Here’s one of the loveliest comments about the nature of reality that I frequently pass back to people in response to something they’ve said. I swoon for Swimme, whose audio comments I recently posted: Exploding Your Head
Brian Swimme is a wondrous being, who I think has the best perspective on who we are and what we are doing here. His seminal book, The Universe Is a Green Dragon: A Cosmic Creation Story is a must-read for any friend of mine. Click on the title to buy it through Amazon, or get a good deal from me — through PayPal just send $9.00 to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a copy.
“Albert Einstein once remarked that for the human there is no more powerful feeling than that of the ‘mysterious.’ In fact, he was convinced this feeling for the mysterious was the cradle for all works of science, art, and religion. In light of Einstein’s conviction, one might ask: ‘What is the opposite of a feeling for the mysterious?’ The opposite would be the sense that one understands it all. The opposite would be the feeling that one is in possession of a system that explains all the phenomena in the universe. For such a person, the universe loses its appeal for it becomes something we don’t really need to pay attention to. The universe becomes an exemplification of a theory that one has already understood. No real surprises are possible, only the working out of a logical system through time. When a feeling for the mysterious is lost, one become s vulnerable to the various fundamentalisms plaguing our planet, each one with its passionate certainty that it has all the answers while every other system is just superstition.
“In moments of stress and breakdown, there is a powerful drive in us to acquire answers and explanations. Certainly in our own time when we are dismantling ecosystems around the planet and deconstructing the stable climate upon which our civilization is based, we feel a deep need to know what is real and what is good and how to proceed. This need can become so great we are liable to latch onto one of these simplistic pseudo-explanations just to quell the feelings of fear and doom surfacing in us. What on Earth? does not provide any such simplistic explanations. This restraint is one of its greatest achievements. By insisting that the Crop Circles are beyond any easy explanation, What on Earth? enables us to make peace with living in the ambiguity of not knowing. This ability to live with ambiguity is related to a sense for the mysterious and together these two may be the most important factors for deep creativity to take place. At the very least, we need to realize that an embrace of ambiguity is a form of humility when confronted by the magnificent complexity of nature.
“One of the great benefits of viewing What on Earth? is the feeling one can get of wading into the mysterious. Through its balanced and wide-open approach to the phenomena of Crop Circles, the film has the power to ease us out of some of the prior certainties we might have had. What on Earth? explores and celebrates the fact of the existence of these designs. And as we are guided into this reflection, we find ourselves considering new ideas about the nature of our universe. We begin to imagine that things might be different than we thought. We might even begin to release ourselves from some of the tired explanations lodged into our minds by the media. But most important of all, as we view the film we might even begin to feel stunned by the simple fact that here we are in the midst of this overwhelming mystery, the universe.”
— Brian Swimme, mathematical cosmologist specializing in the evolution of the universe