Change Our Story

Composer, author and philanthropist Peter Buffett on finding your own path to life fulfillment.


7/26/2013

Peter Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, is an Emmy Award-winning composer, NY Times best-selling author and noted philanthropist. Currently, he is releasing socially-conscious music and touring his "Concert & Conversation" series in support of his book Life Is What You Make It .
 

already flown
 

Disguised as charity, something damaging is happening. As wealth and inequality increase, philanthropy becomes the “it” vehicle to level the playing field. As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth to then distribute in charitable acts, the more heroic it sounds to “give back.” The emperor has no clothes. No “charitable” (I hate that word) intervention can solve the issues of poverty, environment, health, etc. Oh, it can kick the can down the road. But the “issue areas” of philanthropy are all symptoms—symptoms of a fundamentally broken structure.

"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it" —Albert Einstein 

Here is my latest song, "Already Flown:"

 


 

Taking me in and then
Turning me ‘round and then
saving the day

Tell me what’s right and then
Show me I’m wrong and then
You make it okay

And all that you see for me
What you can be for me
Just take it away

‘Cuz I’ve lost my faith in you
Now I can see right through
You’re fading to gray

This can’t take another lifetime
‘cuz you know just what you know
You can’t let it go

We don’t need to use a lifeline
While you’re counting what you own
We’ve already flown

Thank you I’ll do without
Mountains of fear and doubt
Let’s call it a day

And then build a wider road
Nothing to hide or hold
Just give it away

You can come ride along
There’s room for everyone
When nothing’s at stake

I’ll watch you laugh at me
Wondering just what I see
Will keep you awake

This won’t take another lifetime
‘cuz you know just what you know
You can’t let it go

We don’t need to use your lifeline
While you’re counting what you own
We’ve already flown

I saw you
But you’ll never know
What you’ll never know
 

What do you think? Visit www.peterbuffett.com to learn more and Change Our Story to join the conversation on how we all can become active participants in shaping our future.
 


 



1/30/2013

Peter Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, is an Emmy Award-winning composer, NY Times best-selling author and noted philanthropist. Currently, he is releasing socially-conscious music and touring his "Concert & Conversation" series in support of his book Life Is What You Make It.  

muriel rukeyser  

Recently, a friend asked if I believed in fate, and I said that I wasn’t sure. And that as my life progressed and things got seemingly more weird (in a good way) I thought that maybe I did believe in a sort of fatewith the caveat that our choices most definitely matter. It was then that my friend pointed out the etymology of the word “weird,” which is where things got, well, weird.

He prefers to stay anonymous, but doesn’t mind me saying that he’s immersing himself in Anglo-Saxon shamanism ... which is pretty surprising to hear. I had never considered that the Northern Europeans had shamanic practices, but of course they did! Here’s his take on the idea of fate, and I thought it was worth posting:

From a purely "new age-y" point of view, your "soul" (which is higher and purer) is trying to get through all of the muck to express itself. While that seems to be partially true (at least in my case I can attest to that!), whatever is coming through has to come through as a "you."

So, then you get to the actual person. You are the son of your mother, who is the daughter of her father and mother. You are the son of your father, who is the son of his father and his mother. And so on, and so on, and so on back to the first spark of life. You are the embodied force of all of your, (and their) actions, decisions, traumas, and experiences to this point.

That is the vehicle that whatever is coming through has to come through.

On another track you are at a moment in time when certain things are possible which have never been possible before. And you are at this specific moment in time where a change and transformation of a scope never before seen is happening.

You are also embodied in a gigantic living web of interaction, where everyone, and everything else is alive with purpose and intent and history, just as you are.

So you are all of that, which both greatly limits what you can do and makes it all possible at the same moment.

I guess that's what I mean by fate.

What do you think? Do you feel called by a unique destiny? Do you feel that somethingthe real "you"— is pushing through the complexity of this lifetime to express something unique and powerful? What’s your story? 

What do you think? Share your story at changeourstory.com. Visit www.peterbuffett.com to learn more and Change Our Story to join the conversation on how we all can become active participants in shaping our future.  

