Weltschmerz

Deep sadness at the inadequacy of the world

For the past ten months, I have been in a constant battle with fear. Even though I understand where my fear comes from and how I can deal with it, or at least I try to. It does not simply dissolve. In addition to all the current events, we are heading for a crisis that is hardly comparable to everything we have seen before.

I have delved deeply into myself to try to understand why I cannot stop being afraid. Remember my first article, heal your wounds. This is a wound, and I think we all share it. It is not really personal, no trauma that I carry alone. It is a trauma that we share together.

It is worth repeating what I have said in the last few years that in our language we have a distinction between thinking and thought. Thinking implies the present tense some activity going on which may include critical sensitivity to what can go wrong. Also, there may be new ideas, and perhaps occasionally perception of some kind inside. Thoughts are the past participle of that. We have the idea that after we have been thinking something, it just evaporates. But thinking does not disappear. It goes somehow into the brain and leaves something trace which becomes thought. And thought then acts automatically.

Not so long ago, I was talking and thinking with a wise woman, still unknown to me, about the sadness in our world. We talked about the many reasons to despair about the state of the world today. Isolation policies are increasing on both sides of the Atlantic and are taking up the frustration of voters. The refugee crisis in Europe has reached record levels and millions more are expected, and in the United States, there has been a stream of police murders. We had elected a President in America who boasted of sexually abusing women, dividing society, and more. Thank God that the topic has been dealt with. #goodbytrump And I did not even mention climate crisis, Mental crisis, biodiversity, society and so many more things going on.

She called this Weltschmerz

Who and what can young people who could still weather the storm turn to? I plead for aging at a time when people are desperately seeking the wisdom that comes to those who are ready to grow old, who are ready to know limitation and deep service until the end of days. To be wise and child alike. 

How did Weltschmerz emerge? 

What are we talking about when we talk about suffering? Do we know what it means to have pain? I am thinking of suffering for a while now. When you don't get what you want, you suffer; when you get what you don't want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you suffer because you cannot hold on to it forever. Your mind is your Dilemma. It wants to be free from change. Free from pain, free from the obligations of life and death. But change is the law, and no pretense can change this reality. But how do we shape the realities in which we live? I believe in the power of written words and the realities we create with them. Just imagine how many times we believe something because we have read it. So let us start where it all began. Cultures older than our own widely believed that words have magical, generative power. They were not just symbolic ephemera, arbitrary signs linked to the real world of things by arbitrary social conventions. Words were emanations of land and life, closely linked to the intrinsic nature of the things, processes, and properties they denoted. To name a thing was to call it.

All the more powerful was the arrangement of the words into a story and the ritual staging of these stories. The world was told to exist and maintained by telling stories and performing rituals. Thus it came about that older cultures widely believed - or should I say widely acknowledged - that the degradation and abandonment of their rituals heralded the end of the world.

Given the misfortune that befell these cultures, when Christian conversion and the market economy swept aside their rituals and replaced them with school, money, law, and medicine, who can say that they were wrong? We never developed a framework to think about that, we never learned to question something.

Today the dominant culture faces the same fate as the one that is destroyed. Our own rituals and stories seem to be withering away, as does the power of the word itself. We live in a world of showmanship and hype, of messages and image, of official lies so routine that they have lost their ability to shock us. This is why the hierarchies of Western society seem no longer able to proclaim: "This is the way it should be", and thus bring miracles into being. Despite their hyperbolic elaboration, the rituals of the medical establishment cannot banish new wave diseases such as autoimmunity, allergies, Lyme disease, and cancer. The rites of the injection, the pill, the divinatory test, and the procedure have lost their magic power. And we are searching for something new.

We no longer stare with superstitious awe at the power of our high priests, the scientists. We no longer believe that a Brave New World is waiting for us, but one or two inventions away. We no longer believe in the glorious rise of humanity to the supremacy of all beings. We are still stuck in the habits and institutions that have arisen from these beliefs, the whole Tower of Certainty built upon them, but we no longer know what we believe, or no longer believe what we know. We enter a space between the stories.

Could it be that the material plundering of the world, the reduction of its stones, soils, plants, animals, and water to commodities, the economic reduction from quality to quantity and form values to value, suggested and then demanded their conceptual reduction? Whatever came first, our present predicament is that history sustains the system and the system sustains history. They are an inseparable whole, a being in itself.

