The story of life on Earth owes a great deal to Charles Darwin, and even though few people today read his epoch-making 1859 book, On the Origin of Species, without a doubt we live in a Darwinian world. Revolutionary ideas are subject to change, and when they go viral, as Darwinism did with a vengeance, many unexpected consequences result.
The crudest misuse of Darwin’s theory of evolution are contained, ironically enough, in phrases Darwin never uttered: “survival of the fittest,” ”the law of the jungle,” and “Nature red in tooth and claw.” These notions have been enormously influential. They turn evolution into a winner-take-all competition ruled by the violent opposition of predatory and prey.
Survival of the fittest, when applied to human society, celebrated the rich and powerful as evolutionarily superior. It justified the prejudice that the poor deserve to be poor because they are unfit (i.e., weak, stupid, genetically inferior). Racism and genocide have looked to Darwinism as an excuse to “purify” whole populations through means ranging from forced sterilization to mass murder. Oppressing workers in the worst periods of the Industrial Revolution also looked to Darwin for (false) justification.
We are in a world of crisis, from economic collapse to environmental decay to climate change to war, hunger and poverty. If today’s headlines make you wonder about the fate of our planet, here is some news that may surprise you: from an evolutionary standpoint, we are exactly where we need to be.
Contrary to what conventional science and religion have been telling us, evolution is neither random nor predetermined, but rather an intelligent dance between organism and environment. When conditions are ripe—either through crisis or opportunity—something unpredictable happens to bring the biosphere into a new balance at a higher level of coherence.
The good news in the bad news is that frontier science offers both the hope and challenge that we can safely navigate this dark passage to a healthier sustainable future. Advances in epigenetics, quantum biophysics and fractal geometry reveal civilization is poised on the threshold of a major evolutionary event.
By Deepak Chopra, MD and Anoop Kumar, MD
We recently participated in a public debate on the proposition "The more we evolve, the less we need God." The results were clearly in favor of the proposition against the stance we took. This was so amongst both the live audience and the online audience.
The cerebral cortex, the most recent part of the human brain to evolve, hasn't changed for more than ten thousand years. The writers of the world's ancient spiritual texts used the same brain as modern people, and since the world's religions revere these ancient texts, we accept that the Ten Commandments and the Four Noble truths of Buddhism came from minds whose processes we'd recognize today, however dissimilar the cultures of ancient Judea and India.
It must be cultural evolution that is relevant, and of course our modern secular culture has moved away from the age of faith. Rationalism seems to dominate our lives, and when we read of religious fanaticism, we feel that such issues belong to people living outside the reach of a modern secular society. Few people seeing news on TV of an attack in Paris or London feel an impulse to fight back by re-energizing their own religious beliefs. Being secular can easily feed the belief that one has evolved beyond God, religion, dogma, and the whole rigmarole.
Biologist and author Bruce Lipton has written about “spontaneous evolution.” He cites scientific studies that show that “genetic determinism” is an outdated belief, and we are not victims of heredity. Signals from our external (or internal) environment ultimately control gene activity. Translated, this means that genetic predispositions can be overridden by real-world experiences such as those that open our hearts or connect us with our soul. Spiritual awakenings or other transformative moments have a power that can break through habitual personality patterns. As our awareness grows, we can also consciously choose to align with our soul instead of our personality self or ego.
At this time in our conscious evolution and spiritual/physical/Cosmic alchemy, we stand on the event horizon of Truth, mystery and deep fusion of great possibility that is embedded within our cellular and DNA already. There is no striving or manifesting of such for it is who we are and part of us inextricably.
I’m offering you an invitation. It’s simple but defies simple explanation. It’s both a journey and a singular destination. It is immediate and timeless. It’s now and forever. It’s science and spirit, energy and matter, particle and wave. It’s a resounding symphony and a faint whisper. It’s a dive and an ascension. Creative Mysticism is an approach to living rooted in wholeness, where intellect, intuition and imagination coexist in service to something greater than the individual. This is the launch of a blog that meets at the intersection of contemplation and creation. It will explore how we can grow through challenging times by learning to see wholeness through the fractures, and create lives of meaning and beauty regardless of circumstance.
Let’s begin by pretending. Like we did when we were kids. When imagination was as much a part of us as breath. When questions were doorways instead of walls. Let’s imagine that we’re here to remember who we really are. Let’s exhale with wordless wonder or the giddy excitement of noticing the steady stream of miracles in our midst – the flight of a butterfly, the way rain splats into a puddle, how the puddle reflects the skyline, and the way the skyline pulls our gaze beyond the clouds and into the incomprehensible vastness of the cosmos. Let’s pretend we’re all waking up from a collective game of amnesia and are beginning to remember who we truly are.
Human beings are the only living creatures who can manage their own evolution. We can decide to progress and grow or to devolve and ultimately destroy ourselves. This isn’t a Darwinian proposition. Darwin’s theory of evolution is based on the struggle for survival where two factors dominate: being able to mate and to find enough food. Homo sapiens escaped those factors (for the most part) in recent times. Our evolution moved from primitive survival needs into the realm of consciousness.
This turns out to be the most fascinating aspect of being human, and not just in the abstract. Current planetary crises, from climate change to famine, epidemic disease, and overpopulation, starkly inform us that we are not managing our evolution well. A rogue state like North Korea holds up a mirror to our propensity for irrational violence and self-destruction. In short, managing our evolution means that we must learn a new way to manage consciousness. How did we get here and what can the individual do about it?