Scientists tell us that when time began, fourteen billion years ago, something came from nothing. When you awaken to the ground of all Being, in a deep meditative state, you realize that when something came from nothing, the nothing didn’t disappear. That unmanifest, unborn dimension is the ever-present ground out of which everything is still arising in every moment. It is what the Buddha called “the deathless,” and what others call “eternity consciousness.” When you awaken to this dimension in your own awareness, you will find yourself always already resting in the eternal moment before time began. This is the recognition that liberates: Prior to everything, I already am. The experience of this recognition is not one of becoming liberated. It is of being already liberated. What you realize when you awaken to that ground is that there is a part of each and every one of us that is already free—from everything. That part of yourself, which is the ground of Being, has never been bound, trapped, or limited in any way. That’s the part of yourself that I want you to discover. It’s not the part of yourself that needs to become free. It is already free, right now.
Quote of the Week
Spiritual maturity is not a matter of how long you have lived or even how much life experience you have. The important question is: how much does any of us actually learn from our life experience? Those people who are more spiritually developed are people who have been deeply paying attention, who are sensitive and awake enough to truly learn, and grow, and significantly evolve as a result of the life experience that they have.
In the way that I use the term, God is the energy and intelligence that created the universe and is driving the process forward in every moment. And that energy and intelligence cares desperately about change and innovation and the release of potentials that have not existed before. So it is constantly looking for portals through which it can enter into the world and consciously engage with creating its next step. As conscious human beings who have been blessed with self-awareness and free agency, we are those portals. Each and every one of us is potentially a portal for the energy and intelligence that created the universe. You have a human body and a human personality, but from a certain perspective these are merely sheathes through which the cosmic creativity can shine. From the vantage point of the creative process, your human form, your personality, with all the particulars of your own history, your personal relationships, and your life circumstances, is a vessel for an infinite process that is trying to go somewhere. How conscious are you of this? How conscious is any one of us that in this very moment the cosmic process that produced us is now dependent on us to take its next step?
Evolution is a new spiritual orientation. Most of us with a Western education are familiar with the idea of cosmic evolution—we’re aware that the cosmos is in a process of ever-greater complexification and that we are part of that evolving process. We’re aware of the Darwinian notion of biological evolution and accept the scientific evidence about how life has evolved. And some of us are even aware of the notion of cultural evolution, the recognition that culture has been developing over time through a series of stages. But very few of us are really awake to the notion of spiritual evolution. Seeing evolution as a spiritual unfolding that has an exterior and an interior, and understanding that our own experience of subjectivity is the leading edge of the interior of that creative process, is a very recently emerging idea. Traditionally, spiritual teachings pointed to a static attainment. The aspiration for enlightenment was the aspiration to come to rest in a steady state—in nirvana, in heaven. But when spirituality is reinterpreted from an evolutionary perspective, it is the aspiration for infinite becoming. The evolutionary impulse is an infinite reaching towards the future that affects the way we think about everything. Now we are no longer looking for spiritual liberation and release beyond the world, or after we die. We realize that the spiritual release is found in unconditionally, radically, and totally embracing the creative process of infinite becoming, as ourselves. It’s a very different orientation to spiritual liberation.
A big part of my job is getting people interested in creating the future at the level of consciousness. In order to do that, we have to suspend our concerns about how we’re going to get over certain very real problems that exist in the present moment. For at least a moment, we have to put those aside, focus our attention on the future, and see what happens. We have to train ourselves to have a different orientation in which we are always looking beyond the present into the possible. Our attention is ever-focused on what hasn’t happened yet, and no matter what happens our attention will always keep moving forward beyond the present moment into what’s possible. And the most miraculous part of this is that if our focus and conviction is strong enough, we almost magnetically begin to compel that future possibility into the present moment.
What gives me the greatest spiritual confidence is the knowledge that I’m moving. I know that I’m continuing to develop. Philosophically, spiritually, personally, I am not in the same place I was a decade ago, a year ago, or even six months ago. And as long as that’s the case, I will have the confidence to stand up and talk about evolution.
