Another reason the cosmos is on my mind these days is that I am currently co-teaching a class through Shift Network with cosmologist Brian Swimme on Science, Spirituality and the Noosphere.   

Manifesto for a Global Civilization by Matthew Fox and Brian Swimme.

While we have known each other for over 44 years and have taught together over the years first at the Institute of Culture and Creation Spirituality (ICCS) at Mundelein College in Chicago and then at ICCS at Holy Names College in Oakland, it has been a while since we taught together.  We also wrote a short book together, Manifesto for a Global Civilization, some 42 years ago.

Brian’s latest book, called Cosmogenesis: An Unveiling of the Expanding Universe, recalls our relationship and our discovering Thomas Berry together back at Mundelein College in Chicago. 

It was Berry who said that “ecology is functional cosmology,” which translates (in my opinion) to this:  If we are to stand up to climate change and thereby preserve the Earth as we know it and therefore preserve our species, we ought to awaken to the cosmos and awe of the cosmos with the subsequent reverence and gratitude that are foundational to care of the Earth.

Permaculture practitioner Dennis Doyon cups his hands under a spring revived through the tree-plantings he and his family did ten years ago in the almost completely slashed-and-burned Atlantic Forest, known as Mata Atlantica, in Brazil. Photo from by permission.

Berry says that the sense of the sacred that is essential for survival of the planet is recovered only by awakening to “our sacred story,” which is “the epic of evolution” of our universe, for “the universe is the primary sacred reality.”  

Indeed, we will recover our sense of wonder and our sense of the sacred only if we appreciate the universe beyond ourselves as a revelatory experience of that numinous presence whence all things come into being.    

This is why science and spirituality must work together today.  And that means that the awe that the Webb Telescope is gifting us with needs to become a fire in our belly and hearts, liturgies and ceremonies.  Indeed, liturgy or ritual is the most ancient, quickest and surest way to bring awe and gratitude for our shared existence alive in our communities.

See Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics, pp. 359, 361.

Banner Image: Stargazing in Slovenia. Photo by Klemen Vrankar on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Tom Berry equates a sense of the sacred with a sense of wonder and awe.  How is that your experience as well?  How can we render that everyone’s experience?

Recommended Reading

Christian Mystics: 365 Readings & Meditations

As Matthew Fox notes, when an aging Albert Einstein was asked if he had any regrets, he replied, “I wish I had read more of the mystics earlier in my life.” The 365 writings in Christian Mystics represent a wide-ranging sampling of these readings for modern-day seekers of all faiths — or no faith. The visionaries quoted range from Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King, Jr., from Thomas Merton to Dorothee Soelle and Thomas Berry.
“Our world is in crisis, and we need road maps that can ground us I wisdom, inspire us to action, and help us gather our talents in service of compassion and justice.  This revolutionary book does just that.  Matthew Fox takes some of the most profound spiritual teachings of the West and translates them into practical daily mediations.  Study and practice these teachings.  Take what’s in this book and teach it to the youth because the new generation cannot afford to suffer the spirit and ethical illiteracy of the past.” — Adam Bucko, spiritual activist and co-founder of the Reciprocity Foundation for Homeless Youth

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6 thoughts on “The Cosmos on My Mind—Yours Too?”

  1. Avatar
    Jocelyn Stevenson

    I’m taking the Shift course you’re doing with Brian Swimme. As I live in the UK, I find it hard to participate live, but I keep up with the recordings and deepening practices (as I always do with Shift courses). Both you and Brian are A-number-1 favourite teachers of mine. I’ve read many of your books over the years and loved Brian’s Cosmogenesis. You are both paradigm-shifters – and together…? KABOOM!! The Cosmos is definitely on my mind!

  2. Avatar

    ‘Awe and wonder’ are inherent and innate in all that we are and all that is. This truism escapes our conscious awareness and experience as we refuse to accept life as it is. We are constantly looking outwardly for external validation for the value of anything and everything. We look to mentors, teachers, books, courses, friends, social media, politicians, psychiatrists, spiritualists for validation, so much so that our vision is no longer clear.

