Conscious Evolution and The Evolution of Consciousness; Why The “Why” in Our “I”?

“It’s taken 14 billion years for matter to gain the capacity to become conscious of itself. […] The universe is beginning to awaken to itself” – Andrew Cohen

Through us, the universe is becoming aware of itself. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin makes the point that “the more complex a being is, […] the more it is centered upon itself and therefore the more aware does it become. In other words, the higher the degree of complexity in a living creature, the higher its consciousness; and vice versa. The two properties vary in parallel and simultaneously”.

The increasing complexity of matter has led to the apex of evolution in human beings; awareness of awareness. The existence of this self-reflective awareness has, since it’s inception, been the cause of a myriad of undesirable mental and emotional states, ranging from mild discomfort to complete despair. Why? Well that’s precisely it; why? Self-awareness it seems, has an intrinsic why, an imperative to be not only self-aware but self-comrehending.

Despite the often maddening limits of our minds, the questioning nature of our conscious experience has led us to inquire why we have this experience, to what end. The religious traditions were born from this inquiry, most of them placing the locus of meaning outside of ourselves in an omnipotent God. Buddhism however has a non-dual approach, whereby the meaning is both internal and external; our consciousness and the universe are understood to be one. As the well-known Sufi mystic Rumi puts it, “You are not just a drop in the ocean; you are also the mighty ocean in a drop”.

If we are therefore endowed with the same creative intelligence which operates in the universe (let’s face it, Darwin didn’t have all the answers), then the locus of control is also non-dual, meaning: we have infinite power to co-create our reality.

The implications of this are far-reaching, and are beginning to make themselves felt. For the last 40 odd years this understanding has been growing, with ever more people consciously and subconsciously becoming aware of the non-dual nature of reality.

Physicist Amit Goswami talks about “unitive” or “quantum consciousness”; in the spiral dynamics system developed by Chris Cowan and Don Beck, it’s the turquoise stage of “collective individualism”; psychiatrist Stanislav Grof summed up the characteristics of the emerging consciousness as “transpersonal”; for philosopher Ken Wilber this level is “non-dual consciousness”, and the terms “cosmic”, “holistic”, “integral”, and “superconscious” are also often used. They all share the same essential characteristics: transcendence of the individual ego, of the subject-object position of mental consciousness, and of our separateness from others and from nature.

“We human beings are the eyes and ears of the universe, the thinking stratum of the universe, and in some sense we have become evolution—because of us, evolution can now think” – Jason Silva

The evolution of consciousness has led to the potential for conscious evolution. The more we understand our potential to co-create our reality, the more we become aware of our power to choose the direction of our evolution; individually and as a species. The non-dual aspect of this stage of consciousness facilitates integration of knowledge from different fields and wisdom traditions, and expands our concept of personal responsibility to encompass other people and species, the environment, and future generations.

We need to let go of the assumption that there is an objective reality independent of consciousness and embrace our role in this cosmic play. Because it seems to me that that might be the reason behind the “why” in our “I”.



4 thoughts on “Conscious Evolution and The Evolution of Consciousness; Why The “Why” in Our “I”?

  1. You know, Buddhism tempts me on so many levels—the serenity, the sheer practicality of it, the lack moral promiscuity in its doctrine—but I personally just can’t dig (or find) the meaning from that line of thinking. Even to say that the universe is in us, of us, and is us seems more like an explanation of fact to me more than meaning (unless thereupon you prescribe existentialistic notions). To me, it just moves the question of “why” from ourselves and onto the universe (collectively).

    All the same, I read Amit Goswani’s “The Self-Aware Universe” and find the idea intriguing and reasonable. His book seemed to conjecture and presume more often than support with evidence, but I still think he’s on to something.

    And on that note, I would encourage you to watch this beautiful video if you haven’t already:

    Oh, and tell me what you think you’re looking at when it gets to 3:10 in the video :)


    1. Beautiful..being a participant, exactly – something which is very scalable and we’re only just starting to understand to what extent we are participants, I think that’s what I find so exciting..we’re expanding the scope of our minds and it’s creating this positive feedback loop of consciousness..who knows where it will lead us? At 3:10….well it looks like maybe a star forming? Tell me?!
      You make an excellent point, and of course my reasoning doesn’t go beyond our ‘why’ to the universal ‘why’…my brain just starts to implode when it gets into that line of questioning..
      The things about Buddhism is that it doesn’t provide you with meaning directly – it provides you with a path, which, if you follow it will reveal meaning (which can only be accessed at a higher level of consciousness than most people ever reach in their lives). In that way it is like other religions in that you have to begin with a measure of faith ;)


      1. Yes, I just have that hunger for a somewhat more objective meaning though. :)

        You’re the first person who has said stars forming when I asked them though, but you are right. Everyone else has mentioned neurons. It is in fact what the universe is thought/known to look like when zoomed out to a sufficient scale. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but it’s a fun idea. For a side-by-side:


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