Foreword by Howard Bloom
Forthcoming book: The Intimate Universe by Barbara Marx Hubbard and Dr. Marc Gafni
To understand the book you hold in your hands, you have to understand two people: Barbara Marx Hubbard and Marc Gafni. Both of them are magic.
To reveal that magic, let me first tell you the tale of how I met Barbara Marx Hubbard, who was later to introduce me to Marc. It was 2005, and I was at a space conference at the Airport Sheraton in Los Angeles. This was not a conference I’d wanted to attend. I’d been pressured into showing up by people from NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the National Space Society. Why had I refused to go? At first, I had been too embarrassed to explain. The fact was that I only attend conferences where I’m speaking. There’s a reason. If I am just another face in the crowd, that fact depresses me.
I told that to Feng Hsu, the senior risk analyst from NASA who had made himself part of the pressuring team. Feng volunteered to fly up from Houston to keep me company. And he made a promise. He would assign another babysitter to me, David Livingston, the host of the Space Show. Livingston, he assured me, had heard every one of my broadcasts on the highest rated overnight talk radio show in North America, Coast to Coast, was a huge fan, and knew everyone in the space community. Feng was not kidding around. Not only did he team up with me when we attended lectures and peppered the lecturers with questions or criticism, but David Livingston was a genius at important introductions.
At one point David became extremely excited. He told me there was someone he felt I absolutely had to meet and dragged me from the corridor in which I was awkwardly attempting to mix and mingle to the huge lobby. Off in the distance, seemingly 150 feet away, I saw a figure standing upright in the midst of half a dozen kneeling men. It looked like Christ teaching his disciples. The standing figure, a woman, saw me over this great distance and responded as if she’d known me forever. She stepped out of the circle of kneeling acolytes and walked toward me with both hands outstretched, reciting five phrases: “conformity enforcers,” “diversity generators,” “resource shifters,” “inner judges,” and “intergroup tournaments,” key words from my second book, Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century. How did she know them? How did she recognize me? When she reached me, she held my hands in hers and led me to the center of her circle of apostles. Together we stood ringed by curious faces. One of those faces was that of Robert Zubrin, whose television appearances during the 1990s presenting his vision of an express trip to Mars that he called Mars Direct, had made a great impression on me. Now this man who I had only seen on a screen was kneeling at my feet. Amazing. The mysterious woman did something risky. She shot me a topic sentence. I filled in the rest of the paragraph. She shot me another topic sentence. I did it again. Then she shot me a third.
How the hell did she know that this utterly unrehearsed and undiscussed form of dialog, this form of intellectual, poetic, and prophetic duet, would work? Her name was Barbara Marx Hubbard. And knowing such unknowable things was just one part of her magic.
To know Barbara Marx Hubbard was to fall in love with her. She had the spirit of a 17-year old. And that spirit gave her beauty. In her presence, you felt attended to and understood in ways you’d seldom been understood before. But what Barbara understood was not your ways and miseries, it was your unfilled possibilities. To repeat, spending time with Barbara was an act of falling in love.
When I left that conference, Barbara and I were too busy to stay in touch. We only found excuses to email every three years or so. Then, in 2017, Barbara called, a most uncommon happening. She was all excited about something.
She had an intuition that for the sake of evolution itself, I must meet a man named Marc Gafni. But I must do more than just meet Gafni. I must join her and Marc in what she called Co-creating through Joining Genius. How exactly would this co-creation take place? Barbara wanted to set up a twice-a-month series of recorded trialogues with herself, myself, and Marc. Our task? To sculpt a destiny. To do more than just spawn idle ideas. To create an infrastructure of fantasy for a brilliant future. A brilliant future for humans, for nature, and for the cosmos whose elements course through you and me.
Our first phone meeting, the first meeting between Barbara, Marc, and me, proved once again Barbara’s strange sorcery. I’d started in microbiology and theoretical physics at the age of ten and had begun to devour two books a day. In the last 25 years, I’ve published or given lectures at scholarly conferences on twelve different scientific fields from quantum physics and cosmology to evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and psychology, not to mention information science, governance, and aerospace. My job in life is to fly over the face of as many sciences and arts as my limited brain can comprehend. And to give you the big picture. I call that approach Omnology. But I’d never met someone else who could soar over the total landscape of human thought. Until I met Marc Gafni. Dr. Marc Gafni.
