Author bio

I was born in 1967 and was a very sensitive, intellectual and dreamy child. I was always consumed by questions like, “Where did I come from?” “Why am I here?” “Where am I going?” so of course, embedded as I was in a culture that sees science and reason as the source of truth, I tried to “figure out” the answers. I graduated from Yale University with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy, but my development of reason and intellect brought me no closer to any truth I really cared about.

Charles Eisenstein I didn’t know what I was searching for, but I knew that none of the usual options life presents a Yale graduate attracted me. I went to Taiwan, learned Chinese, and soon found myself working as a translator. I spent most of my 20s there, educating myself broadly in Eastern spiritual traditions. I also read voraciously: books on politics, environment, health, religion, physics, and biology. Translation led to other business opportunities, and I became familiar with this dimension of the human experience. In Taiwan, I met my dear friend and ex-wife Patsy, with whom I have three children, all boys.

In my late 20s I entered what was to be a long period of intensifying crisis. It started when all my professional work became intolerable. It became excruciating to do work I didn’t care about. Even though a million reasons told me why it was irresponsbible, impractical, and foolish to quit, I eventually could not make myself do it anymore. An irrepressible feeling, “I am not here to be doing this!” took control of my life. So I entered a long period of searching. I spent time teaching yoga, learning about herbs, and teaching at Penn State’s department of Science, Technology, and Society. I wrote a beautiful little book called The Yoga of Eating. All of these endeavors have contributed to my present and future, but none were really me.

I entered the flow of my true work in 2003, when I began writing The Ascent of Humanity, a process which took four years. I put my heart and soul into that book. I couldn’t find a publisher for it, so I published it myself in 2007. Soon thereafter, the book’s theme of separation, breakdown, crisis, and emergence took on a personal significance, as I went through divorce, bankruptcy, health breakdowns, and other losses. Much as is happening to our civilization, the old ways stopped working for me. This experience has deeply informed my thinking about money and economics.

I became interested in the money system as I was researching The Ascent of Humanity and exploring how money as we know it embodies and perpetuates the defining stories of our civilization: separation and ascent. When the financial crisis hit in 2008, I posted several articles on the website Reality Sandwich offering this macrocosmic perspective. The articles generated a huge response and were reprinted hundreds of times across the internet. That is what prompted me to enter deeply into the study of economics and to write my latest book, Sacred Economics. By now, my previous book and articles had spread widely and I had the connections and audience to consider publishing the new book with a publisher. I eventually reached an agreement with North Atlantic Books, who is publishing it under the Evolver Editions imprint. I admire this company not only for the many visionary books they publish, but also for their courage in agreeing to my unusual demands, including full online text and a Creative Commons copyright.

Since 2009 I have been on the faculty of the Health Arts and Sciences program at Goddard College, where I am sort of the resident generalist and public intellectual. I never thought I would feel so at home in an academic setting. Well, it really isn’t academic in the traditional sense. The educational model is very radical: self-directed learning in a holistic context. My role for the student is to read, to listen, to challenge, to respond, to hold container, offer resources, to mirror, to mentor.

I also do a lot of public speaking, both on money-related topics and on topics of civilization, transition, consciousness, technology, and transformation. You may contact me through the comments of this website or through http://www.ascentofhumanity.com.

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9 Responses to Author bio

  1. Rob Brennan says:

    I discovered your website yesterday through ‘Scope’, a New Zealand based website. I have read all your recent articles and biographical notes. You are a prime example of the joys of the internet. You have a fresh way of looking at the world, especially our current capitalist system. Your ideas on the economists’ fiction of limitless economic growth, the interest trap and the underappreciated illusion of money provide another independent but similar perspective on matters I have been considering more and more post-October 2008. Included in that prior reading/viewing are the movies ‘Zietgeist’, “Inside Job” and “Money Wars” as well as various reading about peak oil (“Crude” by Sonia Shah”), “Collapse” by Jared Diamond, Michael Ruppert and of course Noam Chomsky. It seems undeniable given the $13.3 trillion publically acknowledged debt the US federal government has, and the present stand off in congress over an increase in that limit, that the game is up and cannot continue for much longer. I find it remarkable that the mainstream media give these issues so little coverage, but focus instead on celebrity gossip etc. It is a case of ‘look the other way’. It is great you are expounding alternative ways of being and seeing.
    Keep up the good work. You and these other people of courage and insight will make a difference by providing an enquiring public with a new way of seeing the world. First comes knowledge and awareness, then comes change.

  2. Joanne Leslie says:

    Charles, I’m curious if you’ve read and what you think about Alvin Toffler’s The Third Wave? I just picked it up this summer at a used book store (having read Future Shock many years before). I was impressed that in 1980 Toffler was able to forsee so much of what has transpired in the 30 years since and especially the way he understood the connections between globalization, environmental stress, economic disintegration, technological change etc. etc.

    • I haven’t read it, and have only a general impression of Toffler. I remember he thought an Age of Leisure was imminent, and predicted something like 150 vacation days a year by the year 2000. That would have put us in line with a hunter-gatherer or high Medieval peasant, but it hasn’t happened (because of the money system, which relentlessly channels new productivity toward increasing consumption not decreasing work.)

  3. Nathc73 says:

    Bonjour,

    Please make sure your book is translated in French and keep one for me ! Merci

  4. Daniel Prater says:

    Ian, I’m with Occupy Oakland and Occupy Davis, and thank you for writing your books. We need your intellectual power as part of our movement and I am writing to solicit your advice and counsel for our upcoming statement of beliefs. I feel we will have a long and fruitful conversation and I am eager to get it started right away, as time is of the essence.

  5. Daniel Prater says:

    I had the recent movie’s director’s name in my head when I began writing; sorry Charles, my apologies.

  6. irene bienkowski says:

    Dear Charles,
    You have lifted my heart.Thank You! Oh, and by the way,are you Bahai ?
    best to you!

  7. Jonathan Locke says:

    Holy moly! You’re suggesting we look through the other end of the telescope!? 🙂

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