Gregg Braden (the subject of this issue’s “Listening in with …”) is well-known as a spiritual teacher and best-selling author. But his career began with a profoundly different focus: designing computer systems in the defense industry during the Cold War era’s nuclear arms race. He worked for Phillips Petroleum, Martin Marietta, and Cisco Systems from the early ’80s through the early ’90s, before striking out on his own in an effort to bridge science and spirituality for the public.
That may seem like a major change of direction, but Braden saw it as a logical progression. He’d been spending his vacation time in pristine, remote areas of Nepal, India, China, Tibet, Egypt, Australia, Bolivia, and Peru, studying indigenous traditions and learning their ancient wisdom. Braden would then lean on his multidisciplinary background in earth sciences, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science, and archeology to better understand how those ancient practices worked to heal people and allow them to consistently and consciously cocreate their reality.
“I figured if we knew how to interpret the wisdom of our ancestors without judgment,” he told me, “we’d discover they left us tools for transcending the war and suffering we were finding ourselves in—including the Cold War effort I was personally involved with. I strongly believed there was a way to make war obsolete.” That desire, Braden explained, was the catalyst for his transition into his current work: “I feel compelled to share the principles in all of these disciplines that can help us become the best versions of ourselves so we can create the best world possible.”
His corporate work helped in many ways. “I was a problem solver in those Fortune 500 companies,” he said. “I was usually the youngest person in the boardroom as well as the one with the longest hair.” He noted that his early professional experiences taught him “how people think when they’re in fear, and how to transcend barriers to bring individuals together and tap their intellect and their curiosity to solve problems. I still do that today—just with a different application.”
“Discoveries are happening so fast it’s hard to keep up with all of them.”
In addition to writing and speaking, Braden engages in less publicized work with NGOs helping to implement a series of sustainable development goals outlined by the United Nations. He also stays current with scientific research.
“Discoveries are happening so fast it’s hard to keep up with all of them,” he told me. “Many are simply not shared in the mainstream.”
Braden is heartened, however, by how often these new findings connect to ancient understandings. “Modern science is only about 300 years old, after all,” he explained. “When science came along, people discounted the wisdom of indigenous traditions. Yet now, quantum physics, molecular biology, and molecular chemistry all support so many of the principles held sacred by our indigenous ancestors.”