What is the Evolutionary Impulse?
“In this evolutionary context, the point of enlightenment is not merely to transcend the world so you can be free of it, but to embrace the world completely, to embrace the entire process as yourself, knowing that you are the creative principle incarnate, and you have a lot of work to do.”
~ Andrew Cohen
In November 2012, I was invited by a friend who works with spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen to interview him during a visit to Vancouver. Intrigued, I accepted the invite.
Aside from being a longtime teacher and founder of EnlightenNext magazine, I had heard somewhat of the controversy surrounding Andrew. At the same time, I wanted to approach Andrew’s work with an unbiased perspective and let his ideas speak on their own.
From attending his full day talk, then shooting the interview the following day, I found Andrew articulate and affable. His ideas on evolutionary enlightenment (also the name of his latest book) definitely aligned somewhat with my own path of personal inquiry. In the following months I read through his book and found many compelling passages that piqued my interest, including his take on meaning of consciousness:
“What is God’s purpose? To create the universe, in his or her own image. And what is that image? Consciousness. To create a material universe in the image of God, as outrageous as it sounds, means nothing less than the awakening or enlightenment of all matter. This seemingly impossible task is what I call the Universe Project.”
“In this evolutionary context, the point of enlightenment is not merely to transcend the world so you can be free of it, but to embrace the world completely, to embrace the entire process as yourself, knowing that you are the creative principle incarnate, and you have a lot of work to do.
The tragic irony of our cultural predicament is that many of the most highly evolved and privileged people on the planet are lost in an emotional, psychological, philosophical, and spiritual relationship to life that tends to be very superficial.
…For the most privileged people in the world, the ego has become focused on itself. There is no psychological solution to these problems. The only solution is spiritual.”
Though embracing the tenets of “Evolutionary Enlightenment” Andrew shares what a vision for a new world might look like:
“My vision of a new world is not some vague Utopian ideal a thousand years away; it’s a new structure in consciousness that emerges between us, in the most interior dimension of the cosmos, in real time, right now. At first, it is glimpsed as a new potential, then tasted as a thrilling intersubjective experience of consciousness beyond the familiar boundaries of the individual ego and the outdated structures of the culturally created self.
Eventually, if each of the individuals involved has the heroic commitment necessary to sustain the perspective revealed in that experience, that perspective becomes an actual structure in our shared culture. As it stabilizes, that structure becomes the ground for new and higher orders of relatedness.”
Note: I hear clear parallels with Thomas Hubl and his thoughts on “coming from the future.”
All in all, I enjoyed my interview and collaboration with Andrew. Thanks to Naad for the gorgeous music, and Jeremy Therrien for the sound mix.
Ian MacKenzie is a filmmaker and media activist from Vancouver, BC. He is co-producer of the upcoming feature documentary Occupy Love, directed by Velcrow Ripper.
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