Evolutionary Enlightenment

I discovered Andrew Cohen at the same time as I found Ken Wilber, Barbara Marx Hubbard and Thomas Hübl (it was a good month;)), about two years ago. At the time I was totally overwhelmed by all these ideas that resonated so strongly but which I myself was unable to explain in my own words. Last weekend at my training course run by Thomas Hübl’s Academy we dove into Ken Wilber’s 4 Quadrants and Spiral Dynamics theory, and on Thursday I attended a conference given by Andrew Cohen, and I finally feel that it’s all started to really sink in and settle in me.

I want to write about Andrew Cohen’s work today because it really ties into what I realised about my tribe this week. It builds on the emerging “evolutionary worldview”, which combines the insights of integral philosophy, evolutionary science, developmental psychology, the social sciences, and evolutionary spirituality.

Andrew Cohen makes a bold claim: that Enlightenment itself is evolving. Enlightenment as it has been taught the past 2000 odd years was a quest for “freedom from” (the mind, the body, the world, time, with an all-important transcendence bias); as such it was to some extent life-negating.

What Andrew proposes is that we are now in need of a spiritual approach which empowers us to be in the world, rather than escaping it.

We are living in a time when we absolutely need people to be spiritual but also good at manifesting; for which they must be deeply rooted in the world. Positive change will not occur through all of us going and sitting in caves and meditating all day long, no matter how lovely that prospect may seem.

“Andrew Cohen has arrived at an insight that is crucial for our historical situation. Enlightenment is not a movement out of the everyday world but is instead a profound entrance into deep participation in the evolution of the universe” – Brian Swimme Ph.D.

What he teaches is a new kind of enlightenment, one rooted in the timeless transcendent Ground of Being, yet also embracing the unique challenges of our time and the empirical understanding of evolution. He calls his approach “Evolutionary Enlightenment” and says, “We’re interested in making the deepest rational sense out of life while remaining true to the most transcendent mystical insights.”

His 5 principal teachings are:

  1. Place evolutionary enlightenment at the center of your life
  2. Unconditional acceptance of responsibility for your karma
  3. Face everything, avoid nothing
  4. Understand that everything that happens is part of one cosmic process
  5. Motivational shift of enlightenment as a selfish goal to enlightenment in service to the evolutionary impulse

“All of us are on a cosmic evolutionary journey that began with a big bang fourteen billion years ago and has led us, through the myriad byways of evolutionary time, to our present condition as conscious, self-reflective human beings – with our future developmental destiny now literally in our hands” – A. Cohen


2 thoughts on “Evolutionary Enlightenment

  1. Yes, rooted we must be in reality and in Nature. Agree with the steps but would like to add that it might be achieved by “interconnecting” and the collaborating for co-creation.
    PS. spiral dynamics was developed from the Graves Value Model, which describes distinct levels of consciousness and learning in groups. Can tell you more about it.


  2. I like that a lot, and in fact this is what Thomas Hübl teaches – that you can practice spirituality through connection and communication with others (and that this is how we move culture forwards which is desperately needed now, so his emphasis is on this method, rather than traditional methods of spiritual practice using isolation from the world).

    Didn’t know that about the SD model; just checked it out, interesting! Didn’t find specific info about learning in groups though, would love to know more – can you suggest a source?


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