Watch This Featured Clip by Dr. Marc Gafni
Welcome, everyone. It’s a hard time. It’s a painful time. We live in a world of outrageous pain, and the only response to outrageous pain is outrageous love. One of the things that we’re trying to do here at the Center for Integral Wisdom and the Foundation for Conscious Evolution and we’re also trying to do it in a broadcast program that’s its own world that spun off originally from the center and the foundation and is now an independent and beautiful movement which is called One Church: Many Paths, One Mountain—we broadcast every week and we’re together every week; it’s an incredible community of some 10,000 people around the world—what we’re trying to do is what I would call sensemaking. We live in a moment of decentralized sensemaking. We don’t rely at this point on the government or the church. Our information ecologies are broken. Our sense of larger patterns and larger worldviews has been fractured and fragmented.
So as we find ourselves in the middle of this outrageous pain, the pain of the coronavirus, which is now a collective pain across the world, I just read an amazing set of stories about five Italian doctors, heroes, heroes of outrageous love who died this week, and the stories abound across the world. And we don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re doing everything we can to flatten the curve, but we’re not doing enough. Will we be able to flatten the curve? What are the timeframes? There’s an enormous amount that needs to happen now.
But what I want to talk to you about in this moment is the sensemaking that we need to do. Now, sensemaking takes place in the context of action, so clearly the very first thing that needs to be done now is to heal the sick, to have enough ventilators, to have enough beds in hospitals, to not collapse the medical system, to not collapse the economy, because the economy is about people being able to buy basic necessities. It’s about survival in the most essential of ways. Let’s take the United States just as an example. Seventy percent of the families in the United States live from paycheck to paycheck.
So the amount of pain and dislocation and disruption and suffering is intense and real and we need to respond to it, and the only response to outrageous pain is outrageous love, and outrageous love means that there are outrageous acts of love to perform, and it’s not just the Italian doctors who are being the most incredible—this is a moment where Italy truly is filled with outrageous lovers, unbelievable beyond imagination—but it’s not just those Italian doctors. It’s all of us who need to be, in this moment, heroes. We need to protect our elderly who are more precious than precious. We need to provide every resource we can. We need to share our homes when it’s appropriate within the context of physical distancing. We need to share our resources, which means our money and our time. We need to share our hearts. We need to join hands. We need to respond to outrageous pain with outrageous love.
That’s the first dimension of sensemaking. The first dimension of sensemaking is what can I do right now to take care of somebody who needs my help? It’s the opposite of natural selection. The myth of natural selection is that humanity moves in a direction in which the weak and the vulnerable are somehow dispossessed. No, actually we are as a society how we take care of our weakest and most vulnerable. So this is a moment to move beyond what we’ve called in our conversations Homo sapiens sapiens, which is the egoic expression of the human Separate Self who in our generation is lost in a success story, lost in victim stories, lost in very narrow romantic love stories—love means just romance between me and one other person; that’s what love means to me, so our love lists get very short—or my own very private hero’s journey that has very little to do with the rest of existence.
We need to move beyond those stories and locate ourselves as Homo Amor. Homo Amor meaning I’m a unique expression of love-intelligence and love-beauty and love-desire, and I actually recognize that the love-intelligence and love-beauty and love-desire that is the initiating and animating Eros of All-That-Is lives in me, as me and through me, and therefore I have the capacity to be that outrageous love, to be that evolutionary love. Literally, evolution moves through me. I am evolution. I’m a unique configuration of evolutionary love and, as such, I have outrageous acts of love to commit. And that’s my response to life in general and that’s absolutely my response in this moment to the coronavirus. So that’s context one and that needs to be said super clearly, and everything that we’re offering you in today’s mailing which talks about how to transform, how to be more, how to turn to turn this fate into destiny is only after that context. So that’s one.
Now let’s go to step two. We have to do now even a deeper level of sensemaking but only after that first level. Does that make sense? The first dimension of sensemaking is in what order do we do sensemaking? So that’s the first dimension of sensemaking. Nothing else matters but that. That’s the first dimension of sensemaking: act. Outrageous love is as outrageous love does. Evolution is love in action. I am love in action. So that’s where we start. Yay! Brothers, sisters, remember Avicii? There’s nothing for you I wouldn’t do, so we’re together in this. That’s one.
