Carter Phipps and I had a lively and energizing public conversation on Sunday, July 1st. We got into some new and interesting territory — especially relating to two points: (1) how evolutionary spirituality relates to nondual awakening , and (2) theory and practice, or the value of the philosophical project of building an integral evolutionary worldview versus the importance of more practical social and/or political activism.
I have loved reading Carter’s wonderful new book, Evolutionaries: Unlocking the Spiritual and Cultural Potentials of Science’s Greatest Idea. It tells the gripping story of the new “evolutionary” movement that is quietly but steadily transforming the way we understand ourselves and our place in the Cosmos.
You can get your copy today at http://readevolutionaries.com – I highly recommended it!
Most Beyond Awakening listeners know I’m a strong advocate for the significance and power of an evolutionary worldview. But there’s a big difference between the content and surfaces of integral and evolutionary conversation and the more profound depths of integral and evolutionary consciousness.
Early on, I asked Carter to describe the essence of an evolutionary worldview. He did so in a way that unpacked two ideas that are central to his new book: “breaking the spell of solidity” and the “Flintstones fallacy”.
By “breaking the spell of solidity”, Carter means awakening to the implications of Buckminster Fuller’s famous phrase, “I seem to be a verb.” Everything is in constant flux. We and everything in our whole world are interdependent, co-arising, interactive processes, not separate entities. But more than that, it means awakening to the directionality that emerges from the seemingly pointless random churn of “the wheel of birth and death”, the awesome “arrow of evolution” that emerges when we begin to glimpse ourselves in a deep-time evolutionary context, and, as Teilhard de Chardin put it, realize that “we are headed somewhere!”
The “Flintstones fallacy” relates to our tendency to reinterpret history as though human nature has been unchanging and the interior life of people in bygone eras is pretty much the same as ours. But in fact, there is plenty of evidence that it is not just our outer world and outer lives that have been evolving. Our inner lives have been developing, changing, and progressing across the arc of history. So the inner lives of people of 100, 500, or 1000 years ago—and the inner lives of people today of radically different cultures—are not exactly like our own. The evolution and development of our inner lives may be both the key hidden story of history, and the most important aspect of our current creative opportunities.
From there, Carter and I plunged into a discussion of evolutionary spirituality. I challenged him, asking, “On this series I’ve talked with many awakened teachers whose work focuses on awakening itself- awakening from identification with the body-mind, awakening from your story and stories, awakening from your interpretations of experience and the motives that arise on that basis.
“On a number of occasions, when I or others have presented an integral evolutionary perspective, I’ve heard a challenge coming from longtime practitioners who, often quite gently and compassionately, say or imply something along the lines of, “all that evolutionary stuff sounds persuasive, but I hope you’re not getting so caught up in believing your mind that you’re losing your ability to keep waking up into a free relationship to your moment-to-moment experience.”
“Essentially, they’re suggesting that our integral evolutionary philosophy is functioning as a Trojan horse to get us back on the wheel of identification, differentiation, desire, aversion, and unenlightened bondage. And if you’re not free, whatever you’re into, even if it sounds really evolved, is just a dream that you need to wake up from. What do you say to that?”
This provoked a rich response from Carter that drew us into an examination of the subtle but deep world-negative and life-negative nature of traditional spirituality, and an eloquent advocacy for how evolutionary spirituality expresses the mysticism of “those who love this world.” And I think, for a moment, we and our listeners peered deeply into the crucial existential meanings that are giving birth to evolutionary spirituality.
We went on from there to examine activism. I encourage you to give it a listen. You can download it here.