Fred Branfman


Fred Branfman's main work these days is developing the website, aimed at helping individuals in the prime of life realize more of our potential for aliveness, longer life, love and connection to the biosphere and future generations by facing rather than denying our pain about our eventual death. His work is based on his own and many others' actual experience of releasing enormous energy that was formerly wasted in denying our pain about death, leading to hithero undreamed-of levels of aliveness. He also believes that only if our society faces death in a way that affirms life will we halt our present path towards slow species-suicide, and violence and terror far beyond anything we have yet seen.

Much of Branfman’s immediate political concerns are based on this understanding of the importance of the denial of death. He believes that George Bush’s only selling point has been the mistaken belief by much of the public that his policies offer them protection from death. He thinks Democrats can only govern effectively if they can convince the public that they can better protect them from death from terrorism than the Republicans. Attempts to “change the subject” to healthcare, jobs or education will inevitably fail.

Branfman also writes extensively on a wide variety of other political, psychological and spiritual issues, based on his experiences in each area, which included:

-- A political journey that began in 1969 when he discovered and sought to stop the mass murder of civilians from the U.S. Secret Air War in Laos, after spending most of the 1960s in the Middle East, Africa and southeast Asia. He subsequently directed the antiwar Indochina Resource Center; wrote the state of California's SolarCal strategy while working with the Campaign for Economic Democracy; wrote the Governor of California's 1981 high tech and 1982 "Investment in People" State of the State Initiatives while serving as a top aide to Governor Jerry Brown; developed the Strategic Investment Initiative while working for U.S. Senator Gary Hart's think tank; and wrote "Investment Economics" and "Industry-led Strategy" while directing Rebuild America, whose Board included semiconductor inventor Robert Noyce, Nobel Laureate Robert Solow, Boston Fed Chief George Hatsopolous, future cabinet members Larry Summers, Robert Reich, and Laura Tyson, and N.Y. Times columnist Paul Krugman.

-- A spiritual journey that began in 1990 when he closed down Rebuild America overnight following an intense personal encounter with his mortality. He subsequently practiced extensive meditation, studied with a variety of spiritual teachers and took a 5-month spiritual journey to India. Key experiences included working at Mother Theresa's Home for the Dying in Calcutta, living in Bodh Gaya where the Buddha was enlightened and at an ashram in Rishikesh, and engaging in a silent meditation retreat in Western Massachusetts.

-- A psychological journey that begin in 1999 when he lived with a group of people in California who have remained close friends for the past 30 years primarily due to deep psychological work conducted on a daily basis. During these years he sought to develop himself psychologically and studied the work of Dr. Robert Firestone, which focuses on how childhood defenses against emotional pain and death distort adult lives and social development.

No two people have influenced Branfman's life more than his first wife Nguyen Thoa, a Vietnamese social activist, and his second wife Zsuzsa Beres, a Hungarian-based writer ( Branfman currently lives in California and Budapest. His main interests are cultivating a life-affirming death awareness for himself, sharing this quest with others, meditating regularly, sharing life with his friends in California, and doing writing that integrates the political, psychological and spiritual dimensions of his life. He can be reached at