Now, two, now we have to do like human beings always do, because we are sensemaking beings, we have to make sense of this.. So here’s what we’ve got to be very careful of. We’ve got to be very careful of two fallacies, which are really one, that appear now and are appearing now all over the internet. They are different versions of something like: “I want to thank you, coronavirus. Thank you, coronavirus, because you’ve opened my eyes. I’m now realizing I should spend more time with family and my values are getting realigned,” etc, etc.
Now, while factually the coronavirus may well be cause and that’s good—when a tragedy happens, to turn the fate of the tragedy into the destiny of transformation is beautiful, so that’s good—but we don’t thank the coronavirus. That’s really important. You cannot thank the coronavirus. The coronavirus is a deadly virus that kills people. So that’s bad spirituality. So I want to just give you a litmus test for good or bad spirituality, for good or bad sensemaking. Ready? If you can say it in the ward of an Italian hospital now then it’s kosher, then it’s a good thing to say, but if you can’t speak it in the ward of an Italian hospital right now this week as Italy is going through wrenching pain and doctors are dying and health care workers are dying and the numbers are exponentially increasing, if you can’t say it in the ward of an Italian hospital it’s not kosher. Don’t say it. It’s wrong. That’s super important. That’s our second dimension of sensemaking.
With your permission I want to try and go into this a little bit deeper. There are two forms classically of this kind of wrong sensemaking. One of them happened in all the great religions in traditional times in premodernity and it was called sin for punishment. People wanted to understand: Why am I suffering? So the answer came back: You’re suffering because you sinned and now you’re being punished.
Now, we recoil from that. We immediately say, “We would never say something like that. That’s absurd. That’s why we left the church.” We feel complete almost revulsion and anathema to that kind of position, but actually precisely that kind of position lies at the center of an enormous amount of what’s called alternative spirituality today and what’s often called New Age spirituality or Human Potential spirituality. The same kind of idea exists. That idea of sin for punishment, which still exists in all the fundamentalist churches in the world today, lives side by side with a precisely similar position which says: You’ve attracted that into your life. You’ve invited it into your life. It’s some version of the law of attraction. If you were vibrating at the right frequency you wouldn’t have attracted it into your life. Actually one of the formulators of the law of attraction actually said—just hold onto your seat for a second—that the Jews who went to gas chambers were vibrating at the wrong frequency. That’s, of course, an especially obscene expression of it, but we actually hear it all the time.
We don’t actually thank the coronavirus. Viruses are bad. We didn’t attract the coronavirus into our life because we were vibrating at the wrong frequency. That’s not true. The coronavirus is a pandemic and it needs to be healed and transformed. So the notion that we attracted through some interior vibrational or other flaw the coronavirus into our lives and therefore we need to thank it for upleveling our vibration or transforming us is not kosher. It’s actually obscene. It’s one of the reasons that alternative spiritualities don’t take hold even though they often have an enormous amount of good in them.
Stay with me, let’s take this slow. Let me give you an analogy just to make it clear. I lived for many years in the State of Israel. The State of Israel is a complex and beautiful place. It’s beloved to me. My children live there, my mother lives there, many friends, many students, many colleagues. There’s no question that without the Holocaust of the European Jewry during World War II there would be no State of Israel today or at least it would have taken decades longer until it was established, but we don’t thank the gas chambers which were central tools in the Holocaust which killed 12,000 people a day in Auschwitz. We don’t thank the gas chambers. The gas chambers performed evil. And a virus, an unconscious viral structure that kills people and that causes suffering, we don’t thank it. It’s really important to get that at a super, super deep level. Are we good on that, everybody? Okay.
