- Dialogue: What Is Conscious Evolution?
- Dialogue: Why Does Conscious Evolution Matter?
- Dialogue: How Is Conscious Evolution Actionable?
These dialogues took place with a small group of Evolutionary Leaders who met in 2010 and 2011 to grapple with these three questions as a way to gather their collective wisdom into a common understanding of what Conscious Evolution is. Each of these leaders has devoted a lifetime to the study of psychology, spirituality, sociology, biology, cosmology, business, science, history, conflict resolution and organizational development from the perspective of evolution and our role in it. They are some of the wisdom carriers in this field.
The what, why, and how of Conscious Evolution are three interlocking conversations. What Conscious Evolution is may suggest why it is important and/or what actions can be taken. In these dialogues, the intention was to approach Conscious Evolution from several angles. In so doing, it is easier to see both divergences and synergies in the field, and in the process gain a clearer picture of the whole.
Remarks are listed in the order in which they were made.
Barbara Marx Hubbard
Conscious Evolution is the impulse to “Be Causal.” It reveals that each of us is the process of evolution in person, in a meaningful universe tending toward ever more empathy, intelligence, capacity and coherence. It encourages us to act to realize our deepest aspirations, seen not as wishful thinking, but as the tendency in the universe toward more life, incarnating as us. it calls us to find our unique vocations and to express them for the good of ourselves and all of Earth life. It reveals to us that we are an expression of the 13.7 billion years of evolution that created universes beyond imagination now creating the next step through each of us.
The evolutionary activist is motivated by attraction to what he or she yearns to give rather than to get. This new world view helps us to interpret our personal and social crises as evolutionary drivers toward the fulfillment of our own greater potential. We see that “our crisis is a birth” of a more empathetic and creative species..possibly. It overcomes pessimism and despair by stimulating loving creativity, helping us to feel supported by the tendency of universe within us to evolve. It helps us to reach out to others, because we cannot fulfill our life purpose alone.
As evolutionary activists, we interpret problems as evolutionary drivers, both personally and socially, calling us to further realization of our potentialities. When fully attuned to our inner callings, our actions often feel like a sacred expression of universal purpose.
We are guided to look for what is working, what is emergent, and and how to amplify it. We see ourselves within a whole system breakdown that is driving life itself toward a whole system breakthrough in the tradition of cosmogenesis. We realize we are part of the Earth Community, born into a universe of untold dimensions.
We become hopeful as we seek out positive solutions to amplify our hope, animating us with new vitality. Our latent potentialities are realized through our vocations-in-action. Evolutionary activists tend to radiate their own attraction and fulfilment that draw others into their own action. We feel within ourselves a flame of expectation for life as an organism progressing toward the unknown. We seek out what is not yet fulfilled and give it greater reality.
Evolutionary activists often feel a communion with pioneering souls throughout the Earth and with the Impulse of Evolution within everyone, transcending ancient divisions of race, color or religion. The actions of conscious evolutionaries tend to be unifying, inclusive, empathetic, encouraging. An evolutionary spirituality is arising that includes yet transcends early world views encoded in traditional religions, while affirming the mystic roots of all the great faiths.
Conscious Evolution fosters trust in the process, and at times nurtures within us joy and loving kindness, fostering a sense of gratitude for being given the opportunity to participate in the sacred process of creative action.
A first major step in conscious evolution, recognized in both meditative traditions and psychotherapeutic systems, is to develop our capacity for compassionate self-reflection or non-judgmental self-observation. Translating this into everyday life means every area of our lives is suitable for conscious reflection and choice—the work that we do, the food that we eat, the transportation we use, the housing in which we live, the public works we support (e.g., education and the arts as well as roads), and countless others. Out of these many areas, I would like to suggest these as powerful examples of putting conscious evolution into action:
- A “New Earth Story” Movement—The human family does not yet have a shared story for its extraordinary journey—from near extinction roughly 70,000 years ago to planetary domination today. Without consciously discovering our common stories of connection, we will likely fall back on old narratives of separation. If we are to pull together in cooperation, then it is vital that we discover simple and universal stories about our human journey that are emotionally compelling and draw out our higher potentials. We can discover new Earth stories that honor the diversity of our past and present promising visions of our collective future with questions like these: Are we growing up as a species? Are we on a heroic journey as a human community? How fully are we using our unique capacity for self-reflective consciousness, both personally and collectively? Are we discovering the universe is a unique kind of living system of which we are an integral part? Is the human family awakening to its role as a unique, self-aware expression of a living universe? These are core questions for the human journey and could be explored regularly and in depth in our diverse media.
