Keep planting new seeds
until your mind becomes
the earth that gives birth to new worlds.
—Curtis Tyrone Jones
My wife Cyndy and I have been visiting nurseries, buying books for plants that do well in Southern California (shade is a challenge in our back yard), and seeking advice from our neighbors. So far we have been told that when you’re going to plant a garden you have to create a vision for it. You don’t just grab whatever seeds you can get your hands on, throw them around willy-nilly, and hope for the best. Instead, you have to ask yourself what type of garden you want, the purpose you want your garden to serve, what you want to grow in your garden, and how you want your garden laid out. Kat Reeves's class on gardening helped, along with Farmer Reverend Steve Yorba Patten, a Cobb Institute advisor, sharing his farming and gardening wisdom.
I refrain from telling neighbors, “Why, that’s exactly what we have been discussing at The Cobb Institute!”
We’ve planted some seeds and plants. I’m not sure who is going to do all the care and feeding but we’re hoping for a good harvest!
“Passion is of the nature of seed, and finds nourishment within, tending to a predominance which determines all currents towards itself, and makes the whole life its tributary.”
Note from John Cobb
We want to change the world. It continues on its self-destructive path. But much is happening about which we can rejoice. Seeds of the new world we need are sprouting everywhere. We can plant more.
In Pomona, the new world is beginning to be remarkably visible. Leaders have gone through programs in restorative justice. It shows in the relation of police to the public and in the educational system.
Joe Atman, at Middle Tree in Claremont, is developing the teaching style of the world for which we hope. He is supported by the Pomona schools, and is beginning a program to teach parents how to treat their infants, and young children to be constructive citizens of the world for which we hope.
Universities, after decades of defining their goals in terms of value free research, are beginning to concern themselves for the future of humanity and the rest of nature.
Devon Hartman has created a nonprofit business model, and used it to employ Pomonians in a program to bring solar energy to the poor. There is talk of another factory to build tiny homes for the homeless.
The movement for urban farming and garden plots, so important for the survival of cities when there are natural catastrophes or social disruptions, is taking off.
Ideas supportive of the new world are capturing the imagination of millions who have never really been comfortable thinking of themselves and nature in mechanistic terms.
More and more people want our country to cooperate with others in mitigating the coming disasters rather than in adding to our capacity to destroy one another militarily.
Our work is to keep planting seeds and to nurture the seedlings.
The Cobb institute is growing into its name: A Community for Process and Practice. As we have learned in the recent gardening class that we offered, growth takes time, patience, and nurturing. In March 2019, the seeds were planted for the Claremont Institute for Process Studies, but we did not quite know what would emerge or how it would look. In 2020, the seedlings sprouted into the Cobb Institute, and we were excited to see growth in attendance at our events and membership in our community. In 2021, the Institute is starting to bloom. Our Tuesday gathering with John Cobb and friends is the biggest flower in our garden, but we also have Spiritual Integration and the Arts, Educational Development, Community Collaboration, our partnership with the University of La Verne, small groups, social media community, Learning Lab Classes, the newsletter, a blog, and a podcast.
We are grateful for the growth, and for all the volunteers who make it happen with their time, patience, and nurturing.
“We were planting seeds of change, the fruit of which we might never see. We had to be patient.”
―Michelle Obama, Becoming
We're A Think Tank With Legs.
The Cobb Institute depends on gifts and membership from people like you. We have big ideas for making a positive impact in the world, and we can achieve our goals with your help. Your membership communicates to us that you believe in our work and enjoy our programs. To see what we have been up to, take a look at our list below.
Our interests are multiple, and intertwine through our focus areas of spiritual integration and the arts, community collaboration, educational development, and sustainable practices. We invite friends and advisors to join us in pursuing any of the programs named here, and to expand that list as we work toward realizing an ecological civilization.
Come Walk With Us
John Cobb & Friends Gatherings
March 2nd: John Grim, “Indigenous Humanities in an Era of Ecological Civilization.”
Dr. John Grim is the Coordinator of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale with Mary Evelyn Tucker, and they are series editors of “World Religions and Ecology” from Harvard Divinity School's Center for the Study of World Religions. In that series he edited Indigenous Traditions and Ecology: the Interbeing of Cosmology and Community (Harvard, 2001). He has taught courses in Environmental History and Values, Native American and Indigenous religions, World Religions and Ecology. John has also been President of the American Teilhard Association.
Find a reference to his many writings here, including articles and books about various Native American and other indigenous traditions and articles about Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Berry.
3/9: Rafael Reyes III, “Reflections of a Flame: Religious Becoming in Henry Corbin and Alfred North Whitehead."
