To People Who Might Be Interested In Joining Me To Talk About Gaia

Ever since I “came out” as a Gaia Troubadour at the celebration of my 50th birthday, I have been looking for people with whom I could talk about Gaia.
For me personally, this was complicated by not knowing what to say. As part of my process of discovery and self discovery I hosted a small “Gaia Group” for some years, and since 1998 I have been involved with a Quaker Community Forest, as well as several study groups.

All along I have been working on “What cans’t thou say,” and I think I finally am clear enough to sustain an on-going conversation with others. I’d like you to consider joining me. Here’s my conversation-starter, with more information at the end about how we might go forward together with this.

Richard, Gaia & Quaker Community Forest

I was raised in what I now call the “Religion Of Scientific Materialism.” Basic tenant: if you can’t observe and measure it, it doesn’t exist.
As a young adult it became clear to me this formulation left out important realities, and my religious growth over the past 40 years has been a series of installments in trying to formulate my EXPERIENCED reality into the language and framework of my original upbringing, expanding that framework where necessary. This has become such an important process for me that I have started this website and am planning to put what I think are the most interesting aspects of my reality on it. What follows is the germ from which my website can grow.
I am arranging the material here in the groups that I think the website will have. I’s all still in outline form, and will need lots of questions from my friends, that I will try to answer, before it will be very intelligible, but it’s a start.

Truth is larger than words.
Truth is larger than any one human.
Each of us has a unique contribution to make, from our Point of View.
The world we see around us, the material world, rises like water in a spring, out of a much larger world.
The truth about this unseen world can be expressed from many points of view.

  • The action of angels
  • Amazing coincidence
  • The Will of God
  • The random hand of evolution

The truth we create from our point of view is not an arbitrary individual thing. In the story of the blind men trying to understand the elephant, there really is an elephant the different blind men are in touch with. But, for me the underlying reality/elephant is not in the material world. It is in another dimension–the source of the material world we “know.”
I believe that if we share among our faith community or “reality community” our individual points of view, we can, as a group, develop a partially-shared composite view of reality.

It is possible and natural for our community as a whole, like the brain connected to individual cells of a compound eye, to assemble an understanding of the underlying invisible reality that is larger than any one of us can imagine. This collective wisdom can cradle us, and be an aid us, as our point of view is changed by circumstances of growth or loss.

What I say is nothing new. Human communities, like those who think of themselves as “children of Abraham,” have been living with the mystery of the unseen for centuries, and have done their best as communities to develop a coherent composite point of view, and to share it. The Christian Bible contains many gospels. The Councils of Hippo (393 CE) and Carthage (397) did not think one narrative could be enough.

I believe, with others, that not only do we create truth out of the reality of our individual experience, we actually co-create our reality, in concert with the “elephant” of the unseen world.
And this co-creation, this combining of our individual experience with an invisible always-manifesting reality, is very basic. It applies not only in social situations but to the level of atomic and sub-atomic physics. Atoms are not little things. Atoms are fields of potential which only trouble to become things when we observe at them. Not that how an atom manifests is entirely arbitrary, but the exact details of its appearance depend on an interaction with an observer. This is generally agreed upon by students of quantum physics.

Well, if I believe that each of us develops/creates a point of view, if I believe I am an active agent in experientially creating my world, what is the world I see?
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I start big, with Gaia, the earth as a single living organism. (Of course it’s all point of view. Gaia is “actually” little, a pale blue dot as seen with telescopes in other parts of our galaxy, barely visible next to our sun.)

From my point of view, Gaia is huge, so large as to be almost a given, although I know my efforts may be significant, even in a Gaian context.
For starters, to give me a sense of scale, from my point of view, I think about earthquakes. Gaia’s crust, floating on her molten center, is made up of tectonic plates. These crustal plates are growing, melting and swirling in a dance whose changes are measured in millions of years, and whose underlying dynamics we can only imagine. As these plates rub against each other we have earthquakes. As the edge of one plate slides under another we also get volcanoes and tsunamis. Thousands of human lives may be lost, and billions of non-human lives, in a single brief event.
How are we humans to understand this? A righteous judgment from a displeased God? In the reality I create, earthquakes and tidal waves are not an effort to punish or communicate with humans. I’s a matter of scale. What Gaia’s gotta do what she’s gotta do, and humans need to make the best of it, and be humble enough to accept they are part of something much larger.
I like the analogy, going in the other direction, with me as the massive one. All adult humans have living on them harmless eyelash mites, that eat dead skin and body oils at the base of our eyelashes. They are so small and so benign that most of us have never heard of them. When I rub the sleep out of my eyes in the morning, some die. So it is with Gaia’s crustal shifts. In the reality I create, Gaia is huge, and the place of humans, regarding her earthquake zones, is to watch out, protect ourselves when possible, and accept the conditions in which we live and move and have our being.

