Tuesday, March 05, 2013
The following interview with Matthew Fox was published in SoundsTrue Articles:
The Cosmic Wisdom of Matthew Fox
A fiery priest, once silenced by the Vatican for his controversial views on feminism, sexuality, and the priesthood, calls for a return to Christianity’s mystical origins.
Sounds True:In your workshops, books, and recorded lectures, you often use the term “Cosmic Christ Archetype.” Can you begin by helping us understand what you mean by this term?
Matthew Fox: An archetype is a universal experience. And the “Cosmic Christ Archetype” is a universal way of seeing the world. The Cosmic Christ Archetype is a way of seeing the splendor and divine grace in all things. Hildegard of Bingen, the twelfth century Christian mystic, said, “Every creature is a glittering mirror of divinity.” In terms of John’s gospel, this is the light of Christ in every creature.
If I try to relate in terms of today’s sciences, I think of photons (a tiny indivisible quantity of electromagnetic energy). We know that there are photons in every atom, in every being. Therefore, the Cosmic Christ is the divine radiance that’s present in every galaxy, in every star, every porpoise, every blade of grass, and every human.
The Cosmic Christ Archetype is not unique to the Christian or the Jewish tradition. It appears in Eastern traditions as well. Buddhists talk about the “Buddha nature” that is in every flower, in every child, and in every smile. This is the Cosmic Christ; it’s just another language.
Sounds True:I know you have worked with many influential physicists relating the discoveries of modern physics to the discoveries of mystics throughout the ages. What about the recent discovery in quantum physics—that the universe is expanding? Does this mean that the Cosmic Christ Archetype is expanding or evolving in some way?
Matthew Fox: Absolutely. Most societies thought that time and space were eternal in their present forms. Not too long ago, we began thinking about time as being evolutionary, but now we’re learning that space is something that is being created and expanded. So I think it gives us permission to expand our vision of the Cosmic Christ—in fact it demands of us that we expand.
I think it’s like the opposite of fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is the resistance to expansion. It is a desire born out of fear, to trap and hold back, to build walls and moats of orthodoxy and exclusion. Whereas we now know the law of the universe is to be inclusive and expansive.
I think that plays very much into a spiritual consciousness—a mysticism which is what the Cosmic Christ experience is all about—going beyond the ordinary levels of space/time relations and limitations.
Sounds True: What are some of the practical implications of the Cosmic Christ tradition? If we look at our world, with its starvation and inequities and ecological problems, how can the lessons of the Cosmic Christ Archetype be of help?
Matthew Fox: To begin, let’s look at the ecological crisis. This archetype, I think, has a power much more than, for example, a stewardship theology which is based on duty, and really, guilt. That we have to save the environment, that kind of thing. This is not about duty; it’s about pleasure and delight. That the earth is a garden, radiating with a divine presence. When it is in danger, it is like the crucified Christ; the compelling urgency here is born out of the experience of beauty and grace, not out of duty. Beauty and grace inspire us to let go of our lifestyles that are hostile to the health of the environment, and to recreate our lives in terms of politics, economics, education, worship, all of it. So that’s one of the practical implications—in terms of the ecological crisis, it gets us moving and awake.
Another is worship. Worship is so dead in most of the West. And the reason is that it’s become heady and wordy, and anthropocentric. It has become boring. But the Cosmic Christ Archetype invites us back into the lower chakras, to start breathing again and rediscovering the ways of praying that we’ve lost and reduced to words. I’m talking about the drumming, and the sweat lodges, and the earth spirituality, and the playfulness of dances—spiral dances, circle dances—the forms of prayer that get us back into our bodies and in touch with the earth again.
The whole idea of reawakening worship is so important. When you look at native traditions, they use worship to pass on education to the young. It’s not through schools and books. And the fact is that our schools are failing us. That’s a whole other topic: the task of renewing education. Schools are failing us partly because they’re modeled on European Cartesian definitions of truth—clear and distinct ideas, left-brain only. The Cosmic Christ demands heart work, which is bodywork really: breathing, and ritual, and the right brain. When you get both sides of the brain going, then you have authentic education.
Another practical result of the Cosmic Christ is what I call “deep ecumenism.” Because the Cosmic Christ Archetype exists all around the world, and embraces all the great religions, I see an opportunity to draw forth the wisdom from all the world religions. This practice involves praying and exploring the mystical practices of other religions—whether it’s breathing, chanting, sweat lodges, dancing, drumming—all the different ways of using worship to evoke the cosmic wisdom. And we need this so badly as a species today; we need all the wisdom we can get.
(to be continued)
(photo from Christ Path Seminars Website)