HG Wells and The Universe Story in 1920

DSCF4747     hgwells     galaxy for HG Wells

Telling the human story within the larger context of Earth and Cosmos is not new, even to us westerners, apparently. Look at H.G. Wells’ The Outline of History (1920).  He calls Book I “The World Before Man” with chapters entitled thus: Chapter 1 “The Earth in Space and Time”; Chapter 2 “The Record of the Rocks”; Chapter 3 “Life and Climate”; Chapter 4 “The Age of Reptiles”; Chapter 5 “The Age of Mammal”. Book II “The Making of Man” begins with Chapter 6 “Apes and Sub-Men and Men”. He used the same story-telling structure of nested holons that Teilhard, Thomas Berry, and Brian Swimme use to tell the Story of the Universe: Universe, Earth, Life, Humans. Wells was thinking about the context of the human story.

The first sentence of the tome begins:

And first, before we begin the history of life, let us tell something of the stage upon which our drama is put and of the background against which it is played.

Wells uses “stage”, “drama”, “background”, and “played” like the Chorus/narrator of a Shakespearean drama. He tells us he is embarking on the telling of a story and wants the reader to be thus prepared.

Shifting voices his second paragraph reads:

In the last few hundred years there has been an extraordinary enlargement of men’s ideas about the visible universe in which they live. At the same time there has been perhaps a certain diminution in their individual self-importance. They have learnt that they are items in a whole far vaster, more enduring and more wonderful than their ancestors ever dreamed or suspected.

He moves straight to point out the human-Universe relationship and the evolution of consciousness brought to us by the scientific venture, then addresses the deflation of the Western ego in this new knowledge. Interestingly he tips his late 19th century-early 20th century cosmological cards when addresses humans as “items” – we might address them as “subjects” or “persons” – but then goes on to appreciate how full of wonder – “wonderful” – it is to be alive now to know this story.

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The Meadow Across the Creek: Words from Thomas Berry

The Meadow Across the Creek:

Words from Thomas Berry

A performance piece in honor of Thomas Berry


Script and Recitation: Andrew Levitt

Music for Solo Cello and Guitar: Scott Walker

A 90-minute performance intended for adult audiences

We are now booking performances in North Carolina and beyond

Cost: $1,000 within a 60-mile radius of Greensboro, NC

(Additional travel/accommodation costs at a greater distance)

If you are interested in booking a performance, please contact Center Director, Peggy Whalen-Levitt at beholdnature.@aol.com.

When asked how we might serve the children at this time, Thomas would say, “Tell them a story.” Any encounter with Thomas Berry was an encounter with the story of the universe as a great story encompassing vast reaches of time and space and also as an intimate story about you and me and him and the bluebird singing in the dogwood this very moment. In his presence one sensed the beauty of every aspect of life on earth; one felt the wonder of the extraordinary in every ordinary element of being; and one experienced our intimate kinship with all beings with whom we share the earth. When he spoke one was inspired by a sense of the place of the human in the story of the unfolding of time in the universe and by the moment of shared presence with a fern unfolding in springtime at one’s feet. In his own words we can hear again how Thomas wove the immediate into the grandeur of things and how he heard each note in time for its contribution to the unfinished symphony of the cosmos.

“The Meadow Across the Creek: Words From Thomas Berry” is a performance piece in Thomas Berry’s own lyrical and inspiring words. Growing up in Greensboro, NC, Thomas Berry had a “Meadow Across the Creek” experience when he was eleven years old that became a touchstone for his life and work. Mirroring this moment of mystical rapport in childhood, Thomas’ prose and poetry invite others into a deep presence to Earth and Cosmos.

The Center premiered it first performance of “The Meadow Across the Creek: Words from Thomas Berry” on November 7, 2014 at the Greensboro Historical Museum as part of the city-wide Thomas Berry Centennial. Here’s what people are saying:

“The performance was absolutely wonderful! Thank you so much for that hour’s powerful experience.”

~ Tom Droppers

“I am remembering the show last night and wishing that I had a CD to listen to it all over again tonight. There was so much to live into and take in during that performance. Andrew, you were wonderful, what can I say. The music was very moving and rich and layered and when you both were performing at the same time it was a perfect weaving. I really loved the piece on Cello that went along with the story of Greensboro. It was lively and fun and one could really feel the passage of time! There were several moments when I felt Thomas’s presence… I loved the space, the simple stage, the blanket over your shoulders. I really would love to hear it again, at my own pace, so that I can hit pause on the CD player and take in deeply what is being conveyed. I can still see the violets and the stars.”

