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"Northern Landscape" 1979,
Oil on board, 45"x60" © Robin Baring



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A New Vision of Reality...

A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.                  Albert Einstein

The great events of world history are, at bottom, profoundly unimportant. In the last analysis the essential thing is the life of the individual. This alone makes history, here alone do the great transformations take place. And the whole future, the whole history of the world, ultimately springs as a gigantic summation from these hidden sources. In our most private and most subjective lives, we are not only the passive witnesses of our age, and its sufferers, but also its makers. We make our own epoch.         Carl Jung

Visionaries of a new holistic and ecological paradigm are themselves deemed to be neurotic. They have moved out of the society that would have protected them, and into the dark forest, into the world of fire, of original experience. Original experience has not been interpreted for you, and so you have got to work out your life for yourself. Either you can take it or you can’t. You don’t have to go far off the interpreted path to find yourself in very difficult situations. The courage to face the trials and to bring a whole new body of possibilities into the field of interpreted experience for other people to experience - that is the hero’s deed."      
                                          Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

To attain peace among the nations in any dynamic or enduring form requires not simply political negotiation but a new mode of consciousness. The magnitude of this change is in the order of religious conversion or of spiritual rebirth...A change is needed in every phase of human life.
                    
                     Thomas Berry, Evening Thoughts

Inspiration is not garnered from litanies of what is flawed; it resides in humanity's willingness to restore, redress, reform, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. Healing the wounds of the Earth and its people does not require saintliness or a political party. It is not a liberal or conservative activity. It is a sacred act.                      Paul Hawken, Blessed Unrest

Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better in the sphere of our being as humans, and the catastrophe toward which this world is headed - be it ecological, social, demographic, or a general breakdown of civilization - will be unavoidable.
                                          Václav Havel
, address to US Congress

You have been telling the people that this is the eleventh hour. Now you must go back and tell them this is the hour.                      Hopi Elders

                                                                                *

This website is devoted to the affirmation of a new vision of reality that might be able to unite a distressed and fragmented humanity in a shared approach to the deeper issues facing us at this crucial time of choice. I would like it to be a place that reflects the emerging values that express our responsibility towards life, each other and the planet as a whole. Thomas Berry, in his book, The Dream of the Earth, writes that this supremely important time is asking us for "possibly the most complete reversal of values that has taken place since the Neolithic period." We cannot afford to let this moment of choice slip by and fail to respond to the urgency of this time. Acting together under the inspiration of a new vision, we may - through the transformation of our own understanding - be able to influence the way the world is governed and to replace the deficient values that now control it with new values. This, as Berry rightly says, is the alchemical Great Work that is now in process as more and more people awaken and respond to these new values. (see lecture 13)

I would also like this website to be a sanctuary for the heart, a place of reconciliation and healing between mind, body and soul.
I would like to share the understanding gathered from my life quest with those who might be interested. I believe the soul is a matrix of unimaginable extent and complexity connecting an unrecognised dimension of reality with our world, connecting each one of us at the deepest level to all others and to the greater life of the cosmos. Above all else, my work is devoted to the recognition that we live in an ensouled world, to the recovery of our connection to the cosmos and to the restoration of the lost sense of communion between us and the "body" of the Earth, and between us and an invisible dimension of the universe that is the source or ground of both. I would like to create a channel for "the voice of the secret whole that sings above history." (William Anderson, The Face of Glory)

My own understanding has been immeasurably deepened by the work and insight of close friends and fellow authors. To them and to all visionaries, past and present, I would like to express my gratitude and homage. The friends and mentors who have helped me to articulate this vision are as precious to me as Dante's fedeli d'amore - those companions who instinctively recognise and serve the divinity of Life.

