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Daniel Schmachtenberger (Part 2) – Developing a Deeper Understanding of Life: Opening to the Complexity, Wholeness, and Beauty of Reality
Episode 7420th April 2023 • Deep Transformation • Deep Transformation Podcast
00:00:00 00:58:56

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Ep. 74 (Part 2 of 2) | Daniel Schmachtenberger, one of the most brilliant and integrative thinkers of our time, expresses here his deep love and appreciation for reality itself. Daniel’s inquiries have led him to perceive the intrinsic beauty of the wholeness of reality and to the realization that everything is interesting—just like when you love someone, everything about them becomes fascinating. Along with this deep appreciation comes the desire to serve and protect, and Daniel is focused on investigating the drivers of the metacrisis and how best to meet the difficult challenges it presents, a subject interwoven in this conversation with Daniel’s findings and ideas about reality, human psychology, education, and the future of the planet.

Daniel is a wonderful testament to the far reaching effects of the right kind of education. He relates how he was homeschooled by parents who set him on the path towards goodness, meaning, and beauty right from the start, and who were dedicated to facilitating his interest wherever it led, to include systems theory and how to create a better world. This is a beautiful, rich conversation filled with gems of knowledge and insight—about our human family (actually, the lack of one), the horrible deficit of fathering in modern culture, how we can orient to the sacred and the meaningful, the fact that we actually didn’t evolve to deal with the crises we face now but to negotiate successfully as members of a tribe of around 150 people, and much more. Recorded January 10, 2023.

 “I cannot imagine a context in which one’s choices matter more.”

(For Apple Podcast users, click here to view the complete show notes on the episode page.)

Topics & Time Stamps – Part 2

  • Does Daniel believe in God? (01:48)
  • In Daniel’s “The Dance of the Tao and the 10,000 Things,” he asks, “Do atoms exist? Kind of! (08:23)
  • The traps of reductionism in facing the metacrisis and how Daniel transcends them (10:49)
  • The relation of physical crises to crises of consciousness: co-informing and co-arising facets of an integrative reality (13:11)
  • Omni determinism, omni influence (16:31)
  • Marvin Harris’ framework for understanding civilization: infrastructure, social structure, and superstructure (17:19)
  • What in the interiority of human psyches, experiences & cultures are key drivers of the problems of the world? And how does our changed human genome, microbiome, and neurochemistry fit in? (19:00)
  • We evolved to have attachments to 150 people—our tribe—so everything about bonding, attachment theory, the ideas of co-dependence & interdependence evolved in a tribal setting, in fact, we did not evolve to deal with what is going on now (21:22)
  • The psychological generator function of the metacrisis results from perceiving the world as fragmented or made up of parts: conflict theory & mistake theory (23:34)
  • The Realpolitik assessment of humans: we are dumb and nasty (25:54)
  • It’s all based on a trade-off—we’re either trying to benefit ourselves now at the expense of our future selves, individually or collectively, or we just don’t realize the harm that is caused by what we do (27:26)
  • Can we survive the current unprecedented metacrisis? No chance can we make it through without the catastrophes intensifying (30:08)
  • The human family is not a real thing right now: there is no “we” (34:59)
  • How to live a meaningful life? Deeply appreciate and honor the beauty of life, be in service to the beauty of reality, and deepen the capacity for both (37:33)
  • Dharma inquiry and the vow of the bodhisattva (41:47) 
  • Where is the vow of the bodhisattva missing something? (44:09)
  • It’s not just what is my unique calling but also what needs doing that no one else wants to do? (46:19)
  • One beautiful peak experience is worth all the pain (50:00)

Resources & References – Part 2

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Daniel Schmachtenberger is a founding member of The Consilience Project, aimed at improving public sensemaking and dialogue. The throughline of his interests has to do with ways of improving the health and development of individuals and society, with a virtuous relationship between the two as a goal. Towards these ends, he’s had particular interest in the topics of catastrophic and existential risk, civilization and institutional decay and collapse, as well as progress, collective action problems, social organization theories, and the relevant domains in philosophy and science.

Motivated by the belief that advancing collective intelligence and capacity is foundational to the integrity of any civilization, and necessary to address the unique risks we currently face given the intersection of globalization and exponential technology, he has spoken publicly on many of these topics, hoping to popularize and deepen important conversations and engage more people in working towards their solutions. Many of these can be found at You can find more information about The Consilience Project at


Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell