Spontaneous Soulworks

Spontaneous Soulworks: Excerpts from Thomas Berry The Great Work chapter 5

To understand the human role in the functioning of the Earth we need to appreciate the spontaneity found in every form of existence in the natural world, spontaneities that we associate with the wild – that which is uncontrolled by human dominance.

We misconceive our role if we consider that our historical mission is to “civilize” or “domesticate” the planet, as though wilderness is something destructive rather than the ultimate creative modality of any form of earthly being. We are not here to control.

We are here to become integral with the larger earth community. The community itself – and each of its members – has ultimately a wild component, a creative spontaneity that is its deepest reality, its most profound mystery.

The beginning of wisdom in any human activity is a certain reverence before the primordial mystery of existence, for the world about us is the fearsome mode of being. We do not judge the universe. The universe is even now judging us. This judgement we experience in what we refer to as the wild.

We have a times thought that we could domesticate the world, for it sometimes appears possible, as in our capacity to evoke the vast energies hidden in the nucleus of the tiny atom. Yet when we invade this deepest, most mysterious dimension of matter, nature throws at us its most deadly forces, wild forces that we cannot deal with, forces that causes us to fear lest we be rendering the planet a barren place for the vast range of living beings.

I speak of the wild dimension of existence and the reverence in fear associated with the wild, since precisely here is where life and existence and art itself begin.

Wildness we may consider as the root of the authentic spontaneity of any being. It is that wellspring of creativity whence come the instinctive activities that enable all living beings to attain their food, to find shelter, to bring forth their young, to sing and dance, fly through the air, and swim through the depths of the sea. This is the same inner tendencies that evoke the insight of the poet, the skill of the artists, and the power of the Shaman.

We need to know how to participate creatively in the wildness of the world about us. For it is out of the wild depths of the universe and our own being that the greater visions must come.

We mistake the wild if we think of it as a mere random activity. Throughout the entire world there exists a discipline that holds the energies of the universe in the creative pattern of their activities, although this discipline may not be immediately evident to human perception.

The emergent universe appears as some wild, senseless deed that wells up from some infinite abyss in the expansive differentiating process of those first moments – when all the energy that would ever exist flared forth in a radiation too mysterious for humans to fully comprehend. Yet as this Energy articulated itself in the form of matter – the gravitational attraction that each being has for every other being produced the basic ordering process, gravitation, the primary discipline in the large-scale structure of the universe.

The world of mechanism has alienated us from the wild beauty of the world about us.

Only if the human imagination is activated by the flight of the great soaring birds in the heavens, by the blossoming flowers of the Earth, by the sight of the sea, by the lightning and thunder of the great storms that break through the heat of summer, only then will the deep inner experiences be evoked within the human soul.

The natural world demands a response beyond that of rational calculation, beyond philosophical reasoning, beyond scientific insight. The natural world demands a response that rises from the wild unconscious depths of the human soul. A response that artists seek to provide in colour and music and movement.

The response that we give must have a supreme creative power, for the Cenozoic era in the story of the Earth is fading as the sun sets in the western sky. Our hope for the future is for a new dawn, an Eco-zoic era, when humans will be present to the Earth in a mutually enhancing manner.

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