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Issue 274
September/October 2012
A Shared Agenda

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Elements of Existence
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issue cover 274

Cover: Richat Structure, image © www.nasa.gov/landsat

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Elements of Existence

Ann Palmer explores seven ways to view Earthcentrism.

Anthropocentrism is regarding humankind as the most important element of existence. Earthcentrism is regarding the Earth as the most important element of existence. The differences do not end with definitions. Anthropocentrism is in the dictionary. Earthcentrism is not. However, before a word makes it into the dictionary, it has to become part of common use.

Earthcentrism is a philosophy, a state of being, a way of life, a vision of future possible, the great and necessary evolutionary step for humankind. It is a reinstatement of something deep within the human psyche, something we've unfortunately lost during our process of civilisation. Earthcentrism offers an overview and a new worldview par excellence. Earthcentrism is the place of integrity and integration.

Here I suggest seven ways it is possible to view Earthcentrism. Each one offers another way of seeing, another layer, deepening an appreciation of the importance of the term itself and making Earthcentrism more real to people.

Earthcentrism is the next evolutionary step for human consciousness. It provides the most long-term perspective.

The second image, of three concentric circles – better visualised as a series of balls, each nested in the next largest – draws on the kind of schemata I learned at university. Simplistic, it refers to boundaries of thought, action and concern. It addresses the question, “How big is your world?” Often in modern life we are asked to fit our views into a prearranged format. In this image, the self-orientation of childhood expands into own-species concern and on again into the life-support system for the whole biodiversity.

Now the invitational aspect of Earthcentrism as a holding worldview faces us. Given such a simplistic model as this second image, it is easy to place ourselves and discover we move between the three, in accord with the survival dynamic of all life. The realisation dawns that we are both anthropocentric and Earthcentric and cannot avoid this duality. Earthcentrism is the greater reality, anthropocentrism the lesser. Anthropocentrism appears, at first sight, to favour our species. In the long term, events prove otherwise because of the out-of-sync position over-emphasised anthropocentrism forces us to adopt.

The move away from the intellectual is into five images that speak to emotional intelligence. They also do something more. They invite readers to find a personal interpretation and image that takes the concept into the realms of the personally meaningful, heart-based and memorable. To make anything your own and discover how it can work for you requires this interactive step.

Presented imagistically, with the emotional intelligence that seeks to empower and feed the spirit and soul, Earthcentrism takes many forms: New Wave of Consciousness, Birth, Interconnected, or one based on an ancient symbol, like the Wheel of Life.

The Earthbonding image offers both anthropocentric and Earthcentric interpretations, seeding the idea that these two ways of seeing have the potential to become one. An Aboriginal drawing speaks of our early and deep Earthcentrism. It brings to mind Indigenous cultures worldwide for whom this is the root way of being. The greening of the planet is a crucial move after the excesses of deforestation. A human figure whose reach extends to the farthest corners of the Earth contains the ever-present possibility of hubris. Between the feet of the figure are the rising Earth energies, ever willing to work with our species if we will learn to grow in harmony with all things. The partly ruptured Web of Life surrounding the green Earth is a warning as well as an apposite representation of current reality.

The key question is: “What difference will it make?” What difference can a single word make to anything? Playing devil's advocate, Earthcentrism is just another concept, along with so many others, all beginning with 'eco'. Eco, though, is an add-on, not fully integrated into human consciousness, not yet mainstream. That is the fine distinction and the seminal point. The time is right for anthropocentrism and Earthcentrism to be seen as they are, stripped of all agendas, and the tensions between them discussed against this background of common knowledge.

Once – and not so very long ago – we believed the Earth was flat. Once, we believed the Earth was the centre of the universe. To say the sun was the centre of the universe cost people their lives. Earthcentrism does not say the Earth is the centre of the universe; nor does it engage with erroneous simplistic ideas of saving the Earth. Geologically, the Earth is robust enough to manage our predations upon her, whether we overpopulate Gaia or not. It is the biosphere, the biodiversity and the quality of life for the children and grandchildren of our own species that are at stake.

Growth is the life imperative. To grow from an anthropocentric to an Earthcentric worldview improves health and wellbeing. To maintain both identities at every level of life – personal to global, community to commercial – is the challenge of the future.

The word ‘Earthcentrism’ is not yet in the dictionary. If there is no commonly recognised word for something, it has no chance in public consciousness.

I personally believe Earthcentrism's greatest gift lies in its consciousness-changing ability. The subject of consciousness-change, its immanence, courtesy of the Aquarian age, has been around a half-century at least. Meditation is the route to expansion of consciousness. Its enhancement of brain use is scientific fact.

There are many ways into a personal deeply attuned Earthcentric awareness. Knowing it exists is the first step.

Ann Palmer is the author of Writing and Imagery: How to Deepen Creativity and Improve Your Writing.

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