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Duane Elgin



Thank you for bringing the wisdom of Thomas Berry into this dialogue. I’d like to bring in a few quotes into this inquiry from his bookThe Dream of the Earth (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988).  An important aspect of Thomas’s dream for the Earth was that we progressively awaken to the creative power and presence of the universe. He wrote: 


We bear the universe in our being

as the universe bears us in its being.

The two have a total presence to each other… 


He recognized, however, our species has barely begun this great enterprise:


…the universe is so immediate to us, is such an intimate presence, that it escapes our notice, yet whatever authenticity exists in our cultural creations is derived from these spontaneities within us, spontaneities that come from an abyss of energy and a capacity for intelligible order of which we have only the faintest glimmer in our conscious awareness.


Importantly, wrote Berry, we are empowered to discover that, in our evolution 


“(W)e are not left simply to our own rational contrivances. We are supported by the ultimate powers of the universe as they make themselves present to us through the spontaneities within our own beings.”   


He further says that, 


Our challenge is to create a new language, even a new sense of what it is to be human. . . . what we need, what we are ultimately groping toward, is the sensitivity required to understand and respond to the psychic energies deep in the very structure of reality itself. . . .  I suggest that this is the ultimate lesson in physics, biology, and all the sciences, as it is the ultimate wisdom of tribal peoples and the fundamental teaching of the great civilizations. 


Overall, in my understanding of Berry’s views, we live in a universe that represents a greater form of aliveness than the life-forms on Earth. He is in alignment with the view of Plato that our universe is a single living creature that contains all creatures within it. Berry sees the universe as a living, learning system that is forever emerging as a unified whole while simultaneously growing ever more diverse expressions of its aliveness.