NLP Modeling: Burning Man

Submitted by Craig on Sun, 05/07/2017 - 03:05
Burning Man

Burn The Man!

Some time ago, I met up with a friend I met through a mastermind group, and who is also an NLPer at heart. He was on a trek to the Burning Man event in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, stopping in Utah on the way there from the East Coast.

We had a great time eating and talking about manifesting great things, and in modeling great individuals and social ideas that actually work. World-class stuff. He was really excited to be rubbing shoulders with some of the iconic leaders of internet marketing while there, and as I became more and more interested in that story, I also became more intrigued about the story of Burning Man, itself. A few years back, I had seen a small vignette of Burning Man on HBO, but when I went out to their website, it was clear that the event is growing tremendously, while its meaning continues to deepen and reach a world-wide audience.

Modeling Burning Man's Core Principles

In NLP, we model excellence in others so that it can be taught and learned. Modeling is also experiential, meaning to have read about it is not the same as having experienced it for oneself. Though I have not experienced Burning Man (yet), it seems like a suitable goal as a social model that might be worth experiencing first hand. I'll be asking my friends about their experience for sure.

Communism, cults and religions are built on communal ideals that require canonization and compulsion sooner or later to enforce those ideals, they are rigid, exclusive, and have no end in sight. I'd like to contrast those social models with the Burning Man phenomenon that includes everyone with a legitimate ticket. Burning Man is voluntary and based on gift-economy, self-reliance, and is an event that happens annually, with a start and end date, with an emphasis on cleaning up after the event to remove any traces. The experience goes with the participants back into the real world, where transformation could be ongoing. Wow! Keep watching Burning Man to see if on the basis of these principles it continues to grow and/or multiply, and whether it has anything to teach the rest of society and culture.

The Ten Principles of Burning Man:

Here are the Ten Principles of Burning Man, borrowed from their site:

Radical Inclusion

Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.


Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.


In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.

Radical Self-reliance

Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.

Radical Self-expression

Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.

Communal Effort

Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.

Civic Responsibility

We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.

Leaving No Trace

Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.


Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.


Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.

Invitation to Social and Religious Leaders Everywhere

Weigh what happens at Burning Man to the goals you have for your own communities. Remember that these Burning Man principles are observed willingly and voluntarily by the participants, and decide which parts of these principles taken in part or together might be useful to your own message.