Posted by: Michael George Daniel | April 8, 2010

Book Review: “The Love of the Fifth Paradigm”

When I first started this blog, I only had the inspired thought to name it after a koan that I was given at a nearby Zen monastery during a week long meditation retreat. ‘What is the Buddha nature of the sky?’ Since then, I have written when I could, as authentically as I could, from a place of truth that I feel dwells in me – or I in it. I have written blogs and unpublished non-fiction pieces about the nexus of spirituality and sustainability, a fictional novel about my own mid-life crisis; I have written book reviews. I have written about experiences in nature that moved me, about creative insights, about process and about people and events.

As a result, I have had the chance to read and comment on a number of books, and that has lead to the interesting result that books have started to come to me. These are books for which I most likely have an interest as the offer to read them is a result of a related review. One such book arrived in February.  I immediately felt compelled to write about it. It is that good; that important, that pertinent.

You can also find this review on Amazon.

Seldom does a book come along that has me bursting to tell others about. The simplest sign of such an emerging episode is the experience of being moved to tears by that which I’m reading. In the case of The Love of the Fifth Spiritual Paradigm, that experience repeated itself over and over. I wanted to give this book to everyone I was falling in love with at the time. I called the author; I wanted to know her. I bought copies and sent them, sometime sneakily, to people to whom I wished to share the book. The Love is clarity. The Love is comprehensive. The Love is dedicated to speaking the truth about our experience on this plane of existence, its source of this thing called Love, and our relationship with all that is. The Love offers context, and that it is what I like the most about it. It is an idealistic book, but unlike so many other books, it does not attempt to analyze in a reductionist way, it seeks to understand the relationship of our need to remember Love in an integrated way; with where we are as a species, as a planet, and what might be done about it. It is a book that marries the spiritual quest, our personal healing, with our collective healing and the possibility of healing the Earth. In doing so, it makes the case for continuing to find our place in the cosmos.

The Love is not naive. It recognizes that our place in the cosmos is not assured. That the catharsis of our current evolutionary journey, like previous inflection points, is fraught with peril; that there is no guarantee that the Universe’s human experiment will continue. It calls forth the obvious imperative that the most pressing task of our time is to delve into our own ideas about Love, to learn what it is more truly: what it can do – to see that it is the key to creating a sustainable world, enjoying enriching relationships, and experiencing a satisfying life

“We no longer need bind ourselves to the cosmology or mythology of our ancestors. We currently possess the scientific knowledge and advanced moral code to reject these outdated and often ridiculous belief systems.”

“On the other hand, we apparently lack the wisdom to craft a more sophisticated religion, as no unifying theosophy has been presented to or accepted by the masses. The result is a spiritual vacuum, in which some people desperately cling to the old religions for comfort, while others struggle to synthesize primordial mysteries with the latest discoveries. Clearly the world is suffering on a spiritual level.”

The Love is an anthology. So the author, Laura George, is actually the editor of the book. She has managed to assemble an amazing array of articles, many of which were written by other superb writers just for this book. Authors like Bill McKibben, Susan McElroy, Kenneth Porter, Brenda Schaeffer, Margaret Starbird, Robert Hardison, and many others.

Still other articles are culled from archival material by folks like Wendell Berry, Mahatma Gandi, Desmond Tutu, Maya Angelou, Alex Grey and Rumi. The combined result of the articles interspersed with George’s interpretations, contextual orientations, personal anecdotes and other commentary, is truly engaging. From the beginning of the book we realize that the feminine perspective provides much of the book’s power; a perspective that has been repressed and lost to our current world at our own peril.

“Sophia is emerging in this time of immense change to challenge us once again with her wisdom.”

“She instructs us through her basic principles: the creative tension of opposites; descent journeys; and transcendence to a new form. Repetitive experience with each of these principles changes the nature of our ego, our reality, and our relationship to the “other”.

George does not hold back in synthesizing the perspective she generously shares. “Today, the continued denigration of the Sacred Feminine and of the material world is a direct result of a Christian worldview which lacks an awareness of Sophia as an equal component of the godhead and the Earth as a living entity.”

George’s other book, the first of a trilogy of which The Love is the second, is called The Truth. It chooses as its starting premise the idea that religion is divisive and not unifying. As soon as you pick up this book, The Love, you find on the inside of the title page a note about George’s organization, The Oracle Institute, and its choice of the Pentacle as its symbol. “The Oracle Institute chose the Pentacle as a symbol for its humanitarian work….because of its noble history and the fact that the Truth about this ancient symbol-like all Truth-needs to be revealed….Today, at the close of the Fourth Spiritual Paradigm, it is fair to say that the Pentacle represents the five primary religions: Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam. May these now ancient religions update their teachings and unify their wisdom traditions in order to guide humanity toward the Utopian state described by their prophets as “heaven on earth.”.

The book is well organized offering commentary and analysis on Love as it relates to love of earth, of animals, of family, of community; romantic love, of learning, of arts, of freedom, of God and unconditional love. My personal experience while reading this book while at facilitator training for the international initiative called ‘Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream’, was one of profound catharsis. The book is captivating intellectually, but it is also incredibly motivating emotionally. It is this motivation, the energy in motion that was and has been so profoundly trans formative for me. So my unabashed recommendation for this book doesn’t just come from a rational place. As those that know me might attest, using the rational as a sole means of evaluation is in my opinion insufficient. I recommend this book as the result of a deeply heartfelt inspiration; a sense that someone has put together a book that seeks and honors truth genuinely, with great effort and equal humility; as a process, a journey, an adventure.

