Gaianism (book)/Introduction/Gaianism

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This is the Gaia, Gaian, Gaianism Chapter of the Introduction section of the book Gaianism.

[edit] Gaia, Gaian, Gaianism

In Greek mythology, Gaia (from Ancient Greek Γαῖα, a poetical form of Gē Γῆ, "land" or "earth"; also Gaea, or Ge) was the personification of the Earth, one of the Greek primordial deities. Gaia was the great mother of all: the primal Greek Mother Goddess; creator and giver of birth to the Earth and all the Universe; the heavenly gods, the Titans, and the Giants were born to her. The gods reigning over their classical pantheon were born from her union with Uranus (the sky), while the sea-gods were born from her union with Pontus (the sea). Her equivalent in the Roman pantheon was Terra.[1][2] The Gaia hypothesis, also known as Gaia theory or Gaia principle, proposes that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a self-regulating, complex system that contributes to maintaining the conditions for life on the planet. For example, life forms affecting the stability of global temperature, ocean salinity, oxygen in the atmosphere and other environmental characteristics. The hypothesis was formulated by the scientist James Lovelock and co-developed by the microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s.[3] Following this hypothesis, the Gaia Movement is an international network of individuals and groups that are concerned that Globalisation may not be sustainable and aim to promote ecologically sustainable development.[4]

In Gaianism, Gaia is the name given to the biosphere, or living Earth. In this context, Gaia is not a deity but a superorganism, an organism made of all organisms on Earth. To picture what a superorganism is, just think about what you're made of: right now you're composed of some 10 trillion human cells, most of which include your unique DNA but some are with your mother's which have been living inside you since you were a foetus, and some cells from other people such as your children, partner and others, plus about 100 trillion non-human unicellular lifeforms such as bacteria, protists, yeasts and amoeba, billions of viruses, plus a good number of fungi, plants, and animals such as insects and crustaceans living in and around you. All of these life forms have an effect on who you are, on how you behave, the decisions you make, the sensations and emotions you feel, the thoughts that spring in your mind. You can't communicate with any of those lifeforms, nor they can communicate with you. You have a subjectivity (your unified experiential being) that is independent of any possible subjectivities of your constituent parts. You renew most cells in your body as time passes, and each cell renew their molecules, and even though you have no trace of the chemistry and cells you were composed of a few years ago, your subjectivity remains unchanged, you feel you haven't changed. As an analogy, it can be said that you are to Gaia what a single cell (say a neurone) is to you. Gaia is not aware of you, just as you're not aware of that specific cell, however you (your subjectivity) can only continue to exist provided you maintain homeostatic, i.e. an integrity that prevents the whole system plummeting and becoming incapable of sustaining life.

Gaianism is the belief that Gaia is alive and has a subjectivity, is independent of its constituent parts and unable to communicate with them, but dependent on them for maintaining homeostasis and remain alive, and is concerned with ensuring that Gaia remains alive and as healthy as it was prior to human civilisations. Gaianism assumes that health is manifested through the sustainability of its diversity and expansiveness of life throughout the biosphere. A Gaian is a person who shares this belief and concern, and expresses it by adopting a purposely designed culture comprised of values, behaviours and implementation strategies defined by the Gaianism religion. Gaianism is designed to be egalitarian and horizontal, with a clear and simple protocol to enable its development without the need for authoritarianism. Also, Gaianism limits its religious aspect to not much more than the belief in Gaia's subjectivity and the mystery of subjectivity itself (generally referred by other belief systems as spirit, or soul), and embraces the Methods of Science along with Gaianism's fundamental principles, or Dogma. Gaians core set of values are a deep respect for sentient life and the order of the Natural world, a high esteem for freedom of expression, and an alignment between knowledge, beliefs, behaviours and shared objectives. The goals of Gaianism are ensuring the health, safety and endurance of Gaia, and the development of environments for people living free from labour, inequality, imposed violence, oppression, and submission.

The selection for a name for this religion was not without difficulty and consideration. The Gaianism religion is intended to be universally accessible: it is meant to be open to anyone regardless of their personal beliefs, ethnicity, language, or circumstances. One of the fundamental principles of Gaianism is the care for consistency, and therefore its very name would be required to conform with this intention for being universally accessible. Any choice for language ends up creating favouritism towards that language, and by extension, any cultures that identify with such language; even when selecting a word that doesn't mean anything in any language, the choice of sounds would still be subject to the same problem. A sensible choice would be using a word from an ancient civilisation, one that would allow most people feeling identified, one that would pay homage to a distant common root. There were several great ancient civilisations to consider in terms of the development of knowledge and cultural refinement that have permeated the entire world, such as the Persian/Parsi (possibly the first civilisation, and who invented standards such as weight and money[5]), the Egyptian (who invented astronomy, timekeeping, glass, and the phonetic alphabet[6]), Hindu/Brahmin (who invented the decimal notation used ubiquitously today throughout the world), the Babylonian (the sexagesimal notation, still used today for minutes and seconds in time and angles), the Chinese (the print and the merit system among countless others[7]). There were many other cultures, perhaps smaller and less powerful or long-lived, who's legacy still lives today and makes an important part of our everyday lives. The choice was settled for ancient Greek language for multiple reasons: it is an ancient language which is still widely used today in Science and although still spoken today (in a modern form) it is only spoken in the region where it was initially conceived. And even though it has an imperialist past, its culture has not been dominant for more than two thousand years. Greek words have been chosen time and time again for naming advances, discoveries and inventions in science and philosophy, and has been adopted and adapted by cultures throughout the world. It was in also in the Greek region of Miletus that a technologically and scientifically developed culture exalted freethinking, leading to the scientific revolution with personalities such as Thales[8]. There is today also a mostly universal familiarity with the sounds of the Greek language, with words such as democracy, philosophy, and olympic games, and it is the hope of Gaianism that this choice will not feel foreign, offend nor create any form of segmentation. It is also important to note that Greek culture was heavily influenced by Persian and Egyptian civilisations (partly thanks to Phoenician trading)[9], Hindu philosophy[10], many ancient Greeks were of sub-Saharan origin[11], and they probably had profound interactions with Chinese culture[12].

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