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Mandala by graphic artist Marianne Murphy

 Diagram by Cyril Rothenberg

MANDALA individuation quarter.png
MANDALA face to face quartered.png
MANDALA earth quartered.png
MANDALA community quarter.png


In the Beginning...

Some fourteen billion years ago, the entire cosmos, what would become the great wheeling galaxies with their trillions of blazing suns, burst into being from a single point, in an unimaginably violent, unfathomably immense explosion of light and energy. Since that "Great Flaring Forth" the universe has been expanding, cooling, and growing in complexity…and consciousness. The delicate beauty of birds, flowers, forests, and oceans, the glories and tragedies of self-conscious humanity—all of this grows out of that single, infinitely mysterious, explosive beginning. The cosmos is not so much a place as it is a continually unfolding event. The discovery that the entire universe is evolving, growing from the utter simplicity of the Big Bang towards ever greater complexity-consciousness over vast expanses of time, has been called the limiting case of credulity. If you can believe this, you can believe just about anything. Yet our best science tells us it is so. The foundation of our new cosmology is that we wake up within the singularity of an evolving universe which created us culture-creating humans. We are living inside a miracle.

Blue Dragon or Sea Swallow

14 Billion years of evolution produced our companions in mystery like this Blue Dragon or Sea Swallow: The elegant, electric blue Swallow swims on the ocean surface, eating bluebottles storing their stinging cells in its own body to repel predators. It is found in one of the most diverse ocean ecosystems in the world, the ocean kelp forests off Cape Point, South Africa. Photo courtesy of Craig Foster.


A political cosmology is a worldview or a 'reality map' developed from a society's most reliable story of origins, destiny and meaning. It answers the big questions of life--Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? And most critically---HOW SHOULD WE LIVE?

We use ‘politics’ to mean the  the precise opposite of its common association with power struggles and greed. We draw from its usage in the classical Greek Polis, where politics was regarded as the most noble of activities and the ultimate arena for the display of virtue and excellence. It's task was that of aligning the highest good of each individual with that of the group and then the entire Earth community.   

Cosmologies are individual and social constructions which guide us toward what is real, true and good. TODAY WE HAVE NO AGREED UPON METHOD FOR COSMOLOGY CONSTRUCTION.  Yet no individual and no society can survive and flourish without a reality-grounded worldview.

We propose the following approach to reality-testing a cosmology:

Political cosmologies draw from all knowledge domains, seeking a broad, deep and ever expanding understanding of the nature of the human individual, society and their place in the natural universe.


Cosmology construction also requires an ever deeper self understanding on the part of the individual seeker and their nested communities. Self knowledge and knowledge of the whole in turn require the support of wisdom loving democratic communities where individuals are in constant free conversation. These are the four essential realms of wisdom seeking--the truth quest. 

It is now becoming terrifyingly clear that our current cosmology is unhinged from both the inner reality of human experience and the outer realities for survival on a living evolving Earth. The default ruling political worldview is still largely  a 17th century creation out of the experience of an elite group of Western European revolutionary thinkers. John Locke, in his foundational work published in 1688, declared that wild, untamed, undomesticated nature had no worth or meaning until converted by human labor into valuable commodities. Such a diminished understanding of the Earth and our relation to it assumed a similarly impoverished grasp of what it meant to be human. By contrast the political thinking of Indigenous societies began with the opposite assumption. Today this is being recovered by a new group of revolutionary thinkers. For instance the cosmologist Brian Swimme warns us that all our deepest troubles are ultimately due to the fact that "we no longer experience the universe as sacred. . ."  The way out of our trouble, "is to once again experience the cosmos as sacred." This experience of the universe as the ultimate source of value and meaning, generates a primordial way of seeking and making meaning of our experience, which support a synergy between humanity and the rest of the  Earth community.

This new cosmology is already emerging, but it is not yet center stage. so the destruction  of the last areas of wilderness continue. Our current crisis is at bottom  a spiritual and epistemic disease. The mission of the institute is to help catalyze the immense transition to a new worldview by promoting a primordial process of truth seeking. This works as both a personal search for meaning and  a METHOD of cosmology building. In being both means and ends, it becomes the BEATING HEART of the new cosmology, and the new politics it generates. 

Earth on fire

“We are moving into a time of steel-gripped necessity—a time of intense planetary compression . . . the world is becoming a super-heated pressure cooker in which the human family is crushed by the combined and unrelenting forces of an expanding world population, a dramatically destabilized global climate, dwindling supplies of non-renewable resources and mounting environmental pollution. The circle has closed and there is nowhere to escape . . . The world will seem to be going insane . . . and because we are wired in global telecommunication networks, all of this suffering will take place right in front of us. The electronic intimacy of television and the internet will intensify the pain by showing us the global dimension of our local suffering. These forces are so unyielding, and the stresses they will place on our world are so extreme, that human civilization will either descend into chaos or ascend in a spiraling process of profound transformation.”


Duane Elgin wrote this prescient description of the global crisis in 1993 in "Awakening Earth: Exploring  the Evolution of Culture and Consciousness."  This is an example of the sort of prophetic insight fostered by the bigger picture, the larger evolutionary story.


​​​The most glaring fact, hidden in plain sight, about our global crisis is that our ruling worldview is absurdly obsolete. Liberal political philosophers assumed that the role of the human was to convert the natural world into valuable commodities. They believed humans were recent arrivals on Earth created by God on the sixth day of creation to do what we wished. In the words of John Locke, wilderness was "waste," without value or meaning until transformed by human labor into valuable private property. 


Our global, industrial--capitalist-consumerist way of life is rooted in a 17th century reality map called by political philosophers Classical Liberalism. By the 16th century West European Feudalism was disintegrating after centuries of famines, plagues, peasant revolts and religious wars. Liberal philosophers responded to this collective trauma by creating a revolutionary theory of government and economics based on liberating  the individual from the irrationality and corruption of the old feudal order---the divine right of Kings, oppressive aristocracies and a corrupt  Church.



















One point focus on freedom meant neglecting responsibilities and duties. In a bold act of wishful thinking,  Liberal philosophers assumed that the invisible hand of the market would  automatically convert selfish profit seeking into the best possible outcome for all.  The primary function of government, as Adam Smith put it,would then be 'to protect the rich from the poor.'

For all its spectacular achievements it is now obvious for those with the fortitude to look at the larger picture, that continued obedience to this outdated worldview means catastrophe.

The point is not to throw out Liberalism but to miniaturize, encapsulate  and transcend its truths in a vastly deeper more expanded understanding of reality-consciousness-culture. A more attuned way of life on Earth will follow. 

As global turmoil becomes unbearable, ruling institutions lose authority. Ignorant and gullible populations become vulnerable to the simple stories of good and evil told by dictators and demagogues. Cults, conspiracy theories and mass delusion infect politics, scapegoats are targeted and the most vital issues are neglected. The crisis is compounded by the relentless shrinking of public education into job-training and work-force development. Solutions based on the old cosmology simply make things worse. Effective action is blocked by self-interest, religious and ideological dogma and partisan power politics, leaving us paralyzed as we confront the abomination of human choices driving the sixth great mass extinction of life on Earth.


The heart of our multi-layered crisis is that our political culture is fragmented by the small scale of paradigm bound, self-interested thinking. We are overwhelmed by the immensity of our problems. Lacking an effective method for building and re-thinking cosmologies, education becomes the meta-crisis. The work of the Institute is to offer the search for wisdom, or the truth quest, as the foundation of public education and the primary process of cosmology construction. We promote education as, once again, the driver of radical social transformation.





Amidst the chaos, we find at the leading edge of our best science an epic creation story which dwarfs in scale, grandeur and precision all past cosmologies. It provides a meta-narrative, an all inclusive frame, constructed from the astounding revolutions in astronomy, physics and biology and psychology. The great discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo, Darwin, Mendel, Einstein and others tell of the underlying unity in the diversity of life forms; how humans share genetic coding with all living creatures; how all life, including the Earth itself, is made from elements manufactured in colossal stellar explosions. The stars are literally our ancestors; human beings are the self-reflective consciousness of the growing, living Universe.


The fact that humanity emerged from the living tissue of the Earth over immensities of time contradicts the founding assumptions of the worldview of Liberalism and its way of life. Classical Liberalism gives us a reality-map that does not match the terrain. No wonder we are in trouble. But we can be encouraged by the fact that the new cosmology resonates with some of the deep wisdom of primal and indigenous societies which served humanity so well for so long. They can remind us that the natural world is the primary sacred community; that consciousness and culture separates us from and paradoxically connects us to this larger reality; that we are responsible for the level of our consciousness; accordingly we are also responsible for the impact of our choices on the Earth community.


