GAIA SYNTHESIS: One Earth+One Humanity

By Robert Gulick
A Presentation to the GAIA Synthesis Symposia
Boulder, Colorado, 1986

Note: The graphics below have been recently added for visual interest but were not part of the original article.

Scientific evidence is increasingly supporting the ancient belief that the earth is a living being, bringing about a paradigm shift that is challenging the old reductionist model of the world where spirit is separate from its creation. A new synthesized theory is emerging that relates humanity and the planet in one, unified reciprocal system…a sacred ecology. It is the foundation of a transformation in global consciousness with profound implications for the restructuring of our social, political and economic systems.

To the ancient Greeks, Gaia or Ge, was Mother Earth, the primal goddess who with Uranus, god of the heavens, brought forth the Titans and the first gods. In modern usage, largely due to the work of British chemist, James Lovelock, Gaia signifies the earth, not just as a physical planet, but as a living organism.

Working in the NASA project to determine the existence of life on Mars, Lovelock developed criteria which, when applied to the earth, suggested that the planet not only teemed with life but appeared to be alive itself. He found that the chemistry of the biosphere is far from a state of equilibrium, yet it seems to have maintained the narrow range of environmental conditions such as oxygen percentage, temperature and ocean salinity necessary for eons of evolution. This self-regulatory process, a characteristic of all living things known as homeostasis, led Lovelock to propose in the Gaia Hypothesis that the “entire biosphere of the planet is one life”.

From space we have seen for the first time, our planet and humanity as a whole, unmarked by national boundaries and racial distinctions, evoking a “deep sense” of what astronaut Edgar Mitchell called ” instant global consciousness”. The vision of swirling, blue-green globe floating in the void of space, has inspired awe and identity with this great being in each of us, awakening, perhaps, an ancient knowledge buried in our genes and collective psyche.

The concept of a living earth is nearly universal throughout the world, a part of a consistent system of knowledge known as the Ancient Wisdom. It is found in the mythologies of ancient civilizations, in the mystical traditions of the worlds religions and is alive in native cultures today.

The Pythagoreans believed that the world possessed consciousness and was, as Plato later wrote in Timeaus, a “living creature endowed with soul and reason”. The Earth was Logos. In Hindu, Gnostic Christianity as well as other cosmologies, the entire universe is formed of the parts of Primal Man of the physical body of the Creator.

So vast are the time scales that the whole cycle of existence of the universe is contained within the “day and night of Brahma”. So vast are the dimensional scales that we can no more perceive of the earth’s whole being and purpose than we ourselves are perceived by the individual cells of our bodies.

elsewhereELSEWHERE: Dragons, devas, faeries and other ether beings in the visionary landscape by Gwen Eona Nimue

For indigenous or so-called primitive cultures, the whole earth is alive with spirit.  Living in closer relationship to the earth than civilized man, they are more sensitive to the subtle rhythms and forces that conditions life and shape the environment.  Intelligence and purpose inhabit the mountains and rivers, springs and trees, every feature of the landscape was sacred.  Gods vitalize the elements, all of matter.  They act through natural phenomenon such as storms and earthquake giving form and life to the kingdoms of nature.  The knowledge of a parallel worlds of evolutionary life inhabited by devas and elementals, Celtic sprites and faeries and Hopi Kachinas, whose activity maintains the physical world, is still alive in the mythologies and practices of many cultures.

The traditions of native peoples reflect the teachings of the “Law of One”:  There is only One, Absolute Reality.  All things are within and conditioned by it, there is no separation.  For the American Indian, “the rocks, the air, the earth…everything is alive.  We are all relatives”.

Living in harmony with the planet is literally a matter of survival for native peoples.  In the awareness of one’s self inseparably linked with that creative intelligence, one “walks in a sacred manner” and “lives lightly upon the earth”.  Among many such cultures as the Hopi, there is a tradition of honoring the spirit embodied in the world.  In return for its sustenance the people have the responsibility for guardianship of the earth, protecting its sacred centers, keeping the gates of its vital energy.

There is evidence in many parts of the world that the knowledge of the energies of the living earth were put into practice in the ancient science of geomancy.  Where the shaman is a healer, medicine man and seer, linking the people to the supernatural realms, the geomancer was the holder of the secret knowledge of the earth.  He was an earth healer.  He practiced the art of living in harmony with the environment, placing man in the landscape in balance with the elements and living forces of nature. 

