Below the video player is an MP3 version of the talk and an edited transcript, if you’d prefer to engage the content in that way.
There’s one way of understanding spirit or divinity as the sacred essence of everything—the ground of everything. It’s the timeless, changeless, unmanifest ground of all manifestation. This is the dimension of spirit or divinity that we primarily work with through meditative practices. When we awaken to our true nature or our natural state or our awakened awareness through these practices, we are awakening to this particular dimension of spirit or the sacred.
But there is another dimension of divinity that is of a completely different order. It is the active face of spirit. It’s the impulse of evolution. It’s spirit as the evolutionary impulse itself—the creative principle, the driving force in the cosmos and in consciousness. It’s the active, dynamic power that moves the cosmos forward.
We now know scientifically that we live in an evolving universe. We used to think the universe was static. Then we realized that the universe started with a Big Bang and then went through all these phases and cycles of evolution. Then life emerged and went through its own stages of evolution, leading to the most remarkable (and potentially precarious) stage: human evolution.
The cosmos evolved, life evolved, and in human beings, consciousness evolved. We went from being primitive, simple animals to having this extraordinary, complex consciousness that has created the world we live in. This consciousness is able to know itself through us, and even discover divinity and spirit and enlightenment. All of this from just stardust.
The universe is not in a process of evolution. The universe is a process of evolution. There is an evolutionary impulse running through the whole thing. This evolutionary impulse is actually who and what we are at the deepest level. We aren’t just an individual body-mind organism. There is a dimension of who we are that is the living, incarnated impulse of evolution itself that has given birth to the whole cosmos and everything in it.
This is an evolutionary imperative, and when we awaken to it, we feel compelled in every cell of our being to align with that impulse, to manifest it, to participate in the further evolution of life and consciousness and even the evolution of God. In this we realize that spirit or divinity isn’t static either. Even though it has a static, timeless, changeless dimension, spirit itself is going through evolution just like everything else in the cosmos. And we can participate in its further development. We can participate in uplifting the world into ever-higher orders of goodness, truth, beauty, and complexity.
In a sense, when we discover who and what we are as the evolutionary principle, we start to see that we can make an enormous difference. Even one person can have a huge impact because this is a free and open system. It’s not a closed system. It’s an evolving process, and everything is dynamic. And it’s all moving forward. And when we become conscious of the evolutionary impulse and we begin to express it, we become an agent of evolution. We become an agent of divinity in the world, and this makes our choices very powerful.
We can make a big difference in whatever context we find ourselves in. It’s not that we’re all necessarily going to become activists. Some might. But the point is that now everything we’re doing in our life takes on a new and profound significance.
This practice ends up being a very powerful self-transcending process, because our petty little concerns don’t seem very important when we awaken to the enormous significance of our life as participants in evolution and as an expression of the evolutionary impulse. The incredible wisdom, power, strength, courage, and love that is coursing through our veins makes so many things that once seemed burdensome and difficult seem pretty inconsequential. We find that we are up for so much more in life than we ever thought possible, because something much bigger than us has stepped into the driver’s seat. It’s not that you’re not you. It’s just that you’re you with a capital Y-O-U. This really realigns everything.
So, how do we work with this evolutionary impulse in a practice context? There is one dimension of practice that has to do with waking up to this evolutionary impulse in a contemplative sense. But once you’ve discovered and begun to realize that you are the evolutionary impulse—that it’s your own true nature—the practice becomes learning to align your life with that. This is what I call the “evolutionary self.” It’s the human face of the evolutionary impulse. When we discover the evolutionary self within us, we realize that it has different values, priorities, concerns, cares, and perspectives. It sees things very differently than your conventional self.
So what are the practices you can begin to do to align your life with this evolutionary self? There are dozens, if not hundreds, of distinct practices that we can derive from this evolutionary orientation. But for our purposes here, what’s important is to get the essence of what it means to align with your evolutionary self. Then you can begin to create all kinds of specific practices to activate and manifest it in your own life.
To begin to give you a taste of what it means to put this evolutionary self into practice, I’m going to guide you in a brief contemplation. This is not a meditation. It’s a reflection or a contemplation. I want to invite you to bring your attention to the part of you that is the energy of the Big Bang still rippling through the universe. Bring your attention to the part of you that is the dynamic, creative force moving through the cosmos. It’s the life force. It’s the evolutionary force moving through life—bringing life to ever higher, more complex, more diverse and beautiful expressions.
Take a moment to just contemplate all the beauty and biological diversity in this world. Think of all the diversity of animal life and plant life—the colorful birds and fishes and flowers. Now think of all the extraordinary diversity that human life has brought into existence—technology, innovation, and this whole explosion of creativity. Now bring your attention to the part of yourself that is that explosion of creativity—that is this explosion of evolution, of spirit in action, of consciousness expanding and moving forward, upward, onward.
Become aware of how this energy and intelligence already lives in you and expresses itself in your life. Feel the part of you that gets thrilled by change, that’s excited by newness and novelty. Feel the part of you that gets excited when things don’t go according to plan, when just for a moment nobody knows what’s going to happen. We’re in the unknown. We’re off the map, on a new frontier we didn’t expect. Notice this impulse to create, this impulse to evolve, this impulse to awaken.
Just notice what it feels like to step fully into that right now. Now acknowledge that this is your own nature; that you are that impulse of evolution. Allow it to continue to ripple forward in whatever way it does.
The work of awakening to and aligning with the evolutionary impulse is a very comprehensive and life-changing spiritual practice. Again, it’s not something we do sitting down with our eyes closed, by ourselves. It’s something that we do when engaged in life, and it propels our engagement with life in a whole new way.
The best way to begin to practice it, is simply to notice the evolutionary impulse in your own life and begin to activate it and align with it. Explore what it’s like to live your life from that different center.
WE are a mechanism in Nature to resist entropy by creations in Art and Science.
Thanks Craig: I recognize it. I am able to label it as evolutionary self when I am able to go dep down into the experience of somebody through experiential listening (“a la Alvin eMahrer”), and then in the midst of such connection there is a spark of life, a thrill at the emergence of something new, alive, full of hope… Some kind of collective intelligence. I can imagine the spirit of the first single cells in the process of becomimng multicelllular oganisms of increasing compexity… emerging in that moment. Deep gratitude for your generositty in sharing your insights and for helping me do my own cobbling the pieces together.