Cosmos on My Mind, Renaissance on My Mind

Père Chenu’s book about the living cosmology that arose during Europe’s Gothic era: Nature, Man, and Society in the Twelfth Century.

Another reason why the Cosmos is on my mind lately is that, as I shared in my class with Brian Swimme recently, Rabbi Heschel makes clear that the wonder that lies at the heart of an awakened spiritual consciousness, comes from an encounter with the universe and its grandeur.

Another reason is that Père Chenu, who is a great historian of the Middle Ages in particular, tells us that it was the rediscovery of nature that birthed the great 12th century renaissance that was a “spiritual revolution” as well as a cultural awakening. It gave us the “joy of St. Francis” that birthed a “new civilization” thanks also to St. Dominic and Thomas Aquinas.* 

A view of a part of the Moon we don’t normally see: its North Pole, as viewed by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC). Photo by NASA, public domain. Wikimedia Commons.

In our time, a new rediscovery of nature is at hand, thanks to the new cosmology. India’s recent successful landing on the Moon is one more example of this noospheric reality.

This is why science awakening spirituality, and spirituality grounding in science, is so vital to our survival at this time. Homo sapiens has become a “force” on this plane—as Brian Swimme puts it—and humanity must come of age. Finally. 

We can choose to be a force for knowledge and praise and celebration of the universe. And of wisdom and love for future generations.

The “force” that Homo Sapiens has become, is also called “The Anthropocene Age.” Neil deGrasse Tyson explains one unintended consequence of human cleverness — the invention of CFCs. Video by National Geographic

Or we can choose to be a force for destroying ourselves, millions of other species, and the earth as we know it. Clearly, climate change is instructing us that we are currently on the latter path (last night a billionaire presidential candidate shouted that “climate change is a hoax”).

We can move from adolescent rebellion (war and “defense” budgets aimed at one another as starters) to co-operation and the inner work that will defend the planet from ourselves, including from our own powers of self-hatred and projection manifested in racism, sexism, colonialism, fascism, perverted versions of masculinity, rationalistic education in flight from intuition, mysticism, wisdom and the divine feminine.

*This is laid out in Chenu’s iconic book, Nature, Man and Society in the 12th Century published in French in 1957 and in English by the University of Chicago Press in 1968.

See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society.

And Fox, The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human.

Banner Image: A Renaissance conception of the “Macrocosm and Microcosm”, as shown in an engraving attached to Basilica Philosophica, third volume of Johann Daniel Mylius’ Opus Medico-Chymicum. Engraving by Matthäus Merian, 1618. Wikimedia Commons.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you agree that inner work is required to defend the planet from ourselves? And that modern education is in flight from intuition, mysticism, wisdom and the divine feminine?

Recommended Reading

Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society

Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them. 
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science.  A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics

The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human

The A.W.E. Project reminds us that awe is the appropriate response to the unfathomable wonder that is creation… A.W.E. is also the acronym for Fox’s proposed style of learning – an approach to balance the three R’s. This approach to learning, eldering, and mentoring is intelligent enough to honor the teachings of the Ancestors, to nurture Wisdom in addition to imparting knowledge, and to Educate through Fox’s 10 C’s. The 10 C’s are the core of the A.W.E. philosophy and process of education, and include: compassion, contemplation, and creativity. The A.W.E. Project does for the vast subject of “learning” what Fox’s Reinvention of Work did for vocation and Original Blessing did for theology. Included in the book is a dvd of the 10 C’s put to 10 video raps created and performed by Professor Pitt.
An awe-based vision of educational renewal.Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

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7 thoughts on “Cosmos on My Mind, Renaissance on My Mind”

  1. Avatar

    Inner work is surely absolutely necessary to save us from ourselves. Those in power need it the most and do it the least, it seems. I cannot speak for education in general, but what is happening in Florida is spreading, no doubt. The first attack by despots is on the “intelligentsia”, and it is on full force in this state, where the whole education “system” has been politicized to promote the ideas of Christian Nationalists with increased vouchers, appointment of politicians to oversee universities, intimidation of academic institutions from university to kindergarten with laws against discussing LBGQT+ issues or race, book banning, and the most egregious of all, to me: teaching the lie that slavery benefitted the slaves as they learned some skill–slavery as trade school, as one journalist noted. All we can do is to continue to be individual spiritual learners, to gather in like groups, and to speak the truth to power as often and as well as we can. It is not easy.

