Evolutionary Spirituality: Towards an Engaged Evolutionary Mysticism 

Episode II: Evolutionary Relationships

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 emergent 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 II: Evolutionary Relationships

Invitation from Dr. Marc Gafni:

I am wildly excited to, for the first time in a public forum, engage in an in-depth discussion with my dear friend and colleague Andrew Cohen on what the evolution of relationships - which is the evolution of intimacy, which is the evolution of love - means in our time. 


  • What is the future of relationships? 

  • What is an evolutionary relationship? 

  • What do we mean by what we call a whole-mate relationship?

  • What is the place of romantic relationships? 

  • What is the place of shared creativity in a relationship? 

  • What are our new models for sexuality in relationships? 

  • What are the core forms of relationship that all of us need to engage? 

  • What are the First Values and First Principles that guide them? 


Why is it true that no Enlightenment, no transformation, can be considered real, until it goes through the crucible of relationship and intimacy?


Let me share some deeper dharmic thoughts with you, which might help explain why this dialogue is deeply important, exciting and necessary.  


“Reality is relationship.” 

“Reality is evolution.” 

“Reality is the evolution of relationships.” 


These are the first lines of the forthcoming book that I have written with my dear evolutionary partner Barbara Marx Hubbard entitled The Future of Relationships: from Role Mate to Soul Mate to Whole Mate. 


What is already apparent from the first three lines is that “relationship is not only a human category. Relationship is structural to Kosmos from the first nanoseconds of the Big Bang. In precisely the same way, evolution - Reality as a series of transformations and the transformation of relationships - is structural to Kosmos from the first nanoseconds of the Big Bang.” 


When you put those two realizations together you get the following ostensibly simple but in fact insanely profound sentence: 


“Reality is the evolution of relationship. Indeed the history of Reality can be most properly told as a history of the evolution of relationship.” 


“By relationship however we do not mean casual or surface interactions between separate parts. Rather, by relationship we mean intimacy.” Intimacy as I define it in our forthcoming book The Intimate Universe, based on an enormous amount of information from the interior and exterior sciences, is “shared identity.” 


Indeed, we’ve articulated an intimacy formula.


“Intimacy = shared identity in the context of [relative] otherness X mutuality of recognition X mutuality of pathos X mutuality of value X mutuality of purpose.” [read more in this article]

[A fuller unpacking of the intimacy formula appears in a forthcoming volume with Dr. Marc Gafni and Dr. Zachary Stein The Six Propositions and in the aforementioned forthcoming volume The Intimate Universe with Barbara Marx Hubbard and Dr. Zachary Stein.] 


For now, it’s enough to say that “the evolution of relationship is the evolution of intimacy.”


In fact, one could accurately say that “evolution is not, as commonly understood, the movement from simplicity to complexity, but rather evolution is the progressive deepening of intimacies.”


“Evolution is the evolution of relationships.”


“This is true from the first nano seconds of the Big Bang when gazillions of quarks rain on planet Earth and the only quarks that would survive are those who are able to establish a stable structure of relationship. Those that are able to create between them a configuration of intimacy that can find its way to the unbearable pressures of the first nanoseconds of relationship.”


“From the singularity of relationships - intimacy continues to evolve.“


“There are two drivers to the evolution of relationships.” 


  1. The inherent, erotic, creative impulse of Kosmos that desires, seeks, moves towards ever deeper contacts and ever greater wholes. That is to say: ever deeper, wider and more intense configurations of intimacy - relationships. 

  2. The second driver for the evolution of relationships is crisis. Crisis is an evolutionary driver.

  3. All genuine crises are a crisis of intimacy or said slightly differently: all genuine crises are a crisis of relationships.


These core structures of Reality - evolution, relationship and intimacy and the play between them - are evolving First Values and First Principles of Reality. They are the plotlines in the great story of value that Dr. Zachary Stein and Dr. Marc Gafni call CosmoErotic Humanism. 


The Evolution of Relationships is the source code of Reality. We are at a moment - in this time between worlds - when we need to participate together in evolving the source code of consciousness and culture. 


And we need to do it personally!


This dialogue is not about relationships and their evolution. It is about OUR Relationships, and their evolution. You and me, all of us, in our personal and collective lives. How do we, as the leading edge of evolution itself, evolve Our Relationships? 

How do we birth, from the inside of Our Relationships, the New Human and the New Humanity, that all of Reality and our deepest hearts, souls and bodies yearn for. 


It is only such an evolution of relationship that can respond to what we have called the Meta Crisis of existential and catastrophic risk that hovers over our world. 


For the Meta Crisis at its very core is a Global Intimacy Disorder. 


We must evolve our intimacies - generating new forms of evolutionary intimacy, personally and collectively.


That is the overarching moral imperative, urgent necessity and the great agony and ecstasy of our time.




Join the next dialogue in this series

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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.

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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.


Join the next dialogue in this series


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


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