Recent decades have seen a great rise in ecological awareness and the perspective of living systems. Many of us are now relating on a personal and conscious level to the interconnectedness and interaction between humans, nature, and environment. However, this new paradigm of thought should not be restricted only to a material level of connectivity but also needs to embrace the nonmaterial levels of the human psyche and consciousness. The world of the inner self is increasingly opening up and being explored through transpersonal sciences, self-realization, and individual self-actualization. Through our various cultures we are developing the language, the skills, and the perceptions to sense and articulate our personal, revelatory experiences. The once shamanic realm of extra-sensory contact is becoming more normalized as we deal with a physical reality more accustomed to shifting perceptual paradigms. For example, our new scientific discoveries are explaining and validating nonlocal realities of connection and energetic entanglement. We are now learning that extended fields of conscious information and communication exist between individuals and groups as a medium of coherence that may further entangle humanity into a collective ‘grand family’.
From infancy, to adolescence, and to adulthood, the distinction between inside and outside, objective and subjective, has always been a transient, undefined boundary. Our cultural parameters – our social conditioning – has sought to crystallize these fluctuating borders. However, today there are increasing numbers of people who are beginning to perceive the presence of subtle energy fields, whether around their bodies, around the bodies of others, or in the environment. The interest in metaphysical subjects these days has exploded, with a new language and mind-set emerging to deal with these increasingly common phenomena. It is now becoming acceptable to speak in terms of reiki, chi, pranic energy, and even in terms of quantum energy. Not only are many cultures and societies learning to deal with a new wave of technological social networks – with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – but also with an increase in energetic awareness of human connections and an extended mind.
In a sense, humanity is learning how to be a more interactive collective family. Never before in our known history of the species have we come to a point where we are sailing in the same ship, afflicted by the same concerns, and affected similarly by a range of global impacts. When a poor harvest affects the growing areas in China, Australia and the US, for example, the world food distribution networks reverberate across all nations. When a virus pandemic spreads out from a crowded poultry market somewhere in South Asia, it affects all nations without reserve, grinding transport hubs to a slow crawl. This realization is now dawning on the peoples of the world: that we are already a part of the field fabric of a collective family.
This realization is being keenly felt, too, by the younger generations: generations that are growing up accustomed to having a network of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of virtual friends across the globe; sharing intimacy and empathy with an international social group of like-minded people. This younger generation is manifesting, whether conscious of it or not, non-local (i.e., field effect) relationships. These types of relationships support the individual whilst at the same time strengthening networks that form part of a unified – yet diversified – whole. It is a form that mimics the quantum state of the particle and the wave: each person is clearly isolated from another by physical space, yet at the same time is entangled in a conscious space of connectivity and communication. In other words, each is participating in a field-view of reality; a reality that creates an extended set of responsibilities as one’s thoughts and actions can reverberate much further afield.
The human individual has the capacity to be consciously aware of the effect of thoughts and actions upon others: to consider their reactions, to reflect upon their thoughts, and to decide whether to behave differently. In other words, each person has the ability to develop consciously, and with awareness, from each interaction with both external and internal impacts and experiences. Sociologists have, up until now, been mainly focused on human identity as characterized by individualization. This is especially so in ‘modern/postmodern’ society, where each person is categorized as acting with autonomy; with a self-promoting ‘service-to-self’ attitude. Yet this is a myopic vision on two counts: on one hand it neglects that humans are social animals and instinctively seek groupings and attachments; and on the other it fails to recognize that the nature of human consciousness also undergoes change along with socio-cultural revolutions. It may be very likely that a form of consciousness will emerge, at first on the periphery, perhaps with the younger generations, that will then seep into the core of all our future societies.
