Becoming Planetary

Brian Thomas Swimme

More thrilling than a raft trip down the Grand Canyon is watching salmon return to their birthplace. Struggling upstream or flapping in the mouths of brown bears or roughed up by the rocks in the shallow waters or torn apart by the birds, they offer a glimpse of what it means to be a planetary human.

Salmon reveal the nature of the universe as a whole. Mathematical cosmologists are amazed that so much structure has emerged in the fourteen billion years of cosmic time. Though we have concocted theories such as the multiverse or the anthropic principle to explain how this happened, we scientists remain astounded by the rapidity of universe creativity. Our universe has been galloping toward life and mind from the first instant of its existence.

Fish fighting against a swiftly moving river manifest cosmic energy in a rush to create. Salmon do not know that they and the other fish have constructed all the fundamental forms of brains throughout the vertebrate world. They do not know that they invented structures that would evolve into the elephant brain. Nor do they know that they built the nerve nets that would evolve into the human brain. Even so. We can no longer feel content with thinking, "It just happened, that's all." In the new time-developmental cosmology, we are beginning to conceive of a radically different scenario. On some level, salmon "know" they participate in a drama. The energy from the beginning of time surges through them as cosmic sap. It's why they have the courage to throw their lives into the challenge of fighting up the Columbia or the Fraser or any of the great rivers that are their homes.

This same sap is flowing through us. We are the creative energy that built galaxies and sent planets spinning. If this primal energy knew how to accomplish all of that back then, it knows how to accomplish what we have to do in our time. To say that the primal energy knew is to say that we know. When you find your river, when you begin your journey home, you will find a peace that stretches out to the stars. Just as certainly, if we happen to choose the wrong stream, especially if we employ all our willpower to stay in it, there will come a day when every cell in our body and brain screams with one voice: "Why do I keep wasting my life?"

"Into which river shall I pour my life energies?"

Image by: Brian Sebastian Swimme

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