The Consciousness Revolution

Consciousness is the basis of all life and the field of all possibilities. Its nature is to expand and unfold its full potential. The impulse to evolve is thus inherent in the very nature of life.
Maharishi MaheshYogi

For more than thirty years now I have been exploring religious traditions and different techniques of meditation and have found the mystical heart of all of them to be uplifting and transforming including the Christianity of my childhood. This has made it very hard for me to put any sort of label on my religious affiliations. In recent years however I been more than happy to call myself a spiritual evolutionary in the tradition of Sri Aurobindo(1) in the East and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin(2) in the West.

Evolutionary spirituality celebrates what has become known as our Big History. It is the epic story of evolution from the formation of galaxies and the origin of life, to the development of consciousness and culture.

A rapidly growing community of spiritual seekers across the planet are finding inspiration from the new cosmology that tells the astounding story of the evolution  of our staggeringly vast  universe  out of nothing 13.7 billion years ago.  All the riches of planet earth: elephants, butterflies, Mozart, Shakespeare and you and I and the world wide web have all emerged from  the energy of that initial event.

It is a story that is now familiar to most of us but it is not always appreciated just how new it is. A mere two centuries ago Charles Darwin introduced the notion of biological evolution and it was only in the late 1920s, when Edwin Hubble with his telescope found evidence for the expansion of the cosmos, that the idea that the entire universe might be evolving was entertained. It wasn’t until the 1970s that sufficient evidence had accrued for cosmologists to embrace what had become known as the Big bang theory of the origin of the universe.

I find it hard to comprehend how anyone becoming aware our evidence based Big History and contemplating the vastness and sublime beauty of the cosmos is not moved to acknowledge the spiritual mystery at the heart of it all.  The story of cosmic evolution is a story of creative abundance. As a spiritual evolutionary I believe that creativity, manifesting as a never ending quest for greater consciousness and complexity, to be propelled by an evolutionary force that manifests in each and everyone of us: “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower, drives my blood” (Dylan Thomas). “The love that moves the sun and other stars (Dante). And it is a force that is purposeful. It is taking us somewhere. It is seems ludicrous to me to believe, as the Darwinian materialists do, that an organism as complex as a human being could have evolved through mere random fluctuations in the arrangement of inert matter. It has been said to be about as likely as a wind sweeping through a junkyard and assembling by chance a Boeing 747!

Spiritual evolutionaries see the universe from the microcosm to the macrocosm as having some form of consciousness. In other words consciousness does not emerge as an accidental epiphenomenon of matter but is the very essence of matter. When Teilhard de Chardin expressed such ideas in the mid 20th century they were dismissed by conventional science as being religious hocus pocus but revelations around the curious behaviour of subatomic particles has forced some revisions in that regard. For example, physicist Freeman Dyson has said:

I think our consciousness is not just a passive epiphenomenon carried along by the chemical events of our brains, but as an active agent forcing the molecular complexes to make choices between one quantum sate and another. In other words, mind is already inherent in every electron. (quoted in Combs 2002:73)

Big History is the first origin story in human history that we can all share and which is based on evidence not faith. Evolutionary spirituality holds the promise of transcending cultural and religious differences uniting humanity in a shared perception of where we have come from, where we may yet go and what really matters.

There is no reason to think that the evolutionary process has stopped. Man is a transitional animal. He is not the climax of creation.

I highly recommend a recently publishes book by Carter Phipps entitled “Evolutionaries:Unlocking the Spiritual and Cultural Potential of Science’s Greatest Idea.  Extremely well written coverage of the history of evolutionary ideas and their pressing relevance to us all at this time . Quote:

As the fog of fixity lifts, we are finding ourselves much more then observers and witnesses to life’s grand unfolding drama. We are influential actors, newly aware of the immense tides that are shaping the world within and without, just becoming cognizant of our own freedom- and immense responsibility.” (p.30)

Carter Phipps edited the magazine EnlightenNext  and is a long term student of evolutionary guru Andrew Cohen.

Hopefully this is a book that will  be very significant in bringing evolutionary spirituality and what is known as the “Integral Movement” into mainstream where it desperately needs to be.