THE INSTITUTE FOR
FOR A THRIVING EARTH COMMUNITY
WHAT IS A POLITICAL COSMOLOGY?
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.This 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 this is so. The unfolding universe is now the foundation of a new cosmology.
Why is an Evolutionary Cosmology Political?
The fact that humanity emerged from and is an inseparable part of a creative, evolving universe is the most astounding discovery of the last four hundred years of modern science. This revelation should change everything. But it has changed almost nothing. We have yet to develop a political culture based on this reality: that to be human is to be inextricably connected to the web of nature; to be human is to be part of the Earth which has become conscious of itself and in so doing, become a creative, moral agent. (From Future Primal, see below)
Political Cosmology as a Framework for Transformation
A political cosmology is an integrated worldview, including a story of origins which guides us toward the best way to live. By ‘political’ we refer to the perennial struggle to align the highest good of each individual, society and the evolving Earth. Every political and social system assumes a particular worldview no matter how inconsistent or unconscious. Every person lives and chooses according to such assumptions about reality. The Institute draws from the roots of philosophy in primal and Indigenous societies to identify the work of cosmology construction as wisdom-seeking—the truth quest. The urgent challenge of our times is to bring the practices of the search into awareness and continue to pursue them as the beating heart of a new politics and an evolutionary political cosmology.
A CIVILIZATION IN CRISIS
Today globalized humanity is in extreme crisis because our old cosmology is failing, and a new cosmology is not yet in place. The old vision, rooted in 17th century thinking, supports our dominant institutions and our related consumerist ideology. The Earth is treated as little more than a space for human activity, a source of raw materials and a dump for our waste. Human beings are seen as basically selfish, greedy, and aggressive. In the absence of a new vision, we are carried along by dysfunctional institutions and habits of thought which are destroying the biosphere and corrupting civic life.
The Human Family in Extremis
The entire human family is increasingly pressured as relentless economic growth fuels climate disruption causing immense fires, floods and droughts. Ecosystems are collapsing under the onslaught, triggering social chaos, famine, and mass migration. Because the world is connected through global telecommunications our experience of the collective suffering of humanity is intensified and felt directly.
The Nightmare of Delusional Politics
As the turmoil becomes unbearable ruling institutions lose their authority as dictators and demagogues fill the vacuum with deformed ideologies, cults and conspiracy theories. Mass delusion enters politics, and scapegoats are targeted. Political dysfunction is intensified by extreme inequalities of wealth and power, and the most vital issues are neglected. In fact, we can no longer agree about what our most vital issues are. There is deep confusion about what is real, true and good. Our crisis is a crisis of consciousness, values and meaning. Solutions based on the old cosmology simply make things worse, with the result that we find ourselves paralyzed, facing the horror of human action driving the sixth great mass extinction of life on Earth.
The Institute includes the work of University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu professor
Dr. Louis Herman.
Click on the book cover to learn more.
The Institute 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.
A NEW POLITICAL COSMOLOGY
Crisis = Danger + Opportunity: A New Story
Alongside the specter of collapse we find an extraordinarily inspiring development. A new, ever-more inclusive evolutionary cosmology is emerging which dwarfs in scale and self-awareness all previous worldviews. This new cosmic story of a creative universe incorporates Indigenous and traditional insights together with the latest advances in history, science, and our understanding of consciousness. The entire drama of humanity is now seen as growing from an incomprehensibly old, evolving universe. Human consciousness emerged within an African wilderness of extraordinary complexity and beauty. Here we discovered the mystery that we could be conscious of being conscious.
The Mystery of Consciousness
Self-consciousness, which created the realm of freedom and choice, has fascinated and confused us ever since, giving birth to the great question of questions: How should we live? Answers to this question generated the tangled wisdom teachings of religion, philosophy, ethics and politics. Today the epic evolutionary perspective helps untangle the ethical knot by revealing the truth quest as foundational, a defining aspect of our humanity. This new vision suggests that by fully embracing who we are and following the primal practices of wisdom seeking, we can create a flourishing civilization in synergy with the living Earth.
At the Heart of the New Cosmology We Find the Wisdom Quest
This new cosmology is being shaped by activists, scientists, artists, and thinkers in all areas of human activity. This new worldview is still on the margins of our public and political life. But the bigger vision reveals deep connections between some of the most creative environmental, social, cultural and spiritual movements for change and so accelerates their collaboration. In addition, and for the first time, the new cosmology gives us a clarified understanding of its own truth grounding in the wisdom quest. By following the practices of the quest we can rapidly advance self-awareness and help mobilize a critical mass of humanity in perhaps the ultimate heroic adventure—saving the biosphere. The search itself embodies a liberating politics. Its democratic and cooperative nature invite all to participate in the epic creation of a new cosmology and promote, decentralization, self-sufficiency and the devolution of power. As we embark on this extraordinary venture we find the practices of truth seeking embody the more attuned life we seek.
Our mission is to contribute to a dramatically more inclusive worldview by promoting the practices of wisdom-seeking—the search for the best way to live. This truth quest is now generating an evolutionary big picture which helps make sense of the current social turmoil. It reveals that many life-affirming practical projects already underway are part of underlying seismic changes in culture and consciousness. This enlarged vision reveals deep connections among change initiatives at many levels—that of individuals, NGO’s and governments—and helps guide collaboration into movement for a thriving Earth community. We see this thriving for understanding as a singularly defining aspect of what it means to be human. Accordingly, we present the truth quest as both a method of cosmology building and the core practice of a fully human politics in synergy with a flourishing Earth community.
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. The institute promotes rapid, peaceful transformation of consciousness and culture toward a life-loving political cosmology based on a continual practice of wisdom seeking—the quest for truth.