Image courtesy of Paull Younglicensed under Creative Commons.  



1/23/2013

 

Peter Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, is an Emmy Award-winning composer, NY Times best-selling author and noted philanthropist. Currently, he is releasing socially-conscious music and touring his "Concert & Conversation" series in support of his book Life Is What You Make It.  

jefferson memorial  
 

 

On panel four of the Jefferson Memorial there is this quote:

"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."  

Why are we afraid of change? I know—the answer is fear of the unknown. We hold on to things we know because they’re comfortable…. safe. Even if we’re still wearing the ill-fitting coat of childhood that Jefferson talks about.

It’s why we stay in a bad relationship too long.

My dad looks back on American history as proof that we’ll weather the storm ... any storm. Based on economic indicators that define his livelihood, he sees a system that will make it through the tough timesWorld Wars, depression, etc.

It’s the view he has from the world he lives in. His success is based on his dispassionate, über-rational look at decision making. People’s welfare isn’t actually involved.

But he also points out that, given this country’s GDP (which, by the way, puts some very negative things in the plus column) we should not have people going to bed hungry and the depth of poverty that we see, both urban and rural. It’s not like he doesn’t see how out of balance the system is.

From my vantage point, this is the result of a different set of observationsthe ones I’ve written about in this column. They include: this country was founded as a commercial enterprise; domination and exploitation was and is the rule of business law in an effort to maximize profits and shareholder value; and externalities like social and environmental degradation don’t hit the bottom line.

Add to this the mass distraction of media and consumerism and you’ve got the equivalent of the family going to the movies as the house is on fire. Or maybe at this point, the family at home in front of as many screens as there are people while the house is burning around them.

We’re in a bad relationship. This coat doesn’t fit anymore.

This country is not the country that Jefferson inhabited.

"With the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times."   

I think it’s safe to say that circumstances have changed. Are we going to be fearless enough to do something about it?

What do you think? Share your story at changeourstory.com. Visit www.peterbuffett.com to learn more and Change Our Story to join the conversation on how we all can become active participants in shaping our future.  

Image courtesy of dbkinglicensed under Creative Commons.  



1/16/2013

Peter Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, is an Emmy Award-winning composer, NY Times best-selling author and noted philanthropist. Currently, he is releasing socially-conscious music and touring his "Concert & Conversation" series in support of his book Life Is What You Make It.
 
cultural diversity 

If you’ve been following along, you’d know that I was at a loss for words last week so I posted a beautifully written letter from Martin Ping.

I’m still at a loss, but my Midwestern roots are deep and they call out to me (in a sort of pestering obligatory way) to come through with my weekly commitment.

I think a lot about what to write and it’s amazing how easy it is for me to get paralyzed when I consider how little I know regarding just about any given subject. Or when I read how many ways people can look at just about any given subject.

There are a lot of brilliant thinkers out there (and maybe some not so), and a ridiculous amount of (I’m pretty sure I mean that in a good way) passionate people. Factions are many and deep.

For instance, it’s amazing to me how these little graphics get immediately created to display a political opinion or a philosophical stance. It’s like we all have a little desktop ad agency to sell our point of view or we just copy and paste something that says it better than we could have. Here’s an example.

Which brings me back to my struggle with something to say. There are so many people saying so many things; crazy numbers of online communities within communities. I can’t imagine what this will develop into, but it seems impossible to imagine people staying circled around old institutions for much longer.

It’s almost as if we can break up into smaller communities again; like-minded people finding each other and splitting off into tribes that may be partly virtual and partly “real life.”  And then tribes start intersecting with other tribes in surprising ways.

Social interactions on the internet have begun to create a massive multi-dimensional enneagram (of course, this is what the advertising industry lives for tracking your every move so you can be selectively but predictably sold to).

People are starting to gather around deeply personal and unique aspects of themselves, and because of their sheer number and the ease of personal expression, the internet is providing a much more nuanced look at behavior and true ideology.

