The New Spiritual Ideal.

Via Andrew Cohen
on Sep 11, 2012
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After I finished giving a lecture at the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, an American rabbi approached me.

“I’ve been following your work for some years now,” he said, “and you’re doing something very important. You are defining a new position for spiritual aspirants, uniquely suited for the time we are living in. You’re calling all of us to assume a position of ‘radical indeterminacy’ as the very goal of our spiritual practice.”

“Radical indeterminacy” perfectly captures the position of what I call the “new enlightenment,” or Evolutionary Enlightenment, which is based upon a growing recognition that the human experience is in fact a small, but not insignificant part of a cosmic evolutionary process that began almost 14 billion years ago.

It’s the all-important awakening to the fact that this process is actually going somewhere. From energy to light to matter to life to consciousness to self-reflective awareness, evolution is going somewhere, and it at least seems that we are the very leading edge of the entire process. By we, I do not mean our unique personalities but our uniquely human capacity for complex consciousness and cognition. No other forms of life, including mammals, have the highly developed capacity for self-reflection that we do. Indeed, it appears that the entire deep-time developmental process only gains the capacity to become aware of itself through the evolved intricacy of our human brains. The implications are enormous. As far as we know, we are the eyes, ears, hearts and minds of the entire creative endeavor.

It is only in our most evolutionarily enlightened moments that we directly experience the truth of the fact that we are all truly on a cosmic journey. When we literally begin to feel the telos, or directionality, of the entire process moving in and through our own nervous system, this is when we directly experience that movement as a vertical impulse in our own consciousness, way beyond our egos.

We see that where we are headed is never static or predetermined. In every moment there is the possibility for something new. That’s what “radical indeterminacy” is; when we glimpse for ourselves the limitless nature of our own potential to evolve infinitely and forever. When we are actually able to feel that miraculous potential vibrating within our own selves, we immediately realize what is possible . . . if only we were willing to get out of the way.

We have all been given a measure of free agency by the creative process. Getting out of the way means no longer using that measure of freedom in psychological servitude to the whims of the personal ego or the conditioned perspectives and unenlightened values of the cultural self.

It means liberating that freedom to be used in the service of the energy and intelligence that has been driving the whole process from the beginning of time. That miraculous part of you and that part of me—what I call the “evolutionary impulse”—is always and only reaching towards that which is new, that which has not yet emerged, but could, if only we would get out of the way.

The evolutionary process is going somewhere and now we, maybe for the first time in history, can decide with more conscious awareness than ever before where it’s going.

When we make the effort to identify more with the vertical energy of the impulse to evolve than with the horizontal pull of the personal ego and cultural self, everything changes. We transcend the enormous weight of our own predetermined conditioning and open ourselves up to the liberating experience of that part of the cosmos that is trying to evolve through us in every moment.

We make ourselves available to that powerful telos, and when we do we become profoundly transformed. Now our attention has shifted from the conditioned past to the ever-ecstatic immediacy of the possible, here and now. This simple yet profound shift of attention is when we inwardly assume the position of radical indeterminacy. We do this so that what has come before will no longer be able to obscure the emergence of glorious new and as-yet-unmanifest higher potentials.

This post was originally published on Andrew Coheh’s blog, The Evolution of Enlightenment

Join Andrew for a series of free monthly broadcasts. The next one will be a dialogue with integral philosopher Steve McIntosh exploring ‘Evolution & Enlightenment’ on September 30th at 2pm ET (USA). Register here.



Editor: Brianna Bemel


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About Andrew Cohen

Andrew Cohen is an American spiritual teacher and visionary thinker widely recognized for his original contribution to the emerging field of evolutionary spirituality. Through his talks, retreats, publications, and ongoing dialogues with the leading philosophers, mystics, and activists of our time, he is becoming a defining voice in an international alliance of individuals and organizations that are committed to the transformation of human consciousness and culture. The founder and editor in chief of the international, award-winning EnlightenNext magazine, formerly What Is Enlightenment?, Cohen is dedicated to creating “nothing less than a revolution in consciousness and culture.” Since 1991, Cohen and his small team of editors have met with mystics and materialists, physicists and philosophers, activists and athletes in an effort to create a popular forum for dialogue and inquiry regarding the meaning of human life in the postmodern era. You can follow him on his Facebook page. Download a free chapter of Andrew’s book, Evolutionary Enlightenment, by clicking here. You can also join him for a series of free monthly broadcasts by registering here.


3 Responses to “The New Spiritual Ideal.”

  1. Donny Duke says:

    I know you are this big person, so big I can't even email you with material that would challenge your view of yourself as an enlightened being, but when I read your words I read nothing original, nothing that touches even my mind mind with fire much less my heart with possibilities or my soul with truth. Nothing in me leaps to your words and gazes out my gates of sense trying to glimpse what possible world it is you describe. I wonder if you've ever even been briefly in the Silence, that place of no-self, of consciousness without an object, where there is no I, no thought, nothing but raw awareness itself, or if you've ever gone up out of the top of your head and sat even a moment in your higher self, Supermind, where you see as with an eye of God through the eyes of countless beings even as you see your own individuality. I wonder if you've found your soul, make the inner journey all the way down into that deepest most hidden place inside and actually met it. For that matter do you have mostly conscious dreams, are able to remember all or most of what transpires when you sleep? Have you ever considered the possibility that there is so much more than what you've become?

  2. […] religions of man have been his starting point, the understanding he has gleaned over a lifetime of seeking is way beyond the confines of any religious dogma. Rather, Huston’s life has been more about the origins of the […]

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