- A “Conscious Media” Movement—Assuming we have many “new Earth stories,” the key question is whether the mass media will present stories with a promising view of life beyond consumerism. The most visible and pervasive change in consciousness at a social level could be in our use of the mass media; seeing it not simply as a tool to entertain consumers but, more importantly, as a vehicle to awaken the conversation of citizens to immense challenges and the stories of an exciting, new future. Our collective mind is visibly manifest in the mass media that dominate mass consciousness—and we can choose which concerns and conversations are most compelling to ourselves as a society. Just as the individual human mind can be a source of distraction or a source of deep insight depending on how we work with it, so too can the collective mind if the human family be a vehicle of either great distraction or a source of deep insight into the human journey—again, depending on how we work with it. Therefore, a movement for a more mature social mind and use of the mass media is integral to conscious evolution. A new “trans-partisan politics of consciousness” seeks to awaken the civic potentials for the mass media so they can assist us in communicating our way through this time of profound challenge and change with the tools of a more conscious democracy.
- A New Paradigm or “Living Universe” Movement—A “living universe” paradigm with profound implications is emerging rapidly from the convergence of deep insights from science and the world’s wisdom traditions. Simply stated, if we see the world around us as mostly inert matter and empty space, then it makes sense to regard “it” as resources to be exploited; however, if we see the world around us as deeply alive and infused with an ecology of consciousness, then it makes sense to regard the universe as a sacred creation to be revered. A paradigm of conscious evolution views consciousness as an integral property of the living universe and this transforms our understanding of who we are and the evolutionary journey we are on.
- A “New Lifestyle” Movement that recognizes the “American dream” of a consumer society is becoming the Earth’s nightmare as it produces climate disruption and energy shortages, and that new ways of living are required if we are to have lives of sustainable prosperity. Living more simply and sustainably is not about living with less but rather living with balance and meaning. Consumerism and materialism makes sense in a dead universe whereas simplicity makes sense in a living universe. Likewise, a focus on material success makes sense in a dead universe whereas a focus on soulful development makes sense in a living universe. When our understanding of the nature of reality shifts, so will our lifestyles make a corresponding shift.
- A “Global Truth and Reconciliation” Movement as evolutionary leaders come together to objectively witness and call for the healing of religious intolerance, needless poverty, over consumption, racial injustice, sexual discrimination, and other conditions that have divided the human community in the past. We have the tools of global communication to tell ourselves the truth about the overall human condition. Consciously recognizing the reality of our divided world is a first step toward reconciliation, restoration, and healing.
- A “New Communities” Movement that views the birth of eco-villages and co-housing as important innovations for developing sustainable alternatives to the isolating and inefficient housing patterns of the past. As larger systems break down, it is important to have local towns, communities, and neighborhoods that are resilient and can withstand the shocks, for example, of sustained energy shortages and climate disruption.
- A “Green Business” Movement that takes seriously triple-bottom line accounting and purpose-driven business will blossom in the transparent world of the Internet. Consumer-based feedback, visible to the world via the global internet, will bring a new level of accountability to business operations. Companies that are consciously seeking to serve a sustainable future will be recognized and rewarded in this new era.
These seven examples only begin to illustrate how conscious evolution is an actionable process.
Consciously evolutionary action is what flows from our acceptance of the Earth Charter’s challenge, to create the beautiful world that draws us toward it rather than letting the future be what simply “happens to us” as the karmic result of current habits and trends. Choosing our future requires us to shift from dissociative intellect to the awakened imaginal, so that instead of fixating, partitioning, and deadening reality we de-reify–and thus restore ourselves to–the boundless field of aliveness and possibility we are here to embody and creatively express.
The relevant question to ask regarding our lived experience of acting, or not acting, as conscious agents of evolution is: “What’s moving us?” Is it habit or creativity, stock response or truly graceful and appropriate response? Is it instinctual drives, social conditioning, the impulses of our constructed ego identities, all of which are forms of unfreedom and unconsciousness? Or are we being guided, with interior freedom and consent, by the “vector of love” that draws us toward ever greater harmony with each other and with nature–toward becoming “a civilization with a heart?”
Spiritual guidance, spiritual imagination, is an “optimizing force.” It enables us to perceive and realize the highest potential in any given situation. It is the quality of essential will the Sufis call himma, the creativity of the heart. There is both a non-dual and dual dimension to evolutionary action. On the non-dual side, there is only one cosmic happening, one unfolding and revealing of life’s infinite potential, taking place in every moment. On the other hand, we are here to show up and serve with conscious presence, bold humility and exquisite artistry as the responsible hands, hearts, and minds of that unfolding.