~ Sandy Bisdee

“Didn’t see you, Andrew, at the end of the program so didn’t get to tell you how very much I enjoyed it, how lovely it was, all of it lovely: the dialogue, the readings, the music, the gathering of people – many of whom I knew. I enjoyed every minute of it!”

~ Gay Cheney

“What a wonderful evening. It was a beautiful reverie! Andrew and Scott did a superb job. I was so struck by how I felt Thomas Berry was telling his story.”

~ Mary Hartsell

Andrew Levitt holds a BA in English from Yale University and a PhD in Folklore from the University of Pennsylvania. He trained as a mime with Marcel Marceau and with Paul J. Curtis at The American Mime Theatre. In his career life, he has worked with silence and words. He performed and taught mime professionally for over thirty years. He then helped found the high school at the Emerson Waldorf School in Chapel Hill, NC where he taught Humanities and directed theater for seven years. As Dr. Merryandrew, he currently works as a cosmic clown in the Pediatric unit at Moses Cone Memorial Hospital.

Scott Walker has taught strings in the Greensboro area for over 30 years. Scott plays fiddle, guitar and cello and founded The Walker Family Band in 2002, which has delighted audiences throughout the Southeast with a distinctive take on traditional styles. His career has been dedicated to teaching young musicians in a variety of public and private schools, and as a private instructor of Suzuki music technique on cello and violin. Scott’s love of traditional Irish fiddle tunes resulted in the founding of Walker Street Fiddlers in 2009

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In law, the right of using and enjoying all the advantages and profits of the property of another without altering or damaging it. A term Thomas Jefferson wrote about.


Or, to put it slightly differently: In law, the right of using and enjoying all the advantages and profits of the property, land, air, water, soil, creatures, atmosphere, bioregion, Earth of another generation without altering or damaging it, poisoning it, blowing it up, making it radio active, damming it, extincting it, eating it all, cutting it all down, mining it all, paving it, dumping on it, emptying it, taking it all.

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Even though humans are derivative of Earth, human-Earth relations will always be derivative of human-human relations.

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Rising Tide: Report fron the New Story Summit at Findhorn

An exclusive, personal report from Ann Amberg, MCS.

NSS Sunday-singing

November 7, 2014

In September I had the privilege of attending, along with over 325 others from 50 countries, The New Story Summit: Inspiring Pathways for our Planetary Future, a pivotal event held at the Findhorn Foundation and Community September 27– October 3, 2014.

I sense it may take years for me to digest the deep movements of unfolding stories and processes of this larger-than-life shared experience. Part of that incorporation for me is to take time to reunite the powerful impressions in my inner/outer heart and soul and nurture the momentum of my capacity to let go of an old story.

I can say that I was impressed with many things: the way that the 40 Findhorn Fellows beautifully held a sacred and strong container for our emergent unfolding, the financial support offered through gifting for many to be there who otherwise could not—including myself—, the commitment, integrity and sensitivity of the indigenous leaders who held and guided healing processes every day and night from the opening ceremonies to the closing of the four directions, the strength and courage of women standing, telling their stories of truth from wounded worlds, and our willingness to grieve, sing, collaborate in spaces of not-knowing, commune, wait and listen, improvise, show up fully, dance, ask questions, meditate, mediate, be vulnerable, and celebrate together.

But saying that I am “impressed” comes from separateness; from my ego, from old habits of standing outside and comfortably distanced from discomfort, and this is a way of living in an old story. As we know so well, the old stories at every level are breaking down…and it’s uncomfortable. What I want to share here is a small witnessing of a groundswell of unfolding change from my personal, particular, inner experience. In the last few months I have been relinquishing an old personal story, shaped by old family habits, that I have not always wanted to see or release. It’s hard work. I have been tracking how that feels in my body and psyche, informed by events in nature.

After spending the summer in Italy and England with friends, housesitting, visiting Schumacher College, walking blissfully on the moors, and continuing to work remotely by computer at my part time job, I had planned to end my summer abroad by participating in the Summit. I had never been to Findhorn and had been looking forward to visiting. I felt grateful to be supported by my community to attend and contribute to the event.

In the week before the Summit, rather than feeling excitement and anticipation, I was not ready to participate or immerse myself in a large social gathering. I feared that the energy there would be so big that I might feel completely overwhelmed. I was in an introverted state; I felt tired and drained from the intensive soul-work I had engaged in during the summer. I had much to integrate; I wanted to withdraw and crawl under a rock. I had visions of being a potato-bug, and was looking for lovely undisturbed darkness, solitude and peace…

In fact I felt completely resistant to going. The day before I was to leave for the gathering, I was walking with my friend in a seaside village in Lancashire along an inlet, when a public warning blast sounded. I was told this is the alarm that warns of an unusual, large tidal swell about to come in suddenly. When I went into a shop, the water level was at low tide. When I came out out fifteen minutes later, there was a charge in the air; I noticed that the world seemed suddenly filled up with energized, flooding water, very close to the walkway, in an almost-overflowing high tide, and there was no beach left. It was unbelievable and a bit eerie. I felt the power of this tidal swell and I sensed it was connected to the coming new story about to unfold.

