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I’m excited to welcome Dr. Peter Merry to today’s show.
Peter is a co-founder of Ubiquity University, the Center for Human Emergence in the Netherlands, and other social enterprises. He also supporting other leaders and their organizations, developing new philosophies, trying to communicate what he sees through books, talks and courses, applying some of the latest consciousness and energetics practices, to attempting to live as balanced a life as possible with his family and friends – it’s an unfolding story of trying to be fully human at this time.
Join us for this episode for our lively discussion about Peter’s book, Why Work? We dive into why people are experiencing higher rates of burnout and dissatisfaction today. He also shares how we can begin to transition to a more fulfilling workplace.
We also discuss Peter’s work with Ubiquity University, the Center for Human Emergence, Volution Theory, and the Wyrd initiative at Broughton Hall Estate.
You can contact Peter and learn more through his website: Peter Merry, on LinkedIn, Facebook, and on YouTube. His book Why Work? is available on Bookshop.org (preferred), as well as Amazon and other retailers.
Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you usually find your podcasts.
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Show Transcript (via AI – please excuse any errors):
Okay, I’m so excited to have a very special guest here with me today. I have Dr. Peter Merry, who leads social enterprises. He’s the author of several books. He’s also a speaker and well-known teacher. And in his description he said he’s applying some of the latest consciousness and energetic practices to attempt to live as balanced a life as possible with my family and friends. He said it’s an unfolding story of trying to be fully human at this time. So thank you for joining us here today, Peter. I really appreciate it.
Peter Merry (00:42):
You’re welcome. Thanks for the invitation, Monica.
So maybe just to get us started, we could start by having you tell us your story. What do you do and why?
Peter Merry (00:53):
Oh, wow. Well I guess as the son of a Quaker Children’s nurse on the one hand and a Royal Naval mechanical engineer on the other have always been a combination of the kind of visionary social change thing, but I quick get fairly irritated fairly quickly if we can’t actually do something about it. So that’s the engineering side. So I’m always yeah, looking for, you know, the social innovations and the possibilities, but fairly quickly want to actually operationalize it and not just hang around too long in the vision. So that’s kind of, I guess, you know, led my life a bit. I actually was in the arts originally; languages and theater. Spent a lot of time in theater improvisational theater as well, which I found very useful for life. And moved through being a kind of activist in the green movement, getting into green politics, which is where I got interested in economics actually in this whole work theme.
Peter Merry (02:00):
And, and then I wanted to understand the corporate sector because I felt they needed to be part of the solution somewhere. So I started doing consulting in an organizational change and things. I wrote a book called Evolutionary Leadership back in 2003 that then kind of, I guess, led me to be doing public speaking and that kind of thing. You know, for a few years I worked in the corporate sector doing consulting and basically proved if you took an integral approach that includes the human being, you can affect change fairly effectively and fairly quickly. So having kind of understood that went back to looking at some of these more complex problems that we’re facing, multi-stakeholder issues, and how do you actually work collaboratively with people from many different backgrounds, organizations from different backgrounds and to try to solve some of the major challenges we’re facing together.
Peter Merry (02:57):
That was together with the Center for Human Emergence, which was an organization I set up over here, particularly with people who were informed by an integral approach, like Ken Wilber’s work and the developmental psychology, such as the spiral dynamics model and things. And then I got a PhD focused on understanding why energy work seems to work. Having done a vocational training myself in not so much one-on-one energy stuff. So I’ve never been into the one-on-one coaching or one-on-one healing, but how you use energy work to affect large-scale systems like organizations and large pieces of land. And then I did a PhD looking at how our understanding of reality needs to evolve to be able to explain how these kind of approaches and why these approaches work. I ended up calling Volution Theory.
Peter Merry (03:52):
And then around that time where, this was around 2012, just when I completed that, I was doing my PhD at what was then Wisdom University. And at some point, the conversation started about how we might scale what we were doing there with a new online technologies. And that’s what gave birth to Ubiquity University which I co-founded and I’m still in the leadership team, which was really focused on how do we equip people with the mindset tools and skillset to make a positive difference in the world given the challenges we’re facing. And then as part of that, more recently, I’ve been doing more leadership work at the international level. So through the World Bank’s global financing facility, working with ministers of health and the top civil servants in developing countries and their stakeholders to look at what we call transformative leadership. So how do you lead and organize differently to deal with highly complex and rapidly changing environments, Which means of course, you’ve gotta do a lot of the inner work as well. So that kind of brings in a whole integral approach. And then applying some of the energetic work now to states in the UK. Wow. Yeah.