Dr. Reyes is Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies and Director of Information Literacy and Library Services, New York Theological Seminary. In the space of religious pluralism, he will discuss similarities of Whitehead and Henry Corbin, a scholar of Islam. “They both hold to the creative as the ‘Category of the Ultimate’ to speak of the manyness of religion as well as to their unity.”
3/16: David Ray Griffin, "Reinhold Niebuhr and the Question of Global Democracy."
Co-founder with John Cobb of the Center for Process Studies, Dr. Griffin will discuss his just published book. Process Century Press publisher Jeanyne Slettom will facilitate our conversation.
This book’s central chapter involves a reconsideration of a 1973 article, ‘Whitehead and Niebuhr on God, Man, and the World,’ which appeared in the Journal of Religion (vol. 53, No. 2, April, 1973). Griffin says, “Most of the chapters are about a series of failures to find an institution to make war impossible, which officially ended with the creation of the UN.” He recommends Dumbarton Oaks: The Origins of the United Nations and the Search for Postwar Security, by Robert C. Hilderbrand (University of North Carolina Press, 2001). Excerpts from the Hilderbrand book may be found here.
“The final chapter (of David’s book) is on a rebuttal of the main arguments against the creation of a global democracy.”
3/30: Christina Hutchins: “Beyond Loss, the Beauty of Life Unfolding.”
In her podcast interview with Jay McDaniel, poet/pastor/theologian Christina Hutchins said she was drawn to Whitehead because he deals with “perishing in the midst of becoming.” He takes loss seriously. Hutchins identified Holy Week as one of her favorite parts of the Christian calendar. Beyond the reality of loss is also the reaching out of Jesus from the place of suffering. Life is affirmed in congregation. Adventures of ideas never cease to be life-changing, with more beauty and love to unfold. Her sharing of poetry will remind us that life matters! Trust yourself to it as a swimmer trusts in water!
Find more about Christina Hutchins—poet, process philosopher/theologian, teacher/workshop leader, speaker/retreat facilitator—at her website.
From Our Podcast
Hosted by Jay McDaniel, Conversations in Process aims to understand and explore a process outlook on life, with its emphasis on inter-becoming; the intrinsic value of all life; the presence of fresh possibilities; and the need create communities that are creative, compassionate, diverse, inclusive, and participatory; humane to animals, and good for the earth, with no one left behind.
Charles Eisenstein – Honoring the Relationality of Life
Charles Eisenstein knows that something more is possible. As you listen to him you might think: “He articulates a lot of what process philosophers like Whitehead believe, but he says it even better.” Eisenstein takes us into a world of inter-becoming, mutual immanence, and sensitivity to the intrinsic value of all life, inviting us to live with reverence and care for one another and the whole of life. He offers a metaphysics for ecological civilization, and does so with grace and clarity, humor and honesty, passion and insight. One of his most important books is “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible.” He takes us into that world.
Kathleen Reeves – Growing Together With Trees
What do you know about paganism? The Harvard Pluralism Project lists Paganism as one of the seventeen prominent religious pathways in America. And yet Paganism is one of the least understood of today's spiritual paths. Like Native American and indigenous traditions, it is an earth-centered and earth-sensitive tradition with multiple expressions, open to many ways of understanding the Divine and seeing the earth itself as sacred. In this conversation, Kathleen Reeves talks about ideas, communities, and rituals that shape her journey into paganism, as well as her special connection with trees. Living near Claremont, California, she’s a member of the Board of the Cobb Institute, the leader of their work in spiritual integration and the arts, as well as an interfaith minister, process philosopher, and Druid priestess.
From Our Blog: Process & Praxis
To Love More
By Andre van Zijl, February 15, 2021
Love! How to know what it is? What kind of LOVE do we speak of when we use the word LOVE? Is it a feeling, a presence, a noun, a verb? Can it be drawn out from its dark cave of unknowability by the deliberate poverty of the pure soul, and romanced into the bright glare of noon, for all to see?
Three Sessions Exploring the Impulse to Find Meaning in Suffering and Seeking Healthy Alternatives
In this three-week course Dr. Bob Mesle will examine the human impulse to find meaning in suffering, explore the ways in which people with good intentions often offer comforts which can lead to an unhealthy denial of life’s problems, and consider more healthy alternatives.
Areas of Focus
We're currently working to update and build out our website to better reflect our work, philosophy, and mission to advance wisdom, harmony, and the common good. Our aim to cultivate compassionate communities and ultimately bring about an ecological civilization is facilitated by fostering creative transformation in four main areas: educational development, community collaboration, sustainable practices, and spiritual integration. Below we offer a preview of some of our ideas about each area. There will be more to come. Everything is in process!
