Cosmologist Brian Swimme on the Wonder of Being Human

Yesterday we meditated on our cosmic and earthly belonging and how wonderful it is to belong to this universe of two trillion galaxies and to this exuberant and abundant Earth.

Mother and daughter forest bathing, Alouette Mountain Fire Access Trail, Maple Ridge, BC. Photo by James Wheeler on Unsplash

And how deep feelings of belonging can displace deep feelings of not belonging that feed shame and aggression and violence.

In the modern era, we were taught that the universe was a machine. This resulted in feelings that we did not belong.  Father Sky was dead, inert and so distant.  A toxic shame spread.  Ideologies of original sin fed the toxin.

But that is then and now is now.  Otto Rank talked about our “original wound” as separation such as we all undergo when we leave our mother’s womb.  To me, that is a far more useful naming than Augustine’s “original sin.”    

I also talk about “original blessing” because that is what is primary, the goodness of our existence in this exuberant earth and universe.  (It is also Genesis one which tells us of the “goodness” and “very goodness” of the universe.)

Cosmologist Brian Swimme excites people to both exultation and exuberance.  A few days ago he and I engaged with the Shift Network personnel describing a course we will teach together in the fall called “Humanity’s Future: Science, Spirituality and the Noosphere.” 

Original landscape-format version of the short movie Cosmic Eye, designed by astrophysicist Danail Obreschkow. The movie zooms through all well-known scales of the universe from minuscule elementary particles out to the gigantic cosmic web. Scientificus

He offered these wonderful metaphors for what we now know about our species.  First, he talked of how Earth was once molten rock.  But today it is home to giraffes and whales and chimpanzees and tigers and humans.  How about that?  How wild and amazing is that? 

Next, he invited us to imagine a stadium of 50,000 people watching a football game, cheering their teams on with joy, shouting and laughter.  Then substitute 50,000 chimpanzees for the 50,000 humans, chimpanzees being our nearest ancestors with whom we share 99% of the same DNA.

What would the stadium be like?  There would be war upon war going on in the stands, for chimpanzees never evolved to embrace tribes other than their own small group.  Wars among chimpanzee tribes are fierce, they eat each other’s fingers and genitals. 

“Our Story in 1 Minute” – A tapestry of footage tracing the cosmic and biological origins of our species, set to original music. melodysheep

We humans have been expanding our sense of kin and kinship far beyond the tribal mode.  Granted, we often fall back on our chimp tribalisms and warlikenesses, but we are not destined to stay there.  

We do learn to celebrate the whole.  We do learn to belong and expand our belonging. This is the invitation of Jesus and the prophets and authentic spiritual teachers everywhere.

See Matthew Fox, “Father Sky: The Cosmos Lives!” in Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp. 3-18.  

And Fox, Original Blessing.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “Hope in His Eyes.” Photo by H.KoppDelaney on Wikimedia Commons.

Queries for Contemplation

What does hearing the story of a stadium filled with humans vs. a stadium filled with chimpanzees say to you?

Recommended Reading

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story

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10 thoughts on “Cosmologist Brian Swimme on the Wonder of Being Human”

  1. Avatar

    We, humanity, do give up our humanity and act out in a devolutionary manner at times and many times in fact. Is that not the underlying nature of hatred, violence, injustice, poverty and war? Having some in society in search of the basics for survival while the world is replete with abundance, is a crime committed against ourselves is it not? We all sit in that ‘stadium’ now, trained to be focused on the ‘entertainment’ performed on the field below, while we ignore the mayhem occurring around us. Evolution then is a great ‘untraining’ of what we see, hear and come to expect. How could it be otherwise? — BB.

  2. Avatar

    We can live as truly human or we can live as apes. As Stan Smith, one of my pastors, said, “perhaps as we look for the link between the ape and the human, we are it.” So here’s what I posted on Facebook today, inspired by your meditation yesterday, Matthew

    “Matthew Fox reminded me this morning of flash mobs, and I thought, gee we don’t hear of them these days. I looked up when they were happening. It was the two-thousand teens. When Obama’s was in office. As a global community we were feeling positive and hopeful. In came Trump and we became angry and hateful to one another. As you watch this flash mob from 2013, remember: We can create a time of exuberance and thankfulness for this planet, the arts, care, and community again. We truly are one people.

  3. Avatar

    The movement of nature exists in the dynamic and mysterious interplay between “To Be or Not to Be.” What was and what is yet to be. It’s intrinsic nature belonging in our bodies and in the Earths.
    I must not fear nature, it’s becoming and it’s undoing, it’s evolution, but discover how to courageously engage with it like Jesus did, giving all only to lose all and discovering it again in some new form.
    It’s experiencing life and loss, the unknown, death, for the first time
    and time and time again
    by choosing in that most vulnerable state of being, to surrender ourselves, our current identity and allow love to recreate its Self in and through us. This is a lifelong process, an evolution taking place from birth to death. It’s not easy being human.
    Our vulnerability tempts us to create falsehoods as a means to secure our identities, lives and future. We do harm or do nothing rather than making the exchange to love ourselves and others. To give and receive rather than possess. It’s in this breath, this choice, God is present to us. Do we naturally release our control and surrender to the flow of a Love greater than ourselves or not? It’s hard to let go. I have failed many times only to come back to exactly the same choice.
    It’s important to remember how fallible we are. Our fallibility forms us too. It is possible to accept loss, impermanence and imperfection. It is our nature too.
    Loving and letting go, go hand in hand.

  4. Avatar

    I appreciate Mathew’s hopefull statement at the end of today’s DM, “We often fall back on our chimp tribalism and warlikenesses, BUT we are not destined to stay there.” I’m also grateful for the reminder of just how young we humans are, with regards to the cosmic evolution that’s been unfolding, evolving and emerging over billions of years. Clearly we still have many stages of learning and growing to move through, in the transformative process of maturing, within all levels of our being.

    I see the value of focusing on the sacred vision, of that which we often catch a glimpse of… the potential of what is yet to come… our shared destiny… that is continously unfolding, evolving and emerging… even if it appears to be at times like taking two steps forward and then three steps back.

    I also see the importance of needing to be more patient, understanding, compassionate and forgiving with the present moment of where we are now and how far we’ve come, hopefully learning and growing from our many mistakes and failures… as well as celebrating joyfully our little growth spurts; with regards to this great cosmic story that we are all apart of.

    1. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      Thank you for the reminder of how far we have come.
      Time to cut ourselves some slack while pushing forward.
      Balance seems to be a key concept in our realization of our mistakes and failures compared to how far we have come, which provides the encouragement to continue pushing forward.
      Celebration, joy…critical to our evolving story.

  5. Avatar

    The evolution of our True Heart Selves~Eternal Sacred Souls towards the Loving Diverse Oneness of our Cosmic Consciousness in the Eternal Process of the Sacred Present Moment
    within, through, among us….

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