Deep Time and EcoLogical Calendars

Whenever I get to it, I always find that it is worth listening to To the Best of Our Knowledge on NPR – with their orange/green, sometimes second tier, and always human look at just about any topic under the sun.

Most recently, they have a program on Deep Time, including a story about the ECOlogical Calendar which helps us connect with the natural cycles and the universe. It is beautiful, meaningful, and useful, and exactly what I have been looking for, both for myself and as a culture-change themed gift for others.

I also seen they have a five-part series on science and religion, which I haven’t heard yet but plan to find time for (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Widening worldcentric

For the lines which goes from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric, mainly the cognitive (view) and moral (care), our leading collective edge seems to rapidly widen and deepen within the worldcentric.

Widening circles of care

For the care line, we see that…

Human rights is a given in the mainstream, at least in most modern western societies (with the exception of Bush, pushing ethnocentric/amber views to erode some of the worldcentric/orange focus on human rights, using fear as a driver.)

A concern for nonhuman species, ecosystems, the Earth as a whole, and future generations is emerging on a larger scale, with climate change and other well-publicized issues as a catalyst.

From we being all human beings alive today, it slowly grows to includes we as the Earth as a whole and future generations.

Moral line fed by the cognitive

And the widening circles of care and compassion is fed by the widening circles of the cognitive line. We know, from science and daily experience, that the Earth as a whole is a single seamless system, and that our own immediate health and well-being is intimately connected with the health and well-being of the larger social and ecological systems.

In today’s world, we cannot afford to not be concerned with the health and well-being of the larger whole, because it impacts us so directly locally.

Deepening into

As these circles widen, there is also a corresponding maturing and deepening coming from lived experience and new information. We become more familiar what it means, collectively and individually, to live from these widening circles of view and care.

Widening into the cosmoscentric

Another leading edge here is within the worldcentric, from the gaiacentric to the cosmoscentric phase. With the public interest in Star Trek and other sci-fi stories, and the public interest and participation in discovering planets and SETI (through PlanetQuest and SETI@home), this phase of the worldcentric is rapidly becoming more real.

For now, since we haven’t made contact with any galactic neighbors, it is mostly the cognitive line exploring the cosmoscentric. If there is contact one way or another, the moral line will be included.


And how will we react if there is contact? It will of course depend on the type of contact: detecting a distant signal will be very different from initiating a dialogue, which will be very different from – the far more unlikely – direct physical contact.

And it will also depend on where we are at the care line of development. At ethnocentric, we are more likely to react with suspicion and fear. At the deepening worldcentric, with interest and curiosity (although hopefully not naively).

Cosmocentric benefits

Already now, by exploring the cognitive cosmoscentric through science and the Universe Story, and the cognitive and moral cosmoscentric through sci-fi, there are some benefits of the cosmocentric.

It helps unseat any assumptions of absolutes in who we are and how we view the world. It helps us open up for a sense of connection with and belonging to the universe as a whole. It helps us open up for a sense of awe of the enormity and beauty of the universe. It helps us open for how unbelievable and astonishing it is that anything exists at all.

Maybe most importantly, widening beyond the Earthcentric makes it easier for us to see the Earth as one small intimate whole. A miracle of life floating in the immensity of space.

It helps us deepen our care and concern for all of us – all humans, all beings, all ecosystems, the Earth as a whole, future generations.

(And then there is of course the kosmocentric, of realizing selflessness and that Existence has a center everywhere and nowhere.)

Integral Universe Story

What needs to be included for the Universe Story to be more integral?

Not much, as it is inherently integral: It encompasses the unfolding of the world of form in all its expressions and in all four quadrants.

Organizing tool

Yet, the aqal model can be a very helpful framework in organizing and presenting all this material, using holarchies, the four quadrants, and the stages and lines of development.


And also, it is a reminder to include the Ground, the emptiness that goes with the form, the nature of Big Mind and not just its expressions, unfolding and evolution as form. This emptiness, stainless, absent of any characteristics, that is right here as that which the world of form arises within and as.


The four quadrants and evolution/development is inherent in the Universe Story, so just about anyone telling or using the story will cover these (with an emphasis on parts of it depending on topic and interest). Some, such as Michael Dowd, use the aqal model explicitly in their telling of the Universe Story.