So, I’m trying to imagine how people would govern themselves if they converged around defining characteristics other than political parties and nation-states, religious ideology, and moral certitude–the list goes on–not because these things would disappear so much as they would get so granular that other qualities would emerge and reveal whole new layers of overlap in a sort of  “camaraderie of values” between people and communities.

While in some ways the world seems to be turning into a caricature of itself (everything seems just a little bit over-sized and out of whack–like a cartoon that maybe isn’t so funny) at the same time, we’re meeting each other as individuals across artificial boundaries like never before. Our world is becoming a very granular place. How will we take care of each other and ourselves when we can see everyone’s faces–and a little of each other’s lives?

Who has more knowledge or a stronger opinion or a better way to say this than I do? There’s probably a whole school of thought around this and I just don’t know the name of it. Help me out here.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

What do you think? Share your story at changeourstory.com. Visit www.peterbuffett.com to learn more and Change Our Story to join the conversation on how we all can become active participants in shaping our future.  

Image courtesy of Sustainable Sanitiationlicensed under Creative Commons.  



1/9/2013

Peter Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, is an Emmy Award-winning composer, NY Times best-selling author and noted philanthropist. Currently, he is releasing socially-conscious music and touring his "Concert & Conversation" series in support of his book Life Is What You Make It.
 
hawthorne valley farm 

Well, it finally happened. I really couldn’t come up with anything to write when the time came to write it. So, with permission, I’m posting something that a friend wrote to his colleagues over the holidays because I certainly couldn’t have said it better. This was written by Martin Ping from Hawthorne Valley Farm:

Strange is our situation here on earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of each other. —Albert Einstein

The concept that we are separate is a worn and tired idea that resides at the root of many, if not all, of our modern crises. The Cartesian split has played itself out. A new consciousness is waiting to be born to replace the foundational thinking on which our systems are built. Reductionism must give way to context again. Mechanization must be reimagined as biomimicry. An opaque financial system based on anonymous transaction must transition to a true economy based on relationship and caring. The dichotomies of man and nature, mind and body, spirit and matter must be made whole in order that we may remember ourselves in the universe. Collectively, humanity will co-author the new narrative that imbues all life with meaning, purpose, and integrity.

This is the great work of our time. It is work best undertaken as a community. Wendell Berry notes that “a proper community answers the needs, practical as well as social and spiritual, of all its members–including the need to be needed.” We are here for the sake of each other. Learning forgiveness is part of what community is for, inviting seeds of peace to be sown for the future. The season’s festivals inspire us to have courage and ignite our inner light against the darkness. Courage derives from the French cour, meaning heart. May we take heart and have the courage to inform our thinking, guide our feeling, and direct our willing with the light of love.

What do you think? Share your story at changeourstory.com. Visit www.peterbuffett.com to learn more and Change Our Story to join the conversation on how we all can become active participants in shaping our future.  

Image courtesy of Hawthorne Valley Farm Greenmarket Blog  



1/2/2013

Peter Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, is an Emmy Award-winning composer, NY Times best-selling author and noted philanthropist. Currently, he is releasing socially-conscious music and touring his "Concert & Conversation" series in support of his book Life Is What You Make It.
 
photosynthesis 

George Harrison may have said it best:"With every mistake we must surely be learning." 

It’s phrased in such a way that there’s hope and questioning. It sure makes me question. We certainly learn from our mistakes on a personal level. At least it’s a clear possibility if we choose to take responsibility for the mistake.

But do we learn from our mistakes on a collective level? Does the phrase “never again” really mean anything? I’m not sure we can make collective change if we don’t see individual acts as reflections of the greater whole. So when a person with an automatic weapon kills, or a group of men destroy a woman’s life through rape and torture, we must know that these horrific acts do not happen in a vacuum. They are stories within a story. Our story.

Let me see if this analogy makes sense: the sun's energy unfiltered comes to the earth and allows life to take place. Through what appears (to me) to be a miracle, plants can convert the sun's energy and the nutrients of the earth and sky into fuel for life. You could say that plants are the result of a conversation between the earth and the sun (actually, somebody did say that and I forget who it was). But I digress.