So now let’s go deeper. I want to just root this for you in a couple of sources and then I want to take a huge leap with you and I’m going to say what might seem like almost the opposite of what I said in the beginning but it won’t be and it requires very deep sensemaking and we’re all capable of sensemaking. In that sense we all have to be sovereign human beings, capable of doing our own sensemaking, but we need to train, we need to practice. So let me first deepen a little bit, so I want to give you an example. There was a man named Job in the ancient sacred texts. The Book of Job, it’s a book in the Bible. Job suffers. Job is an archetype of his own private coronavirus, and his friends come to Job and they begin to explain to him, “Hey, Job, let us tell you why you’re suffering. Let’s tell you why you’re suffering.” One friend says, “You can become a better person. You’ve got to thank your suffering.” The other person says, “You sinned. You’re being punished.” A third person says, “You’re such a central person in society. It’s going to change all of a society.” There are all these explanations for suffering.
Job basically says to them, “Fuck you. Fuck off. I’m suffering. Are you going to actually debase the dignity of my suffering?” And he rejects all of their theodicies. He rejects all of their spiritual explanations for suffering, because he needs his friends to feel his pain and to meet him in that pain and to embrace him and to hold him and to find him ventilators and find him medicine and care for his children, Job’s children who were sick. And actually in that Book of Job, at the end of the book, God/Spirit appears out of the whirlwind, and Spirit holds Job, and Spirit is outrageous love. What God says is, “Yo, Job, I agree with you. Fuck those spiritual explanations. I am not interested in them. That is not cool. That’s not godly. That’s not spiritual. It’s not okay.”
So we live in a world of outrageous pain and our response to outrageous pain is not thanking the pandemic and it’s not thanking the gas chambers, because what we’re doing here is actually a subtle form of victim shaming. We’re actually shaming the victims. You’re a victim? You actually created it yourself. Now, stay close with me, okay? What’s the impetus for this? Why do we do this? It seems to be pious. It seems to be spiritual. We’re taking responsibility. I attracted this into my life. You attract it into your life. You sin so you’re being punished. But actually it’s not actually pious, it’s not actually spiritual, it’s not actually religious. It’s actually a form of arrogance. It’s a refusal to bow before the mystery. It’s a refusal to recognize our unknowing. It’s a desperate bid for control.
You see, I desperately want control and to live without control is so painful, I refuse to be in the uncertainty of lack of control, so if I say that the reason that I’m suffering is because I sinned, well, I now have a measure of control, because I can stop sinning and I won’t be punished and I won’t suffer. So actually the sin for punishment sounds very spiritual and pious. It’s not. It’s a move for control. In the exact same way you attract it into your life, the New Age move, well, if you change your vibration, if you don’t attract it into your life it won’t be there, so now again you can control the suffering. So, notice, it’s not a spiritual move, it’s not a pious move. It’s a bid for egoic control and it’s an inability to actually stay and be in the mystery and be like we sometimes need to be, in the unknowing.
Let’s breathe for a second and let me try and add one more thing here, which is also super important. You see, if a friend would call me and say, “Marc, I got the coronavirus, and I got to tell you I’ve transformed. I just have to thank the coronavirus,” so if a person suffering says that, “My genuine experience is that I want to thank the virus because it’s given me so much,” they have a right to say that. The person suffering has a right to say that and we have to honor that self-experience, but you can’t say it for other people. In other words, you can’t be healthy with your film crew, feeling great and looking great, while people are dying in hospitals all over the world and say thank you to the coronavirus. I understand that your intention might be good and I totally get that all the people who have done that have good intention and they’re wonderful human beings in a thousand ways, but it’s really bad sensemaking. So that’s a big deal.
I want to add one thing to this, because it’s super important. So God sides with Job in the Book of Job and he rejects the bad sensemaking of Job’s friends. We call those people in culture “Job’s comforters.” That’s not a compliment. We reject Job’s comforters in a fundamental way. Now, let’s go the next step. I’ll give you another example. It’s a kind of shocking example and I want to really find these ancient texts with you. So God/Spirit/outrageous love says to Moses… Remember this story? If you don’t, look it up. It’s a great story. He says, “I’m going to take you out of Egypt. You’re suffering. You’re slaves in Egypt. Go to Pharaoh and tell Pharaoh that God spoke to you: Let my people go.” Moses says, “God, I don’t want this job. I’m a little busy. You’ve got the wrong guy.”
