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A Great Story (Think About This)

If Homer was alive in the twenty-first century, he would not be telling stories about ships and seas, sirens and sailors. Surely, the great bard would represent our moment in history with a myth that captures the essence of our contemporary zeitgeist. What would such a myth look like? In their new book, Journey of the Universe, Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker invite us into the scientific story of the Universe, imbuing it with all the passion and purpose of a great religious myth. Their “invitation into grandeur” carries us into the heart of a story that Homer would have loved to tell—the story of how life began, evolved, and turned into you and me.


We are the first generation to learn the comprehensive scientific dimensions of the universe story. We know that the observable universe emerged 13.7 billion years ago, and we now live on a planet orbiting our Sun, one of the trillions of stars in one of the billions of galaxies in an unfolding universe that is profoundly creative and interconnected. With our empirical observations expanded by modern science, we are now realizing that our universe is a single intense energy event that began as a tiny speck that has unfolded over time to become galaxies and stars, palms and pelicans, the music of Bach and each of us alive today. The great discovery of contemporary science is that the universe is not simply a place, but a story—a story in which we are immersed, to which we belong, and out of which we arose.


You can learn more about Swimme and Tucker’s new book at journeyoftheuniverse.org.

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Filed Under: CosmologyEnlightenNext Editors’ BlogEvolutionary SpiritualityThink About This

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About the Author

Carter Phipps is the Executive Editor of EnlightenNext magazine. Follow him on Twitter @Carter_Phipps.

Comments (28)

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  1. Jim Aloise says:

    The book is still stuck in the 20th
    century creation myth.
    If we’re talking spiritual stuff, then
    lets get spiritual. Talk about the creation
    of the universe wrt the Eternal Now. Forget
    13.7 billion years ago. It’s a story, while
    meanwhile the universe is created right Now.

    • Both are true.
      since it is happening Now no reason to think it didn’t happen ‘then’ as well.
      How would you define Now without ‘then’

    • Todd Waymon says:

      Jim, I’m still trying to grok the apparent anomaly between: the Outside “13.5 billion years ago…” and the Inside “All Time is Now. Time is an Illusion” – both of which I understand or have experienced!

      • Jim Aloise says:

        >Jim, I’m still trying to grok the apparent anomaly between: the >Outside “13.5 billion years ago…” and the Inside “All Time is Now. >Time is an Illusion” – both of which I understand or have >experienced!

        Yes, yes. And they don’t resolve in the rational mind.
        When we experience the vision of the universe emanating from
        the Divine in the Eternal (non-temporal) Now, we see the
        Universe in the Divine, the Divine in the Universe and the
        Divine as the Universe.

    • Gitprem says:

      Dear Jim,
      what a great, radical, enlightened comment! Good to become conscious of “story”… both viewpoints are not easy to grasp, understand, digest for me.
      Reminds me of the distinction between “Bodhisattva” and “Arhat” in Buddha’s world – what good is it to NOW sit alone and greatly enlightened in my cave, while the playground is degenerating and destroying itself – don’t we need to go out and “tell story” so we can All understand and co-create the Universe Now together (if we choose)?
      with Light and Love *** Gitprem

    • Frank Luke says:

      Hi Jim!

      By saying what you do, are you propounding a God who manifested Creation?

      I think in a holistic way that a scientific explanation of Creation can be also seen as having been manifestd by a God, no prob for me.

      • Jim Aloise says:

        Yes, no problem with God.
        I like the term – The Divine.
        It is both personal and impersonal. My mind was
        educated to see more the impersonal. My heart
        longs for the personal experience.

        • Frank Luke says:

          Hi Jim,

          I think of myself as a doubting believer and do and lean toward no anthropomorphic god though open to being shown some manifestation of Divinity.

          Like you I would embrace a personal experience of Divinity though my Awakening experience felt like that .

          • Nada says:

            Hi Frank, Your comment holds a contradiction and I felt you might appreciate some further clarity.

            The “personal” experience of God IS anthropomorphic. Think about it;What you are desiring is to directly connect with God’s attributes that have referents in you personally. By its definition, it couldn’t be any other way. You are not a rock,you are a human,man,person, and God shares more attributes with you than the rock;you exist on a hierarchy closer to God than does the rock.Understand? God assumes the shape of that which contains it, like water in a vessel. That the Water that is God is greater than the vessel, but not other than it, only speaks to the ineffable, trans-morphic essence of God in/as you. And further, if you are not prepared through development to surrender everything that is personal to/in you, you are not prepared to unite with God personally, and by this I mean union and transformation of your Soul.

            I use the term “God” to mean the active ascendent principle or Eros. This is the personal God in you that works to keep you moving “upward” or beyond and through the levels. The Transpersonal God is the Godhead, the “God beyond God”, that which can’t be known or simply spoken of. Any experience of God is “Divine;” the personal and transpersonal are One. To discern the subtle differences is the goal of Contemplation, because to do so helps us develop the varying capacities of each. Your “experience” of God personally will be very different than mine, but it has been made clear by the mystics;union of the Soul and God must happen before entering the Godhead to reveal the Transpersonal Self. I, as always,am not speaking of a temporary experience, but actual,stable development.

            Hope I’ve contributed gainfully,
            LOL

            • Frank Luke says:

              Hi Nada! TY for taking time to respond to my post.

              All due respects, I view a God more as a force, like gravity or electricity, if I consider (Him, Her, It) at all. From your previous comments and this one I think our views are similar though your submitting your mentioning an anthropomorphic element, that confuses me since I don’t subscribe to that except that my Awakening event was certainly felt bodily and with my mind and soul.

              I go along with the Buddhists saying there is no God except maybe the one within.

              I hope this doesn’t seem disrespectful of your views. I leave my mind open to the possibility of an anthropomorphic God if that is presented to me in an actual encounter. As I mentioned, my Awakening events have felt like that.

              Best, Aloha, Namaste, Frank Luke

              • Nada says:

                Hi Frank, As I’ve always tried to point out to those I comment to; your choice of philosophical/spiritual framework is only! a translation that helps you make sense of “reality,” but is not “Reality.” “God” is only a word, a reference point, that is not equal to the actual God/dess forms which are,right now, the “forces” of Transcendence/Presence in/of you.The “way” you “think” about “God” matters not in the least to the actual, ongoing unknowable movement of God in you. And here let me throw in another term; God/dess are the highest archetypal diety forms of your being, and all due respects to you, but Buddhism is quite clear on this usage(ie;malevolent and benevolent dieties). One must move with these forms until even they are transcended in the pure cessation of the Godhead/Self.

                Remember, you can have a map in front of you, but it is not the same as the actual walking of the territory, just as saying the word “tree” is not the same as the actual tree. I had about 38 years of actual,direct contact with/as the God/dess “within”,meaning; very personal, highly intentioned mystical events and movements of body,mind,psyche and soul,only to have it all dissolve in Pure Suchness of Nonduality. No easy territory to walk,believe me. Mystery is just that and no thought can encompass.

                I’m wondering if you would be willing to describe your “Awakening” event;what “happened?”…if you please.

                By the way,without even really being aware of it, I had a prejudice against the word “God.” It was a culturally conditioned response, directly associated with scientific materialism,”East meets West” philosophies, and a general negativity to the Abrahamic traditions. I got all the way to enlightenment and hadn’t realized that I even held this prejudice. What do you feel about it?

                LOL(;}

                • Frank Luke says:

                  Ah Nada, so good to have your thoughts and comments that gives me the feeling of a real person out there in blog land!

                  I love talking about my Awakening which was a culmination of a period in my life and spiritual development where I harbored such yearning to experience
                  Enlghtenment, undertaking it naively as an intellectual exercise believing it would be so cool to become Enlightened. Silly me. But what came instead were some experiences that gradually resulted in those kinds of emotional events described by mystics where a great understanding and attending elation came over me suddenly that changed my bearings in life. Questions that hounded me fell away and I came to enjoy a growing certitude that I had been blessed with Understanding.

                  It also helped that I took the Bodhisattva Vow administered by heightening my consciousness to become committed to the betterment of self, my fellows, my community, the evironment, the nation and the planet as much as I am able. This commitment in essence is what I consider to be my Enlightenment and that acknowledgement
                  of my commitment is what makes me an Awakened being.

                  If a non-anthropomorphic God/ess is without form but more of a force like gravity or electricity, an anthropomorphic god would seem to be incorporate, having a form manifested in human-like appearance, IMO. Though supra-human, this concept of God would seem to also have
                  apparently human-like foibles, though beyond the questioning by skeptics.

                  Thank you for your questioning me. Feel free to question further.

                  Best regards, namaste, aloha!

              • Nada says:

                What is your idea/definition of an “anthropomorphic god?”

    • Nada says:

      Hi Jim,

      If you deny Spirit’s choice to manifest, in and as time, in and as matter and processes,in and as us, to become and evolve, then you also deny the Now, since time and the Eternal Now are inseparably Not-two.

      When all is undone, this is the final Truth…

      • Jim Aloise says:

        One of my gurus said, ‘The mystery of things is the true
        truth of things’.

        • Nada says:

          Hi Jim, When all “things”(meaning objects;whether you call those objects thought,emotion,experiences, matter or energy,etc.) are undone, you stand bare as Mystery, the pure Subject that can’t be known ( like an object) because It is the Knower, the Seer, the Do-er.

