The Universe Is A Green Dragon

Reading the meaning in the cosmic story

One of the articles in The New Story (IC#12)
Originally published in Winter 1985/86 on page 10
Copyright (c)1986, 1997 by Context Institute

In this excerpt from his book, The Universe Is A Green Dragon, Brian Swimme, physicist and associate director of The Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality, provides a wonderful example of the blending of fact and meaning in the context of the cosmic story.

WHAT I PRESENT in my book is the overall picture of the cosmic creation story, told in a single evening’s conversation. This article gives excerpts from that conversation, particularly from the first half.

I call the two speakers THOMAS and YOUTH. By THOMAS I want to honor Thomas Berry and the cosmological tradition he celebrates, stretching back from Erich Jantsch and Teilhard de Chardin through Thomas Aquinas to Plato. The idea to present the new creation story in the form of a conversation originated at the Broadway Diner in New York City. I was working my way through a Greek salad, when Thomas Berry suddenly said: "You scientists have this stupendous story of the universe. It breaks outside all previous cosmologies. But so long as you persist in understanding it solely from a quantitative mode you fail to appreciate its significance. You fail to hear its music. That’s what the spiritual traditions can provide. Tell the story, but tell it with a feel for its music."

I call the other human YOUTH to remind us that the human species is the youngest, freshest, most immature, newest species of all the advanced life forms in the planet. We have only just arrived. If we can remain resilient, if we can continue our questioning, our developing, our hoping, if we can live in awe and in the depths of wonder, we will continue moving into the only process that now matters – our authentic maturation as a species. It is in this way and only this way that we will enable the Earth to bloom once again.


Why do you say the universe is a green dragon?

THOMAS: I’m a storyteller. Besides, it seems an appropriate way to begin the new story of the cosmos.

YOUTH: But why say it’s a green dragon when it obviously isn’t?

THOMAS: I call the universe a green dragon because I want to avoid lulling you into thinking we can have the universe in our grasp, like a stray dog shut up in its kennel. I want to remind us of this proper relationship as we approach the Whole of Things.

On the other hand – and here is a second reason for the green dragon – we have learned things in our scientific explorations that completely transform our understanding of the universe. Our revolution in thinking dwarfs Copernicus’s announcement that the Earth travels around the Sun. It is outrageous to compare the universe to a green dragon, I know, but I hope this will express some of my astonishment at what we now know about the universe. The inadequacy of the dragon image is that green dragons are much too commonplace to indicate the radical nature of what we have learned. That’s how limited our language is.

YOUTH: Where should we start?

THOMAS: At the beginning. We need to start with the story of the universe as a whole. Our emergent cosmos is the fundamental context for all discussions of value, meaning, purpose, or ultimacy of any sort. To speak of the universe’s origin is to bring to mind the great fire at the beginning of time.

Imagine that furnace out of which everything came forth. This was a fire that filled the universe – that was the universe. There was no place in the universe free from it. Every point of the cosmos was a point of this explosion of light. And all the particles of the universe churned in extremes of heat and pressure, all that we see about us, all that now exists was there at the beginning, in that great burning explosion of light.

YOUTH: How do we know about it?

THOMAS: We can see it! We can see the light from the primeval fireball. Or at least the light from its edge, for it burned for nearly a million years. We can see the dawn of the universe because the light from its edge reaches us only now, after traveling fifteen billion years to get here.

YOUTH: So we’re in direct contact with the origin of the universe?

THOMAS: That’s right.

YOUTH: I can’t believe I didn’t know this.

THOMAS: Scientists have only just learned to see the fireball. The light has always been there, but the ability to respond to it required a tremendous development of the human senses. Just as an artist learns to see a lakeshore’s subtle shades and contours, the human race learns to develop its sensitivities to what is present. It took millions of years to develop, but humans can now interact with the cosmic radiation from the origin of the universe. We can now see the beginnings of time – a stupendous achievement.

YOUTH: It’s amazing.

THOMAS: Most amazing is this realization that everything that exists in the universe came from a common origin. The material of your body and the material of my body are intrinsically related because they emerged from and are caught up in a single energetic event. Our ancestry stretches back through the life forms and into the stars, back to the beginnings of the primeval fireball. This universe is a single multiform energetic unfolding of matter, mind, intelligence, and life. And all of this is new. None of the great figures of human history were aware of this. Not Plato, or Aristotle, or the Hebrew Prophets, or Confucius, or Thomas Aquinas, or Leibniz, or Newton, or any other world-maker. We are the first generation to live with an empirical view of the origin of the universe. We are the first humans to look into the night sky and see the birth of stars, the birth of galaxies, the birth of the cosmos as a whole. Our future as a species will be forged within this new story of the world.