The point is, nothing in this equation is doing anything other than fulfilling a purity of purpose.

Through focusing the sun's energy, other things can take place. The first thing that came to me (I sort of hate to admit) is taking a magnifying glass and watching something small go up in flames.

So here’s what I’m getting at: Maybe there’s a universal force or consciousness. That’s what I’m guessing most people through the ages have named as God, or love, or spirit, or Gaia. Maybe there’s a natural purity of purpose in all things—a purpose that is life itself.

And when we hear about horrific acts of violence and destruction, it’s like the magnifying glass burning an insect. Culture is the magnifying glass that distorts and amplifies a particular quality of the sun (energy as heat) and creates a very different outcome—death instead of life—but only because of an intermediary distortion.

Our magnifying glass is scarcity and fear. Can we remove it?

What do you think? Share your story at changeourstory.com. Visit www.peterbuffett.com to learn more and Change Our Story to join the conversation on how we all can become active participants in shaping our future.  

Image courtesy of angeloangelo, licensed under Creative Commons.  



12/26/2012

Peter Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, is an Emmy Award-winning composer, NY Times best-selling author and noted philanthropist. Currently, he is releasing socially-conscious music and touring his "Concert & Conversation" series in support of his book Life Is What You Make It.    


Peter Buffett's cover of "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" by REM

Here’s what I believe on Christmas and every other day of the year: That Jesus was saying that the power of God is within you; that we all are reflections of and are at the same time— emanating—God. Just like everything around us.

And then someone sees the power of that and puts up a tollbooth.

There is no such thing as original sin. Period. There is an original wound—the disconnection from source—that we’re all searching for. But that source is actually with us all the time—like Dorothy’s shoes. That’s what all the great teachers and prophets tell us.

But we’re so hungry for it that we’ll believe others before we believe ourselves. And before you know it, it’s a religion, a political system, a social construct.

It’s natural for man to create systems to create meaning. It’s happened since we came down from the trees (or wherever you believe we came from). Gods were in the seasons and then we domesticated plants. Gods were in the wild beasts and then we domesticated the animals. Gods were in the heavens and then we charted the stars and planets.

Only then did we start to look inward. It must be us! Monotheism begins ... science gets smaller ... psychological thought begins ... everything starts to look like a mechanism just waiting to be analyzed.

Culture is just a construct built to make sense of the world and our place in it.

And now—in this time and place—nearly every construct is broken. Education, politics, religion, and economic systems are all institutions that have lost the connection to the people within them. But we are still here.  

All you have to do is combine our knowledge of history with the lessons of nature to know that nothing lasts. So why do we hold on so tightly to things that no longer serve us? Fear, of course. And that’s what culture loves the most. Culture will hold on at any cost. It doesn’t care about you or me. And fear is the go-to position.

From the fear of God to the fear of paying the mortgage to the fear of not being seen as cool. It’s a lockdown. Culture has us in a chokehold.

But none of it is real. Oh, it looks real—unimaginable to get out of. That’s the neatest trick of all. But check your shoes: the power of God is within you.

It’s written that Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And by neighbor, that means whatever relationship you happen to be in at the moment.

The divine is not in anything, but it’s between everything. 

Everything has turned into a transaction. But we live in a world of relationships.

Love is the only power that can counter fear. This is not a feel-good platitude. It’s truth. And sometimes it can be hard work, but not as hard as seeing children die and billions suffer. No prophet could have imagined that we would put this level of so-called profit over humanity.

It’s said that, for instance, these taxes on the rich will stifle capitalism. Seriously?? The most important thing to rich people is to get richer? What world do we live in that puts more stuff for people with a bunch of stuff above compassion?

The human experiment is about to fail. I don’t believe it will. But we must be willing to see the skin we’re in and that it’s infected with fear. It must be shed.

What do you think? Share your story at changeourstory.com. Visit www.peterbuffett.com to learn more and Change Our Story to join the conversation on how we all can become active participants in shaping our future.  


 

 

 

 





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