Touching the Jaguar

with our guest: John Perkins

John Perkins is a speaker, activist, and author of Touching the Jaguar: Transforming Fear Into Action to Change Your Life and the World and Confessions of an Economic Hitman. In addition to having worked as Chief Economist who advised the IMF, World Bank, and the United Nations, John worked with many shamans from six different continents, studying with them as their apprentice. John draws from this diverse experience in economics and shamanistic work to build the foundations of his writing. He is also the Founder and Board Member of Dream Change and Co-Founder of Pachamama Alliance, two non-profit organizations dedicated to creating a better world for the next generation.

John joins me today to share the wisdom and the lessons he learned from his journey in shamanism and his work in economics. He defines what the death economy is and differentiates it from the life economy and explains how we can help the world move toward the latter. He shares his experience as a shaman’s apprentice and illustrates how shamans are similar to psychotherapists. He also explains how our perception creates the world around us and demonstrates how we can confront the fears that hinder us from becoming the people we want to be.


“The jaguar represents fear. If you run away, it hounds you. But if you touch it, you can take its energy, courage, and wisdom.”  – John Perkins

Show Notes

This week on The School for Good Living Podcast:

  • John’s background in economics and his experience as a shaman’s apprentice
  • How Touching the Jaguar bridges John’s work in economics and shamanism
  • What the death economy is and how it contrasts to the life economy
  • How perception molds our reality as human beings
  • What John learned in his journey in shamanism and being a shaman’s apprentice
  • Why GDP is a lousy measure of a nation’s wealth and prosperity
  • Humanity’s indigenous roots and why we lost our connection to nature
  • How shamans are similar to the psychotherapists of western culture
  • What ayahuasca is and how people tend to abuse it
  • John’s advice to people who want to meaningfully contribute to the planet
  • What we can learn from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth
  • The challenges and difficulties John finds in writing and what he learned from working with editors
  • How 39 publishers declined Confession of an Economic Hitman and how John persisted through the rejections
  • John’s writing process and his words of encouragement for people who are pursuing, or want to pursue, their creative projects
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