Nature, Culture, and Personal Development

YES.

The following words are adapted from Bill Plotkin and are as featured in the latest SoulCraft Musings newsletter from the Animas Valley Institute:

Personal development and cultural vitality are inseparable. A society is mature only when — and because — it includes a sufficient proportion of mature members. Inversely, individual maturity is most effectively fostered by mature societies. The interdependence of the individual and society is a guiding principle of the Great Work of our time.

The personal is political. Soulcentric individuation leads to, and is necessary for, positive cultural change. Positive cultural change is the single most effective facilitator of personal individuation. The two are necessarily and intricately interwoven. As a person matures into a soul-rooted adulthood, she naturally becomes a sustainer of her culture (if her culture is already healthy) or a transformer of it (if it is not). She sustains or transforms her culture directly through her soulwork and indirectly by way of the ecocentric field she generates while doing that work. (An ecocentric field is a complex of psychosocial forces that make it easier and more natural for people to act as members of the Earth community.) Through her being as well as her doing, she contributes imaginative new fibers for the fabric of a vital culture, a tapestry mutually and concurrently woven by all soulcentric members of her society, especially the true adults and elders.

As her circle of identity expands, the personal becomes increasingly political for her, and vice versa. The food she chooses to eat, for example, has everything to do with the environmental costs of growing that food and getting it to her. By the time of the Wellspring (ecocentric early adulthood), the life and health of the more-than-human community (the commons) has become her immediate, personal concern and fulfillment.

In terms of its effects, the political is personal in all stages of life — even an infant is affected by the public affairs (politics) of his culture — but we usually don’t become reliably aware of this reality until we reach a healthy Oasis (an ecocentric early adolescence). In terms of its causes, the political is not effectively sourced in the personal until the Wellspring, when our individual soulwork deeply serves the collective. (It’s in the Wellspring that we enter the North half of the Eco-soulcentric Developmental Wheel, the hemisphere of the collective.) In a society with few adults and elders, the personal is not generally recognized as political, and vice versa.

Learn:
1 year, five weekend residential journey Bringing It Home begins April 10
Weekend exploration Nature Culture Regeneration 15-17 May