Charles Eisenstein

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Charles Eisenstein
Born1967 (age 54–55)
OccupationAuthor, public speaker, activist
Alma materYale University
SubjectEnvironmentalism, economics, spirituality, philosophy
Notable worksThe Ascent of Humanity (2007), Sacred Economics (2011), The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible (2013)

Charles Eisenstein (born 1967) is an American public speaker and author. His work covers a wide range of topics, including the history of human civilization, economics, spirituality, and the ecology movement. Key themes explored include anti-consumerism, interdependence, and how myth and narrative influence culture. According to Eisenstein, global culture is immersed in a destructive "story of separation", and one of the main goals of his work is to present an alternative "story of interbeing". Much of his work draws on ideas from Eastern philosophy and the spiritual teachings of various indigenous peoples. Eisenstein has been involved in the Occupy, New Economy, and permaculture movements.


Born in 1967, Eisenstein graduated from Yale University in 1989 with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy. He lived in Taiwan for nine years, where he became fluent in Mandarin Chinese and worked as a translator.[1] He married there, had children, and later returned to the United States. He describes his late 20s through his mid 30s as "a long period of intensifying crisis". During this time, he held short term positions as a construction worker, college instructor, and yoga teacher, but spent most of his time as a stay-at-home dad. He then spent four years writing The Ascent of Humanity, which was published in 2007 and became his first commercially successful book, launching his writing career. Eisenstein has four sons; one with his current wife, Stella, and three with his previous wife, Patsy.[2] He currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina.[3][4][5]


The Ascent of Humanity[edit]

The Ascent of Humanity, published in 2007, draws together Eisenstein's thoughts about the history of human civilization. It explores the development of what he calls the "separate human realm", drawing distinctions between hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies. In Eisenstein's view, a greater sense of separation from nature began with the emergence of agriculture and has been accelerating to the present day.

Other themes include the role of various languages, mathematics, art, religions and other symbolic systems to structure subjective reality at the levels of the individual and of culture. He argues that these have a strong, largely unconscious effect on attitudes toward time and the natural world.

It was read on the Unwelcome Guests radio show and the reading was later released as an audiobook.[6][7]

Sacred Economics[edit]

Eisenstein wrote his 2011 book Sacred Economics as part of the New Economy movement.[8] The book revolves around the theme of how the current monetary system based on interest and usury, along with the abandonment of the gift economy, led to social alienation, competition and need for an economic system predicated on continuous growth.[9][10] It has been either fully or partially translated into at least nine languages.[11][12] Accordingly, his primary goal is the reestablishment of some form of gift economy as a means of strengthening relationships in contrast to money economies which commodify our relationships and render people interchangeable.[13][14] He asserts that money is created by the conversion of free human interactions into paid services.[15][a] Eisenstein himself attempts to practice the gift economy in his own life.[16]

The book explores additional economic proposals including a negative-interest currency following Silvio Gesell, social dividends, economic degrowth, and a personal emphasis on right livelihood over financial motivation.[17] In other writings, he has also advocated for universal basic income.[18] He describes and rejects what he describes as the myth of scarcity which he claims fosters greed and anxiety.[17][19]

The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible[edit]

The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible was published in November 2013.[20] It argues that many of the social, economic, political, and environmental problems covered in his earlier works can be traced to an underlying worldview that he calls the "Story of Separation"—that humans are separate from each other and from the rest of the natural world. A new story that is emerging, the "Story of Interbeing", is a "story of the world that we really care about". The book describes this as a time of transition between these stories: "Internally, it [the transition] is ... a transformation in the experience of being alive. Externally is it ... a transformation of humanity's role on planet Earth". He deconstructs the old story while describing the new. For example, the best way to interrupt the story of separation is to give someone an experience of non-separation. Publishers' Weekly described it as "a revolutionary and interactive book—in the sense that it inspires the reader to think out of the ordinary", adding that Eisenstein "will be noted in antiquity as one of the seminal and pioneering storytellers of this new world".[21]

Climate—A New Story[edit]

Climate—A New Story was published in 2018. It is described as 'flipping the script on climate change', and addresses the framing, tactics and goals of our approach to environmental issues. Eisenstein proposes that if we were to feel that the rivers, forests, and creatures of the natural and material world were sacred or at least valuable in their own right, then our response might be more wholesome and ultimately effective. He decries valuing the living world simply for its carbon credits or for preventing the extinction of one species or another.[22]

Other work[edit]

Eisenstein has published op-ed pieces in The Guardian and The Huffington Post on topics including genetic modification, the patenting of seeds[23][24] and debt.[25][26] He is a contributing editor at the website Reality Sandwich.[27] He appeared on Oprah Winfrey's Super Soul Sunday on July 16, 2017.[28]

Eisenstein periodically publishes essays on his website.[29]


In 2013, journalist and author Rory Spowers described Eisenstein as a "refreshing new voice", saying that he is young, fresh, well-informed, humble but articulate, with a very spiritual perspective. He added that Eisenstein is too intelligent to be confrontational but that, through his works, especially The Ascent of Humanity and Sacred Economics, "he's really moved the whole thing along in a number of ways".[30] Eisenstein was influential in the Occupy Movement[14][31]


  • The Open Secret, 2001, Authorhouse ISBN 978-0759655775
  • The Yoga of Eating: Transcending Diets and Dogma to Nourish the Natural Self , 2003, NewTrends Publishing ISBN 978-0967089720
  • The Ascent of Humanity. Civilization and the Human Sense of Self, 2007, Panenthea Productions ISBN 978-0977622207
  • Transformational Weight Loss, 2007, Panenthea Press ISBN 978-0977622214
  • Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition, 2011, EVOLVER EDITIONS ISBN 978-1583943977
  • The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible. The Vision and Practice of Interbeing, 2013, North Atlantic Books ISBN 978-1-583-94724-1
  • Climate: A New Story, 2018, North Atlantic Books ISBN 978-1623172480


  1. ^ Cf. McKnight, John. The careless society.


  1. ^ Christopher Ryan (May 15, 2019). "377, Charles Eisenstein". Tangentially Speaking (Podcast). Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  2. ^ "About Charles".
  3. ^ "Charles Eisenstein, Living the New Economy, Nov 19, 2012 Vancouver, BC". Archived from the original on 30 September 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  4. ^ "Charles Eisenstein, Author". Retrieved 30 December 2012.
  5. ^ "Unwelcome Guests #532 - Hearing the Inner Calling". Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Ascent of Humanity - UnwelcomeGuests".
  8. ^ Ginghină 2012, p. 60.
  9. ^ Phillips, Jonathan Talat (8 October 2012). "Waxing 'Sacred Economics' with Charles Eisenstein". The Blog - HuffPost. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  10. ^ Ginghină, A. (2012). "Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition". Romanian Review of Social Sciences. 3: 60–63.
  11. ^ "Sacred Economics Read Online". Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  12. ^ Eisenstein, Charles (2012). Kutsal Ekonomi: Geçiş çağında para, armağan ve toplum. ISBN 978-6054054916.
  13. ^ Ginghină 2012, p. 62.
  14. ^ a b Hill 2012.
  15. ^ Hill, Gregg (2012). "Sacred Economics Author Charles Eisenstein with Integral New York". Integral Leadership Review. 12 (2): 1–3.
  16. ^ Ginghină 2012, p. 62f.
  17. ^ a b Ginghină 2012, p. 61.
  18. ^ McLeod, Cameron (28 April 2017). "Charles Eisenstein: basic income as "technology of reunion"". Basic Income Earth Network. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  19. ^ "Permaculture and the myth of scarcity". Resilience. 3 September 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  20. ^ Eisenstein, Charles D. The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic, 2013. Print.
  21. ^ "The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible". Reviews. PWxyz. Retrieved 25 February 2014. ... the underlying—and largely unexamined—"normal" worldview and story that programs human responses; he calls it the "Story of Separation." The good news is that simultaneously a new story is emerging, the Story of Interbeing, a "story of the world that we really care about." This book is a guide through this time of transition between stories: "Internally, it [the transition] is nothing less than a transformation in the experience of being alive. Externally is it nothing less than a transformation of humanity's role on planet Earth." Eisenstein brilliantly deconstructs the old story and simultaneously weaves an ambitious and empowering narrative of the new story, relating real life stories that demonstrate the best way to interrupt the story of separation: give someone an experience of non-separation. This is a revolutionary and interactive book—in the sense that it inspires the reader to think out of the ordinary. Eisenstein will be noted in antiquity as one of the seminal and pioneering storytellers of this new world.
  22. ^ Climate—A New Story. Amazon. 18 September 2018. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  23. ^ Eisenstein, Charles (9 October 2012). "Genetically modifying and patenting seeds isn't the answer". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  24. ^ Eisenstein, Charles (9 January 2018). "Opposition To GMOs Is Neither Unscientific Nor Immoral". HuffPost. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  25. ^ Eisenstein, Charles (3 September 2012). "We can't grow ourselves out of debt, no matter what the Federal Reserve does". The Guardian. London: Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  26. ^ Eisenstein, Charles (12 November 2012). "Why Occupy's plan to cancel consumer debts is money well spent". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  27. ^ Eisenstein, Charles. "Charles Eisenstein". Reality Sandwich. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  28. ^ "Author Charles Eisenstein on Creating Deeper Connections in Just 60 Seconds".
  29. ^ Eisenstein, Charles. "Essays". Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  30. ^ Spowers, Rory (2013). "Green tea & man-eating tigers". The Advisor. Archived from the original on 2 September 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2013. Who else inspires you? The most refreshing new voice is a guy called Charles Eisenstein, who's very involved with the Occupy movement. His magnum opus is The Ascent Of Humanity and his most recent book is Sacred Economics. He's really moved the whole thing along in a number of ways. He's young and fresh and informed from a very spiritual perspective. Humble, but articulate; he's not banging a drum and he's not confrontational. He's too intelligent for that.
  31. ^ Spowers 2013.

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