Archive for March, 2012

The Egocide of Bucky Fuller

R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) was an inventor, an engineer, a designer, an architect and a philosopher. He was most famous for the creation of the Geodesic Dome, but he also designed a car and a house based on the Dymaxion principles that he discovered in nature. He popularised  the idea of Spaceship Earth, leading to the Gaia principle.

In 1932, during the great depression, Fuller was bankrupt and jobless, living in public housing in Chicago. The death of his young daughter Alexandra led him to drink and to thoughts of suicide. However instead of committing suicide, which he knew would cause pain to others, he decided to commit Egocide instead.He wrote, “I could commit an exclusively ego-suicide – a personal ego ‘throwaway’.” What he meant was that he would not work for a living, or for his own or his family’s advantage, but would pursue only things that he felt could ‘contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity.’

If doing this meant that he would be poor and that society would see him as a failure or a disgrace, what we now call a loser, then he would accept this role. He decided to do this as an experiment, calling himself Guinea Pig B, and documented for the rest of his life the results of this experiment. He said, “The hydrogen atom doesn’t have to earn a living before behaving like a hydrogen atom. Only human beings operate on the basis of ‘having to earn a living.’ “

This idea of working not for himself but only for others for whom his experience-gained knowledge might be of benefit, is very similar to the thoughts in the Bhagavad Gita. There Krishna says to Arjuna, “The person who works without expecting an earthly reward, but does the work that needs to be done, is a Sannyasi, a renunciate, a true yogi.” As the son of a Unitarian minister, Fuller undertook his experiment on the assumption that God would look after him.

Every time he was in need of something- money, materials, help – he found that there were “a series of miracles that occur just when I need something, but not until the absolutely last second.” This is also how the Taoist idea of wu wei (non-striving) works, delivering at the very last moment.¬†

And so Fuller’s experiment worked, and the universe provided him with everything he needed to carry on his work. He made more than enough money to live and managed to keep a staff and offices, all working for the aid of humanity.

During his experiment, Fuller came to the conclusion that humans are here on Planet Earth for problem-solving, but he said that “if we are any good at problem-solving, we don’t come to utopia, we come to more difficult problems to solve.” In other words perfection is not an option.

March 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm 3 comments

The Blog That Fell From The Sky

Reflections on an age of anxiety.