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10 | RICHARD GROSSINGER – Anthropologist and Author “Bottoming Out the Universe”


Richard Grossinger, moved from being a consultant and acquisitions editor at North Atlantic books, the press he founded with Lindy Hough in 1974, to curating his own imprint, Sacred Planet Books, at Inner Traditions. His own Inner Traditions book, Bottoming Out the Universe : Why There is Something Rather than Nothing, also came out this year. Richard received a BA from Amherst College and a PhD in anthropology from the University of Michigan. Writing with literary sensibility, he is the author of some 40 books. His writing can be divided into three overlapping categories: general experimental prose; books on science topics viewed historically, cross-culturally, epistemologically, esoterically, and in terms of pop culture; and autobiographical memoirs. The books range from long explorations of science, culture, and spirituality (The Night Sky: Soul and Cosmos, Planet Medicine, Embryogenesis: Species, Gender, and Identity), to memoirs (New Moon, Out of Babylon), to experimental prose (Book of the Earth and Sky, Spaces Wild and Tame), and science fiction (Mars: A Science Fiction Vision). He and Lindy Hough are the parents of Robin Grossinger, an environmental scientist working on urban redesign under climate change, and Miranda July, a multimedia artist and Hollywood indy director.

Richard Grossinger website

Richard’s mission: “I think I’m here to face the shadow-self, with an opportunity to transform something outside of time and space. More and more, I believe that life is a matter of honoring the mystery, while not knowing quite what your mission is. The trick is to stay true to it amid all the paradoxes and counterintuitive paths, and to not get swept up in any of the unintegrated realms of myth and spirit.”

Richard’s one-line message to the world:  “I’m not much for one-liners of any sort, especially in a sound-bite culture, but I was thinking today that when Rodney King said, ‘Why can’t we all just get along?’ it sounded naïve, sweet, and a tad disingenuous, but now, so soon after, it sounds like a voice from another universe, and that’s not good given the challenge the universe is putting before our planet and species.”

The SUE Speaks Blog Post about Richard Grossinger

“Richard Grossinger’s new book, The Night Sky, should be heralded as the publishing event of the decade. This is a book that has the power to change your relationship to the universe. I would even say it has the potentiality to participate in the evocation of a new civilization. You should know from the start that it is not an easy read, and I am not referring to the cutting edge science which is all presented with great clarity. In fact, the real difficulty in reading The Night Sky is directly related to its power, for to understand Grossinger’s vision of the universe one needs to open up the soul in ways that have been forgotten, ignored, and even explicitly oppressed by Western civilization for over 400 years now.

“Let me make a prediction. In the far future, when humanity has found its way beyond our present hyper destructive industrial form of society, and when historians are looking back on the 21st century to identify the crucial events that showed the way, The Night Sky will be very high on their list. I especially hope the young creative personalities of our time find their way here. To them I make one more prediction. You will have a wide range of experiences as you read. Sometimes you will be thrilled by the energies and structures of the universe, sometimes you will simply marvel at how much our contemporary sciences have discovered, sometimes you will be confused by the wide range of experiences and interpretations offered, sometimes you will argue against the vision in the book, sometimes you will argue for, but most of all as you swim about in The Night Sky you will find yourself exploding with new ideas, your own fresh ideas, new ideas sparked into existence by your interaction with this profound work that serendipity or just pure chance has placed in your hands.”

  • The changing times where people no longer read books
  • The arc of Richard’s work investigates 4 main topics: medicine, cosmology, embryology, and consciousness, each from a combination of scientific, anthropological, and historic and esoteric viewpoints
  • The journey of Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad
  • The depth of our misguidedness and being driven deeper to find our way
  • Bottoming Out the Universe : Why There is Something Rather than Nothing.  This is the next book of Richard’s that will be published soon by Inner Traditions.
  • Consciousness is outside of science
  • Influence on Richard: John Freidlander, meditation teacher and psychic
  • Is the universe real? Is it meaningful?
  • A run-down of Richard’s long history with Suzanne
  • Being human as the best game in town
  • Upcoming podcast guest, Larry Dossey, MD, and the power of prayer
  • What is the true possibility of massive transformation?
  • “It’s easier for humanity to imagine the extinction of existence than it is for them to imagine fixing it.”
  • Instead of looking to change the world, look to how to change yourself first. Previous podcast guest, Jodie Evans, is used as an example.
  • The absurd, the incomprehensible and cruel world, and the self sabotage going on

Podcast theme music: “Suzanne”
Performed by Leonard Cohen
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By arrangement with Sony Music Entertainment

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Comments · 19

  • Detlef Schlich · October 3, 2020

    Thanks again for this conversation. It speaks exactly out of my mind and my field of research. I came across a lot of these thoughts as I wrote and researched 2016 for my Visual Arts degree Thesis about the cause and effect of shamanism, art and digital culture. Looking forward to reading “Bottoming Out the Universe: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing”. Just ordered it. 🙂 All the best from the wild West Cork x Detlef

    • suzanne · October 11, 2020

      Sounds like an interesting thesis! Can you send it along for Richard and me?

  • Pingback: Sue Speaks Podcast - Richard Grossinger | The Galileo Commission

  • Richard Grossinger · June 11, 2020

    I am grateful for all the thoughtful comments on the discussion that Suzanne and I had in November. We were each talking about the wonder and strangeness and possibility of existence, with the additional context that we have been talking this way since the fifties. Back then, we had no idea how the world was about to change, but our engagement was open to possibility, and each of our views, as well as your views, add to both the clarity and the mystery as it evolves. It is important that we try to talk to each other and stay human. By the nature of birth and geography, we are differentially privileged or disenfranchised, to a horrific degree in some instances in the Middle East, parts of Asia and Africa, and “even” the U. S. But, that is the starting point, not the endpoint. When we stop being human and turn into moral imperatives, self-justified without being earned, these problems will metastasize, viralize (COVID-19 is a model as well as our raw Gaian RNA), and replace civil society. We are very fragile and vulnernable just now, each of us and the planet. Suzanne and I talked, and you have been listening on a soul level as the world changes. We were privileged to be able to meet in the same room without masks. Consider how deeply the planet’s vibration has changed behind the unchanging veil of our voices. They change, too, their blind and prescient energies change. No one said that Aquarius, or what its trope stands for, would come without birth pains. And no one said that those pains would just be metaphorical or even “Aquarian.” Thanks again, Hanna, Stan, Brenda, John, Julia, et al. May we each find a path of hope and service and revelation.

    • suzanne · June 11, 2020

      Thanks for these thoughtful comments. What a different world it is, at a basic level of current activity, from just a short while ago, although what festered underneath that is what feeds the violence now. We needed something dramatic, like the virus, to get us to deal with the unworkable distance between the rich and poor, the privileged and the disenfranchised. When I contemplate the big picture, I may be naive but it looks obvious to me that the change the world needs would come from a changed worldview where we care about each other as much as we care about ourselves. We barely talk about that as we address the surface manifestations of unworkability, which is moving the deck chairs on the Titanic sort of stuff. We need to be working on bringing everyone up from extreme poverty to a level of at least sustenance, with food and shelter and education. Call me naive but why not? If the billionaires came together in that spirit, I bet they could work it out. And, let’s get on with some version of Universal Basic Income, which I see as an inevitable salvation. (Our program about that was A WORLD WITHOUT WORK:

  • Hanna Levinson · April 25, 2020

    Just listened to the Richard Grossinger interview and received great value, i think his message and his struggle speaks to the soul of many and the hour passed too quickly for me. I simply wanted more. I’d say to Sue, those things you see, believe, assume to be true, which so frustrate you about all that is so clearly “not right” in the world are impeding your path to the already unfolding world you have so wonderfully envisioned all these years. I wanted to say how can you know billionaires and others are not already financing, supporting, creating the very movement toward and into that better reality? And why do you question it so vociferously? Most of us tuned in to hear Richard. His lessons are worth taking to heart. I love that you two are friends and particularly appreciated the very dear acknowledgement he gave to your life’s journey. I too have always appreciated how truly influential you have been to the growth of L.A.’s spiritual community and helping to expand the truly global spiritual community. Your intelligence, creativity, and enormous heart are a gift to us all, Suzanne, I value your many contributions and love you dearly. Just don’t talk so much on these interviews; I found myself saying, shut up, suzanne! way too often (well maybe only 3 times), xh

    • suzanne · April 25, 2020

      Hey hey hey, I really appreciate the feedback. Will listen again with what you said in mind. Since every comment made stands for some large number not made, and I wouldn’t want anything to get in the way of delivering what the really interesting people I speak to have to say, will be serious about paying attention. And, thanks for the appreciations. We do go way way back so you also have my bigger picture. I think you were part of the gang here when Ramana held court. Have you listened to the podcast with him?

