Awakening to the New Story:
the Great Challenge of Our Time
TalkWorks video Healing our troubled world with Anne Baring - click here
In 1988 the Catholic theologian Thomas Berry published his wonderful book The Dream of the Earth. In Chapter 10 he said that we were between stories. The old story of how the world came into being and our place in it is no longer effective yet we do not have a New Story, a story that will heal, guide and inspire us. “Because we are moving into a new mythic age, it is little wonder that a kind of mutation is taking place in the entire earth-human order. A new paradigm of what it is to be human is emerging. One aspect of this change involves the shift in earth-human relations, for we now in large measure determine the earth process that once determined us. (p. 133) ... It is of the utmost importance that succeeding generations become aware of the numinous sacred values that have been present in an expanding sequence over the entire time of the world's existence... There is no way of guiding the course of human affairs through the perilous course of the future except by discovering our role in this larger evolutionary process.” (pp. 136-7)
Thirty years after these words were written, women and men all over the planet are awakening to a New Story: a Story that is different from those we have been told in the past by either science or religion; an ancient and ever-living Story that restores our lost relationship with nature and spirit and offers a foundation for regarding the whole cosmos and our planet as a sacred entity; a Story that assists an alchemical transformation of our consciousness from base metal into gold, inspires hope and new possibilities for outgrowing the destructive patterns of the past.
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.
This is perhaps the most crucial time in our history: a time of the utmost depravity, greed and barbarism but also a time of tremendous opportunity to discover a New Story. It is a time when the old social patterns, old beliefs, old institutions, are breaking down; a time of potential breakthrough to a higher level of consciousness, recognizing that we are inseparably connected to the world around us and the wider universe and that we have a vital role to play in harmonising our culture with the evolutionary intention of the Cosmos. It is a time when we can release ourselves from the dominance of left-hemispheric, linear thinking and embrace the more inclusive, relational position of the right-hemispheric brain. (see Iain McGilchrist: The Master and His Emissary for a wonderful insight into the difference between these two ways of relating to the world).
Relationship, Love, Service
Millions of people across the planet are engaged in helping others, or engaging in courses to elevate and transmute their level of consciousness, responding to the longing to create a different kind of civilization: one based on relationship, love and service rather than the pursuit of power and the deeply imprinted pattern of national rivalry, weapons and war.
Restoring the Balance between Masculine and Feminine
This New Story invites a totally different understanding of Life, bringing with it more mature values which profoundly respect all forms of planetary and cosmic life and a new unified worldview. In many talks, seminars and articles, this website explores different aspects of this Awakening:
1. the first and most important is to heal the deep split between spirit and matter or spirit and nature which is so deeply embedded in the three patriarchal religions and the creed of scientific reductionism (materialism) and which is reflected in the materialist character of our secular culture. Our current worldview, whether in the East or the West, rests on the premise of our separation from and mastery of nature, where the resources of the planet are unthinkingly plundered to serve the ever-growing numbers and needs of our species. Our most urgent inner task is to re-unite our conscious, rational mind with the feminine matrix of our soul.
The second is to recover and redeem the Feminine Principle, understanding why it has been rejected and why its recovery is essential to balance the present masculine ethos of our culture. The freeing of women from their long oppression and marginalization is an intrinsic part of this effort. Only when nature, matter, soul and body – the four aspects of the Feminine – are recognized as a manifestation of spirit will we be able to heal our dangerously unbalanced and unconscious culture. If we can accomplish this enormous task, we will enter a new era.
The third is to define a new image of God or Spirit, taking us beyond the image we have inherited of a transcendent male Creator who is separate from creation.
The fourth is to define and expand the New Story and the role of the individual in integrating its meaning in his or her life.
Moving Beyond the Ideology of Dominance and Control
The shadow aspect of our digitally enhanced but still unconscious age is barbarism, an unrecognized predatory aspect of our own nature that can take us over when we abandon the ethical values which respect and serve life. Its sole attribute is the will to power: the drive for dominance and control. Treating and even trying to eliminate other groups of people as 'vermin' or inferior is part of this drive for dominance and control. There is an abysmal ignorance that we are all connected, that all life is One and that we cannot go on behaving towards others as predators, treating them as our prey.
We see the will to power manifesting in the horrific cruelties of Isis, in the destruction of the ancient city of Aleppo, in the bombing of helpless civilians, in the abuse of children and the trafficking of desperate refugees from war and tyranny, in the general breakdown of civilization and in the deficient values that influence and direct world culture.
More recently (December 2017) we can see it it the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people of North-Western Burma (Myanmar). Denial of this fact by the Burmese government is flatly contradicted by the recent report (15/12/17) issued by Médecins Sans Frontières, the remarkable organization that is closely involved in helping these desperate refugees to survive in Bangladesh. Whereas the Burmese Goverment says that only 400 people have been killed, the MSF Report says that over 6,000 have been murdered and raped and over 650,000 have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh. How is it possible for these men to descend into the depths of depravity, particularly in view of the fact that they are Buddhists and the principle teaching of Buddhism is the cultivation of compassion?
