Saturday, July 31, 2010


To be an organism is, inescapably, to be challenged.

As long as one is alive, the “struggle for existence” is an imperative condition lasting until one reverts to inert matter.

Before that collapse, the essence of life is to succeed in meeting all the various, ceaseless challenges that threaten oblivion. Thus organisms are by nature strugglers and fighters, no matter how pacific or serene some may seem. While there appears to be an implicit imperative in the cosmos that births life from non-life, nonetheless, once animation emerges from inorganism, its continuing existence is challenged.

Although we are the most complex and sophisticated species we know, we humans are no less challenged than any other creature and must learn to struggle successfully or die. It is therefore no surprise that we are combative, that we are prone to contending and fighting so as to secure and protect the means of our survival and our flourishing. To expect us to be peaceable and loving is to thwart our essential combative instincts for security.

Only when human society has developed secure means to protect its members may individuals relax enough to attend to more “humane” enterprises transcending the fundamental need for safety. Even so, we remain “wired” for challenge, contention, and combat; and we’re likely to lash out to protect our egos, our turf, or whatever contributes to our sense of well-being.

Therefore, the road to sagacity and sainthood is rugged and steep, and few find the Way of the Buddha or Jesus: the serenity, loving-kindness and inner security that surpasses the instinct of self-preservation.


Friday, July 30, 2010


• kindness and love
• clear thinking
• emotional balance
• health and fitness of body and brain
• strong expressive and communicative skills
• wide and various knowledge
• philosophical and spiritual wonder and consideration
• creative thinking and problem solving
• collegiality (“pondering together”)
• enjoyment and appreciation of truth, beauty and goodness, and the dedication to serve those values
• keen discrimination between what is important or worthy and what is trivial or frivolous
• judicious decisiveness
• taking active responsibility for the well-being of others


Thursday, July 29, 2010


Your neural networks you’ll retrain;
In time you’ll learn not to complain;
You’ll modulate distress and pain;
Strife and anger you’ll disdain;
From old addictions you’ll abstain
And slowly grow kind and humane,
Finding in time how to be sane,
And last—enlightenment attain.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Out of the dissolution of my mind
Precipitates the crystal of a thought,
And thus a verse begins, which then may bind
With other bits until a poem is wrought.

Where nothing was but a chaotic storm,
As if by magic, here appears a form.

Or is it, rather, being lost in woods
No path or track or trace to find my way,
Or being swept along by turbulent floods
Pounded and confounded and astray?

But then a light appears, a hand descends,
I come to ground, and my confusion ends.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Old intimations I have felt suggest
A universe more intimate than that
My science textbooks taught: a Cosmos blessed
With consciousness, a holy habitat.

Though for so long I’ve bowed to science’ sway,
Denying what I’ve known in my heart,
I’m ready now to follow feeling’s way
Intuiting which is the horse, the cart.

The horse is mind, which draws all matter after,
Implicit with designs that time unfolds;
That matter causes mind—what could be dafter?
Chaotic mass is shaped by mental molds.

Just so it is that words in verse take form,
Selected from the dictionary’s swarm.


Monday, July 26, 2010


Course Rationale

What will the world be like in ten or fifty years? We can guess, we can suppose, we can extrapolate, project and predict—but we cannot know. And we are most likely to be surprised in many ways, as we always have been.

Even so, many of us wish to know in advance what the future will bring and, in fact, many of our present wishes and hopes will shape the course of events to drive the forces that determine how matters evolve and turn out. The future will not simply befall us; we are helping right now to make it happen.

Why not, then, go about the business of creating the future more consciously, intentionally and wisely—to the greatest extent we can—though never supposing arrogantly that we hold all the cards? By becoming humble, hopeful and humane co-evolutionists, collaborating prudently with the forces of nature, we may hope to add our expanding intelligence and agency to the other factors that determine the state of Earth’s biosphere and (if Teilhard de Chardin is correct) noosphere—the mental coding that affects earthly events.

