Inhabit: Your Trust

Corey deVos Defenses, Free, Inhabit, Lifestyle, Perspectives, Politics, Video, World Affairs, Worldviews 1 Comment


“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Ernest Hemingway

ur crisis of trust has been rapidly compounding in recent years, as the internet has delivered us into an age of aperspectival madness — an epistemic breakdown where shared reality becomes splintered into hermetically-sealed social media silos, where all enfoldment between opposing perspectives breaks down completely, and where evidence-based truths become sacrificed on the altar of narrative beliefs.

“Trust” is something like an immune system for our society. It prevents our collective body from being infected by propaganda, zealotry, and social regression. Here at the tail end of 2020, it is clear that we are experiencing a crisis of truth, as well as a crisis of meaning. And underlying them both is an even deeper crisis — a crisis of trust.

Trust, of course, is a paradox. We live in a highly complex and highly specialized civilization. Our daily lives depend upon us being able to trust a massive interconnected system of strangers and institutions, just to be able to put food on the table every night that won’t end up making our families sick. And yet when our fundamental trust in those same strangers and institutions begins to collapse, so do the foundations of civilization itself.

When our fundamental trust in each other becomes completely dismantled, then so does our capacity to perceive and understand truth. After all, our perceptions of “truth” depend on a mutual recognition of “truthfulness” — another word for trust. And when we allow ourselves to believe that everyone is always already lying to us from every direction (other than our own preferred media silos, of course), then our reality suddenly becomes unknowable. As President Obama recently said:

“If we do not have the capacity to distinguish what’s true from what’s false, then by definition the marketplace of ideas doesn’t work. And by definition our democracy doesn’t work. We are entering into an epistemological crisis.”

This is a truly wicked problem. It is a tremendously complex and multivalent challenge, with causes and effects that can be tracked through all four quadrants. And like any other “wicked problem”, it is not something that can be solved in a piecemeal fashion: focus too much on any single variable and all the other variables change immediately — which means that partial solutions actually risk making things worse.

Watch as Ryan and I take a deep dive into the wicked problem of social trust, looking at this meta-crisis through each of the four quadrants while suggesting some key practices and perspectives within each quadrant that can help us restore our trust in each other, in our institutions, in ourselves, and in the grand evolutionary unfolding itself.

Written by Corey deVos
Music by Justin Miles and Stuart Davis

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Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.

Ryan Oelke

About Ryan Oelke

Ryan Oelke is a co-founder of Buddhist Geeks and founder of Awakening in Life. He has an MSEd in counseling psychology and is contemplative teacher of awakening, healing, and embodiment. He has 18 years experience in meditation, particularly in the Tibetan Buddhist and Dzogchen lineages, he is a Buddhist Geeks teacher, and is a fully certified teacher in Judith Blackstone’s Realization Process. Ryan teaches meditation and a way of living dedicated to revealing natural presence and awakening in each moment of our lives, regardless of how it appears to us. He lives in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, NC with his partner Alyssa and stepdaughter Fiona.

Notable Replies

  1. Great program on social trust, thank you; some supplementary thoughts on the topic of trust in general, speaking most specifically to trust-within-the-self.

    Trust is so foundational to relationship and interrelationships–to life itself–that developmental psychologist Erik Erikson made “trust vs. mistrust” the first stage of life in his stages of psychosocial development. According to Erikson, individuals learn and establish the ability to trust during the first 18 months of life through relationship with the main caregiver. If successful, “hope” is made possible in life; if unsuccessful, fear to one degree or another rules (although further development of course can counteract at least some of this, and also, some would point to past lives as being relevant to trust vs mistrust.) Mistrust, the term Erikson used, is usually understood as a general sense of unease, whereas distrust is usually based on experience or on what one considers reliable information. Regardless, both mean a lack of trust, and it is possible that both are seeded very early in life.

    Trust is so important that also, at least one spiritual-philosophical system, Taoism, places it up front and center with its teachings on the flow of nature and humans flowing with the nature of things, rather than resisting or forcing. (There are many great You Tube videos by Alan Watts on the topic of trust, for anyone interested, most in the context of Taoism.)

    Etymologically, the word ‘trust’ derives from language meaning confidence, protection, help, support–seconding the idea that trust is society’s immune system as spoken of in this Inhabit episode. Trust is also akin to the Danish word ‘trost,’ meaning “comfort.” When I think of how trust feels in my own bodymind, comfort is a good description. To be “in comfort” or comfortable or comforted, and perhaps also, to give comfort to another, can stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain, which increases blood flow to the frontal cortex (some say by as much as 10%), elevates one’s state of consciousness and well-being, and creates better emotional health.

    (Sidebar: who says we don’t grow through pleasure? One of my pet peeves is the pervasive and stubborn belief that we primarily grow through pain and not pleasure, when pain, whether physical or psychic, is actually a contraction. One can of course make lemonade out of lemons, but there is a choice involved, and, following the choice to use pain as a driver of growth usually comes expansion, and growth happens within that expansion of consciousness, it seems to me. Pleasure starts with expansion. And of course, pleasure overdone can lead to contraction of consciousness; both can lead into the other–the yin/yang of it all. But I for one would like to hear more equal-time sloganeering for “we grow through pleasure”–rather than pleasure being relegated to the backwoods of numbing-out, indulgence, or hedonism. How might the world be different if we valued and taught that pleasure is a growth-inducer as much as we do pain?)

    Another important function of trust is to help us navigate the polarity of abandon (as in letting go) and control. Most of us have probably at one time or another participated in those blindfolded trust walks, or the trust exercise of falling backwards, allowing another to “catch” us. While exercises in trusting, they also are lessons in being able to let go some control and “abandon” ourselves to another or to ‘fate,’ what have you.

    Surrender, whether in sexual intimacy or spiritual practice, is also a part of this; to be able to give oneself up, yield, let go, submit, surrender,–trust is a necessary ingredient. I always liked psychologist/Zen meditation teacher Jack Kornfield’s definition of surrender: to embrace the truth of what is. “What is” in this sentence can mean a lot of different things, from society-in-breakdown/evolutionary regression, to Oneness or Spirit to fill-in-the-blank. Surrender in this sense doesn’t mean inaction; it is more akin to letting go and letting go attachments, whether to the separate-self sense or ideas or outcomes or iron-fisted control, whatever.

    Another practice I would add to those suggested in this program for developing/increasing or working with trust is the hatha yoga Savasana (corpse) posture. Some teachers and practitioners say it is the most difficult asana and also the one providing the most “bang for the buck;” it’s an excellent practice, I think, for developing the ability and becoming comfortable with letting go, trusting, surrendering.

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