YOUTH: But what about my future? What difference will it make for me?

THOMAS: To begin with, you will have to embrace your creative potential. The universe has unfolded to this point. It has poured into you the creative powers necessary for its further development. The journey of the cosmos depends on those creatures and elements existing now, you among them. For the unfolding of the universe, your creativity is as essential as the creativity inherent in the fireball.

YOUTH: How can this be so? What do humans add that is actually new?

THOMAS: The human provides the space in which the universe feels its stupendous beauty. The universe shivers with wonder in the depths of the human. Do you see? Think of what it would be like if there were no humans on the planet: the mountains and the primeval fireball would be magnificent, but the Earth would not feel any of this. Can you see the sadness of such a state? The incompleteness?

I sometimes think the primary deed of a parent is to see the beauty and grace of children. Children are magnificent, gorgeous beyond telling. They themselves have no idea of what beauty they embody. Can you see the tragedy of a child with no one to feel and cherish its beauty? No one to fall in love with this magnificent creature? No one to celebrate its splendor?

The cosmos is the same: humans can house the tremendous beauty of Earth, of life, of the universe. We can value it, feel its grandeur.

YOUTH: But what can I do? How am I supposed to help out?

THOMAS: Don’t get impatient. You have to learn first. Just moments ago the presence of the universe’s origin was unknown to you. Be patient, for there is certainly specific work waiting for you. Or did you think the universe went to fifteen billion years of work to create you if there was not a particular function that you – and only you – could do? The creative powers residing in you will be evoked in time for the work they were created for.

YOUTH: What creative powers?

THOMAS: We can not say until they show themselves. Not even you could know yet.

YOUTH: But where do they come from then, if even I don’t know what they are?

THOMAS: From the same place that everything comes from. From the same place out of which the primeval fireball comes: an empty realm, a mysterious order of reality, a no-thing-ness that is simultaneously the ultimate source of all things.

YOUTH: Now wait a minute –

THOMAS: I realize how strange it sounds. But there is little we can do about that. I’m speaking here of something that has recently been encountered empirically. In the language of physics, we call it quantum fluctuation. Elementary particles fluctuate in and out of existence. What a strange realization! Don’t think that physicists have any easier time of it than you! Elementary particles leap into existence, then disappear. A proton emerges suddenly – where did it come from? Who made it? How did it sneak into reality all of a sudden?

We say it simply leapt out of no-thing-ness. There was no particle, then there was. I am not speaking here of the manner in which mass and energy can be transformed into one another. I am speaking of something much more mysterious. I am saying that particles boil into existence out of sheer emptiness. That is simply the way the universe works. We have to get used to it. We didn’t construct it; we just find ourselves here. If elementary particles are going to come leaping out of mysterious realms, then that’s the way it is.

I say no-thing-ness. Or emptiness. But this only reveals the limits of language. We are here approaching an Ultimate Mystery, something that defeats our attempts to probe and investigate. There was no fireball, then the fireball erupted. The universe erupted, all that has existence erupted out of nothing, all of being erupted into shining existence.

While this perspective is new within the traditions of science, from another point of view we are arriving at an understanding that was deeply appreciated during the classical religious period of humanity. Thomas Aquinas and Meister Eckhart in the Middle Ages of Europe grasped intuitively that emptiness is the source of everything. This realization is echoed in the life and teaching of Buddha, who understood that all put-together things arise from emptiness and exist inseparably with emptiness.

YOUTH: Do physics and Christianity and Buddhism say the same thing?

THOMAS: Nothing that simplistic can be said. The situation is this. The creation story unfurling within the scientific enterprise provides the fundamental context, the fundamental arena for meaning, for all the peoples of the Earth. For the first time in history, we can agree on the basic story of the galaxies, the stars, the planets, minerals, life forms, and human cultures. This story does not diminish the spiritual traditions of the classical or tribal periods of human history. Rather, the story provides the proper setting for the teaching of all traditions, showing the true magnitude of their central truths.

We have a vast new empirically grounded story of the universe, one that explodes beyond any previous telling of reality, one that encompasses all peoples because it is rooted in concrete experience. Within this emerging story, each tradition will flower beyond telling in fruitful interaction with the rest, and together we can continue our journey to our fullest destiny.

