This Earth Is Alive: Gaian Spirituality as a Way of Balance, Creative Peace, and Joyful Thriving

Who Are You?

Do you feel it? Do you know? Are you awake to Her rhythms moving through you, with you, moving you? Are you in tune to your roots in this Earth, strong roots of body and spirit drawing sustenance from the miracle of Gaia? This Earth is alive and sacred. We are part of this living Earth and we are sacred. Our bodies are sacred. Our spirits are not separate from our bodies. Our minds are not transcendent from our bodies. In order to live well, we must align our spirits and mind with our bodies. We must rediscover how to live well in our bodies.

We need new wisdom for new times, and each of us must discover that wisdom alone, for it’s unique for each of us. That doesn’t mean we don’t learn from each other, or from tradition, or from books, or videos, or schools, or artwork or music or any of the many other myriad manifestations of beauty and spirit and joyful living that are here with us, now. We plunge deeply into the tones of culture that are most resonant to us. No one can do that for you. No one can do that for me. I have to be willing to dive into the mess of experience and allow my senses to be saturated with thousands of events. And I have to understand that no one can do that for me, that while I may use the tools produced by others and spawned by history, I cannot find the answer in any specific tool or set of tools. No, I have to study the tools so that I can craft my own.

When I use the term Gaian spirituality, I am pointing to this sacred connection between human beings and the ecology that surrounds us. If I accept deeply that Gaia is a living, sacred being, and if I apply logic to that belief, I come to the conclusion that everything here on planet Earth grows from her–including our thoughts, our cultures, our history. But not limited to our thoughts, our cultures, our history. History is a blip, even in the span of human existence, and so much more so in the span of geologic time, and exponentially more in the span of cosmic time. I’m terrible at high math, but I love the power of exponents, which is the power of scale, the power of the zoom out or, conversely, the zoom in. I love scale.

Gaian Awareness is Cosmic Awareness

As we tune into the intricacies of the universe around us, we become sensitive to the ways that living universe permeates us and our environment. We become sensitive instruments of the universe detecting itself, and as we do so, we may recognize that our true home, this sacred planet Earth, is embedded deeply in a cosmic matrix. Thank you, science. And again, science is not one of my strong points, but I’ve come to appreciate the views that science has brought us of a quantum, interconnected universe. Technology is nice, convenient, and distracting, but the quantum level of science is where spirituality merges with the methodology that Descartes and Bacon cooked up. When quantum physicists like Fred Alan Wolf share this vision of reality, a central aspect is the presence of consciousness: “…for me, there can’t even have been an origin of the universe unless there was some consciousness there to perceive it coming into being.”

If we are in the universe and we are conscious, does it follow that we are each the origin of the universe? Well, maybe. Brian Swimme walks us through how exactly that may be the case in The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos. What’s so wonderful about Dr. Swimme’s approach is that he is able to do two pretty astounding things. First, he makes mathematical and scientific concepts digestible for those of us who lack the capacity or inclination to comprehend them in their raw form. Second, he connects those concepts to the cosmos we live in, and he does this in a way that emphasizes the beauty and sacred nature of our existence as highly conscious human beings embedded in an immense universe that is saturated with consciousness.

“The Primate Mind Begins to Dissolve”

In context, Dr. Swimme’s statement, “the primate mind begins to dissolve”, expresses not nihilism, but expansion; expansion of consciousness beyond the familiar, beyond the banal routines of mind constricted by life in a technological and acquisitive culture. And maybe it’s not the primate mind that begins to dissolve so much as our modern mind. After all, I don’t experience a primate mind–assuming that a primate is something like a feral human. I experience a conditioned, cultural mind constricted by history and the assumptions that have triumphed in the historical process, such as materialism, transcendentalism, and separation. As we stand in awe, aware as we are of our precious and improbable place tucked away in some majestic spinning portion of a spiral galaxy that is itself a mote in a galaxy cluster that floats in the black unknown of a seemingly infinite universe, our conditioned mind begins to dissolve. We drop away, not to fall through a hostile vacuum, but rather to be embraced by a beautiful complexity that, to me, defies rational comprehension. And as we drop away, or at least as I drop away–because I’m not going to speak for anyone else here–I experience a stripping away of the unnecessities of post-modern life. I no longer crave the internet as much, and I can use it more intentionally. I no longer want so much to overstimulate my mind playing Skyrim or watching Star Wars, although I still might enjoy those from time to time as special treats. I no longer desire to binge on Jelly Bellies, but can decide to eat carrots instead, and even taste their sweetness. I begin to practice a new way of being. I begin to rediscover how to live well in my body.

Questions for Discussion, Comment is Welcome

  1. Have you experienced or do you experience a profound and deepening connection with Gaia?
  2. What tools or practices best fit your unique spirit and body?
  3. Do you find that certain stimuli facilitate peaceful and joyful living?
  4. Are you aware of how embedded we are in an artificial and alienating culture?
  5. What happens when we stop feeding ourselves with cultural assumptions and practices, instead freeing ourselves to explore and establish what practices are best for us?
  6. What do you need or need to get rid of in order to live more authentically on this living planet Earth?

 

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