Social scientist Duane Elgin considers the following to represent the shifting states of human consciousness over historical epochs:
1 Contracted consciousness (early humans)
2 Sensing consciousness (hunter-gatherers)
3 Feeling consciousness (agrarian era)
4 Thinking consciousness (scientific-industrial era)
5 Observing consciousness (communications era)
6 Compassionate consciousness (bonding era)
7 Flow consciousness (surpassing era)
Using this scale it would appear that global humanity is now shifting from the communications era (observing consciousness) into the bonding era (compassionate consciousness). We could perhaps shift the emphasis of the bonding era from ‘compassionate consciousness’ to ‘empathic consciousness’. This transition from exhibiting an observing consciousness towards manifesting a compassionate/empathic consciousness represents the move from the ‘old-mind’ energies that brought us to the current state of a globalized world, toward the ‘new-mind’ energies that will bond our diverse world together in coherence and balance.
Likewise, the surpassing era could be renamed as the planetary era and represent not only the rise of non-local field awareness but also the scientific understanding of the subtle forces of the universe. This era of ‘flow consciousness’ would fit well with the next stage in the evolution of human consciousness that appears to be displaying elements of a transpersonal-integral nature.
None of these states, however, are completely separate from each other; rather, they overlap and merge as one era fades and converges into the next. Usually, the new era, or paradigm, emerges initially at the periphery until it reaches a tipping point where it becomes the new accepted paradigm. Already, flow consciousness is slowly percolating into our human perceptions as more and more people embrace and instinctively trust non-material information. The dominant materialist worldview is under increased scrutiny as more people awaken to the possibility that their intuitive glimpses – dreams, visions, premonitions, etc. – are trusted sources of information that originate from alternative senses. Through seeking practices that were once considered metaphysical (or even strange) – such as spiritual practices, yoga, meditation, psychotherapy, transpersonal therapy, bio-feedback, altered states of consciousness, and more – people are now accessing a once-hidden, or rather neglected, realm of senses and self-knowing.
As more people realize that the subtle realm of extrasensory information is not a figment of fantasy or delusion, but in fact has a scientific foundation, these states of consciousness will become more widely accepted, credible, and sought. Also, we may find that our orthodox social institutions will begin to incorporate them into the status quo of consensus reality and experience. Whilst the transition may not appear to unfold suddenly to us, within evolutionary terms it will be a revolution. And participating in this unfolding consciousness revolution will be both a personal growth imperative as well as a collective human responsibility.
As humanity enters a time of social and cultural change, of altered perceptions and challenges to our worldview, we are almost certainly going to be coerced into altered modes of consciousness. In other words, in order to readapt and to survive the breakdowns of the old mind/old energy our collective worldview will need to shift to an ecological and more intuitive mode. This is likely to also involve a shift towards a more direct mode of perception (a form of gnosis).
Whilst these two modes of the cognitive and the intuitive may operate simultaneously, and have been known as the subjective and objective modes of knowledge, our modern societies have largely prioritized the objective interpretation and dismissed the subjective as the imaginative realm. This ‘imaginative’ realm of subjective experience is most active when we are children, although quickly diminishes as our social institutions and peer conditioning intervene to install a consensus social reality. Yet the direct-intuitive mode of perception is an evolutionary trait that is still with us, and which may be beginning to manifest in the new generations of intuitive children.
It is possible that the non-linear connections over space and time (e.g., global communications) between our species will be one of the aspects that will become more dominant in the years ahead. The Internet gives us a physical representation of these new spatial and temporal relations. The direct-intuitive mode will surely be a more effective means of comprehension and understanding as it bypasses the sensory organs that usually filter information. Also, the direct-intuitive mode operates outside of linguistic barriers, and allows access to a collective, shared participatory consciousness.
The ‘participatory consciousness’ view of reality reflects an intuitive mode of perception that relates with the new energies of connection, communication, collaboration, and compassion. This understanding is now being validated by the latest findings in the quantum sciences, notably quantum mechanics and biophysics. Our ‘everyday consciousness’ of the local view of the universe is largely unprepared for the realms of non-ordinary reality. In our present era, and in Western civilization especially, the nonlocal mode of perception (subjective experience) has not been encouraged, or even recognized, and so has atrophied and become the province of the esoteric sciences. It may be because the ‘rational objective’ view of reality allows for an increased sense of individualism, favoured by the ego, and as such is the sphere of power, money, competition and greed. The direct-intuitive mode of reality, however, embraces cooperation, connection, correspondence and compassion. And it seems that we are already witnessing the emergence of this new feature of human consciousness.