I mean this literally: we are participants in the life of an organic entity which, like all beings, goes through different stages of life. The being that we might call "modern civilization" is obviously in a stage of senescence, but whether this precedes its death or its metamorphosis is probably beyond what anyone in it can know. Be that as it may, the question we face is not how to prolong his youth, for example under the banner of "sustainable development" or "green growth". The question is not how we can preserve what is familiar, but rather what we want to become. Let me actually withdraw this statement. The question of what we want to become may be premature because our will carries the indelible breath of the madness of our time. It is more a question of listening to what we want to become. The question "What history shall we create next?" is new wine in old skin, contaminated with the dying history of man in the driver's seat, lord of his own destiny, lord of the world, lord of the wilderness, lord of mystery, forward and upward on a triumphal arch of progress. Better questions could be: "What story comes next? "Which new-antique story offers the greatest beauty? And: "How can we prepare ourselves to accept it?

This is one way how Weltschmerz was created and now we have a meta crisis. I often write that we are living in fascinating times, in which all these global political turbulences motivate various new ways of thinking and problem-solving. At the same time, all this leads to deep pain, a mental crisis is not seen as such but as an economic product. The Weltschmerz I described above has a lot to do with a meta crisis, which I have mentioned here several times before. Meta means "beyond". So when we "go meta" or make a "meta-movement", we take our present paradigm and find a new one that transcends and includes it. This is exactly what Einstein was getting at when he said that we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking with which we created them. When we move to the meta-level, our thinking develops to a higher level of complexity. We arrive at "both-and" points of view instead of "either-or". Not ecological or cultural crisis, but both ecological and cultural crisis. On this level, we can understand world-weariness and find solutions. 

To address Weltschmerz, we need to undertake new meta-actions in different dimensions of our lives. This newsletter explores various practical ways in which we can do this to overcome the underlying meta-crisis: Our psychology, society, and politics are quite terrible at problem-solving and paradigm-shifting - i.e. understanding and navigating crises - and keep us trapped in the problems and paradigms of the ever collapsing old world system.

Although this area can sometimes feel overly abstract, please do not doubt your ability to upset your worldview and push yourself into new areas of understanding. Psychological development progresses towards greater complexity through the synthesis of opposing perspectives. And it does so by combining most perspectives - or meta-perspective! - we can begin to see how we can coordinate and control the immense complexity of modern society. When you read and read my articles, you will first think that I often write about the same thing. But then at some point, you will realize that every article has its own dynamic.

Thinking about thinking  - Healing Weltschmerz

This is an area in my book (almost done :-) ) where I want to illustrate how we learn to think. Metacognition is, simply put, thinking about our own thinking. We have to think about how we think, how others think, how we perceive ourselves, and how others perceive themselves - that is meta-cognition. And it is a central element for good philosophy. Socrates was one of the meta-thinkers - he was proclaimed the "wisest of the Greeks" because he simply explained his own ignorance. But this insight made the radical difference between him, the grandfather of Western philosophy, and the ordinary citizen (who was not aware of his ignorance!). In a strange paradox, a meta-movement allowed him to transcend and include his own ignorance, which is a totally transformative way that did not make him unimportant. What I always try to prevent is to fall into this old thinking pattern. I want you to develop a routine, to discover yourself getting lost emotionally or on small levels.

Another way of understanding Weltschmerz is that the global crisis cannot be reduced to a single view or explanation. Every lens we use to understand the global crisis (e.g. ecological crisis, political crisis, economic crisis) is partial and limited. Therefore we must be able to hold perspectives above our own perspectives and those of others - these are meta-perspectives. They enable us to judge which perspectives work and which do not, and to arrive at the criteria for a perspective that "works". As soon as we admit that every person always operates from some perspective, ideology, or worldview, the need for meta-perspectives becomes obvious. Only by holding meta-perspectives can we meaningfully grasp and compare several different perspectives. Understand? "Going Meta" enables you to hold several perspectives and synthesize them productively, thereby improving your ability to find your way around the collapsing, flourishing world system and find your way around it. This enables us to be in solidarity with all people and to empathize with them from their perspective. Compassion and mutual understanding increase. Even better: meta-perspectives make our own perspectives conscious and criticizable, not unconscious, and thus unquestioned. This enables humor, self-irony, and distance; we are less dogmatic and more open to alternative perspectives. Indispensable meta-crisis ability.

Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.

With those words

Farewell,
Malte

Do you ever feel like it?

Thoughts on mine

Sometimes a thought blurs in an ocean of others

I am not sure how to start this

I listen to my heartbeat

Beat by beat

try to understand

try to hand your hand

the cry for Freedom

Aren't we all looking for it?

The moments of weightlessness

The moment you are there

How you feel when you Lookup and realize that you are not dreaming

The clarity of the morning stars before sunrise

Find peace in the chaos of thoughts and forms

Something makes the familiar and regular shine

Day after day, which still leads away from well-trodden paths into the hug of the unknown and unwritten

I try to describe, what I am looking for, but it is deceptive

It is on the tip of my tongue, then it is gone

I know what I am looking for is not in fear

I know what I am looking for is not in seeking

There is the feeling when both bare feet are pressed on the floor and your head is in the clouds

It is the balance: land and sea

Society and the wilderness

Me and You

I feel at home there

How often am I guided by fear?

How often do I lead with love?

What do I look for?

What exactly is freedom and where do I find it?

Why you should question everyone

and everything

Hello,

There is so much going on in this world currently. America has a new president, there are lockdowns everywhere, climate change seems not as a big topic anymore, etc. I currently write about this Pain in another article. In the last few weeks, I have noticed how more and more people are getting together for an ice bath. I find it is an amazingly "easy" way to ensure clear thoughts and better health. It also reminded me of how we can become healthier through simple and different methods. Without a pill, therapy, or anything else. I know I am not a simple character, but the next few lines will either make you question a lot of things in your life, or question me. Both are perfectly fine.

In our dynamic universe, all things change, from the remotest corners of space to the movement of the continents. Change takes place in both living and non-living systems. The history of civilization is the history of change from the simple to the complex. Human ingenuity and inventiveness are examples of this fact. No system can remain static for long. Unfortunately, changes are not always for the best. Although we accept the inevitability of change, people also face change with considerable resistance. Those responsible, whether religious, military, socialist, capitalist, communist, or tribal, will try to hold back change because it threatens their control.

Even the oppressed may support a system and the status quo because it is known and familiar. No matter how oppressive the environment, the familiar is a comfort.

Human civilization is no exception to this process of change. Change takes place in all social systems and is the only constant. The history of humanity is a history of change, brought about either by natural circumstances or by human intervention.

Technology influences the most remote regions of the world almost as fast as it develops. It is constantly being accelerated by new technologies. We lack the ability to absorb and accurately process information. Who do we trust and when? I started to write these articles as a kind of thought, chapters that will eventually be found as a whole. Let's start with…

Old Thinkers are not always right

When it comes to taking a skeptical stance, now is better than soon. Don't be late when you board this train. Get into the habit of thinking more critically about strange claims and beliefs immediately. From now on, ask questions and demand proof before you allow yourself to accept something unusual or important as true. It does not matter to be young. Life is no less valuable and precious in the early phase than in the middle and later phases. When you are young, do not wait to think clearly and think for yourself, because it is never okay to waste time and energy on nonsense. Whether you are old or young, you want to get the most out of every moment you can. Learn, create, explore, have fun with friends, love your family, and all that. Do not sacrifice your precious days for the strange and unproven ideas of others. Think early and think forever. Why would you not want to do that? Sure, depending on age and maturity, young people have to trust the older authority figures around them and accept that they are not willing to do it alone because of their own inexperience. But this does not mean that young people cannot think for themselves to a considerable extent, starting from now. If you are a child or a teenager, do not accept that you are a robot that must be completely programmed by adults. Adults are often wrong, and you have a powerful brain. Use it. And if you are an adult, don't think it is ever too late to change the way you think. The sooner you can start thinking skeptically, the better. I see many things more skeptically than a few years ago. I believe less and less in a techno-utopia or the way we are currently tackling climate change. One example would be renewable energies, we are currently building solar plants everywhere without knowing how to dispose of them in a really sustainable way. To exaggerate a little, it is no different from nuclear power stations. We didn't know where to put all the waste, and in comparison, all nuclear power plants in Germany produce only a nano fraction of the "waste". We are currently asking ourselves what we can build alternatively, so we have created a project. Which focuses on regenerative materials (Yes we made this up), it is called NextNess. We are working with leading Universities together to show what we can use in a new infinite Game.

