Awakening in a World in Unprecedented Transition with Duane Elgin

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The collective human family is straddling unprecedented, threshold times. We’re living in the most difficult transition humanity will ever have to make. This situational crisis is so much more than climate change; it’s a whole system change. Yet, despite the extreme nature of our situation, we’re also living in a moment of immense possibility. In the words of Francis Weller in the preface of the revised edition of the book Choosing Earth, he writes, "Even though it is difficult, even though your heart breaks a thousand times, we must go through this time of collective initiation in order to take our place as responsible adults collaborating in the creation of a healthy and vibrant community of all beings.” Scientist Gus Speth, former director of the Council on Environmental Quality, states that the top environmental problems are not biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, and climate change. He concludes that what we need is a spiritual and cultural transformation. Elgin concludes that when we realize that we live in an immense sea of a living universe, a new kind of domain of aliveness with new kinds of potentials are going to emerge. (hosted by Justine Wilis Toms) 


Duane Elgin, Ph.D.(hon) is a visionary futurist, educator, and Citizen-Voice Activist who received the Goi Pace Award in Japan in recognition of his contributions to a global vision that fosters a “more sustainable and spiritual culture.”. Duane is currently the Co-director of the Choosing Earth Project. 

Duane Elgin is the author of many books including: 

  • Awakening Earth: Exploring the Evolution of Human Culture and Consciousness (William Morrow 1993)
  • Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That Is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich (Harper 2010)
  • The Living Universe: Where Are We? Who Are We? Where Are We Going? (Barrett Koehler Publishers 2009)
  • Promise Ahead: A Vision of Hope and Action for Humanity’s Future the Living Universe (William Morrow 2000)
  • Choosing Earth: Humanity’s Journey of Initiation through Breakdown and Collapse to Mature Planetary Community (Revised Edition) (Duane Elgin 2022) 

To learn more about the work of Duane Elgin go to

Topics explored in this dialogue include: 

  • How our situational challenge is so much more than climate change
  • Why we must get beyond thinking that we can fix this crisis and pull together for a higher level of maturity as we go through this time of deep initiation as a species
  • How we are living in CPTS—Chronic Planetary Traumatic Stress
  • What are three possible scenarios for our present planetary crises
  • What does authoritarianism look like
  • What does functional extinction look like
  • What does initiation from an adolescent culture to one of mature adult culture look like
  • A mature adult society turns rebellion into collaboration, recklessness into discernment, and separation into cliques and in-groups that grow into concern for well-being of a larger community
  • How we need to see ourselves as one species and build community on a global scale
  • How we are not living in a dead universe made up of only material bits. Rather we are part of a living, dynamic universe
  • The function of initiation is ultimately for the well-being of the community
  • How we are patterned into the soil, the earth of our being, and need to claim our residence in the living Earth
  • How we need to metaphorically reboot ourselves and install a new system of software to move from competition, aggression, and consumerism to cooperation, collaboration, and a paradigm of symbiosis, or mutualism
  • Why aliveness is our only true wealth, an inseparable part of the cosmic, biological, nature of the universe and must be felt as a direct experience
  • Why it is important for people to tap into their true inner gift and contribute it to the well-being of the community
  • How can communications technology help us to culturally shift from adolescence to maturing adulthood
  • How do we find trustworthy information 

Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 10/20/2023   Program Number: 3800

Music Playlist

Album: Secret Story
Artist: Pat Metheny

Essay music: Track 2 - Facing West
Music 1: Track 06 - Sunlight
Music 2: Track 09 - See The World
Music 3: Track 07 - Rain River