Dear Michael

Our conversations over the past months have evolved beyond what creates ‘sustainable design’ for us individually and for Western Engineering as an organisation.

We have more recently looked at how, in that process, we are creating ‘sustainable designs’ for the common good.

At your prompting, let us now consider the idea of creating ‘sustainable design’ on a global scale.


Worldwide, the pain and suffering still of hundreds of millions of children, women and men is an ongoing tragedy of incomprehensible scale.

One could be excused for considering that humankind, other sentient beings, ‘Mother Nature’ in it countless forms, could be on, or in many cases already beyond, the brink. Sadly, in mounting numbers they are.

This is the situation either as a direct or indirect consequence of the disconnection between our ‘head and heart’, ‘wilfulness and the soul’, or the ‘outer and inner worlds’ of each of us. Alternatively, in my words, it’s from living and working from impossibility rather than from Possibility.

Humanity has created the world in which we live by practising one of the multitudes of ‘doing what works’ and/or ‘doing what matters’ ideologies.

While they vary from person to person, community to community, culture to culture, nation to nation, the results appear to be much the same. The efforts do not deliver sustainability. Too much is being delivered to too few. Insufficient is being delivered to too many.

By their negative impact on the common good can the respective problems be classified.

Despite enhanced global communications, for most of us, the sheer scale of what is unfolding environmentally is too remote, far removed, delivered and received – if at all – in ‘diminished and fragmented pieces’, and in many cases, ‘sanitised ways’. Or if available, we turn away as it is too painful to bear witness.

The tsunami of 2004 was an example. Personal nightmares, family horrors and devastation, were seen on TV as mere ghosts of the human reality.

And of those more intimately in touch with specific world problems, few suggest sustainable solutions.

Overwhelmingly, one of the ‘infamous four’ – war, religion, aid or education, or combinations thereof – is loudly advocated as the answer.

These are solutions to human suffering continually tried, notwithstanding the mountainous historic evidence that each fails to deliver sustainable solutions.

All four are testimony to applying ‘what we think works’ or ‘what we think matters’ without the deeper context and power of Possibility – what really works and what really matters.

This third missive continues my attempt to explain the value of:

  • The convergence of a so-called ‘conservative view’, i.e. ‘doing what works’, with a so-called ‘progressive view’ i.e. ‘doing what matters’, as a unified whole, gently held within a deeper context of Possibility – kindness, understanding, wisdom and common sensewhat really works and what really matters;
  • You, me and our fellows seeing a collective way forward rather than continue divided, closeted within our separate realms of belief, opinion and judgment in what appears to be a downward global spiral of mutual self-destruction.

The essence of this note says: doing ‘what works’ and/or doing ‘what matters’ from a state of mind that sees, and therefore understands and feels what really works and what really matters is the answer to every conceivable problem facing humanity.


Seeing what really works and what really matters will enable our survival.

  • Doing ‘what we think works’ and/or ‘what we think matters’ without understanding and accessing what really works and what really matters causes what is expected to work and/or to matter to fail … sooner or later.
  • Doing ‘what works’ and/or ‘what matters’ from the living and breathing of what really works and what really matters is the answer humanity is looking for.
  • Embracing what really works and what really matters enables humankind to sort the ‘what actually works or matters’ wheat from the ‘what doesn’t work or matter’ chaff, and thus find and embrace sustainable solutions.
  • Only by attending to what really works and what really matters can we be in service to each other, to the common good, to nature and to
  • Seeing what really works and what really matters ends our worship of ‘our ideological beliefs in what works’ and/or ‘our ideological beliefs in what matters’.
  • Seeing that the worship of these ideological beliefs is the primary, fundamental cause of each problem facing you and me. I’m referring to the opposing beliefs expressed with certainty each day by the commentariat from the right, left and centre about solving the problems facing humanity and the natural world.

Humankind – all life on Earth, it is not an exaggeration to say – is at a trisection:

  • One large sign, with flashing neon lights, points in the direction of ‘what works’ – the road many on the so-called right are speeding along, in the blind belief that this is THE road to be on.
  • A second large sign, also with flashing lights, points to ‘what matters’ – the road many on the so-called left are speeding along in blind belief that this is THE road to be on.