Promoting Healthy Communities
Promoting healthy communities encompasses our efforts in community collaboration and sustainable practices at the Cobb Institute. We seek to convene, connect and catalyze initiatives where we have the opportunity to contribute significantly in the Pomona Valley in ways that advance the cause of ecological civilization. We undertake projects to make long term improvements in Pomona Valley community's quality of life; increase its resilience to systemic breakdown; and catalyze transformative change for the advancement of ecological civilization.
Our approach is most concisely captured by the term "creative localization," which involves the following six dimensions:
- Energy: Generating power locally from renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydrogen, and where possible, using technology created and stored locally.
- Food: Growing food locally or regionally using regenerative agriculture techniques that work cooperatively with nature and the earth.
- Housing: Developing affordable housing in blended neighborhoods that encourage mutual support.
- Education: Engaging all individuals in a life-long process of discovery to contribute creatively and meaningfully to society with values rooted in humanity, community and ecology, and to live joyously in harmony with diversity.
- Culture: Developing a culture that values balance, sufficiency, human freedom and creative expression, rather than acquisition, consumption and servitude.
- Economics: Pursuing economic policies that maximize the happiness of all and the ecological sustainability of the planet.
Exploring Process Philosophies
Exploring process philosophies encompasses our efforts in educational development. Our desire is to provide educational offerings, experiences, and resources that are centered around process-relational philosophy. If we take seriously Whitehead’s challenge to make “life” the focal point of education, our work has a never-ending agenda: to gain wisdom and understanding in multiple facets of life, to enhance and deepen the rhythm of teaching and learning, and to integrate the various fields of inquiry in order to help solve the serious challenges facing humans and the world we live in. In short, our aim is to provide insights and participate in actions toward the goal of realizing an ecological civilization.
Our philosophy of education includes the following underlying principles:
- All life deserves respect. Everything is connected; nothing in nature stands alone.
- Thinking and feeling are connected; mind and body are not separate entities; aesthetic wisdom and rational inquiry are complementary.
- There is a profound relationship between creativity, beauty, and life.
- Learning begins by experiencing the presence of the world and being affected by it.
- Happiness involves sharing experience with others and responding in harmony to these relationships.
- Harmony includes differences as well as similarities.
- Change is an ongoing component of reality; nothing ever stays the same. The process of reality is creative, emergent, evolutionary, and social.
Fostering Spiritual Vitality
Fostering spiritual vitality encompasses our efforts in spiritual integration and the arts. The spiritual integration group at the Cobb Institute explores diverse possibilities for embodied wisdom and emotional intelligence in daily life, as responsive to a healing spirit at work in the world. We seek to learn from and offer resources for multiple faith communities, to honor many different ways of wisdom, and to welcome both traditional and novel expressions of spirituality.
Our understanding of spirituality and the arts includes the following principles:
- All living beings are subjects of their own lives, with intrinsic value.
- We are relational beings, and compassion is an expression of that knowledge.
- We are in search of meaning about our becoming and the world’s becoming.
- No single faith community or wisdom tradition provides an absolute understanding of truth, or exhaustive guidance toward goodness, or exclusive access to beauty.
- There are diverse possibilities for embodied wisdom and emotional intelligence.
- We honor and value the multiplicity of spirituality expressed throughout the world.
- We strive to recognize and appreciate beauty in its novelty and diverse manifestations.
- Creativity occurs in a variety of forms.
- Nature is alive, and we are interwoven with it in a shared fabric of reality.
- We seek the integration of many forms of rich experience: attention, compassion, faith, forgiveness, hospitality, imagination, listening, meaning-making, openness, peace, playfulness, silence, wonder, and a zest for life
New Book By Jay McDaniel
Science and everyday experience increasingly demonstrate that ours is a dynamic, interconnected, relational universe. It was the great insight of Alfred North Whitehead that we need a philosophy to match this understanding. That he succeeded in this is hampered by the complexity of his ideas and the words he used to describe it. In What Is Process Thought, Jay McDaniel easily overcomes this difficulty. Using metaphor, imagery, and examples from everyday life, McDaniel brings the “aha” experience of understanding to readers, whether process thought is new to them or already familiar. Old-order thinking has brought us to the precarity of geopolitical crises and climate change. If we are to survive, we must make the shift from substance-mechanistic thinking to process-relational thinking. This little book is a gateway to that great and necessary shift.