The Breathing Cathedral: Feeling Our Way into a Living Cosmos

Overview

In the tradition of The Dream of the Earth, this beautifully written, personal, and richly eclectic work suggests a new unifying vision of the cosmos that brings together contemporary science, modern psychology, and the "perennial philosophy" of the mystics into one harmonious whole. Essayist Martha Heyneman attempts nothing less than wrestling into coherent definition what she sees as a newly emergent cosmology - an all-encompassing understanding, a "framework of order for the psyche" - that integrates the life ...
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Overview

In the tradition of The Dream of the Earth, this beautifully written, personal, and richly eclectic work suggests a new unifying vision of the cosmos that brings together contemporary science, modern psychology, and the "perennial philosophy" of the mystics into one harmonious whole. Essayist Martha Heyneman attempts nothing less than wrestling into coherent definition what she sees as a newly emergent cosmology - an all-encompassing understanding, a "framework of order for the psyche" - that integrates the life of the intellect with the life of the senses and the spiritual dimension with the natural realm. For centuries, Heyneman notes, we have had no "communal image of the whole of things and our place and function within it," such as that provided for the inhabitants of medieval times by Dante's Divine Comedy. Since the Copernican Revolution, when faith and reason were split and rationalism began its ascendancy, ours has been a "formless, meaningless universe," a "flood upon which we all have drifted aimlessly for four hundred years. One terrible consequence has been our abuse of nature. "Our treatment of each other and of the earth could not have arrived at its present level of insensitivity had we not settled for a picture of the universe that was the product of only one or two faculties," she writes. One kind of knowledge can be obtained through the dissection of the eagle, another (equally valid but having a different purpose) can be obtained by dancing the Eagle Dance of the Native Americans. But in our time - through the work of scientists such as Einstein, Prigogine, and Hawking, spiritual teachers such as Gurdjieff and Krishnamurti, poets such as Eliot, Yeats, and Milosz - cosmology has come alive again, restoring "the image of a shape, in spacetime, of the whole." This renascent cosmology is creating a new synthesis based on knowledge gleaned from science, religion, art, and, even, our daily experience. Heyneman argues that re-integrating these type
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Seeing in recently advanced cosmological theory the renewed possibility that our universe has a definable shape, Heyneman proposes--with persuasive elegance--that humanity may once again experience its world as home. Citing medieval cosmologies, such as that of Thomas Aquinas, who had his own ``theory of everything,'' and referring frequently to the philosophical foundation and geography of Dante's Divine Comedy , journalist and poet Heyneman attributes the richness of Renaissance culture to a claim that its leading thinkers and artists felt ``at home'' in the world as they understood it. ``Psyche and cosmological image mirror each other,'' she asserts, and connects the Big Bang and the theories of Einstein and Stephen Hawking to shapes and devices (``3-spheres,'' gyres, Hamlet's Mill, and an ever-turning spindle) that connect modern humanity with modern concepts of the universe. Personalized, poetic, intricate and closely tied to her admiration of the teaching of Gurdjieff, Heyneman rewards a close reading. Illustrations not seen by PW. (June)
Library Journal
Recently we have begun to question the role of science and scientists as the providers of our primary world view. The purely scientific description of our cosmos is no longer satisfying, yet we are not willing or able to return to the world views predominant before science took over. Heyneman, a poet and social commentator, explores Western views of the cosmos, from Dante's Divine Comedy to Stephen Hawking's Brief History of Time ( LJ 4/15/88). She then uses current ideas of environmentalism and feminism, as well as her own poetical interpretation, to create a new cosmology. What we get is a cosmology based on meaning and not a sterile description of observable fact. Heyneman achieves her goal of convincing us that there is more to the cosmos than our scientific view, but she is less successful in her attempt to open us to new ideas by reminiscing poetically about her own life. For collections of popular philosophy.-- Eric D. Albright, Galter Health Sciences Lib., Northwestern Univ., Chicago
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780595174249
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/25/2001
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,313,372
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Foreword xiii
Preface xix
The Dark Wood 1
The Meaning of Meaning 36
The Breathing Sphere 54
The Grand Evolutionary Synthesis 116
Extrapolating Backward 147
O Christmas Tree 178
Notes 183
Index 199
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