The cosmic Christ: a spirituality of the universe
One of the most persistent searches among scientists associated with the Earth and life sciences is for the unity of the Whole. They say: «we must find the formula that explains everything, that way we will discover the mind of God». This search is called: The Theory of the Great Unification, or Quantic Theory of the Fields, or by the pompous name of the Theory of the Whole. Despite their best efforts, they all have wound up frustrated or, like the great mathematician Stephen Hawking, they abandoned this pretense as impossible. The Universe is far too complex to be readily explained by a single formula.
Nonetheless, researching the subatomic particles –more than one hundred– and the primordial energies, it has come to be understood that they all lead to the so-called «quantum vacuum», that is not so much a vacuum as the plenitude of all potentialities. From that bottomless depth all beings and the entire Universe have emerged. It is represented as a vast ocean of energies and potentialities without boundaries. Others call it the “source of all beings”, or the “nourishing abyss of everything”.
Curiously, one of the principal cosmologists, Brian Swimme, calls it the ineffable and the mysterious (The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos, 1996). These are characteristics that the religions attribute to the Ultimate Reality, that is called by a thousand names: Tao, Jehovah, Allah, Olorum, God… A vacuum pregnant with energy, if it is not God, (God is always first), it is its best metaphor and representation.
Matter is not the basis: the pregnant vacuum is. It is the original source. Thomas Berry, the great Northamerican ecologist/cosmologist, wrote: «We need to feel that we are filled with the very energy that caused the Earth, the stars and the galaxies to emerge. That same energy created all forms of life, and the reflexive consciousness of humans. It is what inspires poets, thinkers and artists of all times. We are immersed in an ocean of energy that is far beyond our understanding. But that energy in final analysis is ours, not by domination, but by invocation» (The Great Work, 1999, 175), that is, by opening ourselves to it.
If this is so, everything that exists emerged from this fount of energy: cultures, religions, Christianity itself and even such figures as Buddha, Moses, Jesus and each one of us. All was being created within the cosmogenic process, as more complex orders would emerge, ever more internalized and interconnected with all beings. When a given level of that source energy is accumulated, then the historical events and each individual person emerges.
Who saw the creation of Christ in this cosmos was the Jesuit paleontologist and mystic, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, (1881-1955), who reconciled the Christian faith with the idea of a broader evolution and the new cosmology. Teilhard distinguishes the «Christic» from the «Christian». The Christic presents itself as an objective date within the process of evolution. It would be the link that unites everything. Because it was within it, one day in history the figure could emerge of Jesus of Nazareth, the one for whom all things have their existence and consistence, as Saint Paul would say.
Therefore, when the Christic is subjectively recognized and is transformed within the consciousness of a group, it becomes «Christian». Then historical Christianity emerges, founded in Jesus, the Christ, the incarnation of the Christic. It follows that its ultimate roots are not in first century Palestine, but within the very process of cosmic evolution.
Saint Augustine, writing to a Pagan philosopher (Epistle 102), intuited this truth: «That which now bears the name of a Christian religion existed before, and was not absent from the origins of the human being until Christ came in the flesh; rather, that was then when the true religion, that already existed, began to be called Christian».
Similar reasoning is found in Buddhism. There exists Buddhity (the capacity of illumination) that was being forged throughout the process of evolution until Siddhartha Gautama emerged and became the Buddha. This could only be manifested in the person of Gautama because the Budheity was earlier in the process of evolution. So, he became the Buddha, just as Jesus became the Christ.
When this understanding is internalized to the point of transforming our perception of things, of nature, of the Earth and the Universe, then the path is open to a cosmic spiritual experience, of communion with all and with everyone. We realize through this spiritual path that which the scientists sought through science: a link that unifies all and moves it forward.
Leonardo Boff Theologian-Philosopher and member of the Earthcharter Commission
Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Melina Alfaro, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.