Marc Gafni has one of the most panoramic minds and hearts that I have ever encountered in my life. He stuns me time and time again. Marc’s mind takes me on vast flights over massive amounts of what this cosmos and planet are all about. While I tell tales based on the 13.7 billion year history of the universe, the four billion year evolution of life, and the 3.1 million year history of humankind, Marc tells tales of the structure of the universe derived from what he calls the interior science—philosophers like the Buddha, Isaac Luria, a founding figure of Kabbalah, mathematician Alfred North Whitehead, founding father of bonding John Bowlby, and modern queen of philosophy Martha Nussbaum. Gafni derives fascinating original meanings from the origins of Hebrew and Aramaic words, ranging over a diverse set of texts that one would not expect one human being to ever integrate. At the same time, he ranges over the sciences, both the social and the hard sciences, but he reads science not like a scientist—indeed he is not a scientist as he will be the first to tell you. Instead he reads science like a poet or a musician. Most important, he sews these threads of human thought into a giant tapestry, an exhilarating landscape that takes in all of the universe and the totality of human history.
Most important my conversations with Marc probe what he calls First Principles and First Values of Kosmos that live within us and within the structure of the Kosmos itself. Marc, together with Barbara and Zachary Stien created a new discipline that they call Anthro-Ontology. Anthro-Ontology notices that the entire Kosmos lives in the individual and thus human interiors are a vital source of cosmic information. So, probing what Marc calls our clarified interiors gives us crucial valid information about ourselves and about the Kosmos that has generated us.
I’ve been on a similar quest for over half a century—to see the patterns that emerge when one uses all the sciences and the arts to view the biggest picture imaginable.
The twelve sciences in which I’ve published or given lectures at scholarly conferences range from quantum physics and cosmology to evolutionary biology, neuroscience, information science, and, of all things, aerospace and governance. In 2001, I was forced to create a new field of study for this sort of radically trans-disciplinary work: Omnology.
Anthro-Ontology is based on the same realization as Omnology—that 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution has given birth to you and me.
We both know and understand that Omnology and Antro-Ontology must inform each other.
What Marc, Barbara, and Zachary call First Patterns, First Principles, and First Values are what I, in my book The God Problem: How a Godless Cosmos Creates, call Ur Patterns, axioms, and magic beans—the starting rules of the cosmos. Which means that Omnology and Anthro-Ontology are two paths to the same goal.
I could not be more thrilled then to realize that evolution had generated another thinker who soars as I do but in an entirely different flight pattern. And I am convinced that integrated expressions of our shared work which we intend in a future volume will generate new and important knowledge that I dare hope might matter greatly in charting our human future. Both of us are persuaded that only such an articulation can create what Marc calls a shared language of value that will generate evolution’s next stage. But perhaps most important, like Barbara, to know Marc Gafni is to fall in love with him. Marc Gafni soars. That is what I try to do. We are two different antennae feeling our way through the vastness of the same sky. Which is why my conversations with Marc exhilarate me. And Marc and I have something else in common. Both of us hope that the fruits of our intertwined labors help generate evolution’s next great stage, humanity’s next great phase shift, humanity’s next great lift to the skies.
Marc provides the warp. Through some alchemy, I provide the woof. And Barbara Marx Hubbard built and tended the loom. Until she went into the hospital at the age of 89 for a minor knee surgery.
To understand the rest, it’s important to understand one more thing about Barbara Marx Hubbard. If you asked her her age, she told you ninety. And she said it with glowing pride. She enjoyed being a seventeen-year old in spirit at an age when convention says she should have been elderly, when cliché says that she should have been senescent. There are photos of Barbara on her hospital bed cross-legged working on her laptop and smiling at the camera with glee.
Then they put her under anesthesia. And she never came out. Marc was there when she passed.
But Barbara Marx Hubbard transcended death in at least one way. Marc and I promised Barbara to complete our work—which she felt was the story of the universe and of our planet. Our meetings every other Tuesday on the phone still continue. They still co-create genius. They still are the warp and the woof of vast and expansive tapestries. Tapestries that include all of your reality and mine, from the origins of atoms to the feelings in your mind as you read these words. And they still contain the magic of Barbara Marx Hubbard.
The volume you hold in your hands or on your tablet is not yet the book that Marc, Barbara, and I wove together. But it is truly seminal. It is based on work that Barbara and Marc did, integrating some of my material which they cite, and setting the stage for the work we’ve done together. The insights in these pages have the capacity to change your understanding of where you fit in this universe. As Marc, Barbara, and I said, in one conversation about the implications of science for our identity that found its way into this book, “You live in an Amorous Universe. And the Amorous Universe lives in you. You are the evolution of that Amorous Cosmos incarnate.” What could be more important to know than that?
Author, The Lucifer Principle, The Global Brain, Leading Philosopher of Science