That’s quite the journey. Yeah. <Laugh>, we should also tell our listeners where you were located.
Peter Merry (05:19):
Well, I live in the Netherlands actually in an ecological neighborhood of a town called Kubo. The town is about 25,000, and the neighborhood’s about 400 households just designed using common sense really, you know, where all the cars have to park on the perimeter. There’s a big car sharing scheme. You have your own garden, but there’s a shared garden and pizza ovens and stuff like this. So lots of edible trees around, water catchments, solar panels, you know, solar heating of the water and things. So it’s what you would do if you just stopped and thought for a minute, you know, how should we really design our communities and neighborhoods? So <laugh>, wow, it’s a great place to live. Great for the kids to grow up in as well.
Yeah, that sounds amazing. Is that fairly common in the Netherlands, or is this kind of an emerging concept that you’re seeing?
Peter Merry (06:12):
This was I guess this was 20 years ago when this was built and there have been more since then. We actually get international groups coming around and looking at it. So it is one of the international best practices here. But it’s still not the standard and, you know, whereas it obviously should be <laugh>. But there are increasing experiments of these kinds of neighborhoods being developed more in this way. Yeah.
Yeah. Wonderful. It’s amazing. Well, quite the journey and I’ve been following your work recently with Ubiquity University. It sounds like a necessary and very timely organization bringing a lot of transformational leadership skills to people, so very exciting.
Peter Merry (07:00):
I actually became familiar with your work through the Center for Human Emergence. Initially when I was writing my book, the Change Code, your name came up a lot with regard to that center and your work with Spiral Dynamics and taking that to the next level. Peter actually reviewed my book in the early days, which I really appreciated as well. So that’s kind of how that connection formed. And then I’ve been following your career since and just continued to be amazed. One of the reasons that I reached out as well is because you also wrote a book called Why Work. So maybe tell us a little bit about that and what do you see the purpose of work being?
Peter Merry (07:50):
Yeah, so that actually came out of my master’s research that I did while back now in 2000, No, and we think 1994 and five or something. It was back at Edinburgh University at the Center for Human Ecology. Then, and at that point I was also thinking for myself, So what am I going to do for work? Like, how am I going to make money and earn a living and didn’t like this idea of going into an organization, you know, where somebody else was telling me to do things that I didn’t believe in. And so that fueled this inquiry that became my master’s thesis and eventually turned into the book. There are two parts to it, really. One is, so how would we need to change policy at national, potentially international level to create meaningful work?
Peter Merry (08:46):
And I’ll say a bit more about what I mean by that. And then what can we actually do ourselves in our local communities to put in place the conditions at the local economic level that would enable people to do work that’s meaningful for them and useful for the community and earn whatever currency they need to be able to meet their basic needs, essentially. So when I stop to think about, you know, what work did I want to do when I was back there as a master’s student, it was, well, it obviously needs to be something that’s useful for the world at the moment. And of course, you need to have an insight into what’s actually going on to, too <laugh> to have a picture of what that useful is. But by then I was pretty awake in terms of an understanding of both the ecological social challenges and things we were facing and the need to do something that was contributing positively.
Peter Merry (09:49):
So obviously that’s the kind of work that needs to be done, but then how do I know what my piece is that connects to that? And it was an Aristotle quote, I think I came across that I use a lot in talks now, which is, “Where your purpose meets a need in the world, therein lies your vocation.” So your vocation or your calling, you know, when there’s this match between what you feel your call to do and a need in the world, that’s the place, that’s the kind of interface. That’s the sweet spot. I love that. Yeah. So it’s really about how you know, and then when I look around, I see one, there’s so much destructive work going on and, you know, things that aren’t really useful that could be done much more better.
Peter Merry (10:39):
I mean, you sometimes get so depressed just walking into the supermarket and you see this massive waste of stuff that’s really not good for anybody or <laugh> anywhere and all the packaging and everything else. And you’re kind of, how have we come so far that we, that we’re doing all these things that are actually not healthy for us and not healthy for the world around us. So the question, and a lot of individuals I think feel that they know whether we’re doing something that’s really useful for the world or whether we’re just doing it because it’s paying our way and we don’t actually really believe in it. So the Why Work book was an attempt to say, Well, what do we need to do to put in place the conditions where people can do things that are meaningful and help them to be fully human and are good for the planet as a whole, really. And then both at the policy level as well as the kind of hands on local level,
Such an interesting discussion. And I think it goes right along with some of the things that we’re seeing here in the US. There’s discontent and we’re starting to see a lot of burnout with jobs. And this thing that we’re hearing a lot about here right now is called “quiet quitting”, where people are not actually quitting their jobs, but they’re doing the bare minimum so that they can keep their jobs while they’re starting to pursue outside interests and create some boundaries around work. So how do you feel like some of those kind of emerging trends here in the US fit in with some of the concepts you were just discussing?
