Principles of the New Story

What are the Principles of the New Story that we can apply in our thinking and action? This section is written by Elizabeth Rabia Roberts, a long-time New Stories ally and friend. Rabia is an internationally known citizen activist and women’s advocate. She is MaShieka—spiritual guide and teacher—in the International Sufi Way, and a lifelong student and teacher in nondual Buddhism. Rabia is the President of the Boulder Institute for Nature and the Human Spirit and directs its new project, Waking Up Together: Feminine Wisdom and Global Transformation, as well as its international program, the Path of the Friend. With her husband Pir Elias Amidon, Rabia is co-editor of the anthologies Earth Prayers, Life Prayers and Prayers for a Thousand Years. To find out more about her work go to

Principles of the New Paradigm: An Unbroken Wholeness

Everything is related to everything else:  Every organism, community, business, organization, or political problem is defined by its relationships to the rest of life.

Humans are not separate from the rest of the natural world:  We are a beautiful strand in the fabric of life. The well-being of humans is intrinsically tied to the well-being of the Earth system.

Spirit and Matter, while not the same, are inseparable:  The Universe is, from inception, alive with spirit, mind, or consciousness. Spirit is inseparable from what is manifest. It is the same reality from different perspectives, like the inside and outside of a house; we can neither separate them nor reduce them to one.

We are Spirit: We do not “have” it, “earn” it, or “become” it. We are Spirit as it displays through the great changing diversity in this space-time. We have not sinned nor fallen from grace. This is where we belong.

There is inherent value in all life:  The well-being and flourishing of life on Earth has value in itself, independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.

The Universe is neither created nor maintained from the outside:  The whole unfolding is spontaneously emerging, self-regulating, and self-evolving.

In living systems, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts: How the whole evolves is directed by the experiences of the parts.

Diversity, not sameness, makes for healthy systems:  Life doesn’t make “monocultures” out of people, cultures, or land. Monocultures always collapse because of lack of diverse feedback in a constantly changing world.

Life is intent on finding what works, not what is right: In life, what “works” are interconnections that create more opportunities for relationship, diversity, complexity, and order.

Changes in small systems produce changes in larger, sometimes non-local, systems:  Each individual person, bee, car and tree influences the greater whole—and our behaviors may have consequences at great distances, in places we never thought.

Unlike mechanical systems, living systems do not change incrementally:  In life, change occurs through fits, starts, surprises, unseen connections, and quantum leaps.

A slight variation of initial conditions can cause huge, unexpected, and seemingly unconnected effects:  Think now of the popularity of Harry Potter, the toppling of the Berlin Wall, the ubiquity of Facebook, the rise of citizen journalism—in each of these instances, conditions produced unpredictable, large scale, and diverse effects on the world system

Every living system has two tendencies:  The first is a self-assertive tendency to preserve its individuality, and the second is an integrative tendency to function as part of a larger whole. Creating a dynamic balance between the two is required for any sustainable community or other living system

We co-create what we assume is reality:  The way we make sense of things is by looking for information that is meaningful to us in some way, given who we think we are. Since the New Story changes our perception of what it means to be human, it influences how we perceive reality—enabling us to see fresh and radically different solutions to our problems.

We cannot predict, direct, or control life systems:  We cannot delineate clear lines of cause and effect. Our attempts to create detailed plans, maps or sophisticated computer analyses of predictability are often misleading—and can lead to catastrophic results. We cannot determine precise outcomes. Not one of us can. This should induce greater humility in our economic, political and environmental tinkering.

These principles call for fundamental change in the way we approach life. The challenge for us today is to see beyond the innumerable fragments to the whole, stepping back far enough to appreciate how things move and change as a coherent entity. We must learn to see the fluidity, welcome relationships, and recognize that all boundaries are porous. This requires ongoing collaboration among diverse and different points of view. As leading scientists, business leaders and spiritual teachers are telling us, everything is so utterly interrelated that we cannot afford to act as if we are separate any longer – in families, within countries, and among countries. This is our Great Work.