What is often left out is the Ground or Big Mind. It may be implicit in the telling of it, but often not explicitly acknowledged, and there is even less of an invitation for the audience or participants to taste it for themselves, through for instance the Big Mind process.

Brief integral outline

So here is a recipe for making it a little more integral:

  1. AQAL framework
    Use the aqal model as a framework in the presentation of the material

  2. Big Mind process
    Use the Big Mind process to allow the audience or participants a taste of Big Mind, of Ground, of emptiness dancing. The BM process can also be used to explore the world of form, including impermanence, evolution, Earth as a living system, the difference in operating from an identification with a human self and as Big Mind – the possibilities are endless.

The universe gawking at itself

This beautiful photo of a nebula in the constellation Cassiopeia is an example of the universe gawking in amazement at itself, in the words of Brian Swimme.

The universe forms itself into matter, galaxies, nebula, solar systems, planets, life, awareness organs (living sensing beings), culture, technology, science, computers, telescopes, rockets…

And it gawks at itself… It is amazed by itself. It brings itself into awareness in always new ways.

The universe forms itself into the seen, the technology used for the seeing, and the organisms the seeing occurs through. And all of this and the seeing itself arises all within and as Ground, as Big Mind, Spirit, Brahman, Divine Mind.


There are some major questions in each of our lives, whether we explore these or not. The main one is probably who/what am I? And another is are we, as human beings, alone in the universe?

It is interesting that very few schools spend much or any time on the first question, whether it is through conventional western style philosophy or more direct self-inquiry. And it is also interesting that only a minuscule amount of resources is spent on the second question, are we alone in the universe? No governments, as far as I know, allocate any money to SETI, and the private funding is very limited as well.

I am not sure what that tells us about who we are at this stage in our evolution. Maybe that we are easily distracted. Maybe that for many of us, other issues appear more urgent. Maybe that our natural curiosity is out competed by other impulses or goes in other directions. Maybe that we have trouble peeling off the layers down to the really big questions.

In any case, I have been fascinated by SETI since I first heard about it in my early teens, became a member of the Planetary Society a little later, and was among the first to sign up for SETI@home. Now, after a while of not running the SETI@home screen saver, it seems time to participate again.

It is difficult to imagine any other discovery that will have a more significant impact on how we see ourselves, and eventually the course of our own evolution. Just knowing that we are not alone will be another nudge in our deprovinsialization of ourselves. And any exchange of real information, although it may take a long time before it gets going, will change our culture and evolution deeply.

Just the question itself, and contemplating the consequences of contact, or of not finding anything even after a thorough (still far into the future) search, is hugely important. The question and contemplation itself will change how we see ourselves.

Stories Pointing Beyond Themselves

Anything is a story – any scientific model, any spiritual map, any personal or collective history.

Some of these stories point beyond themselves, acknowledging that they are a map only, and that the terrain is more than and different from any map of it. Other stories either omit this point (maybe it is not so clear to those telling it, or they take it for granted, or they don’t see the significance of it), or explicitly counter it by presenting the story as somehow true – presenting the map as the terrain. If it is omitted, confusion can set in. And if it is countered, dogmatism neccesarily follows.

The Universe Story – or The Great Story – typically points beyond itself in one way, and not another.

The title itself does acknowledge it as a story only. It points beyond itself the way science points beyond itself, acknowledging that it will change with new information. And it will also change as social and cultural needs change, since it also has a role as a myth – as a guide.

Yet, it typically does not point beyond itself the way stories in a mystical and spiritual context point beyond themselves – to the eternal timeless Present within which time and space unfolds. Realizing selflessness, any belief in any story falls away. What is, is just emptiness dancing. Any story is revealed as just a temporary and practical tool, absent of inherent value or truth.


I recently watched Contact again, and it brings up several things for me…

Mostly, the incredible beauty and awe that comes up from realizing that we are this universe bringing itself into awareness. And the deep sense of humility and belonging that comes from realizing that we, as human beings, are infinitely small parts of this infinitely large and rich universe.

