Posts Tagged: Activist Think Tank
Abstract: Two narratives about the nature of our current historical moment are brought together in the interest of provoking a reconsideration of “collective enlightenment,” or what we term the democratization of enlightenment. World-systems analysis is a transdisciplinary field focused on the evolution and future of the modern world. Leaders in this field have charted long-term limits and end games, placing our current era in the heart of the modern world-system’s epochal and final crises. Esoteric religion and mystical traditions have also located our era at the heart of a world-transformation. From Telildhard de Chardin to Process Theology, a divinely inspired turning point in Earth’s evolution has been argued to be immanent. The process of replacing the modern world-system involves the widespread democratization of enlightenment. Engaging in concrete utopian theorizing we suggest that tomorrow’s world will involve certain widespread “social miracles”— making enlightenment an everyday thing. Drawing on mythic and biblical imagery, we suggest the apocalypse of the modern world-system will be accompanied by widespread transformations of collective consciousness—a Planetary Awakening of Unique Self Symphonies.
This brief paper represents an overview of the project of CosmoErotic Humanism, which is a philosophical orientation conceived here as an emergent aspect of the historical moment. We view this moment as a kind of Da Vinci moment, when new syntheses and sciences become possible, when new worldviews can emerge. We are poised between potential dystopia and utopia, a position rooted in global intimacy disorder (who are we?) and a consequent global action paralysis or confusion (what should we do?), which itself is sourced in a foundational collapse of narrative frameworks including a shared universe story and its derivative narratives of identity, community, sexuality, purpose, and power (what is the nature of reality?).
When looking at the world situation, our first reaction is to ask about what, who, and how? What has happened? Who has gotten our civilization into this? How can it be helped or changed for the better? These questions are essential, and we encourage people to ask them. However, there is a more important question that is asked less often, which is: when is it? Which is to say: when are we? Or more basically: what time is it?
It is time for a change. We live in a time between worlds; a time of almost unbearable intensity, potential, and change.
On the Moral Phenomenology of Participating in the Evolution of the Cosmos
A contribution for the roundtable discussion of David Sloan Wilson’s, Does Altruism Exist. Summer, 2015.
Zak Stein, Marc Gafni, Barbara Marx Hubbard
The Center for Integral Wisdom & The Foundation for Conscious Evolution
The New Paradigm Is Old Hat
Heterodox evolutionary discourse has long entertained the emergence of what Wilson calls superorganisms. These are emergent phenomena that functionally integrate lower-order organisms as parts, lessening within group selection pressure, making the many into one, and thus fostering the evolution of a new organismic totality. Over the years this idea led many to suggest the (inevitable?) emergence of some kind of new evolutionary event—a superorganism of humans. Wilson is interested to argue that, now, with new evidence, we finally really know that, for example, cooperation can have an impact on evolution via group selection, even as it seems counter intuitive to cooperate at the level of individual selection. Moreover, the dynamic systems and evo-devo researchers have been on to something: emergence often works via symbioses and “cooperation,” especially at the cellular and ecosystem levels. This provides a new and better platform for understanding human ethical and moral action in evolutionary terms.
We strongly support these directions and expansions in mainstream evolutionary science. We would only like to note here that heterodox evolutionists have already spilled a lot of ink about the role of morality, self-consciousness, and group-consciousness as a factor in evolution. This tradition has spent more time looking into the implications of evolutionary thinking for the self-understanding of the species, and less time working with models of mechanisms and exteriorities. So the question of whether altruism exists has not been as important as questions about the many forms of selfless behavior, as well as the higher levels of moral development individuals can attain while “becoming a part of something larger than themselves.”
In particular, the focus has been on this question: What would it really mean for our humanity if we become swept up into a superorganism, as if becoming cells organized for the benefit of some larger organelle? This is a profoundly important ethical question, and it tends to evoke, when asked, a religious or spiritual state of mind.
Some us who have been actively asking such questions have also sought to refine the phenomenology of moral consciousness associated with evolutionary emergence in human groups. The key focus is how to strike a balance between what Wilson calls (unfortunately) “selfishness” and “altruism.” We call them autonomy and communion. Too much of either and any group is pathological. Too much communion and you get a kind of totalitarianism or coercive fascism. Too much autonomy and you get narcissists and rouges, lawlessness and violence (like the wolves of Wall Street Wilson laments). These are the kind of phenomena studied in the field of conscious evolution, where the evolution of human consciousness itself is taken as both object and subject.