There’s this whole conversation between Moses and God. God is persuasive. Moses agrees to go to Pharaoh. God says to Moses, “It’s not going to be easy. There’s going to be a long process of ups and downs before this actually happens, but it’s going to happen.” So Moses goes along to Pharaoh, says, “Let my people go,” and Pharaoh says, “Fuck off, man. Not only am I not going to let your people go, I’m going to oppress them more.” And he adds to the quota of bricks that the Hebrew slaves are required to make every day.
So now what should Moses do at this point? God is his spiritual teacher. God told him, “I’m going to take these people out of Egypt. They’re going to suffer along the way, but it’s going to be for the greater good.” Moses doesn’t say, “This is God’s spirituality. God has a plan.” Moses is not reading a book. He’s talking to God him/herself. But Moses doesn’t do that. Moses turns to God and Moses says to God, “Lama Ha’raota La’am Hazeh. Why are you causing these people to suffer? It’s not okay. I don’t care about your theology, God, and I don’t care about your plan. These people are suffering. And I’m Homo Amor. I am an embodiment of outrageous love and I stand with the people against suffering.” So Moses protests. He gets angry at God. He argues with God.
That’s incredibly important. Whether the word you want to use is God or the God you don’t believe in doesn’t exist and that word doesn’t work for you and you want to call it Spirit or you want to call it the Tao or you want to call it the order of the cosmos or you want to call it outrageous love, however you want to talk about that story, we never allow spirituality, New Age or fundamentalist or otherwise, to deaden our sensitivity to suffering. When we see suffering, we hold the person suffering. We protest. We get alive and active. We become activists. That’s unbelievably important. One of my teachers, Nachman of Breslov, who was a great master who died about 150 years ago, says the reason there is atheism in the world is so you don’t think that it’s about anyone else and for anyone else to do but you. It’s your job. When you see suffering, it’s your outrageous acts of love that need to be committed, that need to heal and that need to transform. It’s a big deal.
So let’s hold this for a second. We got this so far? Okay. So let’s breathe. Are you breathing? I know we’re doing a lot and I appreciate you staying with me. What we’re doing here is we’re doing sensemaking for everyone here, which needs to be done. We need to do sensemaking. So I want to now take this a second step. We’re going to go a second step and a third step, because now we want to deepen our sensemaking.
Why is this moment so painful to everyone? First we need to notice that actually thousands of people, tens of thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people die every year terrible deaths that are not necessary and we ignore them. We ignore them because we don’t feel like they’re going to affect us. Economic structures, failures of healthcare, poverty, malnutrition, all of these kill massive amounts of people and yet we split it off, because we don’t personally feel challenged by the fear of death. So we’ve got to remember that the coronavirus is doing something, factually, just the fact pattern. This is what’s actually happening. It’s actually introducing an unavoidable fear of death into populations across the globe that had avoided or split off suffering on the planet.
Now, the fear of death, wow, the fear of death is huge, and what we call the first shock of existence is when the fear of death is born in reality. It’s sometime after early hunter-gatherers in the prehistoric period, after early hunter-gathering when we move to early horticultural, which is farming with a hand instrument, and then we move to agrarian, which is farming with a plow. We begin to have surplus grain, surplus food, so we have a little time on our hands and we start to think about our lives. We’re not worried like the hunter-gatherer about the elephant or mammoth or lion who’s going to kill us this afternoon potentially, so we’re not defending against that, we’ve got time to think. We think, Oh my god, I’m going to die. The fear of death enters into society historically in early farming. So we’re going to call that the first shock of existence.
Now, that first shock of existence pressed the human being into actually disclosing meaning, so Spirit, spirituality, some of the great depth of the great traditions came out of the fear of death, which focused our attention inside. We went inside and we actually accessed in our own interiors the deepest wellsprings of the interior face of Kosmos and we generated some of the great beauties and critical movements of ethics and Spirit and religion, which meant originally religare: to reconnect, to realign with the nature of reality. So the fear of death entering into reality generated this explosion of Spirit, this new spirituality.
