[MUSIC] The reinventing of the human is, basically, the establishing of a new story. Since the civilizational developments or the human developments and the articulation of that news is generally provided in a story. And when we talk about a paradigm, we are generally involved with a story that identifies the basic structure of life, the basic values and the basic roles of the human and the order of things. So we are faced with the question of story. Our story has become destructive and dysfunctional. That's the simplest way of describing the present, I would say. And also I would say that the story is the principle educational instrument. I would describe education very simply as learning the story. A religion is constituted by what, by the lifestyle, by the values indicated by the story. So I would like to read something I wrote some time ago, called The New Story. But the first paragraph identifies how a story functions. And this paragraph was once taken out by somebody. I've forgotten. I guess the SRI Institute. When they publish something on values and so forth, wanted to explain what a paradigm is, or how it functions. It's all a question of story. We're in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. In the old story, the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it is not functioning properly and we have not learned the new story. The old story sustained us for a long time. It shaped our emotional attitudes, provided us with life purpose, energized action. It consecrated suffering, integrated knowledge, guided education. We awoke in the morning and knew where we were. We could answer the questions of our children. We could identify crime, punish criminals. Everything was taken care of because the story was there. It did not make men good. It did not take away the pains and stupidities of life of make for unfailing warmth in human association. But it did provide a context in which life could function in a meaningful manner. Today, however, our traditional story is nonfunctional in its larger social dimensions even though some people believe it firmly and act according to its dictates. It works in its limited orbit. It's an encouragement to us as individuals, yet the dissolution of our institutions and our life programs continues. We see this in every phase of our present society. Aware of the non-functional aspects of the traditional program, some persons had moved on into different modern programs. But these programs for the most part had quickly become tangential. Most are revealed as ephemeral, as incapable of sustaining the life situation of this late 20th century. Other persons have returned to the earlier religious fundamentalism, but this too is quickly seen as a sterile gesture. Security is not there. The basic elements in the religious community of the modern world have become trivialized. What we offer our society serves only a temporary function. It simply enables us to keep a semblance of meaning in our institutions and in our public life. And then when we look outside the believing community, we see a society that's also dysfunctional. Even with advanced science and technology, with superb techniques in manufacturing and commerce and communications and computation, our secular society remains without satisfactory meaning or capacity to restrain the violence of its own members. Our miracle machines serve ephemeral purposes. So we begin to talk about meaning. Where can we begin? My suggestion is that we begin where everything begins in human affairs, with the basic story. The account of how things came to be at all, how they came to be as they are. And how the future of humans can be given some satisfactory direction. We need a story that will educate the human community, heal the community, guide the community. That's the basic statement of how I would think of our present situation and the need for a story. Now in our present sense of the universe there's a question of what is involved in a working out of our present data. There are several things that I think need to be considered as regards our story. What can be considered is that stories generally come about or the vitality of civilizations generally comes about by assimilation processes. We have in the course of Christianity, a particularly clear evidences of this. The early church grew and developed by assimilating the wisdom of the world about them. So we have people like of Alexandria and the Hellenic world. Later, we have Augustine who assimilated the Neoplatonic phase, which is at the center of a great deal of the Western spiritual development. In fact, it would be very difficult to find any of the mystical developments of the Christian world that was not profoundly influenced by the assimilation of Neoplatonism. Later we find Thomas assimilating the works of Aristotle. Whereas before assimilating the Greek tradition had been mainly a problem of assimilating its platonic orientation and its platonic context. Thomas gave us a capacity to restate our opposition and our sense of reality, a sense of values by assimilating the Aristotelian vision. And providing the Western mind with the discipline associated with the works of Aristotle. Then we've gone on into a modern world. We've gone through a renaissance period. We've gone through a great many things. There are two things that we need to do, I think, by way of assimilation. I've suggested that the two things that we need to assimilate, that has not been assimilated properly is, a first, there are the unassimilated elements of what has traditionally been known as Paganism. It is the tribal tradition also in this. It would certainly be a large part of the American Indian heritage with their fantastic insight into the functioning of the natural world and the communion with the spirit world present in the universe