  • Stan Pokras · April 12, 2020

    What can one say, this conversation was good. I liked the contrast between Your seeking solutions and Richard’s view of the world that made me think of clouds. In some places it’s sunny, some it’s stormy. Some weather events are destructive and the wind blows away homes and whole communities. While other weather is the source of water or sunshine for all the growing things. And yet, in most of the sky (even the dark clouds) there is a great deal of beauty.
    I’ve come to believe that we as the earth’s most conscious residents are here primarily to observe and appreciate the wonder of the Universe. The fact that we’re part of what’s happening makes for much of the confusion we feel when we try to appreciate or understand what god (for want of a better term) has created. Looking at things from the middle (where else can I see myself to be?) the universe is infinitely large, and infinitely small. It’s infinitely good and infinitely evil.
    Now can we affect what is happening? I think, Probably Yes.
    Here are two perspectives:
    1) Paul Hawken talks about who’s working to fix things in his book, “Blessed Unrest.” He summarizes his view in this 6 minute video:
    2) The people at The Story of Stuff, offer this idea about Solutions:

    Thank you, Suzanne for what you are doing. You are part of the solution!
    And I honor your work here:
    — Stan

    • suzanne · April 12, 2020

      What a pleasure to meet a counterpart of myself. That we “are here primarily to observe and appreciate the wonder of the Universe” is what Brian Swimme says in The Universe is a Green Dragon: this sentient universe, that always is evolving itself, took a chance on making humans because they could destroy the earth but it gave the universe a way to appreciate itself. “Evil from Cosmic Risk” is the name of the chapter – and indeed we’ve been good at the evil part and it’s not clear yet if creating humans was a good idea. I so love Brian – as does Richard – and, if you haven’t read Green Dragon, you’re in for a big treat.

      Your thoughtful response made me do some homework to watch the YouTube videos. I actually heard Paul Hawken deliver that talk in L.A. years ago. A big yes, although reading talks isn’t my favorite and when he read it in L.A. I was impressed by that astonishing collection of forward-thinking organizations and frustrated that there only was that and nothing about what to do. The Story of Stuff was impressive on all counts — so well done and a very clear demonstration of GNP and what’s wrong with measuring success by it. A very very good demo!!!!!

      What a good idea WikiDelphia is. Does an entry in it make me an honorary citizen of Philadelphia? Your website,, also is a great project. It’s challenging to get people to engage with each other, which we need more of in this era where we are so separated, and it looks like you indeed have got some magic going that makes that happen.

  • John Fellows · March 16, 2020

    Great conversation Suzanne.

    • suzanne · March 16, 2020

      I so enjoy talking to Richard and was glad to be able to share some of the dialogue we’ve been having for decades now!

  • John Travis, MD · March 15, 2020

    Well done Suzanne. I love what you contribute. Richard’s a gift

    • suzanne · March 16, 2020

      I was concerned about doing him justice and am so glad his “gift” got delivered!

  • Brenda Hamilton · March 14, 2020

    Richard Grossinger’s podcast and your thoughtful comments were real, from your hearts, and stimulating. I will listen to it again in order to be like a bee gathering nectar and not wanting to miss a single molecule. My book, Breakthrough to Brilliance, Changing the World by Changing the Way We Learn, addresses points about capitalism, greed, creativity, and a total plan which Jean Houston has called “Phenomenal, luminous, and critical for our time.”

    • suzanne · March 16, 2020

      Your work is so broad and profound that it would take a lot of study to understand it. With my keen interest in conversations provoked by what I put out, perhaps you could cut to the chase and give us a very brief intro to the fundamental difference in your fascinating model from how we conduct education. How about a comparison to the Waldorf Schools?

  • Jim Dreaver · March 13, 2020

    Good interview, Suzanne, with a man you have known since childhood. He needs to wake up though – to see the light of his true nature, that he is that light, as we all are. He is still too caught up the the “story” of “Richard Grossinger.”

    • suzanne · March 14, 2020

      He doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, and, in fact, he is in a period of profound questions. Hopefully, this podcast will be provocative to others, as it has been to you, to see beyond whatever implosion he’s in. If you had more to say, that would be very good.

  • Julia Stuart · March 13, 2020

    I loved this conversation…so many doors open / the light balancing the darkness;/personal truths being unabashedly shared… profound questions and individual surmisings being raised… Thank you

    • suzanne · March 14, 2020

      I looked forward to this being provocative, so I appreciate your confirmation of that!

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