Life Itself
Ordinary People
A Conversation with Daniel Thorson

A Conversation with Daniel Thorson

From Alienation to Emerge – Making Sense of What’s Next

In this episode of Ordinary People Rufus Pollock talks with Daniel Thorson. Daniel shares his unique journeys of finding faith, meaning, and personal growth through unexpected avenues of meditation, living at a Goenka center, and participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

They delve into the critical roles of trust, courage, and support in navigating life's uncertainties and explore the intersection of Buddhism and technology, pondering the potential for online spaces to foster contemplative practices, and sustaining personal and societal transformation through commitment and deep inquiry.

#monastic #emerge #buddhism #friendship #inquiry #technology #socialtransformation #courage #faith #meditation

About Daniel Thorson

Daniel Thorson is a writer, a Monastic at Monastic Academy and the creator and host of the podcast Emerge – Making Sense of What's Next, where he explores meaning, responsibility, and human development in the age of automation and climate collapse, and the relationship between inner and outer transformation. 

About Rufus Pollock

Rufus Pollock is an entrepreneur, activist and author as well as a long-term zen practitioner. He is passionate about finding wiser, weller ways to live together. He has founded several for-profit and nonprofit initiatives including Life Itself, Open Knowledge Foundation, and Datopian. His book Open Revolution is about making a radically freer and fairer information age. Previously he has been the Mead Fellow in Economics at the University of Cambridge as well as a Shuttleworth and Ashoka Fellow. A recognized global expert on the information society, he has worked with G7 governments, IGOs like the UN, Fortune 500s as well as many civil society organizations. He holds a PhD in Economics and a double first in Mathematics from the University of Cambridge. Find out more about his work on his website:

Ordinary People is a podcast series that delves into the lives of individuals who have defied societal expectations and embarked on extra-ordinary paths despite their seemingly ordinary backgrounds. Join us as we dive deep into their lives, uncovering their motivations, beliefs, practices, and moments of transformation. We demystify hero worship and share accessible narratives of real individuals who have transcended societal expectations and norms. Each guest delicately navigates the balance between introspection and worldly engagement. Listeners are offered empowerment, kinship and inspiration for embarking on their own extra-ordinary journey.


00:05 Personal growth, meditation, and systems change with a focus on alienation and finding meaning in life

06:48 Occupy Wall Street movement, Buddhist geeks, and hope, and power

18:02 Creating a modern monastery to address planetary crisis

27:18 Personal growth, breakthroughs, and the importance of faith and support

39:41 The importance of friendship in personal growth and spiritual development

47:19 Creating intentional communities for personal growth and service

59:07 How to help people stay in a community and work through conflicts

1:05:02 Commitment and transformation through structured programs

1:10:53 desires through inquiry, letting go of preferences and avoiding manipulation.

1:20:59 The nature of truth and goodness in a secular humanist society and its relationship to religion, culture, and personal transformation

1:31:27 Truth, meaning, and values in post-conventional society

Life Itself
Ordinary People
In this series we delve into the lives of individuals who have defied societal expectations and embarked on extra-ordinary paths, despite their seemingly ordinary backgrounds. This series interrogates the belief that an extraordinary life may only be achieved by those who are naturally exceptional.
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Lauren Wigmore