about us. That's one of the things or one of the directions in which our process of assimilation needs to move. In order to acquire an association with powers that are available in the world about us. And there's a great deal to be done in that direction. There's one other thing that needs to be done. It is to assimilate the story of the universe that comes to us through our new instruments of knowing. Our empirical instruments of knowing, in particularly from our observational sciences. We've been looking at the world. Now there are several ways of looking at the world. We can look metaphysically, we can look cosmologically. We have developed particularly the analytical powers of looking, also synthetic powers of looking. Butt its only since around the 17th century, as I mentioned yesterday, that we freely looked at the natural world in this empirical way. And with the type of analysis all peoples have known the natural world profoundly and have known it intimately and intuitively. But there's something about our new ways of knowing that's different. When we work with the stars and develop a story of the time dimension, of the emergent universe and the sequence of stages through which life has passed. We know with a certain precision some of the deep mysteries of life that were never known before. Now, other traditions, and others of a different peoples of the world have known things that we don't know by this method. So we would not claim that this is the only way in which a person can know these deep mysteries of life. But we know them in our modern science in a way that it's never been known before, certainly not in the detail that we know. And this is a fantastic mode of knowing, as I've suggested. Science is in a sense the yoga of the West. We have gone through a mechanistic phase. But, this mechanistic phase of science, and its analytical phase, its quantitative phase has been overcome to a large extent, and we're entering into the mystery phase of science. We are entering into a new wisdom phase. This doesn't mean that we are into something that is easy to deal with. And it doesn't mean that the mechanistic sciences all of a sudden is dissolved. We're still beset by a mechanistic mentality that will remain with us for a long time. Because, as Thomas Cumin has mentioned, scientists are like theologians. Scientists learn their catechism. They learn the elements, the nature of the elements, and so forth. You ask them a question, they give you the catechetical answer. And so, the real thinking scientists are as rare as thinking theologians. >> [LAUGH] >> But inventiveness requires a certain insight, a certain special genius or gift, something like poetry or something like music. And in any field of human endeavor there is that special quality of insight that goes with things of significance whether it's in the realm of knowing or the realm of making or in the realm of interhuman relationships. There is the question of the special genius and special talent that goes with it. Now what I'm suggesting Is that we need a very special talent that has never existed before. We can be helped by these other traditions, but these other traditions cannot do, simply out of their own resources, what we have to do. We couldn't do what they did. They can't do what we have to do. And we can't do what we need to do without them. So that we have an intimacy with the total structure of the past even while we develop our own contribution, that unique achievement to which we are called specifically. This is something that is unique to ourselves, and we have to discover the genius of our own calling. When I mention the fact that we have this enormous power of altering the universe, that we have altered the planet at such an order of magnitude, it's clear that we are up against ultimacy. That is, when we do what needs to be done, it has to be done right, because if it's not done right the consequences are too enormous to think about. It's up against ultimacy. Now humans have always lived up against ultimacy. But in the sense of having physical powers at this level, it is something that is not clear that any other people or any other period ever had precisely this power. Or that they did alter the functioning of the biosphere in the way in which we have the power to alter it and on the order of magnitude. They may have altered it on a significant degree of magnitude, but we have our own special way of doing it. Now when we come to establishing the story, it comes back to the question of the story. What is our story? It's a rather amazing story. We have the story of Genesis in our tradition where we have the let there be light. There's light and a Sun to rule by day and the Moon by night and so forth. The creation of the physical world, the creation of the fishes in the sea and the birds of the air and the living things upon the earth. After each of these creations, God said it's good. After creating the Sun and the Moon, it's good. After creating the living creatures it's good. After creating trees and plants and so forth. After each stage, it's good. And after the last stage, God says it's very good. And St. Thomas takes this particularly as an indication that the primary objective of creation is not any particular being but the total community of life. The total community of the universe that reflects and manifests the ultimate mystery of the great reality that is finding expression in the universe. And that is what the universe is. It's a celebration of what might be called the great mystery. Some would call it the great spirit or the great joy, great peace or the great whatever. Or the great wisdom of that too mysterious for us to understand, but with which we must interact. We must interact with the universe. We must interact with the ultimate dynamics of the universe.