“For example, Sophian philosophy relates to the sustainability of the Earth as opposed the “Rapture,” an apocalyptic myth that Christian fundamentalists believe will be fulfilled when the Earth is destroyed and they are transported to heaven.”

“Such a belief system is based on fear and represents the improper use of will – a quick fix when spiritual paradigms are shifting, as they are now. In other words, many evangelicals welcome the demise of Earth because they think it will hasten their entry into heaven.”

Laura George and the Oracle Institute are enthusiastic seekers of enlightenment. They understand the personal quest of each of us as physically manifested spirit. Yet it is the book’s grounding in Love of earth and Love of animals that most grabbed and moved me; Love that arises from our relationship with that from which we have emerged. It is an experience of this Love that is so strongly called forth both in our world today, and by this book. It is the recognition of the planetary catharsis we are currently undergoing: the environmental crisis, the mass species extinction, the threats to food systems and truly the doubtfulness of continued participation by the human species in the universal evolutionary trajectory. This has been called The Great Turning, or George calls it The Great Cusp.

In the book’s epilogue, George writes, “The world is spinning madly right now. The Great Cusp has firmly taken hold and fear is rampant. What is so interesting about this Great Cusp is not that its effects are being globally shared-that is always the case with a millennial change-but that its impact is being globally analyzed and communicated. In the 21st Century we are all connected, so we will witness how each country and each culture handles the chaos…So today I am left wondering: How close are we to the paradigm shift if the most fortunate people on the planet are fixated on money and infatuated by power? If people still cannot discern Truth, practice Love, or accept Light, what hope is there for the utopia described in all the holy books and foretold by all indigenous wisdom cultures?…Now we have another chance to manifest a utopian state. However, those who predict dystopia, those in total denial, and those who sickly and secretly crave Armageddon presently outnumber the light workers who are trying to build a new Atlantis. Consequently, we are witnessing another crescendo of duality – polarization of Dark and Light energies – a complex topic that the Institute will address in the final book of our foundational trilogy: The Light….Despite the spectacle of the Christian version of the Apocalypse-a gory drama portrayed by all Fourth Paradigm religions – the truth is that no one is coming either to condemn or save us. We, collectively, hold the power and promise, since it is our destiny to become the “gods and goddesses” of this realm. Thus, the Fifth Spiritual Paradigm depends upon human, not Divine, intervention.

And so we are left, as I wish to leave you, with an essential message embodied by the proponents of evolutionary consciousness such as Andrew Cohen: that the here and now is the leading edge of the Universe’s inexorable reach to evolve, to become more of itself so that it might experience more of itself. Our own evolving consciousness, our deepening awareness of this consciousness, is the very tool with which we can step into our role as an aspect of God, as co-creators in the determination of the next phase of the cosmic turning. Cohen writes in his article called ‘Liberation of the Soul’: “If you want to be free, if you want to be a liberated human being, then it is essential that you become interested in what it means to be simple…shockingly simple….The movement from bondage to liberation is the movement from complexity to simplicity…Wanting to be free more than anything else not only liberates us from the endless burden of having so many choices, it also releases us from the often compelling attraction to all that is false, wrong, and untrue…Why? Because inwardly our attention is one-pointed. It is now focused upon a mystery in which there exists no sense of limitation whatsoever”

“…those who cannot be swayed from their one-pointed interest in liberating themselves from fear and ignorance in this life – have a lot in common with one who has actually succeeded…What matters is whether we have the passion to seek liberation now, and whether we recognize that the power to go that far lies in our very own hands…when you experientially get in touch with what simplicity actually means, you can then begin to look into its opposite, which is complexity…What choice am I making in every moment? Do the choices that I make express a Love for the truth and a preference for that which is sacred? When we look into such questions, everything becomes simple and obvious…To succeed, we must be convinced beyond any doubt that liberation is a living possibility – that it is real – and start making the right choices over and over again until a new momentum is born. That new KARMA is the energy of liberation itself. If pursued, that energy also become self-generating and will eventually, overtake the ego. That is liberation – when the Absolute reveals itself through us in this world.”

Cohen tells us that to truly experience the so-called Oneness that is getting more and more linguistic attention, we simply choose, with ferocious attention, to liberate our soul. With out saying it directly, he is addressing the seeming paradox that our true freedom lies amongst the abundant connections we have with each other, the web of life and the cosmos. Our current cultural, libertarian push for freedom is a perversion of our own soul’s – each and everyone of us – desire for the kind of liberation Cohen writes about. A living experience of being connected and responsible for each other in a complex, diverse web of cooperation and support that defies our limited notions about freedom.

The result of the kind of liberation written about by Cohen is a transcendence of our ego, and a channeling of source – Love – through us.

“Most seekers are interested in enlightenment only for their own sake, only for their own personal liberation. But there comes a time when some seekers being to recognize that the spiritual experience is not only for their own welfare. Because they have gone deeply into the spiritual experience, they have discovered something sacred – the revelation of oneness…What is of the greatest importance is that our passion for liberation be not only for our own sake but for the sake of the whole – which means liberation for everyone else…When you cease to live for yourself, when you give everything you have and everything you are for the sake of the whole…it’s the end of becoming. It’s the end of having a problem that you need to overcome. It’s even the end of striving for enlightenment. And it is the beginning of an unconditional response to a life that says “YES”…Then a new passion emerges…And what we discover out there at the edge is that the power of absolute Love to affect this world – so overcome with self-created pain and misery – is entirely dependent upon us.”



  1. Have you ever considered creating an ebook or
    guest authoring on other blogs? I have a blog based
    on the same subjects you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my readers would appreciate your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e-mail.

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