It seems to me that all which we see, that which we experience, comes out of the prevailing collective thought about what IS. Most of us were raised in, or at least hugely affected by, the prevailing belief in original sin ... that this universe (or at least this planet) fell from grace, became separate from God, and is thus hopelessly and utterly depraved, unless and until we do/believe the "right thing" and get back into God's good graces.
(can I get a collective "UGH" for the uber-exhaustion and angst that this concept has caused us ...?!?)
Let's tune in again to the mystics of history, both ancient and contemporary, and see if we hear a thread of sanity through the ages:
When religion lost the cosmos, society became neurotic. And we needed to invent psychology to deal with the neurosis." (Otto Rank)
"The most important function of art and science is to awaken the cosmic religious feeling and keep it alive." (Albert Einstein)
"Mystical experience is the mirror image of negative paranoia. It sees 'the universe is a conspiracy organized for my benefit.'" (Andrew Weil, MD)
"The exilerating quest for discovery, the search to find what magic lies beyond the stars and inside the atom, is at once wonderfully insatiable and wonderfully satisfying. We cannot find happiness in contemplating ourselves; but we can find it in contemplating infinity. Reaching out, with our imaginations, toward its majesty, it will in turn embrace us and inspire us." (Jacques Cousteau)
"The creative Wisdom of all tings has established marvelous and ineffable harmonies by which all things come together in a concord or friendship or peace or love or however else the union of all things can be designated." (John the Scot -- who was actually Irish)
"All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sisters Moon and Stars;
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air;
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water." (Francis of Assisi)
"Earth and Heaven are in us." (Mahatma Gandhi)
I see the Universe as One ... a manifestation of the Only Source of All that IS. I see it as good -- very good. Even glorious beyond comprehension. I see all things as interrelated ... microcosms of the macrocosm ... continuing fractals in both eternal directions ... writ small in the infinitesimal universe of the cell, of each atom, and writ large in the infinitesimal universe of the cosmos ... and all declaring the glory of God.
To explore this cosmos, whether one is a microbiologist, or a cosmologist, is to explore God ... the same story is told, over and over again, if we would have eyes to see and ears to hear.
The cosmos is held together in incredible awe-inspiring order ... balance, harmony, and justice. In this understanding, of all being ONE, true unity is celebrated. Thomas Aquinas says that every person is "capable of the universe" and we are thus invited into a cosmic awakening, a cosmic relationship with all that is. But, our traditional religions have encouraged us to not celebrate this, but to despise the universe (& ourselves) as being "corrupt" ... and what has been the result? We have become sick and violent, confused and attacking, with our human institutions merely reflecting the hearts and minds of the humans who inhabit and promote them. We were made for something cosmic -- we will not peaceably fit into anything smaller than the cosmos.
Without a cosmos-consciousness, humanity becomes manipulative and arrogant -- idolatrous of itself and it's projections.
Even scripture teaches us that we were taught by, and included in the Cosmic Christ -- "the first-born of all creation in whom were created all things in heaven and on earth." (Col 1:15, 20) The earliest followers of Christ saw and celebrated a universality of the Cosmic Christ -- the salvation (reconciling) of all. So what happened?
Augustine had no sense of the cosmic Christ ... he saw the universe as corrupt and separate from God ... his view was cemented early in the history of Christianity, by those who sought to institutionalize the teachings/life of Christ, in order to control the masses. Later, during the scientific era, Newton's mentality broke down all things into disconnected parts. And, patriarchal politics condemned anything that threatened their fear-based control over other humans. One cannot control and manipulate, and thus benefit from, those who live in peace, those who are governed by love.
From the prolific writings of Augustine, we have inherited a hyper-focus on guilt, a practice of introspection, a preoccupation with law, sin, and *personal* salvation. This focus has dominated Western approaches to a relationship with God. And yet the Eastern approach focuses n theosis, the divination of the cosmos... and the transfiguration of the world ... cosmic, not personal, salvation. This fits as well with what the old covenant prophets wrote, about the then-coming new covenant, wherein all would know God (whether they *yet* know that or not...!).
What if our soul is not so much in the body, as the body is in the soul..? What if our thoughts are inside-out? What if we could move past the puny-mindedness of the fall/redemption concept, which causes us to distrust the body? What if we could realize that we are not our bodies, so much as we have them, as tools for this experience? What if that enabled the cosmos to loom large again in our awareness, and we felt our connection to and with and in it? If we knew and experienced our connection with God, and with all others, with everything in the universe, how would that affect our relationships? Our treatment of this universe?
When we cannot welcome the universe, and reverence it as a blessing, then we will fight it. How does this show up in our experience? How has violence permeated our society? Our civilization is arrogant beyond imagining. Such is the consequence of believing that creation is corrupt and depraved ... such is the legacy of believing the doctrine of original sin.
The universe teaches universality. When we approach the cosmos with reverence and openness to learn, we also thus approach others -- even those different from ourselves -- with reverence. All elements of the Creation are available for everyone -- everything was placed here for the benefit of everyone.
To the degree that our religions, and our societies, cannot become open enough for a cosmic spirituality, a unified Oneness, to that degree are they doomed. "It is the disorder in the mind of man that produced chaos of the kind that brings about war ... any right understanding of the proper relation of man to man, and man to the universe would make war impossible." (artist Robert Henri)
If we could, both individually and collectively, replace fall/redemption theology with creation/blessing theology, we, and our society, would become sane. Then, a whole lotta psychologists would be out of work, and a whole slew of artists would be put to very good work ... celebrating the reflections of life and blessing for all...!