Evolutionary Unique Self & the Unique Self Symphony
The Law of Feeling and Healing
The Law of Feeling and Healing, while simple in explanation, is quite profound. As the gateway to a seemingly impossible evolutionary shift, this law is our access to the divinity and untold amounts of love, joy, and connection.
Fifty years ago, God was experienced by the great realizers and religions as both all knowing and all potent and powerful. Only God knew of the immense pain in the world. Today, boundaries around knowledge cease to exist and images of unbearable suffering penetrate our hearts, bodies and minds hourly. Consequently, there is an enormous amount of Promethean talk about humans becoming God-like with the power we wield. Ignoring the fact that such talk does not take into account the infinite power of cosmos, these erroneous conversations forget divinity is not merely the infinity of power but also the infinity of pain. As our power of knowledge increases so does our awareness of the depth of suffering. In one way, we are potent like gods; we have the never previously known ability to acquire depths of understanding and graphic detail about the horrific pain happening across the planet. Yet, while we know an enormous amount about the reality of suffering around the globe, we experience ourselves as impotent. We feel powerless. Unlike the gods, we are rendered powerless to heal the hurt surrounding us. For most of us, the only way we are capable of responding is to close our hearts.
The Gap Between Feeling and Healing
Enlightenment teachers of all stripes say the reason we close our hearts is because our coiled ego clenches in a self-centered contraction. I don’t think so. We do not close our hearts — at least not primarily — because we are bad, asleep or narcissistic. We close our hearts because the gap between our ability to feel and our ability to heal is simply too great to bear. It is so hard to open our hearts when they have been broken so many times.
These broken hearts of ours hold outrageous pain. When our hearts break we become wounded and contracted. It becomes exceedingly scary to open our hearts again. We are afraid it will bring a pain that we simply cannot bear. Our wounds are further funded by the essential contraction of being a limited, fragile and mortal being. Our mortality itself is enough to break any awake heart. But the grief is not merely from our personal heartaches. We have more direct access to pain through unmediated images of horror and information about mass suffering than any previous generation in history. Our hearts are broken exponentially every time we log in. Facebook and Twitter offer us instant updates on happenings in every nook and cranny of the world. The moment we turn on CNN we see sickening videos from Syria, Congo and so many other crisis points. When we connect we feel utterly devastated. We also feel utterly helpless. We have never seen so much suffering and been so unable to heal it.
The feeling of impotency in the face of overwhelming need is catastrophic to not only our hearts but also our psyches. Apathy corrodes our soul. The gap between our ability to feel the pain and our ability to heal the hurt is unbearable. When we see so much outrageous pain in the world that we cannot heal, it becomes too difficult to allow ourselves to fully feel the wound. It simply hurts too much. In the canyon of the gap, love seems like too big a risk. It seems if we allowed ourselves to feel what is right and natural we would become dysfunctional, or worse. Because the pain hurts so much we cannot bear to feel the agony if we do not believe that we have at least some capacity to heal the injuries. And, it is in this gap between our ability to feel and our ability to heal that our emotions shut us down. Our impotence in the face of outrageous pain causes us to unconsciously close our hearts. When we close our hearts we become truly impotent.
When our hearts close we lose access to the power of outrageous love, and our life force begins to shut down. It requires a great expending of energy to live in denial of suffering and lock the gateway to our emotions. When we close our hearts again and again in face of misery, something breaks in our inner core. Our generation is exposed to vast levels of grief, and because the gap between the ability to feel and heal is so great, that blocking the pain requires a more deliberate and full closing of the heart than ever before. The direct result is a level of depression, anxiety, mental illness, addiction, autoimmune diseases and breakdown the likes of which has never been seen in recorded history. Trying to maintain the impossible denial of a closed heart physically exhausts people.
The even deeper problem, however, is that we only have one heart. Since we only have one heart, closing our heart in the face of outrageous pain radically undermines our capacity for love and intimacy in every dimension of our lives. There is only one heart and one love. One heart, one love, outrageous love. That one heart lives in you as your heart. When you close your heart you lose consciousness. You fall asleep and lose your access to the power of one heart and one love. You cannot block the pathway in your heart in response to suffering and expect to retain access to it in your personal life and relationships. You cannot alienate yourself from the feeling of the world but remain intimate with your beloved. The contradicting actions simply cannot coexist. If you close your heart to outrageous pain in one part of your life then you cut off access to outrageous love in every part of your life. This is not just your trauma, but also a collective trauma, the great heart attack of our generation.
Closing the Gap
There is only one way to heal the collective trauma of our generation. You must close the gap between your ability to feel and your ability to heal, and to do that we must enter the gap to rescue our innate human capacity for affection. To reclaim your potency you must open your heart. To become powerful you must become intimate. Intimacy is the source of all true power. Only in your willingness to become intimate again, to feel the heart of an other’s joy, and pain, can you recover your own potency and power.
To reclaim your access to outrageous love, you must first understand who you are. You must wake up to your true identity. When you do, you begin to play a larger game. You realize that you are not merely a skin-encapsulated ego, but an irreducibly, unique expression of the love-intelligence and love-beauty that is the initiating and animating Eros of all that is. A stunningly singular expression of the love-intelligence lives in you, as you, and through you. This unique incarnation of love never was, is, or will be ever again. You are a Unique Self. You are not merely a fingerprint. You are a Soul Print. You have a life to live and a gift to give which perfectly co-responds to a Unique Need in the world of UnLove. This unique place of UnLove in the world can only be addressed and healed by you. You cannot heal the entire world. But that is okay because you are not called to heal the all of reality. You are called by your uniqueness. You are charged to action by your uniqueness. The cosmos produced only one you as a result of an unimaginable string of synchronicities. Your Unique Self is needed by all that is. Reality needs your unique service. The world needs the love that can only come from you. When you awaken as Unique Self you are awakening into your enlightenment. You are awaking into the singular expression of the love intelligence that is your true identity. You are not meditating or praying your way to enlightenment. You are loving your way to enlightenment.
When you love your way to enlightenment you realize that you have outrageous acts of love to commit that can be done by no one else but you. You cannot commit outrageous acts of love from an ingrained sense of obligation to do good imposed on us by external codes of law and conduct. Truly transformative and effective outrageous acts of love must emerge from a genuinely felt sense of outrageous love. Only that which wells up from the essence of our desires has the power to change our internal and external realities.
There are two ways to re-open your heart to outrageous love. Both involve closing the gap between your ability to feel and your ability to heal.
1) You close the gap by recovering your ability to act and heal. You realize that you are not supposed to fix it all. Rather, you are called to commit your unique outrageous acts of love. This shift in perspective restores your potency. When you commit the very specific and unique outrageous acts of love that are yours and yours alone to commit, you experience your ability to heal which then allows you to open up again to your ability to feel.
2) By reconnecting with feeling, be it sensual, emotional, or aesthetic, you expand your power to heal. The feeling then further motivates you to perform outrageous acts of love. And, your heart opens.
The practice of writing outrageous love letters is a way of opening the contraction of ordinary life. Writing outrageous love letters arouses your capacity to feel the outrageous love which is your essence and which rouses reality from the cellular level to the most advanced consciousness. It is a way of healing and opening the heart. This spiritual practice of correspondence is a way of waking up as your unique manifestation of the outrageous love-intelligence and love-beauty that lives in you, as you and through you.
Insight: Our heart closes in the gap between our ability to feel the outrageous pain of the world and our ability to heal it. This happens into two ways.
1) The loss of feeling makes us impotent by cutting us off from outrageous love. We then lose the power to heal.
2) The inability to heal because the pain is too large, closes down our ability to feel. We cannot feel because the largeness of the pain would short-circuit our lives.
Minding the gap between our ability to feel and our ability to heal is where transformation happens. This gap is critical because it points to a powerful insight that is missing in both spiritual and scientific literature: Our hearts do not merely close because of our personal heartaches.
There is a much greater broken heart, which pulses in us and all around us. Hebrew mystics referred to this larger breaking of the heart as the shattering of the vessels.
By committing outrageous acts of love you become part of the Unique Self symphony, transforming not only yourself and your circle of intimacy and influence, but also the wider field of culture and consciousness, which leads us to the Law of Evolutionary Intimacy.
The Law of Evolutionary Intimacy
Our era can most aptly be described with the opening lines of Charles Dickens 1859 masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” We live in a world of outrageous love. We live in a world of outrageous pain.
