top of page
Anchor 1

Evolutionary Spirituality: Towards an Engaged Evolutionary Mysticism 

Episode VIII: The Evolution of God: Evolutionary Perennialism 

Thursday May 30th

8am PDT • 9am MDT • 11am EDT • 4pm UK • 5pm CET 8:30pm IST


Evolutionary Spirituality: Towards an Engaged Evolutionary Mysticism

We are delighted to announce this new series of dialogues between Dr. Marc Gafni and Andrew Cohen, organised jointly with Manifest Nirvana. We warmly invite all intrepid spiritual explorers and adventurers to join us on a journey into the epicenter of Evolutionary spirituality!


Arguably our most significant interpretive framework for the nature of reality is the modern scientific discovery that the world and the universe are not, as the ancients believed, static or cyclical. The universe, and everything in it, is evolving.

Cosmic and biological evolution are foundational truths of existence, and the implications are profound and multi-dimensional, extending outwards in every direction. In the 21st century, the context for any path or practice of enlightenment must surely embrace this knowledge and perspective. It is perhaps the most important shift in our understanding of enlightenment in the 2500 years since the Buddha first attained it.

Andrew Cohen and Dr. Marc Gafni are pioneers in the field of evolutionary spirituality, each with their own unique perspective on this newly emerging tradition. They share a strong foundation in an evolutionary approach to spiritual awakening, while emphasising distinctly different but intersecting dimensions of the path and practice.

Both Marc and Andrew have produced pioneering bodies of work in this field, and formulated many of its core tenets. Their teachings uphold and demystify the foundational principles of traditional, modern and postmodern wisdom streams, weaving them together into an integral whole, and ultimately pointing toward a new evolutionary mysticism – what might even be considered a “religion of tomorrow”.

The aim of these dialogues is to celebrate the creative and dynamic evolutionary tension between these two perspectives – to catalyse awakening to higher states and stages of consciousness, giving rise to liberating insights and life-affirming perspectives in a unique tapestry of coherence and meaning, and an inspiring example of emergent spirituality in action.

Episode VIII

Evolution of God: Evolutionary Perennialism 


In the spirit of dynamic exploration and collective inquiry, Dr. Marc Gafni is set to engage in another compelling dialogue with Andrew Cohen, a fellow philosopher and teacher, who shares a deep interest in the intersections of evolutionary theory and classical enlightenment, generating a new lineage of realization, with the capacity to meet the meta-crisis and articulate a memory of our possible future.


About “Evolutionary Perennialism”


“Evolutionary” or “Evolving Perennialism” is a key term and structure of thought that Marc Gafni coined, which appears throughout his recent book with Zachary Stein and Ken Wilber, First Principles and First Values. The book is published under the moniker of David J. Temple, a name that Marc and Zak are invoking for their shared work on CosmoErotic Humanism.  They are joined by Ken Wilber, co-founder of their Think Tank Center for World Philosophy and Religion, along with other key thought partners.


For Gafni, “Evolutionary Perennialism” is in part formulated by a sentence that appears throughout his writing and oral teaching: “The eternal Tao is the evolving Tao.” Gafni understands the Tao (or the ground of existence), as what he terms “the Field of Value” animated by “First Principles and First Values” that allow us to formulate a “Universal Grammar of Value”, which then becomes the foundation of a shared “Story of Value”. At the core of CosmoErotic humanism is the realization that there are not only intrinsic, or what have been called, eternal First Principles and First Values, but also evolving First Principles and First Values of Cosmos.


CosmoErotic humanism links Eros to Value in an indivisible and foundational fashion. Meaning, not only is Eros a value, and not only is value animated by Eros, but even more essentially: there is simply no split between the words Eros and Value.


In other words, Reality is ErosValue all the way down and all the way up the evolutionary chain. Reality is evolving ErosValue.


This realization lies at the core of the David J. Temple First Principles and First Values writing. And it lies at the very the core of Temple’s forthcoming work on what Gafni, together with Zak Stein, has called Anthro-Ontology.


