Jana writes, "When I first encountered The Great Work: Our Way into the Future by Thomas Berry, I immediately recognised it as a frame of reference with the power to give order and direction to the jumbled and often sporadic concerns I have for the state of the world, especially with regard to the environment.
"Berry's core idea of "human beings learning to be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner" continues to inspire me. It's about 1) learning (one of my favourite things; 2) presence (something I value and practice; 3) the planet (my favourite place to live!); and 4) mutual benefit (win-win situations thrill me).
"So much of who I am - my commitments and consciousness (things I regularly think about) - can be described in terms of the Great Work. I am grateful to Berry for his life's work of giving us the Great Work."
The CCP team has spent the past week identifying and living with alternative words to the three Cosmological Imperatives around which the Great Work revolve. According to Berry, the Great Work consists of a shift of consciousness by which human beings come to realise and celebrate that these bio-evolutionary principles govern our lives just as they govern all life on Earth. Berry uses differentiation, subjectivity, and communion to describe the imperatives.
P writes, "These are the truths of the universe by which everything has to exist. The reason we're articulating them is because human beings (in dominant Western culture) live as if they aren't true.
"It's like if we were to try and live as if gravity weren't true. You'd just end up hurting yourself all the time and nothing's going to work right. To acknowledge the truth of gravity or these cosmological imperatives gives you a chance to live harmoniously."
The team was having trouble relating to these terms.
M, a literary scholar, comments, "These Enlightenment era words are the problem; they are Latinate and obtuse. I need something more accessible and embodied."
In order for the team to acknowledge and play with the Cosmological Imperatives more comfortably and creatively, we came up with some substitute words to trial for a while:
differentiation - particularity (what makes us unique)
subjectivity - agency (the ability to learn from our environment)
communion - unity (interdependency and connection)
We'll see how we go!