In this world, we are naturally and strongly influenced by our family, our friends, and our culture, but we can still make the important decision to think independently and respect ourselves enough not to blindly accept everything the rest of the world tries to shovel into our brains. It is understandable that some young people may feel that skeptical thinking is disrespectful under certain circumstances, especially when it goes against the beliefs or claims of beloved authority figures such as good parents and favorite teachers. Of course, this often happens, so it is a legitimate concern. But remember that there is a form of respect that is even more important than the respect shown to persons in authority. It is called self-respect. And skeptical thinking is the highest form of self-respect because it means that you care about the quality of the thoughts and beliefs that are in your brain. This defines you more than anything else. Your thoughts and beliefs determine who you are and who you will be.

The fact is that the people in your life may be smart, love you, want only the best for you - and still be completely wrong about some things. If current circumstances make openly questioning certain claims and beliefs too uncomfortable or dangerous for you, do not do it openly. Do it privately. Being a good skeptic and thinking freely while keeping your mouth shut is infinitely better than not thinking at all. It may feel lonely at times, but it can be done. Trust me. No one can know your private thoughts unless you share them - not even a psychic.

Farewell,

Malte

Are you happy?

I have told you about the last time I wrote here, and I have put the focus back on personal issues, on my path, and on how I found my happiness (as I mentioned it has a lot to do with freedom and this is my book all about). Not only that but how we can walk this path together. We are facing one of the biggest revolutions in the world (for the better) and for the first time in the history of time, we have the opportunity to make this a global good.

I never wanted to send out two newsletters a week. But currently, I have the need to share words. I am writing some new articles and I am listening to Caminaré from Abuela Malinallo (very relaxing and powerful). The world is burning, suffering and we are watching. Sometimes I just want to share my thoughts with others and I hope you feel the same way.

Click play and dive into my world of thoughts…

Having a deep understanding of different things is something that I find very easy, whether AI, consciousness, sensemaking or other topics. I love to learn new things and try to see possibilities of how we can build a society that will be completely new. I do not know what topics you are interested in on a personal level, but what I deeply know is that you care, you care for the world and you are caring for future generations. You might have not figured out what you can do to escape or participate. But I am happy to have the pleasure to accompany you on this journey

Here are the latest posts:

What story are you living in?

Building the capacity for disruptive thinking

One receives health not in the retail trade, but by the way of life

Your Horizon is shrinking

Mindfulness, Health, and Healing

What is a Good Society?

Thank you for reading all this, and I hope to receive news from you (you are always welcome to just answer).

I send you love and wish you the best,

Malte

What story are you living in?

TRANSFORMING THE WORLD FOR A BETTER FUTURE

Hello,

I’m Malte Josh Wagenbach. I’m exploring how our societies and political economy will change under the force of rapidly accelerating technologies and other trends. Besides various projects (finishing my book, mentoring startups, and building something new) I spend much time reading, thinking, and writing. As we have a lot of new followers, I like to say a few words about what this is all about. If you have not read it already.

This Newsletter is called Anima Mundi. And you might ask why? This is what it means for most of us.

The world soul is, according to several systems of thought, an intrinsic connection between all living things on the planet, which relates to the world in much the same way as the soul is connected to the human body (Wikipedia)

I’m writing this to begin to synthesize my own thoughts and feelings. This Newsletter is focused on exploring topics that I find meaningful and relevant to being human well, individually, and collectively. Specifically, thoughts on the future of civilization, Artificial Intelligence, Regenerative Farming, Regenerative Business, Plant medicine, the sensitivity and potential of our current situation, and how we might navigate the path ahead. The impact on our lives and choices, in service to supporting more collective sense-making around a topic that it seems we (or perhaps it’s just me) have mostly wanted to avoid.

Please enjoy it, comment, and forward this to friends.

What do the next years hold?

Making predictions is complicated once we understand that the system we are trying to predict is a complex one, of interwoven forces that affect each other, each layering one atop the next. And that we don’t have clarity of when certain technical breakthroughs will occur or how political forces will shape the implementation of technologies (or vice versa).