Chi’ is the life force in Chinese geomancy, known as feng shui, literally “wind” and “water” for the two prime polarities that shape the natural world. All the works of man from cities to the smallest garden were designed and even entire landscapes were modified, according to geomantic principles.  The shapes of mountain and the courses of rivers were altered to conform to a model of perfection and harmony to create a paradise fit for the abode of spirit.

Taoist scholar Ken Cohen points out that the “Taoists see man and the earth as living organisms, each a reflection of the other.  Together they are one system, each requiring a balanced circulation of the positive and negative (Yin-Yang) breathes of Chi'”.  The modulation of this life force as it courses through the “dragon veins” of the earth as through the meridians of the human body, is a form of planetary acupuncture or earth healing.

feng-shuiFeng Shui: the flow and containment of Chi

While Feng Shui is still practiced in the Orient, little remains of the western tradition of geomancy except in modern dowsing.  There is evidence, however, in the design, location and alignments of the ruins of temples, monuments and stone circles that the practice was once widespread.  From the megaliths of northern Europe and Polynesia to the medicine wheels of North America, from the alignments of Chaco Canyon to the Nazca Plains of Peru, from the astrological siting of the pyramids of Egypt to the Yucatan, it appears that the ancient geomancers engineered the energies of the earth.  Tradition explains that their purpose was to anchor and concentrate these energies, to “slay the dragons” and make them available.  In combination with subtle cosmic forces, they were distributed along straight “ley” line for the benefit of man and the fertility of nature.

The leys constitute an intricate lattice on the surface of the planet which relates to a larger organizing pattern modern researchers are calling the “planetary grid system”, the “crystal earth” of tradition.  It corresponds to a global nervous system.  In Plato’s cosmology, the essential elements or states of existence (matter) were air, fire, water and earth.  These in turn were represented by the regular geometric solids: tetrahedron, octahedron, icosahedron and cube respectively.  A fifth element, ether, which pervades all the rest, was represented by the dodecahedron.  All of these archetypal geometries were contained within the sphere, the universe, which from center origin to physical existence at the boundary modeled creation. 

In Platonic terms the elements/geometries exist in the space between Being and Becoming and were the patterns that organized the original chaos of creation.  The earth seen from space, Plato suggested, would appear as a ball made of twelve patches, a description fitting the dodecahedron as well.  It is this crystalline model based on the the projection of the solid geometries onto the surface of the sphere that is proposed now as the organizing matrix for the earth’s vital energy system.  Current research by Bethe Hagens, Chris Bird and others indicates a high degree of correlation of geophysical and meteorological phenomenon as well locations of major ancient cultural centers and temples to this grid system.

ley-linesLey Lines through Sacred Sites in the U.K.

becker-hagensBecker-Hagens UVG Planetary Grid System based on the Platonic Solids

Many of these constructions, such as Stonehenge and the temples of Egyptians and Mayans have been found by astro-archaeologists to be astronomical observatories.  In charting the equinoxes, eclipses and the passage of the stars and planets, the ancients seemed to have timed their cultural activities to the pulse of the heavens which affected the earth’s energy system through the seasons.

Attunement to the great life of the planet was focused around the calender of ceremonial events.  Jose Arguelles suggests that the Mayan calender, the Tzolkin, having predicted the cycles of world transitions, provided the geometric keys for understanding the evolutionary codes, the mental matrix “psi bank” for the planet as DNA does for life. 

Ritual celebration was for the ancient, as it is now for indigenous peoples, the way of approaching the sacred in the environment.  The fertility rites of spring, the marriage of summer, the harvest of fall reflected the universal patterns and process of the earth goddess.  The most important rituals were performed by the king whose function it was to mediate between heaven and earth.  Similarly the function of government in Pharaohic Egypt as it was in ancient China and the legend of King Arthur was to balance the forces of nature for the benefit of the people.  In organization and function government was to be a reflection of universal order and harmony.  To the degree is was not there was famine, disease, war and civil disorder.

As in his institutions, ancient man projected the universal patterns of active intelligence he found in nature, the geometries of mind G. Bateson calls the “patterns that connect”, into all the was man-made, creating a Sacred Architecture.  Through a Canon of proportion and geometry, number and form, the principles of the fundamental unity of reality were crafted in his art and language, artifacts and temples, even social structures (Hindu caste system).  All was a reflection of universal order and harmony, a Microcosm, designed to remind and re-connect him to the Spirit that is the cause of and in all things.  The encoding or objectification of the ancient wisdom is most evident in the remains of ancient cities and temples, from the pyramids of Egypt and Mexico, stone circles and stupas, to Gothic cathedrals and sundance lodges, in mandalas and magic squares, it was consistently applied all over the globe.