More people live in conditions of unprecedented dignity, choice and possibility than at any other time in history. The leading edge of thought recognizes, as we point to in this book, the essential nature of reality itself is outrageous love. For this first time however this knowing of the eye of the spirit and the eye of the heart is supported by the growing evidence from what Pier Luigi Lusi and Fritjof Capra have called in their 2014 book by that name, The Systems View of Life. Life is built on profound cooperation between billions of diverse elements that allure and attract each other as they dance in near-perfect harmony.
At the same time we face unprecedented challenges to our continued stability, to our survival and to the health of the planet. We live in a world where the outrageous pain is both personal and collective. There is no longer a split between the global and the local. No more is there a place to hide. Google Earth symbolizes the disappearing lines between the global and local; in seconds you can view any location on the globe from the comfort of your home. Such access was not available two decades ago to even the most advanced spy agency. Today, what happens in China affects the daily life of someone in the United States. World financial markets are intertwined. Climate change knows no boundaries. Billions of individuals connected on the planet experience various levels of outrageous pain.
Three thousand people went to work on an ordinary day and died terribly when al-Qaeda obliterated the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and terrorist organizations continue to threaten civilization. Disease travels via jet plane. Seventeen million people are enslaved for sex and labor. Twenty million children will die of starvation and related diseases this year if the current conditions remain untransformed. Included in the suffering are the victims of mass rape, children forced to be soldier murderers and tens of millions of aids victims in Africa. Hordes of people in western countries are driven to addiction because they experience their lives as devoid of purpose and empty of meaning. Teens commit suicides at shocking rates. Masses of people live under fundamentalist regimes of politics or religion and their life force is deadened by being denied the twin human joys of authentic self-expression and free creativity. All of these are crises on the level of the individual. These individual sufferings, however add up to a global upheaval of outrageous pain. Virtually all of it is unnecessary. Its root is in a pervasive failure of intimacy.
In a real sense, we are living the tale of two futures, and each unfolding is quite different. One view is of continued outrageous pain. Yet, for the first time we are awakening to the possibility that outrageous pain is not inevitable. All of the justifications offered by the various philosophies of human life are being rejected. We recognize that outrageous pain is outrageous. Outrageous pain is a violation of intimacy. The only response to outrageous pain is outrageous love.
Yet, even those on the leading edge, committed to changing the game through outrageous acts of love, are afflicted by a powerful loneliness. The feeling of being disconnected, the feeling “I cannot do it myself” remains. The great evolutionary, mystic, Jesuit priest, Teilhard De Chardin, spoke to this existential angst when we said, “There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision.”
We live in an intimate universe. Intimacy must be restored. We become powerful by aligning with intimacy, the core of existence. The global anguish and the consequential loneliness cannot be healed merely by personal intimacy. They require a communion. They require an awakening into an evolutionary, global intimacy.
Instead, for the most part we close our hearts. We feel the pain. It hurts too much. We do not know how to heal the pain. The gap between the ability to feel and the ability to heal is too great. In closing our hearts we wind up doing nothing. We cannot find our way. The result is what might be accurately named a global action paralysis. The result of this paralysis is a narrative in which it is somehow okay that there are tens of millions of starving children. Feel into the most extreme cold, pain and hunger that you have ever experienced. Imagine your hunger exponentially multiplied. Can you feel the infinite pain? Is there any part of you that feels it is okay to have the world go on in the fleshpots of dulled senses–business as usual–while you starve?
Paradoxically, the global paralysis goes beyond dulled senses. Rather, the paralysis is created by the realization of the end. We recognize the whole story is not sustainable; the world as we know it is on the brink of almost certain death. We have given our best answers to the great challenges of our age. And, we have not succeeded. Starvation is still rampant. Premature demise lurks at the door for hundreds of millions of people. And the death of civilization haunts us.
This is not the first time death has come knocking on the door. Death came before in what might appropriately be called the first shock of existence. Cultural anthropologists have written extensively about the first shock and their conclusions are best summarized by Ernest Becker’s classic work, The Denial of Death. Becker reminds us that in some real sense the entire cultural project of human history is an attempt to come to grips with the first shock of existence. Dawn man, the early hunter-gatherer was indistinct from his larger environment. Death happened for dawn man as it does in the animal world. Death was not an existential issue causing dread. For dawn man, like the animal, death was not a force which drives a vast complex evolutionary cultural project, a project which has gone through many distinct levels of cultural consciousness. Death became the driving cultural force for man only in response to the first shock of existence when early farmer emerged as a separate self. The new sense of self engenders the first shock of existence. Dawn man emerged from his enmeshment with his environment, became aware of time and his own mortality. He was terrified at the realization of his own demise and death grins at the banquet.
Every great, ancient literature memorializes this first shock of existence in its mythical prose. In the West, the foundation story is the exile from Eden. Man eats from the tree of life and knows death for the first time. The consciousness of death enters his heart and now becomes the core driver of his survival. The desire to erect edifices of thought, heart and body that stand as a bulwark against death is a major motive force of cultural evolution. One of the key emergent responses to this first shock is a series of evolutionary refinements of man’s conception of self and his relationship to the larger community. The first shock of existence ultimately produced the separate, self-consciousness of human beings, which eventually fostered all of the human dignities and rights that define modernity. Death could not be defeated, but life was invested with infinite adequacy and dignity. This is the response to the first shock: the notice of impending death of the separate self, ego, individual.
The Second Shock
We now come to our postmodern age. Since the early farmer we have evolved through at least six major structure stages of cultural consciousness. We have entered deeply into the postindustrial, informational age, and death confronts us once again. Just as we are intuiting the first, faint glimmerings of being able to defeat personal death, a far more devastating world death looms on the horizon: the second shock of existence. The second shock of existence is the realization that our contemporary vision of success has failed and we are about to destroy ourselves.
First, our runaway technological success threatens a global crisis of dangerously dwindling supplies. We are running out of resources. We have cut down too many trees and dramatically affected the core structure of our climate. We have used the oceans as our dumping ground for our waste, including nuclear waste. The nuclear storage sites are housed in shocking conditions such that nuclear waste seeps into the ground. The meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant during the tsunami in Japan in 2011 continues to cause structure damage to our environment with implications we cannot yet begin to imagine.
The surface of the earth cannot breathe. Ecology is an incredibly subtle exchange between the earth, the soil, the creatures who live in the soil, the animals, the birds and the insects. The balance of life is subtle. We breathe each other’s breath. When certain species are destroyed, then other species are distorted and the entire system has been thrown out of balance.
Just tracing the potential consequence of bees dying off is shocking by itself. Many of the birds which kept the pine beetles in check are endangered species. The birds die out. The insects that attack trees are no longer in check. They gather in the pines and the pines begin to die. A thunderstorm hits, lightning strikes and wild fires destroy not fifty, but a thousand acres.
Add to that greenhouse gases, refrigeration and air conditioning. The atmosphere heats up and holes are punctured in the ozone layer, and climate change induced by human factors is upon us. All of these are contributing to the second shock of existence. Meanwhile, nuclear weapons are beginning to proliferate and advanced missile systems are being sold to terrorist militias.
Second, the failure of our current model is in our very definition of success. Success is considered primarily an achievement of the individual, group of individuals or the individual state. In our collective vernacular, success begs the question ‘have I succeeded?’ or occasionally ‘have we, the company or even the country succeeded? This vision of success is rooted in the limited, narcissistic consciousness of the separate, ego self run amok. The current model of success is not understood in a global and evolutionary context. Therefore, as people begin to improve their economic lot they want all the comfort and prosperity of developed nations. More and more upper echelons go into finance, creating wealth but not new value. Jobs are not created. Investments in infrastructure that benefit the entire system are non-existent. The gap between the wealth and the poor has grown too large to be sustainable. For example, in India, the poor population consists of hundreds of millions that live barely above the level of animals. They cut down their trees for timber or to trade for food and cash. The poor think in terms of survival and cannot hold a global consciousness. Accordingly, individual successes are producing a series of devastating externalities, which are about to cause a system-wide failure.
Whether the sense of impending doom comes from growing awareness around ozone depletion, peak oil, global warming and climate change, rogue nuclear threats, over fishing the seas, or unsustainable business practices the result is the same. Huge global threats face our planet. Those threats could easily result in the loss of billions of lives. Those who will be hardest hit are the most vulnerable and destitute among us. Those threats could also destroy nature, as we know it. The threats could easily be a death sentence on all of reality. The second shock is the possible death of our species.
What does it do to a child to be raised in fear that the world she knows will, in all likelihood –according to the standard prediction of climate change’s effect –be destroyed? What does it mean to grow up in death’s shadow? Noah’s flood is being predicted again, and life goes on as usual. Why? Because if we truly let the fear in we would not know how to respond. The threat is too large. What are we, as individuals, to do?
When we say we live in a world of outrageous pain we are referring not only to personal pain but also to the second shock of existence. The outrageous pain includes the personal pain magnified billions of times. But outrageous pain also includes the devastating planetary crisis of resource and environments. This crisis is directly caused by the modern and postmodern failure to enact a vision of self and success that is sustainable, emotionally, spiritually and physically.
Every major threat confronting us requires a global response. And, we have the technical capacity to gradually, but effectively offer significant response to every single crisis. What we lack is not technology or ingenuity, but a shared narrative. Even as each individual is powerful and potent, we have no common language of meaning to unite us. We urgently need a new story. We need a pooled vision and a joint horizon. We need a normative narrative, which will allow us to create a space of ‘we’ beyond the seemingly powerful veils of separation. If it is to hold us together and inspire us towards tomorrow, it must be a love story. Not an ordinary love story. An outrageous love story, a flag of outrageous love values around which we can rally. It is only the lived realization, cognitively, emotionally, and bodily that the universe is an outrageous love story that will enliven us and enact the next stages of our evolutionary enlightenment. Without such a narrative, separation feels insurmountable, boundaries impermeable and borders hostile. But, when we articulate a collaborative, spirited language, the evolutionary intimacy manifested by the shared narrative would allow us to respond in symphonic unison across cultural and geographical boundaries, healing the challenges that plague the planet.
As we have said before, the cosmos produced only one you as a result of an unimaginable string of synchronicities. It took 13.7 billion years to manifest your irreducible uniqueness at every level of your physical, spiritual, and emotional being. All that’s needed is your Unique Self. You are a unique expression of the love intelligence. Reality needs your unique service. That means very simply that a love that can only come from you is needed in the world. Truly transformative and effective outrageous acts of love must emerge from a genuinely felt sense of outrageous love. Only that which wells up from the essence of our desires has the power to change not only our internal and external realities, but a new quality of intimacy. An evolutionary intimacy.
It is the same kind of intimacy that soldiers returning from combat have reported. Through the centuries, these reports are universal in character. All agree that war is a horror and should be erased forever from our vocabulary. Yet, even the most emotionally tied men yearned for the quality of communion that existed between him and his comrades in the trenches. They had all needed each other. Every one was interdependent. Every day and every night threatened to be the last. There was little room for the usual grasping of the ego. Posturing and social status had little meaning in the field. An often unspoken, but profound intimacy settled in between the men. When the war ended and the survivors returned to civilian life, there was desperate longing for that same kind of intimacy.
The failure to ever find that depth again, outside the context of battle, proved devastating for so many veterans and their families. The only place such intimacy can ever be found again is in the evolutionary intimacy of outrageous love. When Evolutionary Unique Selves, men and women, come together for the sake of the evolution of consciousness, which is no less than the evolution of love, bonds of intimacy, unlike any other, are formed.
The consciousness of Evolutionary Unique Self offers the only authentic response to the second shock. The emergence of separate self caused the first shock of existence. Only the evolution of a higher notion of self, self beyond ego, can effectively reconcile the second shock of existence. The Unique Self fosters the new structures of consciousness that are necessary to create evolutionary intimacy and rectify the damage from the second shock.
The two primary structures of consciousness are Evolutionary We Space and the Unique Self Symphony. These evolutionary emergents, which we will turn our attention to in a moment, are activated by the Unique Self and awakened, not by fear, but by outrageous love. Rest assured, while current conditions are dire, we are not starting from scratch. Love has been evolving all along. The evolution of love is happening, at the leading edge of consciousness, for growing numbers of people in parallel to the dominant modality of separate self drive to individual economic and collective technological achievement. People are waking up to the possibility of outrageous love; unique self and cosmocentric consciousness even as so many other people are remain asleep in their egocentric narcissism. As our technological success has proliferated, these new structures of evolved consciousness have emerged by their side. These new structures of consciousness are in fact an expression of the evolution of love. Moving from separate self to true self we realize our essential oneness. Without evolving beyond the consciousness of separate self, without awakening to the lived truth of Evolutionary Unique Self, we will die. Awakening as Unique Self is the only possible and elegant solution.
“A symphony orchestra conductor who consults with business did the following at a consulting engagement with one of the largest management consulting firms in the world: As the 1,000 senior level managers filed in to the large room, they noticed that, interspersed among their seats were seats set aside for the various sections of a symphony orchestra. The conductor, stereotypical conductor-hair and all, strides into it all and proceeds to make a variety of points about running a team, using orchestral principles to make the point. Using a Wagner overture, at one point, the conductor said, ‘let’s hear only the second violins and the triangle from measure X to measure Y.’ This allowed the managers to hear how the triangle relates to the overall piece without being drowned out by the whole orchestra. Next, he has the whole orchestra, without the triangle, play the same passage. It is unbelievably rich — you cannot imagine a richer piece of music. Then, finally, he has the entire orchestra, with the triangle, play the same passage one more time. With the addition of the triangle, this already magnificent piece was sprinkled with musical fairy dust, transforming the piece from gorgeous to transcendent.”
When every person is guided by their irreducibly unique perspective and irreducibly unique taste to give their unique gifts, a Unique Self Symphony is formed in which everyone is needed and no one is extra. The power and potency of this symphony releases a creative and entrepreneurial innovation that literally has the power to heal virtually everything. Innovation and evolutionary creativity in every sphere of life, emergent from the Meta mind of Unique Selves, collectively released into reality is what will take us to the next evolutionary step.
Evolutionary Intimacy is, thus, realized with the recognition that you are playing your instrument in the Unique Self symphony. Remember, you are not called to fix it all yourself. You are called by your uniqueness. You are charged to action by your uniqueness. You are needed only to play your unique self-instrument in the Unique Self Symphony.
As we know from the Law of Feeling and Healing, we reclaim our potency and power by reclaiming our access to outrageous love. This requires two steps. First, we must open our hearts to feel again. Then, we must close the gap between our ability to feel and heal. The gap is closed by realizing that you have outrageous acts of love that are your, and yours alone, to commit. In this step Unique Self is aroused and you awaken to the full potency of your participation in the Unique Self Symphony. From the chorus of Unique Selves, a new sound is heard, the sound of the Unique Self Symphony. The Unique Self Symphony, in turn, arouses a global evolutionary intimacy, which is an emergent property of love, heretofore unseen in human history. When billions of Unique Selves awaken to their evolutionary context and give their unique gifts which emerges from their unique insight then the outrageous love and infinite creativity of the Unique Self Symphony is born.
Evolutionary We Space
This awakening characterizes the sixth big bang which we discussed in chapter X and marks the formation of Evolutionary We Space, which is the emergence of a higher global wisdom in which each individual has irreducible rights and dignity and at the same time contributes to a larger collective intelligence.
Not only is it possible to awaken, but awakening is the natural and necessary evolutionary expression of this moment. The human being awakening as an irreducibly unique and singular expression of the love intelligence and love beauty that is the initiating and animating Eros of reality is the next evolutionary step. We need to reclaim potency by liberating love from its anthropocentric predicament. But to do so we must close the gap between our ability to feel and our ability to heal.
To close the gap between our ability to feel and heal we clearly must be able to engage in collective action. It certainly appears to be self evident that no individual or even individual government or corporation will be able to close the gap. How do we foster a We Space capable of collective action? How do we form an Evolutionary We Space capable of unfreezing the global action paralysis? Evolutionary Unique Self allows you to reclaim your own personal potency and power. More than that, Evolutionary Unique Self is the technology which facilitates the formation of the Evolutionary We Space. It is precisely such We Space that is required for powerful and effective collective action. The centrality of this idea, which we already outlined in its broad parameters in law X, demands that we engage it in greater depth.
To really understand Evolutionary Unique Self let’s first return to the four selves we briefly unpacked in law X: Separate Self, True Self, Unique Self and Evolutionary Unique Self. To get a clearer sense of this core trajectory in the evolution of self which is ultimately the evolution of love let’s understand each of the selves in terms of a simple but powerful symbol: a puzzle and its puzzle pieces.
The First Experience of Self: Separate Self
A puzzle piece with no puzzle.
The first experience of self is commonly known as separate self, ego self or small self. This is the experience of being a skin-encapsulated ego, separate from other, separate from Source, separate from the larger context. Separate self suggests the experience of being a puzzle piece when there is no larger puzzle.