I feel we are living now in a mythic time of choice - a time of stupendous scientific discoveries which are enlarging our vision of the universe, shattering the vessel of our old concepts about the nature of reality. Yet the delicate organism of life on our planet and the survival of our species are threatened as never before by an ethos that seeks dominance and control of nature. This ethos reflects a brutal desire to conquer and master nature for our own purposes, shows no respect for the Earth and disregards the perils of our present interference with the intricate web of relationships upon which life on this planet depends. We are an integral part of this great web of life, and cannot survive without respecting all aspects of it.

I believe that the new epoch we are now entering will see the creation of a new paradigm and with it: 

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a new understanding of God or Spirit
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a new understanding of nature
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a new understanding of ourselves

This new understanding may help to modify the deeply entrenched belief that spirit and nature are separate and distinct and may eventually restore to us our lost sense of relationship with a sacred Earth and a conscious Universe.

For the many millions of people whose lives were sacrificed to the fanaticism of totalitarian ideologies, the twentieth century was a dark night of the soul. From another perspective, however, it began to open a door through which we could enter into a new understanding of life. Perhaps for the first time we will soon be able to view the whole panorama of the evolution of consciousness, to gain insight into the reasons for our suffering, our presence on this planet and our (still unrecognised) connection to the cosmos. In his visionary book, Dark Night, Early Dawn, Christopher Bache gives us this description of an experience that may be waiting just beyond the threshold of our present understanding of life:
-----
"I saw humanity climbing out of a valley and just ahead, on the other side of the mountain peak and beyond our present sight, was a brilliant, sun-drenched world that was about to break over us. The time frame was enormous. After millions of years of struggle and ascent, we were poised on the brink of a sunrise that would forever change the conditions of life on this planet. All current structures would quickly become irrelevant…Truly a new epoch was dawning."
                                                                                                              
 
Christopher Bache, Dark Night, Early Dawn, p. 220
(see New Vision 11 for more excerpts and booklist for details)

We are living now at the end of a great trajectory - perhaps 5 million years or more - which has brought about the gradual separation or differentiation of our human species from nature and the development of a sense of self or individuality as well as a highly developed intellect - everything that we now call human consciousness. But in the process we have lost the ancient sense of participation in a sacred cosmos. This story can be described, in Richard Tarnas's words, as a heroic ascent to autonomy but, at the same time, a tragic fall from unity. Yet now, as Tarnas suggests at the end of his book, The Passion of the Western Mind, we are in the midst of a great awakening of the soul, one that could see the "marriage" of the masculine and feminine principles: -----

"The driving impulse of the West's masculine consciousness has been its quest not only to realise itself, to forge its own autonomy, but also, finally, to recover its connection with the whole, to come to terms with the great feminine principle in life, to differentiate from but then to rediscover and reunite with the feminine, with the mystery of life, of nature, of soul."

Looking back over the last two millennia, it is apparent that, during this time, conventional religious teaching did not preserve the ancient insight that nature and instinct are an expression of spirit: in splitting nature from spirit, emptying matter of soul, and contaminating the instincts with guilt and fear, an essential part of our wholeness has been lost. It is, as the Swiss psychiatrist C.G. Jung pointed out in his many books, crucially important now for us to balance the masculine ethos of our culture with its emphasis on power, control and conquest by integrating the less valued aspects of the feminine archetype: nature and matter, soul and body, feeling and instinct - that is - to create a conscious, healing and redemptive relationship with these neglected aspects of spirit, within ourselves and within the culture. What he offered was not a new belief system but a spirituality grounded in self-knowledge - in particular, awareness of the power drive of the "shadow" aspect of our nature - leading to ethical responsibility towards life in all its aspects, seen and unseen. He knew that we did not have much time in which to accomplish this momentous task. In The Undiscovered Self, he wrote:

"A mood of world destruction and world renewal has set its mark on our age. This mood makes itself felt everywhere, politically, socially and philosophically. Coming generations will have to take account of this momentous transformation if humanity is not to destroy itself through the might of its own technology and science. As at the beginning of the Christian Era, so again today we are faced with the problem of the moral backwardness of our species which has failed to keep pace with our scientific, technical and social developments. So much is at stake and so much depends on the psychological constitution of modern man. Is he capable of resisting the temptation to use his power for the purpose of staging a world conflagration? Is he conscious of the path he is treading and what the conclusions are that must be drawn from the present world situation and his own psychic situation?… does the individual know that he [or she] is the make-weight that tips the scales?" (brackets mine)

Our present problems have to a large extent arisen not only from the split between spirit and nature but from the secular belief system resulting from it which has increasingly come to dominate western culture since the seventeenth century and has increasingly separated us from nature and from soul. This belief system, usually presented today by its protagonists as incontrovertible truth, might be summarised as follows:

  > Matter is primary and gives rise to mind as a secondary phenomenon. Consciousness is therefore a by-product of the brain.
  > There is no survival of consciousness after death. The death of the brain is the death of the individual.
  > The idea that there is an independently existing soul or spirit is an erroneous fiction.
  > "God" is an unnecessary hypothesis and the concept of soul an irrelevance. We can impose our will on nature to serve our needs.
  > There is no transcendent purpose or meaning to our lives.

This is what I would describe as a "flat earth" hypothesis and I often use the hedge of thorns in the story of the Sleeping Beauty to illustrate what a barrier it presents to reaching a different understanding of life. It offers no vertical or depth dimension to human existence, no awareness of any dimension of reality beyond that of the conscious, rational mind. But there is an alternative hypothesis to consider - one that could open a way through the hedge of thorns and reconnect us with nature and with soul, so restoring our fragmented being to wholeness:

Consciousness is primary and matter secondary. That is to say, the phenomenal world arises or manifests out of an invisible or transcendent dimension of reality.
The universe is conscious and there are many dimensions or levels to this consciousness.
Our human consciousness is integral to that greater consciousness, even though it is still partially developed or immature.
Consciousness in some form survives the death of the physical body.
What we have called "God" or Spirit is the divine ground as well as the process of life in the universe, our planet and ourselves. There is nothing outside or beyond "God". All is one life, one energy. In other words, we participate in the life of "God" which is the life of the Planet and the life of the Cosmos. (see "A New Image of God" under The Dream of the Cosmos, chapter 17)
Cosmic soul can be imagined as a vast matrix, field or web of relationships connecting finer vibrational fields with the denser field of physical reality. Our body/mind organism is intimately connected to these finer fields which together constitute the web of life.
The purpose of our lives on this planet is to be reunited with the source and ground of our being and to live our lives in growing awareness of that connection.


To clarify the above further, here are these thoughtful words from an address read at the funeral of the distinguished physicist, the late David Bohm - words that he himself had written for the memorial service of Malcolm Sagenkahn, one of his classmates at university.

"In considering the relationship between the finite and the infinite, we are led to observe that the whole field of the finite is inherently limited, in that it has no independent existence. It has the appearance of independent existence, but that appearance is merely the result of an abstraction of our thought. We can see this dependent nature of the finite from the fact that every finite thing is transient.

Our ordinary view holds that the field of the finite is all that there is. But if the finite has no true independent existence, it cannot be all that is. We are in this way led to propose that the true ground of all being is the infinite, the unlimited; and that the infinite includes and contains the finite. In this view, the finite, in its transient nature, can only be understood as held suspended, as it were, beyond time and space, within the infinite.

The field of the finite is all that we can see, hear, touch, remember, and describe. This field is basically that which is manifest, or tangible. The essential quality of the infinite, by contrast, is its subtlety, its intangibility. This quality is conveyed in the word spirit, whose root meaning is "wind, or breath." This suggests an invisible but pervasive energy, to which the manifest world of the finite responds. This energy, or spirit, infuses all living beings, and without it any organism must fall apart into its constituent elements. That which is truly alive in the living being is this energy of spirit, and this is never born and never dies." (from the last page of Infinite Potential: The Life and Times of David Bohm, by F. David Peat 1997)

There are certain questions that people have always asked and ask ever more urgently today: "What is the deeper purpose of my life on this planet? Does God exist? Why does He seem indifferent to human suffering? What is the source of evil? Will I survive death and see my loved ones again? How can I discover my true path in life? Why is the human species seemingly addicted to destroying itself?