Peter Merry (12:20):
That’s really interesting. Cause you also mentioned spiral dynamics and this understanding of human development over time. And the key concept behind that is about how our coping mechanisms as humans fit the life conditions around us, Right? So a value system that emerges is an attempt for the human mind and heart to find a way to deal with the world that we’re experiencing around us. So it’s that match between life conditions and coping mechanisms. And the point that you get stress and burnout is when you get a misfit between the value systems and the life conditions and the world around us. So what I think we’re seeing with the burnout and the quiet quitting that you were talking about is people realizing that there’s a misalignment between who they are and what they want to be doing and what the world is asking of them.
Peter Merry (13:17):
And either you kind of quit quietly, which is a way to cope, I guess, and start to develop other things maybe on the side a bit. Or if you don’t either have that insight yourself or the conditions you’re in don’t allow you to do it, that builds up stress in your system. And that’s what will leads to burnout. I mean, biologically every organism needs to feel that it’s contributing somehow to the ecology that it’s a part of. And if we feel even subconsciously that we’re in a work environment or in a situation where one, not only not contributing positively, but we may be even contributing negatively to our ecology, then our body literally biologically winds us down because we are not a useful element of the ecology that we’re a part of. And so that’s what is burnout is when we, when it basically kind of drains the battery so that we can’t be any more destructive to our environment and forces us to evolve ourselves to find a next level of thickness with the environment that we’re in.
Peter Merry (14:33):
So to find a way to be able to contribute positively. And that’s when we start to get energy again. And our biological system starts to kind of wake us up again and feed us again, as it were with energy. So I think the fact that we’re in a time where our societies are structured in such a way that they’re very ill-equipped to deal with the real challenges of the world, and that most of the jobs are therefore still in that old system, that it’s no wonder that people are either burning out or quietly quitting because they, they have a feeling that it’s just, you know it just doesn’t fit anymore that the system is dead. I often say that the current system, the current mainstream system is dead but not buried, and it is dead, which means it’s no life force in it anymore.
Peter Merry (15:23):
There’s no joy, there’s no life force, there’s no energy. And it, which means when you are in that system, it drains your energy from you like a vampire. It’s like an energy vampire. But we haven’t collectively consciously recognized that or made the conscious decision to move to something else, which means we haven’t had the ritual burial of the old system and put it to sleep, which means it’s haunting. It’s still around, right? It’s dead. Yeah. But it’s trapped between worlds, right? And so, like a vampire, it’s kind of hanging around and sucking energy out of us and the world until we actually consciously go, Guys, this is old and it’s finished and it’s past, its sell by date. We need to bury it collectively and consciously decide we’re gonna move to something else. So I think that’s why we’re seeing a lot of the kind of trends that you described because that’s going on and people’s biology is literally telling them that they’re not contributing anymore to the ecology around them. And by ecology, I mean in the broadest sense, right? The human ecology as well as the natural ecology,
Right? Yeah. Oh, I love your description of what’s happening and agree completely. And I also agree that people know there’s something wrong, but it’s hard to put words to it. There’s just kind of this unspoken feeling that, you know, things aren’t working right with our systems. I’ve done a lot of work in the healthcare system and we see that right now we see, you know, high burnout rates and physicians leaving the the field of medicine and staffing shortages. And, you know, people want change, but they’re not really sure what to do because they have to fit within the current system. And so what do you see as some ways to make the workplace better? Because it, at this point, it’s more than just doing some small tweaks.
Peter Merry (17:18):
I think there’s, there’s maybe three parts to the strategy. One is that we have to help the old system to die gracefully. So in the current workplaces of the old system, we have to help them to let go of the things that everybody knows aren’t working anymore, and make those explicit and have those conversations. Because the moment that you name the truth that everybody knows, there’s a big sigh of relief and everybody goes, Well, yeah, that’s actually true. And then to accept that they don’t necessarily know therefore what they have to do next. But that not knowing is okay, <laugh>, the first thing is the recognition of, okay, if we can just recognize together it’s not working and agree on that and kind of close down and stop doing the stuff we know is not working, it will create space for new things to emerge and come in.