Now, what’s happening now in the coronavirus is that the fear of death that we usually displace either to the end of our lives, we displace it even though it’s happening around the globe to hundreds of thousands and millions of people—literally millions of people are dying unnecessarily, but we displace it because we feel like we’ve got another 10, 20, 30, 40 years—so all of a sudden the fear of death, this first shock of existence has actually entered into our living rooms and is demanding a response. That’s the first panic in the pandemic.
But actually there’s a second, and the second is that this risk that we’re facing, which is catastrophic risk, is actually a dress rehearsal for what we might call existential risk or what we’ve called in our circles—originally a man named Mauk, a very good thinker in Holland who came to a set of classes that I gave on Unique Self and these new structures of identity, talked about and wrote a book about the second shock of existence and Unique Self or Unique Self as a response to the second shock of existence. But what we mean by the second shock of existence and I want to credit Mauk with the term—and this is an idea that’s all over any good thinker today—the second shock of existence means not the death of the individual human being. It means the death of humanity. That’s what existential risk means.
So I’m talking about the first shock of existence, that’s the fear of your individual death, but what we’ve talked about for the last 9–10 years is some version of what we want to call the second shock of existence—not the death of the individual human being—the death of humanity. Now, just like the potential death of the individual human being exploded a new level of Spirit, a new level of meaning in the world, because it pressed us into our own interior realization so the first shock of existence creates this first wave of spirituality, so now the second shock of existence needs to create a second wave of spirituality and that’s critical.
So we do need to do collective sensemaking, and the coronavirus actually brings together both the first shock of existence pressed into the life of every human being—it’s now unavoidable, I can’t split it off—but it also raises the specter, has the fragrance of the second shock of existence, because really catastrophic risk, which is this global pandemic, this global risk where all of a sudden everybody is interconnected and it affects the entire globe, actually raises the specter and is really actually a dress rehearsal for a looming, probably in the next decade, existential risk, meaning risks through climate change, through ecosystems, through rogue weapons, through exponentialized destructive technologies, through methane gas under the tundras, through extraction models of resources with exponential growth curves, fractional-reserve banking, completely fragile, complicated, spread out systems that are completely vulnerable to all forms of attack. There’s a list of reasons and causes for existential risk which are completely real that we’ve split off. And all of a sudden potential catastrophic risk of the coronavirus brings existential risk into our hearts, into our living rooms, so the fear of death all of a sudden, the skull grinning at the banquet, is both the first shock of existence and, together with it, the second shock of existence.
So that’s hugely important. So therefore we do need to do a deeper sensemaking. We don’t only need at this moment to be activists and to heal the virus. That’s the first thing we need to do. That comes before everything. That trumps everything. But in parallel at the same time we need to be doing sensemaking and we can’t rely on the old centralized sensemaking of the dogmas of materialist science or the dogmas of fundamentalist religion or the structures of market economies that are commodifying knowledge and selling it. So we actually need to find a way to do decentralized sensemaking. When you decentralize sensemaking you’ve got to find people you trust and you’ve got to listen and talk and then check it inside and then find people to guide you that you trust, but you check their material, so we’ve got to trust each other. We’ve got to do this soberly and with open hearts. So the next step of sensemaking is critically important. We can’t stop at the first stage.
So now I want to do a piece of sensemaking in response to catastrophic risk and existential risk, and I want to say it carefully so you understand it’s not thanking the coronavirus and it’s not saying in some abstract woo-woo way that our low vibration attracted it into our lives or some abstract failure of love created the coronavirus. No, the coronavirus is a direct result of a fact pattern. That fact pattern is a failure of intimacy but not as a woo-woo idea, not as a New Age claim, not as a dogma. It’s simply the fact pattern. Now, stay with me. It’s really important to understand. What’s the fact pattern, A, that caused the coronavirus itself, and what’s the fact pattern that caused us to be completely unprepared for a pandemic that just, for example, Bill Gates described in detail a version of in a TED Talk five years ago? But it’s not just Bill Gates. I’m citing Bill Gates as an example. There are actually multiple streams of information and SARS and MERS and Ebola, in other words, multiple prior mini-pandemics. We actually knew this was coming. We knew that it would be microbes and not missiles. We knew that if 10 million people were going to be killed, it was most probably going to be a pandemic, so why weren’t we prepared? So that’s what we need to understand.