Aspects of the books I have written address these questions but there are talks and seminars given over recent years as well as articles by other people and extracts from books and book reviews that I have also put on this website for those who are interested. In everything I have written I have wanted to give expression in this dimension of reality to what I hold to be eternal, indivisible and holy as well as to my passionate love of life and my devotion to this planet and all the forms of life it sustains.

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The Real Challenge of Our Times:
The Need for a New Worldview

Neither do men put new wine into old bottles; else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles and both are preserved. Matth. 9:17

To reclaim the sacred nature of the cosmos – and of planet Earth in particular – is one of the outstanding spiritual challenges of our time. Diarmuid O’Murchu, Quantum Theology

On page 86 of the Pope's Encyclical (May 2015), there is this quotation from a book by Romano Guardini – The End of the Modern World, p. 55: "The technological mind sees nature as an insensate order, as a cold body of facts, as mere 'given', as an object of utility, as raw material to be hammered into useful shape; it views the cosmos similarly as a mere 'space' into which objects can be thrown with complete indifference."

Elsewhere in his Encyclical Pope Francis writes:"The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet's capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world... An awareness of the gravity of today's cultural and ecological crisis must be translated into new habits."

I quote these passages here because they are absolutely relevant to the rest of my article on the urgent need for a new worldview. The Encyclical brilliantly summarises what needs to be done if we are to change this situation and rescue ourselves and the planet from our abyssmal ignorance of what we have brought into being.
          The threat of climate change, the urgent need to free ourselves from dependency on oil and the ongoing financial crisis could be the triple catalyst that offers us the opportunity of bringing about a profound shift in our values, relinquishing an old story and defining a new one. Our lives and well-being depend upon the fertility and resources of the Earth, yet in relation to the Earth, it would seem that we have been autistic for centuries. Now, instead of treating our planetary home as the endless supplier of all our needs, without consideration for its needs, we could rethink beliefs and attitudes which have influenced our behaviour for millennia.          
          Because of those beliefs we have come to look upon nature as something separate from ourselves, something we could master, control and manipulate to obtain specific benefits for our species alone because ours, we were taught, has been given dominion over all others and over the Earth itself. It has come as a bit of a shock to realise that our lives are intimately bound up with the fragile organism of planetary life and the inter-dependence of all species. If we destroy our habitat, whether inadvertently or deliberately by continuing on our present path, we may risk destroying ourselves. We have developed a formidable intellect, a formidable science, a formidable technology but all rest on the premise of our alienation from and mastery of nature, where nature was treated as object with ourselves as controlling subject.          
          Yet now, the foundation that seemed so secure is disintegrating: old structures and beliefs are breaking down. It is as if mortal danger is forcing us to take a great leap in our evolution that we might never have made were we not driven to it by the extremity of circumstance. Many people, including Pope Francis, are defining a new kind of relationship with the planet, based not on dominance but on respect, responsibility and conscious service. Because our capacity for destruction, both military and ecological, is so much greater today than it was even fifty years ago, and will be still greater tomorrow, we have only decades in which to change our thinking and respond to the challenge of this evolutionary leap.         
          There is a second problematic legacy from the past: the image of God shared by the three Abrahamic religions. This has presented God as a transcendent creator, separate and distinct from the created order and from ourselves. Western civilisation, despite its phenomenal achievements, developed on the foundation of this fundamental split between spirit and nature—between creator and creation. Only now are we brought face to face with the disastrous effects of this split.          
          Once again, as in the early centuries of the Christian era, it seems as if new bottles are needed to hold the wine of a new revelation, a new understanding of reality which could heal this split. But how do we create the vessel which can assimilate the wine of a new vision of reality and a different image of God or Spirit? How do we relinquish the dogmatic beliefs and certainties which have, over the millennia of the patriarchal era, caused indescribable and quite unnecessary suffering and the sacrifice of so many millions of lives?
