Dancing With Dystopia: Notes On Crafting the Future

Feb 24 Dispatch

Will Franks 🌊


The nature of mind

Is the mind of nature

Listen and remember

The dreaming earth


And participate

Last week I opened Jem Bendell’s Deep Adaptation Review. This is surely one of the most honest and reasonable pieces of literature you will find on the web about humanity’s unfolding future, a time of unprecedented global transformation. I highly recommend you subscribe to it.

If you’re not already familiar, Deep Adaptation is the idea that is very likely too late to prevent a global systems collapse, so the task that falls to us is how to adapt, how to navigate an unfolding crisis without burying our heads in the sand and pretending everything is going to carry on as normal.

It’s good for me to read this stuff. It activates me in a significant and meaningful way. It brings online both my Earth protector and my animal survival mode. Not always exactly comfortable, but it brings me back to what’s actually happening in the world, and what could happen in the coming decades. It grounds me in the reality of the extreme situation we are collectively facing. If I am grounded in this way, I can grow into the world like a flower, bringing beauty, the beauty of kindness, wherever I go.

There is a helpful saying from the Dzogchen (Atiyoga) tradition: “Always work with situations and circumstances”

Even when they are very challenging and extreme, we can use our conditions to awaken, connect and create.

We can discover that no matter what the conditions are, we can love. Ourselves, one another, all beings, all life on earth. Hence un-conditional love.

The Deep Adaptation review included one particular quote that I want to respond to:

“Some doomeratti [people who talk about systemic collapse] like to preach that humanity is going through a dark night of the soul to emerge with a higher consciousness. Strands of that thought include the idea that there is a direction to evolution, with humans at the leading edge.

“Guilty!” I thought when I read this.

As you may know, I have worked to promote this narrative in pieces like The Age of Global Awakening, Enter the Dragon, and Beyond Transcendental Buddhism.

To this day, these feel like some of the most important articles I have written, and they continue to bring clarity and meaning to my life in a collapsing world. These grand narratives are vital in helping us to maintain a vision of a brighter future on the other side of collapse; to bring meaning to an explosion of worldly suffering: because now we can see and even feel that it is all working towards something.

No suffering is wasted or meaningless; it is all being integrated into the collective soul of humanity. As a result, that soul is learning and evolving and awakening in an unprecedented way.

That said, this narrative is not without opposition.

Jem Bendell challenged this view as a product of modern culture, rather than transcending that culture. “It can arise from an emotional avoidance,” he said, “by displacing attention from how to be wise and compassionate in the unfolding malaise, and instead sharing stories about various kinds of salvation. People who live closer to nature, in cultures that are closer to nature, neither pontificate about a global awakening nor need to do that in order to experience unity with nature, or to be kind and wise towards people and beings in their local sphere of influence. To valorise global thinking is, at best, racially unaware, and could, at worst, lead to backing for globalist totalitarian schemes.”

Despite this critique, I stand by the Global Awakening narrative as an immensely important source of clarity in challenging times.

I respond not to defend myself but to defend the narrative – and therefore the possibility – of global awakening. Staying grounded, and visionary. “Pragmatic Utopianism”, as it is sometimes called.

Here is what I don’t see Bendell factoring in to his critique:

