Wisdom & The Role of Cosmic Awareness East & West

Not only Thomas Aquinas, but Eastern mystics too call us to wisdom by way cosmic awareness. French philosopher Gabriel Marcel finds a necessary connection between cosmos and wisdom among Eastern and Western sages.

Philosopher and Dramaturge Gabriel Marcel (1889-1973), in Rotterdam in 1969. Photo by Anefo. Wikimedia Commons.

He writes: The true function of the sage is surely the function of linking together, of bringing into harmony. I am not thinking only or even chiefly of the Greeks, but of classical China, of the China of Lao Tse, and what here strikes me in a really marvelous light is that the sage is truly linked with the universe.

The texts are unmistakable and revealing: the order to be established in life—whether of the individual or of the city or of the empire—is in no way separable from the cosmic order.

Humankind cannot live wisely, sanely, or gently without the cosmos. Without it, humanity becomes arrogant and manipulative in its idolatry of itself and its ways.

A brief introduction to Gabriel Marcel. Video by Vis Philo.

As Marcel puts it: The important thing—and I think it is hardly possible to insist on it too much—is that in this outlook, the true aim of knowledge and of life is to be integrated in the universal order, and not at all to transform the world by bringing it into subjection to the human will, to man’s needs or his desires.

Richard Wilhelm tells us that all of Chinese philosophy is built on the premise that the cosmos and humans, in the last analysis, obey the same law; that humans are a microcosm and are not separated from the macrocosm by any fixed barriers. The very same laws rule for the one as for the other. The psyche and the cosmos are to each other like the inner world and the outer world. Therefore, humans participate by nature in all cosmic events, and are inwardly as well as outwardly interwoven with them.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality, pp. 71-73.

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

Banner Image: The Moon and the Milky Way arch over the Golden Hall, which is located on top of China’s Tianzhu Peak. Photo by Likai Lin. Wikimedia Commons.



Queries for Contemplation

“The sage is truly linked with the universe” says Gabriel Marcel. Are you? Are we? Are our educational and political and economic and religious institutions and professions? Is this a key to taming the power of raw knowledge and steering it toward wisdom?


Recommended Reading

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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6 thoughts on “Wisdom & The Role of Cosmic Awareness East & West”

  1. Avatar

    Dear Matthew – as you mentioned Richard Wilhelm I wanted to ask if you are aware of the new version of the I Ching by Carol Anthony and Hanna Moog? https://www.amazon.co.uk/I-Ching-Oracle-Cosmic-Way/dp/1890764043

    I used the Wilhelm translation for years, but when the new version was published in 2002 it was like swapping a Model T Ford for the space shuttle. Carol (now passed) and Hanna used a new method of asking the Sage if their understanding of each detail was correct, which wiped out centuries of scribing and interpretation reinforcing the traditional collective ego viewpoint.

  2. Avatar

    Right now in the cosmos, in the universe, we reside in the most idyllic and profound educational, political, economic and religious institutions and professions. However, we do not perceive them or the cosmos that way, so we don’t act out the reality that we have been given. — BB.

  3. Avatar

    In my Shamanic teachings I learnt that information leads to knowledge and that knowledge ONLY becomes wisdom through lived experience, through applying this knowledge to one’s life, over and over again, until it becomes intigrated and embodied as a way of being. True wisdom awakens us consciously to our meaning and purpose of balancing and harmonizing our relationships WITH the all and the everything of creation.

    Perhaps the legacy of Gabriel Marcel’s philosophical teachings might benefit humanity regarding the responsible use of the technogocial advancements of artificial intelligence. Yesterday I watched a panel discussion regarding AI. Alot of the concerns discussed in this open dialogue, interestingly and synchronistically touched upon the same philosophic insights shared with us in the video about Gabriel Marcel included in today’s DM.

    Hopefully, the wisdom of this sage, along with many other sages, might seriously be considered; in assisting humanities unfolding evolutionary relationship with technolgy, in a more responsible, moral and ethical manner; as to the long term effects and consequences of its uses and the potentials, both positive and negative that emerge from this.

  4. Richard E Reich-Kuykendall

    “The sage is truly linked with the universe” says Gabriel Marcel (1889-1973). It turns out that Marcel converted to Catholicism in 1929. He was an opponent of atheistic existentialism, having come to the realization that John-Paul Sartre’s version of existentialism made humans isolated rather than interconnected, and having “No Exist,” which I would say meant no cosmology. And another Catholic existentialist, who was also a Thomist was, Jacques Maritain (1882-1973). Marcel and Maritain were contemporaries and knew each other!

  5. Avatar

    The cosmos is God’s Canvas, God’s block of marble, God’s musical score. Organic life is God’s paint, God’s chisel, God’s orchestra, God’s theater troupe, God’s dance company. We are the media of God’s meaning-making. We should dive into this role and open ourselves to God’s creative flow. In this way our microcosmos’s can best serve and facilitate God’s observable purpose.

  6. Avatar

    Yes, we are truly linked to the Universes/COSMOS, both in our inner and outer lives. Our Unique Eternal Souls are Being & Becoming with-in our evolving LOVING diverse Wholeness~ONENESS of our Beloved CO-CREATOR~SOURCE in the Sacredness of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT….

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