First, the fact pattern: Where did the coronavirus come from? Try and get a sentence out clearly, right? We’re not getting a lot of sleep a lot of us these days. So where did the coronavirus come from? It came from the Wuhan market in China. What’s the Wuhan market in China? It’s a wet market. It’s a wet market in which poor people that can’t afford sanitized food go to a wet market. Animals are caged all through the market, often slaughtered in front of the customer, clearly not sanitized, clearly not healthy in any kind of sustained way, clearly cruel.
So there’s a split-off intimacy here. We’ve split off, first off, the animals. We live in an age in which we’re going to have to atone in 100 years for unbearable cruelty to animals. You want to eat a lamb chop, so you take a lamb and you put it in a cage for three months and you fatten it so it will be fat enough and it can’t quite move and it suffers intensely for months true and real pain. Animals, by the way, are distinct. There are not just generic animals. There is not just Daisy the cow. Each cow is distinct. Each cow is unique. Each cow has its own experience of reality. Each lamb does. So we take—not lambs—a particular lamb with a personality. Lambs aren’t human obviously, but lambs are actually real, living, sentient, alive creatures that feel and suffer. So we take the lamb and we stick it in a cage. We make it suffer for three months. Then we kill it so that we have this transient feeling of pleasure as we eat our particularly expensive delicacy of lamb chops. Wow! That’s before the wet markets of China. That’s just standard practice.
Now we go to the wet markets in China and we feed masses of our poor by slaughtering animals in front of the people who are about to eat it. We slaughter a dog’s partner in front of the other dog. Then we take it home, its carcass, to eat while its partner watches. Really? So we’ve split off both the animals and their suffering and all of the populations that we don’t actually nurture and take care of so they actually have no choice but to eat from the wet markets. I’m completely uninterested in the fact that it’s part of China’s culture and we can’t critique it. That’s very nice. In India, widow-burning was part of culture. We should critique it. In India, all over India today the caste system is still at play in much of village society. We should critique it. The wet markets are not okay, but we split them off.
So actually the fact pattern of society today on multiple levels that I’m not going to go into completely now is a global intimacy disorder. That’s not a woo-woo statement. That’s not a New Age claim. That’s not a fundamentalist dogma. That’s the fact pattern of reality. We live as separate selves, struggling for our own personal success in a rat race of a success story with a win-lose metrics and we try and wrest some meaning and love with a very narrow group of people and we split off everybody else. Whoa! That’s a global intimacy disorder. So when I split off the wet markets in Wuhan, China, the fact pattern is some poor guy who’s eating a bat there gets infected, and of course what’s absolutely true is that the germ holds this sense of no-boundary consciousness. Germs don’t distinguish between boundaries. Germs travel in an international, global world and the virus goes viral. That’s a big deal.
So it’s actually a new world. You see, in the Middle Ages, what was the connection between China and London? There were some connections, there were trade connections, there was the Silk Road, but they were very, very invisible. That’s why Marco Polo got so famous, because Marco Polo was this unusual representation of connection between Europe and China. Today I just spoke to a friend of mine a few minutes ago who’s a CEO in Europe who just closed 80 stores for several weeks at least, crashing employees, crashing families in order to create protection directly because of the wet markets in China.
So we actually live in a new world today in which the mystical truth of the interior sciences, which is that it’s one world and it’s one love and it’s one heart, is now a pragmatic, incarnate, political, economic, medical reality. That’s a big deal. That actually is this new emergent from the second shock of existence. You see, the possibility for the death of humanity is because it’s a global civilization. Now all of our civilizations have collapsed. My friend Daniel has talked about that extensively. All civilizations collapse and many thinkers have talked about it, but for the first time we have a global civilization.
