Curiously, in our era of specialists and experts and masters of ever more circumscribed fields of study, the most original and genuinely innovative thinking is frequently coming from individuals who are exploring terrain in which they’ve had little or no formal training. The occasional autodidact has been around for a long time, but these new “explorers without portfolio” do not lack education per se. They generally have academic degrees—accounting, medicine, or law—but it’s those subjects that lie beyond the sphere of their professional competence that motivate them to passionately read, think, and write about complex ideas in often remarkably fresh and insightful ways, whether it’s about art or physics or the origin of the universe.
Robert Godwin is such an “outsider” thinker, and a masterful litterateur to boot. In his book One Cosmos under God, he attempts nothing less than to reenvision the entire story of creation, both scientifically and spiritually, and audaciously and stunningly presents an often poetic, quasi-scriptural rendering of what a new cosmic narrative could be. It’s a book that breaks boundaries, thrills and teases, and ultimately makes very much sense in its Herculean embrace of cosmology, biology, quantum physics, psychology, anthropology, history, mysticism, theology, and more.
A practicing clinical psychologist, Godwin, in his words, became voraciously interested in everything at some point in his mid to late twenties. He also credits himself with having a synthetic versus analytic mind. So in order to make sense of what he was learning, he sought to find relationships and patterns among the truths he had gleaned from disparate fields of study. In short, he wanted to know. To that end, he recognized that the only way to grasp spiritual truths was through direct experience and he became a serious practitioner of Sri Aurobindo’s integral yoga. One Cosmos under God is the result of what he discovered as a follower of the Indian sage’s teachings, together with the fruits of his relentless curiosity.
Because of our own unfailing curiosity about evolutionary spirituality, WIE wanted to find out more about the ideas of this intrepid scholar. In the interview that follows, Godwin takes us on a tour of some of the grand metaphysical themes of our time as he explains his efforts to articu late a new, higher synthesis between scientific and mystical thinking. It is from that higher perspective, he says, that both the linear, causal nature of earthly life—the horizontal dimension—and the absolute and transcendent—or vertical—dimension can be seen in a more integrated way. It is also how we can understand the four “singularities,” those explosions of evolutionary novelty that initiated the universe and radically transformed life on this planet forever. Then, seamlessly, the conversation shifts direction and Godwin takes us inward, into the deeper reaches of the human psyche as he presents an often startling account of psychological development and its relevance to the evolution of culture. Touching on a dizzying array of topics from child-rearing to ritualized sacrifice to the capacity for self-aware consciousness, he masterfully unites them all into a vision of humanity that is at once infinitely vast and ever so close to home.
–Carol Ann Raphael