Peter Merry (18:21):
But that’s very hard to do when you’re tired and kind of burned out by the old system. So it does require, I think in the old systems at the moment, really honest conversations, the shutting down of the stuff that we know doesn’t work and the creating space and the asking questions and the not knowing for what might emerge next. Now at the same time, and these suit different personality types, I believe you know, Buckminster Fuller’s quote is very inspirational, which is, “Don’t try to change the old system but build a new system that makes the old one obsolete.”
I have that on my wall right here, in fact, Oh, there you go. You can’t see it. But
Peter Merry (19:05):
As well as helping to curate to what I would say hospice, the old systems, right? We have to help them die in such a way that the best of them is carried forward that they’re acknowledged for the contribution they have made. That we don’t chop their heads off in an unfeeling way because then they’ll toxify the soil rather than fertilize it moving forward. So we have to help hospice the old systems gracefully, but at the same time we need to be prototyping new ways of doing things like radical R and D in all different sectors. And so if that’s more your personality type, cause obviously it’s a more entrepreneurial innovative thing and risk taking cuz none of us really know exactly what the right solutions are moving forward. And we’ll only find out by testing things out and experimenting and failing and learning and trying.
Peter Merry (20:08):
Again. That’s the nature of these non-linear change moments because we can’t see what the future’s gonna look like from our old mindset. It will emerge and reveal itself to us. That means that we can’t know where we have to go and predict and control our way towards it. You know, we have to put in place the conditions for that new system to emerge, which means radical experimentation and learning and fast iteration cycles in a kind of entrepreneurial way in all sectors. And then to be learning from each other as we go along. It’s like the imaginal cells in the butterfly scenario where the caterpillar hangs itself up in its cocoon, you know, after it’s bloated and over eaten stuff. And in the body of the caterpillar, these new cells start to emerge, right?
Peter Merry (21:04):
The biologists call imaginal cells, right? Because they are imagining the future form of the caterpillar, which is the butterfly. Now the caterpillar first sees them as alien bodies and so attacks them, their immune system attacks these new cells. And what happens is it’s only when the cells start to connect up that the caterpillar’s immune system surrenders and the caterpillar literally dissolves. And the fuel and that kind of mush that’s left feeds the imaginal cells for the butterfly. The butterfly’s formed and the butterfly passed the first bang its wings against the shell of the old system, as it were to build its strength and then yeah, break through and get out. So I think that’s in this kind of experimenting and prototyping, we’ve got lots of people who are trying out new things at the moment, the cultural creatives, but a lot of them feel alone. Yeah. We have to do is, is connect them so that they can learn from each other and accelerate and amplify the impact that they’re having.
That’s kind of what you’re doing with Ubiquity University.
Peter Merry (22:11):
Yeah. And that’s exactly what I’m trying to do, facilitate that as well as reconnect people to the deeper kind of trauma inside of what we have done <laugh>, you know, to each other and to the earth because if we run off trying to create new things without having reconnected to the earth fundamentally, then it’ll all be out of our rational mind and not guided by a more natural intelligence that I think is present when we when remember that we are actually the earth rather than something separate from it <laugh>, which is a kind of crazy thing to think, but <laugh>,
Absolutely. I wanna come back to your next points about what needs to happen, but I wanna dive into this one just a little bit more because I think that that is so true and a lot of my kind of colleagues and acquaintance acquaintances here in the US are experiencing that same thing where they’re trying to create change and they’re trying to make systems better, but they’re feeling really alone and frustrated and like you know, trying to move this behemoth elephant somewhere. It’s just very frustrating. Do you have any advice for people who are trying to create change? Yeah. You know, just in the world in general and specifically within the workplace?
Peter Merry (23:31):
It may sound counterintuitive, but my main advice would be stop trying so hard <laugh>. And the reason is like when we remember that we are the earth, right? So we’re something Yeah. You know, really you and I at the moment are the earth talking to itself, right? Right. We’re the earth trying to work out how do we continue this experiment of self-awareness, which is the human being that the earth has created. Right now, most people don’t live from that perspective, right? We still live in our heads and moving around as if everything is separate from everything else. The moment that we remember that and to properly remember, that means also facing the pain of the split that we’ve created in ourselves between us and the rest of life and all the pain that we’ve caused to the rest of life and other people, which is not a small thing, even though I say it quite glibly in a way.
Peter Merry (24:36):
Once we reconnect to that, we reconnect to the source of life and then we find that it reveals to us what we need to do next. So we don’t need to think it up rationally because there’s a natural intelligence of life as a whole that knows what needs to happen next. When we understand that we are part of a dynamic system that’s evolving as a whole, that, you know, if we try to think it up on our own, we’re creating it out of a place of separation. Whereas from the moment that we literally remember that, it means to put back together to remember something, when we put all the members back together again, <laugh>. Yeah. Then we get guided for what’s next and all we need to know.
