This is your course home page, where you’ll find everything you need to know for the upcoming course, which begins on August 29th.
We are busy behind the scenes preparing for our 14-week journey together! Be on the lookout for our email updates, including notifications when new course materials are posted to this page and reminders for each live session with Terry.
For now, you're invited to explore the foreword, intro, and chapter 1 of A New Republic of the Heart: An Ethos for Revolutionaries. You can access the PDF file here.
A reminder that weekly course sessions are Wednesdays at Noon Pacific (Find your local time here) on the following dates*:
Please mark your calendar!
We use the Zoom video conferencing app to enable our live sessions with Terry.
You will use the same link for all course sessions. Here is the link: https://zoom.us/j/381333452
If you need help at any time, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Terry Patten Team
*Although we don’t plan to reschedule any of these sessions, we know that unexpected circumstances can make changes necessary. If so, we will alert you of any changes as far in advance as we are able to. Any rescheduled sessions will also be on Wednesdays at noon Pacific.
This course is about understanding and metabolizing the insights in the pages of A New Republic of the Heart. So the focus of the course is reading (or listening to) the book chapters—and thoughtfully contemplating and feeling the implications of the awareness they communicate.
A New Republic of the Heart synthesizes a series of profound, wide-ranging considerations, weaving together strands from evolutionary theory, neuroscience, developmental psychology, integral philosophy, social theory, complex systems dynamics, scenario planning, game theory, mythopoetic narrative, and numerous spiritual and wisdom traditions.
Ultimately its form is holographic and fractal—every key idea connects to every other and expresses the whole. Insights communicated toward the end of the book shine new light on what had been communicated in the early chapters.
Therefore, if you’re able, go ahead and read the whole book right away. Then it’s good to re-read (or re-listen) to each chapter as we proceed through the course. (I am pointing this out because participants in now completed book groups have written to me suggesting I recommend people read the book more than once.)
But that might not be realistic for you. I am well aware that this is a frenetic era, a time when many of us hardly read anymore—deep nonfiction especially. If it’s all you can do to complete one chapter each week, I totally get it! And no worries. The course is designed with that expectation, and taking in a chapter a week will be just fine.
Each week, here’s what to do:
- First, in any order:
- View (or listen to) my introduction to each week’s chapter.
- Read (and/or listen to) that chapter
- Review the week’s Guide to Deepening Questions and Practices relating to the current chapter.
- Let the reflection questions guide you to reflect more deeply on some of the chapter’s implications as you read or listen to the chapter itself.
- Then, either:
- Reflect on them in writing in your journal
- Discuss them with your book group
- Ask me a question to deepen the week’s session!
- Reflect on them in writing in your journal
We use the Zoom video conferencing app to enable our live sessions with Terry.
Please note that course sessions are recorded and may be sold in the future as downloadable products. If you choose to ask a question, you will be identified by first name only to protect your privacy. Speaking during the Q&A portion of the call gives Terry consent to use your recorded voice and image in future products.
Here is a more in-depth overview of how to join a live session:
If this is your first time using Zoom, please note that the Zoom installer file will download automatically when you join your first video call. Simply double-click on the downloaded file and let it walk you through the installation process. If you have any trouble with this automatic download, you can get the Zoom Client for Meetings from the download center: Zoom download center. If the system asks you, "How do you want to join the audio conference?," click the green button that reads "Join Audio by Computer."
You can also get Zoom apps for mobile devices:
Here are a few video tutorials that show you the basics of using the system:
And here are details for specific operating systems and devices:
This course is now complete.
However, we can still communicate in our Facebook Group.
Also, please join Terry at 12 PM Thursday, December 17th at https://zoom.us/j/149538314 for an exciting new talk about getting radical through the social experiment that is being birthed out of this course.
Meanwhile, these course materials will continue to be available to you for a full year.
Session 1 (Opening, Foreword & Introduction): What’s Really Happening? (Aug 29)
Each week, you will receive a handout with deepening questions, sometimes including suggested practices. These are designed to guide your private journaling, or for you to discuss with a friend or your practice group.
This week focuses on the Introduction to the book. We study Chapter 1 in our second session on September 5th.*
As You Begin…
This book and course were written to dispel illusions. It tells the truth — all of it — beautiful, horrific, paradoxical, inspiring and empowering. It was written to help readers awaken and find strength. May you discover in its pages a profound basis for “being the change”, based in confidence about and commitment to our human future — “for real”.