Now, since none of our civilizations have made it and they’ve all collapsed and we now have a global civilization and we haven’t actually corrected those patterns that caused prior collapse and we’ve added a whole series of factors, specifically exponential technology—and exponential technology can destroy a world in a way that bows and arrows and even B-52 bombers can’t. And as my dear beloved friend, Barbara Marx Hubbard, who passed away a year ago spoke of so often, the watershed of World War II is when we realized we don’t have a story of meaning equal to our power. That mushroom cloud above Nagasaki and Hiroshima spoke of a power to destroy reality itself, exponential technology.
Now, since all civilizations have been destroyed and we’re now a global civilization, that’s existential risk. So that has to create new meaning. That has to create new love. That has to create new intimacy. In the unbearable intimacy of a global civilization, we have to actually choose the intimate universe, which is a new narrative of reality. It’s actually the understanding that reality at its core is a love story, not a woo-woo love story, not a Harlequin romance. For those of you in Europe or Asia or Africa or any other continent, Harlequin is the name of a set of romance books in the United States.
When we say the universe is a love story, we don’t mean it’s a Harlequin romance, we don’t mean it’s a Pollyannaish kind of story. It’s a love story with agony and ecstasy, but actually reality is a love story. Reality is driven by allurement. Subatomic particles are allured together. They’re drawn together and they form a new whole, a new intimacy. That new intimacy is an atom. Intimacy means shared identity plus mutuality of pathos and mutuality of recognition and mutuality of purpose. That’s the beginning of a new story. That’s intimacy. Intimacy drives evolution. Intimacy is not merely a human experience. Intimacy is the actual experience of Kosmos all the way up and all the way down.
So I actually begin to understand that evolution itself is the progressive deepening of intimacies, that intimacy is shared identity plus mutuality of recognition plus mutuality of pathos, which means we can feel each other, plus mutuality of purpose. Now we have shared purpose. That’s true at a subatomic level as subatomic particles become atoms, atoms become macromolecules, molecules become cells, single cells evolve to multicellular life, and all the way up the evolutionary chain we have deeper and wider intimacies, new wholes. Reality is actually animated by Eros, and Eros actually is the experience of seeking new intimacies. It’s Eros all the way up and all the way down. We actually live in a CosmoErotic universe.
You know the word amor? So, amorous, amor means love, we live in an amorous Kosmos. We live in an intimate universe. That’s actually the reality. That’s not a dogma. That’s actually the best reading of both evolutionary science, systems theory, complexity theory, its derivative: chaos theory, quantum physics, and, most importantly, all of the interior sciences of Spirit emergent from all the great traditions, drawn together in new visions of perennial philosophy, evolutionary spirituality, lots of versions of it. But do you get it?
So actually the intimate universe is real. The universe is a love story. Reality actually is not just a fact. We actually know today that reality is a story. There is not just an eternal universe. Even Einstein thought there was an eternal universe until he realized the cosmos itself is evolving. The first Big Bang: the evolution of cosmos, matter. Then it big bangs, it explodes again, and life emerges, the evolution of life. Then life explodes again into self-reflective human beings. Wow! The universe is a story. There’s a narrative arc to Kosmos. We go from matter, the physiosphere, which then triumphs and fulfills itself in the biosphere which is life, which then triumphs and fulfills itself in the noosphere which is mind, and each layer births the next layer and no layer is instrumental merely in service to the higher level. Each layer, each dimension of reality has its own dignity, its own beauty: matter, life, self-reflective mind.
Then the human being goes through many levels at the level of the noosphere, the level of the mind, self-reflective human, the third Big Bang, goes through many levels of development, of emergence until Homo sapiens is confronted by this incredible moment where we’ve developed so much technology, we’ve developed so much exponential capacity. We’ve also developed beautiful ideas of universal human rights and we’ve developed social mobility and we’ve developed modern medicine and we’ve exploded life on the planet. We’ve gone from half a billion to seven and a half billion in 150 short years. Wow, this incredible journey and yet we’re at this moment where we’re now confronted, in this moment in time, 2020, with the second shock of existence, meaning the exponential technologies, the explosions that we’ve developed in the realm of techne, of exterior technology, have created our capacity for existential risk to destroy ourselves. The skull grins at the banquet, the potential death of humanity. Wow!