Peter Merry (25:35):
We need to feel that intuitive impulse to act next, act fully and then stop and sense again what that action has led to and therefore what the next action needs to be. So it’s much less of a linear process than most of us have been educated to work and you know, we think we’re gonna change the world, you know, even if it’s a positive thing. Right? Right. Okay. This is the plan. We need to achieve this. How are we gonna get there? Okay, we’re gonna start, we’re gonna take these steps and we’re gonna get there. The problem is you take the first step and the world has changed, particularly at the moment. So your plan is out of date. So you spend the rest of time of your time stressing, trying to force your plan to fit reality, whereas reality’s changed <laugh>. So what you have to do is keep yourself as close as possible to the present moment with your intention.
Peter Merry (26:22):
Clear, but let life inform you about what the next step is and your role in that next step. So for a lot of activists today, I think the trick is literally to try less hard. Cuz when we are trying, we’re attached to something. Right? And whether you’re attached to a vision of the future, that’s the same effect as being attached to something in the past. You know, we’re all talking about, Oh, we should let go and not be so attached to stuff in the past. Sure. You shouldn’t be attached to something in the future either because it means you’re not present. Right? Yeah. It’s only now in the present that the information is there that will guide us to the next step. And it’s much more of an intuitive knowing than it is a rational understanding. So when we are led by the intuitive knowing, that’s more of a heart knowing than a head knowing, then we can bring all the head skills and the cognitive capacities to help, you know, start to execute that.
Peter Merry (27:22):
But the head shouldn’t be in the lead cause it’s by definition connected to the past because all we have, all the thoughts we have, are all thoughts that have been defined by our past experiences. Whereas it’s the right brain or and the heart that are sensing the future. More so, and it’s when I realize that, and you know, I was for a long time in this kind of actor change, Well how are we gonna do it? Big plans then it was a big relief. Yeah. Because suddenly you realize you don’t need to know it all. You don’t need to have worked it all out <laugh>. Yeah. You don’t need to have a plan. You just need to have a clear intention and open heart and be present to, you know, what’s wanting to happen next and just take that next step and that’s it.
I love that. That’s such a great way to look at life and I couldn’t be more in agreement. I try to live that way myself, but I also find that sometimes I slip back into the let’s do this, let’s, you know, push. And that’s usually when I get frustrated and I get stuck. And so it’s kind of constantly coming back to that place. I’m still working on it. <Laugh>.
Peter Merry (28:37):
Oh, I think we all are and I think we always will be. Know just that. I always remind myself of that saying that you can’t push the river.
I love that <laugh>
Peter Merry (28:48):
Don’t push. You can surf the river, right? Yeah. And you can navigate and white raft it and stuff, but you can’t push it. Yeah.
Yeah. That’s good advice. And so I wanted to come back too, cuz you mentioned that there were kind of three things that we needed to do and you covered the first one. Or should we move on?
Peter Merry (29:05):
Well, no one was hospicing the old system. Yeah. And helping you die if you’re in the system. The second was to create the new. Through this radical innovation and experimentation. Yeah. And the third is to become a storytelling role, which is to show the bridge from the old to the new. Okay. So to basically say, Look, somebody has tried doing this, it works. You know, you now have a conscious choice as to whether do you wanna do things the old way or do things the new way. So to provide that bridge and to make people aware of the new things that have been discovered and seem to be working so that they realize that we can channel energy and resources into the new things. So those are the kind of three classic roles in these non-linear transitions, helping the old system die gracefully, experimenting to create the new, and telling the story to help people make a conscious choice.
Wonderful. I love that. Yeah. Helping people see that there are other options and other ways of being and doing wonderful. Are you starting to see some emerging practices out there or kind of ways of working?
Peter Merry (30:16):
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, I think it was a friend of mine who said recently, things are getting worse and worse, better and better, faster and faster <laugh>, which I thought was a really good summary. That is great. And that’s the nature, right, of these times, of these kind of chaos points as it were, where the old is breaking down and the new is emerging. So yeah, I mean, I’m seeing an acceleration of both. And there’s lots of examples in all the different sectors. One in education here in the Netherlands, there’s a whole new school system emerging called Argo. They’ve got no lessons, no teachers, no grades, no homework. It’s all coaching based. So the students have coaches, they have a permanent working place that they’re allowed to decorate, like bridge the home school gap. And they work on projects and challenges and they learn about the topics as they go along. So if the learner is put at the center of the process, and rather than everybody having to move through the same sausage factory like educational process. The kids take responsibility themselves for that learning journey. And the coaches help them see things that they might otherwise not be aware of. So those, you know, there’s now 15 of those schools. We brought the second one I helped to set up here where I live so that my sons got a decent education <laugh>. Wow.