YOUTH: What is our fullest destiny?

THOMAS: To become love in human form.

YOUTH: Love? I thought we were talking about science and religion. And emptiness.

THOMAS: Yes, that’s right. The journey out of emptiness is the creation of love.

YOUTH: I’m confused.

THOMAS: By what exactly?

YOUTH: Well, by love. What do you mean by love?


In order to approach love, we must start with our common context, the emerging universe in which we find ourselves. If we want to learn anything, we must start with the cosmos, the Earth, and life forms.

Love begins as allurement – as attraction. Think of the entire cosmos, all one hundred billion galaxies rushing through space: At this cosmic scale, the basic dynamism of the universe is the attraction each galaxy has for every other galaxy.

YOUTH: But isn’t that gravity?

THOMAS: Gravity is the word we use to point to this primary attraction, but no matter how intelligently we theorize about the consequences of this attraction, the actual attracting activity remains a mystery.

YOUTH: Are you saying that this attraction is love?

THOMAS: I’m certainly not saying that gravity is human love, but what I am saying is that when we look at love from a cosmic perspective, we see attraction operating at every level. And everywhere, this attraction is as mysterious, as basic, as the allurement that we call gravitation.

YOUTH: So what you are saying is, a galaxy exists within attraction and so do I.

THOMAS: The great mystery is that we are interested in, attracted to, anything whatsoever. Love begins there. To become fascinated, to feel allurement, is to step into a wild love affair on any level of life.

Then we discover not only that we are interested, but that our interests are entirely our own. We awake to our own unique set of attractions. So do oxygen atoms. So do protons. The proton is attracted only to certain particles. On an infinitely more complex level, the same holds true for humans: Each person discovers a field of allurements, the totality of which bears the unique stamp of that person’s personality. Destiny unfolds in the pursuit of individual fascinations and interests.

YOUTH: But it almost sounds self-centered. Where do others fit in?

THOMAS: By pursuing your allurements, you help bind the universe together. The unity of the world rests on the pursuit of passion. Surprised? Let’s experiment:

Bring to mind all the allurements filling the universe, of whatever complexity or order: the allurement we call gravitation, that of electromagnetic interactions, chemical attractors, allurements in the biological and human worlds. Here’s the question: If we could snap our fingers and make these allurements – which we can’t see or taste or hear anyway – disappear from the universe, what would happen?

To begin with, the galaxies would break apart. The stars of the Milky Way would soar off in all directions, since they would no longer hold each other in the galactic dance. Individual stars would disperse as well, their atoms no longer attracting each other but wandering off in all directions, releasing core pressure and thereby shutting down fusion reactions. The stars would go dark.

The Earth would break apart as well, all the minerals and chemical compounds dissolving, mountains evaporating like huge dark clouds under the noon sun. And even if the physical world retained its shape, the human world would disintegrate just the same. No one would go to work in the morning. Why should they? There would be no attraction for the work, no matter what it was. Activity would cease. Did scientists once find the universe interesting, staying up nights to reflect on its mysteries? No longer. Did lovers chase each other in the night, abandoning all for the adventure of romance? Never again. All interest, enchantment, fascination, mystery, and wonder would fall away, and with their absence all human groups would lose their binding energy. Galaxies, human families, atoms, ecosystems, all disintegrating immediately as the allurement pervading the universe is shut off. Nothing left. No community of any sort. Just nothing.

YOUTH: That’s an amazing experiment.


It underlines the primary result of all allurement, which is the evocation of being, the creation of community. All communities of being are created in response to a prior mysterious alluring activity. Now you can understand what love means: Love is a word that points to this alluring activity in the cosmos. This primal dynamism awakens the communities of atoms, galaxies, stars, families, nations, persons, ecosystems, oceans, and stellar systems. Love ignites being.

We awake to fascination and we strive to fascinate. We work to enchant others. We work to ignite life, to evoke presence, to enhance the unfolding of being. All of this is the actuality of love. We strive to fascinate so that we can bring forth what might otherwise disappear. But this is exactly what love does: Love is the activity of evoking being, of enhancing life.

YOUTH: Now, this is human love you are describing?

