Future of God

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* Special Issue of: 'What is Enligthenment' magazine, #21, "The Future of God".


WIE was the magazine around the controversial spiritual master Andrew Cohen, with high quality explorations of spiritual topics, from the point of view of 'evolutionary enlightenment', i.e. that the experience and realisation of spiritual enlightenment is itself evolving.

Summary 1: The Future of God

By Michel Bauwens, 2003:

Three basic spiritual orientations can be distinguished:

   - the pagan/animist immersion in samsara
   - the transcendent impuse towards cessation of form
   - the non-dual integration of form

Article 1: Introduction to Evolutionary Enlightenment: a conversation between Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen

- Birth of the idea that spirit is in progress on Earth: the work of German Idealist philosophers such as Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel

- Aurobindo - De Chardin, followed by Gebser-Wilber

- Ken Wilber distinguishes a first period, from 2000 BC to 100 AD, i.e. the Axial period, when the focus is on liberation from the world of form, going from samsara to nirvana

- Around 100 AD, Nagarjuna and Plotinus start the non-dual tradition, i.e. they claim that the world of Emptiness and Form are One. This gives the impetus to both the boddhisatva tradition and to the Tantric paths.

- Andrew Cohen says that what is new today is the compulsion to assist the evolutionary impulse, as an integral part of liberation. This is about transforming the world, not escaping from it. Ken Wilber notes that if the nondual tradition embraced the world of form, it was the form of their time, which did not include systematic knowledge of its workings, and ignored an understanding of the process of evolution. This was not possible then, but is possible today.

- KW: The traditions and lineages have the basic problem that they were a fine guide for the 'forms' of their time, and their practitioners avoided many pitfalls, but at the same time, the also act as a break for the necessary new adaptations.

Article 2: An interview with Beatrice Bruteau

Beatrice Bruteau is one of the few evolutionary spiritual thinkers; she combines Catholicism with Vedanta; she studied Aurobindo and De Chardin and with the Ramakrishna Foundation and wrote 13 books such as "God's Ecstacy".

Evolution proceeds either through small steps, or through jumps to a higher level of organisation, complexity and union, i.e. what de Chardin calls "Creative Unions". This happens when elements of a similar kind, say atoms or molecules, share this characteristic unity.

But in humans, this sharing of our consciousness, our loving and willing, requires the participation of our free will, and this is of course a complicating factor, compared with the previous 'natural' jumps.

To distinguish her thought, from the classic non-dualism, she calls it "complex non-dualism", which has the added dimension of community. She also differs from de Chardin in one crucial point, she says there is no Omega Point, but an infinite unfolding.

Article 3: Aurobindo

For Aurobindo, nirvana was not the end, but only the beginning. It was not a matter of attaining a vertical lift-off from the world of illusion, but of understanding that the world of illusion was itself infused with divine energy and that th enlightened should form a community to perfect this world. In this view, at that time, he was alone.

Aurobindo posited a Supermind that linked the Absolute to the world of manifestatin. He spend years in isolation, trying to 'bring it down' to the physical plane, and according to his succesor 'the Mother', he died on purpose in order that she could achieve it with his help, which she did six years after his death, according to their followers.

Article 4: Robert Wright

The author of Non-Zero sees Darwinian evolution as only partly determined by the struggle for life. Indeed, competition is a zero sum game, but it is not only individuals that are competing but in fact teams (such as nations, etc.. ). And the latter have discovered that integration and cooperation is a non-zero sum game that makes them win.

He also confirms that evolution has indeed a direction, towards more integration and that the human invention of cultural evolution has placed us in the unique position to play a conscious role in evolution. Suh is our power, that the whole of the world evolution has now become a zero-sum-game (as doing the opposite would be destructive) but it still requires a conscious cutlural shift to effectively go down that road.