So what’s our response? Our response is just like matter fulfills itself in life and life fulfills itself in mind, the self-reflective human, so the human being goes through levels of development and Homo sapiens emerges as a new human in a new humanity. Homo sapiens fulfills him/herself as Homo Amor in which we realize that every human being is a Unique Self and every human being is part of the Unique Self symphony and no one’s outside of the circle and it really is one love and one heart and every human being is defined not by their job, which is this demand that they produce in a very particular way, which may have some real value, but actually we’re probably not going to have jobs in 30 years in the same way as we move towards machine learning and AI. Our problem for human beings then is not going to be exploitation. It’s going to be human beings who become mostly irrelevant, no job.
So we begin to understand, No, no, no, I’m not just my job. There’s actually a new narrative of identity. There’s a new universe story. The new universe story is the universe is a love story. Evolution is the love story of the universe. Who am I in that love story? I’m a Unique Self. I’m a unique configuration of evolutionary love. I have a unique gift to give. I have a poem to write, a song to sing, a way of being, laughing, loving, and living in the world that no one else but me can do. And I’m needed by All-That-Is and I’m desired by All-That-Is and I’m chosen by All-That-Is. I’m recognized by All-That-Is. I’m loved by All-That-Is. That’s the experience of being a Unique Self—a Unique Self in an evolutionary context, an Evolutionary Unique Self. That’s Homo Amor. So that’s a new narrative of identity which is the response of Spirit to the second shock of existence.
So within that context the fact pattern of the coronavirus is that, A, it comes from split-off intimacies. We ignore suffering—the suffering of the animals, the suffering of the poor that are eating at the wet markets. Then even though we know a pandemic is in the offing, we don’t focus on it, because we somehow think it won’t affect us, we somehow split off the possibility. We think that somehow the poor or the underprivileged, someone else is going to be affected. We don’t actually take seriously our obligation to create a global ethos for a global civilization and take responsibility for humanity. We’re too caught in our success stories. We’re too caught in working out our traumas. We’re too caught in the ways we’ve been wounded or insulted. We turn our attention away. We get caught in the egoic games of political maneuvering. We get caught in the win-lose metrics, the win-lose struggle that defines even our democracies, and we actually lose sight, we defund central agencies that need to actually deal with and prepare for pandemics. That’s a failure of love as a fact pattern.
So we’re at this moment. We live in a world of outrageous pain. We also live in a world of outrageous beauty. The only response to outrageous pain is outrageous love. The only response to outrageous beauty is outrageous love. We live in a world of elegant order, of dazzling beauty and complexity. Even as I talk to you, 37.2 trillion cells inside of me, all of them know exactly where each other are. They’re in complete communication in every second. What does that mean? Millions of miles of nerve cables running through my body, a structure of dazzling beauty in each one of us listening that defies imagination, that all of our exponentialized supercomputers couldn’t even begin to manifest. That’s true right now. If you look at the space between us now, how our mirror neurons are interacting, the interference waves that are actually merging and interacting and dancing with each other in this moment to allow for this communication, if we would actually put everything happening that allows for this communication, as it were, on a virtual reality screen in front of us, we would faint in ecstasy, just dazzled by the awe.
Our lives, friends, are filled with beauty and terror, but in the end the beauty wins. We have to stand against the terror. We have to transform pain into love. We have to stand for suffering. We have to do sensemaking in a way that honors the dignity of suffering and we have to actually respond to the call and invitation and demand of this moment, this moment in which the first shock of existence can be sensed by everyone and the second shock of existence lurks at the door. Catastrophic risk reminds us of existential risk. This is the time. This is the time to heal. This is the time to get ventilators. This is the time to do everything we can to protect each one of us and all of us and especially the elderly among us. Each elderly person is precious beyond imagination. Every human being is precious beyond imagination. And we have to be pressed into service and go so deeply inside that we actually articulate a new vision of the new human and the new humanity. It’s ours to do. Thank you.