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Awakening to Deep Time (Quote of the Week)

0_heic0702a_h.169124930_stdWhen we become aware of the vastness of the entire evolutionary process–from the big bang to the present moment–that is called awakening to Deep Time. It means having the capacity to assume a perspective that is nothing less than cosmic and being able to see whatever’s happening to us personally from its lofty vantage point. It is also the profound recognition that our very own present-day highly evolved capacity for consciousness, cognition, introspection, compassion, empathy, and even spiritual insight has all been produced by this deep-time developmental process. This means so much! It means that our personal experience is not half as personal as it seems to be. It also means something that is so startling it is hard to let in. It means that human beings, because of our highly developed brains, are the very leading edge of the entire panoramic unfolding. And as far as we know, we are the only life-form in this vast process that has gained the capacity for self-reflective awareness. The personal implications inherent in this truth are enormous. When we ask the question “Who am I?” from the perspective of cosmic evolution, the answer comes back: “I am the universe becoming aware of itself in human form.”

[To receive these weekly quotes by email, or to read past quotes, visit spiritual teacher and EnlightenNext founder Andrew Cohen's website here.]

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Filed Under: Best of the BlogCosmologyEnlightenNext Editors’ BlogEvolutionary EnlightenmentEvolutionary SpiritualityQuote of the Week

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About the Author

Andrew Cohen is the pioneering teacher of Evolutionary Enlightenment, the founder of international nonprofit organization EnlightenNext, and the Editor in Chief of EnlightenNext magazine. Learn more about his work at

Comments (15)

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  1. Tara says:

    Our Personal Experience Is Not As Personal As It Appears To Be…So True ..Awakening To Seem Time..Not That Simple..But IT is the goal…

  2. Bullion Grey says:

    I agree with this quote….that is why Spirit taught me that the correct spelling of Universe is YOUniverse…….just thought Id share it.

  3. Manitou says:

    Since we seem to be the universe becoming aware it itself in human form,my guess is that’s why the universe appears to be expanding from our scientific perspective.

  4. Emma says:

    I am, I am, I am

  5. Manitou says:

    Yee haw, Emma. Let’s hang on for the ride.

  6. Aliya says:

    Time is neither deep nor shallow. Time simply is not. Time is our psychological invention, it is a creation of our mind. In the world of dualities we live time and space help us in our attempts to measure the unmeasurable, the unknown. Till we become aware that there is a space beyond time and space, the true Reality, the world of the Beloved.

  7. As always Andrew, I love and appreciate your penetrating insights. This points to a great responsibility of care for the sake of the whole. In coming to know and abide in our true deep time created nature we can’t ignore that.
    With love and warmth, Sal

  8. John Shim says:

    Dear Andrew,
    This is a short comment I thought you might enjoy.
    John Shim

    Well, what the Dalai Lama says is partly true; most people do want peace of mind. But the dilemma is that we don’t want it all the time, or we don’t want it under the conditions we would need to live under in order to have it. Part of us gets bored rather quickly with peace. After a little bit of it we want to go off to the movies, or a sporting event, or some other less innocuous activity giving us a little excitement. Or we’d like peace of mind, but only after we have a nice house, good income, the right relationship, whatever success we have in mind, and so forth. That’s in our affluent culture of course, but others aren’t essentially different when they achieve some economic success and stability. And even if we do find some peace of mind, sooner or later nature comes along and pushes us out of it one way or another.

    The fact is, as human beings we will never have peace of mind, because nature won’t permit it. Nature has no intention of allowing us to remain human, because that’s not part of her evolutionary scheme, and until we recognize it and begin to move in the direction she wants, we won’t have much peace of any kind. Nature doesn’t care about the peace envisioned by humanity, the freedom from war, violence, human suffering, or the suffering of other living creatures. All those for her are merely means to an end, an end which humanity is incapable of envisioning. We shall have peace, but not as humans, and not the peace humanity can understand. Nor will it be the peace of extinction envisioned by Buddha. Rather it will be the infinite peace of an infinite consciousness in an infinite creative ecstasy.

  9. John Shim says:

    This is a copy of another letter I thought might be of interest, although it is a bit technical and strays into the realm of physical science, at least at first.

    John Shim

    I find it hard to take seriously contemporary astronomers’ views on the structure and nature of the physical universe. What are they presenting? More or less meaningless mathematical models: conjecture built on conjecture built on data impossible to interpret because of the lack of independent verification of crucial information, such as distance, and questionable interpretations, such as cosmological velocity versus gravitation as the predominant cause of extra-galactic red shift.