The First Age of Conscious Evolution
Everything we know about evolution suggests that it is basically inevitable that evolution on Earth will again shift to a higher level (that is, if it continues at all, which is a big “if”). This shift will not only be of physical systems, exteriors, but also of interiors, of consciousness. And this evolutionary leap will take the form of a crisis. It is this crisis that we are in the midst of right now. This crisis is not only to do with the geohistory of technology and the limits of the biosphere; it is also a crisis of self-understanding. Consciousness and self-understanding are not epiphenomenal—they are not merely supervening or reacting to a more basic bio-technological base—human consciousness and self-understanding are driving the global crisis at all levels.
Wilson’s book is one that says, in so many words: it is conscious evolution from here on out: we are able to know and do too much to pretend otherwise: we must consciously orchestrate the future of the planet and the biosphere (OK, we may be putting words in his mouth a bit). We agree whole heartily! Our generation is in an unprecedented position to take responsibility for participating in profoundly generative and destructive evolutionary crises. The question is: can we understand our crises in cosmic context, as opportunities for the emergence of the unprecedented, and as invitations into a higher form of life? Can we merge and unify as fundamentally just and ethical unity or federation of all humanity in a time of crisis?
To make a long story short: heterodox evolutionists and evolutionary phenomenologists have long been concerned with the role of self-consciousness in as a factor in evolution. They have have found that the key concept needed to foster ethical group synergy and emergence is that of uniqueness. It is one of the few keystone concepts that can bridge the gap between interiors and exteriors, science and ethics, matter and sprit, autonomy and communion. A sense of the inviolability and value of each individual’s Unique Self is the feeling of a healthy group. When a group comes together in such a way where no one’s unique self is diminished, but all are, in fact, leveraged, there emerges a Unique Self Symphony. This requires all the members to hold the group in mind, to envision their part in the self-organizing and self-orchestrating social reality to which they consent to participate. This a just form of emergent super organisms because it requires that we care about everyone’s story. It has the perspective of social justice—the omni-considerate view from everywhere—at its core and leverages the benefits of justice to promote further harmoniums evolutionary emergence.
A self-conscious Unique Self Symphony is the feeling of being ethically integrated into a larger totality; having a sense of social justice is having a sense (very literally) for the presence or absence of harmonious social integration. The felt integrity of one’s unique self is the core of an evolutionary phenomenology of moral consciousness, especially when a group is in the midst of dynamic autocatalytic closure. To fit into the evolutionary puzzle or story (why is it always a struggle?), the shape required by each individual is unique. Other forms of superorganic closure require violence and will ultimately be undone, unseated not because they are physically unsustainable (although they likely would be), but because they are unbearable for human identity formation and moral development.
This is a great wake up call for humanity. While we have been morally guided by all great traditions to love one another, now we find that pragmatically, if we do not learn to join together in collaboration and concretion—in Unique Self Symphonies—we will become one of the many extinct species.
White Paper by Dr. Marc Gafni
This essay, written by Marc in 2010 emerged from the ground of the Integral Spiritual Experience on the Future of Love, an event initiated by Marc Gafni in partnership with Ken Wilber and other Integral thinkers.
Marc and Ken, in this event, placed love at the center of the conversation. The term Evolutionary Love was originally coined by the great polymath, Charles Sanders Peirce, even as the vision of evolutionary love expressed in this essay is the implicit thinking of the Erotic Evolutionary Mystics, Abraham Kuk and Mordechai Lainer, both of whom are Marc’s primary lineage sources.
Marc’s dialogues with Ken Wilber and Howard Bloom, coupled with his own thought and his erotic evolutionary mystical lineage, came together to produce this emergent – the next state of Evolutionary Love.
It is a version of that core content with additional pieces integrated at a later date by Marc which was originally published as an Appendix in Your Unique Self (Integral Publishers, 2012). This might be considered a first take on this material.
Click below to download the essay on Evolutionary Love:
Academic Review and Essay on New Think Tank Book: A Return to Eros
In this paper, Zak discusses the core think tank meme of Cosmo-Erotic Humanism that is the central underlying theme of A Return to Eros. It is this theme, which is the meta-vision of the think tank, and which all other memes express in different ways.
Key future works of the Center on Evolutionary Spirituality, Homo Amore, Unique Self theory with Marc, Zak, our co-chair and partner Barbara Marx Hubbard, and many other writers and scholars revolve around this new vision of Humanism.
A Return to Eros: The Radical Experience of Being Fully Alive
– On Sex, Love, and Eroticism in Every Dimension of Life, from Drs. Marc Gafni and Kristina Kincaid, reveals the radical secret tenets of relationship between the sexual, the erotic, and the holy. They reveal what Eros actually means and share the ten core qualities of the Erotic, which are modeled by the sexual. These include being on the inside, fullness of presence, yearning, allurement, fantasy, surrender, creativity, pleasure, and more.