  • The global awakening narrative includes collapse and actually sees it as a necessary factor in driving our evolution. Collapse is the “pressure cooker” that is already driving humanity to source, discover and embody deep latent potentials for kindness, creativity and connectivity… the suffering will proceed and intensify until our awareness of interdependence is utterly unavoidable and we find ourselves transformed. In a way, Global Awakening is not so much a narrative but a process that is already in motion and has been for hundreds of thousands of years. This is the very process of human evolution into evermore incredible unrealised potentials… we need to shed the limitations of our brutal, feudal, violent, survivalist history, if we are to enter a New Age of awakened collective consciousness. Ongoing evolution across many lifetimes later culminates in the birth of the diamond soul: the embodied incarnation of the diamond luminosity (dharmakaya, empty infinite Buddha nature) into the embodied form(s) of all humans everywhere. What’s more, it appears that the collective soul of humanity, or species-soul is undergoing such a process, in and through us individuals… by this view, collapse is a collective ego-death that makes possible a collective rebirth as a transformed humanity. Then a new set of challenges will present themselves, and the creative evolutionary process continues. Who we will be after collapse? After regenerating Gaia and illuminating the shared “species-soul” of our entire species?
  • Actually the Global Awakening narrative includes the necessity of Deep Adaptation (to near-future systemic collapse); there cannot be a collective shift in consciousness if we do not successfully navigate and survive the coming decades.
  • The Global Awakening narrative includes ongoing reincarnation of individuals – and the collective – over vast stretches of time. The deep adaptation narrative, in general, does not: it is still game over when you die. This worldview is very different to one where everything you do, you have to live with for countless lifetimes. And so does everybody else! The ethos of universal connectivity and infinite consequences that emerge from reincarnational metaphysics, is exactly what we need right now to act responsibly in times of scarcity and crisis. The planet is being wrecked because many billions of young souls are simply still arriving in this supremely majestic imaginal gameworld (the universe) and getting the hang of interdependent embodied co-creation. As these souls mature and refine their characters, their priorities move away from survival and towards altruism. And so a Global Awakening slowly, painfully, gloriously unfolds. Only, it may well take a few very difficult lifetimes on an overheated planet for these potentials to ripen and for the collective shift into an altruistic sustainable global civilisation to occur. With each successive lifetime, individuals are gaining huge amounts of learning and as a result, evolve – especially if you fill that lifetime with transformative, healing and awakening practices.
  • The Global Awakening narrative – or vision – originally emerges from meetings with a benevolent universal consciousness. Not from modern culture! From psychonauts to meditators to indigenous cultures, the prophetic visions of Global Awakening are a recurrent theme throughout history. These encounters with the divine creative intelligence, who lives not outside of but as the material universe, are revealing time and again that there is an loving intention behind humanity’s appearance in the cosmos, and also behind our ongoing evolution and collective awakening. In any case, the intelligence and creativity of the universe is our very own intelligence, coming to know its primordially infinite nature in and through the human person – and collective!Reading list: Duane Elgin’s Awakening Earth, The Living Universe and Chris Bache’s LSD and the Mind and the Universe.
  • Global awakening is racially inclusive and integrative in a complete sense, because it necessarily involves every single member of humanity – and the wider biosphere! Nobody is exempt from suffering, and nobody’s suffering is wasted or irrelevant to the collected learning experience of the species; it is all being integrated into the awakening species-soul. It is inclusive also because reincarnation dissolves all boundaries: a person who remembers their past lives may well recall having been African, Asian, a man, a woman, a king, a beggar, a priest, a farmer, a mother, a monkey, an eagle…

I personally believe (and hope!) that even in the event of absolute catastrophe, say a global nuclear war and runaway overheating (releasing both the methane dragon and the clathrate cannon)… it is likely that at least some humans will still survive.

I believe this due to:

  • the ingenuity and adaptability of humans,
  • the sheer number of us on the planet,
  • the possibility of shelter from catastrophe (e.g. living in a bunker for years or even decades),
  • the availability of technology to keep us alive (such as long-life food, water purifiers, solar panels, etc).

In this case, if we have even a handful of reproducing humans, then the conditions are sufficient for individuals to keep reincarnating and to bring all the learning and evolution of their past lives with them. Perhaps I’m too hopeful and optimistic; this too is a common critique of Global Awakening. But if we can’t hold the narrative and the vision, how can we work towards realising it? The alternative is a vision of death and demise as the only option; if this is our guiding star then we are condemned from the outset and robbed of our motivation to live and die for a regenerated planet – and humanity.

Would it change the way you live in earth, if you knew that you were going to come back to live here in a generation’s time?

Two generations? Three? Seven? Twenty?

In a one-lifetime worldview, the basic priority is my survival and welfare. Because after death, there is just nothing.

It doesn’t matter if we fuck up the earth, because when I die, I’m leaving forever!

In an ongoing reincarnation worldview (until you gain the meditative insight to forego further incarnations and transcend this universe, should you want to), the priority is the ongoing welfare and evolution of all living beings. Because we’re all in this together for eternity, our actions have endless rippling consequences.

