Hidden Heart of the Cosmos

From the beginning of our existence, humans have pondered the ultimate nature of things. Shamans and sages, philosophers and saints, rabbis and theologians, all have reflected on the endlessly fascinating questions of life’s meaning. Hidden Heart of the Cosmos wants to join that ancient tradition by asking the same questions, but from the perspective of an evolving universe.

The book focuses on the most ancient of all: “Where did it all come from? Where is the birthplace of the universe, that place from which everything sprang forth?” Relying on the discoveries of mathematical cosmology and quantum physics, we confront this perennial question not with any simplistic expectation that we will now answer with certitude questions which eluded our ancestors, but with the hope that we too might become just as engaged by this question, and just as amazed and baffled by the new insights into this mystery.

Readers might be surprised to find, at the start of this book, a diatribe against the relentless advertising our children have to endure throughout their childhood. It might seem strange for a book on the birth of the universe to begin with a strong critique of our society’s consumerism.

But that is how traditional cultures all around the planet and back through time proceeded. When the elders presented the mysteries of the universe, they required participants to undergo a purification rite. If I were writing this book today, the change I would make would be to criticize not just consumerism but additional deformations of human consciousness, especially militarism. It is impossible to behold the majesty of the universe if we are living in those cramped psychic states. What a conundrum we will be for future historians. Subjecting the tender souls of our children to the repulsive violence of our computer games, then expressing shock at the ensuing slaughter in the real world.

We are living through history’s greatest transition in our understanding of the universe. Our knowledge dwarfs Copernicus’s announcement that Earth spins around the Sun. Many hundreds of books and documentary films have been made about this time-developmental universe. But simultaneous with our need to learn the facts of our evolving cosmos is the necessity to experience it directly. In Hidden Heart of the Cosmos I offer some practices for integrating some of these counterintuitive discoveries involving our relationship to the birthplace of reality, to the omnicentric nature of the universe, and to the non visible, generative ground of our existence.

The cosmological vision articulated in Hidden Heart of the Cosmos had its origin in 1982 at the Riverdale Center for Religious Research in the Bronx, founded by Thomas Berry, and was carried forward in three educational endeavors: The Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality at Holy Names University in Oakland, founded by Matthew Fox; the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, inaugurated by Richard Tarnas, and the Adult Education Series at Christ the King Church, founded by Rev. Brian Thomas Joyce. Conversations with the four founders, with colleagues Denise Swimme, Bruce Bochte, Mary Evelyn Tucker, John Grim, Robert McDermott, Sean Kelly, and with the students in my courses brought Hidden Heart of the Cosmos into its final form. I am grateful for the editorial guidance provided by Marie Cantlon, for the digital images created by our son Bri Sebastian, and for the honor of having Hidden Heart included in the literary enterprise established by Tucker, Grim, Leonardo Boff, and Sean McDonagh – the Orbis Series on Integral Ecology.