pyramids-gizaEgyptian Pyramids of Giza-Archetype for pyramids all over the globe that function as energy transducers for the planetary grid system.

energy-leysEnergy Leys at the Great Pyramid on the Solstice, year 2000

The form of the Temple was based upon the archetypal image of the Divine Man as a microcosm…the Anthropos, the Buddha, the Krishna… the Adam Kadmon.  The concept of man created in the image of God and containing in the parts and functions of his body the pattern for the whole universe is an essential teaching in all great mystical traditions.  The purpose then of physical, social and symbolic environment was to connect him to higher more integrated states of being…to relate him to his common humanity, connect him to his planet and unite him to the source of his being and vitality.  In attunement to the resonant field generated in the fabric of his sacred ecology, a transformation could be achieved, the consciousness expanded, the emotions balanced and the body healed and made whole.

Today we seem to be a species out of balance with itself and its world.  We have not only lost touch with our planet, our heritage and destiny, we make war on ourselves and our environment, forgetting that what we do to it we also ultimately do to ourselves.  The traditional wisdom is nearly buried.   The deterministic Cartesian/Newtonian model of reality upon which our science and technology are based describes for us a world of separate things…a world of objects knowable and real only if perceived by our physical senses and instruments.  Yet the model has enjoyed great success.  Mankind is master of his world, if not guardian, the controller of his destiny, so it seems, and reaching into space.  In effect we have superseded God.  Truth and wisdom do not serve the interest of power and materialism.  We mock the cosmos, treading a path of our destruction if not in nuclear holocaust then in environmental pollution with almost total disregard for the whole of life with which we share this planet.

If science has difficulty seeing the earth as alive, perhaps it is because it has had the same difficulty defining “man” or even existence, abdicating such matters to religion and philosophers.  With new discoveries requiring a holistic scientific theory we are now seeing science merge with the ancient metaphysics.

sacred-mountainsSacred Mountains- San Francisco Peaks, sacred to the Hopi Indians

glastonbury-zodiac-mapGlastonbury Landscape Zodiac
The heavens were mapped onto the planet

James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis is one part of a revolution that is changing our view of reality.  Astronomer Fred Hoyle proposes an “intelligent universe” throughout which the pattern of life is the same.  The “new physics” explains the whole universe as essentially energy manifesting as vibrational pattern, an effect of the geometry of the quantum field.  It concludes that mind and the reality it perceives are one…that consciousness creates what it experiences.  Existence is enfolded in physicist David Bohm’s “implicate orders”…levels of increasing connectedness. 

Current biological research points to some kind of reciprocal or harmonic interaction between the human body, the mind and the corresponding energy fields of the planet.   Jose Delgato’s research in the way behavior and physiology are affected by fluctuations is the electromagnetic field associated with the brain suggests that all life and human activity are influenced by the enveloping fields of the planet in which we have evolved.

Physicist Oliver Reiser theorized a “psi field” as a planetary brain functioning within the Van Allen radiation belts and its double helix patterns similar to DNA.  The two planetary hemispheres correspond to Western-rational and Eastern-intuitive modes of thinking.  Reiser refers to the psi field as guiding mankind’s psycho-social evolution, in a way perhaps similar to other biological fields such as Harold Burr’s “L-Field” around the body, Wilhelm Reich’s “orgone energy” or Rupert Sheldrake’s “morphogenetic fields” proposed as guiding the growth and formation of the physical form.  Chemist Alexander Cairns-Smith, and now NASA, suggest that clays, made of crystal layers like geometrical lattices, may have been the template for the formation of the first fragile DNA molecules.  The idea leads biologist Lyall Watson to write that “we live on a parent, not a planet.”

The view that man is a microcosm is finding renewal is the scientific speculations that the universe is like a hologram, that is to say the pattern of the whole is holographically encoded in every part.   From atom the galaxy the same laws of physics apply everywhere, its underlying unity being an holographic interference pattern of the fundamental field.  Similarly neuro-physicist Karl Pribram has proposed a holographic theory of the mind, suggesting that the mind is a field around the brain in which memory exists undifferentiated everywhere within.  Perception  is essentially the neural interaction with an interference pattern of expanding electrical wave fronts arriving from the sense organs.  This is the basic structure of the hologram.  If both mind and the universe are holographic then we may be living within a great thought, or as the mystics say, in the Divine Idea.

As discoveries are shaking the scientific foundations of our understanding of reality, scientists and researchers in other fields are becoming philosophers.  Leading the way, paleontologist and theologian Pierre Teilard de Chardin concludes that the mind is both universal and evolving.  For the planet, mankind is the thinking element…what he called the “noosphere”.  It is an evolutionary thrust.  At a critical point it will become collective and crystallize is a humanity-wide enlightenment.

