recent years, the term “emergence” has become popular among scientists to describe the seemingly inexplicable leaps that occur in the evolutionary process when greater complexity bursts forth from lesser complexity. For example, the material universe miraculously burst forth from primordial emptiness. Something came from nothing. That’s emergence.
Approximately 3.8 billion years ago, biological life emerged from apparently dead matter. How did that momentous leap occur? That’s emergence. And somewhere between 50,000 and 200,000 years ago, mind emerged, revealed by the first signs of culture among our primitive ancestors. The spectacular emergence of mind catalyzed the evolution of consciousness that has been driving the history of human civilization up to the present day. And in this cultural dimension too, emergence—the arising of that which was previously unimaginable—has happened at every step.
As a spiritual teacher who teaches a new kind of evolutionary Enlightenment, participating in and contributing to the process of emergence in consciousness and culture is literally what I live for. In fact, all of my energy is devoted singularly to catalyzing higher emergence in the souls, minds, and personalities of those who are interested in my work.
What does that look like? At the level of the soul, it looks like the sudden presence of a depth in which we feel emotionally connected to the enormity of the universe, the significance of knowing we’re alive, and a powerful sense of responsibility to not waste the precious time we have to be the person we are right now.
At the level of mind, it looks like the awakening of new capacities of intelligence, as our thoughts become animated by our awareness of the infinite. Because of this, we’re able to embrace complexity, see subtlety, and appreciate nuance in ways previously unimaginable.
And at the level of the personality, it looks like lightness of being. Enlightenment, expressed through the human personality, is lightness of being, because now we no longer take our psychological selves so seriously. We know that is only a small part of who we really are. When these profound qualities emerge in the soul, mind, and personality of any individual, it is a delight beyond words!
These days, there is much talk about neuroplasticity. Neurobiologists are excitedly discovering the truly amazing adaptability of the gray matter in our heads. And what they are excited about, of course, is the realization that we can change—that grown adults have the capacity to develop and grow in many ways, even well into our golden years. This is indeed very good news.
But the fact is, in spite of our neurological capacity to develop, most adults rarely do change in significant ways. More often than not, our adult years are about unending stasis rather than infinite becoming. I’ve been trying to get people to change for long enough to make such a statement with confidence.
When people do change, however, it’s truly inspiring and utterly life-affirming to see. Over the past several years, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing some of my most senior students—those who I’ve worked with very closely for many, many years—undergo such an emergence. Indeed, their souls, minds, and personalities seem to have expanded from three dimensions to five.
In the course of my quarter-century as a teacher, I’ve seen many people go from unhappiness to happiness, confusion to clarity. But this emergence I’m describing is something different altogether. I’ve seen people find confidence in a spiritual reality, which fills a hole in their soul and relieves their existential angst. But I’m pointing to something more than even this. And I’m not talking about merely the experience of a higher state of consciousness. I’m speaking about the actual emergence of a more complex human being.
This higher complexity I’m referring to has several important features. One is thecalmness and steadiness that comes from a deep and abiding conviction in the absolute, nonrelative, infinite, “spiritual” dimension of existence. Another is a deepself-confidence that only comes from a hard-won, unshakable moral integrity at the level of the soul. Another feature is autonomy, which is the unmistakable capacity to not only think for oneself, but most importantly, to innovate and create and contribute to the evolution of our shared consciousness and culture as a liberated individual. Then there is the spontaneous willingness to take responsibility not only for oneself but for where we are all headed. And finally, this emergence gives rise to a unique flexibility in thinking. That means one has cultivated the rare capacity to assume multiple perspectives while also being able to clearly define and stand for how and why one sees things the way one does.
There’s nothing more inspiring than witnessing grown adults take a quantum leapin their own development. When that happens, these qualities that I just described suddenly emerge. The individual then becomes more of who they are and becomes a living expression of who they could be, right now. This is what I’m experiencing with these individuals. You can see for yourself what I mean through the links below. After being their teacher for so many years, often when I’m with them these days I feel like a student myself, in rapt attention and anticipation of what they are about to say and do next.
You can learn more about the individuals I’ve written about in this article at the links below:
Jeff Carreira, Director of Education for EnlightenNext
Elizabeth Debold, Ed.D., author, internationally renowned gender researcher, and cultural commentator
Tom Steininger, Ph.D., Managing Director of the EnlightenNext Frankfurt center and Managing Editor of EnlightenNext magazine’s German edition
Chris Parish, Managing Director of EnlightenNext London
Amy Edelstein, Executive Assistant to Andrew Cohen and a Codirector of EnlightenNext’s Global Council.
Mary Adams, Retreat Director for EnlightenNext
Rob van Vliet, Global Events Manager for EnlightenNext and Managing Director of the EnlightenNext Amsterdam center