I almost relinquished my place at the gathering at the last minute and stayed in the sublime Lake District. But I forced myself to move on and go north into Scotland. When we arrived at Cluny I had had very little sleep and was exhausted, very much overwhelmed, energetically traumatized and stressed. I didn’t know how I was going to get through the opening ceremonies. I got on the bus with everyone else, from many countries, young and old, and took my place in the Universal Hall with hundreds of people. I could not keep my eyes open, and my body hurt. As I listened to the stories of pain and woundedness of humans and earth, brave truth-telling, feeling the building energies in the space like big water coming in, I realized the only way I would survive the event would be to let go, into relationship.

I offered my resistance, separateness and overwhelm to the mystery and flow of the group process, which was love. I knew the container that we created in the center that first day was rooted enough to hold anything. I trusted it, and so I let that sea of trust hold the breaking apart that was happening within me. It worked—I allowed myself to be folded into all that was happening, even the not-knowing, and it gave me energy to go on. I did not have to hold myself alone anymore…I was held by everyone there. I was still exhausted and tired, but I was no longer in a pressure-cooker of resistance. I was in a field of love!

I remembered that this is what the universe does….it builds and builds its structures—its stories— and then when the time is right, that story is finished, and it is destroyed, it collapses, is no more. Like the supernova star that burns hydrogen for billions of years, as it burns off layers its temperature and pressure rise to unbearable limits, and suddenly it implodes and there is seemingly nothing left….it dies.

What does it feel like to resist letting go of the old story? Does it feel like a pressure cooker—like being held in the grip of unresolvable pain and stress? What does the supernova “feel” before it releases itself? In the framework put forth in the 2004 DVD series The Powers of the Universe, by evolutionary philosopher Brian Swimme, this is the experience of “cataclysm” as a primary cosmic dynamic. It is the death and rebirth cycle that reshapes and transforms. We are in the pressure-cooker of the loss of untold numbers of species disappearing every day, the sweeping, dangerous shifts in global climate patterns, and growing poverty, injustice and inequity. The structures and systems we have built as part of the dream of the modern industrial era are shattering and are maladaptive, we know we have to let them go, but we don’t know exactly the outlines of the new stories and structures that are emerging. We are not quite comfortable yet with the idea that we are being invited to become colleagues with the universe as part of that emergence; it is a human/earth collaboration.

To remain creative and agile within the space in between stories is our present challenge. It’s all part of the process of cataclysm— of release—happening on a global cultural scale. All that unfolds on the stage of our inner/personal experience reflects the larger collective story unfolding and reforming, transforming. In this way my inner journey and your inner journey are not unrelated, rather they are a guide and a map to the evolution of an emerging way of being human that may at first seem unfamiliar and new, and that will work better for the flourishing of the whole.

One of the highlights of the week was an elegant and simple sacred marriage ceremony of the feminine and the masculine in communion with the earth. Becoming transparent to the beloved Other in this powerful way could not have taken place before the grief ceremonies, wobbly chaotic emergent moments and long council processes that preceded it. The Summit was truly one grand and authentically improvised ceremony of love and new possibilities.

I appreciate what Gigi Coyle, a Findhorn core team member, writes in her blog posting on the New Story Hub: “Maybe we need cultural translators, bridge people, good storytellers and more, willing to live some of the best stories we have.” See her full post here:


My trust and hope is that we might marry our awareness of our personal stories of transformation to our collective experience of change, as an action of partnering consciously with the cataclysm and release now taking place in our time.

— Ann Amberg, MCS

“What Does the Universe Do?”



Since 2001, Ann Amberg, M.C.S., has deepened the work of Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme through her leadership development work in the US and UK. In 2012 she founded the “What Does the Universe Do?” program of applied transformational ecology. As an educational consultant, she facilitates leadership & learning programs for the Center for Partnership Studies founded by Riane Eisler. Ann is also a witnessing artist at www.luminousagent.com.
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Transpersonal Agroecology: The Metaphysics of Alternative Agricultural Theory

Travis’s work is important for the Ecozoic era because it includes the subjectivity of the farmer, the land, and the non-human beings on the land in the conversation of what it is to farm. And thus to eat, and to be. Beyond the techniques of organic we need relational practices – rituals – that honor the whole.