The first step, though is waking up from our nearly universal denial, the ubiquitous, automatic blithe refusal to face our actual sobering collective predicament. The Introduction and Chapters 1 and 2, therefore, will take you “down” from that superficiality into facing and feeling the awful realities we have collectively decided not to face and discuss in felt terms. It helps you see the confounding nature of our enormous evolutionary challenges — both interior and exterior. Especially now, as you begin this journey, you might experience this as upsetting or depressing.
Be patient, and have faith and courage. This is just the first bitter taste of a necessary medicine, an elixir that I believe you will ultimately recognize to be nourishing and liberating. It may hurt, but it will ground you in reality. And that will help you become stronger and clearer and deeper, and ultimately happier. And I hope it will help you live a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
The chapters to come will bring multiple dimensions of our shared reality into focus. They will help us become aware of more and more nuances, opportunities, and potentials. They will expand our perspectives, clarify our vision, and sharpen our discernment. As our eyes adjust, we will learn to see in the dark, where our vision can be illuminated by a deeper, undimmable and fundamental light.
Introduction: What’s Really Happening
The book’s introduction frames the context of the book and why I wrote it, and it offers a general outline. I share a little about why I cared so much about these themes, and what it was like to research the understandings and practices it describes. I even describe the periods of despair I experienced while researching humanity’s current crises and predicament, and the hope that resurged later.
Here are a few questions to deepen your engagement with the introduction. Let them guide your private journaling, or discuss them with a friend or your study group:
- Facing the big picture. Most conversations about the human future are either focused on exponential technological progress or dystopian images of runaway climate change and an inhospitable planetary ecology. We are tiny, in both physical size and the duration of our lifespan, by comparison with the geophysics of Earth’s ecology and the “deep time” perspective of evolution. And each of us is just one among more than seven billion people on the planet. So almost everyone just assumes there’s nothing we can do. And yet if we all make that assumption, intelligence cannot intervene and avert what looks like a grim future. There tends to be a failure of the imagination. In this Introduction I ask you to “take this to heart” and feel into the implications of what you know about what is really happening in our world as if your conscious participation might actually make a difference. I suggest that this is a moral imperative, and also ultimately inspiring. How do you feel about that assertion? Most of us have multiple voices in our awareness. What are the voices inside you saying about taking seriously your relationship to these enormous forces?
- The emotional subtext. Please notice and observe your grief over what is happening to our planetary ecology. In what ways are you tending toward despair? What are your sources of trust or strength? How are you learning to relate to our sobering and inspiring situation? How do you want to grow and change in your ways of relating to it all? How can you explain your rationale for hope?
- Boom and doom. There are powerful narratives arguing for both optimism and pessimism about the human future. How have you been relating to them thus far in your life? How is that changing? In what ways are you questioning and refining these narratives?
- Being ‘in conversation with’ multiple perspectives. Why do I stress the value of being “in conversation with” multiple valid (true but partial) perspectives? What is happening as you endeavor to be in conversation with both optimism and pessimism? How does this shift your relationship to your opinions and attitudes? Why will any single, one-sided approach to our complex reality necessarily be incomplete and ineffective?
- Let’s talk. The introduction suggests that we need to talk. Indeed, the whole book is a great invitation to a new level of human conversation. Right here at the beginning, consider your hopes and fears about conversation. Can we really have conversations that actually matter? Or will our conversations inevitably succumb to gravity and fall into familiar patterns that don’t change anything? What are your fears and hopes and underlying beliefs about what is possible? Please journal or talk with others and open the possibility of reconsidering your underlying assumptions.
*In late February 2018 I posted the Introduction to A New Republic of the Heart on my website. A month ago, thinking that most of the people who would enroll in this course would have already read the introduction, and intending to discuss its main themes in my introductory talk What’s Really Happening in Our Crazy World and How You Can Be the Change You Want to See, I laid out the schedule with a single week to cover both the Introduction and Chapter 1.
Upon reflection, I’ve decided that forces us into too fast a start, so I have decided to add an extra session to the course (at the end, on November 28th) so we can explore the Introduction and Chapter 1 in two class sessions.