This larger vision has been unavailable to many because the old cosmology permeates our institutions, culture and everyday lives. The struggle for material survival leaves many with little time for wisdom seeking. We are in-between worlds. An old, dysfunctional worldview is dying and the new one is not yet in place.

While this comprehensive understanding of evolution should change everything, it has changed almost nothing . . . until now. 

'Dendro-thrope, part tree, part human.' Face of //Kabbo

'Dendro-thrope, part tree, part human.' Indigenous wilderness based cultures knew of the continuity between humans and the rest of the natural world. This is the face of //Kabbo, a 19th San shaman and teacher  on a Kokerboom tree in the Northern Cape, South Africa. Photo courtesy of Craig Foster.



A powerful way of accelerating change in culture and consciousness can be found at the core of this new cosmology. The new evolutionary story tells of self reflective consciousness emerging on the bush and beaches of  of Southern Africa, flourishing by attuning to reality through four interwoven, primordial practices of the truth quest. This four-part method of truth seeking offers a way of democratizing wisdom together with  a way of  aligning the highest good of the individual with that of society and the entire Earth community.  Since these practices are rooted in the evolutionary dynamics of self-reflective consciousness, they are intuitive and immediately available to all. We  draw on them implicitly in making our life choices.


The history of philosophy shows how we draw on the truth quest in a more self-conscious way when one worldview is dying and we are constructing  another more viable cosmology.  When this process is clarified and pursued intentionally it can dramatically accelerate  change.


The purpose of the Institute is to accelerate this transition to the new cosmology; to do so by researching, teaching, disseminating and living by the truth quest. Education, in the broadest sense, now becomes the driver of large-scale historical change.

The Truth Quest as Personal and Social Transformation

Evolutionary cosmology empowers the morally autonomous individual as a creative change agent.  It shows us that freedom grows from the unfolding of self-reflective consciousness and imagination. With freedom comes choice, and with choice comes creativity, culture, and the reality of good and evil. Homo sapiens sapiens is the species which knows it can know. There is always more to be learned and the more the better our decision, since all our choices have consequences for good or evil. The human search for understanding becomes a supreme ethical, political and religious value. We are all ultimately morally responsible for our collective crises. Humanity is still struggling to grasp the world-changing implication of this extraordinary evolutionary novelty.

Focusing on this new story of what it means to be human, enables us to find in the societies of early hunter-gatherers the co-ordinates of our ethical nature. Here we discover four perennial practices of wisdom-seeking we call the truth quest. They are: 1) individuation or cultivation of the whole person through the continual expansion of lived experience and the psychological integration of that experience; 2) face-to-face dialog with a diversity of others (the dialectic); 3) participation in the give and take of democracy and authentic community life and 4) constructing a big picture of reality integrating science, history and direct personal experience into an open-ended story of the universe.


Each practice is energized and guided by the reality of human beings emerging from the living Earth. The world of nature is experienced as the source of everything---supremely valuable, exquisitely beautiful, profoundly mysterious—‘sacred.’ Wilderness is our temple.  Re-wilding of self and the world becomes a sacred calling and the foundation for the practices of truth-seeking.


Each practice requires the other three. Together they constitute a single dynamic tensional complex represented by a mandala, a circle divided into four quarters.


The truth quest provides a model for personal and social transformation towards an ever more conscious, more attuned way of life. Accordingly the quest also provides a method for cosmology construction (a 'meta-paradigm' for paradigm construction) since it embodies and illuminates the paradoxical and continually changing mystery of being.

No previous cosmology has made the method of its own construction so clear and so accessible.  No previous cosmology has explicitly offered the practices of its own truth-grounding as the beating heart of a more life-enhancing politics. Putting it simply, a critical mass of human beings, living by these practices could accelerate an evolutionary leap-in-being for the entire Earth community.

Policosmology mandala






Future Primal book cover

The Institute includes the work of University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu professor Dr. Louis Herman. 

Click on the book cover (above) to learn more.

The Institute was consulted on the Oscar-winning Netflix film 

My Octopus Teacher. 

Click here to watch

Dr. Louis Herman discuss aspects of the film during the making of the documentary.


The Institute works for cultural and social transformation by promoting the truth-quest as the heart of the new cosmology, in education, politics and private life.


We see humanity poised on the edge of a planetary transformation of evolutionary dimensions: either a spiraling down into global devastation or an opportunity for an unprecedented awakening. Our vision is of rapid peaceful transformation of consciousness and culture towards a world where all living creatures have their needs fulfilled and the entire Earth becomes the primary sacred community. 

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