Such is the premise of this course: that it is a worthy academic enterprise to envision a desirable future for human beings and other Earthlings, a future that happily accommodates our ever-burgeoning consciousness and our capacity for effecting events at will—or willfully. Because our species has long been inclined to domineer over other (presumed lower) species, it is important for us to reconsider our motives and actions in the world at large and determine if our collective past properly represents our highest potentials for thriving within a flourishing ecosystem.

We will do well in this course if we can radically examine both our past and our prospects, prospects that at present seem tenuous, owing to humanity’s imperious attitudes and ideas. Our very worldview—or that expressed by Earth’s most powerful inhabitants—is arguably askew and in need of revising. Many thinkers now believe we must transcend prevailing conceptual paradigms and make a profound mental shift as radical as that which Copernicus introduced at the end of the Middle Ages. The era of modernist, materialist scientism (potent and revolutionary though it has been) must now concede supremacy to a more comprehensive and wiser perspective that fathoms deeper than the classic physics of matter and energy and connects with the ultimate source of consciousness, which some call spirit.

This leading-edge, revisionist cosmology, articulated and promoted by increasing numbers of well-credentialed, widely-respected exponents, deserves examination in academia, even though—but also because—it challenges the prevailing orthodoxy. We now know that human thought advances by means of shifting paradigms, or conceptual schemas that evolve to accommodate increasing knowledge and resolve paradoxes that require radically different perspectives to comprehend.

Therefore, this course, Visions of the Human Frontier, aims to attend closely and critically to reasonable sources that challenge current orthodoxies and present alternative paradigms or emerging worldviews. Think of this course as a search for, a scouting out of hopeful passages to the future. Think of us as pioneers seeking promising prospects to secure a sustainable and thriving global ecosystem that promotes the flourishing of our highest human potentials, the evolution of our species toward optimal functioning, toward realization of the grandest capacities and capabilities we can grow up to express.

As futurist Marilyn Ferguson once said, “Our past is not our potential.” It thus behooves us in academia to explore what may be possible and to promote our own wise evolution.


Sunday, July 25, 2010


It isn’t poetry I write, but verse,
Because it doesn’t so much sing as speak,
Yet know that writing merely prose is worse
Since verse still has the means to sound unique.

I grant, for reaching lyric heights in song
And touching hearts and souls with melody,
The passion of true poetry is strong,
As this pedestrian verse will never be.

But still I think the lilt of metric lines
And the expected placement of each rhyme
Will lift you into subtler designs
Of form that no mere paragraph can climb.

So though you may be settling for less,
There’s worse than verse, I think you must confess.


Saturday, July 24, 2010


What sets us humans higher up the chain
Of being than creatures deemed inferior
Is consciousness that reaches to a plane
Of insight probing our interior.

The higher up, the further in we go
To penetrate the Cosmos’ very heart
With intuition showing here below
What’s up above, by our so potent art.

If until now it’s only sages who
Could master esoteric practices
Revealing the whole scope that we can know,
That secret’s out, for all to learn what is.

Not that such wisdom’s easy to attain,
But yet the Way’s now clear and worth the pain.


Friday, July 23, 2010


For centuries now our science has been blind
To how the universe is truly made,
Ignoring the supremacy of mind
And putting only matter on parade.

But now at last we come again to see
What sages long ago had learned to know
Through visionary dreams noetically,
Intuiting the nature of this show.

Mistakenly we thought all was a noun,
Yet “verb” depicts how molecules behave:
It’s conscious energy the whole way down
And matter is the function of a wave.

This being so, what then are we to do?
Re-mind ourselves in matters we pursue.


Thursday, July 22, 2010


It’s only in serenity I find
The source from which my inspiration flows,
And when I’ve reached composure of this kind,
Clearing my flurried mind, then I compose.

To be a creature who in turn creates
Means tuning in to signals, signs and codes,
The cosmic patterning that designates
Designs for sonnets, villanelles and odes.

Pervading all the universe I sense
An ordering force, mysterious and vast,
Replete with comforting intelligence
Available to an enthusiast.

To be enthused is to be entered by
Divinity, the wind on which I fly.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Part of my brain is in my heart, attuned
To higher frequencies than thought alone;
In it lies higher consciousness cocooned,
Which through keen intuition can be known.
Then like a butterfly it will emerge
Ascending in its splendor to a height
Where I shall apprehend the Cosmos verge
Into eternity and see aright.