The problem for most people, as I see it, is that they are not moving. They’re stuck at some place they reached decades ago. In an evolutionary worldview, the raison d’être is movement, change. The highest goodness is actual development. Are we evolving? Are we developing? If we’re stagnating, the universe cannot evolve through us. If we are not moving, the evolutionary process is stagnating. Of course, it’s not something we are deliberately or consciously doing, but because of our ignorance or unenlightenment, we are actually inhibiting the evolution of the interior of the cosmos.
If we have the courage to embrace this radical perspective on ourselves, we awaken to an enormous evolutionary imperative to get moving, so that the universe can get moving through us. From the perspective of a process that is trying to get somewhere, there is always a tremendous urgency—a creative urgency, an ecstatic urgency—for you to evolve. You and I are vehicles through which the process can develop. Is your self receptive? Is it open, transparent, surrendered, and committed enough to be a vessel for that creative urgency? When you get moving, your human body, personality, soul, and spirit becomes an expression and a manifestation of the evolutionary impulse—incarnate and always moving.
If we are interested in the evolution of consciousness and culture, one habit that we need to break is the tendency to speak about the world as if it exists “out there.” From the perspective that I call evolutionary nonduality, we don’t want to separate our self from the world process because when we do we fall into a false or dualistic way of thinking. We are not separate from the world process. In our own small way, we’re all contributing to where we’re going. The choices we make, the actions we take, what we say, what we don’t say, are all adding to the momentum of the vast cosmic unfolding. When we really embrace the truth that we are not separate from the process that created us, then we need to become very clear about all the ways in which we are actually affecting the process, so that we can begin to more consciously impact its momentum in positive and evolutionary ways.
If you begin to evolve spiritually, at a certain point you awaken to a moral imperative. You discover an inner compulsion to live for a higher purpose and to actually to do it in public. This is quite a radical stance to take in the midst of postmodern culture. Much of postmodern popular spirituality is seen as a very personal, private matter. Rebelling against the outdated mores of traditional religion, many of us have declared we no longer want to be part of some organized, moral teaching from on high that tells us how to live. In the age of the individual, spirituality is a private, secret path and it’s not something we talk about in public because it’s not something that a culture that champions materialism and narcissism gives much validity to.
Evolutionary spirituality, however, is another step forward. In an evolutionary context we live our spiritual lives in public, because we have realized that our development is not a personal matter. If we are interested in the future, it’s not about me; it’s about we. Evolutionary spirituality is about where we are going. So now, instead of the personal, private, interior path of the lone individual, spiritual development becomes something we practice in public, because it’s about creating the future for all of us.
In spiritual evolution, there are no guarantees. Life is unpredictable. So this path requires both an unconditional commitment to victory and enormous patience. If we are very serious about this endeavor, we have to become the exemplars ourselves. It has to start with our own unconditional commitment to victory, knowing that there are no guarantees. The very fact that there are no guarantees underlines how urgent our commitment is, because we don’t know how much time we each have to do this. We don’t know how long we’re going to be here. So the worst thing we can do is to waste time. Traditional enlightenment is about going beyond time, but Evolutionary Enlightenment is about doing something in time, because evolution can only happen in time. Therefore, don’t waste time. From the perspective of evolution, time is the most precious commodity. Time is all we have to develop. Many of us have been culturally trained to spend an enormous amount of time worrying about our psychological needs and desires, our ego’s fears and concerns. And this is understandable, but the problem is that it robs us of time that could be used to participate in life in a much deeper way. If you have the strength and clarity to look at your own life from this perspective, you won’t want to allow yourself to waste time, because you will realize you are wasting the precious chance you actually have to evolve.
Listen directly or download the audio recording of Michael Wombacher, author of 11 Days at the Edge speaking with EnlightenNext Retreat Director Mary Adams, about his experience of being on retreat with Andrew Cohen: