Episode #32 ReBirthing Civilisation: a Pattern for a new governance with Benjamin Ross of One Nation
As we awaken to an emergent planetary coherence, we rely on stories about our Cosmovisión or Ultimate Purpose to place ourselves within our bodies, our communities, our planet, and our universe.
Benjamin Ross, Media and Alliance Building Lead for the new governance group, One Nation, is an evolutionary myth-maker, meta-coherence steward, nurturer of emergence, and lover of all beings. Through the expression of non-dual archetypes, all-win ontology, and visionary holistic thriving in media, governance, and culture, Benjamin is co-creating narrative and experiential frameworks necessary to midwife the birth of a New Earth.
In this wide-ranging, far-reaching and beautifully shared vision, Benjamin explores the purpose and drive behind One Nation, behind Azure Village and the thousand fractal shards of the Burning Man revolution in this post-pandemic world.
“I identify with life. There’s a part of me that identifies as Life. I am Life, Benjamin-ing. I am a verb. I’m not a noun. And that verb is an emanation of a complex system that I’m part of. I wouldn’t be me if you didn’t exist. The ways in which you’ve changed the world just by your being here is completely connected to who I am and and how I think of myself. And so when my identity frame begins to shift to actually see you as actually a part of me and me as a part of this greater whole, then then these these labels just become tools that we can use to sort through the complexity of information.“
Manda: [00:00:12.45] I invited Benjamin Ross onto the podcast in his role as the lead for Media and Alliance Building for the One Nation Party, which is a model for a whole new governance structure and the ways we might reach it. But the conversation turned into so much more than that. Benjamin describes himself as an evolutionary myth maker, a meta coherence steward and a nurturer of emergence and lover of all beings. And in our exploration of all this, we talked for nearly an hour and a half. So in the spirit of not wanting to overload you, we have split this into two separate podcasts. And this is the first. So people of the podcast, please welcome Benjamin Ross.
So welcome. Benjamin Ross to The Accidental Goats podcast. You’re calling in from New Mexico, which is a first for us. I’m guessing it’s incredibly beautiful and sunny for you out there. Is that the case?
Benjamin: [00:02:18.40] You know, in the high desert of New Mexico, we have monsoon season this time of year, which I didn’t know before moving here. So, it’s a combination of intense sun and rain. And the soil is is soft.
Manda: [00:02:32.94] And I know you we will discuss in a bit the community that you’re at. But just for me, because I’m looking at hydro engineering as we speak. Are you collecting all this water? Because I guess you need it for the rest of the year.
Benjamin: [00:02:49.64] It’s an interesting aspect of the project that we’re creating here. There’s an ephemerality to Azure Village that’s in some ways we’re not the ideal eco village. We’re not producing all of our own food. We’re not completely off of the grid. And so a lot of these long term regenerative solutions, although they’re things that we’re incredibly passionate about, we’re here for a five month period of time during which were intending to organize large scale political movement.And so our energy, well, we maintain a very minimal footprint and try to make choices as intentionally as possible. There are ways in which we’re not fulfilling the ultimate dream of the eco village in this particular instance. I think primarily because in this window of time ahead of the US election, there’s so many interdimensional weaving that we’re doing.
Manda: [00:03:55.08] That’s a very good lead in to what we’re going to be talking about this week. So before we’d really get into the politics, can you introduce yourself to us who you are and how you became involved in the One Nation concept?
Benjamin: [00:04:12.09] So my name is Benjamin Ross and I’m the lead for Media and Alliance Building for One Nation. I really never thought for most of my adult life that I would come back into politics because it was something that had meant a great deal to me and my childhood. I grew up very concerned about the state of the world, and I think I actually encoded a lot of trauma in not feeling like that care and concern was understood or received by my peers or by the people around me.
I carried that weight with me for a very long time, feeling like I had a moral obligation to speak the truth on behalf of those who couldn’t speak it. And while that was noble and good, it created a sense of victimization within me that was deeply part of my own healing journey.
I had been very active when I was 18 years old campaigning for my heroes in the political sphere, particularly Barack Obama, but then was so disheartened by the drone warfare, by the deportations, among many other moments of disillusion and where that childhood naivete was stripped away.
I stayed in that kind of existential despair until I began to have access to healing and mindfulness technologies from different cultures all over the world. And and I began to walk a very inner path of moving through all of those shadows of my childhood. And I really thought that that process was incongruous with all of those political notions of my past, that I associated politics with that trauma, that politics was a domain in which there was duplicity, there was manipulation, there was power and domination.
And so things finally came full circle within the last year where after a long journey into filmmaking and working with indigenous peoples to help bring messages from indigenous leaders to the world, that led me back into the political sphere where I realized that through actually encountering One Nation for the first time, that my sense of inner spiritual life didn’t actually need to be in conflict with how I provided leadership or giving my life force to birthing a new political system that’s based on a new set of values.
And so it’s been beautiful to be at the birth of that energy and to find all of these other people whose journeys are different, but remarkably similar that this path in eventually leads you back out into the world.
And that it’s from that place, that I think we’re all tapping into the same essential wisdom that lives inside of us, that lives inside of nature. And so we can be having this conversation on two different continents with an ocean in between us. And yet I feel that we’re we’re connected to the same undercurrent of life that’s guiding us to do the work that we’re doing.
Manda: [00:08:01.79] That is so beautiful, Benjamin. Thank you. And so many ways we could go. Just because Accidental Gods is quite devoted to healing and mindfulness, was there anything in particular that helped you to begin healing? Or is that it may be too personal, but it may also be that there was just an accumulation of inner work that led you to finding balance?
Benjamin: [00:08:30.48] It’s interesting because you know these patterns of trauma. I’ve recently come to this image of my distant ancestors who come from Scotland and Ireland, and I imagine those ancestors wrapping my DNA in a dark cloak of trauma, of coping mechanisms, of ways to survive the pain of being stripped of your spiritual lineages. The pain of relocating.
And I’ve been tuning in with my parents to learn more about this lineage of trauma and depression and to understand how the ideas of whiteness, the ideas of masculinity and patriarchy have been encoded into my DNA. Because I do believe similar to what’s expressed in the gene keys that are genetic information itself is changing as we heal. And there’s epigenetic science that shows that actually we’re actually recreating our DNA and we can carry this memory within within ourselves.
In a linear sense, that journey began through access to Vipassana meditation. And going into silence for 10 days. And I came out of that first experience without almost any anxiety. And I’d come into that experience deeply anxious, socially and professionally and personally. That opened up a self reflective journey where so much of the pain that many people born into male bodies carry – the way in which patriarchy or any sort of culture of domination (I think there’s there’s a substrate to it that means it’s superficial to just call it patriarchy) but there are ways in which we’ve been severed from our multi dimensionality or complexity or wholeness.
And we’ve been culturally conditioned to perform various identities in order to belong. And so for me, masculinity was one of the first to go where I started to realize actually there’s a feminine part of me that I have hated and I have suppressed. And as soon as I opened up just a little bit of space inside of myself for that to be OK, it was as if I was missing half of my body. I was a bird with one wing, flying in circles. And through coming into wholeness with the feminine aspects of myself, then, paradoxically, new expressions of masculinity started to come online. How did I get back back to masculinity through my femininity? That has been one major aspect of that journey is coming into that expression of wholeness. And there’s so many different ways to be whole. There are so many different parts of ourselves.
Manda: [00:12:13.06] And so many different ways to be broken also. But having the courage and the integrity to go into the depths of that is huge. Thank you so much for sharing that. In a way, I would really like to explore that more deeply, but let’s park that for a moment and look then at the evolution of the One Nation party and and its spiritual evolution, because it as I understand it, it grew out of people such as yourself understanding the toxicity of the existing system. And then striving to find an alternative that is workable in the system that we have now. Because an awful lot of alternatives are predicated on systemic change first and then we can do wonderful things. Whereas actually we need to create the systemic change. And One Nation seems to me one of those ideas that has the potential to create the systemic change. So can you describe a little bit about the evolution of the One Nation party and how it how it arose and its first year of experimenting, I guess?
Benjamin: [00:13:23.64] Well, I think that it’s beautiful that the other part of my healing process is so deeply connected to the answer to this question, because it centers on the the reintegration of indigenous peoples and indigenous wisdom into our broader socio-cultural context.
That severing or that cutting off, I believe, is actually at the core of how at least those of us who’ve been in particular Westernised culture have cut ourselves off from our own indigeneity. We cut ourselves off from the landscapes in which we lived. We’ve cut ourselves off from one another. We’ve cut ourselves off from these deeper sources of wisdom and truth that are our feminine power.
And so there’s a returning that I feel is happening that is at the heart of One Nation’s evolutionary process. How can we integrate the best of our technology and all of the ways in which we have advanced in some senses, while simultaneously integrating the wisdom and the awareness of the interconnections of the natural web of life? And can our governance systems actually be a perfectly harmonized expression of the natural living systems, with complex self organization.
There’s no domination hierarchy in nature, there are hierarchies, but the lion is the steward. The lion is actually responsible for maintaining the health of the ecosystem. And there are subtle and not subtle ways in which we can actually observe these keystone species being of service to the complex interconnectedness of an ecosystem. And so as humans who are becoming conscious and becoming conscious of how evolution works, it starts to just sort of become self evident that our governance systems, once made conscious, will be identical to nature.
Manda: [00:15:45.65] Totally, yes. This is so exciting. And so, this feels like an idea whose time has come. How is it being made to happen? Because you have got till November in the US. One Nation has been a working idea, I think, for a year, gathering people such as yourself moving down to New Mexico. Can we look a little bit about the timeline of the last year and then at how we move forward in an effort, I guess, to change the nature of politics in real time?
Benjamin: [00:16:24.83] There’s something quantum about this moment. We’ve seen that the world can change very rapidly in the last few months, and I don’t see any sign of that stopping. We’re about to go into a 10-day silent retreat, which is seems paradoxical given all of the things that are happening and the sense of scarcity of time between now and November. But I deeply trust that this is an idea whose time has come. We are guided by forces beyond our ability to perceive. There’s so many little signals, I would love to learn more about what’s happening in the UK, but there’s so many little things, these little seedlings that have clearly begun to germinate and they’re poking their first roots in stems.
Most notably, there’s a project called Unity 2020 or the Articles of Unity. And what makes it most notable is that Brett Weinstein, who brought it forward, is a well regarded political, intellectual and a somewhat polemical figure based on his relationship to conversations around race at Evergreen College, where he made a name for himself by calling for a dialogue and a conversation about racial injustice that positioned him as the enemy. It’s very complex. But he, in that process, gained some notoriety in what’s called the intellectual dark web (IDW), which is a a group of thinkers who have at great risk to their personal careers, taking intellectual positions outside of the orthodoxy.
And so it’s fascinating because it ends up being a home to men’s rights activists and some white supremacists and Zionists. And there’s a lot of different fringe intellectual identities that it’s become sort of disallowed to speak publicly with these sorts of identities. And so they’ve gone underground. And that’s where the Intellectual Dark Web got its name.
But Bret is one of the more holistic thinkers of that group of people, I feel. And his idea, which he brought forward on the Joe Rogan podcast to over five million people, was the notion that neither political candidate or party could effectively provide the leadership necessary to navigate the interweaving crises of our present moment. And he proposed an idea of of bringing together a center right and a center left candidate to run as a duo. And so this is seed number one.
Manda: [00:19:31.02] And he has written a medium article about that, doesn’t he? I remember reading it about a month ago. (link in the shown notes)
Benjamin: [00:19:36.48] Yes. And since then, galvanized a team of volunteers and is doing everything that he can to make it real.
Manda: [00:19:44.25] So just before we look, I guess I’d like to talk more about your 10 day silent retreat and the place where you’re doing it. But as a purely logistical thing, somebody has some film star put his name down to run for president. But I gathered at that point, and this was a couple of weeks ago, that it was already too late in at least five states to put your name on the ballot. Have we not passed through a time gate on this?
Benjamin: [00:20:15.87] Well, it’s interesting the theory that One Nation is working with, because Christopher Life, who founded One Nation, is officially running for president. And he has filed to be a write-in candidate, which means that his name will be recognized by the Federal Elections Commission, but it will not have direct ballot access.
There are ways in which the system itself is designed to reinforce the polarity and the duality of the two-party system. And ballot access is just one way. And there’s all sorts of interesting things that have been happening around voter suppression and with the virus being a justification for closing down voting for predominantly people of color and low-income people. And so there’s a lot of unknowns around even whether the election will be able to happen? There’s so much tension in the United States now. Portland has been protesting for 56 days straight and the federal government has sent armed troops with live ammunition to go protect this federal courthouse. And that’s the closest in my lifetime that I’ve ever seen to a civil war here in the United States.
That’s the energy of polarization reaching its fever pitch. And the vision that I’ve been holding is that regardless of who is elected in November, there will be a march. That on November 5th, the day after the election results are tallied, similar to the women’s march, after Trump was elected, but this time it will be a national unity march and there will be hundreds of thousands of people in cities around the country creating a mandate for whomever is holding that office that we the people are standing up against corruption. And we’re standing for a world in which all beings are respected. All life is respected and in which we do that which must be done to preserve the inherent sacredness of life.
Manda: [00:22:48.50] That’s fast forwarding to November 5th. Let’s take a step back a little. You said Christopher, who is the founder of One Nation, is running for president. Can you walk us through the founding of One Nation and what its kind of original charter is? What it is and what is it’s aiming to do?
Benjamin: [00:23:09.41] One Nation began two years ago, on July 4th. The intention was to create a new domain of political organizing that we called the Political Rise. It’s largely inspired by the work of people like Daniel Schmachtenberger and people like Ken Wilbur’s integral theory which says that there’s a lateral domain of left and right. And there’s also a vertical domain which is associated with psychological development, spiritual development, that are evolutionary process is not static.
We’re continuously evolving. And to claim that Rise (vertical axis) as a domain of politics, that actually the vertical axis isn’t just something you do on your mat, but it’s something that you can actually bring into discourse, bring into a relationship.
The other notion is All-Win politics and that’s comes out of the notions of Omni-Consideration. That as we as we move along that vertical axis our awareness expands and our circle of care expands, we’re actually able to hold consideration for more parts of the whole. And so All-Win is an ideal. It’s an asymptote that we are forever approaching. That brings in more and more perspectives, allows us to consider more and more experiences and believes that there are actually solutions in which all human beings needs are met and all human beings perspectives are integrated.
There’s an integral synthesis that anytime polarity emerges, there’s actually something new that wants to be birthed. When two opposites come together, they give birth to something exquisite. And for me, there’s also the spiritual connotation of the Christos Sophia, which is both the infinite made finite and the masculine merging with the feminine. And so it looks like a medicine we all like. I believe that’s where the cross actually comes from. It’s two polarities being integrated simultaneously.
And so that intention is a lofty one. And putting that into practice has looked like mostly articulating this vision and inviting people who are aligned to that vision to engage in some way and meet each other. We’ve run chapter programs where we’ve had groups, small groups meeting regularly. We’ve had programs where members connect with one another. And all of these have been really small-scale initial experiments of what would a political party within this domain actually look like? And I think now we’re getting ready to take the political organizing aspect of what it is that we’re here to do much more seriously. And in some ways, I think now the world is ready for it in a way that it actually wasn’t two years ago.
Manda: [00:26:41.06] And possibly wouldn’t have been as ready without the pandemic, which clearly nobody planned for. So what does a political party an Omni-Win: what Schmachtenberger would, I think, still call Game B. Game A is win/lose, zero sum. Somebody wins, somebody else loses: whoever loses is deeply unhappy, whoever wins never feels really safe/
And we move instead to this world where all human – and all planetary – needs are met. Where all perspectives are taken into account, where there is the capacity for conversation and the meeting of minds. And I’m guessing an integral part of this is nonviolent communication or systems similar to that. How does that fit with being a political party when the nature of party in our existing system is one of tribalism and us versus them?
Benjamin: [00:27:40.42] We would like to say that everyone is a member of One Nation. And that’s not to force an identity frame onto anyone or say that we are the only political party of the future. I envision a world in which there are as diverse of political parties as there are of cultural subgroups and people that without becoming factional and without becoming separatist.
We like to work with the notion of sovereign unity, and once we get into these sort of Game B areas, things get a little bit paradoxical. So how could you be completely sovereign? How could you be the sovereign of your domain, which is you? And how could you simultaneously be completely surrendered to your purpose within the complex living system of of life? And how can I be completely myself? And in doing so, be completely integrated into the body of humanity that I am just one cell within?
And so it’s really a cultural shift that I think happens first in order for people to even really relate to this kind of a political party, because we’ve been so enculturated to think of parties along the lines of of ingroup and outgroup. And I think that cultural shift for me has a lot to do with identity. I identify with life. There’s a part of me that identifies as Life. I am Life, Benjamin-ing. I am a verb. I’m not a noun. And that verb is an emanation of a complex system that I’m part of. I wouldn’t be me if you didn’t exist. The ways in which you’ve changed the world just by your being here is completely connected to who I am and how I think of myself. And so when my identity frame begins to shift to actually see you as actually a part of me and me as a part of this greater whole, then then these labels just become tools that we can use to sort through the complexity of information.
But they don’t become these fixed labels that I based my entire life around identifying as a Democrat or a Republican. And that’s very threatening. There’s a death process that is happening now where those IDs are being stripped away or there’s a deeply painful holding onto them. And that’s almost more painful than actually jumping into that dissolution of Self.
Manda: [00:30:49.74] So what we’re talking about, what you are manifesting is a political manifestation of Inter-Being of Joanna Macy’s ‘Turning towards Life’ and then finding how that can integrate with governance systems that take the sense of Inter-Being as the absolute foundation of everything that arises from them. Which means, if I’m understanding you correctly, that what we have then is a way of approaching governance that is not predicated on economic growth and has a reason for being, which is the Beingness, the being the verb, the being of the interconnected, which is for me hugely exciting. I haven’t heard anybody else articulate as clearly or as succinctly or in a way that sounds like it has real world impact, what it would look like if we actually took Turning towards Life as the foundation of our being.
So in your groups, in the ways that you are expanding this, are you finding that this idea is taking hold? I have an image of kind of lighting one end of a flow of petrol and just watching it go across the whole planet because it seems to me that anybody, wherever they are on the left right spectrum, if they can let go of the tribalism (and I speak as someone who has in the not very distant past, been extremely politically tribal), but I still find the idea of not being tribal is toxicity of the tribialization and what it does to the energy around people is so unpleasant and sticky and nasty, that if we could find ways for people to experience the sense of release and relief and growth and awe and wonder and connection that comes out of the letting go and the embracing of something new, that I struggle to imagine how anybody would not want to do it. So how is it taking off?
Benjamin: [00:33:09.15] This is exactly the moment where we’re being asked to to show the world what this would look like. And that’s where I do feel a sense of pressure within my nervous system to both fully bring myself forward and also do so in a way that creates this kind of experience for a critical mass of people before November. Because I agree. For me, it was this undeniable longing and it’s so completely satisfying. There’s a feeling when coherence emerges in a room after a period of conversation where there’s a silence because there’s nothing else left to say. And everyone feels as if there’s this kind of dripping feeling of connection and understanding.
And it’s such a powerful feeling that the way that I’m orienting to creating these experiences for individuals is through a series of a series of broadcasts of councils, of leaders who are stepping into leadership from this place of sincere care for the thriving of all life. And connecting those live streamed broadcasts to a digital democracy platform that we’re building. That’s actually quite simple. Anyone can log on and create a proposal. Anyone can vote on a proposal that they think would be a good idea.
And because it’s not the 1700s, we can actually vote on multiple axes simultaneously so I can rate a proposal not just on my level of agreement, but also how feasible it is, how much potential impact for harm or for benefit it creates. What the expected cost will be. All sorts of complex ways of activating collective intelligence. So we get a lot of people bringing their perspectives into the voting process. So it’s not just yes or no.
And then the proposals that rise to the top will be brought into these councils and the councils will be a space for this kind of political dialogue to take place and for people to ask questions and dive deeper into each other’s experiences. And one other aspect that I’m exploring with this idea, is how does healing and the speaking of truth integrate into our political discourse? Because there’s so much collective trauma. And I feel that part of the reason why there’s so much cultural dissonance between Black Lives Matter and certain people with other belief systems is that the pain of black people in the United States has not been fully felt by the majority of Americans.
Most people don’t have an embodied understanding of what it’s like to be afraid for your life when a police officer pulls you over for a reason that you don’t understand or that for something even small, like running a stoplight. And so we’re just being.
Manda: [00:36:56.37] And can I ask as someone who’s not in the U.S – we talked a little bit about your work with indigenous peoples. Does the same level of danger apply to someone of the First Nations or is it that black people by nature of the heritage and the history are under threat? It’s not just non-whites, it’s specifically black people who are in that degree of personal danger everyday.
Benjamin: [00:37:25.15] In some ways, I don’t feel like I can give a definitive answer to that question because I don’t want to speak beyond my direct experience. But what I can share with you, having spent some time on various reservations, particularly Pineridge in South Dakota with the Lakota Sioux, there is an immense amount of criminalization of Indigenous People. There are Indigenous women who go missing each year in epidemic numbers that no one knows why. There are cases of police officers committing acts of brutality on Indigenous reservations. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is the Federal agency that provides some element of law enforcement on the reservation. The lineage of colonization is still very, very active here.
You have people alive today who were forcibly taken from their parents and brought to boarding schools where they were tortured when they spoke their language or practiced any of their traditions, where their hair was cut, where they were forced to become Christian.
And so the state of Maine actually is the first state in the United States to conduct a truth and reconciliation commission with indigenous peoples, primarily because the government sponsored this boarding school program, which was so obviously a form of cultural genocide.
Truth and reconciliation has been tried before and the United States has a very interesting history of complex series of traumas. It’s not just one tribe against another. It’s many different tribes of people being brutalized for a lot of different reasons. So, I see the process of truth and reconciliation combined with some sort of intergenerational healing, and I think Joanna Macy’s work- I feel that a lot of these modalities that have been on the fringes, I really see becoming part of a national healing movement. And really a planetary healing movement. I mean, we’ve all experienced the pain of colonization even as a colonized, even as a colonizer.
There’s I think what’s interesting about the Black Lives Matter movement this time around is there’s a lot of black leaders who are asking white people not just to look at how horrible racism is. But what are the deep-rooted cultural biases and pains that would create the notion of being able to brutalize or dehumanize another human being like that? That has to be rooted somewhere deep in the psyche of people who’ve come from those lineages. And that’s our responsibility to be in right relationship with the full depth of that experience.
Manda: [00:40:46.69] Because when you talk about Indigenous wisdom, we would have to go back to before the Romans colonized Britain to connect with our Indigenous past – certainly the shamanic level of our indigenous past. And 2000 years of kind of post Roman brutality, which we then shipped around the world very efficiently. It’s a long time and many, many, many generations of disconnection from ourselves and from the land.
There is a lot of healing to be done, but I’ve been doing this kind of work pretty much consistently for the last 20 years, and I have never heard so many people talking in such depth and with such personal integrity and clear intent about the nature of the healing that needs to happen and that then can happen. And you were talking earlier about epigenetics and the knowledge that we now have that deep ancestral work can be done and we don’t have to pass the brokenness onto the next generations.
And I would have thought understanding that gives us an incentive to do it. And that in itself is huge, that we carry so much pain and so much disconnection, but that healing inside one generation is possible. I grew up in Scotland where sounds like your ancestors came from. And before I knew much history of anything, I knew about the Highland Clearances, which was an entire very long term cultural groups, villages, crofting communities just being uprooted, put on a ship and sent to a New World – and there, then to perpetuate the damage that had just been done to them. The whole thing is just deeply distressing if we let it become so, however, healing is possible.
So that’s it for the first part. We will release the second part shortly. I don’t think we’re going to make you wait a week because I wouldn’t want to wait a week for the rest of this conversation. So, in the meantime, enormous thanks to Benjamin for offering such breadth of vision and the beginnings of ideas of how we can genuinely change the outcome of the world around us. This feels like the intersection of Joanna Macy’s three pillars of the Great Turning: Holding Actions with Systems Change, with Shifting Consciousness all wrapped into one.
So I will put links in the show notes to the One Nation site to Benjamin’s medium post and to Unity 2020. And we will be back shortly with the second half.
PART 2 Transcript:
Manda: [00:00:12.13] This podcast is the second half of my conversation with Benjamin Ross, the extraordinary individual who is the lead for media and alliance building for One Nation politics, which gives us a model for a new governance structure and a new way of creating political reality around the world. But as you heard in the first half, Benjamin goes so much further than that, he says of himself that through the expression of non-dual archetypes of All – win ontology and visionary, holistic, thriving in media, governance and culture is creating narrative and experiential frameworks necessary to midwife the birth of a new earth. And I think that comes out so completely in the ways that he speaks of the ways he lives and the ways that he and the One Nation group are endeavoring to influence the election in the United States in a way that would lead to flourishing for everybody, for humanity and for the more than human world. So, in the second half of our conversation, people of the podcast, please do welcome Benjamin Ross.
So let’s go back to One Nation. This has been going two years and you relatively recently opened up as your village. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Because it sounds fascinating and listeners might want to come and visit.
Benjamin: [00:02:38.31] They’re definitely invited to come visit if they go to Azure Village. We are always inviting people to apply to come as guests. The intention of Azure Village is to be a temple to our collective potential.
And what that means to us is there’s both a personal and a collective aspect to that. There’s a way in which I feel this land in particular calls me into my own greatness. When I first set foot here, deeply listening to the way that nature speaks here, different ecosystems have such different ways of communicating and the energy that I felt here was so precise. It was so stripped away of any excess, and yet it was thriving, and I had associated thriving with this kind of lush, excessive kind of just dripping with water and life. And out here, things are only doing that which they must do and in that they are thriving. And so, I feel that kind of precision here within myself that anything that is excessive or not enough is coming into like this razor’s edge of balance with itself. And that itself is my evolutionary edge that I continue to walk here. And so, I feel both challenged and supported in becoming that version of myself here.
And then there’s something interesting that happens when a group of people start to experience that together, because there’s positive feedback loops where the way that we are in relationship to each other begins to catalyze that even further. And you start to have this upward spiral of collective coherence and self-actualization that I believe is what’s possible when a group of human beings are connected to that divine spark within them and that deep sense of purpose and connection to life.
And so we practice that through various intentional ways of creating and co-living. And so, everything has kind of been leading up to this synthesis of practices in the retreat that we’re leading. We all have created this experience for one another and we’re experimenting and sovereign unity because each person is doing only that which they most want to do, and they’re openly sharing it with other members of the community. So, for 10 days, I’m going to be meditating, doing breathwork, doing yoga. And my sessions are openly invited to other people who have that same exact interest, and so in that way we’re going to be completely isolated in our own experience and we’re also going to be creating space for those areas where we’re completely aligned to come together and act together in this, I believe part of this kind of self-organization of nature. Everything is doing its thing, but there are ways in which they positively feed back into each other’s experience. And I think that’s where thriving comes from. It’s in the interconnection of each piece of the whole living and expressing itself fully and all of the ways in which that creates benefit and value for all the other aspects of the ecosystem. And so that’s what we’re practicing here.
Manda: [00:06:35.25] That’s expressions of pain. But I’m in XR I’ve promised never to fly. Could I swim? Maybe I could get a kayak. Because this is the living of how we could be. You are modelling how the whole of humanity could be if we lived the best of ourselves. That sense of mutually aligned sovereignty of each doing that which makes your heart sing and offering that singing heart in service to the collective. I am imagining anyone listening to this podcast is just going to drop everything. You’re going to be swamped. And we will put a link in the show, notes, people, it will be there. So that is extraordinary. How many of you are there at this moment?
Benjamin: [00:07:31.56] Currently, there are five of us and we’re going to be eight next week. And then I think August is really.
Manda: [00:07:39.69] And can you take 2000 extra? That was a joke.
Benjamin: [00:07:44.13] You know, I think we are on a 40 acre piece of land. And so we’re looking at if everybody brings a tent, and if we find some Burning Man camps that want to support us with some large scale shade structures or help us build an actual physical temple out here, we have a beautiful hall. But I would love to build a a proper temple out here.
