(This post can also be found on AndrewCohen.org)
Whenever I contemplate the mystery of consciousness and how it evolves within and through us, I am always struck by the same thing: How easy it is to see a glorious future in those moments when we are spiritually awake, when our awareness is enlightened--and how difficult it is to see that glory when it is not.
When spirit overwhelms us, when we experience higher states of consciousness, previously unseen worlds open up to us. On the wings of spiritual ecstasy, deeper and higher human capacities for penetrating insight, profound cognition, blissful intimacy, and all-encompassing love reveal themselves in all their glory. It is, in many ways, very similar to what it's like when we fall in love. When we fall in love, the surging waves of surrendered affection carry with them an experience of a trust and vulnerability that is intoxicating, spiritually fulfilling, and life-affirming. And when we fall out of love, the bond of trust disintegrates, intimacy evaporates, and transparency and vulnerability disappear. The thrill of euphoric unity is gone and one is alone again, trapped in the prison of one's own personal mind and separate ego.
The same sequence often follows extraordinary episodes of spiritual illumination. When we experience states of consciousness beyond ego and realize spiritual communion with others, we enter into another dimension that literally transcends the old and familiar. And in this new world, we discover a oneness, an ecstatic intimacy, an ease of being, and a unity of mind that make all things possible. But when those higher states eventually dissipate, too often the palpable sense of unlimited possibility is nowhere to be found.
In the new enlightenment, in what I call Evolutionary Enlightenment, the goal is individual and collective conscious evolution in real time. That specifically points to the cocreation of new structures in consciousness, psyche, and culture. It's about creating the future from the inside out. And this process always begins with transformation at the very deepest depths of our own selves--a transformation that shines out and touches the world around us with the immediacy of its own radiance and potency.
In the early stages of our own spiritual development, we are dependent upon the experience of euphoric states to be able to see, feel, and know that these higher potentials really do exist. The bliss and ecstasy of those states temporarily breaks the deep and often unconscious shackles of postmodernity: nihilism, cynicism, narcissism, and materialism. It frees our awareness to expand in all directions, to embrace not only the outer limits but also the innermost core of our larger body, the entire Kosmos. When we share that liberating existential clarity with others, a truly enlightened perspective emerges. Together we can see and feel, directly cognize, and intuit a glorious future that is possible to create here and now, in the present moment--not as a remote ideal but as the most screamingly imminent potential imaginable.
When many individuals simultaneously know and experience the perfection of the possible, Spirit itself calls us all to its own next step. Indeed, we are compelled to be the future that we see. Under the intoxicating influence of spiritual bliss, all of the individual and collective ego's fears and attachments are rendered null and void. But until the individual or individuals have actually taken that next step, until those higher potentials have become a permanent attainment, our ability to see the future that we want to create will always depend upon the experience of spiritual intoxication. However, when we do the unthinkable, when we actually and demonstrably evolve to a higher stage beyond the veiling influence of postmodern existential confusion, we will be able to see that future as easily as we see our own face when we look in the mirror. Seeing that glory will no longer be dependent upon the presence of a higher state--because we will already be there. From that point on, we will always only be creating the world that we have already become.
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