Sunday, January 31, 2010

Conscious Evolution

Life is an evolutionary journey and humankind is on an evolutionary path. This journey towards more evolved forms of intellect, understanding, and creativity requires capacities that lie latent within our very selves. To accept conscious evolution then is to accept that individually and collectively we have a responsibility towards our future. This involves purposeful thinking and action; to use our creative capacities to guide our lives and the communities in which we live. To envision a creative, dynamic, and positive future is a preliminary step upon the path of conscious evolution. First, we make the choice for ourselves; then we give intention and commitment in order to give life to those choices. At its core, conscious evolution is a spiritual endeavour in that it affirms the potential capacity of each human to participate within a creative cosmos. It affirms our use and commitment of powerful physical and spiritual energies. It also gives rise to a new worldview – a new perceptual paradigm that views our evolutional process as a lesser step within grander processes. The opposite of this (which has been prevalent for far too long) is for unconscious human energies to be used without our knowledge or knowing participation.


Conscious evolution is also a very real social movement providing for a higher level of cooperative communication and action. It is a partnership understanding that offers personal development and learning, community building and assistance, and ways towards practical, positive social change.[i]


Conscious evolution also implies that each human, each part, is an integral and interrelated part of the whole. The following personal experience highlights this interconnectedness:

In 1983, after three days and nights of praying and fasting on a mountain top, I snapped a twig with my fingers and had a revelation. I saw that this simple action had changed the world, and that it would never be the same again. I could never put that twig back together the way it had been. This was a small change, but an important change nonetheless. As the sound of the snap reverberated within my mind, I understood how everything I said and did changed the world. What came with the snapping twig was not an abstract idea or a philosophical insight, but a living experience of how all my actions influence creation.[ii]

The new sciences have revealed that the concept of integral relationships is now a reality; that all living organisms are energetically integrated within a shared informational and creative field. As an evolving species, we are encouraged to work together towards this synergy, or gestalt: where the whole is greater than its sum, and thus leads to emerging properties of the collective. However, we can only function in accordance with our level of knowledge and capacity. We cannot be told what is, or what needs to be done; we can only be guided until that understanding becomes an inherent part of ourselves. Then we have an organic sense of how we should act to fit in with the dynamic whole. Yet we can modify our thoughts, action, and behaviours through self-observation. We can learn to clear our minds of antiquated belief-systems and accumulated junk in order to allow these new thoughts to penetrate. We may think we learn, yet often we learn rote without the thinking. We should aim towards a conscious digestion of information: to learn how to learn; to know how to know.[iii]

In a similar way, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin talks about the collective, unified soul of humankind as a ‘conspiracy’ of individuals who conspire together to evolve to a new stage of life. De Chardin wrote tirelessly of how continued evolution towards cosmic spirit was a conscious duty hidden, sometimes forgotten, within humankind:

In us the world’s evolution towards spirit has become conscious. Our perfection, our interest, our salvation as elements can depend therefore on nothing less than pushing this evolution forward with all our strength. We may not yet understand exactly where it is taking us, but it is absurd for us to doubt that it is leading as towards some end of supreme value.[iv]

The over-arching question for de Chardin was how modern humanity could best organise, maintain, and distribute the vital energies required for this process. In this there are precise conditions necessary for the storage and utilization of energies. Referring back to what was said in Chapter Two concerning living complex systems, in order to defy entropy living organisms are required to absorb, store, utilize, and distribute energy. The human and the cosmos are both two examples of creative, dynamic, living complex systems; hence, the rules still apply. How we store and utilize our personal energies is of paramount importance and should become central to our lives.

[i] For more information see - Banathy, B. H. (2000) Guided Evolution of Society: A Systems View. New York: Springer.

[ii] Mcfadden, S. (1991) Profiles in Wisdom: Native Elders Speak About the Earth, Santa Fe, NM, Bear & Company.

[iii] Recommended reads include Shah, I. (1996) Learning How to Learn: Psychology and Spirituality the Sufi Way London: Octagon Press. Shah, I. (1998) Knowing How to Know: A Practical Philosophy in the Sufi Tradition. London: Octagon Press.

[iv] Chardin, T. d. (1974) Let Me Explain. London: Fontana.

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