Logo degrowth
Scientific paper


Contemplative practices to support Degrowth and stem the tide of de-Indigenization

Derek Rasmussen

Entry type:
Scientific paper

Year of publication:

Degrowth Conference Budapest 2016


My presentation seeks to weave my 20 years of work with Nunavut Inuit with my meditation teaching among non-Indigenous Euro-Canadians.

‘The Great Transformation’ of market relations compelled a great transformation of learning: disembedding and extracting it from communities and converting it into a scarce new substance called Education. Education is hydroponic cultural transmission for uprooted de-Indigenized people. Hydroponics is growing something in a soilless culture—that something is us.

If the land is your teacher, as Inuit elders say, then you aren’t going to be to happy to see it trashed.

However, most Euro-Canadians don’t need the land to learn: we’re not part of living cultures, with warmth and appreciation of elders and language and relationships embedded in particular places. Most de-Indigenized people no longer see rocks, water, trees, animals as “all our relations.” Our perspective has been narrowed to the price and utility of resources. Mohawk elder Oren Lyons says ‘What you call resources, we call relatives.’

What happens to love in this arrangement? Love is constricted.

Degrowth is an antidote. It necessitates contraction, but in so doing, it permits expansion. Contracting the economy softens the frenzy of property-based individualism (C.B Macpherson), giving more room for love, affection and friendliness to flourish. The Buddhist meditations on four types of love are actually termed the ‘Four Immeasurables’ (appamana) and provide an example of contemplative exercises that can help unbind individualistic and acquisitive mental habits fostered by capitalism. The Inuit practice of unnisuq, ‘positive gossip’, also can help reweave our social fabric.

Additional links:

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Contemplative practices to support Degrowth and stem the tide of de-Indigenization:.“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

Share on the corporate technosphere