          The Witness must collapse and be absorbed, then emerge as Nondual Suchness. This is when the Eternal and time are revealed to be Not-two, but more than that, YOU ARE that Not-two Reality, no longer an observing Witness of objects.

          Development happens in “time”, because the individual or observing subject is dual to Eternity. THAT is the paradox that needs to be undone; that you, who are already an expression of, and indeed are, the Eternal, have to develop in time to reveal that “truth.” It is the purpose of the Evolutionary Impulse in you; It is the Energy and Force to “knit” together this always already truth, and to do your part in Spirit’s search for Itself through you, as you.

          LOL(;}

    • Either you don’t know this body of work or it’s a problem with this book. The work is all about the now, and that in this awesome universe we are still the particles from the beginning — a field of oneness. It’s a spritual take on our physical realm. I haven’t read the new book but I’ve bought more than 1,000 copies of Swimme’s first book, The Universe is a Green Dragon, which I give to everyone I associate with as the most compeelling creation story about where we came from and what we’re doing here. Try that one.

  2. Stunning, I love this. Science and wonder are the aesthetic of our time. Star fire feeds us at all levels. I am looking forward to reading this! Thank you.

  3. What a great question! Awesome! And thank you for asking it, pointing out the magnitude of the Story– The Journey of the Universe! It is certainly the greatest overreaching being discovered in our time, and it’s signifcance is just beginning to sink in. What other Homers might we need to capture some of the implications, the epic value struggles going on right now at every level and place of planetary life and culture, radically reshaping human conscousness!?

  4. Robert says:

    Yep, just as Jim Aloise says, the ‘single intense energy event’ is an energy field – “the primary frequency realm” as quantum physicist David Bohm calls it. It doesn’t have a beginning or an end. Why not? Because it’s only in the world of the mind that beginnings, endings and stories are created. As long as we cling to stories we’ll stay in the world of the mind. The primal energy field exists way beyond the frequency of the mind. Its innate qualities are what every single human being most values in our life – love, joy, happiness, peace, enthusiasm, self-worth, etc. Would we prefer to live in that pure Consciousness, or would we rather live in the world created by our mind? The choice is ours!

  5. Patrya Kay says:

    This is a story which fills me with such joy that, like all good myths, it has tremendous power in the now.

  6. Wes Hopper says:

    Our 13.7 billion year story is just a chapter in a much longer, likely endless, book of consciousness expressing itself. How long will this chapter last? How long is the page that human history is written on? It seems to be a race between our self centered destructive tendencies and our conscious evolution. Right now the race is too close to call.

  7. David Hauenstein says:

    The excerpt: we are now realizing that our universe is a single intense energy event that began as a tiny speck that has unfolded over time to become galaxies and stars, palms and pelicans, the music of Bach and each of us alive today.

    What strikes me are the words “and each of us alive today.” Is he positing that the spirits who are alive in physical bodies today are the only humans created since the so called Big Bang? Also the first comment from Jim is a good one.

  8. Rene Robinson says:

    There is a narrative here that unfolds on many levels.
    The big picture is truly awe inspiring as is the unfolding personal story that comes clear with each passing decade of life as long as we don’t resist it. Being a grandparent
    gives credence to how generational wisdom is passed on
    and surpassed given that the ingredients necessary are there for each “seed” to push forth and take growth to the next level and beyond.

  9. Nada says:

    In a truly integral worldview, scientific empiricism is not denied or seen as opposing what we might feel to be the spiritual impulse of all things, but instead, informs us that the material world and it’s processes are an undeniably relevant dimension of ourselves. When we look deeply at that dimension, we see only that we are not separate from it, that the “I”, the “we” and the “it” exist inter-dependently in infinite contexts woven together inseparably.

    Consciousness or Spirit is an undivided Unity. Measurable matter is the densest form of consciousness. As a person who has experienced much that can be called “spiritual” or “mystical,” I know that, even though Spirit transcends the body (and all physical matter), it also includes it. Anything that any person can experience “within”, includes the physical universe as part and necessary process of Spirit, and therefore, as part and necessary process of themselves.

    Looking forward to reading this book…
    Thanks!

  10. Jim Aloise says:

    What a wonderful stream of comments.
    Thank you all.

    Let me make clear that in my original comment
    I was not referring to the temporal now, but
    to the Eternal Now which in not in time but
    from whence the universe and time originate.

  11. Frank Luke says:

    Not ony a great stream of comments but we must shoutout and thank all the writers of the great stream of articles that have enlivened this blog site.

    Aloha and mahalo to all!