Sean Kelly, "Becoming Gaia: On the Threshold of Planetary Initiation" (Integral Imprint, 2020)


In this episode I had the pleasure of speaking with Sean Kelly, professor of Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), about his 2021 book Becoming Gaia: On the Threshold of Planetary Initiation (Integral Imprint, 2020). Along with his abiding interest in the work of Jung, Hegel, and Edgar Morin, Kelly’s current research areas include the evolution of consciousness, integral ecologies, and transpersonal and integral theory. In Becoming Gaia, he draws upon an impressive range of scholarship from such fields as Big History, comparative religion, transpersonal psychology, and integral philosophies. Regular listeners may find Kelly’s work a wonderful complement to some of the other authors and topics we’ve shared on this channel. I found the book—and our chat—fascinating.

Kelly is not alone in suggesting we are living in end times. With climate chaos, an accelerating mass extinction, and signs of civilizational collapse, the Earth community is being drawn into a planetary near-death experience! These end times, however, also mark the threshold of new planetary identity in the making. Kelly reveals the features of this new identity and invites us to consciously participate in its making. Guided by the ideal of Gaia as "concrete universal," Kelly offers compelling insights on the nature of an emerging world spirituality that some describe as a second Axial Age—on the elements of a complex-integral ethics for the Planetary Era, and on the role of the death/rebirth archetype for understanding the charged field of contemporary climate activism.

The book culminates with an inspiring meditation on the possibility, in these end times, of a third way beyond both hope and despair. In contrast to the restrictive anthropocentrism and technocentrism of mainstream discourse around the Anthropocene, Kelly speaks instead of the Gaianthropocene as our new geological epoch. It is an epoch where, even and especially as we face the fires of planetary initiation, we can awaken to our deeper nature as living members of Gaia, the living Earth in and through whom we have our being.

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Kevin Lindsay

"What is the pattern that connects the crab to the lobster and the primrose to the orchid, and all of them to me, and me to you?" - Gregory Bateson
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