A Return to Eros shows why these qualities of the erotic modeled by the sexual are actually the same core qualities of the sacred. The relationship between the sexual and the erotic becomes clear, teaching you how to live an erotically suffused existence charged with purpose, potency and power.
To be an Outrageous Lover—not just in sex but also in all facets of your life–you must listen deeply to the simple yet elegant whisperings of the sexual. This book will forever transform your understanding and experience of love, sex, and Eros.
with Dr. Marc Gafni
Imagine being fully expressed with an unstoppable life force that aligned you with the will, the desire, the knowledge and the creative impulse to engage ALL areas of your life full-on; without fear or shame stopping you from moving forward. Imagine the transformative power and positive impact you’d have on your personal relationships and potentially be a major influence in the world.
This is the ideal companion to our think tank book A Return to Eros by Dr. Marc Gafni and Dr. Kristina Kincaid.
The Shechinah is the feminine Divine. Her name means Indwelling Presence, “the one who dwells in you.” She is presence, poetry, passion. She is the sustaining God force which runs through and wombs the world. She is the underlying erotic, sensual, and loving force that knows our name and nurtures all being.
Shechinah captures an experience, a way of being in the world, for which we do not yet have an English word. For this is a way of being which we in the West are hard pressed to articulate. It is the experience of waking up in the morning full of utter joy for the arrival of the day. It is weeping over the splendor of the sunset or the scent of the ocean or the fragility of a newborn. It is a way of living in love.
Towards a Post-Tragic Politics of Eros
There are three primary levels of consciousness through whose prism we experience our lives. We will call these three levels the pre-tragic, tragic, and post-tragic.
We live in a cosmos driven by Eros. The universe is a perfect, interconnected whole that at the same time seeks greater wholeness. The universe is radically alive, infused with presence and infinite vitality, even as it is infinitely intimate and whole. Everything rests in the beingness of spacious perfection.
And yet the universe is driven by evolutionary Eros. The cosmos is not only being but also becoming. Whereas being is characterized by harmony and equilibrium, becoming is characterized by a kind of ecstatic urgency and disequilibrium. Evolutionary Eros is constant becoming. It is the inherent, ceaseless desire for more and more contact and creativity. Consciousness yearns for contact. More contact always births new creativity. New creativity creates new babies of all kinds, or what science calls new evolutionary emergents. This is not an accident but the essential, sacred nature of an erotic universe. This is the lure of becoming that animates and drives all existence.
“A Return to Eros is a tour de force of the kind that comes along once in a generation. The way this volume brings Eros to consciousness as the fundamental force, direction, and “purpose” of reality on all levels and all quadrants, really is the discovery that now underlies, directs, and “explains” the sacred purpose of cosmogenesis, the birth narrative of the New Human. It’s the second coming of humanity for the first time in history incarnate as a fully embodied sacred sexual being. It’s the early stages of next evolutionary unfolding. A Return to Eros forms the basis of evolutionary spirituality. It captures the glory of its conscious experience from the inside out in the sexuality and Eros of the evolutionary unique self.” – Barbara Marx Hubbard
It is the collapse of Eros that leads to what we have called the murder of Eros. Wilhelm Reich called this “the murder of Christ.” By “Christ” he meant Eros or life force. This is one of the most common but hidden dimensions of human existence. To live an erotic life, we must guard against the murder of Eros. This is a fundamentally denied yet ever-present human impulse. Human beings may be ready to confess many sins, but all feign innocence when accused of the murder of Eros. And yet this primal impulse is as old as civilization itself. Despite our genuine moral evolution in many regards, this fundamental human compulsion has changed little. What has changed, however, is that because the murder of Eros is no longer socially acceptable, the impulse is carefully disguised.
EVERY PERSON IS RESPONSIBLE for their own awakening. In the same way every generation is responsible for its own evolution of consciousness. There is a covenant of partnership between generations. Each generation commits to contribute its own unique insights to the ongoing transformation and evolution of consciousness. At its core, consciousness is love—the evolution of consciousness is therefore nothing less than the evolution of love. If you then realize that God is synonymous with love, you begin to understand that the evolution of love is no less than the evolution of God. God is the infinite. The infinite is the intimate. God is the infinity of intimacy.
To be awake is to be a lover: alive, aflame, and open as love.
Therefore, at its heart, to be a lover means to be willing to participate in the transformation of consciousness.
Consciousness = God = Intimacy = Love.
Love is the spiritual technology operating through you as the expansion and transformation of identity itself. Enlightenment is no less than the ultimate transformation of identity, permanently widening and deepening the radius and depth of your love.