Session 2 (Chapter 1): Our Wicked Predicament and the Consensus Trance (Sept 5)
Session 2 Guide
Deepening Practices and Questions
Chapter 1: Our Wicked Predicament and the Consensus Trance
This week focuses on Chapter 1 of A New Republic of the Heart. There are many questions here. They are by no means all obligatory.
I recommend you read all the questions, and then select a manageable few, perhaps 3, to deeply consider, journal about and/or discuss. If you are in a group, perhaps each member can nominate 1 or 2 questions for group discussion.
This chapter presents an overview of the enormity of our current crisis and predicament — this “global tipping point” in humanity’s evolutionary trajectory—and the reasons it is so hard for most of us face, see, understand, and feel our multidimensional civilizational crisis, especially the implications of climate and ecological science. It identifies two kinds of impediments to our understanding:
- Objective: the challenges themselves are hypercomplex, non-linear, abstract and elusive (hence “wicked”); and
- Subjective: human nervous systems are hard-wired and programmed to bias us toward missing, ignoring, forgetting, and/or denying the implications of our situation—and against realistically making changes that could bring about solutions.
The context: There is widespread evidence that we are approaching a global “tipping point.” Human affairs are very unlikely to just keep on muddling forward as they have until now. Disruptive changes seem likely — probably both negative and positive disruptions. No one can reliably predict how these momentous changes ahead will play out. There will probably be at least times and places of chaos, suffering, and collapse. There will probably also be world-changing, mind-blowing breakthroughs, gratifying new opportunities and emergent, both inner and outer. And there will be ordinary human goodness, and heartening progress.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
1) There are several confounding factors that intensify our ecological and civilizational problems (pages 23–27). Climate change and the slew of related social, cultural, political, and survival-related issues constitute “wicked” problems because they are so difficult to solve (for reasons enumerated on pages 23–24).
a) How can we cope with the tendency toward overwhelm and despair? Ultimately, this book argues that these wicked problems are inspiring challenges. To what degree does this seem real and credible to you at this point in time? What questions are you asking? (Refer to the “Hope” section, pages 32–36.)
b) Since our wicked problems are so complex and enormous, how can we authentically, positively, and creatively relate to them, and to the inherent goodness of life, even in the face of these challenging realities?
c) Consider how miraculous evolutionary “emergence” (sometimes called “miracles”), and periodic “black swan” events (pages 24–25)—hugely consequential developments that virtually no one could have predicted and yet seem inevitable after the fact—make it utterly impossible to predict the future. Then consider what that implies — that they represent a rational, logical challenge to our tendency to think we “know” the future is bleak. They are a basis not only for transcendent hope, but also for an epiphany—an intensified experience of our underlying rootedness in wholeness (as described in chapter 3). Consider, reflect and discuss.
2) For centuries two contending attitudes toward the future have been in dialogue (pages 27–30)—the Cornucopian (optimistic, concentrated on the possibilities and opportunities of growth and discovery) and the Malthusian (pessimistic, concentrated on the natural limitations of growth and consumption and the dire consequences of exceeding our resources). These perspectives reflect the tension between optimism and pessimism and hope and fear. Their pathological expressions are blind denialism and dark apocalypticism — both of which assume that difficult truths are necessarily overwhelming.
Although the Cornucopian perspective seems to have been right through much of history, we need to pay more attention to the Malthusian perspective today. What do you understand about the challenge of doing this in a healthy and constructive way?
3) How does radical hope differ from what I call “false hope” in Chapter 1? (See discussion on pages 32–36.) How does false hope play into the “fear” agenda? (Also see pages 36–38.)
4) Consider and describe how awareness of our “consensus trance” (pages 38–40) has affected us all.
a) It is essential to understanding our civilizational climate-change denial, and how it operates outside our awareness. How do you experience this? How can you wake up from it and relate to how it operates in your own consciousness humbly and courageously and constructively?
5) (Advanced) Pages 18-20 point out a fundamental structural problem: the self-accelerating character of human civilizational “progress” (as independently observed by physicist Geoffrey West and futurist Peter Russell.) Innovation, growth and change are constantly accelerating, with cycles of innovation shortening. These tend to lead to “a mathematical singularity” in time (an evolutionary deadline). This means that our present trends, if extended, will tend to lead to an economic crash and the collapse of the social fabric.
