II. Earth Learn: A Planetary Prodigy Comes to Her/His Own Knowledge
2. Perennial Wisdome: An AnthropoCosmic Code
2020: As another historic reference, this section views the ancient, eternal quest for an implied emblematic, generative secret, aka magnum opus or great work, by which, if found, this Earthly presence can be revealed and healed. As various works (Raphael Patai, Yi Lin) express, a common core code can be distilled as one self, which is two, then begets three, and onto manifold recurrence everywhere. Into this 21st century, as celestial macrocosm and our cerebral microcosm truly proven to be one and the same, this Yang, Yin and Taome iconic, biconic and triconic edification can ever light and guide a our cocreative, sustainable futurity for men, women and especially children.
Artson, Bradley Shavit. Clay in the Potter’s Hands: Human Evolution in a Self-Creating World. Tikkun. February, 2009. In this journal “to heal, repair, and transform the world,” the American Jewish University Dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies evokes Hebrew wisdom, in a Rethinking Religion section, to advise a numinous evolutionary genesis meant to be fulfilled by exemplary co-creative persons. As Brandeis theologian Arthur Green wrote in Tikkun a decade earlier A Kabbalah for the Environmental Age (May 1999 herein), the great secret, as the quote avers, is to realize micro human and macro universe as an reflective epitome of each other. Indeed, it need be said, as philosopher Beatrice Bruteau (search) advises, quite evidently as children to parents.
I told you before that you are portable lightning, but that is not the whole story. You are also portable bags of ocean: the saline solution of your blood is closer to the content of ocean water than you might care to know. We are living, walking puddles of ocean, powered by lightning. In our bodies is the entire story of the universe’s creation. You yourselves contain the energy of the Big Bang, the primordial lightning out of which life emerged, the salty life-giving mix of the sea, the sociability of primates – all of that millennial history is in you, in each of us. Paul Valery says, “The universe is built on a plan, the profound symmetry of which is somehow present in the inner structure of our own intellect.” Our minds, our bodies, our emotions, and our way of being in the world are the universe itself organized into consciousness. We are the universe organizing itself and erupting into consciousness. (9)
Atran, Scott. Cognitive Foundations of Natural History. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990. How the principle of an “Analogy of Nature” permeated and informed the nascent scientific mentality until the 19th century. Its “mid-level” human was the prototype for an ascendant scale of creation.
Beecher, Jonathan. Charles Fourier. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986. A biography of the French mathematican (1772-1837) who pursued the common project to “read in the mysterious book of nature.” This task is to be interpreted by an appreciation of the “law of universal analogy” that imbues a Divinely inspired harmony.
The affirmation of the correspondence between the passions and the material universe constituted the core of Fourier’s theory of universal analogy. The theory rested on two premises: (1) the universe was a unified system, a web of hidden correspondences or hieroglyphs, and (2) man was at the center of the system. (341)
Brauen, Martin. The Mandala: Sacred Circle in Tibetan Buddhism. Boston: Shambhala, 1997. Their intricate, personified diagrams and sand paintings are a conceptual mirror of a single, multifaceted creation which reflects a fractal-like accord between every being and plane. The Buddhist cosmology is founded on this indispensable relation between person, temple (stupa), community and numinous universe.
We have encountered in various aspects the fundamental wisdom of Tantric Buddhism, according to which structures and events recur endlessly from the expanse of the macrocosm to the minuteness of the microcosm and everything appears as a copy of another copy…in other words, we have discovered that the person and all other beings are not part of the cosmos but contain this cosmos within themselves - in such a way that they are constructed similarly to the macrocosm and the same processes take place within them as in the world around them. (124)
Briggs, John and F. David Peat. Seven Life Lessons of Chaos. New York: Harper Collins, 1999. A scientist and a psychologist find in the new complexity sciences a basis for personal significance and in their fractal resonance a profound confirmation of perennial wisdom.
A Chan Buddhist text says, “One particle of dust is raised and the great earth lies therein; one flower blooms and a universe rises with it.” The poet William Blake echoes the Zen text with his instruction in “Auguries of Innocence”: “to see the world in a grain of sand, and eternity in an hour.” Fractal self-similarity is the chaos version of this ancient and poetic truth. (103)
Cairns, Grace. Man as Microcosm in Tantric Hinduism. New Delhi: Manohar, 1992. This correspondence provides a structural scaffold for the ascent of spiritual consciousness both for an individual person and the entire cosmic development. All of which, Grace notes, is largely unknown to Western mentalities.
Capra, Fritjof and David Steindl-Rast. Belonging to the Universe. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991. A dialogue between a physicist and a monk on the fruitful convergence of science and spirituality. By way of a recovery of the microcosm – macrocosm correspondence, in the sense of Gregory Bateson's ‘the pattern that connects,’ human beings can once more become integral participants within a purposeful creation.
Fritjof: Over the last ten years, I have come to see spirituality, or what you would call religious experience, as the mode of consciousness where we feel connected to the cosmos as a whole. (58)
Cardini, Franco. The Companion to Medieval Society. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2012. A University of Florence historian achieves a lucid, illustrated distant retrospective of the millennia circa 500 to 1500. The “encyclopaedist” project for our cumulative knowledge is seen as commencing early in those middle ages. And once more it is noted that a secret luminous heart of wisdom ever imbued its perennial quest with human persons ever as the iconic centre of creation, “human beings as microcosm, mirror and synthesis of the macrocosm.” (229) For the representative philosopher Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), a “universal sympathy and similarity abided across all scales of being in an animate, holistic cosmos.”
Chenu, Marie-Dominique, OP. Nature, Man, and Society in the Twelfth Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968. As Franklin Harkins likewise herein notes, in early medieval times, a stirring realization arose across Europe that this extant creation was open and amenable to human understanding. Chenu (1895-1990) was a Catholic theologian who sought to reconstruct this renaissance. Once again, the essential revelation is a mirror correspondence between God and us, much as if parent and child. Alas, some nine centuries on all semblance, quest, and hope for such an innate secret is now abandoned. Postmodernism concludes, to its satisfaction, that knowledge is not even possible, while a Ptolemaic physics concurs that in a pointless multiverse there is nothing to know anyway. But from our historic vantage, if this distant yet perennial heart of wisdom can yet be availed in a natural genesis, we might just in time be able to find and birth ourselves unto an expectant cosmos.
At the very time that the concept of a parallelism between man as microcosm and the universe as macrocosm was coming newly to the fore, the Dionysian and Erigenist theme of a “continuity” between man and the cosmos was about to emerge to qualify the Platonic concept. The key to the understanding of the universe, and of man in the universe, was taken to be the ordered, dynamic, and progressive chain of all beings – a chain in which causality and meaning fall together, and in which each being is a “theophany,” a revelation of God. (23)
Chittick, William. Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul. Oxford, UK: Oneworld, 2007. The SUNY Stony Brook historian of religions is a foremost scholar on “pre-modern Islamic intellectual history and its relevance for contemporary humanistic concerns.” In this late phase of the Abrahamic religions, rife and torn by factions, it is vital to recover and “rehabilitate” their original true essence. While human beings are subjects to be in thrall of their Creator, they rightly have their own created significance. The crux of perennial wisdom is again a mirror co-reflection of macrocosm and microcosm, much as if parent and child. In this regard, with Harvard colleague Tu Weiming (search), this is an “Anthropocosmic vision” whence humanity is Heaven’s form of self-disclosure, expression, and realization. This is a crucial insight for our time. People, individually and altogether, need to know they have a purpose unto this intended earthly realm, which we must witness as participants in a great cosmic transformation. Here is wisdom in our midst, not to be left on shelves but as portals across the millennia to once more light the way forward.
Clarke, W. Norris, S.J. Living on the Edge: The Human Person as ‘Frontier Being’ and Microcosm. International Philosophical Quarterly. 36/2, 1996. To this Fordham theologian, the human individual, as a miniature cosmos, lives and serves at its creative leading edge.
The aim of this paper is to propose a creative “retrieval” of an interconnected pair of very ancient - but I still think very rich and seminal - ideas of what it means to be a human being and its place in the cosmos. These ideas have nourished reflective human thought for centuries in the past, but like so many such ideas they seem to have dropped out of focal awareness, in our own day, partly because of the collapse of all utopian visions of the human race, owing to our twentieth-century experiences of irrational violence, and partly because the predominance of the scientific view has flattened out our world vision to a single this-worldly dimension of physico-chemical and biological forces where spirit has been banished either as unreal or as inaccessible.
Clarke, W. Norris, S.J. The One and the Many: A Contemporary Thomistic Metaphysics. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2001. At a time when there is “no integrating vision of reality and human life as a whole,” Clarke attempts to frame a systematic philosophy founded upon the corpus of Thomas Aquinas. The crucial insight is a recovery of Aquinas’ “analogy of proper proportionality” by which to relate persons to a stratified nature and its Divine Creator. But the effort seems to have difficulties trying to accommodate with a perceived Darwinian, “non-living” universe. As a result, a “great circle of being” proceeds outwardly as a cosmic and personal journey from one to many, but only to return to its original source, rather than gaining its own created value.