You can soon watch his informal presentation at CIIS here http://pccforum.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/travis-cox-transpersonal-agroecology/ or read-on for his article from The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 2014, Vol. 46, No. 1.

Travis E.B. Cox, M.A. (now PhD)

Fairfield, Iowa


Industrial agriculture has taken over as the dominant form of food production globally, resulting in alternative production methods converging as a sustainable counter. Unfortunately, the ideological and metaphysical underpinnings of these alternative agricultural philosophies have been ignored as have the metaphysics of industrial agriculture. Using transpersonal ecology as a disciplinary analogue, this paper demonstrates an ideological commonality among alternative agricultural theorists, such that the term transpersonal agroecology covers their beliefs like the term transpersonal ecology covers the commonality of deep ecologists. The commonality is threefold. First, theorists are united in opposition against the scientism and economism that make up the productionist mentality. Second, there is awareness that in the practice of sustainable agriculture there is a process for and experience of identification with the beings on the farm, and with the farm itself. Finally, theorists contribute to the transpersonal conversation through their emphasis on values, alternative methodologies, and spirit.


Sustainable Agriculture, Transpersonal Ecology, Identification, Agroecology, Environmental Philosophy.

For most people, sustainable agriculture pertains to the on-farm activities of practitioners, such as cover crops, integrated pest management, and no-till. This is true even for the off-farm activities of consumers, who choose to purchase their food locally or look for the USDA organic seal. However, a study of the progenitors of sustainable agriculture—people such as Albert Howard, Masanobu Fukuoka, and Rudolf Steiner, who developed organic agriculture, natural farming, and biodynamics, respectively—indicates that there is something more than just practice to sustainable agriculture. There is something deeper at the level of the mind-set of the farmer.

By employing transpersonal ecology (TE) as a disciplinary analogue, including direct quotes from the aforementioned theorists, as well as many others, this article shows that sustainable agriculture has implications for the worldview of its practitioners. These implications include an opposition to the scientism and economism of industrial agriculture, a sense of the process and experience of identification with the farm and the beings on the farm, an awareness of alternative methodologies and epistemologies, and an explicit role for values and spirit. The end result of this study is a theory, transpersonal agroecology (TPAE), that conceptualizes the commonalities of these alternative agricultural theorists and thus opens a discussion about the deeper and more human aspects of sustainable agriculture and provides a framework with which to guide such a discussion.

The article continues at: http://www.atpweb.org/jtparchive/trps-46-14-01-035.pdf

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We Don’t Know: Reflections on the New Story Summit by Charles Eisenstein

 “…our civilization has not quite yet reached the point of readiness for a new story.”

This truth hurts. I think Charles is right though for the world continues to be smashed up – we continue to kill ourselves with our current cultural system.

Below are my excerpts from Charles’s essay at http://charleseisenstein.net/we-dont-know-reflections-on-the-new-story-summit/ This is what stood out for me.

  • …our civilization has not quite yet reached the point of readiness for a new story.
  • Each person had the choice whether or not to organize non-compliance, and no one did. That tells me that underneath their complaining (which, when unaccompanied by action, is actually a symptom of acceptance of the relations of oppression) they were just as unwilling as the organizers to try something different. Whether organizer or participant, the leap of faith and courage required to step into the unknown is the same.
  • I see the whole thing as a barometer of our current state of disempowerment, our stuckness. I hope that by making it visible, we can loosen its hold.
  • …no one really knows what the new story is, or, if we do catch glimpses of it, how to get there from here.
  • …the basic relations of power that were the source of much of the discontent remained fundamentally unchallenged even by those who were among the discontented.
  • But even those who were fed up with the structure went along with it, and I wonder if part of the reason might have been fear of the plunge into chaos that precedes true emergence.
  • What transpired at the NSS is instructive, for it is in some ways a microcosm of society at large. In the face of the guns, jails, surveillance, and propaganda, we (meaning, probably, “I”) take refuge in the familiar safety of our apparent powerlessness, venting our discontent through well-contained acts of empty defiance.
  • … the empty rituals of an obsolete narrative.
  • But let me tell you something I do know. The existing institutions of our society are insufficient to the task of transitioning us to a sustainable world. They are products of the old, and propagate the status quo via the built-in dynamics of their structure – even when the people within them yearn for change. Organizations routinely take actions that nary a single person within the organization agrees with. It is necessary to disrupt these institutions, the habits they induce, and the stories on which they rest.
  • And! And, we must be careful in our disruption not to conform to even deeper stories that underlie our civilization; for example, the story of us versus them. Ours is a revolution of love. We seek to disrupt the dance of the oppressor and the oppressed, and enter into a new dance together. We look at each person, whatever their role, and know that I would do as you do, my brother, my sister, if I were in your shoes. We appreciate the impossible pressures those in power face – that anyone in a position of any privilege faces – in striving to reconcile their humanity with their position. We don’t castigate or vilify them, just as we don’t indulge in self-hate over the conflict minerals in our smart phones. We make our disruptions as an offering. If the offering is declined, we do not say, “What’s wrong with them?” We do not inhabit the smugness of thinking that if we were they, we would have done differently. Instead we see the response as a message, a temperature reading that reveals both the state of the public and the state of ourselves that the public mirrors.
  • It showed us where we are now, and where we want to go. As to how to get there, the conference made it clear that We Don’t Know.
  • But perhaps, digesting the experience of the New Story Summit, the next step at least will come into focus. Its revelation of the limitations of the Conference archetype – in particular the disconnect between new-story content and old-story structures – will surely feed in to the planning of future conferences, which will stand on its shoulders. What is exciting to me is the possibility that the NSS marks a transition into a different kind of gathering entirely, no longer a conference, but perhaps more like a festival or a retreat, or something that is all and none of these things, something new, something edgy, something experimental, something destined to succeed and to fail, and thereby to illuminate the next step beyond. What else can we hope for, as we explore this mapless place between stories?
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Drew Dellinger’s Talk at Findhorn’s New Story Summit

