Friday, March 16, 2012

The erosion of "Relational Matrix"

Leonardo Boff's weekly columns are available in Spanish from Servicios Koinonia and in Portuguese on his blog. Some of his older columns are available in English at

by Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl)

In today's world, there are many people, from the most diverse backgrounds, who are concerned about the current crisis that encompasses a range of other crises. Each brings light. And all light is creative. But, for my part, I, coming from philosophy and theology, feel the need for a deeper reflection that goes to the roots where it originated slowly and now is bursting with all its virulence. Unlike previous crises, this one has a particularity: the future of life and the continuity of our civilization are at stake in it. Our practices are going against the evolutionary course of the Earth. The latter has created a friendly place for us to live but we are not showing ourselves to be friendly with her. We're waging an all-out war against her on all fronts, with no chance of winning. She can continue without us. We, however, need her.

I believe that the next source (we will not go back to the homo faber of 2 million years ago) is in the paradigm of modernity that fragmented reality and transformed it into an object of science and a field for technical intervention. Up until then, human beings normally saw themselves as part of a living cosmos full of meaning, feeling themselves to be sons and daughters of Mother Earth. Now the latter has been turned into a storehouse of resources. Things and human beings are disconnected from each other, each following its own course. This shift led to a mechanistic and fragmented concept of reality that is eroding the continuity of our experience and the integrity of our collective psyche.

The secularization in all spheres of life took away the feeling of belonging to a greater Whole. We have been thrown off center and submerged in a deep loneliness. The opposite of a spiritual world view is not materialism or atheism; it is uprooting and the feeling that we are alone and lost in the universe, something that a spiritual world view used to prevent.

This set of issues lies behind the current crisis. To get out of it, we need to re-enchant the world and perceive the Relational Matrix in erosion that surrounds us all. We are urged to understand the meaning of the human project within an evolving/creating universe. The new science after Einstein, Heisenberg/Bohr, Prigogine and Hawking has shown us that all things are interconnected with each other so as to form a Whole.

The atoms and elementary particles are no longer considered inert and lifeless. The microcosms emerge as a highly interactive world that can not be described by human language, but only via mathematics. They form a complex unity in which each particle is linked to all others and that since the beginning of the cosmic adventure about 13.7 billion years ago. Matter and mind appear to be mysteriously intertwined, it being difficult to discern if mind arises from matter or matter from the mind, or if they arise together. The Earth itself appears living (Gaia), coordinating all the elements to ensure the ideal conditions for life. In her, rather than competition, functions the cooperation of all with all. She shows an impulse toward complexity, diversity and the irruption of consciousness at increasingly complex levels up to its current expression through the global connection networks within a process of increasing globalization.

This worldview feeds our hope for another possible world, from an evolving cosmos that feels, thinks, creates, loves and seeks a permanent balance through us. The master-ideas such as interdependence, community of life, reciprocity, complementarity and responsibility are keys to understanding and nourish a more harmonious view of things in us.

This cosmology is what is missing today. It has the ability to provide us a coherent view of the universe, Earth and our place in the mass of all beings as stewards and caretakers of all creation. This worldview will prevent us from falling into an abyss of no return. In past crises, Earth always showed itself to be for us, saving us. And now is not going to be different. Together, we and she can synergistically succeed.

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