We meditated yesterday on what Otto Rank, recognized as the “father of humanistic psychology” who died young in 1939, had to say about the loss of cosmos in the West and the price we have paid for that.
A cosmic and earth-based consciousness is what aboriginal Eddie Kneebone and indigenous teacher Black Elk and others as well as pre-modern creation mystics teach us is so essential. A psychology not of ego but of microcosm/macrocosm brings psyche and cosmos, humans and earth, into alignment.
Rank says that human beings—including us today–seek “an identity with the cosmic process.” And that our deepest woes stem from our separation from the cosmos. Maybe the earth crisis is calling us back to these truths since “ecology is functional cosmology” (Thomas Berry).
Rank calls this the unio mystica (the mystical union) or “being one with the All” and “in tune with” the cosmos.
The earliest humans knew intimacy with the cosmos. Says Rank:
This identification is the echo of an original identity, not merely of child and mother, but of everything living—witness the reverence of the primitive for animals. In man, identification aims at re-establishing a lost identity with the cosmic process which has to be surrendered and continuously re-established in the course of self-development.
Rank instructs us to look to indigenous peoples—in this instance, to the wisdom and the “reverence” they derive from animals. Reverence is born of awe. With reverence comes respect. How grounded are we in awe, reverence and respect at this time in history?
Regarding our lost cosmic awareness, Rank says:
Psychology is searching for a substitute for the cosmic unity which the man of Antiquity enjoyed in life and expressed in his religion, but which modern man has lost—a loss which accounts for the development of the neurotic type.
Much of the neurosis of our time, Rank feels, is due to the loss of our connection to the cosmos. Anthropocentrism, or species narcissism, fails to satisfy or fulfill the immense human soul.
For Rank, the world “bears the mark of infinity.” French philosopher Gaston Bachelard, in his moving book The Poetics of Space, describes what living in a cosmos is like and thereby expands on Rank’s insight. For him, the soul experiences immensity and grandeur in the context of the cosmos.
We are at home with solitude, and great things well up in the soul because of solitude.
Immensity is within ourselves. It is attached to a sort of expansion of being that life curbs and caution arrests but which starts up again when we are alone… We are elsewhere; we are dreaming in a world that is immense.
Our soul is vast and full of hidden grandeur. In our experiences of unity or grace,
…we discover that immensity in the intimate domain is intensity, and intensity of being, the intensity of being evolving in a vast perspective of intimate immensity.
Intensity, immensity, intimacy—in the human, they all occur at once. That is what mysticism is.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Times, pp. 145f.
Banner Image: “Heaven,” photo by Wolfgang Staudt via Flickr.
Do you agree that “modern man and woman” has lost a connection with the cosmos and the result has been great neuroses? And that there are ways to reconnect to the whole? And that our present earth crisis is part of that neurosis?
Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Time
While Matthew Fox recognizes that Meister Eckhart has influenced thinkers throughout history, he also wants to introduce Eckhart to today’s activists addressing contemporary crises. Toward that end, Fox creates dialogues between Eckhart and Carl Jung, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rabbi Heschel, Black Elk, Karl Marx, Rumi, Adrienne Rich, Dorothee Soelle, David Korten, Anita Roddick, Lily Yeh, M.C. Richards, and many others.
“Matthew Fox is perhaps the greatest writer on Meister Eckhart that has ever existed. (He) has successfully bridged a gap between Eckhart as a shamanistic personality and Eckhart as a post-modern mentor to the Inter-faith movement, to reveal just how cosmic Eckhart really is, and how remarkably relevant to today’s religious crisis! ” — Steven Herrmann, Author of Spiritual Democracy: The Wisdom of Early American Visionaries for the Journey Forward
Join Matthew Fox for a thought-provoking 7-week course: Answer the Call for an Uncommon Life Through the Mystical Teachings of St. Hildegard, Tuesdays, 6/15 to 7/27. While the course has begun, registration remains open, with recordings of past classes available. Learn more HERE.
Join us for a Virtual Teach-in with Isa Gucciardi and Matthew Fox, hosted by Rev. Cameron Trimble.
August 13-14, 2021 (Fri-Sat)
Shamanism in Buddhism and Christianity
Session 1: Friday, August 13 at 4pm-6pm PT
Session 2: Saturday, August 14 at 9am-12pm PT
Session 3: Saturday, August 14 at 12:30pm-2:30pm PT