  2. Avatar

    Most of us are guilty of buying throw-away, one-time, placed on the shelf, little used, ‘garbage’ as consumers. We feel an underlying need to purchase goods as a form of emotional therapy. Who goes to Costco and fills up their basket with objects they ‘suddenly’ need? And the factories keep rolling, producing new items made from resources we pull out of the earth. Landfills are also full of unsold fashion goods. One-time use plastics litter the waterways, seas and oceans.

    We all need to practice some version of minimalism. I remember simpler times growing up when an entire family shared one bathroom, one television, shared bedrooms, had one car, etc. . Our savings went into record albums as the music of the times reflected a new way of living, loving and sharing. Our education included, almost in artistic fashion, reflection on social issues with free speech and no cancel culture unless you were of the older generation trying without success to cancel out long hair on men, free love and the ‘hippie lifestyle’. This is not to say that everything was good as the times were ripe with riots, protest, bigotry and racism. We were also, on average, smaller physically, not in height but in weight.

    We need to re-think our plight, learn to live light, and bask in ‘the light’ of unending metaphysical fulfillment. With 8 billion people and growing the earth needs to feed them, clothe them and not promise a lifestyle of the rich and famous. — BB.

  3. Avatar

    “Do you agree that inner work is required to defend the planet from ourselves? And that modern education is in flight from intuition, mysticism, wisdom and the divine feminine?”

    Yes, the projections of self-hatred that you also mention, need to be addressed in order to protect all life – including ours – from ourselves.

    Education should give us the tools to do this inner work. Maybe it is starting to, but encountering resistance.

    The Moon’s North Pole is so beautiful, thank you <3

  4. Avatar

    Recently a colleag within the college my husband worked for, stated that all of the courses he now teaches are created by AI, which he says he simply tweeks a bit. He sees nothing wrong with this, as he states, “why not do less and get paid the same.” How sad and also scarey. The human creative, intuitive imagination, it seems is be being replaced with AI. As of yet, AI has no intuition, no mystical attributes, no inner wisdom but rather simply an abundance of information programmed into its systems, and I am pretty certain that it doesn’t know the TRUTH about embodying the Divine Feminine.

    Yes I agree, that deep inner healing work is needed, to save us from ourselves. Mother Earth, in the midst of Her own suffering, along with the creation of the all and the everything; continously gives of Self, offering to assist ALL in this deep inner healing needed; as does the many beings within the spiritual realm, midwifing us ALL through this process. We can ALL access and receive this giveaway of beauty that is enfolding ALL; in Light and Love, in compassionate, merciful and gracious ways. I have hope, faith and trust in this evolutionary, transformational power of the Divine Feminine arising within the collective hearts of humanity and the potential possibilities that will emerge through converging with this essence, that is present in its presence to ALL.

  5. Avatar

    YES!!! The responsibility of each one of us in our inner spiritual work is vital and essential because our Soul’s evolution is intimately related to our Earthly and COSMIC SOUL due to our interconnections and interdependence as mystics and now quantum scientists have discovered. Our Beloved Co-Creator~Source’s Spirit of LOVING Diverse ONENESS~WHOLENESS with-in our Hearts is guiding and empowering Us to serve, heal, and Co-Create with one another Compassionately….

  6. Avatar

    Teaching compassion, inner contemplation, and cross-cultural spiritual Truths are vitally important. They’re the wisdom that needs to be re-injected into all of society.
    We also need to teach every citizen about the Constitution and how our government works, or doesn’t, how our laws work and how to be involved in changing those systems. Respect for the Constitution and law is necessary to fight against authoritarian takeovers.
    And we need to teach people to be much less trustful of what they’re fed online by the platforms. People are massively manipulated by online weaponized lies spread by algorithms that prop up dictators, the wealthiest 1% and the biggest corporations. We need to learn how to disconnect from the lies and those who spread them.

    We also need to teach students, and citizens in general, HOW to analyze and evaluate information. Politicians play with emotional, simplified soundbites that may “feel intuitively true” if you don’t want to analyze things too closely, but beware the wanna-be dictator who appeals only to emotions by giving simplistic us-vs.-them fear mongering instead of genuine policy and informed evaluations of issues.
    And we need to fight back against the demagogues who try to dummy us down by blocking schools from teaching anything that “makes the rich dictators uncomfortable” for us to learn about.

    1. Avatar

      As Brian McLaren has taught in the book and podcast series, “Learning How to See”, we all are biased and need to recognize our own tendencies–but, as he says, it is easier to accept a simple lie instead of a complex truth. Critical thinking is vital in educating people on real events and real history, but it seems to be under great attack.

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