lot of frustration and anger for many people because we have at our fingertips so many ways to preserve life. You go back to keeping people alive unnecessarily in one extreme to young children being left to die in refugee camps in France because of our border controls and immigration policies.

Sue: Yes, its a very different experience to feeling ill and calling 999, knowing – for all our moaning – the NHS will pick up the pieces.

Justine:  It was just so strange to have to keep reminding myself, ‘I am in Europe’ not Asia, and this strange juxtaposition between literally getting off a ferry, with its cappuccinos and comfortable seating, and five minutes later being in this very different world. But it certainly wasn’t all despair. There was so much creative self-organisation – among both refugee and volunteer communities and in-between. I ate some of the best Afghani food and enjoyed the same dishes I had eaten in the mountains of Pakistan years before, listening to same mountain folk songs being sung in the camp kitchens. So, a lot of different emotional responses were evoked, and I am someone who is fuelled by frustration. That’s the energy that goads me into action.

Sue: Have you always had a strong social conscience?

Justine: I’ve been involved in activism on and off most of my adult life – aged 17 I was standing on the picket lines with the miners in Yorkshire and protesting against Apartheid. I’d found some sense of belonging amidst the activist world after leaving home, but I think a lot of my activism has its roots in a trauma response – I see this a lot in social change groups. There’s this fight response at the fore.

Sue: Can you explain this a little more.

Justine: I come from a very poor working class, very deprived and actually quite a traumatic childhood. My mum was an alcoholic and I left home when I was 16. I only saw her maybe four or five times after that.  I never really had a childhood because I had to take care of my younger sister and I had to start working early to put food on the table. So, my twenties were like having the childhood I never had in some ways. I was travelling for around for ten years and when I came back, I tried to find my mum but found out she had died two years previously. She died completely on her own. That was a really pivotal, shocking, difficult experience for me, which changed my relationship with death. It made me ask myself, ‘What kind of death do I want to have?’

I went into a really dark place for a few years after that. It was a homecoming with a real crash as I had been doing a lot of spiritual bypassing and experimentation with my own consciousness. I had to roll up my sleeves and work with a lot of what I’d been running away from in my history, which actually led me to eventually becoming a therapist. So, coming back to your question, much of the work I’ve been involved in around social change has been at least partially fuelled by my own trauma ‘fight’ response. I’m growing increasingly aware of this. I have teetered around the edges of burn-out on and off over the years and I see this so much in the world of activism and social change.

Sue: Its interesting how our most painful experiences often prompt us to become therapists.

Justine:  Yes, it is – and there’s a second part to this story. I had also lost contact with my father, whom I didn’t grow up with. I hadn’t seen him for 12 years and I re-established contact with him to find out he was dying from cancer.  So, we kind of rebuilt our relationship over the course of a couple of years – and I sat with by his bedside in a hospital for two weeks while he was dying. I don’t know if I could say it was a good death because he was very resistant to dying. It certainly wasn’t the classic bedside making-amends-talking-it-all-through-and-it’s-all-great experience. It was really, really hard but I wanted to be there for him in the way he had never been able to be there for me, and in doing that there was a sense of ‘I’m going to do this for you, and I’m going to do what I couldn’t do for my mum with you as well.’

Sue: Thats an extraordinary thing to hear about by your willingness to sit with your father knowing it was about offering this to your mother as well. I imagine this was immensely healing for you.

Justine. Yes, it was.

Sue:  I know youre really involved with positive deep adaptation and the implications of what all of us are facing globally. Do you think having a profound relationship with death and dying helps us to face whatever we are going to experience?  Death is one thing, but the thought of extinction is completely different.

Justine: I think it’s essential. In terms of PDA I think, for me, that’s the key.  Coming back to the work of Ernest Becker and Soloman – they suggest that our social structures are built on the terror and denial of death and our slavish, mass collusion of ‘the show must go on!’ at all cost. This is creating our relentless, business-as-usual trance we mostly seem to be in. But we now have the invitation to turn and face death fully, which includes the very possible prospect of near-term human extinction.

But what could it mean for us if we are fully able to meet this fear? I believe this is a very fundamental piece of what we need to do. That’s why I like the death cafe work. This whole experience with COVID-19 seems part of the deep adaptation process. It’s is a kind of initiatory step into something very, very unknown; very uncertain.

Sue: Yes, its about finding a way to sit with the ambiguity of whats happening. We cant fix what is happening even though its human nature to want to fix whats going wrong. I believe this is reflected in the way we are desperate to medicate end of life to try and stop it happening.

Justine: That completely resonates with me, especially at the moment. I do wonder what would happen if I was one of those people who had complications from COVID-19.  I don’t feel that afraid of death. But I’m afraid of a bad death, and, for me, a bad death would be in a hospital bed being wired up for as long as possible artificially. I don’t want that.

Sue: Its really important that all of us take responsibility for how we want to die, especially as part of supporting the positive deep adaptation movement.

Justine: Yes, and I think that many of us want life nicely cling-film wrapped to protect ourselves from what’s coming.  Our culture conspires to keep us disconnected from the process of what it takes to arrive at this unimaginable point. It takes me back to this keyword of disconnection.  21st century post-industrial, capitalist, consumerist culture fundamentally disconnects us from the earth, from the land, from ourselves and from our bodies. It encourages us to become disembodied and living in our head. How can we die well within that place of disconnection?

Sue: I really resonate with what you are saying. But, in my experience, being around death changes this. Something really powerful happens to us.

Justine: Yes, it’s as if death is the ultimate in the embodied experience. It’s the final lesson in embodiment before we have to let go. 

Sue: Do you think its important to bring the dark into conversations about death and dying?

Justine:  I like to hang out in the shadows a little bit because that’s where there’s a lot of juice. There’s a Tibetan Buddhist practice of Chod – Cutting through the Ego – where part of the practice is to meditate in graveyards and charnel grounds. There is an element which involves the practitioner offering up their own body and feeding it to invisible demons. It’s akin to the powerful western psychological shadow work:  facing and befriending those exiled, demonised parts of ourselves, as well as fully confronting our own impermanence.  Life might be so different if we all engaged in these kinds of practices in some way. To learn to spend time and not be so afraid of our dark side. I do feel that if death was more visible and in the open it would support our understanding of these dark places too.

Therefore, for me, I can only see that talking about death helps us to be more in contact with who we are and with life itself.

Please consider joining a DA Death Café.

Or consider volunteering as a DA Facilitator.

Or consider registering your own therapeutic practices on the DA Guidance database.

Read more about how we at the Deep Adaptation Forum are helping the DA movement respond to the pandemic here, including with online sessions of ‘deep listening.’

Restoration of Ancient Wisdom in a time of Pandemic

A guest blog from deep adaptation advocate Jilani Prescott.

In the current situation, many people are being faced with difficult feelings: anxiety, fear, grief, confusion, frustration. It could be said that the coronavirus is stripping away a layer of illusion or denial, that we have built up over a generation or two, which distances us from our own mortality and that of our loved ones.

Throughout human history life has been a fragile, precious gift, and death a constant companion. Modern medicine and affluent societies have helped us to imagine that we are or could be immune from sickness, suffering and death. Continue reading “Restoration of Ancient Wisdom in a time of Pandemic”

Deeply Adapting Diets – meat-free or self-sufficiency?

Deep Adaptation is a useful framework for self-development in these difficult times if it is seen as an invitation for each of us to consider changes in our lives, rather than prescribing answers or behaviours. That is because we are in highly uncertain, complicated, rapidly changing situations where any desire to be certain, correct and impactful could arise from a panicked ego responding to the perception of existential risk. For me, that perspective is important to maintain when we consider our own diet and that of others.

The impact of becoming aware of an impending breakdown in societies leads to many different responses. One area of our lives that can change is our relationship to food. Some people seek to grow more of their own food and be less reliant on industrial agricultural systems. Other people decide to eat less meat and dairy, or give it up altogether. As the issue of diet sometimes leads to heated exchanges on the Deep Adaptation platforms, which reflects lively discussions about this topic in people’s lives, I have been asked a few times to share my perspective on it – particularly in relation to deep adaptation to climate change. Continue reading “Deeply Adapting Diets – meat-free or self-sufficiency?”

Extinction Redemption – A Letter to the Earth at Easter

This Easter Sunday, I am sharing my ‘Letter to the Earth,’ which was included in a book of the same name. It is part of an ongoing project to invite people to express their love, grief, anxiety and intentions for all life.

You can hear co-director of the Letters to the Earth project, Kay Michael, discussing the project here. If would like to join in, then write your own Letter to the Earth by tonight (April 12th) to participate. You can stick them in your window and then share on social media via #LetterstotheEarth @CultureDeclares.

