The Evolutionary Impulse

About one hundred thousand years ago a gradual, but very powerful, shift was occurring on our planet. For the first time since the origin of life on earth over three and a half billion years ago, the leading edge of evolution shifted from biological evolution to the evolution of consciousness. Since that time we have changed very little physically, but look how far, and how fast, we have come in just one hundred thousand years. One hundred thousand years ago humankind became capable of self- reflection. About one hundred years ago another profound shift occurred. At that time a few individuals began to see that we are now responsible for our own evolution. One of them was the renowned paleontologist/ philosopher/ visionary Teilhard de Chardin. He wrote that the time is ripe for a transformation of human consciousness into a state of hyper-reflection.” He said that we are becoming evolution itself.

He went on to say that as we personally evolve in consciousness we are participating in the transformation of all life on earth. And, like never before, the time is now ripe for us to wake up to our evolutionary potential.

But how do we wake up to this evolutionary potential? The journey is unique for each of us and yet there are a number of spiritual practices that can be essential to our journey.

Perhaps the simplest and most direct practice (not necessarily the easiest) is that of continuous direct moment-to-moment awareness: being aware and being aware that we are aware. This may be the beginning of the state of awareness Teilhard referred to as hyper-reflection.

The practice is simple because it can be explained in less than five minutes; but it can take a lifetime to master it! It is perhaps the most direct path to awakening because it involves virtually every activity of the mind and body every moment of the day.

It is very easy to do at any given moment; it is very difficult to do for a sustained period of time. It is very important that we be patient and gentle with ourselves; kindness to self and others is extremely important on this journey. Right effort is the middle way between stridency and laziness.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while it may feel like we are “doing” a spiritual practice something much greater than ourselves is at work. In a way it is being done through us. Some would call this the Evolutionary Impulse. This is the same Impulse that birthed the universe with what scientists call The Big Bang. This is the very same Impulse to which Emerson refers in his Essay on the Over-Soul:

Man is a stream whose source is hidden. Our being is descending into us                                                           from we know not whence….I am constrained every moment to acknowledge                                                 a higher origin for events than the will I call mine.[1]

Paradoxically it is up to us and yet we are but instruments of a Higher Power. Our work is to be willing to be such an instrument, to engage our practice the best we can, and to let go of any attachment to the results of our efforts. In this way we are participating in the evolutionary transformation of consciousness now unfolding on our planet.

[1] Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson’s Essays. Harper & Row, 1926 P 189