But how, with our enormous capacity for self-deception and rationalization, can we tell the difference between our being spiritually guided versus unconsciously compelled? How can we discern true from false images of the future we’re here to co-create? This is a large subject, but it is possible to at least name a four-step cycle that sages from many wisdom traditions find reliable:
- Alignment with the ground of Being (through practices designed to quiet the discursive mind and bring a state of interior silence and peace);
- Discernment (of whether what is leading you to act is coming from a place of separateness and force or from oneness and flow);
- Action (taken as willingness to follow one’s guidance, the vector of love, rather than as willfulness to assert or defend the separate self);
- Retrospection (a conscientious after-action review of one’s motives and of the full circle of intended and unintended consequences in order to learn, correct, and re-align with the ground of Being).
- gaining collective vision of the whole, seeing the larger patterns that are at work, being willing to see what is
- understanding theories of change—butterfly, apocalypse, s-curve—learning from biomimicry—personal and collective, relationship to change
- unraveling the story behind the story—name that archetype, name that belief system, name that pattern
- discovering where one is in the story, the motivations that are running the actions (shadow work), becoming personally accountable and responsible, stepping outside the old story
- choosing where to come from—and working a practice of right relationship (Unconditional love, 8-fold path—individual alignment and partnering with evolutionary impulse
- guiding others to see the story behind the archetype
- writing articles,
- creating dialogues between wisdom figures
- forwarding great articles
- cultural interventions
- developing conscious leaders
- coaching, facilitation training
- spiral dynamics
- hospicing the old
- direct non-violent action
- slowing systems collapse
- increasing awareness of overshoot, climate change, our impact
- midwifing the new
- large scale meme change
- resilient/thriving communities (money, food, energy)
- poverty eradication
- gender reconciliation
- transpartisan/global citizen work
- creating a new story, a new narrative, a new world view
- flooding media with new stories in multiple formats (teleseminars, articles, tv sitcoms, talk shows)
- networking new story advocates and projects
- holding “old” media accountable for lies and distortions, and “old” beliefs
- developing conscious leaders
When an individual begins to feel like part of a community of pioneers journeying toward new territories of our own consciousness in service to the flourishing of humanity, a sense of mission arises that may express itself in a multitude of ways. For many, this journey began as a personal path with the human potential movement that stressed responsibility for our own actions, encouraging forgiveness over blame and an end to the victim posture that had either paralyzed us or led to destructive behaviors such as addictions or violence.
Others found themselves drawn to social action, forming or joining the countless nonprofit organizations for the greater good that Paul Hawken refers to (in “Blessed Unrest”) as the largest movement in the world that no one saw coming.
Yet another actionable area of conscious evolution is spirituality, which has become unglued from the narrow religious confines of the past. People are exploring meditation, yoga and different religions with a fluidity driven by a growing curiosity about our place in the universe – or multiverse. And this is taking place just as science begins to sound more like spirituality, exploring concepts that are almost impossible to grasp with the rational mind as we know it.
The beauty of all of this is that as each of us follows our own evolutionary impulse, we find ourselves on the journey together. We are a team of players across the globe on a cosmic treasure hunt for the next piece of information as time spirals forward toward new understandings of who we are and how we can live more deeply our human experience while contributing the good of the whole.
Katherine Woodward Thomas
Evolutionary action is generative action that causes the full flourishing of Life, and serves to midwife the emergence of greater levels of goodness, integrity, beauty, truth and care into our lives, and into our world. The actions needed to evolve beyond where we currently are are generative in nature, meaning that they are focused on generating the future we are committed to creating, while at the same time, evolving and even dismantling old structures that are keeping the status quo in place.
The “shift” so many of us are committed to midwifing is not simply a shift of perception–an awakening to the inherent interconnectivity of all of life, but also must include a concerted and deliberate effort to develop and mature ourselves beyond who we are now for the possibilities of who we might become, both personally and collectively. Being an active agent of change requires us to forge new pathways in human consciousness, on both intra and inter personal levels. Conscious Evolution requires us to strive towards growing our skills and capacities to be whole, healthy human beings who are wholesomely motivated, working in full partnership with a force and field of life greater than ourselves to create a more caring and related world by learning how to collaborate interdependently with others, and able to come together beyond ego to midwife that which is life affirming and reflective of the interconnectivity of all of life.