If we are trying to predict something we have to cope with major challenges. At what level of abstraction should or can we make predictions? And what will be the impact on other industries? At the level of technological progress (chips will get faster, the cost of genome sequencing will decline, the development of new materials is faster...), or at a highly macro level that describes population aggregates. I think we have to zoom in and out all the time to understand the complexity and influence of those things. Thinking between those two perspectives is most relevant for understanding how our lives will change. This is where things get complicated and where our social institutions (like cities, firms, industries, communities) exist: where, in short, we spend most of our time.

What to expect here?

How do we find meaning when the world is on the verge of collapse from forces that seem to be beyond our control?

We are all facing different realities and we have our own thoughts on climate change, economy, and politics. While I have been aware of and deeply considering this reality for some time, I have not yet written about my considerations or conclusions, mostly because I have been afraid of the implications of doing so and also because I have been unwilling to face the stark reality fully.

Today that changes because I do believe and have concluded that the greater call of this crisis is to turn directly towards our fears and face them, overcome our own insecurities, and come into a collective sense-making that could be the only path toward a solution. We no longer have time to waste on a desire for perfection. I will write several articles with the awareness of my own limitations, and also a desire to educate, inform and empower all those who read it into the next level of personal awareness and awakening that could actually result in collective change.

Even as I write those words, I am aware of the part of me that says I am crazy to think that anything I write could make any sort of a significant difference and that I should just keep my head down, stay focused on earning a living and paying the bills, and make my own personal plans for weathering the proverbial and literal storm in as much comfort as possible.

And yet, it is exactly this thinking that we must overcome, both personally and collectively. I surface my own shadow thoughts around it all here in support of perhaps helping you see these thoughts in yourself, and perhaps become willing to make choices that may confront your own sense of meaning. I am willing to go out on a limb and share my views and the choices I am making because, I believe, as many of us as a possible must, if we have any hope for the future of humanity.

Over the past several years, I have had the immense honor to be learning directly and indirectly from some of the great thinkers and sense-makers of our time.

What I have learned in my relationship with each of these people is that I must not give up hope. And I hope you don’t either.

Instead, we must first face the reality, then feel the despair fully and finally, on the other side, continue to dream and live into a new future.

In the last few years, I understand that we do not yet have an economic system to support us in the new era, while at the same time we cannot sustain current levels of economic growth.

My take on this is that we will need to come together to create something new, and it’s happening, and it likely will happen as a result of “force”, not “choice” because we are all so addicted to the current capitalistic structures in which we live. And we have to come up with alternatives for the new era.

Those of us who are wise will get ahead of the coming “force” by converting our current business and personal structures to “share the wealth” paradigms, which we have not learned or been taught, and which it’s time for us to invent, anew.

This will require us to, first and foremost, learn how to share and collaborate. You may think you already learned how to share, but if you really look at your life and the lives of those around you, you’ll likely see that’s not actually the case.

Maybe you’ve learned to become great at creating your own wealth, but how are you sharing it? And I don’t mean just by paying people to work for you. But, truly, how are you sharing what you are creating?

Maybe you think you don’t have anything to share. And that’s the foundation from which you get to build a new understanding of wealth creation.

In order to “share the wealth” we must begin to recognize that wealth comes in many, many, many forms. And not everyone needs to (or even should) earn money, but everyone does need to (and should) be well-compensated for their contributions to the collective.

So, what is in the emergent field and what is each of our individual roles within it? Or, as I am asking myself, what can I do?

To begin with, I can share what I am doing.

These are the 9 most important things I’ve identified in my own life, so far. If you have any more to add, please share them with me. I’ll come back at a future time and write up a whole article on what I’ve discovered about each of these 9 at a later date, and then link them when done.

  1. Find Your Tribe

  2. Find Your Northstar

  3. Heal Your Core Wounds and Traumas

  4. Learn How to Become Personally (and Collectively) Sovereign

  5. Heal Your Relationship With Your Parents and Start Co-Creating With Them Now

  6. Don´t invest in unsustainable Assets, invest in Impact or ESG Assets

  7. Learn to Live in Close Quarters and With Less Stuff

  8. Listen to Nature and Follow Her Direction and Guidance

  9. Be free (that is probably the hardest one to understand)

And please, I’d love to read your suggestions for the shape of the next decades and your thoughts on the comments below.

Happy Day!

Best wishes,
Malte

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