    The view which seems to be the dominant one, or upon which most others are based, is that our galaxy is more or less at the center of a large primordial explosion, and essentially all extra-galactic objects are receding from us at various velocities due to that explosion. This view was that of Hubble, the rather plausible, even compelling idea that he put forth to account for the data that he had observed in his initial study of extra-galactic objects, the curious fact that all of the galaxies he saw had spectral red-shift, and none blue-shift. And he thought that he had an independent measure of distance based on Cepheid variables which seemed to correlate strongly the degree of red shift with distance.

    But this view was initially based on a sample of roughly 50 objects. And although his distance measure and correlation with red shift turned out to be much less reliable than he thought, still with only 50 or so objects, the probability of our galaxy being more or less at the center of all of these observed galaxies remained within the realm of possibility, on the order of 50 to one.

    But today’s data are light years from that of Hubble’s: several hundred billion extra galactic objects, many of them bearing no resemblance to normal galaxies, with red shifts Hubble never dreamed of, and no possibility of any meaningful independent measure of distance. Any view putting the earth at or near the center of such an array (or at any other particular location) would be inadmissible, a likelihood against it of at least a hundred billion to one, barring some completely unequivocal data showing that this unlikely choice is inescapable. And so far as I know that data does not exist. The more or less isotropic microwave background radiation, which astronomers have held up as being this confirmation, seems to me to be the opposite.

    Astronomers are telling us that what we see outside our galaxy is an optical illusion. They say it isn’t what it seems to be, which is a bunch of more or less uniformly distributed radiating objects, giving off a necessary, more or less uniform, collective electromagnetic signature, about which we can say little else without a detailed knowledge of the character and distribution of those objects.

    They say that the uniformity of distribution of objects is in fact only two dimensional, the result of this explosion, and that the isotropy of the microwave background radiation results from our being at the center of it. But the radiation isotropy is not an independent verification of our galaxy’s location; it is merely a consequence of it in that model. It is a choice of interpretation which does not avoid the unlikelihood. The much more direct and seemingly obvious interpretation, that the uniform radiation is merely the necessary result of a more or less uniform three dimensional distribution, is an interpretation which cannot be ruled out, should even logically be the accepted view without an unequivocal demonstration that this three dimensional distribution is in fact an illusion.

    And since in the explosion view, the isotropy of the background radiation requires that the earth be at the center of the visible universe, it makes the view a near impossibility without any independent verification of that location. If our galaxy did not have to occupy that specific position, the view of an explosion would be more difficult to discredit, but the uniformity of the radiation essentially rules out any other option.

    In addition, the explosion view requires that the predominance of red shift be Doppler, correlated with distance. If there is any firm evidence of the close proximity of objects with widely diverse red shifts, the explosion model would be a virtual impossibility, and almost mandate a significant gravitational component. And the recent discovery of the absence or near absence of any Lorentz retardation in the periodic behavior of quasars with widely varying red shifts should raise a red flag the size of the state of New York against any universal predominantly cosmological velocity component; it strongly suggests a gravitational source. But I suppose many astronomers will manage to ignore or discredit these discrepancies, as scientists always do, until they become so large they can’t ignore them.

    But where does that leave us? Somewhere closer to the truth, it seems to me, which is that we’re looking at a bunch of more or less uniformly distributed radiating extra-galactic objects about many of which astronomers can say very little. On the other hand, I suppose we should be grateful for this ignorance and inability to establish a realistic picture of the physical universe, because it has fueled such wild and improbable speculation, and thereby opened the door in some ways to a broader, deeper view of the universe and its dynamics, one exceeding the limited view of traditional Western science.

    As far as the occult knowledge goes, at least the reliable knowledge so far as I’m aware of it, a large single primordial explosion on the physical plane has never been mentioned or even suggested, and is inconsistent with the fundamental assertion that all planes are infinite in extent, since it produces a finite universe, although the idea of innumerable exploding segments of such a physical universe wouldn’t be. But occult traditions have been concerned with the development of the universe on a much larger scale than just the physical plane: the emergence, evolution and destruction or withdrawal from manifest existence on an infinity of planes, an infinite number of existences of which the physical is only a limited part.

