Global Citizenry Andrew Harvey Sacred Activism Part Seven

PART SEVEN: GLOBAL CITIZENRY
Parts One-Seven: In Part Seven of the Sacred Activism series, Harvey addresses his conviction that the Divine wants humanity to get through a kind of birth canal—to a whole new way of being in the universe. In the end, humans always have free will—with that, it is possible we can in fact deny the divine, and, in doing so, destroy all life on the planet. Narcissism of every variety poses a basic threat that cannot be denied. Every act, every gesture counts, and so does reverence for all beings including the animals. Listen to Harvey explain how best to work day-to-day and in every moment with the blessing of the divine so that immense problems can be solved.

A Brief History of Evolutionary Spirituality – by Tom Huston

Evolution has always been a fundamentally spiritual concept. In fact, some of the first thinkers to seriously explore the topic—the German Idealists of the early 19th century—were mystic-philosophers who predated Darwin’s Origin of Species by at least half a century. Writing in the year 1799, the 24-year-old philosophical wunderkind Friedrich Schelling summarized in a single sentence the profoundly original insight that was exciting him as well as his philosophical contemporaries (men like Immanuel Kant, J.G. Fichte, and Georg Hegel): “History as a whole,” he wrote, “is a progressive, gradually self-disclosing revelation of the Absolute.”
Immanuel Kant 1724-1804
The fruitfulness of Nature is without limits, since it is nothing but the exercise of the Divine Omnipotence…. Even in the essential properties of the elements [in the original condition of Nature], there could be traced the mark of that completeness which they derive from their origin, inasmuch as their nature is but a consequence of the eternal Idea of the Divine Intelligence. The matter which appears to be merely passive and without form and arrangement has even in its simplest state an urge to fashion itself by a natural evolution into a more perfect constitution.”

In other words, long before the Western worldview was shaken by theories of biological development by means of natural selection, a tour de force of metaphysical geniuses had already intuited that reality as a whole was, in some essential way, going somewhere. Nature—and humanity—had a purpose and a direction. And that direction was, as Hegel put it, towards ever-greater expressions of “universal Spirit” within the realm of time and space.

Georg Hegel 1770-1831
“That the history of the world, with all the changing scenes which its annals present, is this process of development and the realization of Spirit—only this insight can reconcile Spirit with the history of the world—that what has happened, and is happening every day, is not only not ‘without God,’ but is essentially God’s work…. The power of Spirit is only as great as its expression, its depth only as deep as it dares to spread out and lose itself in its exposition…. Ours is a birth-time and a period of transition to a new era. Spirit has broken with the world it has hitherto inhabited and imagined, and is of a mind to submerge it in the past, and in the labor of its own transformation. Spirit is indeed never at rest but always engaged in moving forward.”

Combining their mystical intuitions with the “clear light of reason,” the Idealists bridged the gap between God and humanity, between the transcendent and the immanent, forging a uniquely Western conception of human purpose and meaning. No longer were human beings seen to be simply adrift in a state of sin and suffering, having “fallen” away from the presence of God in the primordial past; instead, God was now understood to be in humanity’s future, to be revealed in the world, with increasing depth and clarity, as human history marched forward and consciousness evolved. “God does not remain petrified and dead,” said Hegel. “The very stones cry out and raise themselves up to Spirit.”

Echoing that sentiment almost two centuries later, the American philosopher Ken Wilber wrote: “Both humans and rocks are equally Spirit, but only humans can consciously realize that fact, and between the rock and the human lies evolution.” And in the span between Wilber and Hegel reigned numerous champions of this revolutionary concept of “spiritual evolution” in both the East and the West.

Foremost among these were the Indian philosopher-sage Sri Aurobindo, the French philosopher Henri Bergson, and the French paleontologist and Catholic priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Other key figures included the American essayist and lecturer Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Austrian theosophical visionary Rudolph Steiner, and the German integral theorist Jean Gebser.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin 1881-1955
“For invincible reasons of homogeneity and coherence, the fibers of cosmogenesis require to be prolonged in ourselves far more deeply than flesh and bone. We are not being tossed about and drawn along in the vital current merely by the material surface of our being. But like a subtle fluid, space-time, having drowned our bodies, penetrates our soul. It fills it and impregnates it. It mingles with its powers, until the soul soon no longer knows how to distinguish space-time from its own thoughts. Nothing can escape this flux any longer, for those who know how to see, even though it were the summit of our being, because it can only be defined in terms of increases of consciousness.

For is not the very act by which the fine point of our mind penetrates the absolute a phenomenon of emergence? In short, recognized at first in a single point of things, then inevitably having spread to the whole of the inorganic and organic volume of matter, whether we like it or not evolution is now starting to invade the psychic zones of the world…. The human discovers that, in the striking words of Julian Huxley, we are nothing else than evolution become conscious of itself. It seems to me that until it is established in this perspective, the modern mind…will always be restless. For it is on this summit and this summit alone that a resting place and illumination await us…. All evolution becomes conscious of itself deep within us…. Not only do we read the secret of its movements in our slightest acts, but to a fundamental extent we hold it in our own hands: responsible for its past and its future.”

Writing in the first half of the 20th century, Bergson and Teilhard, in particular, are notable for taking the scientific understanding of evolution and running with it, tracing the development of the Divine through the cosmological, biological, psychosocial, and transcendent domains. Bergson’s Creative Evolution, published in 1907, became a popular bestseller for its lucid, stream-of-thought consideration of the motive force behind the evolutionary process, which Bergson identified as consciousness itself. And Teilhard’s masterwork, The Human Phenomenon, equally based its speculations on science, while emphasizing the back-and-forth interplay of individuality and collectivity over the course of cosmic history.