Here’s a transcript of Drew Dellinger’s remarks on the opening day of the New Story Summit at Findhorn, Scotland, September 27, 2014.

Drew’s website is http://drewdellinger.org/

Drew at Findhorn 10648177_921030871243699_86Excerpt from “soulstice” by Drew Dellinger

“everything is shining in glory
singing a story

if love is a language
then I am just
learning to spell
while there’s a story
that the stars
have been
to tell”

 The first person to introduce me to the power of story was Thomas Berry, the American ecological and cosmological writer and thinker. In 1978 Thomas Berry wrote an essay called, “The New Story,” and it starts like this:

“It’s all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The old story, the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it is no longer effective, yet we have not learned the new story.”

And so, Thomas Berry was very much talking about the function of stories and the power of stories—the meta-story about stories, as David Spangler just referred to. When I was first studying with Tom Berry in 1991 he said, “It seems that we basically communicate meaning by narrative, at least that’s my approach to things: that narrative is our basic mode of understanding. The difficulty that we’re into has come, to a large extent, from the limitations and inadequacies of our story. And what we need, I think, and what we really have, is a new story.

Now, there are several elements to the new story. All of you are bringing a different thread of the new story. But when Berry was talking about the new story, a lot of what he was talking about was our new understanding of the universe and the unfolding of the planet Earth, what you could call The Universe Story. And so, for Berry, this was an amazing opportunity for the Western tradition to reconnect to the sense of interdependence and interconnectedness that Indigenous peoples have always maintained, have always held in their wisdom traditions.

So for him this scientific understanding that the universe exploded into existence some 13 billion years ago, expanded out in every direction for approximately a billion years, swirled itself into a trillion galaxies; galaxies that formed new elements in the hearts of their stars; stars that exploded with new element-rich clouds of stellar nebulae that could then swirl back into second-generation stars with planets around them; planets with the inner genius and creativity that they could bring forth oceans and atmosphere, the first cells of life, all of the creatures that we know. I don’t need to recount the whole story—you can get that in books—but what was significant about Berry’s vision was that it was a poetic vision of the interdependence of this seamless energy. He said it’s one single energy unfolding, and we are that. We are the space in which the universe reflects on and celebrates itself, just as the whales, and the trees, and the clouds are manifestations in which the universe celebrates itself.

For Thomas Berry, celebration was a one-word synonym for the cosmos. He’d say, ‘the stars shine, the rivers flow, the flowers bloom, the trees blossom, all in ecstatic celebration.’

So, for Berry, the universe was a communion and a celebration, and the true definition of the human was “the space in which the universe reflects on and celebrates itself.”

Now, for Berry, this was a chance for the Western tradition to restructure all of its thinking, but had a special role to play in education. Tom said once: “What is education? Education is knowing the story of the universe, how it began, how it came to be as it is, and the human role in the story. There is nothing else. We need to know the story, the universe story, in all its resonances, in all its meanings. The universe story is the divine story, the human story, the story of the trees, the story of the rivers, of the stars, the planets, everything. It is as simple as a kindergarten tale, yet as complex as all cosmology and all knowledge and all history…. It gives a new context for education.”

So that’s a little bit on cosmology and the universe story. I want to bring in a few thoughts about the connections between ecology, social justice, and cosmology. That’s been my special area of interest for the last 20 to 25 years: what are the connections between ecology, social justice, and cosmology or worldview?

First, let me say that—as I’m sure you all realize, and as is embodied by this gathering—that the new story is going to be a multiplicity of stories. The new story is going to be a kaleidoscope of stories. The author John Berger wrote “Never again will a single story be told as if it is the only one.”

So the new story, of course, has to come from the voices of women; come from the voices of communities of color; come from the voices of the Global South; come from the voices and the genius of youth. I think the youth who are rising up in Ferguson, Missouri—saying ‘enough’ to racism in policing and in society—have an integral thread, have an integral part to play in what’s going to be the new story. Can we recognize the leadership of the youth of Ferguson, Missouri, as we create this new story?

I think there are many, many inter-linkings and interconnections between ecology and social justice, and the connection is connection, basically; the interrelationship is interconnection. Gandhi said, “Underlying ahimsa, nonviolence, is the unity of all life.” Joanna Macy said “That sense of connectedness with all beings is politically subversive in the extreme.”

Some of the research that I’ve been doing lately has to do with Martin Luther King Jr., and as I really delved into his speeches, sermons, and writings, something began to jump out at me—perhaps because I had studied with Thomas Berry for 20 years—but Martin Luther King was constantly talking about interdependence, interrelationship, interconnection, mutuality. He would say, ‘I can’t be who I’m meant to be until you are who you’re meant to be.’

I would love to go into this more, but let me just summarize by giving an emblematic example. King gave a sermon in the last months of his life called “A Christmas Eve Sermon on Peace” in which he said “If we are to have peace on earth we must develop a world perspective.” He said “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly…. This is the way our universe is structured. This is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.”

So here’s King, who we think of as an emblematic icon of social justice, civil rights, and human rights; he’s speaking ecologically; he’s speaking cosmologically; he’s speaking in terms of systems thinking: “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated.”

So basically the mission and the message that I carry as I travel around is that we need to build a movement that connects ecology, social justice, and cosmology, using the power of dream, the power of story, the power of art, and the power of action.

And so I’m just going to leave you with a poem that I would like to dedicate to this gathering, and to all of the visions, and the threads, and the traditions, and the stories, and the actions that you carry in your hearts, and that we’re co-creating together.

This poem is called “re:vision.”

open your eyes.

see visions.

imagine a melody,



a planet of stories
with islands of silence,
her curved surface
radiates grace.

milky way blazing
in the sky above the city.
speaking in fractals,
the stars are telepathic

wake the poets.
wake the dreamers.

cultivate the tendrils
in the vineyard
of your heart

reorient our buildings to the solstice,
and from the center of the city,
see the stars.

Thank you so much, New Story Summit. Let’s planetize the movement.

—Drew Dellinger

Findhorn, Scotland, October 27, 2014


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Brian Thomas Swimme: Creating a New World

What do you do to create the world anew? Brian Thomas Swimme has such a lovely perspective on this cultural work we are doing to birth the new cosmology. This email from Brian came across my desk this morning. The power of his comments are self-evident.

10/14/2014 6:23 PM, Brian Swimme wrote:

Hello Everyone,

Just wanted to give some support to this great topic started by Elizabeth last week [on another list serve].

People often ask me what graduates of PCC* actually do. Usually the questioner is really asking about the kinds of jobs the graduates get. My answer is always the same: “They are creating a new world.”

If the University of Washington Dentistry School can summarize its educational emphasis with one word – TEETH – I think it is fair to say that PCC can also summarize its educational emphasis with one word – CREATIVITY.

There are all kinds of strategies for evoking creativity but ultimately I think it is important to remember that creativity and love are cosmological synonyms. In particular, there are no set, mechanical procedures for either. We plunge into the mystery of it all and in our mad groping we come up with potent processes that actually work, like the wonderful Salon Habibi**.  Each of you will fall in love in your own unique way and the same is true for finding those soul friends who are uniquely right for igniting and enhancing your creativity.

Rick [Tarnas] and I were discussing all this and we thought we would offer two little things to continue the conversation.

1. Rick will be speaking about creativity, especially in terms of the writing process. This will be a lecture for the Intro to PCC course and will be focused on the students in the course, but if others are interested in listening in they are certainly welcome.

2. I will be lecturing in the Radical Mythospeculation course and will include a short segment of suggestions that might assist you in the challenge of gathering together to support one another’s creativity. Anyone interested is welcome to come.

Finally, let me recommend the courses by Carolyn Cooke who is a beautiful writer, director of the creative writing program at CIIS, and very much aligned with the PCC vision.

All the best,


*PCC stands for Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness, the department in which Brian teaches at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, CA.
**Salon Habibi was a private support group designed to honor and invoke the creative muse.