    And this is a view that is not admitted, even vehemently denied by most of modern physics. But without some knowledge of this larger structure of the universe, the structure outlined in some of the ancient spiritual traditions, particularly in India, any real understanding of the origin and functioning of the physical universe would be impossible. The problem is that most of these traditions give only a very cryptic view of these things, one that is couched in terms of a much less complex understanding of physical universe, and one that is hard to translate into modern terms. You would have to read the Sam Arjuna book in order to get some idea of the overall dynamics expressed in concepts familiar or understandable to most people today. But that doesn’t go into the character and distribution of matter outside our galaxy, the picture that modern cosmological astronomers are interested in.

  10. Ram says:

    if anything has to be truth,it has to be universal truth .

    if it is true for human beings it must be true
    for everything which exists like sun,moon,tree,birds,stars,car,road,music and
    everything what so ever you can think.

    read all these thoughts with love.

    to explain love by example of coin, like coin
    has head, tail,and thin edge,desire is like
    coin head , hate is like coin tail, thin edge
    is love where no desire no hate ,

    love is your inner wealth, seed of which you
    bring in your closed hands to plant in this
    world to make it a tree of happiness.

    can you see your own image without mirror?

    even I cannot see my own image without mirror.

    so thing which is truth for you is truth for
    me also.

    I am the creator of nature.

    nature is my image .

    nature is the cosmic world.

    I always exist, nature creates and destroys

    I am you ,nature is your body.

    I am very simple ,nature is very complex.

    like I am inside like I am outside.

    I can see myself through you, you are my medium,and body is your medium.

    I am everything known or everything unknown.

    I want to see myself through you, life is a
    chance for the ray to know sun.

    I am eternal sound existing in everything.

    life is a rare opportunity for you to know
    me through the medium of body to become me.

    your body is your guru because of this only
    you can know me.

    I want to be happy to see my clean image of
    creation for that I give everything a mirror
    inside and the possibility for every one of
    you to keep this mirror clean and when mirror
    is clean, I am always with you.

    all these thoughts are natural,your own, from
    your own world, from you have all the
    rights and liberty to implement your own thoughts in your life ,you are your own sun
    and the ray of this universe.

  11. John Shim says:

    I have to say that I find the use of the word “urgency” a bit confusing. When we are beginning spiritual development, when we are searching for something else, something beyond ordinary existence, even if we don’t know what it is, then a sense of urgency, a sense of haste, the stress of some kind of internal urge to change is important, even essential. But when we have passed beyond that stage, when we have in some way come in contact with the Infinite and begun to experience it for ourselves, perhaps in meditation or some other spiritual practice, then this same sense of urgency, this sense of dissatisfaction with the way things are, becomes a hindrance to our maintaining it, especially if our goal is to bring the peace and harmony of the Infinite into our daily lives.

    We have to replace that initial sense of urgency with something else. Some call it an aspiration, some a thirst, a cry, an urge, probably other things as well. It’s a need to become the Infinite, to exist increasingly in some aspect that consciousness, that experience, an experience which changes as we grow. And the more we experience it, the more the need increases, the more intolerable the state of ordinary human consciousness becomes to us. When the pressures of ordinary life push out of that higher state into the old human state, it becomes an agony; we feel like we are dying. That is what the Upanishads called death, the state of normal human consciousness, and to them immortality was that state of Infinite consciousness we begin to live in, to experience. It is a consciousness that we retain when we leave the body, a consciousness that is timeless, that is immortal. But that state has no urgency, no haste, none of the stress of the normal human consciousness. In order to achieve it, we have to be able to contain in ourselves an intense need, an intense aspiration to move towards it, to increasingly become this state of Infinity, but in perfect peace, in perfect harmony. Accomplishing that in everyday life in one way or another is our real work as humans.

    But both the sense of urgency, the stress of the initial seeking we experience at first, and the aspiration it must eventually become, are merely different aspects of the same evolutionary force, the same evolutionary impulse expressed and experienced in different ways. They are the dynamic aspects of Divine Love, the creative force of the Supreme Vibration manifesting itself through us at different levels. And what is appropriate for the lower level must be left behind in order for us to achieve the higher.

  12. shamansun says:

    If I understand this quote correctly, might it be said that “awakening to deep time,” and the evolutionary perspective in general is a kind of a Vedanta Rebirth for a planetary culture? On this rung of the scale we need to re-initiate ourselves into a cosmic connection, like the ancients did, except now the context is billions of years and awareness of the biological and astronomical evolution. A kind of “sacrilization” of our secular knowledge.

  13. David says:

    How do you improve on something which exists without limits?

    If we evolve from infinite potential towards infinite potential, how far have we really moved?

    While seeking the awareness of the universe, how can we claim to know what that aware seeks from us?