Peter Merry (31:40):
And the now there’s 15 in the Netherlands. So I think the healthcare, you know, we’re seeing a lot more understanding of a holistic healthcare approach and the integration and people are choosing consciously for a more holistic approach. The problem is that our healthcare systems and the insurance companies and everything don’t always recognize that, but that’s part of the transition. There’s lots of new modalities. And I think one of the most interesting things that’s emerging really fast right now is the whole world of psychedelics and the impact that that’s having on people. Because what it’s ultimately doing is it’s fast tracking, you know, a meditation experience. So it’s helping you shift your state of consciousness to be able to see a level of interconnectedness that is there and that, you know, sages have always talked about.
Peter Merry (32:34):
And in seeing that, it does that remembering for us. So it helps put things back together again and help us see a bigger context. Now, it does mean then that, you know, we then need to go back and do our work to our stage development as it were to reflect what we’ve seen in that peak state experience. But that, but that is taking off so much at the moment and all the plant medicines and things that are teaching people reminding us of, you know, of our place on the earth basically. And our place embedded in the bigger ecology. So, and it won’t, can’t be long before that becomes more integrated into the healthcare system because they’re finding it helps with addiction helps with all sorts of things. Yeah. And then I think we’re seeing a lot more impact focused businesses.
Peter Merry (33:30):
So the impact hub network, for example, which is in over a hundred countries around the world of social hubs, of social entrepreneurs developing new products and things, products and services, all that are sustainability based. So there’s an enormous amount I think going on. And the question is, you know, what do we choose to see? Or what do our media choose to see and show the world? And normally the media is full of gloom and doom and the breaking down of the system, Right. It’s very little profiling of the breaking through, which is actually going on just at the same intensity as the breakdown. I mean, it’s like the light and the shadow going hand in hand. Yeah. So, yeah, enormous. Then this whole blockchain for example, it’s creating the conditions for a lot more decentralization where we’re less dependent on central government. It enables, for example, more local community economies to develop and be more sustainable with their own currencies. And those currencies could potentially be exchangeable with other currencies. So, you know, it’s a very rich time in terms of innovation at the moment that I’m seeing. And at the same time, there’s a lot of pain and suffering as the old system breaks down. So it’s kind of hand in hand.
Yeah. It’s definitely an interesting time to be alive. Yeah. One of the books I just read recently is by Jane McGonigal, who’s a futurist. And one of the concepts she was discussing in the book that I found fascinating was that Covid might actually increase the speed of change because we all across the world essentially shared this collective trauma. And that apparently the 10 years following some type of trauma, you see an increased rate of change. And so I’m wondering what your thoughts are, Do you feel like that actually kind of sped up the rate of change or set us back a little bit?
Peter Merry (35:33):
No, no. I mean, I think it will ultimately speed things up. It’s like Dr. Don Beck, who was one of my mentors used to talk about <laugh> a tear in the fabric of reality. As being a tear in the fabric of reality that enables you to see down through to some of the underlying dynamics and patterns. And I think that’s what something like Covid does. You know, it forced us a lot of people to slow down to stop and think about things more. And through that process, I think will feed an acceleration of the breakthrough. Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. I expect that.
So do you feel like you’re optimistic about the future still, even though it is a challenging time?
Peter Merry (36:18):
You know, I’m kind of optimistic or pessimistic as a framing tends not to work for me somehow because ultimately we don’t know what’s gonna happen. Right? We don’t know if humanity will still be here in a few hundred years. We’ve no idea. We don’t know whether we’re going to evolve and learn quickly enough to be able to keep this experiment of the earth going. And once I think we accept that, then again, that releases any attachment to a future outcome. Yeah. So, optimism or the moment that you’re one is optimistic, there’s some, it’s very hard to be optimistic without some kind of sense of attachment or something into the future. And then pessimistic of the same really. So it’s more the way I see it myself as it’s more a trust in that life will somehow work it out.
