Very few books have changed my life. The New Testament, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Tao Teh Ching, and the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna are a few.
And then there’s one that isn’t ostensibly spiritual, although of course it is: A little booklet published by the Hunger Project in 1977, called The End of Starvation: Creating an Idea Whose Time Has Come, (1) which I’ve read countless times and many times when I want inspiration.
That booklet was written by Werner Erhard, the founder of the Hunger Project and est Training. Even the way it starts out has burned itself into my memory, so compelling are the words:
“You and I want our lives to matter. We want our lives to make a real difference – to be of genuine consequence in the world.
“We know that there is no satisfaction in merely going through the motions, even if these motions make us successful or even if we have arranged to make those motions pleasant.
“We want to know we have had some impact on the world. In fact, you and I want to contribute to the quality of life. We want to make the world work.”
Not only have people reading this article the desire to contribute to the quality of life and make the world work; this generation has also agreed to soul contracts negotiated with the celestials and the Divine Mother to play a part in making that world work.
That’s the job we took on in the beginning, whether that was thousands of years ago or immediately before this lifetime.
We want our lives to matter. We want the world to work – for everyone.
For Werner, wanting our lives to matter, to work out, went on within a world situation in which 15 million of us died of hunger each year.
For us, the figures are much larger, and they include people dying from, not only hunger, but also wars, poor water and sanitation, manmade pandemics, neglect, crime, drugs and so on.
“Starvation both maintains and dramatizes a world that does not work,” Werner wrote. Nonetheless, he also saw it as an opportunity “to get beyond merely defending what we have, beyond the futility of self-interest, beyond the hopelessness of clinging to opinions and making gestures.”
Werner starts by examining the examiner:
“Look inside yourself … at the ground of being that gives rise to your actions, thoughts, and feelings. Look specifically at the unconscious, unexamined assumptions and beliefs which limit and shape our response to hunger and starvation. This is the territory we are going to cross.”
Of course you and I have been engaged for years now, looking at our unconscious assumptions and beliefs so it isn’t as if we’re starting from scratch. We’ve cleared ourselves of many of what the Company of Heaven called “false grids,” which Werner called “unconscious, unexamined assumptions and beliefs.”
This territory that Werner laid out is the territory I propose we cross as well, starting tomorrow. We’ll look at the kind of unconscious, unexamined assumptions and beliefs that prevent us from making a difference with our lives in the face of the discouragement and lethargy of society in general.
(Continued in Part 2 tomorrow.)
(1) The End of Starvation: Creating an Idea Whose Time Has Come. San Francisco: The Hunger Project, 1977. All quotes are from this booklet. A very few are available from Amazon.com at http://tinyurl.com/hcnhlbg and probably eBay, etc.