THOMAS: No, no, no. You must begin to see this activity as basic to the universe. Consider a star. In its core, helium, carbon, oxygen, silicon, all the elements up to iron are created in blazing heat. If a star is of sufficient size, after billions of years it explodes, creating all the rest of the elements, sending them off into the universe. Our own solar system emerged from material of an exploded supernova, creating the planets and their many elements. Minerals and life forms are created out of supernova explosions.

Think about it! When you breathe, you breathe the creations of a star. All the life you will live is possible because of the gifts of that star. Your life has been evoked through the work of the heavens, do you see? The star emerges out of its own response to allurement, then evokes the life of others. The air we breathe, the food we eat, the compounds out of which we are composed: all creations of the supernova.

Drawn into existence by allurement, giving birth, then drawing others into existence – this is the fundamental dynamism of the cosmos. In this we can see the meaning of human life and human work. The star’s own adventure captures the whole story. It is created out of the creations of the fireball, enters into its own intense creativity, and sends forth its works throughout the galaxy, enabling new orders of existence to emerge. It gives utterly everything to its task – after its stupendous creativity, its life as a star is over in one vast explosion. But – through the bestowal of its gifts – elephants, rivers, eagles, ice jams, root beer floats, zebras, Elizabethan dramas, and the whole living Earth, become possible. Love’s dynamism is carved into the principal being of the night sky.

YOUTH: Are you saying that the star is aware of what it is doing?

THOMAS: Well, yes and no. But let’s think about it a moment. We are the self-reflexion of the universe. The universe is aware of itself through self- reflexive mind, which unfurls in the human. We allow the universe to know and feel itself. The creative work of the supernovas existed for billions of years without self-reflexive awareness. That star could not, by itself, become aware of its own beauty or sacrifice. But the star can, through us, reflect back on itself. In a sense, you are the star. Look at your hand – do you claim it as your own? Every element was forged in temperatures a million times hotter than molten rock, each atom fashioned in the blazing heat of the star. Your eyes, your brain, your bones, all of you is composed of the star’s creations. You are that star, brought into a form of life that enables life to reflect on itself. So, yes: the star does know of its great work, of its surrender to allurement, of its stupendous contribution to life, but only through its further articulation – you.

When we deepen our awareness of the simple truth that we are here through the creativity of the stars, we begin to feel fresh gratitude. When we reflect on the labor required for our life, reverence naturally wells up within us. Then, in the deepest regions of our hearts, we begin to embrace our own creativity. What we bestow on the world allows others to live in joy. Such a stupendous mystery. . . !

YOUTH: Am I then to become like a star?

THOMAS: In its pursuit of allurement, yes. In its complete immersion in the work at hand, in its identification with the activities of arousing being, yes. There are so many beings you can emulate: the simplest prokaryotic organisms struggled ceaselessly and with stunning success, altering the nature of the Earth permanently. They roamed through life and hatched those seeds of power we call genes. Who could have created them if they had not? We have no talent for that kind of work. We carry their achievements in our bodies. All the hundreds of thousands of genes in our bodies that enable such lambent beauty to delight the planet were handed to us by these primitive creatures. Your gratitude includes them. Your life emerges through their creativity.

YOUTH: But they didn’t know what they were doing I don’t see how I can be grateful to them for their mindless behavior.

THOMAS: Do you know what you are doing?

YOUTH: More than they.

THOMAS: I would hope so, yes. Unless their labor was in vain. But do you know what you are doing when you find Shakespeare so fascinating? Do you know what’s happening, in a cosmic sense? Can you explain to me quite simply why humans find mountains magnificent beyond capture in language, why they risk their lives to be up there on angular planes of granite?

YOUTH: Well, no. Not in any ultimate sense.

THOMAS: Then you share the same cosmic ignorance with the microorganisms who created the informed sequences of nucleotides we call genes. Neither you nor they understand why the cosmos should glimmer with beauty, drawing forth our deepest efforts. The simple truth is that we do pursue the fascinating beauty that surrounds us.


This is all so idealistic. I mean, sure there is beauty, but look at the way that everything is so fouled up now. Here we are on the verge of blowing up the Earth. Why is it so bad? Why are we so violent? Why can’t we just avoid all this suffering that we see everywhere? Are people ignorant of all this stuff you’re talking about? Or is it something else?

THOMAS: To begin with, understand that humans are not unique in having to suffer. Nor are humans unique in being violent. We live in a violent universe. Violence fills the cosmos in various forms, and human violence is only one of these. Violence is a universal fact, but not the dominant fact of the universe. The great mystery is not violence, but beauty. We note the violence, all the more amazed that such stupendous graciousness and beauty should exist anywhere at all.