    The truth, the wisdom, which are the source of all awe and wonder are inherent, innate and within our being as well. The ‘True Guide’ is within, and we need not look further. Born unto us was and still is ‘the Way’, the guide to everlasting awe and wonder. We no longer have to look this way and that way and every conflicting and confusing way. We belong to the community of ‘awe and wonder’. Let us not let it escape our attention and experience any longer. — BB.

  3. Avatar

    The other day I watched a scientific documentary on the evolutionary Cosmic story of the Big Bang. During the program two statements of truth that scientists have discovered, reiterated what the earlier mystics themselves had also discovered; which is “All matter is light”, and “All time is now.” The scientists discovered this through scientific analysis of complex theories and technology. The Mystics discovered this through the spiritual practices of reflection, meditation and contemplation; SENSING the sacred through engaging in a natural ceremonial relationship with the Cosmos.

    This realization filled me with a sense of awe and wonder, regarding the potential of experiencing and encountering this reality of “All matter is light and all time is now”, and the possibility of SENSING the unfolding, evolving, emergence and convergence with this Cosmic reality; through the natural and sacred ceremonial practices within the mystical spiritual pathway.

    It seems highly plausible that ALL can tap into and SENSE, the collective consciousness and the light of this, within the all and the everything of creation, which includes our evolutionary sacred ancestors and also the the Creators of the all and the everything as well; here and now, which we are all apart of. To me, this is not only an awesome wonder, but it is also Divinely designed as a natural pathway of being and living in the sacredness of relationship with the Whole Oneness of the Cosmos.

  4. Avatar

    One of the most effective ways I have of offering the gift of the awe, mystery, and wonder of the cosmos/Nature is to introduce folks to the Cottonwood twig stars. The twigs are all over the ground under Cottonwood trees. If you cut them at a part of the twig that is lined, like a knuckle on your finger has lines, you will likely see a 5 point star. The star might be dark brown, light brown, green, or rarely, white. One child, about 8 or 9, I would guess, noted, “That’s another one of those miracles of Nature, isn’t it!” Google ‘Cottonwood tree stars’ if you want to learn more about them and see pictures of them.

    People learn best when they are motivated from within. This is one way to help motivate them from within to increase environmental consciousness.

  5. Avatar

    Awe happens where we’re startled out of feelings of “same old” everyday, nothing-new-ness. We live in a lie fed to us by brains which overwrite what we’re experiencing with simulations made of re-run memories and guesswork predictions. The result is monotony. Once in a while, though, the programming fails — either because something so astonishingly amazing happens that we have no programs available to match it (such as in a mystical experience), or because we’ve slowed down enough and opened up enough to allow the busy-brain programming to turn off. That’s when the reality of the universe can startle us with wonder.

    It doesn’t have to be grand vistas or huge life experiences or in “sacred” religious contexts; awe waits for us in the “ordinary” moments.
    So many things we take for granted, like the sound of a bird’s song in the morning, the sight of a dewdrop on a leaf, the scent of a rose, the blessing of being able to walk and climb a trail, the feel of velvet, and especially the sharing of love with other people — these are moments of grace, “throwaway” miracles scattered abundantly all around us, but we race past them and miss the sacred beauty and wonder that they hold.
    If we could see God and miracles in the everyday world around us, we would be stunned with awe.

  6. Avatar

    Not only the physical macrocosm of the Universe is sacred and gives us a sense of wonder and awe, but the mystics remind us that the interrelated spiritual microcosm of our inner unique Souls~Hearts is also Sacred and a deeper sense of Divine Love~Compassion~Wisdom resides there. I believe Teilhard de Chardin, a modern mystic and scientist, said words to the effect that when humans discover Divine Love, humankind will have discovered Fire for the second time….

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