The Institute for Theological Partnerships of the University of Winchester University in association with GreenSpirit presents:
The Universe Story: Understanding and Experiencing the Unfolding Story
A Conference at the University of Winchester
Friday 29th June – Sunday, 1st July 2018
Professor Brian Swimme – by video link
Cosmogenetic Experience as a Foundation for a Reinvention of Homo Sapiens
When we list all the changes that are needed to move our civilization into an ecological mode, it becomes clear that what is required is a new kind of human. Over the years of our existence, we humans have gone through a number of fundamental changes, each of which can be considered a speciation event of a very special sort. Each of these depended not on anatomical change but only a change in consciousness.
We need to contemplate the processes that are bringing about the new speciation event in which we find ourselves. Several of these speciation processes are already underway. The one I will focus on is the movement from a materialistic consciousness to what can be called a cosmogenetic consciousness, the nature of which will be a central point in my presentation. Rather than dwelling on definitions, I would like to indicate here what I believe to be the very essence of this change. For us to move into cosmogenetic process means to have those particular experiences that stabilize us in the realization that we are a wave of energy that is at least fourteen billion years in extent. Such experiences were not available to humans until the end of the 20th century. They can be considered one of the gateways into a new form of humanity.
The key word is experience of the universe as opposed to “objective” knowledge of the universe. I use quotation marks around the word objective to pay respect to the ongoing debates about the nature of scientific knowledge. In any event, to know the “objective” facts of our cosmological situation is a first step. The next challenge is to move from a consciousness that knows the facts of the universe “out there” to a consciousness that experiences itself in a direct way as an exemplar of this knowledge. As an analogy to our challenge, we can reflect on the sixteenth century discovery of the relationship between Sun and Earth. Though all of us are quick to speak of knowing that the Sun and the stars are not moving around the Earth, and that it is the Earth that is spinning which gives the illusion of the Sun and stars moving around us, we only rarely, if ever, experience this directly. We like to think that we “know” the Earth is spinning, but our language gives us away when we speak of “sunrise” and “sunset”. That is our situation in a nutshell. We have amassed a vast amount of “objective” knowledge of the universe but have not yet entered into and begun living in this universe.
One of the principal spiritual challenges of our time is to construct educational-imaginative-ritual processes that invite us, as participants, into an experience of an active cosmogenesis composed entirely of participants. My presentation will be a first attempt. My hope is that if I can elicit even a tiny glimmer of participation, it might inspire others to invent and construct the psycho-spiritual works that will evoke the transformations of consciousness foundational for creating an ecological civilization.
About Brian Swimme
Brian Thomas Swimme is a professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Mathematics at the University of Oregon in 1978 for work in gravitational dynamics. He brings the context of story to our understanding of the 13.7 billion year trajectory of cosmogenesis. Such a story, he feels, will assist in the emergence of a flourishing Earth community.
Swimme is the author of The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos and The Universe is a Green Dragon. He is co-author of The Universe Story, which is the result of a 10 year collaboration with cultural historian, Thomas Berry. Swimme is also the creator of three educational video series: Canticle to the Cosmos (1990), The Earth’s Imagination (1998), and The Powers of the Universe (2004).
He lectures widely and has presented at conferences sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The World Bank, UNESCO, The United Nations Millennium Peace Summit, and the American Museum of Natural History.
Most recently he hosted and co-wrote, with Mary Evelyn Tucker, the 60 minute film Journey of the Universe, broadcast on PBS television stations nationwide (USA). Journey of the Universe won the Northern California regional Emmy for Best Documentary, 2011. The Journey of the Universe book, ebook and ed series are published by and available from Yale University Press.
You can read more about Brian Swimme’s work here: https://storyoftheuniverse.org/
Journey of the Universe – Film