YOUTH: But where does violence come from?

THOMAS: Destruction has its roots in the allurement permeating the universe. Allurement is the source of all activity, even destructive activity. The star, responding to allurement, destroys itself. No one comes from the outside to demolish the star. The star implodes, smashing itself into a trillion parts – its journey ended. Such tremendous violence, yet see the graciousness of hundreds of billions of stars swirling in the galactic dance.

The biological world knows all sorts of violence. The same urge that draws the lion to the river for water draws it on to kill the wildebeest. Insects are so intent to stretch forth and explore the world that they will devour their own parents if they can not find other food. Fascination with living, the enchantment of being alive, the beauty of the surrounding world – all these draw creatures into violent acts and into the destruction of being, but after four billion years of life on Earth, what beauty has blossomed forth! There is danger in the natural world, a constant challenge, excitement, violence, risk, and terror, but out of this emerges the wonder of the Earth.

With the human a new quality of violence enters the Earth system, one coming from the power of self-reflexion. This new awareness is a risk as well as an achievement of the life process. In a sense, the earth wounded itself when it took on self-reflexive sentience: there appeared new powers of creativity, new dangers of destruction. The question hanging in the solar system today is this: Will the Earth benefit in beauty by risking human self-reflexive awareness? Or will the Earth suffer a new and permanently crippling violence?

That we have brought a new level of violence to the Earth is clear. We have multiplied extinction rates many times over. The best estimates now show that the Earth loses a species every twenty minutes. We are soaking all life forms with poisons, changing rivers into lethal sewage, and hurling millions of tons of noxious gases into the respiratory system of the Earth. As scientific as we claim to be, we have yet to realize that babies do not come from storks. The simplest, most empirical fact is that babies of every species are created out of soil, air, rain, food, and rivers. If we change all of these into poison, we must accept the fact that we change our unborn into poison as well. What materials will be used for their arms but the minerals of the poisoned continents? Of what stuff will their eyes be fashioned but the water of our lethal rivers? What will those wet fleshy brains be made of but noxious gases and acid rain?

Can Earth sustain our violence? Can a great beauty grow from the ruins we leave? Concerning this question, it is important to understand the temporal nature of the Earth’s creativity. The Earth at one time was able to create life, but that time has gone. The first life forms consumed the very conditions that enabled life to emerge. The fertility of the Earth is different now. If the higher life forms disappear, they can not be re-created. When life forms vanish, they vanish forever.

YOUTH: But why has there been such a jump in violence with us? Why couldn’t we blend in the way other species blended in?

THOMAS: This is the danger of self-reflexive awareness, what I mean when I say Earth in a sense wounded itself by allowing self-reflexion to emerge. The human is dangerous precisely because the universe is sublime. Here is the real question: "Can the cosmos survive the vision of its own beauty?" Can the Earth continue to create beauty once it has created a mirror to this beauty? Can the Earth continue to organize its unfolding once its depths of eros have been tasted, their sweetness enjoyed?

YOUTH: You’re saying that beauty and allurement are at the root of all evil activity?


YOUTH: Then what goes wrong?

THOMAS: Humans are easily addicted to beauty, even a clouded vision of it, and we can not break the addiction. Our agricultural processes poison our water and destroy four billion tons of topsoil on the American continent each year, and still we keep at it. We are captivated by our consumer lives, addicted, and apparently nothing can break through. Unable to see the simple sadness of our way of life, sunk into our addictions, we overstuff our homes and garages, carrying on, unmoved by the smoke rising over the burnt-out lives of fifty other nations and a million other species. The American mind resembles a glove compartment, jammed tight with useless junk that no one pays any attention to until we consider cleaning it out; and even then, even as we wonder why we so needlessly clog up our lives, unable to part with it all, we just jam it back in its place.

The way to break an addiction is to break out of a limited world view. Break out of egocentricity. Break out of ethnocentricity. Break out of anthropocentricity. Take the view point of the Earth as a whole. In every fascination, in every allurement, include the vitality of the Earth. You are the Earth, too. The Earth is not different from you. This planet bloomed through millions of years and arrived at the stupendous achievement of self-reflexion. She surpassed herself, shivering with joy at the thought of housing a creature through whom her depths, her beauty, her majesty could be cherished in a new intensity. Imagine Earth’s astonishment to see us attempt to satisfy ourselves by transforming the Earth into throw-away tinsel, most of it noxious to all forms of life. Imagine the hilarity and pathology of a civilization devoted to stacking up this stuff, instead of plunging into the joy that has been prepared over billions of years.

YOUTH: Then why didn’t the Earth bring forth humans who were born free of our liability? You say our minds fixate on partial visions, that we forget the whole, the Earth, that we become addicted. Why didn’t the Earth avoid all the destruction we inflict?

THOMAS: Our task is to explore, to celebrate and delight in the depths of the universe. To enter this work often involves tremendous suffering. You ask, "Why can’t we be excused from our destiny?" We can be excused from this task only if some other species accomplishes it for us. Does this option appeal to you? To have something else do the work of the human? To suddenly have no worth or value whatsoever for the whole? In that case, why would the universe bother with us at all? We would have nothing to contribute. We would be, at best, only troublesome stowaways on the great cosmic journey.

The history of life can be understood as the creation of ever more sensitive creatures in a universe where there is always another dimension of beauty to be felt and savored. Think of yourself that way, as a supreme power of sensitivity surrounded by magnificence.

The paradox is this: the greater your sensitivity, the more unbearable the tension. It is much easier to latch onto just one of these allurements, making it the whole. Anyone who grabs a sliver of beauty and insists that it is the whole becomes a fanatic, workaholic, cynic, fundamentalist, or drug addict.

To break the tension of living in a universe rich in allurements is to move toward the needless destruction of pursuing a partial vision. The glory of the human is also the difficulty of the human. Precisely because we are able to feel such beauty, we are simultaneously vulnerable to the addiction of fanaticism in any of a million forms.

YOUTH: Then every destructive act comes from responding to beauty?

THOMAS: Ultimately, yes. The starting point, the first link in the chain, is an act of destruction resulting from a craving that disregards the whole story and the vitality of the whole. Destructive acts are then linked through generations as one violence is transmitted and compounded into other violences. These chains of misery can stretch through millions of years, binding up whole societies in torment. In this way, needless destruction is a response to evil that has been handed down. Parents inflict the self- contempt upon their children in physical and psychic abuse, who in turn project their self-hatred onto others and their own children. The Earth suffers under the weight of accumulated misery and pathology, all of which has its ultimate source in acts of egocentric craving. Think of all this suffering, not only human feeling but the torment in so many many realms of the planet! The magnitude of the Earth’s adventure staggers the human imagination!

YOUTH: Is there no end to it?

THOMAS: Each individual person has the power of participating in the transformation of the whole Earth. The evil that reaches you after so many millions of years of existence can be absorbed and transformed. You have the power to accept the suffering, to refuse to pass it on to another, to forgive, to end the needless torment, and, most of all, to transmute evil into energy for the vitality of the whole.


This power of transformation is just one aspect of the creative fire that was there in the primeval fireball, in the extravagant generosity of the supernovas, in the persistent creativity of biological systems. That which created all of this now desires our creativity, commitment, and labor, our delight in entering with full awareness the cosmic story. The mountains and oceans, stars and life forms – all recipients of the same generosity, contributors to the unknown future culminations of our work – all tremble with the same power. Given a finite number of days in which to live, a particular store of primordial fire with which to work, who could deny that all that matters is contributing to the awesome work of fashioning the universe?

And that’s why I condense our contemporary cosmological scientific story of reality by saying that the universe is a green dragon. Green, because the whole universe is alive, an embryogenesis beginning with the cosmic egg of the primeval fireball and culminating in the present emergent reality. And a dragon, too, nothing less. Dragons are mystical, powerful, emerging out of mystery, disappearing in mystery, fierce, benign, known to teach humans the deepest reaches of wisdom. And dragons are filled with fire. Though there are no dragons, we are dragon fire. We are the creative, scintillating, searing, healing flame of the awesome and enchanting universe.

If you have enjoyed this taste, I highly recommend the whole book. In addition to wonderful material from the first part of the book that was cut out of this excerpt, the second half has a beautiful discussion of the lessons, symbols, and meanings to be drawn from the elements of sea, land, life, fire, and wind. The book is available from Bear & Co., PO Drawer 2860, Santa Fe, NM 87504-2840, for $8.95 plus $1 postage and handling. Brian Swimme can be reached at The Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality, Holy Names College, 3500 Mountain Blvd., Oakland, CA 94619. @) 1985 by Bear & Co.; reprinted with permission.