Even if collapse spells the end of humanity, it will not be the end of our reincarnating souls – so the root causes of our collective suffering will not simply go away with collapse, they just get “transplanted” to another psycho-physical matrix / cosmos / lifeworld.

AND the reason for our current collective psychosis – culminating in global collapse – is that we are currently feeling and processing the accumulated karma of aeons of past behaviours in a violent world. We are healing the past. The collective unconscious is coming to the surface, opening space for us for us to grow into incredible latent potentials.

Some of the key questions that emerge from all this for me are:

  • How can I shift out of “me me me” personal survival mode and into service of the global village – my family – at this intense and unpredictable time? How to best use this “calm before the storm” to develop inner and outer systems for ongoing survival and flourishing?
  • How can we live and act so that the extreme hardship of the coming decades does not drive us apart, but brings us together?
  • How can we gain such a knowledge of abundance – really, of our own infinite nature – that the apparent material scarcity of an overheating world – and crumbling of our life support systems – does not paralyse us, but spurs us into further creative evolutionary action, form a place of universal kindness and solidarity?
  • Which actions will best serve the living earth, the soils and forests and rivers and fields and glaciers and oceans, at this time?
  • How to catalyse rapid cultural transformation, such that we can reclaim land from the elites, build decentralised local democracy, and collectively “dig for victory”, much like Britain did in the Second World War, or like Cuba did (planting vegetables on every available patch of land) when the US imposed a trade embargo?

This is why I’m in a meditation centre while the world is on the brink of systemic collapse. I’m training my capacity to serve, to show up in presence and love. To find my unique offering and forge a boldly creative path through the chaos; a path that actually assuages suffering and brings meaning, hope, love, joy. To get out of solitary hero-mode (actually a survival strategy) and recognise my unbreakable kinship with all living beings. I want that heartfelt knowing of togetherness to be the foundation of all my work, otherwise I’m just reinforcing separation. And it needs to extend, this feeling of kinship, to the vital vibrancy of our non-human biosphere, our wider family of birds, mammals, trees, rivers, skies and mountains upon whom I/we fundamentally depend.

Contemplating collapse also takes me to survival mode, as I mentioned:

A likely outcome of unfolding collapse is that billions of people are going to die, and I may very well be one of them. I so, so, hope that this doesn’t happen. We all do.

But as Deep Adaptation teaches us: we need to be prepared for this outcome.

Part of that preparation comes from “collapse transcendence”, as Bendell calls it.

If I am confident in my non-identification with this specific life and person, relating to it more like a particular character in my closet (which is infinite vast), then I can rest in the knowing of my infinite nature and ability to keep reincarnating in order to serve life on earth.


I guess if we don’t succeed and humanity does go extinct, there will be “no more room at the inn”, we will still be able search the astral plane for other worlds, realms, civilisations to continue our work…

  • How will we feed everybody when the planet cannot? Are there tech solutions for this? After all, conventional farming is about to fail. We now face the ecological engineering problem of feeding humanity on an overheated planet.

Feed everybody: can we do it? If there is enough food, I think we have a massive buffer against social collapse. I’m unsure about “ferming” (brewing food with GM microbes) but possibly there are solutions here. See George Monbiot’s articles about this, and search promising companies like “SolarFoods”. As I see it, we simply need to find a way to feed humanity that does not depend on conventional farming, because soon the soil and ground simply will not produce enough to sustain us. Would I rather die than eat grey sludge from a vat, provided by yet another greedy multinational corporation? Probably not, to be honest. However, it’s important not to overlook the spiritual and psychological diseases that created the crisis in the first place – without uprooting and healing these, then even if we are fed, even fat, the suffering will continue.

So yeah – I do think that we are about to get launched into dystopian nightmare. Many of our global family have already been crushed and killed by modern culture’s violent madness. But: the intensity of this situation is already prompting profound creativity and evolutionary shifting.