What then I’ll see in rapture unconcealed
I’ve only glimpsed, and that was long ago,
Enough though to imagine that the field
Of consciousness is infinite, aglow
With ardent radiance of the Cosmic Mind
By which all of Creation is designed.


Monday, July 19, 2010


What moves the universe is now revealed
Not as a supreme being but a field
Of cosmic energy deeply endowed
With guiding consciousness we’ve not yet plowed.

This field is ours to sow and grow and reap
Once we awake from our protracted sleep
To realize the ways we may resolve
Our present fearful quandaries and evolve.

For too long we’ve assumed that Earth is ours,
Abusing it with wild and reckless powers
We’ve wrested with ungoverned intellect
That now a higher wisdom must correct.

To know what is of value and pursue
It ardently is just what we must do.


Sunday, July 18, 2010


My erstwhile glimpse of Cosmic Consciousness
When I was just eighteen (prepared for by
My reading Emerson, if I must guess
And if there was a prior reason why)
Expanded just as much my heart as mind—
Both quaked and swelled with radiant, delicious joy,
While my felt knowing grasped a world designed
For love and light no darkness should destroy.

Thenceforth, a spark of luminance endured
And flared occasionally when I would find
A kindred soul who felt likewise allured
By something we might call the Cosmic Mind:
A consciousness pervading all that is
Throughout the universal premises.


Saturday, July 17, 2010


Each human being born is like a spark
Spontaneously igniting in the dark,
Or breath of spirit curiously blown
From cosmic caves deep in the vast unknown.

Whence comes this miracle of conscious being
Adept at tasting, smelling, hearing, seeing,
Then feeling and intuiting besides,
And gathering all that intellect provides?

Yet more than that, how came we to reflect
In memory on what we’ve learned, connect
Thought unto thought and build elaborate schemes
To comprehend our visions and our dreams?

Then when each blazing spark returns to dark,
Will it recycle through another arc?


Thursday, July 15, 2010


All we benighted souls who seem so broken
More truly seen have simply not awoken—
We are sleepwalkers all, spellbound and cursed,
Destined to suffer till our spell’s reversed.

To be awake and feel the scales fall from
Our eyes, and speak who formerly were dumb,
Is miracle beyond imagining,
A happiness that only Love can bring.

Our sleeping beauty, truth, and goodness lie
Oblivious and inert until we try
To rouse ourselves to higher consciousness,
Inspired by Love to transcend our duress.

It’s true we are imperfect as we’re born,

Yet Spirit’s here, and we’re not left forlorn.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010


In this abstracted state of reverie,
Detached from palpable reality,
Idly I dream and conjure, from somewhere
Mysterious, such visions as I’ll share.

My mission’s simply to abide and muse
Attending closely to what signs and clues
Emerge from vacancy nudging my pen
To transcribe what appears within my ken.

Something as arbitrary as a rhyme
Or metric beat will serve quite well to prime
The Pierian pump and make its waters spew,
Drawing fresh thoughts and images to view.

Call it a kind of worshiping or prayer,
An incantation to what shall be there.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Most literally the soul’s development
Implies unwrapping what is implicate,
Unfolding hidden latencies intent
On revelation, not its opposite.

A soul is meant to flourish and expand,
Expressing and exposing all its features,
Materializing from the spirit band
Of energy a plethora of creatures.

Creation is the soul made manifest,
Its manifold intentions all laid out,
First hidden in a cryptic treasure chest,
Then finally revealed as real past doubt.

Once spirit is embodied and it’s whole,
There’s nothing more to show about the soul.



Wherever rhymes come from, some do seem sent
Intentionally, as if a spirit guide
Whispered the word to cunningly provide
Significance I didn’t know I meant.

I’ve come to think such things are provident
And signs of synchronicities I’ve spied
Elsewhere in life and learned to take in stride,
Learned not by intellect but sentiment.

Sometimes it’s feeling first, and later mind
Interprets what is then already known;
Not evidence prevails, but hints designed
To baffle intellect, like a Zen koan.