Manda: [00:08:08.73] Ok, but you wrote a very inspiring and thought provoking, quite long essay on Medium about Burning Man and the potential of this moment. Could you précis that for us? First of all, I think I realize I’m probably the wrong generation and also massively ignorant, but Burning Man was on the very edge of my awareness. I wasn’t completely aware of what it is. So, if you could give us a two sentence summary of what Burning Man actually is, and then your vision of what it could become, because it seems to tie in very deeply with everything else that you’re doing.
Benjamin: [00:08:44.19] Well, I may actually give a bit longer than two sentences, because I think there’s some context that I left out of the article because it’s somewhat controversial within the Burning Man community. How you tell the history of Burning Man. It’s a community full of 80,000 cultural critics and anarchists and postmodern silly people.
Manda: [00:09:11.43] You just got yourselves drummed out there.
Benjamin: [00:09:16.65] I consider myself one of all of those things in some respect. But the history that I feel connected to is the last radical revolutionary period of U.S. history, which is in the 1960s. And what I feel the pain of the way in which that cultural moment was ended and that that’s actually part of the legacy of Burning Man.
If you just imagine yourself as an idealistic young person who’s maybe 19, 22 years old in the Summer of Love, 1967, you go to San Francisco, there’s a free health clinic, there’s a free store where you can go in and everything’s free and everyone’s sharing everything. And there’s music and art and sexuality is suddenly not the repressed thing that it was before. And you can express yourself and.
And then the assassinations begin. And then the introduction of a lot of heavy drugs into a lot of these radical communities and ust how broken and fractured that revolutionary spirit was that was so convinced that was the moment that the whole world was going to change – and then it didn’t. And then capitalism just got more entrenched, more well-orchestrated, more inescapable. This feeling of the immovability of these systems, which has completely shifted since Covid. I think we suddenly were in a world where anything is possible again.
But just imagining what it must have been like to have been activated like that in the 1960s and then to spend the 1970s and 80s in this malaise and hopelessness. And so I think a lot of these visionary, transformational, radical, justice oriented subcultures were fractured apart and they went into all of these different directions. And that’s where this notion of a Thousand Fractal Shards comes from.
Manda: [00:11:41.83] Which is the title is the title of the piece.
Benjamin: [00:11:44.95] And one of those shards moved into more of the personal development, the sort of Esalen community that I believe came about because, if we can’t transcend the system, at least we can transcend ourselves. And so people went inward and they started to create art and then those subcultures that I feel are connected to that legacy of radical visionary possibility, and also, critical commentary of the brokenness of our current social systems, they started to gather in the Blackrock desert and there’s lots of mystery around the history of that. But what ended up happening is this crew of misfits and outsiders created what an anarchist thinker named Joaquim Bey calls a Temporary Autonomous Zone.
IT’s using almost the same threshold principles as ceremony, as ritual. When you’re in a ceremonial container, you set a threshold. And in crossing that threshold, you enter into another world. You go into the underworld or you go into a different reality. And it’s a psychological, spiritual tool that helps you to de-configure all of the mental programming that is normally running the show of how you process reality. And that’s why ceremonial work, you can do some of the deepest reconfiguration of your nervous system because you put all of that to the side intentionally, and then you work with plants that help you to actually work directly with your nervous system.
Burning Man is a similar sort of psychological technology. When you cross the threshold, suddenly all of the rules don’t apply anymore. And as a result, some of the darkest parts of our psyche live there and are free to roam and explore and some of the brightest lights and everything in between. And there’s kind of a nihilistic quality to it because it’s so ephemeral. It’s part of that hopelessness that I described feels like it’s part of some of the cultural DNA in that, if we can’t be free out there, at least we can be free here.
And now Burning Man isn’t happening because of the virus. And it opened up this psychic space for me that a lot of people talk about bringing Burning Man into the world. But what would that even look like? There’s so many ways in which the kind of radical free expression of Burning Man just doesn’t fit. And yet we’re in this moment where things are up for being questioned and re engaged in a new way like they never have been before. And these Temporary Autonomous Zones are our spaces for us to put all of the preconceived notions of Western civilization to the side while we build the regenerative culture.
And it’s that last part that Burning Man never really got to. They put all of the rules to the side. But there was no guiding principle or sort of universal understanding. Because of the danger of those things. There’s a way in which postmodernity is reacting to how oppressive the authoritarianism of objectivity has been. You know that the trains running on time in Hitler’s Germany – we don’t want we don’t want to do that. So we’re going to we’re going to be in this nihilistic void space as an alternative, not realizing that there’s harmonic natural living systems order that’s not oppressive, although it can be. And I think that’s something that we need to stay very aware of as a community. I call it New Age fascism. There’s ways in which, personal growth can become the new economic growth. I think we need to be very careful of that. There’s a way in which we can hold one another in community that acknowledges that they’re perfect exactly as they are.
That was just completely free and flow.
Manda: [00:16:29.34] Finish that sentence ‘We can hold one another in community in a way that acknowledges that they’re perfect exactly as they are.’ Feels to me that there is a balancing end clause still to come.
Benjamin: [00:16:41.49] While supporting them in their continuous expansion and refinement.
Manda: [00:16:48.78] Because this is the paradox of all the spiritual work that we do is. Honoring all parts of ourselves, honoring exactly who we are in the moment as being in the right place at the right time. And yet you’re not about to go into a 10 day silent retreat unless there is a part of you that believes that there are worlds, existences, experiences that you could reach that are different and that the person who comes out will still be perfect exactly as they are. But they might not be the same as the person that started. And holding that paradox and being comfortable with it seems to me to be quite central to what we’re trying to do in terms of building regenerative community, because you’re right, otherwise we just there’s a kind of place where New Age, fascism and spiritual bypassing meet, which is quite an unpleasant place to be and quite familiar for people who have hung around spiritual communities. So it would be good to avoid that. From the depths of my ignorance, wood Burning Man have been happening now? How long does it last? When does it happen?