  • Can we birth utopian societies within that collective stormcloud? Rainbows in a hurricane?
  • Can we design social systems such that even in times of extreme scarcity, societal fabric remains intact and even flourishing? Can we prevent societal collapse even in the case of ecological, economic, political and systemic collapse?
  • Where will I go? Who with? Why?

I find myself fantasising about “safe havens” in Scandinavia or possibly even Siberia, as populations migrate north to bearable temperatures and arable land. But when there are billions of us on the move, can there be any hope of security? Or should I go south, to be of service in the exploding populations of “refugee cities”?

  • Will I prioritise service or staying with my family and friends?
  • Will any of my current skills be relevant when there is no food, gas, electricity or water? Which skills will I wish I had trained in? Are they available now?
  • How to leverage my privileges for the benefit of all, and not (attempt to) escape into ignorance and false comfort?
  • How to recognise and uproot unconscious biases so that I’m not prioritising the survival of educated white rich people?
  • How to live in total solidarity with the life-and-death struggles of our family around the world, many of whom are already losing their homes, animals, homelands and even their lives as a result of climate chaos?
  • How to not be a rescuer, unconsciously playing out a low drama scenario in which I treat others as victims, failing to see and their own radical responsibility? How to navigate collapse free from low drama: without blame, without victimhood, without rescuing? Tall order, but it’s possible. The answer is radical responsibility.
  • How to feel and process the intense emotional landscape of this? The fear, anger and sadness? How to consciously use those feelings to inner-navigate, to embody my soul’s quest and find my archetypal lineage?
  • How to maintain heartfelt connection to the cosmic joke, great perfection, divine order and pre-ordained nature of this trial by fire?

The night is dark, but the dawn is coming. The cosmic party, the great fiesta, is already underway. We are all invited!

Human evolution is perhaps the ultimate tragicomedy.

And this is going to be an act and a half.

There is no script.

There is no ground.

There is no end.

The only option?



And forever!

  • How to stay in touch with the vision that this explosion of suffering is a necessary initiation for the evolution of humanity and the regeneration of the planet? That this is exactly what I need to learn and evolve right now – to open my heart and awaken to my true unbounded nature?

In my experience as a meditator it makes a MASSIVE difference if you know that the “dark night” material that you are experiencing is actually a sign of progress in insight and awakening. If you don’t, then when you are beset by demons, you may very well fall into despair. The dark night can “really fuck up your life”. Well, our collective dark night is very clearly fucking things up for almost everybody alive right now – it has fucked our planet up beyond repair!

And life cannot be repaired, as Mircea Eliade wrote. But it can be recreated.

That is the task of this lifetime: to recreate ourselves! And we can use the evolutionary pressures of collapse to assist us: it is the alchemical fire of this moment. But you do have to burn and dissolve, in order to return as a new form. The Age of the Phoenix, no less!

I find deep solace in the view and experience of universal kindness: that every situation that we meet with is a challenge, an opportunity, a teaching in order to wake up, get more free and come home to love.

And coming home to love

Is coming home to the living earth

To ourselves

And one another.

This month, I’m also working on/towards:

  • Plotting my overland odyssey through North America. Looks like I will soon leave Mexico and begin hitchhiking the across USA, West to East, California to Boston baby – stay tuned!
  • I’ll then spend 2 months training at MAPLE: Monastic Academy for the Preservation of Life on Earth. After that, I plan to return to Europe.
  • Vajra Dance
  • Yantra Yoga
  • Guru Yoga; tantric Buddhist connection to non-physical Buddhas and bodhisattvas, receiving blessings and coming to embody buddha nature, (empty luminous awareness, infinite kindness and creativity), the natural and primordial state of all living beings. (Note: it works.)
  • A Citizen’s Manifesto for the Meta-Universe.
  • A 40-day pilgrimage with 12 madhat yogins across the sacred sites of Westernmost Albion, the ancient wind-worn county of Cornwall. This autumn…
  • A year of NO WRITING upon my 30th birthday later this year. Because it’s time to get stuck in.

Stay tuned! Subscribe for more and share with your friends, if you feel moved to do so.





Will Franks 🌊

A Heartbroken Terrified Warrior Who Is So Happy To Be Here. Meditator. Researcher. Soulmaker.