The notion of the direct-intuitive perception of reality could be a step toward the next stage in human evolution – the evolutionary development of what may be termed quantum consciousnessthat is the basis for the collective mind of the human species. Various mystics and consciousness researchers have alluded to this by a variety of names; they range from cosmic consciousness, super-consciousness, transpersonal consciousness, integral consciousness, and more. All these descriptions share a common theme; namely, the rise of intuition, empathy, greater connectivity to the world and to people, and a sense of ‘knowing’ about what each given situation demands.
The emergence of a form of direct-intuitive consciousness would likely instil within each person a sense of the greater cosmic whole; the realization that humanity exists and evolves within a universe of intelligence and meaning – a living universe. This would serve to impart within humanity a more profound, and acknowledged, spiritual impulse. This could then lead to increased intuitive faculties and extrasensory phenomena not only becoming an implicate part of our lives but also opening up access to greater creativity and inventive capacities for participating and designing our way ahead in the world. The rise of these attributes within a small percentage of people, initially, could eventually lead to a critical mass that would tip human consciousness into a new perceptual paradigm and worldview.
Forms and intimations of these new consciousness patterns are already emerging in the world, but as yet they have not become a part of mainstream research. Such evolutionary ‘mutational’ agents include visionaries, mystics, artists, psychics, intuitives, and spiritual teachers. As Dr Richard Bucke stated in his classic work on the subject,Cosmic Consciousness (1901), the early signs of this new evolutionary development have been appearing within humankind for some time.
This suggests that there have been attempts to help prepare the ‘mental soil’ for a new consciousness to slowly seed and grow. On the whole, social/cultural/material forces are slow to react to the need for an evolving paradigm of human consciousness. Yet this is nothing new, as throughout recorded history many individuals who have felt an awareness of the need to seed an evolutionary impulse into social life have been caught up in revolutionary events or been involved in social-cultural upheavals.
Perhaps it can be speculated here that in order for continued cultural and species growth there are particular periods of human history wherein humanity becomes ready, or in need of, the activation of particular faculties or evolutionary traits. It may be that during this transition period humanity will adapt, or be forced to develop, new creative and inspired aspects of consciousness. However, as in all paradigm shifts, old energies inevitably must give way to the new, and it may only be a matter of time before new generations move into evolving consciousness and its physical expressions. It is thus critical that an understanding of spiritual matters begins to permeate our everyday lives as a counterbalance to our social materialism.
We are in need of unity, not uniformity
We are not looking for ‘awesome’ consciousness – such as Nietzsche’s super-man. Rather, it is adifferent consciousness, and thus a different type of human, that is likely to emerge. That is, not ‘more of the same’ – only more of those who are manifesting the new consciousness.
The human mind is like a large pot that can contain the same water for all – a unified sharing. The road to unity – with diversity – begins with the need for harmony. With the energy of harmony we can make the water still and calm. Through harmony we can celebrate our differences with tolerance, respect, patience; without judgment, gossip, or ill-feeling towards others. With harmony we can begin to come together; to work together and collaborate – to build trust and vision. First we need to smooth out the energies of disturbance that exist in the world. This begins with harmony at home – within oneself, family, partners, friends, acquaintances and contacts. From here the energy that is harmonized can reach out, seep out, into the world and resonate with others.
In these years ahead it will be to our benefit if we try to develop a consciousness that is both open to spiritual impulses whilst simultaneously aware and attentive to the needs of our communities and cultures. It is essential that we revitalize our collective sense of well-being and connectedness – our togetherness and empathy – as part of our shared human journey. It is possible that emerging glimpses of a shared participatory consciousness will allow humanity access to an unimaginable creative cosmos of information and inspiration. This would then open up new vistas of creative intelligence that could be the forerunners to the next stage along our human evolutionary journey.