Evolutionary Spirituality: Towards an Engaged Evolutionary Mysticism
Episode VII: The articulation of an Evolutionary Spirituality as an overriding moral imperative in response to the meta-crisis.
Thursday November 2nd
8am PDT • 9am MDT • 11am EDT • 3pm UK • 4pm 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.
The topic of the next dialogue with my (Marc's) friend Andrew Cohen is:
What is Evolutionary Spirituality and why does it matter so much in response to the meta crisis?
Allow me to try and explain why this feels so beyond vital.
There can be no intelligent and transformative understanding of any crisis in the world, including the devastating targeted massacres of civilians that we just witnessed in Israel these days, without the articulation of a compelling Evolutionary Spirituality.
Evolutionary Spirituality brings together two distinct fields:
The first is that of spirituality.
The second is that of evolution or evolutionary studies.
The general assumption in culture has been, that these two fields are fundamentally distinct and even opposed to one another. Evolution as a theory was thought to replace spirituality. Evolution was the rejection of spirituality as an explanation of reality — replaced by an evolutionary explanation. Evolution was though to be about the emergent and the Avant Garde, while spirituality seems stuck in the moray of tired and discredited lineages.
Spirituality for its part wanted little to do with evolution:
Evolution was seen as rejecting the sacred.
Evolution was seen as rejecting the orienting reference of the great traditions to the foundational revelational events of the past.
Evolution was seen as rejecting the traditions of value and Spirit — and lineages that came from the great minds, hearts and communities of Spirit that populate human history.
Spirituality was seen to be all about lineage. And evolution was viewed as the vain denier of lineage.
In effect, evolution had little use for spirituality and spirituality had little use for evolution.
The result, however, is a collapse of both evolution and spirituality. Evolution begins to be interpreted in crass, superficial, materialistic terms. And spirituality became alienated — some would say disassociated — from the actual nature of Reality, which is a constant movement of deepening, a series of transformation, in other words: an evolutionary movement.
As long as the two remain separate, neither is credible, neither is compelling, neither can become part of a worldview that alleviates suffering, that addresses the meta crisis, that ushers in a shared story of value, a shared, evolutionary vision of love — of the Good, the True and the Beautiful.
In this conversation, we intend — with the grace of She — to dive deep into the basic premises of evolution and the basic premises of spirituality and bring them together in a synergistic whole.
Indeed, this bringing together of evolution and spirituality into this new, emergent vision of Evolutionary Spirituality, is both the core movement of evolution and the core movement of Spirit.
In this dialogue, we will do our best to talk about the ultimate and even desperate need for a new Evolutionary Spirituality.
Without this articulation of — what I might call — this new story of value, both evolution (the single most potent realization of the modernity) and spirituality (the single most potent realization of the tradition period) will cancel each other out into irrelevance, leaving our world, quite literally, caught in its own currents of self-termination, which I believe will have the genuine capacity to destroy humanity as we know it in the relatively near term future.
At the same time, we urgently need to address the shadows of Evolutionary Spirituality that have emerged, including in the communities that we know well, as some of the most devastating and destructive forces of the modern and postmodern world.
The purpose of the dialogue will be to break new ground, for Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, for love, by eliciting together, tenderly and fiercely, a new story of value.
We will seek to articulate this new story of value by:
deepening of the very source code understandings of evolution that we hold in our cultural discourse.
deepening the very source code understandings of spirituality that we hold in our cultural discourse.
And then by bringing these two together, by deepening their contact, by allowing them to mutually deepen and enhance and embolden and enrich each other, something new, unprecedented and beautiful beyond measure — and desperately needed — can emerge:
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 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.
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