Our Home among the stars¹
“Paradise exists in the eternal present as an image expressing our deepest sense of what is right and true about ourselves.”
According to a recent pulse taken, only about 7% of us want things to go back to “normal.” The thing is, the state of the world was anything but normal before this pandemic. What we all long for, I believe, consciously or unconsciously, is to return Home, to return to the Garden of Paradise.
Richard Heinberg envisions our return to the Garden not as going back to Eden as it was in the beginning of Creation, but going forward to a totally New Heaven and a totally New Earth with a totally new culture seeded and born out of a renewed and transformed consciousness. I think you will enjoy sharing his vision in this excerpt from Chapter 12 of MEMORIES and VISIONS of PARADISE.
THE NEW CULTURE
Christian fundamentalists believe that apocalypse is inevitable. Social activists and utopians, on the other hand, believe that we can avoid Armageddon by making a gradual and peaceful transition away from the attitudes and assumptions of modern industrial civilization and toward a regenerative, peaceful way of life. According to the latter view, apocalypse will come only if we refuse to work, consciously and collectively, toward the constructive reform of our present institutions.
But whether humanity is headed toward peaceful transition or apocalyptic purification, the course of action for those who are committed to a paradisal outcome is the same: to deliberately begin to plant the seeds of a new culture based on universal spiritual values. A peaceful transition may be preferable to humanly engineered cataclysm, but it can only come about as the result of changes in the attitudes and actions of individuals. However, if a period of global purification is somehow inevitable, the mass of humanity will require models of wholeness and stability toward which to orient as upheavals occur, if there is to be anything to build upon after the period of purification is over.
As Marilyn Ferguson, Willis Harman, and other keen observers of social trends have been telling us for the past decade, the seeds of a new culture are already appearing. This new culture is not the plan of any specific human organization or agency, but rather is arising spontaneously in a thousand unpredictable ways through the efforts of people who in most instances have no idea of the interconnectedness — much less of the mythic or archetypal implications — of their actions.
One such seed is represented in widespread and increasing interest in ecology and environmentalism. While many people’s concern for environmental issues may be motivated simply by self-interest — the desire to escape disaster — the contemplation of the interrelatedness of Nature’s systems seems inevitably to trigger radically new views of our proper relationship with the rest of the biosphere.
As we become aware of the implications of the basic principles of ecology, inherited attitudes of exploitation tend to give way to attitudes of cooperation and stewardship. Ultimately, people who embrace environmentalism seem to be drawn back to the ancient view that the Earth is not here merely to satisfy human needs and desires; rather, that we human beings are here to nourish and steward the Earth.
Another portent of the kind of creative change that might lead to the emergence of a new paradisal culture is a burgeoning interest in native religions and comparative mythology. The word religion itself comes from the Latin religare, meaning “to bind back.” Religion has always been humanity’s way of seeking to recover something that has been lost. It is the expression of a universal yearning for a state of innocence and completeness — a state projected into the past, the future, or another dimension of existence, but nonetheless always felt to be real and innate, though somehow removed from our ordinary experience.
The object of religion is always the recovery of the divine presence and the return of the miraculous world of Paradise. The new spiritual revival of the past two decades seems to be directed toward the very essence of the religious experience. While drawing upon existing Native American, mystical Christian, Sufi, and Buddhist traditions (among others), its ultimate goal is a resurgence of the spirit from which all systems of revelation derive their meaning.
The kinds of fundamental changes in values and attitudes that we are considering tend to occur first in the details of people’s lives, and are only later reflected in public policy. In their most intimate relationships, for example, many people are discovering what it is to move from a dominant/submissive mode based on need and fear toward one of partnership based on a shared sense of higher purpose.
In their worldly vocations, people are finding that old values and motives centered on economic necessity and the competitive drive are stressful and unfulfilling.As the innate desire to uplift, bless, and nourish gains prominence, many people are changing careers, often trading a larger salary for a more satisfying means of contributing to the lives of others.
For some, this change of values is subtle; for others, the paradisal quest becomes an all-embracing passion. As noted in an earlier chapter, thousands of utopian communities have been founded during the last twenty years, particularly in North America. Many of these communities are virtual green-houses for the germination of the seeds of the new culture, fostering pioneering lifestyles based on ecological awareness, new patterns of relationships, and new ways of revealing and acknowledging the sacred. Such communities provide a means of exploring change through the total commitment of the time and resources of the people involved.
Ultimately, however, any individual action or social movement that furthers the values of oneness, peace, and respect for natural processes represents a seed of the new culture. As yet, we probably cannot know in any detail what the new culture will look like when and if the transition has been made. Certainly, it will not be an exact reproduction of the original earthly Paradise.
Regardless of whether our sojourn into egocentric consciousness was necessary to our evolution or merely a tragic error, we have learned a powerful lesson from the experience. We may return to innocence, but it will not be the same innocence we would have known had the Fall never occurred.
Neither can we accurately predict the nature of the new culture merely by extrapolating present trends: the developments we have just considered may be leading in the direction of a renewed paradisal state, but they are as yet mere seeds. By any standard, the magnitude of the transformation required in order for humanity as a whole to return to an integrated, regenerative mode of being is immense. We have barely begun the process.
Paradoxically, while the transition to the new culture is a project of vast proportions, it is likely to be accomplished only through changes in the attitudes and values of individual men and women — changes that may be virtually invisible to society as a whole. How, then, can you and I actually go about making these changes in our outlooks and behavior so as to realize Paradise in our own lives here and now, and thereby contribute to the creation of the new culture?
Civilization is built of compromises and trade-offs. Daily, we compromise integrity, intimacy, empathy, and honesty for a thousand seemingly worthwhile reasons, and we feel supported in doing so by the example and encouragement of others.
We have made our lives complex and abstract. We seem to live to serve our laborsaving devices. Many of us are willing to trade a large proportion of our waking hours to work at what may be intrinsically meaningless jobs in return for economic power. At some point we must ask whether all these trade-offs are really justifiable.
Returning to Paradise requires that we examine our lives honestly, and, when we find ourselves acting in ways that contradict our deepest values, that we change direction — not going backward toward some mythic past, but moving inward toward our highest vision of love and truth.
We must be willing to withdraw from participation in the mechanisms of the human world as it is as we learn to simplify, sanctify, and celebrate every aspect of life.
We see this happening the world over today. People simplifying their lifestyles, meditating and setting up altars in their homes to sanctify their consciousness, celebrating life in all its wonders. In the midst of all this pandemic turmoil, angels are coming forth through human hearts and shining the Light of Love in the world darkened by fear and uncertainty, and threatened by environmental and economic collapse. The old is passing away as the new is being born.
As I sat out with my wife in our paradisal back yard this evening, I felt a powerful wave of profound peace move through my body and across the entire globe. I feel it even now as I write. Something of cosmic proportion is happening in our solar Entity, in the Earth and in the body of Humanity. It’s a good time to be alive and awake on the planet. Until my next post,
Be love. Be loved.
¹While this image is dramatic, the moon is actually more than 1/4 the size of Earth.