How can this self-terminating dynamic be averted? Peter Russell concludes that it is inevitable, and reflects wisely on the implications. Geoffrey West posits that it is not necessarily altogether inevitable. For it to be averted, he suggests, a revolutionary wave of technological innovation will necessarily set in motion a new cycle of prosperity, AND there must be intelligent stewardship of that technology, so that it does not simply feed into and continue the historical pattern of never-ending self-acceleration. Instead the “breathing room” it creates must be wisely deployed according to “a grand unified theory of sustainability” to enable humanity to transition toward and into a permanently sustainable human presence on a healthy “garden planet”. Those are unprecedented criteria, but the physicist West posits that they are not ipso facto impossible to achieve.
This would require two miracles — the technological breakthrough AND the wisdom and political power and will to steward it wisely. But it is not necessarily impossible. Feel into the proposition that you do not (and cannot) know that this will not happen. How does that change your feelings and perceptions?
Supplemental More Challenging Readings and Questions
These readings, audio resources and questions might easily be experienced as “too much information”. I include them here mainly so you can refer to them later, only if you feel curious or moved to explore these deeper layers. They are probably most appropriate during a deeper re-reading or review of A New Republic of the Heart. However some individuals or groups might find them useful to explore.
Regarding Climate Change: The Australian National Centre for Climate Restoration, also called “Breakthrough” is an independent think tank intending to bring critical thought leadership to influence climate debate and policy making. They recently published online (at https://www.breakthroughonline.org.au/publications ) a rather hair-raising analytical paper, What Lies Beneath: The Understatement Of Existential Climate Risk. In rather convincing fashion, quoting many of the world’s leading scientists, it very specifically describes how climate policy-making has become embedded in a culture of timidity (over appearing “alarmist” and thus has always been dramatically understating the severity and timeline of probable future climate disruption and consequent social, political and economic consequences. Do not read this if you’re feeling in any way fragile.
Regarding the Problem of Self-Acceleration: Peter Russell’s essay, Blindspot is not for the faint of heart either. Again, this is only useful when you have an appetite for it, and in fact, Russell includes an advisory before you can even click onto it: https://www.peterrussell.com/blindspot/blindspot3.php This is formidable essay, logical, rigorous, and persuasive. It comes to the shocking conclusion that human civilization’s continued self-acceleration and self-termination are certain, no matter what. However, it has an extended, compassionate, wise reflection at the end that explores the goodness that is possible in the “meantime” if we come to peace with the “worst case scenario”. I conducted a deep and tender conversation with Peter about this in 2015, called “Supposing it’s too late…what then?”
You can download it at https://www.beyondawakeningseries.com/archive/ Scroll down to August 30, 2015.
Regarding the Consensus Trance: Postmodern critical theory posits that cultural agreements determine our consensus reality, or more radically, that reality is nothing but cultural agreements. Conspiracy theorists have used this to recklessly reject the practice of science and journalism and to undermine the necessary roles of facts, evidence and science to public discourse and decision-making. As soon as we try to discard the “consensus reality” we easily fall prey to delusion. How can we awaken from the “consensus trance” and still maintain deep discernment informed by the imperfect achievements of science and rationality? How can we avoid falling into Wilber’s “pre-trans” fallacy (falling prey to pre-rational irrationality in the name of post-rationality)? How can we break free and still maintain guardrails against delusion?
Session 3 (Chapter 2): Translating Heartbreak into Action (Sept 12)
Session 4 (Chapter 3): Wholeness and Fragmentation (Sept 19)
Session 5 (Chapter 4): The Evolutionary Perspective (Sept 26)
Session 6 (Chapter 5): The Integral Revolution (Oct 3)
Session 7 (Chapter 6): Life as Practice (Oct 10)
Session 8 (Chapter 7): The New Stories of our Souls (Oct 17)
Session 9 (Chapter 8): Awakening into Evolutionary Activism (Oct 24)
Session 10 (Chapter 9): A New Tribalism and a New Republic of the Heart (Oct 31)
Session 11 (Chapter 10): Conversations that Matter (Nov 7)
Session 12 (Chapter 11): It's Not Too Late, and It Never Will Be (Nov 14)
Session 13 : Integrating, Summing Up and Looking Ahead (Nov 28)
Download audio of Extra Q&A Session or stream below:
See the questions here: Extra Q&A Session Nov 19, 2018 PDF