Douglas Gillies
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an interview with


Elisabet Sahtouris



author of


A Walk Through Time and Earthdance: Living Systems

Elisabet Sahtouris was interviewed by Douglas Gillies at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Santa Barbara on April 24, 2005 as part of "Making Things Right," a continuing program sponsored by the OMEGA Program of Santa Barbara City College, Continuing Education Division.

Elisabet Sahtouris is an evolution biologist and futurist Douglas Gillies: What holds people back from doing what they can to make things right?

Elisabet Sahtouris: The limits are in our minds and we can overcome them if we are resourceful and creative. You have to find something you love doing and be a role model for the future world. If you don't love doing it, nobody will want to do it with you. I learned that from my radical days selling ugly newspapers on street corners and trying to get people to make revolutions. One say a man said to me, "What makes you think we'd be any better if we were in the White House?" That's when I realized that we need a different system, not just different people.

Douglas Gillies: Where do people get the idea that they're not enough, that they're not up to the task? It is a scarcity thought. Most of us feel that hesitation. Is this something we're taught?

Elisabet Sahtouris: I was told I couldn't be a scientist because I was a girl. Our schools are competitive. We grade people, we label people, we classify them. We tell them they have to be good enough to get ahead in this dog-eat-dog world that grew out of social Darwinism, but Darwin only saw the competitive part. Darwin was hired by Thomas Malthus, the Chief Economist of the East India Company, which was the multinational of its time. There were eight different nations with East India Company branches, including Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal, France, and Sweden. The Chief Economist said that human populations are outstripping their food supplies, so there will be great scarcity. We've got to map the territory of the Earth, assay the resources--what we can sell, what we can buy, where we can get everything we need--and get it for ourselves because there isn't enough to go around. Darwin couldn't find a good theory to explain his Origin of the Species, so he took it lock, stock and barrel from Malthusian theory.

Darwin's theory of scarcity grew out of economics, not out of science. You never have enough and you never are enough. It is deeply engrained in our culture: the universe is running down, you have get what you can when you can, you've got to compete with others, you have to be on top of things, you have to be the best. You're never enough in that system.

Douglas Gillies: When I went to school, the world was divided between the smart people and the dummies. The smart people, the scientists, believed in Darwin's theory of evolution, and the dummies were in favor of creationism. Clarence Darrow represented evolution in the Scopes Monkey trial. Recently on PBS, a professor said that all science points to Darwin and evolution. Now you say that we do not live in a natural environment that is dictated by scarcity within a universe that is running down. What is it, then?

Elisabet Sahtouris: That was an immature part of evolution. Our bodies are made up of 100 trillion cells. Each cell is so complex that it takes 30,000 recycling centers to keep the proteins in it healthy. We think it's hard to weave 6 billion people together--that's a piece of cake for Nature. How could something as vastly complex as a human body have evolved in a situation that was only about hostile competition and scarcity? How could a rain forest have evolved?

My friend Tachi Kiuchi, former CEO of Mitsubishi Electric America, went into rain forests with ecologist Bill Shireman and they wrote a book, What We Learned in the Rainforest. They wrote that there is no problem ever faced by a business that has not been faced in the rainforest. The best strategy is to create value for stakeholders, not just shareholders. The stakeholders are the poorest people on Earth. Any business that creates value for the poorest people is going to do well. This is a whole new way of looking at things. They looked at a mature, cooperative ecosystem while Darwin was stuck with the immature uncooperative one.

All of our business world is based on tyranny of the quarterly bottom line, which comes straight out of Darwin. The Holocaust was based on survival of the fittest. Chaining kids to machines in old England and chaining women to machines in Asia comes out of our scientific theories because scientists were elevated to a priesthood our culture. They were given a mandate to tell us how the world works. They are the priesthood, but their story is a bad story about things running down and competition and scarcity forever. China is already graduating six times as many engineers as the U.S. and India is graduating two times as many engineers. American kids are going to be under the stiffest competition they've ever been in if we don't learn how to build a cooperative world. We need to put all that talent into building the poorest economies in the world.

Douglas Gillies: So if we look at our own human body as a model for problem-solving and resource allocation, we're more likely to succeed in this world than if we view the world as a machine in which I have to beat you, and I have to be smarter than you, and I have to get to the goal line before you do. You're saying that the world view with which I was raised is a lie.

Elisabet Sahtouris: How well would your body work if your heart were competing with your liver and your kidneys and your blood vessels and your brain, or the heart was trying to talk the liver into becoming another heart? Monoculture is one of the strangest of human inventions. Trying to make everyone think alike and look alike doesn't work very well. The creativity is very low in most situations where the people are all alike. Creativity comes when we have different stories, different realities. Science tries to create one objective reality that we're all supposed to believe in, and there ain't no such thing.

Douglas Gillies: I thought we all agreed in this country that the one objective reality was "freedom."

Elisabet Sahtouris: Freedom to impose democracy on another country? The Greeks and Turks stopped fighting because of the earthquakes. I had a program while I was in Greece that never got off the ground in which the wife of every top politician in Greece would invite the wife of every top politician in Turkey to spend a week at their home to get to know each other.

Douglas Gillies: So many of us get a good idea like that, and then we think, "I can't do that, I don't know anybody, they're not going to listen to me." These little scripts go off in people's heads.

Elisabet Sahtouris: I think that idea might work now. At that time, I talked it up with as many women as I knew in government but it didn't fly then. Sometimes there is a time when things happen more easily than others. If you have a good idea and you really want to do it and you find you're beating your head against a wall, something is wrong. You either shelve that one, or do it differently, or get a new version of it, or get a new group of people to try it with. Be like a living system. Try things out and weave your way around and look for openings where you can get something done rather than giving up. Watch water and how it goes around rocks and finds its way.

Douglas Gillies: William C. Gough, who built and managed the Stanford Linear Accelerator, wrote in "The Mystery of Water" that hydrogen atoms in water exchange oxygen partners between 10 and 100 billion times per second.

Elisabet Sahtouris: That's why water moves and flows. A mechanistic science teaches that you have H2O, two H's and one O stuck together. They don't see the dance that keeps things fluid. You can imprint messages in water because the pattern in the dance can hold information. Homeopathy is based on diluting the amount of a substance in water over and over again until you have none of the original substance left. Many of those substances are harmful, but the pattern of the chemical substance is imprinted in the water in dilutions beyond which we can detect, and then it works as a medicine.

Dr. Emoto from the movie "What the Bleep" shows that if you send good intentions to water it crystallizes differently than when you send bad intentions. Our bodies are 70% water and other peoples' bodies are resonators with our thoughts. We're very interconnected. We exchange molecules and DNA all the time the same way water holds hands and lets go. It's a much more interesting world than the machine world we were taught.

Douglas Gillies: That is closer to my subjective experience of how my thoughts shift. I feel myself influenced by people. Subjectively, I don't live in a mechanical world. I feel more like water. Dr. Emoto demonstrated in "What the Bleep" that if we put the intention of love into water, it changes shape. He showed a picture of that. As a species, maybe we're more like water than chocolate. Hydrogen atoms are moving from oxygen to oxygen at the rate of 10 billion times a second, on the low side, and that's just a simple, two-element molecule. What's going on with the big molecules? If our intention can change the environment, then the idea of scarcity, of not being enough, is not true. If we can influence the world with our thoughts, then when we combine our thoughts with action, things will inevitably start to change.

Thank you, Dr. Elisabet Sahtouris, for calling attention to a significant distortion in the Western world view.


Interview with Elisabet Sahtouris © Concensus Designs, Inc. For permission to reprint portions of this interview, please contact East Beach® Productions.


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