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A Universal Mind

Vitruvian human

At the Milesian School in the called ‘Greek golden age’ –which I would rather call a ‘Greek fruitful age’–, Thales, Anaximenes and Anaximander relied in a sort of mystical-scientific holism where science, philosophy and spirituality were not separated. They conceived the Universe as a living organism moved by the Pneuma: the breath of life (Capra. 1975). By the time I discover such worldview I felt myself Milesian since the circumstances which have given form to my spiritual approach over the last years fits that paradigm. Therefore, this belief responds to the questions (?) on who I am, where do I come from, what’s the purpose of my presence here and what is the attitude I need to assume towards the whole web of life. I believe in the Universe, in the Oikos and in Mother Nature as living organisms. Alike every creature dwelling upon this planet, humankind is not separated from them. We are an expression of them, we are both part of their breathing and their cognitive process. We all assemble a Universal Mind.

Across Gaia Education, I’ve been able to address how the dominant reductionist approach of life has dimmed such ancient essential wisdom. Yet also how the Zeitgeist (the spirit of the time) is turning on our side: the believers of the Universe as a living system (we have not only stay believing it but working on it with commitment, knowledge, love and patient). Here we are keenly approaching how the collective mind and memory from The Systems View of Life is precisely driving this shift.

According to Gaia Education (2018), this holistic worldview –which is precisely combining that ancient wisdom with modern science– is beginning to reach a new type of understanding that regards the common dualistic relationships between ‘self’ and ‘world’, ‘humanity’ and ‘nature’, as well as between ‘mind’ and ‘body’, “not as mutually exclusive but rather as a fundamentally interconnected and interdependent.” In addressing this taking on, Gaia Education (2018) underlines the work of Gregory Bateson, one of the prominent minds that has certainly inspired holistic science. He was one of the first to start the scientific conversation on the correlation between these dualistic categories. Bateson stated by the mid 1950’s: “The individual nexus of pathways which I call ‘me’ is no longer so precious because that nexus in only part of a larger mind.” (Gaia Education, 2018). Thereby this biologist, anthropologist and co-founder of cybernetics observed “that all the three systems of the individual, society and ecosystem were all together a part of one supreme cybernetic system, the Mind, that controls everything instead of just interacting systems.” (Gaia Education, 2018) I.e., A Universal Mind.

I also want to emphasize the meaningful trends on the new economics, ecology, politics, education, and so on, that Brian Burrows conveys in explaining how a ‘new holistic social paradigm’ is providing “the basis for healing [hu]mankind and healing the planet, in preparation for the next stage of human and planetary evolution.” A comprehensive worldview rooted in mindfulness as well as in an ‘altruistic cooperative ethic’ (Gaia Education, 2018). In this line, it’s is important to draw the attention to social endeavors like The Earth Charter, an ethical declaration which is a worldwide collaborative effort “for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century” (see Graphic 1) that aims for “a new sense of global interdependence for the well-being of the whole human family”. The inspiring statements in this ethical framework composed by sixteen principles give support to the urgent need of a social/cultural evolution. It recognizes Earth as our ‘Household’ and the ‘sense of oneness’: Humankind as part of the whole, moved by the breath of life in “a vast evolving universe”. Furthermore, it claims for equality and awareness in a world vastly fragmented by injustice, poverty (the big breach between rich and poor), ignorance and violence. It also makes a call to action to evolve from the state of ‘To Have’ to the state of “To Be”, and expresses the importance of realizing that we have to share a universal responsibility in order to reach the state of cooperation we need for a real change. Here an excerpt from its preamble which sustains the worldview that many of us are sharing:

Earth, Our Home

Humanity is part of a vast evolving universe. Earth, our home, is alive with a unique community of life. The forces of nature make existence a demanding and uncertain adventure, but Earth has provided the conditions essential to life’s evolution. The resilience of the community of life and the well-being of humanity depend upon preserving a healthy biosphere with all its ecological systems, a rich variety of plants and animals, fertile soils, pure waters, and clean air. The global environment with its finite resources is a common concern of all peoples. The protection of Earth’s vitality, diversity, and beauty is a sacred trust.

The Earth Charter
Graphic 1 – The Earth Charter: Ethics, Sustainability, and Education

At this point I have to very briefly introduce (once again) the cultural evolutionary approach that as change maker I began delving into through the Capra Course: The Homo Sapiens Reciprocans from an ecobiopsychosocial conception of humankind (see Graphics 2 & 3). As we’ve already seen previously, the systemic view and action is further than necessary to move humans and their organizations towards a new holistic –and for me– ecobiopsychosocial paradigm. A necessary shift to thriving a real state of cooperation. In short, from this viewpoint, ecology essentially becomes in the crux of our human needs and priorities rather than economics (*). This cultural evolution entails a transformation of the conversations that setting up the prevalent unsustainable socioeconomic model procreated by the Cartesian view of life. As Professor Fritjof Capra claims, ‘the main problems of our time are all interconnected and interdependent’, that is, are systemic problems that similarly require systemic solutions and also demands drastic changes in our ‘perceptions’, our ‘thinking’, and our ‘values’ (Capra & Luisi, 2014). So I’m pursuing the change I want to see in the world (as Gandhi said), in contributing to the underpinnings of a vital systemic solution for the conservation and flourishing of our species: The Homo and Organizatio sapiens reciprocans. The knowledge I’ve been absorbing and creating by dint of the Gaia Education’s program has certainly fed that conviction, and thus my worldview.

homo reciprocans
Graphic 2 – Homo Sapiens Reciprocans 1st drawn scheme
Graphic 3 – Homo Sapiens Reciprocans 1st Outline

The ‘fragmentation’, as David Bohm called it, or ‘optical delusion of our consciousness’, according to Einstein, has been the cause of our separation from the belief of the Universe as a living organism, and consequently the cause of a human hostile relation with the Oikos and Nature. To free ourselves from this mental prison it is crucial to harmonize again with the ancient wisdom of the Milesian School, which is, in fact, preserved by some of the few indigenous cultures not yet destroyed by ‘the Industrial age mindset’. Here the importance of learning on ecology/biophilia for widening our circle of compassion and recognizing how to co-create and collaborate with the whole web of life…learning and applying a Goethean science that reconnects us with the Universal Mind.

(*) Ecology and economics share the same root: Eco/Oikos, our Household, our Planet, our Lives. The purpose of a generative economy is honoring ecology.

Author: Juan Sebastián Cárdenas Salas (June 3, 2018)

From the serie: Reflections Around Gaia Education

Watch: An Ecology of Mind Documentary Trailer

Watch: Discussing The Earth Charter with Fritjof Capra and Daniel C. Wahl

Watch: Pink Floyd – Marooned

Watch: Pink Floyd – Sorrow

Enroll in Gaia Education

Read: Into the 21st Century — A Handbook for a Sustainable Future by Brian Burrows

Visit The Earth Charter website: What is the Earth Charter

Resources of support/ Book, Document & File References

Worldview Dimension – Module’s 1 Handbook general contents and references (Gaia Education, 2018)

The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra (1975)

The Systems View of Life by Fritjof Capra & Pier Luigui Luisi (2014)

The Earth Charter Document (2000)

The Earth Charter: Ethics, Sustainability, and Education (Graphic)

Cover Image by Leonardo da Vinci, “The Vitruvian Man” (1492). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons:


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