Article 5: Mihaly Csikszenmihaly

MH does not adhere to the theory that human evolution is purely ruled by entropy, i.e. 'getting the most advantages out of the system while expending the least amount of energy'. Instead, our consciousness allows us to go beyond that, and a kind of innate dissatisfaction forces us to go beyond ourselves, continuosly using the phenomenom of flow, to do this most effectively.

Flow is a state between boredom and excitement, where we are operating at the maximum of our skills, yet with pleasure.

In his books, he redefines some traditional religious notions in contemporary terms. Soul is the ability to go behond oneself in terms of care for others; 'lifting the veil of maya' means understanding the genetic and cultural programming; karma means understanding thatll our actions influence the system over time; and transcendence means makng a stand against this programming and to opt for something different.

Summary 2: Will God Survive the 21st Cy

* Special issue of What Is Enligthenment magazine, #23. Will God Survive the 21st Century ?

Article 1: Jeremy Rifkin

After first re-iterating his conviction that the era of mass labor is ending, he focuses on a new 'industrial revolution', no longer defined by physics and chemistry, but by biology.

He distinguishes between a hard path, where humanity redraws evolution and uses the whole of creation as an utility, or a soft path, where we use our intelligence to better integrate ourselves into the existing evolution. This means working, rather than against, the rest of nature.

He describes three major crisis:

   - 1) global warming, which will bring climatic changes of unprecedented magnitued, and come at enormous human and financial costs
   - 2) the debt crisis, showing a never seen divide in access to resources, never seen before in history. This is, as the factor before, definitely connected to the rise of oil prices, which forces these countries to borrow in the first place. In one or two decades, the oil be be used up for half; after that, prices will go up, and with two-thirds of the reserves being in the Middle East, that prepares a third crisis
   - 3) conflict in the Middle East. The important conclusion: we are facing the end of the petrochemical energy regime.

Article 2: Elisabeth Sathouris

As an evolution biologist she notes that our move to human globalisation is completely natural and a recurrent pattern of life forms. Indeed, bacteria were equally hostile and competitive to one another until they 'decided' to cooperate in higher unity, the cells. The same happened again when those nucleated cells formed multi-cellular organisms. She thinks humans will similarly end their juvenile competitive phase and form a species superorganism that will forge a new alliance with nature.

The most urgent task she sees is to replace our mechanistic view of nature, which gave rise to what she sees as the disastrous generic engineering, with a living-systems perspective concerning the whole planet.

Article 3: Conversation with Don Beck and Brian Swinnen

BS distinguishes microphase mindset, appropriate when we were one species amongst many, which only considers the dynamics of the past , from the macrophase, which considers the whole. However, our institutions are a product of the former.

Dr. Nasr stresses the importance of ritual as a means of getting outside time and purifying the ego, practices which are strong in Judaism and Islam.

Article 4: Huston Smith

Traditional religions were conceived in an era where cultures were more alike an in an era where cultures had less contact; and thus, social institutions were conceived as eternal and as a result of natural law. Thus, if they advocated love and compassion, it was always personal, they did not envisage changing social structures. But this changed in the 16th-17th cy. when cultures started colliding and discovered they were a human construct. Thus religions had to adapt to a new social imperative.

Article 5: Wilber-Cohen Dialogue

KW: There are 3 definitions of the spiritual

   - 1) Peak experiences, which everyone can have
   - 2) the highest levels of any developmental line (cognitive, moral, etc..
   - 3) the development of the spiritual line itself

He also insists that all great teachers distinguished the manifest world of the born, and the unmanisfested life of the unborn, as well as the union of both. But most religions err on one side or the other.

Article 6: End Times

The last article in WIE 23 deals with "end time saviours", across religions and concludes with divergent claims for the mantle of global messiah. i.e. the Maitreya Avatar. The first attempt by Annie Besant to grow J. Krishnamurti into the role, failed because of the latter's refusal to take on the mantle.

Today the most well known attempt is that by Benjamin Creme, a student of the teachings of Alice Bailey. This Maitreya who is said to live in London, will one day appear on demand in the whole world's televisions, and will only speak telepathically on this day of declaration.

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