The puzzle piece feels its unique contours and yearns to connect. Yet many collective voices, including much of contemporary social and psychological theory, tell the puzzle piece there is no larger puzzle. Naturally the puzzle piece feels great angst and pain when told that there is no larger puzzle. The puzzle piece is told by Neo-Darwinians and Freudians that its entire raison d’etre is to survive. The telos-driven, erotic desire for survival is then denuded of its mystery. All of its altruistic desires are reduced to Darwinian survival gambits or Freudian attempts to fulfill on the pleasure principle. You think you want to be close to your mother, says Freud. Really, you just want the pleasure of her milk. The neo-Darwinian says you are moved to cooperate simply because it’s a more effective way of meeting your selfish goals. You have no essential connection to a larger whole. Imagine the puzzle piece trying to walk. It is wobbly and unstable. It has only itself to rely on. It is not held in the context of the larger puzzle. Therefore it lacks stability or ground.
The puzzle piece is devastated when its deepest interior longings and drives are reduced to selfish survival by modernity’s dogma disguised as science. That’s the experience of separate self. Separate self is naturally incapable of forming Evolutionary We Space. Since each self is intrinsically held to be separate, any formation of We Space is artificial at best.
This core myth of separation was and remains the reigning paradigm in economics, science, religion and politics. It has been this way for the last several hundred years. For example, western democracy is based on the core principle of separate self. Every human being is seen as a separate self, or in modern parlance, an individual. The government only exists because a social contract gives the government limited power in order to insure the right of the individual. As political philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, reminded us several hundred years ago, separate selves are in a natural state of war. The social contract made to create states and governments can suspend the state of war for the sake of the selfish gain of every individual. But the We Space of the state can never entirely overcome the essential alienation of separate selves. Separate selves cannot form a genuine We Space. That is why western democracies virtually never access the bold power necessary to end outrageous pain. No one made this more apparent then Samantha Power in what, I think, is one of the most important books of the twentieth century. In A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, Power reviews American state department cables, which debated possible responses to the seven attempted genocides of the twentieth century. These include the Armenian Genocide by Turkey, the destruction of the European Jews by Germany, the ethnic cleansing by Serbia in Kosovo, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the massacre of the Tutsi by the Hutus in Rwanda, and the gassing of the Kurds by Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq. In each of these cases the United States could have implemented a range of possible responses from strong public censure to military intervention. In each case the United States did virtually nothing*. We were faced with outrageous pain. Yet we were not able to respond with outrageous love. We were unable to form an evolutionary We Space. We were unable to manifest a We Space whose collective intelligence demanded outrageous acts of love in the face of outrageous pain.
Democracy in its classical form is not based on the formation of Evolutionary We Space. Instead, separate selves give up some limited rights to a government so that the government will facilitate maximal life, liberty and happiness for the separate selves in its domain. Separate selves do not know how to find sustained access to the outrageous love that lives as the animating and driving essence of reality.
The Second Experience of Self: True Self
One puzzle with no puzzle pieces.
The second experience of self is that of True Self, or what the Buddhists often refer to as No Self. True Self is the experience of being indivisible from the seamless fabric of the universe. True Self heals the alienation of the separate self as you locate your true identity as indivisible from the largest possible context: All That Is. In this experience you’re not a puzzle piece, you are the whole of the puzzle. You feel the entire puzzle arising as you. This indescribable realization changes everything, and has classically been referred to as enlightenment.
Yet within the fullness of True Self, you tend to feel an emerging impulse to individuate. You feel the lines separating you from other puzzle pieces. You’re then told by most spiritual teaching on the nature of enlightenment that those lines are merely illusions. You’re told that if you meditate long enough, you’ll realize there’s only a whole puzzle. You will round out your jagged edges into a smooth circle that flows. Your experience as individual, separate from the whole, is an illusion. Your yearning for individuation is dismissed as the grasping of the ego. This second experience of True Self is no less devastating than the experience of separate self because the natural expression of your uniqueness is denied.
One expression of True Self in political form was state fascism or state communism. The One, however, was not the actual indivisible unity of all that is, but a pseudo monism–meaning simply a pseudo expression of monolithic oneness–namely the State.
From this perspective it is possible to say that fascism is to democracy what the shadow of True Self is to healthy separate self. The State claims to be the One just as True Self is the One. The only true entity was the State. The State is the One. The individual is valuable inasmuch as he or she fulfilled their right function for the larger collective. The results of this system however were tragic. Communism killed more innocent people than perhaps any other force in human history, with the possible exception of Nazism. Clearly the communist alternative did not deliver the heaven on earth that it promised. Indeed heaven quickly becomes hell when the irreducible dignity of the individual is not upheld as an inviolable tenet of any system.
True Self also does not produce collective action because it rests in the perfection of being itself. True Self locates itself in the ground of being itself independent of the ravages of time and human frailty. True Self is thus on some level indifferent to suffering. We Space requires autonomous individuals coming together in communion. We cannot create an Evolutionary We Space capable of collective action as outrageous love if there is only the One and not the many. We Space is formed in the dance between one and many, autonomy and communion. If there is only ‘I am’ then there can ultimately be no ‘We’. Because the individual is effaced before the One of the state, there is no we and, thus, collective action as outrageous love becomes impossible.
The Third Experience of Self: Unique Self
A puzzle piece, which fits perfectly into, and is held by, the larger puzzle.
The third experience of self, Unique Self, is your unique expression of True Self. It is both your unique perspective and your unique intimacy. As Unique Self you realize, while the universe is seamless, it does have features. You are a unique feature of the universe. You have a distinctive personal quality. If your name were Liza, your distinctive personal quality would be your unique Liza-ness. The universe wants to Liza through you. In spiritual terms, we would say God is having a Liza-experience through you living your Unique Self.
You experience yourself as a puzzle piece uniquely connected to the larger puzzle. This experience of your Unique Self is the beginning of wholeness. You’re connected to the larger puzzle through your very precise and unique contours, the jagged edges of your puzzle piece. As your Unique Self, you realize that uniqueness does not foster alienation; quite the opposite, uniqueness is the currency of connection. You connect with others through the unique perspective and uniquely intimate personal quality that form your Unique Self. Your Unique Self experiences True Self through your irreducibly, unique perspective and unique intimacy. As we’ve seen, your Unique Self is the portal to the outrageous love, which is the evolutionary Eros that lives as the essential nature of all reality. Unique Self has the capacity to form Evolutionary We Space. The unique, puzzle-piece essence of you naturally completes some dimension of the larger puzzle, merging with all other puzzle pieces, and locating itself within the larger context without losing its unique identity. Unique Self then fully awakens as Evolutionary Unique Self.
The Fourth Experience of Self: Evolutionary Unique Self
A puzzle piece, which fits into and evolves the whole puzzle.
The experience of Evolutionary Unique Self locates the verb of your Unique Self within a larger narrative. The experience of Unique Self is that of a puzzle piece connected to the two, three, or four pieces that surround it. The interior experience of Evolutionary Unique Self is that it is connected to and evolves the entire expanse of the puzzle.
As you become ever more conscious of your unique qualities, you become ever more sensitized to the unique qualities of others. This is the beginning of radical intimacy. You are connected to every unique feature of the entire puzzle. As Evolutionary Unique Self, your own evolution nourishes and evolves all the other pieces of the puzzle. The part evolves the whole. The whole, in turn, nourishes and evolves your Unique Self. Evolutionary Unique Self is the ultimate expression of intimacy. Evolutionary Unique Self naturally forms Evolutionary We Space. While separateness creates alienation, uniqueness creates intimacy. When you awaken to the realization that your outrageous love is utterly irreplaceable, everything changes. You begin to know the UnLove in the world can only be liberated from its contraction by your unique expression of outrageous love. You awaken to the core delight and purpose of your existence. You are called to directly participate in a way no other human being can — in the evolution of love. You are deeply aware of your puzzle piece nature and you naturally seek connection with other puzzle pieces. You realize you are not separate from them. You also realize you are different from them. In this differentiation you have an unmediated experience of your own uniqueness, your own specialization. You are special. You have a unique perspective, a unique gift to give, and a unique intimacy to manifest. It’s your and yours alone. Jealousy disappears you are able to connect in love with other Evolutionary Unique Selves. Together you form an Evolutionary We Space of Unique Selves. Each of you is an irreducibly unique expression of the love intelligence and love beauty of all that is. Uniqueness is the exchange bonding you into a larger symphonic whole, with each instrument playing its own particular melody. Each melody is music. The music is outrageous love.