We can see it in the demonic weapons accumulated by the nine nuclear powers of the world and their refusal to get rid of them. See https://youtu.be/TOsuJuHUgv4 and http://www.annebaring.com/anbar45_weapons We can see it in the current unconscious leaders of nations who do not serve their people or the planet but their own power-driven agendas, and in the general linear thrust of our materialist culture towards more and more growth, more and more consumption and therefore, more and more destruction of the planet.
Relinquishing the Old Stories
As the New Story comes into being, there are two old stories that can be relinquished as a new understanding comes into being:
1. the first story is the Myth of the Fall of Man recounted in the Book of Genesis which gives us a very negative view of our presence on this planet. It tells us that we were expelled from the Garden of Eden because our primordial ancestors disobeyed God and ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. It does not give us an image of our innate divinity and our inseparable relationship with the Divine Ground; rather that we have been exiled from it. (This myth was the deliberate creation of a specific priesthood in seventh century BC Jerusalem and was unfortunately adopted by Christianity and believed to be the reason why we needed a Redeemer).
For too many centuries, we have been imprinted with the idea that we are fallen, sinful creatures, condemned to a life of toil and hardship on this planet. This has left us with a legacy of guilt, fear and a sense of sinfulness and unworthiness as well as helplessness. The Christian myth tells us that we have been redeemed from this fallen state by the sacrificial death of the Son of God. But this only applies to Christians and also removes from us the responsibility of releasing ourselves, not so much from a state of sin as from a state of ignorance and discovering how to reconnect our consciousness with the eternally present Divine Ground within us and around us while living in this dimension of reality.
2. The second story is the current scientific worldview that material reality is the only reality and that consciousness begins and ends with the physical brain. Science gives us a story about our relationship with the universe that is as negative and depressing as the first story, telling us that we are alone in a randomly created, uncaring universe that is without life, meaning or purpose. When we die, that is the end of us because it clings to the idea that the physical brain is the origin of consciousness and the death of the one must therefore mean the end of the other. Science with its recent discoveries is giving us a breath-taking revelation of the hundred billions galaxies that is an essential part of the New Story but its limited view of the nature and origin of consciousness blocks our access to a deeper meaning to our lives and, above all, to a profound sense of relationship with the universe and opening our consciousness to the existence of its invisible dimensions.
These two stories can be associated with the alchemical image of the "Old King" whose control of human consciousness has to be relinquished or discarded before the values of a new consciousness held in the image of the "Young King" can emerge. These new values derive from the recognition that we belong to a living universe that embraces countless unseen dimensions and levels of being. Above all, this understanding holds the awareness that our presence on this planet has purpose and meaning and that we can assist the evolutionary intention of the Cosmos instead of living our lives in profound ignorance of it. If we hold a view of our potential and destiny that is limited to a material universe and our present state of consciousness, we are living in a virtual prison. However, the discoveries of Quantum Science as described below are taking us beyond this view.
The New Story
The New Story coming into being is that the whole universe is a unified field. The world we experience is like a minute excitation on the surface of an infinite cosmic sea which sustains not only our world, but the entire Cosmos. We live within a cosmic web of life which underlies and connects all life forms in the universe and on our planet.
Through a vast network of electro-magnetic fields we are connected to the earth, the sun and the hundred billion galaxies. So we are not separate from any aspect of planetary or cosmic life. This is illustrated in the Hindu tradition by the beautiful image of the Net of Indra shown in the image at the top of this page. It can be imagined as a shining golden Net surrounding our planet and connecting all forms of life on it. But it also embraces not only planetary life but all galactic life in the Cosmos. Through this shimmering Web of Light, all existence, whether seen or unseen, is an indissoluble unity. We are not only in this incandescent Web of Light, we are part of it.
The astounding discoveries of quantum physics tell us that we are literally bathed in a sea of light, invisible to us yet permeating every cell of our being. We are not only connected with each other through the astonishing reach of the Internet but through the infinitesimal particles of sub-atomic matter. In our essence, we are beings of light, cosmic beings. As long ago as the 6th century BC the Greek philosopher Parmenides said: We are divine beings having a human experience. it is an utter tragedy that people have no awareness of their innate divinity.
At the quantum level all apparently separate aspects of life are connected in one invisible and indivisible whole. So we, as observers, are not separate from what we are observing. All life at the deepest level is essentially One.
The New Connected Cosmic Consciousness
Through the emerging science of Unified Physics a new cosmology is being born: a new vision of our profound relationship with an intelligent, living and interconnected universe. This New Story tells us that matter cannot be separated from spirit. Not only that but at every level of existence – from the microscopic to the super galactic – the same geometric principles bring all things into manifestation.