           I cannot answer these questions. But I do know that as the new understanding, the new wine comes into being, we have to hold the balance and the tension between the old and the new without destroying the old or rejecting the new. It must have been like this two thousand years ago when the disciples of Jesus tried to assimilate what he was telling them, something so utterly different from the belief-system and the brutal values which governed the world of their time. Even today, the revolutionary teachings and the different values he taught have barely touched the consciousness that governs the world of our time, however much political and religious leaders proclaim allegiance to them.
           What would Jesus have thought of WMD, depleted uranium and cluster bombs, and the massacre of helpless civilians in war, let alone the destruction of vast swathes of the Earth’s forests to supply crops for biofuels? What would he have thought of the fact that colossal sums of money are spent on the military when conflicts have created 60 million desperate refugees who have lost their homes, their livelihoods and any hope of a viable future?
           The need for a more conscious relationship with both nature and spirit, bringing them closer together, is intrinsic to the creativity of the life-impulse itself—urging us to go beyond the boundaries of the known, to break through the concepts and beliefs, whether religious, scientific or political, which currently govern world culture and constrict the expansion of our understanding and our compassion.
           What is the emerging vision of our time which could offer a template for a new civilization? I believe it is a vision which takes us beyond an outdated paradigm or worldview where we are held in bondage to beliefs and habits specific to race, nation, religion or gender, which have led us to exclude and devalue those who are different from ourselves and neglect our relationship with the Earth, our planetary home. It is a vision which offers us a totally new concept of spirit as an energy field — a limitless sea of being — as well as the creative consciousness or organising intelligence active within that sea or field, and a totally new concept of ourselves as belonging to and participating in that incandescent ground or sea of consciousness.
           It is a vision which recognises the sacredness and indissoluble unity of the great cosmic web of life and imposes on us the responsibility of becoming far more sensitive to the effects of our decisions and our actions. It invites our recognition of the needs of the planet and the life it sustains as primary, with ourselves as the humble servants of those needs. It invites us, as Einstein asked us, to widen our circle of compassion, to look upon every child as our child, every woman as our daughter, our sister or our mother, every man as our father, our brother or our son, to see the well being of every creature as our responsibility. Above all, it is a vision which asks that we relinquish our addiction to weapons and war and the pursuit of power; that we become more aware of the dark shadow cast by this addiction which threatens us with ever more barbarism, bloodshed and suffering—ultimately with the possible extinction of our species.
           From this perspective, the crisis of our times is not only an ecological and political crisis but a spiritual one. The answers we seek cannot come from the limited consciousness which now rules the world but could grow from a deeper understanding born of the union of heart and head, helping us to see that all life is one, that each one of us participates in the life of a cosmic entity of immeasurable dimensions. The urgent need for this psychic balance, this deeper intelligence and wisdom, this wholeness, could help us to recover a perspective on life that has been increasingly lost until we have come to live without it — and without even noticing it has gone — recognising the existence of nothing beyond the parameters of the human mind. It is a dangerous time because it involves transforming entrenched belief systems and archaic survival habits of behaviour that are rooted in fear, as well as the greed and desire for power that are born of fear. But it is also an immense opportunity for evolutionary advance, if only we can understand what is happening and why.
           For a rapidly increasing number of us, there is the possibility of choosing whether to follow in the tracks of the past, continuing to live our lives in servitude to the power principle and the institutions which embody it, however subtly expressed. Or to live and act from a different relationship with life and commit ourselves to the immense effort of consciousness we need to make to understand and serve its mystery.
           Surely, after so many billion years of cosmic evolution, it is simply unacceptable that the beauty and marvel of this planet should be ravaged by us through the destructive power of our weapons, our insatiable greed and the misapplication of our science and technology. It is inconceivable that our extraordinary species, which has taken so many million years to evolve, should destroy itself and lay waste to the Earth through ignorance of the divinity in which we dwell and which dwells in us.

 

Civilization
extract from The Rise of the Gothic
by William Anderson

The source of every great civilization that has enriched the course of history is in the spirit of Man. The means by which each civilization has flourished and left its mark have depended on certain men and women turning in their need to the springs of consciousness and creation which they share at the deepest levels with all humanity. They are the interpreters of the dreams of their fellow men, the clear-sighted namers of the ruling symbols, the archetypes of power, whose raw energies must be purified and directed by the prayers and contemplations of the saint, by the courage and expressive capacities of the poet and the artist, and the rationality and speculative genius of the philosopher and the scientist.

The purpose of civilization is to conquer barbarism, which is the condition of living in a state of fear. A great civilization provides, on the scale of nations, the expressions of love, a basis of security, the sharing of experience, and hope for this life and the next. It allows the development of talents that would languish in small enclosed societies preoccupied solely with self-preservation. Cicero’s name for the higher pursuits of civilization was humanitas, a term that was familiar to the scholars of the Middle Ages and one that centres all studies and skills on the fully developed nature of man.

Civilization may be seen as the application of conscious will to the amorphous energies of the human psyche, diverting those energies away from their dissipation in fear and war into peaceful and fruitful ends. The technology of a civilization has always been employed to develop methods of attack and defence for the preservation of society, in other words to provide security from physical fear, but true civilization deals with fear at the deeper levels of the mind. Technology, seen in this way, is, in the first place, a matter of the spirit. Behind the social, political, and economic forces that dictate the life of humankind are the infinitely more powerful archetypal powers of the psyche, and it is by drawing these powers into the light of consciousness and giving them direction that the artists, the thinker, and the man of religion, free us from the superstition, the fear, and the prejudices by which our lives are otherwise ruled.

The Gothic era was the effect of men working together in a common spirit in which their religion, their art, their philosophy, and their science and technology were in harmony. For the opposite effect in the present century, one can point to the achievements of the international body of physicists, who, freed from an outworn religion, careless of art, taking from philosophy its intellectual and logical rigour but not its speculative and moral purpose, made of their science and its applications so powerful a weapon for investigating and changing the natural world that their knowledge became desirable to governments and administrators. Lacking the support of all the other higher forms of knowledge and of inspiration which they had rejected as superstitious or irrelevant, knowing no moral imperative except the furtherance of their science, they sold themselves in exchange for government support to the forces of barbarism.

The great art of the Gothic masters lives under the same shadow as modern man: the threat of destruction so complete that, should any of them survive as ruins as beautiful and haunting as those of Rievaulx and St-Jean des Vignes at Soissons, the men and women who also survive will be sunk into a barbarism so absolute that in their struggle to live there will be no learning to preserve their history, no time to contemplate the message of their remaining fragments. Yet to help in the avoidance of such disaster, these great buildings, the greatest works of art achieved by our western civilization, can still challenge us with the transformation of hatred and barbarism into love and civilization brought about by our ancestors, saying to us, 'We were made the images of man for our time in his wholeness, in his beauty, in the identity of his true self with his creator. What image of man will you construct that will be the vocation of a new civilization, bringing harmony to the dualism of materialism and the needs of the soul, transforming fear and hatred into love, and returning the spontaneity of joy to art?'

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Myth of the Goddess
Myth of the Goddess

The Mystic Vision
The Mystic Vision

The One Work
The One Work

The Divine Feminine
The Divine Feminine

Birds who flew beyond Time
Birds Who Flew....