The theme of impending evolutionary change is echoed by many futurists.  We are becoming “co-creators” according to Barbara Marx Hubbard.  It is an Aquarian Conspiracy for Marilyn Ferguson and for Alvin Toffler, The Third Wave.

Environmentalists are beginning to view the ecology as one whole system in which we and all life are integral parts, cells in a living body, a “deep ecology”  Gregory Batson suggests that the environment is an extension of the body, that the perception of the skin-encapsulated being as separate from his environment is fast deteriorating as technology extends our senses and bodies past the old boundaries of the ‘world’.

Taking the “noosphere” in light of Lovelock’s Gaia, psychologist Peter Russell proposes that humanity is “like some vast nervous system, a Global Brain in which each of us are individual nerve cells” linked together is a planet wide information network”.  For Russell, humanity is the organ through which the planet becomes conscious of itself.  Mankind is approaching and evolutionary leap.  As numbers of individuals on the planet increase to a critical mass, comparable to the number of cells in the brain, the “global brain” will start to function in a planet-wide transformation. 

If for a moment we embrace the notion that the earth is alive, perhaps conscious, what implications are there for mankind?  What meaning is there for the structure of society?  What changes are there for his politics?…his economics?…his self image?…his religion?  What is humanity’s role in the evolution of this planetary being?  If the planet is a being, is it conscious?  Does it have, as the Theosophists believe, a Plan?…some ancient contract…some special evolutionary destiny that will take us beyond the stars?  In answer to these questions three themes are emerging.

The first is the idea of planetary stewardship, of accepting an awesome responsibility for the maintenance of Buckminster Fuller’s “spaceship earth”.  Such views suggest a global systems approach to energy and resource management and are leading us to a more holistic ecological and land use practices based on human and environmental values rather that purely profit motives.  Ideas of environmental protection and pollution control are growing, as is the use of appropriate technologies, particularly in the two areas of our greatest interface with the planet: agriculture and the built environment. 

More knowledge is being developed on the interrelationships of this planet’s body parts: its rivers and oceans, its atmosphere and forests, its magnetic field, its geology and chemical processes.  The ecological devastation of the earths life support system, ozone depletion, CO2 building up to global warming, the death of rain forests and oceans is spawning a movement, green politics, to restructure our industrial-economic-social matrix according to bio-regionalism, to make ecologies consistent with national politics.  New communities like Findhorn in Scotland and Auroville in India a springing up all over the globe to test new concepts of right human-planet relationships.  These activities are all making progress but we need to set new priorities and commitments as a whole species and soon.    In Fuller’s view, we have less that ten years before the planet will take matters into its own hands.  In the view of many scientists it may already be too late to reverse the environmental deterioration that will certainly change the way we live, if indeed we survive, on this planet.  The increased geological activity and meteorological changes suggest the planet is already waking up.  Will she find Lilliputian man an evolutionary cul-de-sac or a liability to be shrugged off?

The second notion is that of global consciousness, of recognizing that not only the earth as whole but that humanity is one, whole being.  In a world becoming a global village, shrinking from the effects of modern telecommunications, we are beginning to think and act globally.  We must begin to understand that at the level that we connect to the planet’s being, there is no ‘we’ or ‘they’, only ‘us’.  When one is starving we all are starving.  What happens to any part of us will ultimately affect us all.  Differences in race, culture or belief are destined to give humanity the diversity of life experiences necessary for the evolution of the whole.  Implied here is an economics of sharing rather than competition based on abundance of energy rather than scarcity…a politics of common goals and caring rather than of security and protectionism, a society free of hunger, poverty and ignorance. The international work is focused in the United Nations and is becoming more grass roots with organizations like Planetary Citizens, Greenpeace and others.

The third aspect is ultimately the most important. It is a synthesis of the first two themes, yet transcends these in the recognition that we are all spiritual beings, sharing a common creator and common destiny.  We are beginning to see ourselves endowed with purpose as well as with love and intelligence. With the intense search for extra-terrestrial intelligence and daily evidence that we are already being contacted we are awakening to the idea that we share this universe with a vast variety of other evolving beings.  We will need to develop the perception and sensitivity to live with other forms of intelligent life existing on many levels of reality not now accessible to us but which nonetheless feel the effects of our terra-ization of outer space.  It requires an expansion of consciousness that understands that not only humanity and the planet but that the whole universe is a living being.


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