Hence, Evolutionary We Space is formed by individuals who have resolved the paradox of autonomy and communion by living in the consciousness of Evolutionary Unique Self. At earlier levels of self-evolution there is a natural historical tension between autonomy and communion. You are either independent or dependent. You are either separate from or a part of the larger community. Autonomy was thought to be self-referencing for its integrity and wholeness, while communion was seen to be other-referencing for its integrity and wholeness. The distinction between the two is core to the way we live our lives and make our decisions in all areas from personal relationship to governance. Communion is thought to come at the expense of autonomy, and autonomy at the expense of communion.
At the higher and more awakened levels of consciousness this distinction breaks down. Autonomy is expressed by radical uniqueness and uniqueness is the distinct, self, puzzle piece that yearns to connect to and complete the puzzle. Uniqueness is an expression of the integrity of autonomy. Unique means independent and unlike any other. Uniqueness is also necessary for communion. A unique puzzle piece, cell or any unique part is completed by its fitting into a larger whole. In Evolutionary We Space each individual expresses the full power of their uniqueness and at the same time all of the Unique Selves are in service of the larger We Space communion. What emerges is a collective wisdom synergized by all of the masterminds forming a larger metamind without losing their individual integrity. Outrageous love allows for the collapse of the opposition between autonomy and communion. It is outrageous love that allows unique individuals to come together in a larger whole, not only without losing their individual integrity, but with an actual deepening of that very individuality. Evolutionary We Space is the most powerful expression of outrageous love.
When you enter Evolutionary We Space you are fully awake and alive giving your unique gift. Your Unique Gift is your superpower. You access the God that lives as you. You are literally a superhero. It is only through this progression that you actually become the hero of your own life. To awaken as evolutionary unique self is to feel evolution awakening in you and as you. You have a lived experience that the world needs something essential that can only be provided by you. This emerges not from your ego, but from your essence. In the old world, success meant you were the only superhero in your neighborhood. In creating a future of Evolutionary We Spaces, we identify that we are actually a legion of super heroes acting together, playing together and creating together. We write each other outrageous love letters. We arouse, in a sustained and unabashed manner, our genuine love for each other. We create a larger domain of wisdom in the space “in between” us.
Remember Phil Jackson, the great basketball coach who brought the LA Lakers and the Chicago Bulls to a series of championships? He talked about this phenomenon of Evolutionary We Space when he said, “The subtle interweaving of the players at full speed to the point where they’re thinking and moving as one.” This image is important because in it each player is excelling. Each player is a star. Each player is a unique expression of human grace and gift, and yet when they come together into this Evolutionary We Space they begin to operate in a larger organismic mode. The individual in no way disappears, and yet a deeper and wider intelligence emerges.
One participant in an exercise designed to evoke Evolutionary We Space gave this description. She wrote, “When someone else spoke, it felt as if I were speaking. When I did speak, it was virtually egoless, like it wasn’t really me in the small sense. It’s as if something larger was speaking through me. And in that space we started to create. We started to say things we’ve never thought of before.”
The core of this technology was already known in the inner circle of esoteric wisdom throughout the ages. In the Hebrew mysticism of Kabbalah, it is said the voice of the Shekinah, the goddess speaks from within the community that comes together to enact a shared vision. Hebrew mystics in the third century wrote, “Whenever ten people gather with clear and holy intention, the Shekinah, She, the goddess, speaks from their mouth.” Or Matthew, in the New Testament: “Whenever two or three gather in my name, I am in the midst of them.” Aurobindo, the modern Hindu mystic, talks about the evolution of truth consciousness in which they–the We Space–feel themselves to be “the embodiment of a single self”. Rudolf Steiner, the great theosophist wrote, “People awake through each other, and then real communal spirituality descends on our workplace.”
If you’re living in True Self, you’re absorbed in the one, and your unique voice merges into silence. If you are living as separate self, the different voices all try and shout the loudest in order to be heard. But Evolutionary We Space creates a larger collective intelligence and is a direct function of shared Unique Self experience. The technology that creates an Evolutionary We Space is Unique Self. Through the unique contours of your puzzle piece, each member of the group merges with and completes both themselves and the larger whole. The Unique Self experience is both the heart of the phenomenon of collective intelligence and the key to its emergence in any given situation. Said simply, Evolutionary We Space is only a genuine possibility if we deploy the awakened technology of Unique Self-realization. Very few pleasures in life compare to the awakened We Space of Unique Selves living together. It was toward this pleasure that Teilhard de Chardin pointed when he said, “The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.”
Solve One Crisis, Solve Them All
There are three different forms of crises. One is an objective physical crisis of suffering. Starvation is the most potent expression of this crisis. The second is the crisis fomented by the second shock of existence. Our very survival as a species is threatened by this crisis. The third is a crisis of meaning. The crisis of meaning emerges from an insufficient availability of meaning-making models. The old religious systems of meaning gave us much, but were ultimately limited. Their truth claims excluded the other and fostered extreme conflict and war. The second source of meaning, the modern notion of the separate self, also lacks sufficient depth to enact a meaningful life. Merely succeeding at the survival and even prosperity, does not give a person the experience of a life well lived.
The first crisis of objective suffering plagues the economically underdeveloped countries. The second crisis of resources, which catalyzes the second shock of existence, plagues the entire world. The third crisis of meaning, unsatisfied by available scripts which spell out the rights of the ego self, plagues the economically developed world. Paradoxically, the resolution of the first two crises solve the third, and the resolution of the third solves the first two. Each is a key in the lock of the other. (Reality is always strangely elegant.)
Salvation for the economically developed world, at this moment in time, can only be authentically found in the awakening to the outrageous love that realizes the truth of One Love and One World. This is the awakening to Unique Self and outrageous love, committing outrageous acts of love and forming Evolutionary We Space which orchestrates the Unique Self Symphony. From that place of awakened consciousness, the developed world can stand as one and reach out its hand, fully and powerfully, to the underdeveloped world. We can also invest the full power of innovation and attention to address the looming structural crisis that has induced the second shock of existence. That solves the crisis of meaning.
Meaning is found in loving and caring for others. This is the only way to reclaim potency. In doing so the gap between the ability to feel and the ability to heal is closed. Our hearts are re-opened. We are living open as outrageous love from the conscious of our Evolutionary Unique Selves. A new standard of success is introduced and an outrageous love story is born.
But it is even more than even that. Only the communion of Evolutionary We Space can liberate us from loneliness. When human beings come together to incarnate as autonomous Unique Selves the communion of incarnating the evolutionary impulse something essential shifts in reality. This is what it means for human beings to come together as a community of outrageous lovers forming an Evolutionary We Space. When this happens great joy and transformation is liberated into the world. This is the creation of what we have called Evolutionary Intimacy.
Evolutionary Intimacy arises through formation of Evolutionary We Space where personal love, intimacy and activism merge. This is the matrix of a politics of love, the most hopeful vision we have for the future of humanity. It is based on the democratization of greatness and creativity. The only authentic standard is, have we all succeeded as Unique Selves and in catalyzing the emergence of a larger We Space comprised of Evolutionary Unique Selves playing our instruments in the Unique Self symphony? There is no other way.
I understand that it may be challenging for you to imagine your outrageous acts of love can create a ripple effect powerful enough to heal the planet. But let me assure you, the principles of this evolutionary process are firmly rooted in the study of complex systems. The core mechanism of Evolutionary We Space is the scientific principle of self-organization, which implicitly contains within it the principle of specialization (which is why Unique Self is so important.)
The idea of self-organization is, according to many, the single most important scientific idea to emerge in the last fifty years. It exists at every level of reality. Take for example an anthill. The anthill is magnificently organized. The level of complexity and precision is dazzling. To sight but one example, the location of the cemetery in an anthill is geometrically the farthest possible distance from the garbage dump. Which ant made that calculation? Each ant knows what to do and how to interact with other ant. The ants each act in response to what the scientific literature calls signals from “street level.” There is an interior knowing in the ant of what needs to be done in its immediate environs. The individual ant receives signals from the ants that it passes. Those ants secrete pheromone, a particular chemical that communicates information. Each ant then acts locally in response to the unique needs that the ant perceive at street level, in its immediate surrounding. However, each ant acting locally creates a global effect. That is the vast elegance and complexity of the perfectly organized and interdependent anthill. When this principle is applied to the universe what emerges is what has been described by leading edge evolutionary theorists as the self-organizing universe.
