Two consequential events dramatically altered the world’s climate and ecosystem. The first occurred 66 million years ago when a seven-mile-wide asteroid smashed into earth near Yucatan. Within 24 hours, the species that had ruled the planet went extinct. The Day the Dinosaurs Died.
The other was the awakening of Homo sapiens’ consciousness some 100,000 years ago to our ability to dominate by going forth, multiplying, and subduing the earth. Neil Armstrong’s line, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” could have been spoken by one of those early humans.
The asteroid’s impact was immediate and devastatingly consequential. Mother Earth might have wobbled when the asteroid crashed, but if so, she righted herself and continued rotating, tilting, and orbiting the sun, enabling her to birth countless new organisms, species, and levels of consciousness.
Homo sapiens’ impact was initially slow but gained momentum with one breakthrough—revolution—after another. An ongoing tale of accomplishment and triumph accompanied by death and destruction, it remains to be determined: TBD.
The dinosaurs ruled for over 150 million years. We, comparatively, for a nanosecond. Their world crashed and burned because of an extraterrestrial object. Ours, TBD.
Last week, I wrote about ekphrasis, the tendency to fill in a picture ‘s details when observing it. Astronaut Bill Anders’ photo Earthrise, taken aboard Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve in 1968, provokes that. The stark image of our fragile home floating in the dark cosmic sea causes one to appreciate our insignificance in the greater context of time and space.
A member of the Apollo 14 crew, Edgar Mitchell became the sixth person to walk on the moon in February 1971. Awed by his experiences and observations, he founded IONS, the Institute of Noetic Science, in 1973.
“I realized,” he said, “that the story of ourselves as told by science—our cosmology, our religion—was incomplete and likely flawed. I recognized that the Newtonian idea of separate, independent, discrete things in the universe wasn’t a fully accurate description. What was needed was a new story of who we are and what we are capable of becoming.”
Mitchell spoke about his epiphany during his return.
“I had completed my major task of going onto the moon and was on my way home and was observing the heavens and the earth from this distance, observing the passing of the heavens. As we were rotating, I saw the earth, the sun, the moon and a 360-degree panoramic of the heavens. The magnificence of all of this, what this triggered in my vison in me in the ancient Sanskrit is called samadhi. It means you see things with your senses the way they are, but your experiences are viscerally and internally as a unity and a oneness accompanied by ecstasy.
“All matter in our Universe is created in star systems. And so, the matter in my body, and the matter in the spacecraft and the matter in my partners’ bodies was the product of stars. We are stardust, and we are all one in that sense.”
As a species, we have matured in phenomenal ways but remain stunted in others, including cosmology, the belief of how the universe came into being and works. For some, it remains rooted in ancient myths, stories that no longer work or suffice, concocted by tribal soothsayers.
We’re in desperate need for a new mythology to replace the worn-out, immature Edenic myth, in which Earth and its place in the Universe becomes the focus rather than a naked white couple with fig-leaf covered genitalia. What is needed is “a new story of who we are and what we are capable of becoming.”