Increasing numbers of us are awakening to what, following Thomas Berry, I have called the Dream of the Cosmos — the Dream of humanity engaging in a new role on this planet: a role that is once again in harmony with the evolutionary intention of the Cosmos. The task is immense and daunting yet we have the power to change course, to bring ourselves into alignment with the Cosmos, to listen to the neglected voice of our soul.
As we begin to comprehend this New Story, the realization is dawning that we are participating in a Cosmic Consciousness or Intelligence which is present in every one of the 100 million atoms of our being and every particle of matter.
God or Spirit or Divine Mind is not something transcendent to us, separate from us. We are within it, co-existing with it, and it is within us. We are both the Source and the seeker, even though our consciousness is still limited or incomplete, unaware that we carry divinity within us, that we are part of the Source from which all life has emerged. This, I believe, is one of the great revelations of our time.
In support of this view I have given a talk (2015) on Unified Physics at Schumacher College. This talk can be heard on YouTube: https://youtu.be/UQf2iPbCq8U
The New (and Old) Love Story
At the heart of the Cosmos is a love of unimaginable dimensions, a love that sustains the entire universe and is the origin of our own capacity to love, to cherish, to protect, as well as to create through all the different gifts we carry within our nature.
If God or Spirit is the intelligence and energy of the life process itself, then how we treat planetary life and each other becomes a matter of how we are treating God.
The arrogant celebration of “man’s conquest of nature” can be replaced by the realization that we need to respect, safeguard and cherish each other as well as the planetary life of which we are a part.
Death as a New Birth
The New Story invites a different understanding of death. Nothing is more important for our balance, well being and trust in life than to know that when we die we move into another reality that is as real and vitally alive as this one. So much grief and suffering is caused by the belief that life and consciousness end with the death of the physical brain. We need to know that we are immortal beings.
Consciousness does not die with the death of the physical body: consciousness is eternal. We are re-united with those we love.
Recognizing the Sacredness of All Life
This new era invites the marriage of our rational mind with our long-neglected soul and the birth of the ‘child’ of a new, awakened consciousness that would be the fruit of this union and the true saviour of our species. As the light of this new consciousness begins to shine in the darkness of our time, we could heal both our divided psyche and our raped and vandalized planet. It is a tremendously challenging and creative time to be alive.
The new understanding of our connection with all aspects of life could have a huge impact on how we live our lives, how we educate our children, how we relate to the planet and how we interact with each other, recognizing that every act, even every thought, has an effect on the whole. All the old patterns of rivalry, struggles for power and dominance fall away once we begin to understand the depth of our connection with each other and all aspects of life.
From this perspective, all weapons and all acts that destroy the miraculous and infinitely precious life of another human being or injure the sacred life of the planet are no longer tolerable.
Moving to this new level of understanding will be difficult but not impossible as more and more people get the message that this is an evolutionary imperative and that our survival as a species depends on it. Rather than attacking the old, we could focus on assisting and facilitating the emergence of the new.
These timeless words from the Fourth Book of the Essene Gospel of Peace wonderfully reflect this new and very ancient understanding:
I tell you truly,
your body was made not only to breathe, to eat, to think,
but it was also made to enter the Holy Stream of Life.
And your ears were made not only to hear the words of men,
the song of birds, and the music of the falling rain,
but they were also made to hear the Holy Stream of Sound.
And your eyes were made not only to see the rising and setting sun,
the ripple of sheaves of grain, and the words of the Holy Scrolls,
but they were also made to see the Holy Stream of Light.
One day your body will return to the Earthly Mother;
even also your ears and your eyes.
But the Holy Stream of Life, the Holy Stream of Sound,
and the Holy Stream of Light,
these were never born, and can never die.
Enter the Holy Streams,
even that Life, that Sound, and that Light which gave you birth.
Awakening to a New Wholeness and Unity
In the boxes below, I am looking to the future when the New Story has become common knowledge and a more complete understanding of reality has come into being, shared by millions of people across the planet. I have drawn on the work of certain scientists and philosophers whose work offers an outline of this New Story, showing that we live in a universe where everything is connected with everything else and there is no essential separation between matter and spirit, which is the principle theme of my book, The Dream of the Cosmos.
The visible and invisible dimensions of life are no longer regarded as separate but experienced as unified aspects of a living universe.
We no longer feel separate from the universe but connected to the heart of its being. Our body, mind, soul and spirit are seen as components of a single cosmic organism.
We are aware that we carry divinity in every cell of our being because we are not separate from the Divinity we have been worshipping for thousands of years but are an intrinsic part of its life, its mind and its soul.
This divine element within our nature is expressed in our lives as the desire and the capacity to create, to invent, to discover and transform, to nurture and protect, to love and be loved.
