Humanity’s Journey Home: We Are Bio-Cosmic Beings Learning to Live in a Living Universe

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For at least 50,000 years, humanity has been on a journey of separation—pulling back from nature and becoming ever more differentiated, individuated, and empowered. In recent decades, we have become so dominant as a species that we are producing Earth-changing trends—global warming, species extinction, unsustainable population, massive famines, waves of migration, and more—that threaten humanity’s future. Now, with stunning abruptness, humanity is being challenged to turn from the familiar path of progressive separation to an unfamiliar path of global caring and cooperation. The transition from self-serving separation to world-serving cooperation confronts us with an evolutionary crisis: Who are we? What kind of Universe do we live in? Where are we going?

Because we are confronting the limits of the Earth’s ecosystem to carry the burden of humanity, we are also confronting our assumptions about the nature of the Universe and our evolutionary journey. Do we continue our rapid march into materialism, grounded in the assumption that we live in a Universe that is indifferent to humanity and comprised mostly of dead matter and empty space? Or do we open to a transforming insight from the combined wisdom of science and the world’s spiritual traditions: The Universe is not dead at its foundations but is profoundly alive and we humans are an integral part of that larger aliveness? In the words of Plato, “The Universe is a single living creature that contains all living creatures within it.” Life within life within life.

Our view of the Universe profoundly impacts how we live in the world. If we think we live in a Universe that is comprised of non-living particles without meaning and purpose, then it makes sense to exploit that which is dead on behalf of ourselves, the most visibly alive. Alternatively, if we have direct experiences of connecting with the aliveness in nature and the world around us, then it is natural to respect and care for the countless expressions of aliveness. These are two radically different ways of looking at the Universe and, in turn, produce dramatically different views of our identity and evolutionary journey. This leads to a startling conclusion: The most urgent challenge facing humanity is not climate change, or species extinction, or unsustainable population growth; rather, it is how we understand the Universe and our intimate relationship within it. Our deepest choices for the future emerge from this core understanding.

Read full essay and view Duane’s video talk

By: Duane Elgin

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