I come from a tradition of evolutionary mysticism. Evolution is the creative impulse inherent in the kosmos, to unfold toward ever higher levels of complexity, consciousness and goodness. The great teaching of my mystical lineage, confirmed by my own realization, is that the motive force of evolution is love. To awaken is to know that, as Dante put it, love moves the sun and other stars. As the new biology and physics are beginning to implicitly suggest, love is the interior kosmic force that animates and drives the evolutionary impulse. Love is the strange attractor, the allurement that holds the Uni-verse together. Alfred North Whitehead said that evolution is really the gentle movement toward God by the gentle persuasion of love.[i]—and sometimes far from gentle.
This book intends to unfold the teaching of Unique Self. What is your Unique Self? Unique Self is the individualized expression of the love-intelligence that is the very Eros of evolution and that lives as you. To realize your Unique Self then is your contribution, your gift, to the evolution of love— which, as we have already seen, is no less than the evolution of God. It would therefore be fair to say that to awaken as your Unique Self is to participate in the future of God. It is no small thing to participate in the future of God.
[i] It is worth mentioning that the idea of love as an evolutionary catalyst can be traced to the great American philosopher Charles S. Peirce and his famous essay “Evolutionary Love,” [The Monist 3 (1893): 176–200]. Peirce offers one of the first and best post-Darwinian evolutionary metaphysics, and his ideas foreshadow much of contemporary complexity, chaos, and dynamic- systems theorizing. But his vision, unlike that of most disciplines, was of a universe with depth, and one moving toward love. He was an important Integral progenitor. (According to Zachary Stein in his article “On the Normative Function of MetaTheoretical Endeavors” [Integral Review 6, no. 2C (July 2010): 5–22], “Peirce [articulated] a broad evolutionary vision of the universe where the strivings of humanity are continuous with the evolution of the kosmos. It was a sophisticated and empirically grounded evolutionary ontology where all events are semiotic processes that co-evolve toward increasing complexity, autonomy, self-awareness, and possible harmony. Peirce’s pansemiotic evolutionary theory was a unique [postmetaphysical] view insofar as it was explicitly offered as a hypothesis amenable to correction in light of forthcoming empirical data. It greatly influenced Whitehead and continues to intrigue and inspire scholars in the physical and biological sciences and philosophy.”)
This understanding of evolution allowed Peirce to bring his overarching normative concerns about the trajectory of academic discourses in line with a venerable philosophical tradition that articulated the radical significance of humanity’s cultural endeavors in terms of a cosmic evolutionary unfolding. Ultimately, Peirce, with a look in Kant’s direction, envisioned humanity as capable of multitudinous self-correcting intellectual and ethical endeavors, which ought to result in an ideal communication community coterminous with the kosmos. In this postmetaphysical eschatology, the ideals of harmonious love between all beings and unconditional knowledge about all things stand as goals to be approached asymptotically. With this thought, Peirce rearticulates a philosophical motif that can be traced back through Emerson, Schelling, and Kant to the obscure cipher of Böhme’s mystical Protestant religiosity and its ancient Hebraic and Neoplatonic roots.
Evolutionary love is later a major motif in the world of Teilhard de Chardin and in many of the contemporary evolutionary thinkers who write in his wake. Notable among them is the work of Brian Swimme, who writes in the wake of Thomas Berry and who speaks of the allurement that is the very glue of the Uni-verse. The contemporary understanding of love at the cellular level augments the understanding of the great traditions, some of which also saw love as the primary motivating force of the kosmos. This is the primary position of the Kabbalists, such as my lineage teacher Lainer of Izbica, rooted in Luria and in the earlier Zoharic texts, as well as of many Christian thinkers like St. Thomas and Dante, who talks of l’amor che move il sole e l’altre stele, the “love that moves the sun and the other stars.” For St. Thomas the “dynamic pulse and throb of creation is the love of all things for the infinite” (Huston Smith, 78). Spiritual teacher and scholar Sally Kempton points out that in the Hindu text of Spanda-karikas and other major texts of the Kashmir Shaivism and other Indian traditions, love is described as the intrinsic motivator of the substance of creation. A text called the Maharthi Manthari describes how Shakti, the creative power of the divine, leaping forth in her own bliss, manifests this universe as an expression or even an outpouring of love.
Ken Wilber writes about Your Unique Self:
DR. MARC GAFNI’S INTEGRAL UNIQUE SELF TEACHING IS SEMINAL. What you hold in your hands is a radically exciting and ground-breaking book that will change forever not only how you think about enlightenment, but how you understand, from a post-metaphysical perspective, the very nature of human life itself. The Unique Self work is magnificent, and it belongs among the “great books.” It offers what may arguably be one of the most significant contemporary evolutions of enlightenment teaching. Unique Self brings together East and West in a higher integral embrace of stunning implications. Unique Self is a pivotal step toward an authentic Enlightenment.