Such whispers are a sign of intuition,
The knowledge of a mind come to fruition.


Sunday, July 11, 2010


for Edmund J. Bourne

The new view's that the universe is meant,
Designed by cosmological intent,
Alive with vital energy and thought,
Not random but conforming to an ought;
Thus evolution’s arrow points at us
And others: consciousness is omnibus
And will emerge spontaneously throughout
The Cosmos’ span: life knows no dearth or drought.

If this postmodern view (supplanting that
Of Matter’s reign, empirical and flat),
Multidimensional with quantum realms,
Is true, it absolutely overwhelms
The premises of secular belief
And breathes the news of spiritual relief.


Saturday, July 10, 2010


for Duane Elgin

We’ll occupy a living universe
Once more, we intellectuals who drink
The Lethe of empiricism’s curse,
Forgetting other, older ways to think,

For now the Reign of Matter’s losing sway
And Consciousness regains supremacy
As fundamental to the Cosmos’ way,
The Source of all we call Reality.

Our scientific method will endure,
A useful tool to comprehend some matters,
Though without intuition, we’ve no sure
Insight to Truth, which leaves the soul in tatters.

Once we have reconciled both Yin and Yang,
We’ll finally comprehend the whole shebang.


Friday, July 9, 2010


“Behave yourself,” my parents used to say,
And “Act your age. Who do you think you are?”
Behave and act and be—even today
I ask if my performance is sub-par.

But is the point of life to play a part,
Assume a role, as if upon a stage,
Or is it more to follow where your heart
And soul lead you to go—which is more sage?

Wisdom, I think, requires we not conform
To fixed behaviors, dictates of the times,
Defining us according to some norm,
But to establish our own paradigms:

Not act a role whose playing stunts and blights,
But act authentically by our best lights.


Thursday, July 8, 2010


I like to fancy that some entities,
Some otherworldly beings buzz about
My head invisibly, riding the breeze,
Scattering the seeds from which ideas sprout.

I listen for their whispers, heed their hints
Arising in my thoughts subconsciously,
Glimpsed indirectly when my mind’s eye squints,
More overheard than heard immediately.

These fairies, sylphs, or sprites delight to use
My pen and send this evidence that they
Exist and when implored will serve as Muse
To poets who alone have naught to say.

All that I need to summon such a wraith
Is expectation, patience, and firm faith.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010


The fundamental human question is this: How much can our species consciously, intentionally and wisely shape the future course of life on Earth? That is, how much can we become “co-evolutionists” with the forces of nature that hitherto have determined biotic development on our planet?

Clearly, in just the last century, our scientific knowledge and technological prowess have impacted other life-forms measurably and mostly adversely and continue to do so at alarming rates: we have ravaged woodlands and rainforests, have fouled freshwaters and oceans, have poisoned the soil and polluted the atmosphere, altering Earth’s temperature and affecting the delicate ecological balance established by centuries of spontaneous adaptive adjustments, or—if you will—by Mother Nature’s motive to maintain a flourishing and ever-diversifying constellation of creatures.

Having set about playing god or the sorcerer’s apprentice, and doing so disastrously, we need now to wise up fast. We need to see how we’re running amok and ruining the world—and why.

Why? Because we’re greedy. We demand more and more territory, more material possessions, more energy, and more resources of all kinds—with little regard or respect for the needs of other humans and even less of other species. The downside of our inclination toward freedom is to make free with the world we inhabit, exploiting it for our own ends limitlessly.

We need to learn the limits of nature for supporting the outrageous, unconscionable demands we’re collectively imposing on our planet. For us to mature as a species would be to develop not only clear knowledge of the effects of our greed but to decide to curb our consumptive avarice so that our demands don’t exceed what the planet can sustain, and all species can flourish optimally.

We can begin by decrying disparities of wealth among people: no one should live in a mansion when another is homeless and starving. Given the present world population of nearly seven billion people, what would be the average figure for human wealth? That should be the limit allowed by conscience to anyone. Increase of that amount would come from either decrease of population or increase of total wealth. Humane logic dictates such a social policy—but our custom of competition revolts against it.