People contributing letters for the book include Yoko Ono, Mark Rylance, Kate Tempest, Dr. Gail Bradbrook, and Joanna Macy. Continue reading “Extinction Redemption – A Letter to the Earth at Easter”

How Everything Can Collapse – my foreword to new book

This is my foreword to the new book “How Everything Can Collapse: A Manual for our Times” by Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens.  The book is released June 2020 by Polity.

Candles Only Shine Within Darkness 

By Professor Jem Bendell, author of Deep Adaptation.

When we read the latest news of disasters, disease, extreme weather, changes to our planet and scientists’ warnings, it is natural to feel unease, even fear. Some of you may have even suffered direct consequences of climate chaos, such as failing harvests, forest fires, disease or political unrest from prolonged drought. If so, I want to recognise at the outset that my own anxiety about the future is nothing compared to what you have already been through. And that people like me can learn from you. Yet all of us are now being affected by the climate crisis in some way, whether it is from rising prices or the rise of extremism as people feel unsafe and uncertain. Continue reading “How Everything Can Collapse – my foreword to new book”

The Climate for Corona – our warming world is more vulnerable to pandemic

“If the impact of Covid19 is another step in the collapse of modern societies, then it is likely it will have been another climate-driven step in that collapse. Understanding that context is important for deeper learning about reducing future harm.”

Our world is changing because of a virus. As the human and economic impact unfold, how massive that change will become is still unclear. How we make sense of the cause and damage of the pandemic will be part of the lasting impact. The role of climate change in making humanity more vulnerable to coronaviruses should be taken into account as we reflect on those lessons. That is because there is scientific evidence that a warming world with unusual weather has driven new patterns of wildlife migration and undermined the health of certain wildlife populations, both of which lead to larger releases of novel coronaviruses that can infect us all.
Continue reading “The Climate for Corona – our warming world is more vulnerable to pandemic”

A Pandemic of Love – deeply adapting to corona

I’ve not been breathing so deeply recently. I’ve been checking news sites every hour. I’ve been wondering how best to protect myself, loved ones, and participate in wider efforts at change. I’ve felt anger as I witness slow and ethically dubious responses from people with the power to make decisions that matter – if made fast. But rather than get stuck with blame, I am also hearing of heart-warming action from people all around the world. As we face exponential impacts from viruses, climate chaos and financial markets, we can become part of an exponential pandemic of love.
Continue reading “A Pandemic of Love – deeply adapting to corona”

The Worst Argument to Try to Win: Response to Criticism of the Climate Science in Deep Adaptation

As fears about climate futures and implications for societies have become more widely expressed, some climate scientists have responded by criticising some of the predictions and conclusions being made, either by other climate scientists, other scholars, or general commentators.

An example of this pushback can be found in the views shared by some climate scientists on the July 2018 Deep Adaptation paper, in a Vice article. Those comments were not specific enough for me to assess or respond to, and so I invited the individual scientists to comment directly on the relevant text of that paper. I am grateful for climate scientists Gavin Schmidt (Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, USA) and Dr. Wolfgang Knorr (Lund University, Sweden) for providing such feedback. In this blog I summarise the comments made and my response. As a result of this process, I have identified two minor corrections and two clarifications I will make on the paper. Continue reading “The Worst Argument to Try to Win: Response to Criticism of the Climate Science in Deep Adaptation”

Advancing the Movement of Deep Adaptation to our Climate Tragedy – New Governance and Strategy Processes

Message from the Founder, Professor Jem Bendell:

When I launched the Deep Adaptation Forum (DAF) in March 2019, my intention was to enable people to connect with others who shared an unusual and challenging outlook on the future. I could not respond effectively to the deluge of incoming mail that was precipitated by the release of the Deep Adaptation paper, but neither could I ignore the passion and pain being expressed by people from around the world. Therefore, an online network was launched to embody and enable loving approaches to our predicament. I thought that the framework of the ‘4 Rs’ might provide a guide, but the main aim would be to promote dialogue and initiative grounded in the principles of  compassion, curiosity and respect for others. Many volunteers stepped forward in that early stage, and a few donors, and I am very grateful to them. Now the Forum engages around 15,000 people, and supports some of those people to create local groups, give speeches and interviews, steward online discussions, launch initiatives, and facilitate gatherings both in person and online. Over 50 volunteers fuel that activity, with a core team of five freelancers providing support and coordination. Almost a year after launch, it is time for a new phase in the organising of the DAF, so it can better express and nourish what is becoming a global movement of deep adaptation to our climate tragedy. Continue reading “Advancing the Movement of Deep Adaptation to our Climate Tragedy – New Governance and Strategy Processes”