Some of us try one, then the other. Some, like me, even try the impossible by taking both at once, thinking that the middle road is THE answer.  However, without the deeper contextual understanding talked about in this guide, we wonder why we feel confused and often torn in two.

  • A third, barely visible sign, along a hardly-ever-used, unmade, pot-holed track points to what really works and what really It is a track walked with simultaneous caution and confidence in the understanding that in seeing Possibility answers will appear that encompass the elements that address the common good offered by the ‘what matters’ and ‘what works’ advocates.

This is the high road of Possibility and thus sustainability, the road to having ‘what works’ actually working and ‘what matters’ actually mattering and providing a healthy, happy, sustainable future for all humanity and for the natural world.

As things stand today, on each side of the ‘doing what works’ and/or ‘doing what matters’ divide, the causes of and solutions to each of the problems facing the world are strenuously debated and increasingly violently reacted to.

With that in mind, Michael, I am again putting to you that there is a single cause and a single sustainable solution … a true panacea if seen!

A primary cause and a primary solution!

One answer to every conundrum created by the human mind, however small or monumental.

A solution that has repeatedly been proffered throughout human history and has, in the main, fallen on deaf ears, blinded eyes and closed minds.

Those that have heard the message have mostly turned it into their version of ‘what works’ or ‘what matters’ and, with that, the message has, without exception, been corrupted.

Few, it seems, continue to look within to the unknown, to Possibility, renewal and sustainability.

These few, who have seen or heard the message from within the realm of Possibility (called by whatever other name) and been touched by it deeply, speak about it from their cultural and ‘time in history’ perspective and remain true to its calling.

Although discovered, rediscovered and expressed in voluminous forms, countless times, in diverse cultures, in every age, by the wise of the time and place, the profundity and power of seeing and addressing what really works and what really matters have never been broadly or deeply enough understood. Therefore the understanding has not been embraced by more than the few.

What really works and what really matters has been debased at best or destroyed at worst by the weight of numbers in headlong pursuit of humankind’s habit of turning everything into ‘what we think works’ and/or ‘what we think matters’.

Following are definitions of what I mean by the two concepts. I describe two distinct ways of seeing, experiencing, and therefore contributing to our daily work (whatever that is) and our personal lives, irrespective of age, cultural heritage or other affiliations.


Humankind is driven and blindsided by what they are told and believe ‘works best’ and/or ‘what matters most’.

Most of us are raised and encouraged to do ‘what works’ and/or ‘what matters’. Some of the countless examples follow:

  • Being good. Being polite. Being competitive. Being on time, tidy, financially responsible, following the rules.
  • Winning at sport, in business and in life generally.
  • Being saved, attending church or, if not that, learning religious values.
  • Being schooled in reading, writing and arithmetic, etc. etc.
  • Becoming an accountant, engineer, psychologist, social worker, businessman, carpet cleaner or garbage collector.

We strive to learn, to become better at, to gain greater proficiency in and a deeper knowledge of ‘what works’ and/or ‘what matters’.

We are conditioned to believe that if something is going right, it is because we are doing ‘what works’ and or ‘what matters’, and if not, it is because we are failing to do one or both. It is as straightforward and as ingrained as that.

Our educational strategies, political, economic, social, religious, humanitarian, family and community strategies are born out of and driven by our conditioned ideology – our beliefs in ‘what works’ and/or ‘what matters’.

If something is initially created from the state of mind of what really works and what really matters, it soon morphs into the unsustainable straitjacket of ‘what works’ and/or ‘what matters’.

An example is Christianity. From a wise sage and mystic ‘seeing’ and teaching about what really works and what really matters, we have ended up with today’s multiple versions: people dedicating their lives to studying and teaching their version of ‘what works’ and/or ‘what matters’, i.e., how to be saved, be righteous, lead a good life and get to heaven. And instead of Christianity, read Islam, Buddhism … you name the religion or philosophy.

Doing ‘what works’ and or ‘what matters’ is universal. A good example of a ‘what works and/or what matters’ society is the USA.