Science tells us that self-organization is a basic principle of reality at all levels. Self-organization, and Evolutionary We Space and Evolutionary Unique Self are directly related in the emergence of collective consciousness. There is what some physicists have called the “inherent ceaseless creativity” of the cosmos, which moves reality to higher and deeper levels of complexity, consciousness and love. An external god making decrees does not enforce this development. Rather this evolutionary emergence is a function of the internal property of self-organization, which is the creative cosmos always evolving and organizing at higher and higher levels. The question is, what guides self organization at the level of human culture? Clearly it is not pheromone, which tells ants what other ants need in their immediate surroundings. The answer is dramatic, yet elegantly simple. Once it is almost self evident in its truth. The guiding principle, or said better the organizing principle of the self-organizing universe is Evolutionary Unique Self.
Evolutionary Unique Self is a psychoactive construct that lies at the very core of nature. You awaken to your Evolutionary Unique Self as the most accurate interior expression of I am. Who am I? I am an Evolutionary Unique Self. Evolutionary Unique Self is the currency of connection with the larger current of outrageous love that powers the universe.
Evolutionary Unique Self is actually what drives the emergence of civilization itself. It rests in part on the principle of what a whole school of economists and anthropologists refer to as specialization**.
There is a rapid, continuous evolutionary up leveling that humans and human society experience in a way that no animal does. What is it about human society that is distinct that causes this constant, dramatic, incessant evolutionary transformations? What causes rapid human growth?
The reason this is such a key question is because objective human nature itself does not change. In the last 200,000 years, the essential nature of the human being from the perspective of the size of the human brain, the organs of the body, and the major systems of the body has not changed. Usually, in evolutionary unfolding, when you get a different level of functioning it’s because there’s an evolution in the physical structure of that particular species. Evolution then jumps to a higher level of reality.
This process of evolution in the human being is completely different. The human body, both from an exterior and interior perspective of the basic organs, is actually pretty much the same as it’s been in the last 200,000 years. And yet, everything has changed. To say that life is the same today as it was 40,000, years ago, for example, is utterly absurd. In that time, we’ve multiplied more than one hundred thousand percent, from about three million to seven billion people. We’ve given ourselves a level of self-knowledge, science, religion, attainment, comfort and luxury that no other species can imagine. We’ve colonized every imaginable corner of the planet and explored almost every inhabitable one. We’ve altered the appearance, the genetics, and the chemistry of the world. We surrounded ourselves with peculiar, nonrandom arrangements of atoms that we call technology that we invent and reinvent continuously. These allow us the spectacular achievements of culture, law, poetry, philosophy, space travel, modern medicine, nanotechnology, robotics, computers and so much more that we all take for granted.***
Chimpanzees don’t do that. Dolphins don’t do that. Parrots don’t do that. Octopi don’t do that. Some of these occasionally use tools; they occasionally shift their ecological niche. But they don’t raise their standard of living, they don’t experience economic growth, they don’t encounter poverty. They don’t evolve from one level of consciousness to another, nor do they miss doing so. They don’t experience agricultural, urban, commercial, industrial or information revolutions. They certainly don’t experience renaissances, or reformations, depressions, demographic transitions, civil wars, cold wars, cultural wars or credit crunches.
Even as I sit here, in this moment, I am surrounded by telephones, books, computers, photographs, and paper clips, coffee mugs that no monkey ever came close to making. I’m spilling digital information onto a screen in a way that no dolphin ever vaguely managed. I’m aware of abstract concepts (the date, the weather forecast, the second law of thermodynamics) that no parrot could even begin to grasp. I’m definitively different.
So what makes me so different? It’s not because I have a bigger brain. Neanderthals, on the average, had bigger brains than I do. Yet they didn’t experience this kind of headlong cultural evolution that all humans benefit from and participate in. So what’s it about? One part of the answer is clearly that the human being is the only animal that’s able to create collective intelligence. Look at the difference between a hand axe and your computer. They’re both man-made, and they’re both tools. The fundamental difference is that the hand ax was made by a single person. It’s a function of the intelligence of a single person. The computer was made by hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of people.
The amount of collective intelligence that goes into every dimension of the computer, from the hardware to the software, is astounding. At some point human intelligence became collective and cumulative in a way that happened to no other animal. That’s called cumulative cultural evolution. There’s a natural selection that is a key part of the mechanism of cultural evolution just like it is a key technology of biological evolution. But it’s not a selection only among genes it is rather a natural selection among ideas.
Cumulative culture means that ideas meet and mate. Just like sex is what makes biological evolution, cumulative idea sex is what makes human knowledge cumulative. Both in biology and in thought, different mutations come together and form a more evolved whole that is passed down. Whatever gain is made through the progeny of successful idea sex, is then inherited by the next generation. That is why evolution is cumulative. That cliché of the cross-fertilization of ideas actually lies at the very source code of reality. To re-create and recombine is the source code of cultural evolution. Now, what causes this to happen?
The exchange of ideas begins with and evolves through trade. Trade means that we specialize. Each of us specializes in giving a particular thing. We divide our labor, for the sake of mutual gain. So the division of labor and specialization of efforts and talents for mutual gain is, according to Ridley and many leading anthropologists, the essential driver of human civilization. Specialization fosters division of labor which in turn births innovation. Therefore, innovation is sourced in specialization. Specialization saves time because you’re not doing everything yourself. Saved time is prosperity. Prosperity, in some sense, is simply time saved that you can use beyond your survival needs. Time saved is thus directly proportional to the division of labor, that is to say specialization. We specialize means that we each do a different part of the task. The more human beings diversify, as producers, consumers, the more they specialize, the more they have to exchange. The more people that are drawn into specialization, the more innovation. It is the force of innovation that comes from specialization which is the basis for what Matt Ridley calls rational optimism.
Evolving the Narrative of Self-Sufficiency
What you have here is a celebration of interdependence which lies at the heart of the evolutionary progress which is driven by evolutionary Eros itself. Specialization creates innovation based on both the division of labor and what has been called the multiplication of labor. Multiplication of labor is the opposite of self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency is not actually the root to anything other than poverty. If you’re really self-sufficient, imagine what that means. It means that you actually have to develop everything. You’ve got to build your house, you’ve got to make your clothes, you’ve got to wash them, you’ve got to find water, you’ve got to draw water etc. You’ve got to do every single thing that could possibly be done in your world. Self-sufficiency is a dead-end.
We are rewriting the story; part of the narrative that must change is the narrative of self-sufficiency. To create a world of Outrageous love, we must move our egocentric, self-sufficient model to one of interdependence.
Imagine being a deer. You’ve only got a few things to do. You sleep, you feed, you avoid being eaten, and maybe you socialize. That means you mark off the territory and you pursue a member of the opposite sex. What if you’re a human being? Even if you only count the basic things, you’ve got a lot more than four things to do. You sleep, you eat, you cook, you dress, you keep house, you travel, you wash, you shop, you work, the list is almost endless. So the deer should have more free time than you right? But that’s not the case. Human beings have much more available leisure time. Why? Where does the free time come from? The free time comes from exchange and specialization, based on division of labor. A deer gathers some food. A human being gets someone else to do it for her. This creates time to focus in other areas of specialization which in turns fosters innovation. So, self-sufficiency isn’t the route to evolutionary emergence or prosperity.
Although he was just pretending, one of the great American transcendentalists, Henry David Thoreau, generated an alluring but patently false vision of self-sufficiency. He contrasts the boy who made his own jack knife from the ore that he had dug and smelted with the boy who had attended lectures on metallurgy at the Institute and received a Rogers’s penknife from his father. With all due respect to Thoreau, it’s the second boy, by a mile, who’s going to evolve much more profoundly and gorgeously because he had a lot more spare time to learn other things.
Imagine you had to be completely self-sufficient, not just pretending like Thoreau. Every day when you get up in the morning, you must supply yourself entirely from your own resources. How would you spend your day? Your priorities would be food, fuel, clothing, and shelter. Dig the garden, feed the pig, fetch the water from the brook, gather the wood from the forest for the fire, wash the potatoes, light a fire–remember, there are no matches–cook lunch, repair the roof, fetch fresh bracken for clean bedding, maybe whittle a needle, spin some thread, sew leather for shoes, wash in the stream, fashion a pot out of clay, catch and cook a chicken for dinner. No time for book reading, no time for smelting metal, drilling oil, or travel, for sure. By definition, you’re at subsistence level. Although you may mutter in a Thoreau-like way how marvelous it is to get away from all the appalling hustle and bustle, after a few days, you realize as Hobbes did, that life becomes nasty, brutish, and short. It’s pretty grim. If you want to have even the most minimal improvement, (metal, tools, toothpaste, lighting) you’re going to have to get some of your chores done by somebody else. There’s just not enough time to do them yourself and to specialize.
Specialization is required to raise your standard of living. No less important then a declaration of independence is our declaration of interdependence. This is a core principle of reality which the outrageous lover has internalized in mind heart and body.