Privilege accrues to the strong and the cunning, who are looking out for themselves and following the Law of the Jungle, not the Law of Love. Yet in the jungle there’s no hoarding, no Swiss bank accounts. Only human beings stash mountains of wealth, denying it to the impoverished and oppressed. Only human beings are so out of whack.

Unless we clean up our arrogant act, Nature might dispose of us as deleterious to its cosmic project of bringing forth life in diversified abundance. We’ll be sloughed off as an errant experiment gone terminally bad, and ironically we’ll probably be the agents of our own demise. We may take down many other species in our catastrophic finale, but some life will survive and continue to struggle up the ladder of complexity and sophistication—perhaps to produce eventually a more sapient species than Homo sapiens sapiens.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010



1. Able to live, develop, or germinate under favorable conditions
2. Capable of success or continuing effectiveness; practicable

Your worldview, your idiosyncratic way of making sense of and comprehending experience is continuously changing and adapting, accommodating itself to varying information and circumstances throughout your life. How you “see things” at six, at sixteen, and at sixty are worlds apart, or rather, worldviews apart.

And so it is over generations, over the course of human history. Just how differently cultures in various eras have construed “reality” and interpreted existential meaning demonstrates how contingent our understanding is of the conceptual frameworks we devise to shape our thinking—our views of the world of our experience. Our “understanding” stands under what we take to be reality.

Much depends upon and follows from the worldviews we adopt, individually and collectively; and over time certain worldviews lose their viability, no longer allowing people to “develop under favorable conditions” or be “capable of success or continuing effectiveness” (according to the definition of viable above). A very literal worldview—the common-sense conception of the Earth as flat—inhibited our development as world explorers, a latency in our genetic makeup that a new global worldview allowed to germinate. More cosmically, our paradigm shift from a Ptolemaic to a Copernican view of our solar system vastly expanded human consciousness and opened the way (another sense of viable) to empirical science and its profound re-visioning of What Is.

Even within the lifetimes of today’s elders, major worldview shifts have transpired, radically altering many ingrained attitudinal convictions pertaining to race, gender, politics, law, religion, science and technology. Many minds have changed profoundly in ways that seem to the changelings as advances: they now “see better” than before—more viably.

Given, then, that we humans are inclined over time to change our minds, even radically, and that our viability as a species depends on shifting our worldviews to more commodious and accommodating visions, then what indications might we detect of the panorama of progress yet to enter our sights and alter our views about what’s possible or even imperative to sustain ourselves and the biosystem that supports us?

To think in the visionary way I propose means employing imagination and supposition to conceive of alternative ways our culture can evolve toward greater viability. It means extrapolating from what is to envisioning what might better be and adapting our attitudes, actions and habits accordingly.

For instance, one progressive visionary I know has dedicated his intellect and energies for many years to identifying an endemic social problem worldwide, which he names “rankism.” Robert W. Fuller has written three books and numerous essays advocating his vision of a “dignitarian society” free of the put-downs and discriminations of a rankist worldview that disrespects the essential worthiness of every human being. A view that stratifies and subordinates others into classes and castes is not viable according to the lights now leading us, Fuller argues.

James Lovelock’s “Gaia Hypothesis” views Earth as alive, a biotic entity such as our lunar astronauts saw so epiphantically from space. Our Home Planet is an organism that works to generate and regulate its constituent components and continuously evolve. Such a worldview still needs reconciling with older scientific paradigms, yet it immediately affects our culture emotively and viably to the extent that humans grow less reckless and unconscionably exploitative with respect to Earth’s ecology. A Gaian worldview turns Earthlings from pirates to custodians, and global rankism is thereby mitigated.

Even more audacious and astonishing is the post-Einsteinian conception of a living universe, a view Duane Elgin propounds in a book of that title: The Living Universe: Where Are We? Who Are We? Where Are We Going? (2009). The materialist-empicist worldview established Cartesian scientism as the ruling universe story and relegated life and consciousness to an epiphenomenal status, a ghost in the machine of Newton’s atomistic reality. Quantum physics, however, posits a radically different view in which energy, not matter, is fundamental, an energy that some view as vital and spiritual—the source of consciousness implicit in the cosmos. Ironically, such a postmodern view turns out to accord with the intuitions of ancient sages such as Plato, tracing back to Egypt, India and China.

