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No Ordinary Time
Jan Phillips : Creativity and the New Cosmology

Creativity and the New Cosmology

An Excerpt from No Ordinary Time by Jan Phillips

Whatever you do will be insignificant,
but it is very important that you do it.
~Mahatma Gandhi

We're like caterpillars getting close to the Great Transformation. In preparation for its metamorphosis, the caterpillar eats 100 times its weight, falls asleep, and then forms a chrysalis. When the first imaginal cells of the butterfly begin to form themselves, the immune system of the caterpillar tries to fight them off. The immune system fails, and the caterpillar cells become the soup that nourishes the emerging butterfly.

We, as humans, are going through a similar process. We're in a massive consumption phase now, and many of us are asleep, napping in the chrysalis. Since we're all at different stages, some of us are feeling the invasion of "the new" and are resisting it with all our might. We don't want to give up what we know and have. Even though we're participating in a civilization that keeps millions of people starving while a small percentage own most of the wealth, we don't want the upset that fixing that might cost us. Even though most of our institutions are failing us, we don't have enough moral outrage to fuel a change in course. We've stuffed ourselves — those of us who can — and we're sleeping now. It's just too bad about the others.

In order to sustain this thinking, we have to tune out our emotions, because if we let ourselves feel our oneness with those people who have nothing because of this imbalance, then we'd have to do something. We'd have to bear the weight of our complicity. We'd have to feel the sorrow, and the hunger, and the angst, and the terror of the ones left behind. We'd have to cry, we'd have to forgive ourselves, and we'd have to act in different ways.

So instead we come up with all the rationalizations for not letting in the emotions. We live half-lives, buying more and more to make ourselves feel better, as if joy were something that comes from outside instead of bubbling up from within as a reward for being true. No, if we are to find real meaning, feel real joy, it will come on the wings of a fully engaged life, a life in the service of more than our self. It will come when we remember that giving is receiving, and the more we share ourselves, the more meaning and joy will come our way. Our spiritual traditions have tried to encourage this — "what you do for the least of these, you do unto me" — but we have failed to connect with the potency of the message.

We were born into the myth of one God in the heavens who created the universe in six days, rested on the seventh, and now spends all his time granting or turning down our prayers. We've seen the image of God and Adam on the Sistine Chapel ceiling and the masterpiece is branded onto our imagination. The images on which we feed govern our lives, according to mythopoetic author and Jungian analyst Marion Woodman, and the myth behind this image lies behind our worldview.

But this mythology no longer serves us and is giving way to a new revelation, a new cosmology that is relevant to these times and our evolved consciousness. It worked fine at the time Isaiah was a prophet, 700 years before the Common Era, when word had it God was punishing Israel for the nation's unfaithfulness. It worked as well for a medieval world that believed it would take 8000 years at 40 miles per day by mule to reach the sphere of the stars. It even held up in the 17th century when Bishop James Ussher, based on calculations from Genesis, announced that the creation of heaven and earth occurred on October 23, 4004 BCE.

But at a time when we can trace the lineage of the cosmos back 14 billion years, when we have sculptures from the period 200,000-500,000 BCE (the Berekhat Ram and the Venus of Tan Tan), when science informs us that 10% of our body weight consists of elementary hydrogen nuclei that came out of the Big Bang, and when more people are acquiring the ability to destroy the planet with nuclear weapons, we are seeing our relationship to the cosmos through a brand news lens. Now that humans have created the means to destroy the world, it is unconscionable to collude in a story that sees God as the creator of circumstances and humans as the victims, God as Geppetto and people as Pinnocchio.

The Sistine Chapel of the future might be a mirror, reflecting the part we each play in ongoing creation. Human beings, through the powers of our creative imaginations and unified consciousness, are re-pairing the opposites, transcending the dualities that have kept us separate from nature, from the Divine, and from each other. What is spiritual is the relationship between our cosmos and our mind.

We are coming to understand ourselves as expressions of the universe, activities of the cosmos. We are the universe reflecting back on itself, evolution pondering its next moves. We are the first ones — homo sapiens — to recognize the future is largely in our hands. It is happening through us, not to us.

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Updated 1/17/14