Peter Merry (37:23):
Yeah. And to remember that one humanity as a whole is just one small part of life and should the human experiment not succeed, then life on earth will, will start again exploring for another way to kind of express self-awareness and self-consciousness. So it would be a shame, I think, because millions and millions of years have gone into, you know, this experiment. And I somehow, I know that humans have the capacity to get through this and to actually change really fast if we want to. Cause at least I can see it in people. The question is where collectively we get to that critical mass on time and that we just don’t know, and we’ll never know. That’s also the nature of these nonlinear change moments. You don’t know when the tipping point is going to come but suddenly one day it’s there and everybody’s kind of saying, Yeah, I always thought like that actually, but I never never told you. And suddenly everything moves fast. Right. So, so we’ll see. But I kind of encourage people, It’s interesting, you know, do you know Margaret Wheatley’s work? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> Well once we were in a circle with Meg one day, and she made us go around this circle and start every sentence with “without hope” or “having no hope or something”. And the first couple of rounds we were a bit depressing.
Peter Merry (38:55):
And then actually it became very empowering because we realized that hope was an attachment to something.
Peter Merry (39:05):
And to her it was to actually taking us out of the present. So we realized that actually living without hope, I think was how she made us start each center. That living without hope brought you back to the present and made us a lot more grounded. And that’s where I moved from hope to trust actually.
Yeah. I love that term.
Peter Merry (39:24):
This is an important shift. So yeah. I dunno why, where that bit came from, but
No, that was a great example and I love the term trust too.
Peter Merry (39:36):
So tell us, what are you most excited about right now?
Peter Merry (39:44):
The project that I’m most excited about is a you know, if we take this, my fundamental assumption as well, that what’s at the cause of our challenges at the moment is this forgetting of our interconnectedness, Right? Fundamentally, that if we were aware of the nature of our interconnectedness, there’s no way we could do the things that we’re doing that are damaging the world around us and damaging other people. So there’s no way we could consume, go and buy things and consume things that we knew were damaging the whole that we are a part of, right? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. So things would very quickly switch around. And that we’ve had that experience of interconnectedness in a pre-cognitive stage when we were more in a kind of tribal environment. We didn’t sit around talking about it as interconnectedness, but we had this kind of instinctive feeling of being part of a bigger whole. And then for some reason, when the sense of separate self-emerged the ego as it were, we’ve forgot, so we kind of separated, like Ken Wilbur would say, when you move from one stage to another stage, the differentiation is important, like to differentiate between the old and the new. But if you disassociate
Peter Merry (41:00):
Then you cut yourself off from that pathway that you’ve walked. So some are aware along the line humanity disassociated from its Prego sense of just being in an interconnected world. So we need to reawaken and reconnect to that. So this project that I’m involved in is based on 28 years of research at Princeton University, at their engineering school where they were doing research into how the human mind affects the world around them. Because they were building on some Stanford research, but they also picked up that that pilots in the cockpits of fighter aircraft, when they got stressed, seemed to be influencing the instruments on the dashboard. Wow. So this was obviously a serious problem, but it was also an engineering challenge. So it was the school of engineering set up this thing called the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research, which was things that don’t fit our current understanding, things we have no explanation for in our current world of physics and science.
Peter Merry (42:04):
Yeah. And they researched for 28 years how the inner state of the human affects the world around us using mechanical devices, but then also digital random event generators. And essentially to cut a long story short, they prove beyond statistical doubt that our mind influences the world around us in a small but consistent way. And it was one in a billion as the statistical chance of what they found was chance. So basically they’d proven it beyond statistical doubt. Now the lab closed in 2007. I got to know Brenda Dunn, who was the woman who ran the lab together with the engineering as the dean of the School of engineering, Bob Allen. And I was talking to Brenda a few years ago, and she was telling me that all this equipment that they’d had and all the books and the research papers and everything at Princeton was stuck into in storage and costing them a fortune.
Peter Merry (43:00):
And she said, Can you do anything with it <laugh>? Wow. So I said, Well, actually, I’ve just got to know this guy on an estate in England with 3000 acres who’s wanting to turn it into a place of transformation. Maybe we could create a public experience space where people could walk in and just immediately experience their mind influencing these different machines. Wow. Because it would have this psychoactive effect on people of reminding them of the nature of their interconnectedness that actually their being extends beyond the physical boundaries of their body. And so she thought that was a great idea. Luckily, this guy Roger Tempus, who’s the 32nd generation on this estate, thought it would be a great idea. And so we shipped all of this equipment from Princeton to Yorkshire in the UK and set up what we called the Wyrd Experience. Yeah.