“Where are we? Who are we? Where are we going?’—these questions posed by Duane Elgin remain unresolved, perhaps eternally mysterious. Even so, we cannot help venturing answers and revising our previous views, or those of our forebears or of foreigners. And as Earth’s human population both burgeons and consolidates into a more homogeneous culture delineated by our global technologies, humanity is now pressed to answer Elgin’s existential questions more globally.

We all know now how precarious is our biosphere and how dependent is our species on the sustainable health of the multifarious organisms co-habiting earth—our fellow Gaians. Considering that, here are my answers.

Where are we? On Gaia, Mother Earth. Who are we? The Guardians and sustainers of Gaia. Where are we going? Nowhere else. Earth will always be our Home Planet, which we must quickly grow wise enough to manage well, for in our adolescent willfulness, we are fouling our own nest, domineering wantonly over fellow humans and fellow species as if we were not globally co-dependent for our viability.

Stand here.

How do you like that view?



The earnest part of me my first name names
Is complemented by my middle name:
“Ernst Alan” indicates opposing claims,
Both “serious” and “cheerful” in one frame.

And then that oxymoron reappears
In my last name, which likewise indicates
Contrasting aspects, opposite careers,
One frozen and one flowing, different states:

“Nordstrom” suggests the chilly stiffness of
A Scandinavian midwinter gloom
Conjoined ironically with summer’s love,
The babbling streams by which blithe flowers bloom.

Il Penseroso and L’Allegro both
Contribute to my soul and spirit’s growth.


Monday, July 5, 2010


for Nick Bostrom

His mind fixed on the future of his race,
He pondered inner and then outer space.
Emerging paradigms and novel memes
Engaged his thoughts and occupied his dreams.
As both imagineer and fantasist,
He coveted the title “Futurist”
And fancied that with skill he might forecast
A future more successful than our past:
A time of thriving Transhumanity
Beyond our history of insanity,
Cured finally of egotistic sin,
More confident than we have ever been
That by cooperation we’ll succeed
In fashioning a lasting, happy breed.


Sunday, July 4, 2010


A liberal education sets you free
To occupy your full humanity
And use the powers of your heart and mind
To overcome what makes us cruel and blind,
For while we stay self-centered and obtuse,
We’ll perpetrate outrages and abuse,
As our sad history so far reveals—
A malady true education heals.

How then can education liberate?
By showing in us what is good and great:
The best that humankind has said and done
That’s led closed minds to liberation
And opened hearts to caring for all others,
For all life’s kin—all sisters and all brothers.


Saturday, July 3, 2010


Satirical and sentimental, too,
In equal measures eying things awry,
Sardonically assessing what we do
And yet at all our folly apt to cry,
Depicting both our dole and our delight,
Shakespeare portrayed humanity aright.


Friday, July 2, 2010


Long while I’ve dwelt among the beats and rhymes
Of classic verse by Chaucer, Spenser, Pope—
With Shakespeare’s, Milton’s, Marvell’s, Wordsworth’s chimes
Resounding in my ears and raising hope
That I might stride in their pentameters
And weave a stanza with exquisite skill
Until a kindred mystery occurs
And poetry appears that Time can’t kill.
Just as the dyer’s hand at last acquires
The color of the dye, so would I learn
By reverent absorption what inspires
A scintillating line and makes it burn,
And how to shape a couplet that endures
That I might claim: This is as good as yours.


Thursday, July 1, 2010


My dog’s world is immediate, hard-edged,
Completely physical and sensory;
Whereas so much of mine is just alleged,
A function of imagined fantasy.

Each human being lives not in the world
So much as in a fanciful worldview
In which contrived scenarios lie furled
And whence the dramas of our lives ensue.

The more we craft and shape the vivid dreams
We live by with inspired artistry,
The more we gain the mastery of the memes
That constitute supposed reality.

The world my dog sees scintillates and gleams;
Mine’s mediated by a scrim of seems.