Benjamin: [00:18:07.41] It’s a week spanning the final few days of August and the first few days of September.
Manda: [00:18:13.91] So it’s still to come. And having written that Medium piece, you said 80,000 people come together in one place. I’m imagining the logistics. I’m imagining actually having to manage the latrine system of that. I’m getting quite intimidated by the concept. 80,000 people all arrive for a week in one place?
Benjamin: [00:18:38.85] And build the third largest city in the state of Nevada for one week.
Manda: [00:18:43.53] Wow. So there’s a huge groundswell of creativity and connectivity and capacity there. Have you any inkling of whether your concept has been taken up?
Benjamin: [00:18:58.86] In some ways, it was before I even wrote the piece. There are ways in which certain threads of the Burning Man community have been acting this vision out and gradually building on it. There’s a group called Burners Without Borders that actually came into existence after Hurricane Katrina because Hurricane Katrina happened during the Burning Man event. And instead of going home to their homes, a group of Burners took all of their logistical equipment that they’d been building this city with and they brought it to New Orleans as disaster relief. And so there are these sub threads, these subcommunities, sort of the Burning Man world that I think are connected to rebirthing civilization, or at least using the Burning Man ethos to mitigate the suffering of our existing civilization system. And I released it and let it out into the world and and for a minute was obsessively tracking whether or not it was received and felt a huge need to be right about it and then let it all go and I’m just trusting that these seeds that we plant all grow in their own perfect timing.
Benjamin: [00:20:16.71] I know deep down that the Burning Man community has so much to offer and create. When I see the protests of the future, they’re not protests, they’re celebrations. And as much creativity as is humanly possible, we always forget who said this quote, but the purpose of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible.
b[00:20:42.97] But I found it somewhere. A group of us are trying to write a television series that will take us from where we are to where we need to be in a way that actually gives people a road map and shows them what it looks like on a blockbuster scale and that we have it at the top of every document. ‘The purpose of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible,’.
Manda: [00:21:09.40] And the purpose of a new governance system would be to make the revolution glorious and wonderful and flourishing. And so if people are interested, I’m guessing there’s two categories of people. There are people inside the US who are allowed to vote in the election coming up. And there are people outside the US watching the process with awe, wonder and a degree of trepidation as to the outcome of the result. Those two classes of people, what can they most usefully do? Let’s talk about people inside the U.S. able to vote in this election. If you are able to say, OK, guys, as of tomorrow, here are some resources, make the best use of them you can – we’ll point them at the One Nation website, but what else can people do really in the next five months, do you think?
Benjamin: [00:22:02.68] Well, we’re calling in participation into this, what we’re calling the United People’s Coalition, and this is an opportunity for us to model this structure of governance and create a small experiment that will be part of the broadcast series that I referenced earlier to a citizen driven dialogue process where citizens share their ideas, contribute their voice to to voting on those ideas. And then if if there’s someone that you would love to represent you and the way that you want to see political leadership brought forward, we’re currently looking for individuals who want to sit on those councils that would be integrating diverse perspectives, that would be facilitating nuanced and thoughtful and loving conversation and so forth.
If there are individuals, if that’s you, the listener, or someone that when you think, who would I want to represent me in this new political paradigm, we would love to bring that group of people together between now and November and begin to broadcast these conversations in the early Fall. And so if you go to our website under the create tab, there’s the United People’s Coalition Register where you can read more and nominate someone to be part of the council.
Manda: [00:23:34.84] Are you already broadcasting these leaders’ conventions conversations? Are they happening? Not yet. OK, so they’re going to be coming out soon?
Benjamin: [00:23:45.85] Yes, probably in all likelihood. Late August. Early September. And you can read more about the digital democracy platform that we’re using. And this is a very new endeavor, but it’s already catalyzed and brought together all of the pieces necessary to make it happen, including a large-scale broadcasting network that wants to digital broadcaster that has a large, very large audience that’s going to be collaborating with us.
So that’s one way to get involved. And I would say that as much as this conversation has been focused on the United States and the unique history that has given rise to One Nation being born here, the long term intention is planetary governance. And that is can be alienating to some people because they think it means the New World Order. But on the contrary, it actually means a completely peaceful and self-governing planet.
It’s hard to envision this step without actually extrapolating it all the way out to that, beautiful flower of life, pattern of interlocking circles of councils around the planet. And so I would say if these ideas resonate with you, bringing One Nation to your country, to your community would bring us so much joy. We’re creating outside of the existing power structures. And I see these coalitions of citizens who care, being the new layer of governance that will eventually rise up into the systems of power of existing governments and probably rework them. And some things will have to go away and and some things will integrate, but we can do it right now, starting right here. We don’t need to have the official levers of power in our hands to actually create real power through our connection, through our relationships.
Manda: [00:25:57.40] And that quantum aspect to it that you were talking about right at the top of the show – feels to me there’s a mycelial network growing of connectivity, of spiritual electricity. And we can build and we can build on the shell of the old system won’t even notice we’re there, I think, until it has become obsolete. This is back to Buckminster Fuller, the way to create a new system is not to dismantle the old ones, but to create a new system that makes the old one obsolete.
And then they can do whatever they want. The old system is a structure and and the plants have grown within it and around it and through it and over it. And it doesn’t need elections. This is the thing that I’m striving for. But even so, you said that Christopher Life was going to be a write in candidate, which is not something that that can happen in the UK, but is an astonishing thing that is allowed in the U.S. So people also could work towards that if they wanted to help. Is that constructive?