Peter Merry (43:50):
W Y R D because weird was the Anglo-Saxon term for interconnectedness, the interconnected web of everything that generated all life, which we buried very deeply in our North European culture. And instead we imported chi and everything from the east. Right. But we actually have an indigenous concept for this interconnected energy, which was weird, the weird <laugh>. And so one thing is setting up this space, which we are nearly complete with the first version of, and we’ll be opening at the Science and Consciousness Conference in the UK and the 31st of October this year. But we’re also part of what they did at Princeton. A little spinoff they created was a company that built these mind lamps, which were lamps you could influence the color of through your intention. Wow. And anyway, that business never really took off, but we’re starting a new business that will use the technology developed at Princeton to create artifacts that people can influence with their minds without any physical connection, including one that will sit in the middle of groups and as the group becomes more coherent and aligned the lamp will glow more.
Peter Merry (45:03):
Wow. And that they become less coherent. It’ll kind of dim down more. So it’ll provide what I call socio feedback instead of biofeedback on our individual self. It’ll be feedback on collective. So that’s the thing I’m most excited about because I think it could spread Yeah. As a little meme. Yeah. And it’ll constantly remind people of the nature of our interconnectedness, which I think is the most important thing. Wow.
Peter Merry (45:31):
That’s what I’m most excited about
<Laugh>. That is exciting. What a great opportunity. And you mentioned that people could enroll to participate at Wyrd.
Peter Merry (45:40):
Yeah. If they get a Wyrdexperience.org, there is a sign-up form where we keep people posted on the developments and information on the conference as well.
Awesome. I’ll sign up for that as well. And I’ll put an a link to that in the show notes.
Peter Merry (46:00):
Great. We’ve got some really cool merch actually coming out. Some t-shirts we’ve had created. Do you know a Rupert Sheldrake and his work on?
Yes. I love Rupurt.
Peter Merry (46:09):
Yeah. So Rupert was one of the first to visit the lab and we’ve got a T-shirt that says on the back, Make me look, Stare here, <laugh>. Now he has this book and research he did called the feeling of being stared at. So we’re kind of playing with this whole idea, because everybody knows that you get this feeling when somebody’s looking at me and you,
Oh yeah, I just had that happen last night, <laugh>,
Peter Merry (46:38):
There you go. Yeah.
Oh, that’s fascinating.
Peter Merry (46:41):
So it’s things like that to try to get this, the Wyrd meme as it were out there and people kind of proud to be Wyrd, you know, or proud to weirdo or
Peter Merry (46:54):
Yeah. So that’s that
I see why you’re excited about that. That’s what an amazing opportunity to benefit from all of that great research as well. Yeah.
Peter Merry (47:02):
Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah.
So, Peter, what is one kind of key takeaway? We’ve had a wonderful conversation and you’ve shared some great concepts with us, but what’s one key takeaway that you’d like our listeners to go away with today?
Peter Merry (47:21):
I’d go back to the Aristotle quote, I think, which is, “Find where your passion meets a need in the world.” Yeah. And like, follow your heart into that because even if we don’t know how on earth we’re going to make a living doing this thing we’re passionate about that we feel there’s a need for. Right. If we, if we take that step and make that commitment, the world will start to move around us and we’ll be shown how to do that. It’s like a leap of faith. I often show people this clip from an Indiana Jones video where he has to cross this chasm and apparently there’s a bridge. Yeah. Remember, it’s like there’s an invisible bridge. Yeah. Yeah. But it only crystallized, he only sees it once his foot actually lands. He has to step into the chasm and trusts the bridges there. Right. That’s the kind of trust we have to have when we have this feeling that this is what I have to contribute to the world and I really feels like the world needs it, but I don’t know how on earth I’m gonna make it happen. Don’t worry about how it’s gonna happen. If you’ve got that clear intention and you make that step, it’ll show itself to you. You need to just pay attention then to how life will support you to manifest it.
Such good advice. I hope people take that to heart.
Peter Merry (48:37):
Yeah. Me too. <Laugh>.
So what is the best way for people to connect with you and kind of learn more about your work after?
Peter Merry (48:45):
The easiest thing is just to go to the website, www.PeterMerry.org.
Peter Merry (48:50):
It’s like I try to share as much as I can of what I’m experiencing through the blog and there’s the info about the books and a number of online courses that I’ve done that are up there as well. And just free content to explore and a newsletter if they want to make sure that they can keep finding out about what’s going on without it being filtered by social media filters.
Wonderful. And they can also order the book Why Work from your website?
Peter Merry (49:20):
Sure, Sure. They can do that through the site. Yeah. And I’d encourage people, certainly if they’re in in the states to use www.Bookshop.com rather than Amazon. Cause they give money to the local bookstores. But yeah.
Wonderful. Well, thank you so much. It was a pleasure to have you on the show.
Peter Merry (49:40):
Thank you for asking all those great questions. Monica <laugh>.
Thank you all.
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