Also, the continuing de-provinsialization in our culture, as it shows up in so many areas – going towards deepening worldcentric views and experiences of the world. From anthropocentrism to biocentrism and possibly beyond. From ethnocentrism to ethnodiversity. From rights for a few to universal human rights. From seeing this planet as the center of the universe, to seeing the sun as the center, to seeing this galaxy as the center (or rather all there is), to realizing the infinite number of galaxies out there – everywhere a center to itself. And how even the thought of life other places in the universe brings us even further out of our provincial outlook, to acknowledging that this planet may be one of a large number of living planets out there.

And also, slightly disappointing maybe, the orange (in Spiral Dynamics) view on science and religion which the story is filtered through – making it appear to be a choice between the scientific methodology and faith, or maybe both although for separate realms.

In any case, when I saw the movie the first time it brought me straight into Big Mind, and it still does. It reminds me of the big picture – that we, as humans, are stardust. That we are the universe temporarily reorganizing itself into humans, human culture, human technology, cities, thoughts, emotions, feelings, sensations, animals, plants, mountains, stars, oceans, clouds, rain, rocks, beaches, trees, the living Earth, this solar system, this galaxy, and all there is. That we, along with everything else that is, are the leading edge of the evolving universe. That all this is, with a center everywhere and nowhere, one seamless unfolding process – where there are no separate individuals, no separate doers, thinkers, seers, experiencers. Everything belongs, everything is the local movements of the whole – beyond and including all polarities.

The Universe Story & The Transdual Breaking Into The Nondual

I keep coming back to how the Universe Story – the story of the universe, based on mainstream science and told as our own sacred creation story – leads us deeper into the transdual.

Through the Universe Story, we learn to see the Universe as a whole – beyond and including all polarities. We see the Universe as one single seamless process, expressing itself as galaxies, planets, ecosystems, plants, animals, humans, awareness, self-awareness, cognition, culture, cities, civilizations and so on.

We, who embody the local eyes and
ears and thoughts and feelings of the cosmos,
we have begun, at last, to wonder at our origins.

Starstuff contemplating the stars.

Organized collections of ten billion billion
billion atoms, contemplating the evolution of matter,
tracing that long path by which it arrived
at consciousness here on the planet Earth
and perhaps throughout the cosmos.

– Carl Sagan, in Cosmos

And through deepening into the nondual, we set the stage for it eventually popping into the nondual (probably with the help of some practices in most cases).

We go from dualistic to deepening transdual to nondual to nondual with transdual within.

From being exclusively identified with our human self, to expanding our circle of concern and identity, to finding ourselves as what is with no “I” anywhere, to integrating this with the diverse transdual views and approaches.

The first version of transdual is a deepening into the realization of Existence beyond and including any and all polarities, including existence and nonexistence, creator and creation, Spirit and matter, seer and seen, nature and culture, body and mind, and so on.

The second version of the transdual is a deepening into the exploration of that which embraces and is beyond all polarities, in the context of the nondual – from the direct and crystal clear realization that there is no “I” anywhere.

The first transdual is vaguely aware of the ground – it may be intuited or sensed, but seen somewhat as “other”. The second transdual is from an immediate realization of everything as emptiness dancing.

Awakening Earth

At the NWEI retreat, my longstanding interest in ecospirituality, new cosmology, creation spirituality, deep ecology etc. was refueled.

The more I look into it – and as I move along my own process – the less far fetched it seems that we may see a wider scale awakening into a more transdual view among humans. And this will turn our view of the Universe, the Earth and our collective humanity upside-down.

Already, we can see that we are the local awareness-organs for the Universe and the Earth. We are the Universe and the Earth coming into awareness of itself. And this awareness operates locally (exclusively identified with the small self) and dualistically for most species and most human beings today.

For some human beings – and maybe for larger segments of the population in the future – this awareness awakens to its own nature and functions transdually. In this process, it also becomes aware of itself as Big Mind and all phenomena as expressions of Big Mind. God is behind and in front of the eyeballs.

If the Universe and the Earth awakens into a transdual awareness through larger number of humans, it means a radical shift for humanity as a whole. The Universe and the Earth can now be aware of itself as a seamless whole, through large number of awareness organs part of one planet.

It is difficult to say how it may look as it is so different from what we see today. All we can say that the shift may be as dramatic as when the first humans emerged into language.

It is by no means the end of challenges and imbalances (as Ken Wilber likes to point out, there are diseases at each level of development), and as with any transition – it is an beginning as well as an end.