Benjamin: [00:27:10.65] Yes, and the coalition is this feminine expression that I feel Christopher’s candidacy is the masculine equivalent of that. And in redefining what it means to be President. What is the archetype of ‘President’ in this new paradigm? Does it even exist? And if it does exist, it seems to be inherent that it’s rooted in collective intelligence and in devotion to life and to the greater whole.
And so part of the intention of the Coalition is to create an apparatus and a culture and a context where leaders can actually look to the people and they truly are representatives. They’re not just trying to convince people of their ideas. They’re actually stepping into stewardship to be in a representation of the collective will.
And that that will probably be a vestigial legacy system of government, because with technology, we don’t actually need that form of representation any longer. But as long as it exists, that can be the standard to which we hold all elected officials. Are you expressing the collective will of your constituents? Or are you expressing the will of other interests? And if the latter is true, then we’re creating a culture where that’s no longer acceptable and we’re going to choose elected leaders who take their sense of stewardship and dedication to the collective very seriously. And I think Christopher’s candidacy is that. He’s someone who’s running in full devotion to the will of the people.
Manda: [00:29:02.43] And again, in my blind ignorance of American politics, does he need a Vice Presidential candidate or is that not a thing? If he’s a write-in and then he doesn’t need a running mate?
Benjamin: [00:29:12.76] I am actually also ignorant of whether or not that’s a requirement to be elected or if it’s someone that the elected official fills similar to a cabinet position upon. Those rules are not predetermined. So there is an open and open question of if there would be a running mate and who that might be. And so I think through this process of hosting these dialogues, I think it’s going to bring forward the kind of leadership that I know Christopher would want to have in as a Vice President, as someone who’s able to approach topics with nuance and care in the way that the coalition will be.
So I see the coalition connecting to some of these other Unity movements. Unity 2020 has proposed Andrew Yang and a U.S. Navy admiral and I see this sort of natural surfacing of a new kind of class of leader over the next few months that will come completely out of left field for most people in America who have kind of resigned to the fact that, OK, I guess we’re stuck with these two guys.
Manda: [00:30:31.40] So Unity 2020 was Bret Weinstein’s idea. And didn’t you say one from the left and one from center right?
Benjamin: [00:30:39.60] Yes. Andrew Yang being the center left and Mick Raven, former Navy SEAL is the center right.
Manda: [00:30:48.30] So for people in the U.S. who have voting capacity, then they they can’t they can either go for unity 20/20 or they can go for Christopher. They can’t do both. But I guess you don’t need to decide until till November. But those the two are mutually incompatible or am I not understanding the process?
Benjamin: [00:31:12.72] Well, I speak to them as signifiers of a new kind of political consciousness that’s emerging that I do feel is completely connected to each other. I wouldn’t tell you to vote for one or the other. What I would say is that it is up to each one of us through how we choose to be in conversations that are difficult, that are charged, that are polarized. It’s our ways of being in those moments, that is where the Political Rise is created.
And so beyond any one candidate, it’s actually can we embody these values in relationship? And if we can do that, then it’s irrelevant who is elected, because that’s a cultural change that will create the kind of world that we all want to live in.
Manda: [00:32:08.58] I am so impressed because I had I had rocketed back into the old mindset. I was already in a ballot room with my pencil in my hand and a little bit of paper in front of it probably doesn’t even happen in the U.S. anymore. It was all electronic, I’m sure. But you’re right. It’s about embodying the values and that’s worldwide. That’s not just America leading up to an election.
That’s all of us in every moment of every day finding that space of co-creation and stewardship and connection to the natural world that then leads us to the Inter-Being that you talked about earlier, that feels really, really wonderful. Thank you. I have felt at moments in this conversation as if I was moving to a new way of being. You have an extraordinary capacity to bring that alive in ways that make it real. I am astonishingly grateful. Is there anything in the end, that you would like to say is the last thing?
Benjamin: [00:33:13.22] At a personal and collective level, I’ve also been deeply moved by this conversation and the intention and inside of your questions and so I just feel grateful to be connected to this community of listeners and of the team of people who have been creating together, including yourself.
And I feel an openness, as if there’s a potentiality or an unpotentiated possibility that I feel I want to continue to explore together as all of this unfolds and each of us does what’s ours to do to give birth to this new world that we all feel inside of ourselves.
Manda: [00:34:01.40] Thank you. So maybe we could talk again closer to the election and see where things have moved to. That would be potentially, if you have time, you might be enormously busy, but we can talk about that. All right. In that case, thank you.
Benjamin: [00:34:15.08] Fantastic. Thank you so much. It’s been such a pleasure.
Manda: [00:34:18.59] So that’s it for our conversation with huge thanks to Benjamin for offering the depth and breadth and vision of his way of life and way of being and concepts for how we can change the world that we live in. All we have to do now is go out into the world and find ways to make this take off in our culture. So to help you do that, I will put the links again in the show notes to the One Nation site, to Ben’s medium post and to Unity 2020. We will be back next week with another conversation looking at how the future could be different if we choose to connect with what matters and what’s real in our lives. In the meantime, thanks yet again to Kharazi for the sound production and for the music that tops and tails the podcast. Thanks to Faith Telerate for being the other half of the creative team that is accidental God’s. And for designing the website. If you want to come and visit us and explore more, we’re at Accidental Gods dot life. You find the show notes there, all the other podcasts, the visualizations and meditations in the resources section. And the Accidental Guard’s membership portal, which is a structured training designed to help everybody to connect with the more than human world in ways that are grounded and real and that give us the answers we need for who we can be in the world.
So if you know of anybody who would like to be the change that we need to see, who would like to help us all to create the birth of a new world, then do send them this link. In the meantime, that’s it for this conversation. Thank you and goodbye.
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