Divine Spirit is no longer be imagined as remote and transcendent to ourselves but experienced as the very process of life pouring into manifestation — expressing Itself as our life as well as all aspects of planetary life and the life of the entire Cosmos. All life is seen as sacred. Life on this planet is part of the Sacred Order of the Cosmos.
Nature is no longer treated as our servant but recognized and respected as the manifestation of spirit in this dimension of reality.
We are able to communicate consciously with other beings in our universe, asking for and receiving their guidance and help.
Death is no longer feared but is seen as a rite of passage into another dimension of reality or adjacent universe.
“I regard consciousness as fundamental; matter is derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness. There is no matter as such; it exists only by virtue of a force bringing the particle to vibration and holding it together in a minute solar system; we must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. The mind is the matrix of all matter”
“It is from the Formless Absolute – as the Divine Datum of the Cosmos – that the entire relativistic world of form emerges, like waves and currents on and beneath the surface of an ocean, never separate from the ocean itself. This union of form and Formlessness is the Ocean of Consciousness, the centre of which is Love, the Divine Essence we all share, providing the Cosmic Context for all beings in the Universe, including all of us human beings.”
Paul Hague The Theory of Everything
“Consciousness is Ultimate Reality; physical universes and their components, including the brain, emerge from Consciousness; all beings in the manifest Universe are related to each other, never separate from God, Nature, or any other being for an instant.”
Paul Hague The Theory of Everything
“The Universe is an undivided wholeness
in flowing movement.”
“Matter is nothing but frozen light.”
David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order
“The amount of energy in one cubic centimetre of empty space is very far beyond the total amount of energy of all the matter in the known universe.”
David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order
“We have reversed the usual classical notion that the independent ‘elementary parts’ of the world are the fundamental reality, and that the various systems are merely particular contingent forms and arrangements of these parts. Rather, we say that inseparable quantum interconnectedness of the whole universe is the fundamental reality, and that relatively independent behaving parts are merely particular and contingent forms within this whole.”
David Bohm, 'On the Intuitive Understanding of Nonlocality as Implied by Quantum Theory', Foundations of Physics Vol 5 (1975)
“The Universe is not a collection of objects, but is an inseparable web of vibrating energy patterns in which no one component has reality independently from the entirety.
Included in the entirety is the observer.”
Paul Davies, physicist
“The entire universe is an interdependent system that is co-arising with everything else at each moment. In this co-arising process, we participate directly
with the world beyond our physical body.”
“We are spiritual beings having a bodily experience.”
“Because all is alive and interconnected, what I do to the world I ultimately do to myself.”
“Scientists now know... that particles are nonlocally connected with each other throughout space: Living things of all kinds are nonlocally connected throughout a subtle field that scientists know exists although they don’t yet understand what it is or how it works.”
“Positing consciousness as the ground of being calls forth a paradigm shift from a materialist science to a science based on the primacy of consciousness...Such a science leads to a true reconciliation with spiritual traditions, because it does not ask spirituality to be based on science but asks science to be based on the notion of eternal spirit.”
Amit Goswami, The Visionary Window
“Consciousness is the Ground of all Being and quantum physics makes this as clear as daylight.”
The Self-aware Universe
“Consciousness is not produced by the brain. Consciousness is a cosmic phenomenon transmitted and elaborated by the brain. Brain and consciousness are on separate planes of reality...The brain does not produce consciousness; it transmits and displays it.”
Ervin Laszlo, The Immortal Mind
“The electro-magnetic quantum vacuum is a form of light. It is an underlying sea of energy, that permeates every tiny volume of space, from the emptiest intergalactic void to the depths of the Earth, the Sun and our own bodies. Our world of matter is like the visible foam atop a very deep ocean of light.”
Bernard Haisch, astro-physicist, Mind Before Matter
“Consciousness is not so much a way of thinking or feeling as a power of entering into contact with the myriad rungs of existence, visible or invisible. The more our consciousness develops, the more its radius of action and the number of degrees it can encompass grow. . . Our body, our thoughts, our desires are only a thin film on our total existence.”
“There is but one force in the world, a single unique current which passes through us and all things...It is this force which links up everything, animates everything; this is the fundamental substance of the universe.”
“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity.”
“The one central insight into Truth to which all Indian wisdom points is the oneness of all that exists. Although the truth is easily stated as “All is one”, the sages have also said that the realization of this truth in the core of one’s being can take many lifetimes. And the realization of this truth is held to be the purpose of human existence. All art, philosophy and science, if they are true, reflect this vision and further its realization.”
Ravi Ravindra , Science and the Sacred
“We are entering the period of the free-flowing, universal, creative spirit of life, the unlocalised god, accessible to all men in all places. This is the age of the Holy Spirit, this is the age of the universal principle – the open, flexible field of consciousness, the understanding of the unity of life in the multiplicity of human experience.”