And why did Richard begin his discussion of his reality with earthquakes? Because it establishes a sense of scale. This is nothing new. As humans have pondered our place in the universe over the centuries, the best thinking has always been that we are part of something much, much larger. We talk of God or Great Spirit, The Creator. Asians talk of loyalty to countless generations of ancestors. We feel an effervescent awe under a clear night sky out beyond the lights of the city. My reality builds on my cultural tradition, and others, saying, “Our world is immense. We are bits of a kaleidoscopic mystery.” I find humility in the face of that, and in my rock-bottom reality, humility is a key ingredient.
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I believe the presence of life on Gaia is like earthquakes, a similar essential and defining characteristic. By life I do not mean human life, or even cockroaches. I mean ALL life, present, past and future, the moist combination of plants and animals [and virus-like creatures] that persists and reestablishes itself even in challenging environments like within rocks three miles deep inside the earth.
For me, one of the most persuasive demonstrations that life is an essential part of who Gaia is, is what appears to have happened in the millions of years following each mass extinction.
For instance, it is reasonable to believe the earth was struck by a huge asteroid, five miles in diameter, about 65 million years ago. It appears the impact so choked Gaia’s atmosphere with dust and darkness that many of the world’s species died off, including all the big ones, like the dinosaurs. These animals and plants had pretty much covered the globe. All kinds of different species were living on the open plains, in the forests, in the wetlands, in the freshwater and in the seas.
In the millions of years that followed this catastrophic die-off, emptying many thousands of ecological niches, the various niches were repopulated by new species that evolved to suit the conditions that Gaia offered, form snow-capped mountains to lush valley floors. This re-population and recreation of Gaia’s ecology has happened repeatedly after times of planet-wide die-offs, going back over 400 million years. Life returns in new forms to fill the nooks and open spaces, all the ecological niches that Gaia offers. There is fair agreement that after each mass extinction the process of fully repopulating the niches of Gaia takes about 10 million years.
We humans are a recent part of this most recent wave of re-population. Like the movement of the tectonic plates, the movement of life across the face of the earth is beyond our control. We have more influence over life than earthquakes; we can produce nuclear winters, or other toxins, or perhaps mutant species, which can have a huge effect on life as we know it, but from my point of view, life on Gaia appears to be as inevitable as sunsets, until that distant time that Gaia’s own life is ended, probably by the explosion of the sun.
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Why is it exciting to me to share that Gaia’s ecological niches are repopulated repeatedly after having the biosphere crash? Because I believe life gets guidance from the invisible world that stands behind, and produces, the material world. “Evolution” is not the product of billions of blind blunders, a few of which survive. Life, including the development of life forms, gets guidance from the unseen world.
And a similar guidance is available to us human individuals.
I’m using modern words and concepts to say a very old thing. For centuries our tradition has believed in an Order, far beyond what we could comprehend, and our tradition has claimed that we individuals could be in touch with that Order, that our life is susceptible to guidance from an immense unseen world. I believe, just as a human embryo “knows” how to develop, we can “know” how to proceed in the face of the choices that confront us.
I believe it helps to be open to this guidance. One traditional way to cultivate openness is through prayer, and devotion to the “will”/guidance of an invisible almighty.
I believe that the guidance offered to humans is roughly consistent from one individual to the next. There are variations in what is “right” for a person, and there are different “rights” in extreme times, like earthquakes or famine. Still, it is possible to generalize, roughly, about what are “better” choices for humans to make, about which characteristics of our humanity it is “best” to cultivate. This is nothing new. All spiritual traditions have descriptions of what the “superior,” “enlightened,” “saved” human looks like. I believe the Christian tradition names that ideal, perfected person as “Christ.” They point to Jesus Christ as a model for my Richard Christ. We Quakers say that if I wish to approach my Christ, I should not try to do that by following externals, like dragging a cross around, or even selfless service to others. To move toward the ideal me, to express with my life the best of my transcendent humanity, I need to listen to an inner guidance, from an unseen world.
Like most Quakers, I believe that guidance is available –built in– to everyone, whether they have had contact with the Christian tradition or not. I also believe this guidance is available to societies. Not that any one member of a society could understand the whole picture, but that as parts of a compound eye we can contribute to a collective intelligence which can guide our collective choices.
Humility helps.
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I feel called to share this message more widely than I have, so far, because I am concerned about the fate of our industrial society and even our civilization. It seems clear to me that our society has run beyond the limits of what is sustainable within Gaia, and that the natural corrections for our excess are becoming clearer on a monthly basis. I offer a vision of hope: We are not sitting in the middle of a trash heap of our own making, irreparably lost. We are part of a much larger, self-correcting process that we can turn to, devote ourselves to, at any time; there is guidance available, if we will humbly attend to it.

And if we, some members of this materialist society, were to seek a transformed life, where do I think we might turn? I have some suggestions, but I’ve no idea how good they are. I think there are many among us who are already better tuned to guidance from the “natural world” than I am. It does seem obvious to me that cultivating stronger connections with “nature” and natural processes regularly benefits most people I know. I urge us to do that, and to find ways to talk about what we are trying to do, with one another, and to share our successes and failures. My efforts with Quaker Community Forest are an attempt to do that. I do not offer it as an “answer,” but as one experiment, one bit of guidance that has come to a few of us, about a Way, back toward the bosom of Gaia.
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I very much want to be in conversation with a lot of folks about this, people who are in conversation with each other as well. Eventually I would like to see a “community of discourse” on these subjects, or “A Bunch of Gaia-Talkers,” to be a bit less formal. The conversation I want will be deep, rather than heady, which means a lot needs to happen face-to-face, and much of it within spiritual community. Therefore I see my imagined website as an accessible location where ideas can be shared but I imagine the most important work to be done in a series of seminars, hopefully to be held under the care of my Quaker meeting.
Of course I have life obligations beyond developing a group of Gaia-Talkers, and I have learned over the last year that developing and maintaining a website is a bit like getting a pet, it’s an ongoing effort which requires regular attention.
So I want to start small, with an email list.
If you join the Gaia-Talkers list, you will receive occasional communications from me, and will know when I add significant updates this site. As a member of the Gaia-Talker list, you are invited to weigh in with your own point of view, and I plan to share contributions with other members of the Gaia-Talkers community.
Please let me know if you are interested.

In Love,


About Richard O Fuller

Quaker, living in the Twin Cities, Minnesota.
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