Specifically, Teilhard saw the potential for human beings, like molecules and bacteria before them, to come together in a higher integration or “megasynthesis” of a new evolutionary potential. He wrote: “The way out for the world, the gates of the future, the entry into the superhuman, will not open ahead to the privileged few, or to a single people, elect among all peoples. They will yield only to the thrust of all together (even if it were from the influence and guidance of an elite) in the direction where all can rejoin and complete one another in a spiritual renewal of the Earth.”
Sri Aurobindo 1872-1950
We speak of the evolution of Life in Matter, the evolution of Mind in Matter; but evolution is a word which merely states the phenomenon without explaining it. For there seems to be no reason why Life should evolve out of material elements or Mind out of living form, unless we accept the Vedantic solution that Life is already involved in Matter and Mind in Life because in essence Matter is a form of veiled Life, Life a form of veiled Consciousness.

And then there seems to be little objection to a farther step in the series and the admission that mental consciousness may itself be only a form and a veil of higher states which are beyond Mind. In that case, the unconquerable impulse of man towards God, Light, Bliss, Freedom, Immortality presents itself in its right place in the chain as simply the imperative impulse by which Nature is seeking to evolve beyond Mind…. The animal is a living laboratory in which Nature has, it is said, worked out man. Man himself may well be a thinking and living laboratory in whom and with whose conscious co-operation she wills to work out the superman, the god. Or shall we not say, rather, to manifest God?

For if evolution is the progressive manifestation by Nature of that which slept or worked in her, involved, it is also the overt realization of that which she secretly is…. If it be true that Spirit is involved in Matter and apparent Nature is secret God, then the manifestation of the divine in himself and the realization of God within and without are the highest and most legitimate aim possible to man upon earth.”

Yet it was the work of the great Sri Aurobindo that, while following a similar thread to Bergson and Teilhard, brought an entirely new dimension to this burgeoning field— namely, translating the concept of spiritual evolution into a spiritual practice. After completing his studies in literature and philosophy at Cambridge in 1892, he became a leading figure in the Indian independence movement and was declared “the most dangerous man alive” by the British Empire, but eventually left the freedom fight to devote his life to exploring liberation of an altogether different kind.

After experiencing a deep spiritual awakening, Aurobindo’s consciousness opened onto a vision of human possibilities that saw the attainment of nirvana—typically held to be the goal of all mystical pursuits—as merely the beginning of a personal engagement with the evolutionary force that has been driving the cosmos forward since the dawn of creation. Leading his spiritual community in the practice of “integral yoga,” Aurobindo was the first to synthesize the modern understanding of evolution with the timeless revelation of enlightenment, and pioneered the idea that human beings are capable of aligning their lives with the trajectory and purpose of the universe itself.

Today, the notion that the evolutionary process is ultimately driven by a spiritual impulse is more popular and widely accepted than ever, with a growing number of progressive thinkers, scientists, and mystics exploring its implications. Yet to many it still remains little more than an alluring philosophy, its ultimate significance divorced from our daily lives. What would a human life based on the principles of an “evolutionary spirituality” look like?

Freed from the mythic dogmatisms of premodern religion, transcending the materialistic biases of modern scientific thought, and liberated also from the narcissistic self-obsessions of postmodern spirituality, what kind of world might a universal, evolutionary spirituality—or a truly twenty-first century religion—create? As one of the few pioneers in this nascent field who is attempting to put the philosophy into real-world practice through his teachings of Evolutionary Enlightenment, Andrew Cohen is endeavoring to find out…

What Will You Do?

Pangea Day submission: What Is Enlightenment? brings together a diverse collection of visionaries, activists and religious leaders, as one voice united in the intention to create a better future for us all

Getting Beyond Ego

The ultimate trick of egoic consciousness is to try to get beyond ego. Yet the more you try to get beyond it, the more you get caught up in it. In this enlightening satsang, Adyashanti reveals the real meaning of “allowing everything to be as it is.” He shows how this teaching, when understood fully, offers a way to go beyond the egoic state.

The Power of Service Andrew Harvey Sacred Activism Part Five & Part Six – Reverence for Life

PART FIVE: THE POWER OF SERVICE
Parts One-Seven: In Part Five of the Sacred Activism series, Harvey begins outlining five forms of service each of us can engage in daily to “surrender our will to divine love.” He discusses the need for constant shadow work and awareness of parts of oneself we sometimes do not want to face. Harvey exalts the power of the divine to open doors where there were none, and to bring down seemingly insurmountable walls. Find out how to heighten your receptivity to divine transformation and begin to do the necessary work that will heal the planet.

PART SIX: REVERENCE FOR LIFE

Parts One-Seven: In Part Six of the Sacred Activism series, Harvey touches on the need to identify what breaks your heart— to listen to that sadness and grief, and heed the call to action. For some, heartbreak is rooted in the fact that there are polar bears drowning in the arctic, while for others it is the unjust slaughter of children during wartime. Whatever moves your heart at the deepest core, Harvey suggests, can ultimately give rise to both tremendous compassion and “quantum creativity.” Together, individuals can build alliances, or “networks of grace” and new worlds will start to arise. Listen to Harvey explain how.

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