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Awakening the Story of the Universe in Our Lives

Karen Harwell, friend and member of the Conscious Elders Network sent this in today.

We need a common and compelling vision of the nature of the Universe and the role of the human within it. Such a new cosmology must be grounded in the best empirical, scientific understanding, and must be nourished just as deeply by the vibrant cores of our planet’s wisdom traditions. Only such a vision has a chance of awakening the deep psychic energies necessary to shape a new era of health, well being, true prosperity.     ~ Brian Thomas Swimme

Awakening the Story of the Universe in Our Lives

One only has to look around and see what is happening to our world to know that Brian Thomas Swimme is right: We need a new, more expanded cosmology. What we have been taught about the Universe and our part in it is inadequate for the times we live in.

How do we awaken the deep psychic energy Brian talks about? Personally, my inquiry came from reading two books by Thomas Berry. His book Dream of the Earth held insights far different from the cultural teachings of my education, my religious upbringing, virtually everything the typical cultural coding told about the nature of reality.

A second book by Thomas Berry, coauthored with Brian, The Universe Story offered personal tools to explore the answer from an intellectual standpoint. In it, the authors talked about three key aspects of the Universe.

All activity in the Universe is Universe activity. The fireball energy arranges itself into the antennae of beetles or the subterranean architecture of gophers. For thirteen billion years, creative energy has shaped itself into a story of majesty. The whole sequence of spontaneous shinings becomes a story precisely because the spontaneities are governed by the central contours of the Universe, here identified as subjectivity, differentiation, and communion.


The Universe consists of subjects, each with the capacity for being a source of its own sensibility and perception, as well as initiating freely and naturally without external cause. The Universe manifests only in and through particular subjects. To be a subject, then is to be an autonomous source of Universe activity.

According to Thomas Berry, not only is every being different from every other being in the Universe but each has its own inner articulation, and each carries in its subjective depths “the numinous mystery whence the Universe emerges into being. This we might identify as the sacred depth of the individual being.”

This is astonishing news – the first time humans have had any empirical evidence of the story of the Universe and of their own unique connection to that story. A few mystics, through their own insights, intuited this connection with the Universe and interpreted it for others. Now we can see for ourselves the continued emergence of the Universe through the amazing views coming from the Hubble telescope and have our own mystical experience.

It is easier to think of subjectivity in terms of humans, harder to think of animals and plants as subjects, and even harder with things that are inanimate. Yet we say “a star shines,” so it’s not too much of a stretch to think of a star as a subject which is acting. Its dynamic organization of hydrogen and helium, its ability to produce a vast entity of elements and to produce light, are all its own business.

We can also imagine an atom as a self, for each atom is a blazing blur of self-organizing activity. This same invisible power, assembling energy into a particular pattern, is the atom’s center of organization.

To imagine what is actually taking place in a rock requires an appreciation for the activity required for rock existence. The rock is not simply passive. It burbles with activity at the quantum level so that the rock can be what it is. That which sustains and energizes the rock is its subjectivity, that which sustains and energizes the mountain is its subjectivity, just as that which sustains and energizes a human is its subjectivity. Everything, absolutely everything, is a subject, a unique expression of the whole cosmic community. The origin of every subject traces back to the beginning of time and space.

How different from the cultural coding I was exposed to, which viewed only the human as subject and thus the only one capable of intimate relationship with the source of creation. Everything else was viewed as object, with its value based on its resource potential for human use. In this new view, everything is unique, with its own intelligence and strategy, intriguing and mysterious.

I spent my own childhood journeying back and forth from the majesty of the Rocky Mountains to the plains city of Denver, where our home was located. Most weekends and much of the summer we were in the mountains, where as a child I reveled in magical creeks and streams, played hide and seek with chipmunks, searched for mica and other minerals, felt sheer delight on the back of a galloping horse and in locating a lost calf, felt cooled and humbled by afternoon rains and thunderstorms, went quiet and inner with the awesome experience of the Sun sinking behind the purple mountains, and came together in warmth and community around blazing campfires. There was coherence in this magical community. Somehow it was easy to feel in balance and in right proportion as a human presence in relationship with everything else. In the mountain community, I had a deep knowing of belonging.

Then on Sunday evenings, as we wound our way down the mountain roads to Denver, I often felt a certain dis-ease and sadness and longed for things to work in Denver as coherently as they did in the mountains.

Today, I have the language to describe what I was feeling and experiencing then. The chipmunk, the stream, the mica, and the mountain were all subjects to me. They were real and had value in and of themselves. They comprised my world and were my relations. I felt a deep love for each of them. They were not objects to be used by me. I was not looking at the mountain as mineral deposits to be mined; the chipmunk was not just a creature in the background of my landscape; and the stream not just s source of water for me to drink. In this intimate encounter with each, I was experiencing an awesome revelation of our Earth community.

In Sunday school, we never talked about all the things that made my life so full and wonderful. Instead we talked about an abstract God who did not seem to live within the Earth community, and people who lived long ago and far away and rules that didn’t mention anything about chipmunks, streams or mountains. Later on, I began to wonder, why if we love God, wouldn’t we love his creation. I thought if I were God, I would rather people would love everything that I had brought into being.

Among the more subtle meanings of subjectivity is the dimension of time and its effect on everything. Over time, everything changes, even the Universe. Appreciating this, I have found it uncomfortable how easy it is to “box” people in time, instead of allowing them to reveal themselves at each new encounter. Now instead of thinking I know how so and so is, I catch myself and move into anticipating who they have become since we last met.


From the elementary particles to all the myriad forms of the animate world, to the complexities of galaxy and planetary systems, we live in a Universe of unending variety. We once saw the night skies as filled with twinkling things we called stars. Then we learned more about the stars and that they were all different, and we learned that some were actually planets, and they were all different. We learned about nebulae and galaxies, all of which were different. The more intimately we become acquainted with anything, it seems, the clearer our recognition of its differences with anything else in the world.

We are now fully aware that the Universe is coded to become more and more diverse. The Earth is highly developed, and its aliveness arises out of this principle of differentiation. Why then, as Thomas Berry would ask, do we try to make everything the same?

Whereas the basic direction of the evolutionary process is toward constant differentiation within the order of the Universe, our modern world is directed toward monocultures. This is the inherent direction of the entire industrial age. It requires standardization, an invariant process of multiplication with no enrichment of meaning.

The first 20 years of my life, I sought familiarity, choosing to be with people who were like me. It all changed when I transferred from a small liberal arts women’s college to a large university, where the only residential option was to live in a boarding house. The people who lived in this house, as well as the graduate students who came for meals, were the most diverse group I had ever spent any time with. At first, I was uncomfortable, and often judgmental. But with each meal conversation, it became clearer that these people, whom I never would have selected to be with, were far more interesting than many of the people I had felt comfortable with. By the end of the year, it was obvious how much I had missed by avoiding diversity. And as a result, I learned to not only welcome but also even seek out the opportunity to experience diversity, valuing the richness it brings.

Differentiation also promotes strength. I have had the rich experience to spend time in old growth forests. After cradling the fullness of their diversity, anything less now seems to be sparse and degraded. In agriculture, in our forests, and in our gardens, we are increasingly aware of how vulnerable and weak monoculture is. Where there are a variety of types of plants and variance in canopy levels, there is healthy growth, and the strength to resist pests and changes in weather. So it is a cruel irony that we are so prone to want to eliminate differences, when in fact, differentiation is the key to our well being and to the chance to continue on in the community of life.


To be is to be related. The Sun and the Earth are bound in a relationship we call gravitational interaction. The chlorophyll molecules carry the essence of the Sun in their structure. The human celebrates this relationship with the Sun in all the ten thousand cultures on Earth.

Much of our existence finds fulfillment in relatedness. We can experience this in all of the attention we humans, other animals, insects, and creatures of all kinds put into the mating rituals the natural world has evolved. So much of the coloration and dance and song of the world come from our desire to enter relationships of true intimacy. The energy we and other animals bestow on this work of relatedness reveals something of the ultimate meaning of communal experience.

In Thomas Berry’s words,

The ethical imperative of communion reminds us that the entire Universe is bonded together in such a way that the presence of each individual is felt throughout the entire special and temporal range of the Universe. This capacity for bonding of the components of the Universe with each other enables the vast variety of beings to come into existence in that gorgeous profusion that we observe about us.

One of the most amazing insights of my life came during a course in biology. We were studying honeybees and the intricacies of their community, which enables them to be the amazing pollinators they are bringing the almond groves into their fullness, the flowers to sweeten the Earth, and on and on. I had my own mystical awakening to the reality that the whole thing is interwoven and utterly interdependent. I felt infused with respect and reverence for the intelligence and wisdom that permeates everything, and that insight totally re-framed my perspective on life and enhanced my ability to love.

I feel so fortunate to have found these three principles to reference in my life. Woven into daily life, they can serve as a balance. When things seem to be going off kilter, almost certainly one or more of the principles is out of balance. When this happens to me – such as getting too much into community and not respecting differentiation and/or subjectivity, or some other combination – and as I self-correct, a sense of balance seems to return.

Using these three principles as a barometer/compass to navigate through each day, I find more and more joy in being alive on this blue/green Earth, and this mysterious and numinous Universe.

With immense gratitude and love, Karen Harwell

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