“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”.