How to Ignite Secular Spirituality

Exploring Our Quest for Meaning
A virtual convening with Marcelo Gleiser
Wednesday, April 15, 2020

“The year 2020 will be remembered as a turnaround point in human history. Not just because many will die, but because the Covid-19 pandemic is offering us a chance to reinvent ourselves...

We are entering the age of tribal override, the time when our species will begin to operate as one, as a human hive, working across the planet as a member of a living community of species and not as a destructive parasite. One tribe that embraces diversity and the common good.”
-- Professor Marcelo Gleiser, CNN Op-Ed “Covid-19 will change us as a species”.

This discussion with Marcelo Gleiser examined how the Covid-19 pandemic is impacting our world views and ways we can co-create a new world through our individual and collective actions.



As part of time together, Prof. Gleiser challenged the group to consider two questions:

  • How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted your world view?
  • What action(s) will you take to create a new world post-pandemic?

A number of inspiring ACTIONS were put forward:

Respect Nature

  • Consider virtual before in-person gatherings to reduce carbon emissions, avoid useless travels
  • Adapt, as a society, to a new, sustainable world. In case we will return to the previous ”normal,“ something even more devastating will come to us.
  • Be a more thoughtful consumer of goods and services. Avoid and discourage use of foods derived from unsustainable or cruel processes. Cultivate awareness of the impact of my actions and the actions of organizations with which I’m involved. Continue to respect nature in all its forms. Volunteer for the community.
  • Promote values that allow us to see the need for humility and a better relationship with Earth.

Nurture oneself, support better relationships within communities and one “human tribe”

  • Hold myself with kindness and discipline, deepen my practice to be able to hold more people as they go through difficult times
  • See more of myself (goodwill) in others and become more connected to the world
  • Build resilience
  • Build a stronger view of a human hive and how we need it to be shared across the planet
  • Create and offer mindfulness workshops/events - both physically and live
  • Continue to support education/programs that focus on spirituality and values.
  • Contribute to changing the paradigm on leadership in the world. Inspire and train leaders to introduce love and compassion in governance
  • Take time for things that are really important: taking care of each other, be more human
  • Convince governments to develop strong health systems
  • Amplify voices and recognize women that are doing common acts of goodness during the crisis. I will publish this globally for the young generation.
  • Develop storytelling and experiential books for children to understand the need for collective actions and systems thinking.

Marcelo Gleiser

Marcelo Gleiser is a theoretical physicist at Dartmouth College, specializing in particle cosmology—mixing the physics of the very smallest constituents of the universe with the physics of the Universe as a whole. To make sense of the world and our place in the grand scheme of things, he studies the emergence of complex structures in nature, focusing on very fundamental questions related to what he calls the “three origins”: cosmos, life, and mind. Professor Gleiser is the 2019 Templeton Prize Laureate, and his books include "The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning."