The Earth, as seen by Voyager in the last shot before it left the Solar System. How could we ever again recover earlier assumptions of who and where we are?
Galileo performed the daring act of looking up and out into the cosmos. Four hundred years on we have managed to look back at ourselves.
That faintly blue pebble contains everything we ever thought we knew and all of our hopes and dreams, our civilization and our achievements. Above all, how could our doctrines and dogmas, our fanaticism and our hatreds ever have any relevance again? We have just one comfort to draw from this lonely view of what is from here our far-away pebble. Our consciousness, which daringly put this mechanism billions of miles out so that we could look back at ourselves.
Pray that this precious consciousness, especially that part we call our awareness, is linked with creation itself. With the Divine.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The Word appears to be the Logos, through which all things are made, seen by the Stoics as the divine animating principle pervading the universe.
We had received the Word. Voyager has discs on board. Now we have sent the Word out into the cosmos.
As we are blessed with imagination, and Thomas Merton believes that the divine sows seeds in our liberty to see what harvest will be produced, we can be allowed a little leeway in how we interpret this.
So in the very beginning, if that concept itself is not an illusion, the Word existed, the Logos, the divine animating principle pervading the universe. In the Christian tradition it was made flesh by God becoming Man, or perhaps through a completion of the Logos in the form of enhanced awareness, or with a potentiality to become enhanced, being infused into humankind.
Because of free will or our liberty we can allow or refuse our awareness to become enhanced; indeed we can explore and celebrate our awareness, we can use it, or we can waste it or abuse it. We can also allow it to guide us into forming a deep and loving relationship with a lifelong partner, so that our spirituality is further enhanced. We can use it to become, in harmony with the becoming of creation.
As an extra inducement to use it in a worthwhile way, we have been given a mysterious power we call art or creativity in the broadest sense, but the most dramatic manifestations of which can be produced in music or theatrical-type performances. The most powerful of these is the dramatic production, factual or fictional, scored with music, whether opera, movie or grand spectacular show.
The Voyager team hesitated about turning the cameras around and taking this final shot as it had no scientific value, but they did it anyway. In doing so they performed an enormously creative act with unrealized potential for changing the way we see ourselves even greater than that when Apollo first captured our beautiful blue world.
For simplicity of discussion let us call this great creative human activity 'performance'. Not only does performance provide a vehicle for our greatest human expressions, it also serves as a powerful political and social force and as a tool for church and state to use to control us, whenever we allow them to, which history has taught is only too often.
Our performances can celebrate and be guided by the three great concepts of love, beauty and truth and reflect potentiality and aspiration. On the other hand they can be bowdlerized or prostituted to project propaganda and deceit.
One of the great breakthroughs of performance has been the success of individuals to use their imaginations to release it from the confines of religious or political ceremony, although many such gains were followed by long periods of renewed control and censorship.
Since classical Athens in the 6th century BC, vibrant forms of theatre have flourished in cultures around the world, interrupted only by one long period of Church control in Europe and by various shorter and localised periods of totalitarianism.
In our modern age, performance has been hugely enhanced and empowered by technology. A good example is seen in Wagner's Ring cycle, completed in 1874 after 26 years. Up to the end of the Second World War, while it would occasionally be staged in opera houses around the world, the usual way to see it was to travel to Bayreuth in Germany for the annual Ring festival and unless you spoke German try to memorize a translated text so that you would know what was going on over the several days it takes to stage it. Now you can sit in a special cinema in most of the world's major cities and be enthralled by live satellite performances from prestigious venues such as the Met in New York City. All translation problems are gone with running subtitles and not only have you the best seat in the house but you even watch the less well-placed live audience enter the opera house and you are allowed backstage in between the acts. Above all, however, because of technology, the real meaning and drama of the great work are only now being realized more than one hundred years after the first performance. Technology has enhanced great human performance.
Earlier we mused how much more meaningful it would be, if, in our apparently lost state, every one of our worthwhile longings was seen to be part of an effort by the cosmic process, grasping itself through each of us into higher and higher levels of consciousness.
In the earlier section of 'The world as illusion' we played with the audacious idea that our existence as perceived is a kind of hologram in which we are also being tested through suffering and contradictions and through our use of free will. Would that not make it a kind of divine performance?
Is it possible then that through artist and director, cast, crew and audience, we reach out to achieve higher levels of awareness or becoming in every great performance? And we succeed in this when we incorporate great ideas, such as the single great idea of open and closed minds representing good and evil with movement towards the former marking the transformation longed for in this world?
Albert Einstein, with whom both Whyte and Bohm worked, loved music and was an accomplished violinist. He has been reported to have said that while Beethoven created his music, Mozart's was so pure that it seemed to have been ever-present in the universe, waiting to be discovered by him. I like to think of that as believing that while the other great composers had huge talent and worked hard at composing, Mozart was a somewhat laid-back and, possibly even, irresponsible young man with little or no talent, but God chose him as a vehicle for transmitting his own divine compositions to us.
Perhaps this is an example of the 'holy' Presence within cosmic energy at work and available whenever there are composers, directors, artists and crew, not just willing to work, but with a burning desire to produce something beautiful.
Look at the tools now on hand! One can watch great performances such as the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic games and the World Cup and, even with little or no interest in the games played, marvel at the drama and spectacle - the pain and exultation of the players and their managers, the rapture of the crowd, the artistry of the cameramen and their directors. With such tools now available we should not have to wait another hundred years for a Wagner to produce a great new performance.
Our performance began in the mists of pre-history in pagan rituals, involving the sun, the seasons and the gods. It evolved into religious ceremonies and then, perhaps first in Ancient Greece, it began a life of its own freed by a combination of enhanced awareness and the liberty of the human imagination.
At times it soared, on Dantean ledges on the threshold of Paradise, inspired by an eight year old girl, and in expulsion from that same paradise.
Now we wait for another great performer, writer, composer, director and, who knows, maybe more than one? And perhaps we need a performance that mocks absolutism, closed minds, cant and hypocrisy.
The reasoning and musings on this web site suggest that, to be most effective, it should relate to the dispossessed. Witness Paradise Lost, Homer's Odyssey, and The Divine Comedy.
A great new scandalous production.
Which will run and run.
The ideas behind what is written here have been updated by Brian, summarized in a shorter piece, titled Becoming and belonging
(Brian, as pictured on the BBC web site. 'Forced Adoption and the Mums on the Run' was a BBC Radio 4 Face the facts programme, Wednesday 15 January 2014 12.30 PM. Podcast is HERE.)
And see him in other media here.)
A related story
Colette and Miriam Dunne
Other interesting reading
The cosmos as a manifestation of Integral Spirit
That the cosmos is a manifestation of Integral Spirit is the cosmology explored by David Korten in Yes! magazine.
It is titled Religion, Science, and Spirit: A Sacred Story for Our Time.
Contact email firstname.lastname@example.org