A two day workshop “The Universe Story: Re-centering Ourselves with a new Cosmology” was held at Maitreya Saturday and Sunday, 26-27 March. Meath Conlan, PhD and Orla Hazra, PhD joined with several dozen people to promote this re-centering called for by Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry in their book The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era, A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos. Those attending were a wide range of professionals— from the IT sector, and also those living in religious communities dedicated to health and social justice initiatives.
The late Thomas Berry has suggested four wisdoms to heal our current alienation from aspects of body/self, each other and the environment: the wisdoms of religion, indigenous/tribal, women and science.
The goal of the workshop was to help participants reclaim a sense of unity, awe and wonder and reverence for life- an eco-spirituality, through the wisdom of science. In addition, the wisdom of science was placed in conversation with the other three, to reveal the logic within them all, that “all is one”.
The weekend began by a review of our current ways of practicing life m ‘as if’ all ‘is not one’, we have lost the sense of the sacred and have a problematic ideal of adulthood –based on progress/development through industrialization. This void many feel is being fed by various addictions and is fueling an unsustainable lifestyle based on increasing consumption patterns. The lifestyle has had tragic consequences globally for the entire earth community, human and nonhuman.
To begin to recenter our bodies within the entire earth community, the story of the origins, journey and development of our bodies / ourselves was told by tracing our current 13.7 billion year shared history of life. The journey was shared by reading aloud Born with a Bang, From Lava to Life, and Mammals who Morph written by Jennifer Morgan and illustrated by Dana Lynne Anderson. The illustrations of the books were simultaneously projected on a screen to reinforce various concepts within the read text and also to emphasize the mythic quality of the story tracing the movement of the cosmos from inorganic life, to life, and to the human. Following each book, participants discussed what they had heard. Its significance for a new understanding of existence and an appreciation of the infinite eternal mystery of which we are all co-creating were also explored.
The film “The Human Search” reviewing the life of the late Dom Bede Griffiths, was shown as an example of the successful struggle to integrate existence through the wisdoms of science and religion. The process of body/self/planet alienation, awakening and connection was traced to emphasize the importance for community healing through sharing of the story of our common heritage. Two international grassroots movements for healing of community life were explored. The ideology underlying the Earth Charter (all is one) and the methodology within the Foundation for Environmental Education (the interwoven issues of water, litter, energy and transportation) were reviewed as helpful resources for participants to engage with professionally in the future.
By the end of the workshop participants acknowledged a renewed sense of unity within the web of life and as participating within a 13.7 billion year cosmogenesis as co-creators. This awareness prompted hopeful messages offered for future generations and exploration of alternative ways of living together
Future workshops are planned to explore the journey of the Universe and formation of various community initiatives to heal communities.
Meals and refreshments were prepared by the team led by Sr Ananda, with some ingredients created from the ground of Maitreya.