By conference convener, Stephanie Mines.
“Intimacy with the planet in its wonder and beauty and the full depth of its meaning is what enables an integral human relationship with the planet to function. It is the only possibility for humans to attain their true flourishing while honoring the other modes of earthly being.” ~ Thomas Berry
In the surprisingly brief two and a half page introduction to his seminal book, The Great Work: Our Way into the Future, Thomas Berry uses the words “intimate” or “intimacy” ten times. All relationships thrive or fail on the basis of how much true intimacy is possible. For humans to be in intimate relationship with Gaia, the living universe, we are called to be raw, unpretentious, open, listening and adoring. Could it be that entering this state of naked vulnerability is what will turn the tide and shift us out of the user mentality that has brought us to this crossroads? Could it be that what we have to do is to fall madly, desperately, hopelessly, in love?
We are situated, says Berry, at the end of the biological phase of the Cenozoic Era that has lasted 65 billion years. This era is marked by a massive extinction of living forms. The era we are entering, the Ecozoic, is the landscape of our love affair. It is the era of the ‘Integral Earth Community,’ which insists upon the primacy of the natural world. Humans must, repeat must, love Gaia completely in the Ecozoic. We must experience Gaia as communion. This, Berry asserts, is the only way we can live in a mutually enhancing relationship with the Earth and the Earth community.
Climate Change & Consciousness: Our Legacy for the Earth provides an information rich and solutions based, action driven optimism; but it is also steeped in the mythic legacy of Thomas Berry’s confidence in the passionate love affair that will blossom at this Great Turning. During the Ecozoic all humans and non-humans will share an ecstatic celebration of the grandeur of the world, Berry forecasts. The Earth will express herself through humanity. Humans will become the voice for the dynamism that is the reality of the universe.
Stripped of our projective intellectualizing and saturated with the experience of pure love for the grandeur that is life, we can be guided to our deepest spontaneities. This may look chaotic; just as falling in love brings with it a dizzying madness and a disorganization that swirls with the power to shake everything upside down. The Ecozoic is a time of differentiation and, Berry says, “Differentiation is the primordial expression of the universe.” Only the commitment to stay in this differentiation, to passionately enter the Ecozoic, can stop the world of exploitation, manipulation and violence that has brought us to where we are. This is what awaits us and what heals the despair we feel as the Cenozoic comes to an end.
The sixth guiding principle of Climate Change & Consciousness: Our Legacy for the Earth, states that “Everyone at the gathering has an opportunity to establish and cultivate a direct, intimate and personal relationship with the natural world.” This principle is infused with the spirit of Thomas Berry and was likely dictated by it! It is when individually and collectively we are acting out of our vow to honor this relationship that the tide turns. As Graham Meltzer, Findhorn community member and co-focaliser of Climate Change and Consciousness, says: “When we realize we are one with life, that what we do to other species we do to ourselves, our children, our lovers, our friends….then there is nothing we will not do for our Mother Earth.” This is the consciousness that climate change ignites. There is nowhere else to go except towards this love.
Graham, Thomas Berry and I are speaking of entering into an intimacy that arouses the neurochemistry of miracles; that sparks wild and brilliant acts of courage and surrender. If we can step to the side of our fears we can see that this is the love we have always yearned for. This is the deepest intimacy; luscious, sensuous, erotic and satisfying. This is the consciousness of belonging that climate change is, even at this tortuous moment of uncertainty, extracting from us.
The great mystic Sarada Devi said, “The whole world is your own. No one is a stranger here. This whole world is your own.” When the lost lineage cry that echoes with the resonance of a fierce bond with place comes out of our mouths, we will know this ancient love that is unstoppable. Then the way is clear to protect, join with, couple with, and be eternally loyal to the forces that speak for the Earth and do whatever they require of us. The first step is hearing those forces. That is the listening state I refer to here in the first paragraph and which informs this profound love. That listening state will be made available to all participants in Climate Change & Consciousness, including those on live streaming. Be prepared to lose yourself in love.
Findhorn Fellow and CCC19 workshop presenter Alan Heeks speaks of how Thomas Berry lifts him up with his complete trust in the love affair that is building between humanity and Gaia. Heeks describes how Berry, who lived to be 94 and died in 2009, named the real problem of this time as one of entrancement with a desolate industrial vision. That entrancement was never more obvious than it is right now when desolation hails down upon us like the seven plagues. Nevertheless it seems that consumerism continues unabated and politicians who protect consumerism are voted into office. We are furious and frustrated; we protest; we organize. We organize conferences. It is a painful paradox.
Our real job Berry said (which Heeks underscores in his writing and his work building regenerative communities) is to strengthen and amplify the ecological vision so that it overpowers the appeal of the industrial. This is the challenge of consciousness that is united with activism at CCC19. No matter how convincing the data it will be insufficient to stem disaster unless the ecological vision is strengthened and the mad love for Gaia becomes contagious. Berry called this our real edge, and he was secure in knowing that we would cross into and over this threshold. You might say that Thomas Berry presaged Climate Change & Consciousness where, to borrow a phrase from Alan Heeks, we will experience “the deep contact with nature that will give us both the insights to move forward and the passion to act on them.”
Love has the capacity to fire new neurological pathways and generate resilient and creative thinking. Love can repair the immune system even after devastating collapses or invasive toxic exposures. This powerful love is always relational and intimate. If you feel it, hear it, respond to its call, and let its touch carry you to entirely new terrain, then love defies the impossible.
Climate Change & Consciousness: Our Legacy for the Earth is a gathering where practical action networks will be formed, strategies will be developed, local and global solutions-based ventures will be initiated, communities will be built and relationships will be formed between the human and subtle realms for service to humanity. It is also where we can palpably step into the consciousness of the Ecozoic Era and its mysterious, mythic love for Gaia.
And, rest assured, the energy of Thomas Berry will be there. It is already with us. His stalwart confidence is our nutrient. It is epitomized in his certain statement that “the universe is for us rather than against us.” Berry declared that the heralding of the Ecozoic will be heard in the sounds of new musical forms, seen in new art, new genius and skill that will emerge because of the power of this determining moment. This is what we will witness and experience at Climate Change & Consciousness. “The dream drives the action,” Berry said. The dream is of “a mutually enhancing human presence within an ever-renewing organic-based Earth community.”
“The dream drives the action” and action will be the last word, the iterative mantra that flows out of Climate Change & Consciousness: Our Legacy for the Earth.