What are the stories you tell yourself to make sense of the world? Do you subscribe to a personal God, an omnipotent creator? Or do you subscribe to the notion that life is an accidental electrochemical reaction and that consciousness is simply a biochemical accident that attaches to that other accident? You probably lie somewhere in between of those extremes. I think that for the past four hundred years, most peoples of the WEIRD nations (western, educated, industrial, rich, democratic), were born, grew up, lived and died under the implicit assumption, simplistically conveyed through our storytelling, that it is the latter. God’s law was replaced by Newton’s, Darwin’s and Boyle’s. That is to say, in the religions of science and economics, the general conclusion that the public took from Darwin and Adam Smith were that life is a random accident subject to genes and environment and that people are motivated primarily by self interest and the maximization of profit. Please note, this essay is not about the very real benefits brought through study of science and economics, it is about the implicit assumptions—the narratives—we all carry with us that guide our responses to the world.
There are many other cosmologies but, to my mind, a promising development are the ones that agree that divine Spirit gives rise to energy and energy gives rise to matter and to life itself. It emerges from the flourishing communities – virtual and real – of what I only partly tongue in cheek refer to as experimental theology (thank you, Philip Pullman). This cosmology is a blending of stories from many different sources: Taoist and Vedic, from the esoteric branches of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, and from those of indigenous peoples of the world. Spirit drives life. In this view, we can easily conclude that, since our individual consciousness is an expression of the divine, our nature is therefore innately good and perfect. So how do we find ourselves in the pickle that our pundits – and the voices inside our head – routinely remind us about? Physical and mental health crises, climate change, poverty, starvation and war? If I may offer a story of my own. Please note that this essay is about narrative, not science. A helpful primer on the science-based evidence that consciousness is not a by product of matter can be found here: https://mangu.tv/becoming-consciousness/
For ninety-five percent of our history, from the emergence of our species about 200,000 years ago or longer, until about 10,000 years ago, we lived long and healthy lives in communities that had zero-carbon footprint, were egalitarian, had minimal or no warfare, no exploitation, poverty or mental illness. Then, from the density of human consciousness, ego arose. This is by no means to malign ego, it was a necessary step in our evolution, because now we have garbage pick up, rail and air schedules, social media, Roombas and, most importantly, the capability to reach for the stars. But, the price was steep: we lost a balanced narrative and surrendered our sovereignty. In learning to manage the surplus wealth made possible by agriculture, Guanyin, Inanna, Astarte, Ishtar, Isis – the manifestations of the Goddess – withdrew to the inner planet, making way for kings and priests, almost invariably male, who, when the time was right, transformed themselves into bankers and media barons who continued to manage the surplus of wealth and convince us, through narrative, that this was all in everyone’s best interest and most recently that “we’re all in this together.” Society transformed from free and egalitarian to restrictive and autocratic while we and our planet are subject to all of the ills from which our ancient ancestors were blissfully free.
This new cosmology is emerging now because we are beginning to collectively pick up the tools offered to us by enlightened individuals through the wisdom schools of the world. We’ve been shown different and better timelines – stories of the future, if you will – visions of a heart-based, interstellar, post-scarcity civilization. We are being invited to become creators of our own universe and to live in happiness, gratitude, love and abundance. We are being asked to let go of the behaviors that have made our species so furiously successful and we are being asked to trust in the future, to step into new timelines because when we do that, as related by Ken Carey in Return of the Bird Tribes:
“When humankind is healed, and [Spirit] is able to work freely … there is no ecological damage that will not, even before a few centuries, be entirely undone. It is easier to flush toxins from the earth’s river valleys than to remove the toxic ideas that cause them from human minds. In order of healing, it is human consciousness than first must change.”
N.B.: this was orignally written as a foreword to a book: “What’s Next – Personal Stories and Practical Guidance on Spiritual Embodiment” by Natha Jay