In this work on Anthro-Ontology, (authored again by David J. Temple), Gafni, Stein, and colleagues formulate in some depth, a series of twenty tenets that form the core of an “Evolutionary Perennialism.”


In that same work they also formulate six key critiques of classical perennialism. One of these six is its lack of evolutionary context — or said slightly differently, its “fundamental alienation from the evolutionary impulse.”


Indeed, we are excited to share that the tentative title of this forthcoming work, which has been in preparation since 2017, is “Anthro-Ontology and Evolutionary Perennialism.”

"Evolutionary Perennialism" meets "Evolutionary Enlightenment"


Marc Gafni’s articulation of the emergent realization of Evolutionary Perennialism, is closely related to a term and realization coined by Andrew Cohen, Evolutionary Enlightenment.


A synergistic conversation around the relationship between these two sets of related insights, and why they are so critical in avoiding unbearable suffering, both personal and collective, will be at the center of this dialogue.


This conversation aims to bridge ancient wisdom with modern insights, providing a platform for both thinkers to explore how evolutionary forces can be understood and harnessed within the context of spiritual enlightenment. Their dialogue will offer participants a rare opportunity to witness a synthesis of ideas that could redefine the path to spiritual understanding in an evolving world, encouraging a more profound engagement with the mysteries of existence and our role within them.


In this exploration of the intersection of "evolutionary perennialism," and “evolutionary enlightenment” we delve deeply into the confluence of timeless spiritual truths and the dynamic, unfolding process of evolution. Both Andrew and Marc perceive these synergistic structures as a crucial framework for understanding the spiritual journey in the contemporary era — an era marked by rapid change and an increasing awareness of the evolutionary currents that shape our consciousness and culture.


In Cohen and Gafni’s view, “evolutionary enlightenment” and “evolutionary perennialism” represent core paradigms where the perennial wisdom and classical enlightenment — those ancient, enduring truths found at the heart of the world’s great religious traditions — is not seen as a static legacy, but rather as a living, breathing wisdom that evolves and adapts over time. This wisdom, according to Cohen and Gafni, transcends historical and cultural boundaries, offering a universal path to realization that is deeply relevant to the modern seeker.


Cohen and Gafni often emphasize that the core of perennial wisdom and classical enlightenment involves the recognition of the inherent unity of all existence. Yet, they, each in different ways, innovate upon this traditional understanding by integrating the concept of evolution, suggesting that both perennial realization and classical enlightenment are not a fixed point but a continual unfolding. They argue that classical enlightenment and perennial truths are not merely the realization of timeless truths, but also an active participation in the evolutionary process — a commitment to the growth and development of consciousness itself.


Through the lens of “evolutionary perennialism” and “evolutionary enlightenment”, Gafni and Cohen provocatively demand that we see ourselves accurately as both heirs and pioneers — carriers of ancient wisdom who are also  participatory creators of  emergent realities of a new evolutionary world spirituality.


This perspective calls for a radical responsibility: to live with the recognition of one’s place within the vast, interdependent web of life and to act with intentionality toward the evolution of consciousness, community, and the Cosmos itself.


Thus “evolutionary perennialism” and “evolutionary enlightenment” become paths not only to personal transformation but a call to a collective emergence and awakening, ecstatically and urgently demanding that we co-create a new memory of the future. This memory must transcend and include all the previous wisdom, drawn from the memories of past lineages of realization in order to create a new memory which allures and seduces us into our inherent noble potential, the great lineage of the future.


Join the next dialogue in this series

WhatsApp Image 2021-09-24 at 04.13_edited.jpg
Dr. Marc Gafni about Evolutionary Spirituality: The New Conscious Evolution is CosmoErotic Humanism

The new physical sciences, together with the shared truths of the interior sciences, tell us that natural selection is but, as the eminent biologist Lynn Margulis has put it, a sorting mechanism for what we call the deeper and wider Eros of evolution. Evolutionary Love, or Eros, is both the ground and the goal—the method and the destination—of this process.

At this moment in history, we have reached a new stage of Conscious Evolution. With that, we do not mean that evolution until now has been unconscious.