Doing ‘what works’ and/or ‘what matters’ has made the USA what it is today – the most advanced society, in many ways, on the one hand, and the unsustainable mess it is on the other.

Other countries, although few admit to it, aspire to emulate the USA, in their own ways. Australia might be described as the ‘sorcerer’s apprentice’ in following the USA into the mire.

‘What works’ and/or ‘what matters’ comes from a specific state of mind. It is a mechanistic, intellectual, materialistic, fearful, conditioned state of mind. It is an approach to life and living born out of accumulating knowledge that forms our beliefs, opinions, judgements, and our dogma – knowing the right answer. The right way! (Unfortunately, Michael, somewhat like the way this letter might be coming across.)

‘What works’ and/or ‘what matters’ is taught in every school and university. Most books and other materials created by these institutions are dedicated to explaining how to do ‘what works’ and/or ‘what matters’ better. The growing political correctness (some might say, madness) is a worldwide phenomenon that will take the world by storm and create great unrest.

Few point to what really works and what really matters as the moment-to-moment context for living with any degree of authenticity, clarity or decency.

Icons of ‘what works’ and or ‘what matters’ are religions, governments, businesses, corporations, organisations, the United Nations, aid agencies, parliaments, educational institutions, many marriages and families.

The Bible, Koran, Kaballah and a majority of so-called spiritual, psychological, self-help and other ‘how to’ books and materials specialise in ‘what works’ and/or ‘what matters’.

Unfortunately, this will suffer the same fate. Too bad! We can’t help ourselves from falling into the trap of the story we create unless we awaken. And we can’t awaken unless we stop looking without and look within to Possibility.


Humankind hungers deep within for what really works and what really matters. We hunger for our own transformation.

What really works and what really matters is determined by the quality of feeling we have within our hearts and minds, how we feel in relationship with ourselves, with all others, with nature, with life.

It’s having a beautiful feeling, a loving, compassionate, warm and unconditionally respectful feeling towards all others; towards the creatures, we share this planet with and towards nature and the gift of Life. That beautiful feeling reflects our state of mind, and the awareness that accompanies that state is what ensures that what we think, feel and do ‘will really work’ and ‘will really matter’.

What really works and what really matters reflects the level of consciousness and quality of Thought we are accessing and the thinking we are utilising in our daily work, family and recreational lives.

What really works and what really matters is how we treat each other, how we feel towards each other – how we feel towards and the respect we give to nature and other sentient beings.

Seeing what really works and what really matters occurs within the realm of Possibility, our innate spiritual state of mind and manifests in our approach to life.

Seeing what really works and what really matters comes from not knowing and being willing to live in the unknown – the antithesis of the ‘God’ of knowledge, dogma, belief, opinion and judgement.

What really works and what really matters cannot be written or taught, is ineffable and yet inherent and available within the mind and heart, and is the soul of every human being.

You will find what really works and what really matters if you surrender your faith in what you know and believe, clear your mind and look within. There, and only there, will you find what really works and what really matters.

Signs to look for of what really works and what really matters are a loving feeling, experiencing a clear mind, wisdom, common sense, understanding, feeling compassion, gratitude, appreciation, peace and contentment, creativity, spontaneity and light-heartedness. Making a positive contribution without fear, favour or expectation of reward or recognition, and taking fearless action in the face of fear are good signs.

Remnants of the ideas around what really works and what really matters endure (having escaped the shackles of doctrine) within people of every religion, government, business, corporation, and organisation.

This letter is like the signs at that trisection in the road of life.

It points to those of us that live on the very fashionable street of ‘what works’.

It also points to those of us that live on the fashionable street of ‘what matters’.

Both streets are dead ends.

It also points to the unfashionable street of what really works and what really matters. This is the street of endless Possibility – of love, understanding, wisdom and common sense – the street of ‘sustainable design’.


The world of ‘what works’ and/or ‘what matters’ is about finding out what is right, getting it right, doing it right, making it right and being right. The drivers are fear and pleasure.

What really works and what really matters is about being at peace, experiencing wisdom, common sense and creativity. The forces are love and understanding.

Love … John