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BOOK REVIEW: "The Caretakers of the Cosmos" by Gary Lachman

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BOOK REVIEW: The Caretakers of the Cosmos: Living Responsibly in an Unfinished World by Gary Lachman (Floris Books) 2013

With so much negativity and nihilism infecting the culture, it might make one think that humanity is to blame – for everything wrong in our beautiful world. And that we are insignificant, cosmic "accidents" and of no consequence in the greater scheme of things, cosmically speaking.

But, thankfully, author Gary Lachman (Politics and the Occult, Madame Blavatsky, Rudolf Steiner, etc.) sees human beings – despite our many faults – as having a destiny, the important role of have the responsibility of “taking care of the cosmos,” as he alluded to in his earlier book, The Quest for Hermes Trismegistus.

The Hermetic philosophers, the Gnostics, they both believed that humanity was "fallen from a free, limitless spiritual world into a severely limited world of necessity and constraint," while differing on whether or not we were "prisoners" of this system. There is the thought that humans chose to leave the "higher spiritual world" and come to this constrained and limiting world of "space and time" because humans loved the Earth and the Earth loved humanity and we, as Lachman suggests, were willing to embrace the "tremendous responsibility and obligation" that being a caretaker requires.

Think of the Jewish mystical tradition of tikkun, found in Kabbalah, which translates as "repair" or "heal." Perhaps after the Creator made the world and something went awry and then God made humans to "correct his mistakes, to repair the damage caused by his blunder." Were that true, as these teachings suggest, would place us in an "exalted position," to quote Lachman.

It seems as though when we, as humans, became "self-conscious," we realized were were somehow "different from the other creatures around us, and the history of the human mind has been, more or less, an unpacking of that intuition."

Think about this week’s remarkable solar eclipse. The fact that the Moon is close enough to Earth to block out the more distant Sun, is more than a “cosmic coincidence,” it would seem. Lachman notes that when he was a science writer at UCLA year ago, he spoke with an astronomer about these “just rights,” noting how Jupiter and Saturn are in just the right place because they “shield our planet from meteor bombardments” just as our distance from the Sun is “just right,” in that “a little bit closer and it would be too hot for life” (think Venus). And just a little further away and “it would be too cold” (as on Mars).

Lachman acknowledges that in the scientific world, “not all scientists are happy with the idea that we live in a universe that seems somehow designed to produce us. In the first place it means we are the chance occurrences that traditional science has said we are – not a lucky hit on the cosmic Monte Carlo game or some of Lovecraft’s accidental ‘rearrangement of atoms,’ but real life natives who really belong here …

Nature, notes Lachman, has separated itself from us in order "for it to become conscious of itself through us." 

Lachman notes how we live in "two worlds" and this has a lot to do with the fact that due to neurological and anatomical aspects of our make-up, and that we have two hemispheres in our brain, and that as a result the world is presented to us in two different ways, one world presented by the left brain (which is dominant in Western society, it would seem) and the right brain, noting Iain McGilchrist's wonderful 2009 book The Master and His Emissary (which I am reading right now and hope to review someday soon). The right brain is "the master" and the left brain is the "emissary." How this will all wash out in future generations of human beings, particularly as AI advancements speed up, remains to be seen.

While written in a conversational and informative way, some of the information is hard to digest, as a lot of philisophical ideas and historical notions are presented consistently, and are important in presenting his thesis. And that, primarily, is for humanity to accept its role that while we are in the cosmos but not of it. And from there, in advancing our evolution as a species, as the caretakers of the cosmos.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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