What Is Conscious Evolution?
by Gregory Ellison
"Homo sapiens, the first truly free species, is about to decommission natural selection, the force that made us. ... Soon we must look deep within ourselves and decide what we wish to become."
-- Edward O. Wilson
Consilience, The Unity of Knowledge
Mankind is on the verge of an evolutionary leap in consciousness, to a whole new way of thinking and being that will put us as far above our present concept of "man" as modern man is above our stone age ancestors.
Until roughly the present time, the forces of evolution have been external to mankind. Whether we think of these forces as essentially physical/biological, or essentially spiritual, in either case we have not consciously directed the course of our own evolution. This is simply where the journey has brought us.
But no more. From this point forward we will consciously participate in the direction of our own evolution. We will become what we choose to become.
There are many things that point to this moment in history as a time of major transformation. Religious and spiritual prophecy from many different traditions point to this period as the "end times" where the old world falls away and the new millennium arises. Astrology recognizes this as the dawning of the "age of Aquarius," a transformation to spiritual awareness, peace and brotherhood.
But we need not rely on myth or revelation to know that we now chart our own destiny: science and technology too inform us that we will soon have the capacity to alter our own genetic code, extend our life expectancy, and expand our capabilities far beyond those nature has bestowed on us. Already we do not need wings to fly above the mountaintops, nor gills to swim the depths of the sea. We can throw our voices around the world at the speed of light, transmute matter to energy in nuclear reactors (and bombs), stroll on the surface of the moon.
We have superseded natural selection. Where once we were at the mercy of our environment, now our environment is at our mercy.
And therein lies the rub: we have become powerful enough to make ourselves extinct, and we stand shuddering at the doorway to this brave new world because we are scared silly that we might do just that!
What will we become?
We have grown in knowledge and power beyond the wildest dreams of our ancestors, but our wisdom has not kept pace. In fact, it might be argued that human wisdom has taken giant steps backward since the astrological, shamanistic and mystical traditions that flowered thousands of years ago!
Our politics today are still based on the model of domination-oriented city-states that characterized the ancient Sumerian empire, our economics are still based on the same model of amassing personal wealth, our interpersonal relationships are still based on possessiveness and ego gratification.
The day of reckoning has come: unparalleled power without the wisdom to balance it is a mortal danger to all life. Unless our collective wisdom makes a quantum leap to match our Godlike power, we can look forward only to global warfare, totalitarian domination, and predatory consumption and waste-production, culminating in ecological suicide.
What will we become?
A New Way of Thinking
The good news is, we are now at a turning point. Mankind is now in the process of shifting our normal state of awareness from an individual/ego point of view to a global/spiritual point of view, and our basic choice is to cooperate with that process and help it along, or to resist it. We can usher in a world transformed by Love and spirit, or see our world mired in the dark extremes of the unbalanced direction we have been heading. We get to choose.
The system of thought that has structured our collective reality until now is hierarchical organization:
This is the familiar "top down" model of organization that we use to structure nearly everything we think about. As you can see, it looks like a corporate organization chart among other things, with the CEO at the top and the workers at the bottom.
This is how we think about everything. It is how we organize scientific knowledge, how we classify library books, and how we organize our sports tournaments! It is also how we structure society, with kings, dictators and presidents at the top, bureacrats and the wealthy "upper class" in the middle, and the "unwashed masses (peasants) at the bottom. It is a "pecking order" view of reality.
There is nothing wrong with hierarchy - it is a mental tool that has served us well in many ways, making scientific progress possible and enabling our rational mastery of many challenges of the material world. But, like the once-useful notions of a flat earth in the center of the universe, it has outlived its usefulness as a model of reality.
The Universe as we are coming to understand it now is not a competition for position in a pecking order, but a harmonious unfolding of creative potential as separate "parts" merge into greater "wholes." The new consciousness sees the world through holistic eyes, as a holarchy rather than a hierarchy. In a holarchy, every element is in direct communication with every other element, but none are "above" or "below" each other. The relationships are not among superiors and subordinates, but rather among essentially equal "parts" and the "whole" that emerges from them.
In a hierarchy, order is imposed from the top down. In a holarchy, order emerges from the bottom up. When a studio producer hires musicians, assigns them parts to play, and hands out musical scores, that's hierarchy. When several musicians get together to jam and they gradually develop a "groove" together, that's holarchy.
Parts and Wholes
Every part is a whole, and every whole is a part. Anything you can think of - a toaster, a galaxy, a supermarket, or your next door neighbor - is a "whole" made up of "parts." At the same time, it is also part of a larger whole, or perhaps many larger wholes. Your next door neighbor, for example, is a part of the human race (or so we hope!) What's more, every whole is similar to every other whole in some respects.
For example, atoms are composed of many sub-atomic particles such as protons and electrons. In turn, each "whole" atom is itself a "part" of a larger whole, such as a molecule. Going up the scale, the molecule is part of a cell, the cell is part of an animal, the animal is part of the living planet, and the planet is part of the solar system. And oddly enough, the electrons circling the nucleus of the atom bear a strange resemblance to the planets circling the Sun!
Every part is a whole, and every whole is a part.
The Global Mind
Conscious Evolution is the evolution of consciousness to the next stage of awareness - the "awakening" of the parts to their awareness as a whole. Simply put, we are now living through the birth pains of the planetary mind!
Of course, this is not a new concept - the idea that "we are all ONE" is the fundamental notion of all mystical thought. But until now it has often been seen as a threatening idea, because it implies that we will lose our individual identities while being absorbed into a mystical one-ness with all life. We are afraid to take this leap for the same reason we are afraid to die, even though we "believe" in eternal life. The ego has been all-powerful for a long time, and it likes it that way!
But the new consciousness is showing us that this is an unfounded fear ... wholes emerge from their parts, they do not replace them! A single cell of my body is a living "creature" in itself, but when it joins with other cells to create a "higher" organism (me!) it doesn't lose anything of itself. It still has its own "identity" - its own boundaries, and its own limited consciousness - but to that is added the newly emergent properties of a human being, including my greater range of conscious awareness.
When the transcendant global mind emerges from our individual consciousnesses, we will not "lose" ourselves - instead, we will gain a perspective that puts an end to all war and hatred and the thousand-and-one faces of man's inhumanity to man. Can you imagine the cells of your right hand going to war against the cells of your left hand? Of course not! Nor will I harm my brother when I know in the very core of my being that to harm him is to harm myself.
Having taken the leap of Conscious Evolution, we still look out on the world through the same eyes in the same familiar body. But we know that the "I" who looks out through these eyes is the same "I" who looks out through all eyes. We identify ourselves as something much larger than our individual bodies and egos ... and that makes all the difference!
From here to there
The mission of the Conscious Evolution website is to support this transition, both intellectually and through concrete activities and spiritual practices that aid the emergence of the new consciousness.
The features, articles, and discussions you will find here support this mission in an eclectic way, through traditional approaches like astrology and other spiritual paths, as well as state-of-the art insights drawn from general systems theory, cybernetics and quantum physics.
There are many paths up the mountain, but the view from the summit is all the same. Call it cosmic consciousness, enlightenment, union with God ... or call it Love.
Welcome to Conscious Evolution!