Evolution was always conscious. It is we who are becoming conscious of our identity as the leading edge of evolution itself.

We awaken as Conscious Evolution.        


We become aware of the entire evolutionary process that came before us—of which we are an expression—that is taking place in us, as us, and through us. We understand, not intellectually but as our core identity, that we are a unique expression of the Evolutionary Eros that allures and animates the evolutionary spiral of unfolding—from no-thing to matter to life to the depths of the self-reflective human mind.

The core insight of the interior and exterior sciences, expressed as Conscious Evolution, is the realization that evolution is love in action. The New Human and the New Humanity become aware of this truth and its implications—personally and collectively. To awaken to Conscious Evolution is to realize that you are not merely Homo sapiens. You are Homo amor—the LoveIntelligence of Reality disclosed personally as you.

The emergence of Conscious Evolution is itself an expression of the Evolution of Love. For it is Love, or Eros, which drives the whole process. The Evolution of Love is the direction of Kosmos, the hidden impulse of the Evolutionary Eros moving toward ever-more good, true, and beautiful expressions of its own nature. It is the impulse of our very own lives.

From quarks to culture, there is a narrative arc to Kosmos. There is a pattern etched on the walls of spacetime—and each of us is a unique expression of that pattern.

All of Reality is personal. We are personally intended, recognized, chosen, love-adored, desired, and needed by the entire process of evolution itself. Each of us is a personal face of the evolutionary impulse—the CosmoErotic Universe in person. That is the truth of what we might call the great New Story of CosmoErotic Humanism.

andrew cohen screenshot.png
Andrew Cohen about Evolutionary Spirituality: Evolutionary Enlightenment

Andrew Cohen has been working with an evolutionary principle and framework for spiritual enlightenment for most of his 36-year teaching career. In that time, he has forged an entirely new path and practice of awakening that he calls Evolutionary Enlightenment – a path which unfolds uniquely within a developmental context.


Traditional millennia-old Buddhist and Vedanta teachings tell us that the fundamental nature of reality is that there is only one, and that one is found in the bliss of timeless Being – the realisation of non-duality as pure Being is enlightenment. But the ancients didn’t know what we know today: that we are all participating in a developmental process that had a beginning in time and is going somewhere new.


Like the cosmos and the biological world, our own consciousness is evolving – and the extraordinary truth that we discover when we begin to look deeply enough is that enlightenment is evolving too. It is no longer found only in the bliss of timeless Being; it is found also in the ecstatic urgency of evolutionary Becoming.


From the perspective of the eternal and timeless ground, the highest truth is that nothing ever happened; we were never born, and the universe was never created – that’s liberation, samadhi, enlightenment. But from the perspective of evolution, the entire picture changes. We are participating in a dynamic forward-moving process, and 14 billion years of development have produced all of manifestation – the entirety of the known universe, including one of its greatest mysteries: the uniquely human capacity for self-reflective awareness.


Looking at the vast creative arc of evolution as a whole, we realise that it is one process. The forms that evolution gives rise to come into being and eventually pass away, but the impulse itself is singular, immortal and infinite – and if we look deeply into our own experience, we discover that our own desire for spiritual freedom is not separate from this very same primordial impulse that is driving the entire process. 


So it is not merely you, or any one of us individually, that is personally struggling to come to terms with ultimate meaning. Rather, the impersonal energy and intelligence that created the universe is striving to awaken to itself – to become more conscious through you.


Andrew calls this the Evolutionary Impulse, and when we awaken to it, we discover something miraculous: this dynamic and ever-evolving creative principle is none other than our own Authentic Self. Discovering this Self is the portal to the new source of spiritual liberation that Andrew calls Evolutionary Enlightenment.

Register Dialogue Andrew

Join the next dialogue in this series


Dr. Marc Gafni & Andrew Cohen in an inspiring demonstration of emergent spirituality in action.


08:00am PT
:00am MST
:00am EDT
04:00pm GMT
05:00pm CET
08.30pm IST
bottom of page