There is great old essay, written by Leonard Read called I, Pencil. It’s about an ordinary pencil written in the first person of the pencil. The essay describes how it came to be made by millions of people: loggers in Oregon, graphite miners in Sri Lanka, coffee bean growers in Brazil, who supplied the coffee drunk by the loggers, and the list goes on and on. The pencil concludes there isn’t a single person in all these who contributed more than a small bit of know how. However each one specialized. The pencil stands amazed at the “absence of a mastermind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions that bring me into being.”
The pencil exemplifies a vision of collective intelligence. Please understand, collective intelligence does not just imply that you’re consuming someone else’s labor and resources. Collective intelligence involves more than the division of labor and specialization; it actually means that you receive benefit from the multiplication of labor. Therefore, you are consuming all the levels of innovation and creativity which preceded you. Each previous level of creativity and innovation is downloaded into society. You receive the benefit of all that creativity as a given. As modernity unfolds deeper and deeper into the technological era, the inexorable decree of life has crystalized as “contribute one thing and consume many things”. What an enormous evolution! When you think about it, you are served by many more people than ever served Louis XVIII. Alexander Graham Bell, Tim Berners-Lee, Thomas Crapper, Jonas Salk. The list of brilliant people whose commitment, effort and creativity assist you on a daily basis is endless.
You not only receive their creativity, but the underlying source of creativity. As we cited earlier, the great process philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead, demonstrated the self-evident truth that the “creative advance into novelty” is the core nature of reality itself. The Big Bang birthed immensely complex and creative laws of nature in the first nanosecond. These continued to evolve to higher and higher levels of complexity and consciousness producing wonders of brilliant, intelligence and depth beyond imagination. Intelligent creativity moving in a purposeful direction is the inherent nature of reality, and expresses itself through the awakening of Evolutionary Unique Self contributing and deepening the intelligent depth of the cosmos. We are held in the outrageous love embrace of all of that creativity in every moment. We are interdependent with all of reality in every moment. That is not a mystical claim. It is a self-evident truth emergent from the leading edges of science and spirit.
Prosperity, innovation and evolutionary growth in our world, when you actually look at the nature of our reality, are synonymous with moving from self-sufficiency to interdependence. Self-sufficiency by itself is poverty. So it is fair to conclude the cumulative accretion of knowledge by specialists that allows us each to consume more and more by each producing fewer and fewer is a central story of humanity. We do not only consume in the realm of material goods. Rather, we consume every manner of creative human production including all that is good, true and beautiful. Every person’s special perspective creates a new form of evolutionary interdependence that is a vital matrix for the evolution of consciousness.
Evolving the Narrative of Business
Now, from the perspective of flatland thinkers like Ridley and Hayek, economic growth is also the motivating factor of evolution. Once you are lifted out of poverty–that is to say, freed from being exclusively focused on addressing your survival needs–your consciousness can evolve. You are unencumbered to engage your higher and deeper needs. That is self-evident in each of our lives and a central premise of developmental thought from Maslow to Cook-Greuter. When you are hungry you think less about values. When you feel safe and full you begin to dream bigger dreams.
Our current narrative of capitalism, however, erodes our opportunity for intimacy. It is often hard for people to hear that one of the primary engines of cultural evolution is trade. We are so used to demonizing business. Virtually every blockbuster Hollywood movie vilifies the corporation. Michael Moore, the documentary filmmaker in his well-received movie, Capitalism, A Love Story, bashes free trade. Quite shockingly, he interviews three priests and ministers, all of whom use the term evil to describe business. But this is very jaundiced and highly distorted view of commerce. I want to offer an alternative narrative that accurately meets the contemporary facts of leading edge conscious capitalism, aptly termed by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia.
The world of business is becoming one of the great cathedrals of spirit. Businesses are becoming places in which meaning can be created, in which mutuality begins to happen, in which intimacy and trust become core values, in which the expression of one’s Unique Self as part of a larger context becomes a reality. Evolutionary intimacy and prosperity for all people cannot exist without our whole-hearted embodiment of conscious capitalism.
What does it mean to lift people out of poverty? It means babies not dying, it means mouths being fed, it means girls going to school and getting educated, it means a response to slavery that never existed in the world before. It means that all the values of the great traditions get enacted on two levels: by ending the physical oppression of poverty and by opening a gateway for human beings to experience genuine spiritual, emotional and personal growth.
Communism tried to lift people out of poverty through coercion, but wound up killing 17 million farmers in the Ukraine and countless millions elsewhere.
Yet, in the last 20 years, almost one billion people have been taken out of poverty. Capitalism, through voluntary exchange, is the driving factor. That sentence is so shocking and so powerful that it makes you sit up in your chair and say, “Oh my God! Could it be that evil corporations are actually responsible for lifting more people out of poverty than any other single force in the history of consciousness and the history of the planet?”
Lifting people out of poverty was never the conscious intention of business; it was the by-product of a business well enacted. Now business is awakening to its positive influence and becoming conscious. The free market recognizes it is a force with enormous power and responsibility. By becoming conscious, capitalism can do what it naturally does even better, creating a tide that lifts all boats. It can create more community, more mutuality, and paradoxically, more profit, by engaging everyone in the system. That is exciting!
Every major value of the great traditions is fulfilled in business: intimacy, trust, a shared vision, cooperation, collaboration, friendship, and ultimately love. After all, love is the movement of evolution to higher and higher levels of mutuality, recognition, union and embrace.
Likewise, Capitalism, at its core, is the expression of mutuality between people — the voluntary exchange of value. That mutuality is the cultural force of transformation and healing that is lifting people out of poverty in a way that the great traditions were never able to do. Business enables large bodies of people to work together for a higher purpose: to create prosperity that enables people to live well, to love their children, to create a context for moral, spiritual and social development.
The great traditions, though beautiful and generous, thought in terms of a one-way gift from the haves to the have-nots. Charity has been their essential technology for change. Business moves us beyond the arbitrary split between the haves and the have-nots, between giving and receiving. Business understands a deep truth of evolutionary mysticism; giving and receiving are one in the same. There is no split between the two. Business enables a mutuality in which the giver is receiving and the receiver is giving. That momentous leap in consciousness has created the most potent force of social transformation in history.
Narratives are the stories that infuse our life with meaning. The narrative of business matters greatly, not only to the business community, but also to every human being. The majority of people on Earth are working in some form of business, yet the dominant story spoken is free enterprise is greedy, exploitative, manipulative and corrupt. Consequently, the majority of human beings on the planet experience themselves as furthering and supporting exploitation, greed, corruption and manipulation. When people experience themselves that way, they actually begin to become that way. They think, “I’ve sold out. This is what I am. Isn’t it a shame that I didn’t open a soup kitchen? Isn’t it a shame that I didn’t become a volunteer worker in Sudan?”
The truth is, by participating in business, they create prosperity through productivity and lift people out of poverty. They create stable conditions for families to be raised, they help build communities that then build schools, they create places for people to exchange value and meaning and relationships and intimacy and trust. When people realize they are part of the largest force for positive social transformation in history, their self-perception changes.
If our Unique Selves are to flourish, we must wake to the reality that commerce has the ability to change the self-perception and the self-narrative story for most of the human beings on the planet. Conventionally, and erroneously, we have left the role of self-narratives to psychology. However, psychology is only equipped to cope with the broken pieces of the people living in a society which pathologizes business. We, as Unique Selves, must change the essential narrative to accurately reflect the transformative impact of entrepreneurship and its true identity as the great healer. This is no Shangri-La vision; it is an accurate narrative of conscious business that, if internalized by the majority of citizens who engage in business, will cause a dramatic paradigm shift and alter the very source code of our self-understanding.
Business philosopher, David Cooperrider, got it right when we wrote, “Everyone is beginning to imagine the once-in-a-civilization-opportunities — it’s no longer utopian to speak of our witnessing the end of extreme poverty through profitability; or the emergence a world of abundant, clean renewable energy; or of the spread of education to 100% of the earth’s children; or of business as a pragmatic and dependable force for peace; or of cradle-to-cradle factories and supply chains that turn so-called waste to wealth; or of the birth of a full spectrum economy where businesses can excel, people can thrive, and nature can flourish. Moreover, it’s a time where the innovations are leaping beyond the tired vocabularies of social responsibility or ‘sustainability.’ We believe that sustainability has lost its capacity to inspire the future. Doing less bad is not the most compelling call and simply surviving does not equate to thriving. We see a next episode in capitalism emerging where the task involves a decisive shift: it’s the shift from sustainability to full spectrum flourishing and it is being fueled by today’s fertile verge between business innovation, exponential technologies, and the rise of whole new human factor capacities, commitments, and consciousness.”
Evolving the Narrative of Artists
As core technologies for evolution, business and trade are as old as civilization itself. Still, we can go deeper. The central story humanity based on cultural evolution is rooted in exchange and specialization. As previously discussed, specialization is, of course, about being special. For Ridley, being special is a flatland fact, indicating a talent that arises from your conditioning; specialization is irreducible uniqueness. In the words of the economist philosopher, Friedrich Hayek, knowledge is dispersed throughout society because each person has a “special perspective.”****
Implied here is something even bigger than essential economic growth. Two characteristics marked the emergence of human consciousness. While one was trade and specialization, the second was art and beauty. At the same time that trade begun we began seeing art on cave walls and adornment for its own sake. A human being is driven not merely to get more beads. A human being is driven to express essence as it lives in him or her uniquely through art beauty and creativity.
What we envision is the democratization of entrepreneurship, the democratization of enlightenment, the democratization of creativity. We mean that every person awakens as an Evolutionary Unique Self. Every Evolutionary Unique Self has a unique, creative perspective and a unique flavor of intimacy and presence. Together, they birth your unique gift which addresses a unique needs in your unique circle of intimacy and influence that can only be addressed by you.
What’s happened in society is that we associate creativity to some large extent, with art class. If I was not good at art class then I assume that this creativity thing is not for me. Or we usually think the serious people engage in politics and business and the real stuff of life. They’re not part of the artist community. The artist community is a kind of semi-irresponsible, overly bohemian, flaky community. What we’ve done is essentially exiled creativity into one particular quadrant, into one particular form of activity which is the plastic arts, which are enormously important, but actually the role of the artist is, of course, much broader and much more dramatic. When we actually begin to expand what it means to be an artist beyond a particular form of art in its physical expression art and being an artist becomes a much broader activity. We wake up to realize that being an evolutionary artist, a social artist, is essential to our identity. When we actually begin to experience a shift, a broadening, an enriching of the texture of our identity to include the artist, the voice of the artist that lives in me, then something shifts in me in a very fundamental way. So we need to reclaim the artist as part of our identity.
Imagine the infinite possibility that comes from the infinite exchange of ideas between infinitely innovating, radically creative Unique Selves. The democratization of creativity is about the liberation of every human being to walk the lover’s way, to awaken as an outrageous lover. Creativity and uniqueness are but two faces of the erotic evolutionary impulse. The lover’s way is the artist’s way. Creativity must no longer be limited in our imagination to the one who paints or engages in plastic arts, even as those are critical models for creativity. Creativity is self-creation. Self-creation is the essence of the sacred. Self-creation is the motive force of evolution awakening to itself as your creativity. Self-creation is the natural expression of awakening as an outrageous lover. The Unique Self Symphony is comprised of evolutionary artists engaged in the most radical music of all, the sounds of self-creation.
Hayek and Ridley explicitly refer to, in a number of passing sentences what they call the “unique perspective” of every person as being essential to the process of specialization that drives trade which is according to them and many others the engine of the human cultural evolution. They are implicitly trying to describe Unique Self consciousness. What they do not know how to articulate is that this perspective is not merely the social, cultural and psychological conditioning of the ego. Infinite creativity does not emerge from the Meyers Briggs typology of the small self, or the ego self, personality. Perspective isn’t merely a function of your separate, ego self. Your perspective is actually an expression of essence, your irreducibly unique essence. Your Unique Self is a depth expression of the innate quality of uniqueness with which you were born before any conditioning had time to take effect. You are an irreducibly unique expression of the love intelligence that initiated all that is. This is not merely your conditioning. This is the unique expression of essence incarnate as you.
When we talk about self-perception as an artist we are really talking about self-love. Remember, in its inner subjective space, love is not merely an emotion, it’s a perception. Out of the perception emerges an emotion. So self-love is a self-perception. An act of self-love, not in the vain, contracting sense, but in the expansive sense, is to shift my self-perception, to thicken my identity. So one of the things we want to invite is the thickening the identity to include artist.
“But,” you ask, “What is the role of the artist that lives in me?” The first thing the artist does is open up a new space of insight. The artist, whether that’s the genius artist in history or whether that’s the voice of the artist that lives in me, opens up a new perspective. The essential creative move of the artist is to open up a space of insight that wasn’t available before, that wasn’t quite seen before, that wasn’t quite there, that is authentically, genuinely new.
The role of the artist is also dangerous and evokes resistance. The artist is an iconoclastic — icon-clast, the one who breaks the old idols. This is a word coined in reference to the old description of Abraham who breaks the idols in his father’s house. The iconoclast breaks through to something new. There’s a genuine experience of newness. There’s a genuine breakthrough. Because the artist sees something that is not only new, but is often subversive, the voice of the artist is resisted. The artist often points to something that no one else can see. And so the artist undermines our comfort zones, our sense of being comfortably numb. The artist pokes at and challenges the status quo. Artists challenge the old artifacts. Art opens us up to the possibility of possibility, which is precisely how evolutionary mystics understand divinity. God is the possibility of possibility. All this is part of the role of the artist. Because the artist opens us up to new possibility, we need to be aware of the resistance that lives in us, the narcissistic resistance, of the ego that doesn’t want to be open to new possibility, that doesn’t want its old, concrete sense of identity to be challenged.
The force of resistance, the force of inertia that stands against the voice of the artist is very, very powerful. One of the things we’re going to try is to break out and achieve orbit into that inherent creative possibility throbbing in the universe, uniquely expressed in us, as us and through us, that evolutionary creativity which is available to us.
Bateson talks beautifully about creativity happening when we step out of the nominal enclosure of language. He understands that language actually reifies a limited idea of reality. Abracadabra, taken from the ancient Semitic language of Aramaic, means “we create as we speak.” Being able to push beyond the old enclosures of language into a new way of speaking actually opens us up to the possibility of possibility, which is inherently pulsating in the universe at every second. That is why the spiritual artist is always searching for new words, a new saying. We reach for new language because language creates opportunity. When language pushes the breaking point of the old description of reality, then a new language a new mode of discourse emerges.
What we’re really saying is we actually have an obligation, a moral obligation to creativity. This is different than the more banal and narrow use of the term creativity. The artist is usually thought to be amoral, beyond the strictures of society. In our narrative of creativity, the artist is bypassing small self-conventions to fulfill his/her unique obligation to express a dimension of the ecstatic God impulse that only he/she can express. The artist is in the democratized sense that dimension of each of us that has something to say. Each person, by very virtue of their existence, has something unique to add. There’s an irreducible uniqueness that actually courses through us, and that irreducible uniqueness, an expression of the prior unity, an expression, a unique perspective of true self, of my authenticity, of my unique self, I’m obligated to give that. The world desperately needs my service. As Dickinson said of the artists, “Not ‘Revelation’ — ’tis — that waits, but our unfurnished eyes.” My service is to unfurnish my eyes from the old traps of language, from the old traps of ego, from the occlusions of personality.
We need to unfurnish our eyes so each person can actually access their unique perspective and speak new languages. In doing so, we move from our side to the divine side. We shift perspectives. We become outrageous lovers. To be an outrageous lover is to see with God’s eyes, which means we make our eyes available to the divine.
Accessing my unique perspective, which gives birth to my unique creativity, which actually is the very engine of evolution is only available through the divine. Self-creating as the being who can manifest your unique creativity is what it means to be an evolutionary artist and outrageous lover. They are but two faces of the one.
Every human being is an irreducibly unique expression of creativity, with a unique gift to give and a unique life to live. This gift can be given only by them since it’s a function of their unique perspective. In the accelerated world of technological exchange, all of these Unique Selves with their unique perspectives are having idea sex. Suddenly we have this incredible explosion of creativity. Our growing evolutionary intimacy fosters an ever more promiscuous mating of these ideas. A natural selection takes place through idea sex.
Great ideas generate new realities when different dimensions of creativity from disparate fields come together and generate new emergence. To give but one recent example of idea sex in the realm of technology, you take credit systems, the internet, and the cell phone, and you allow small shopkeeper in Africa to create a credit business on their cell phone. This opens up portals beyond poverty that were previously unimaginable. All innovation is born when ideas from different fields are linked together in a new way. Infused by the original genius of a Unique Self or the Evolutionary We Space of a community of Unique Selves, and the ceaseless erotic creativity of the universe awakens a new emergent.
This is happening in medicine, economics, in every field of the sciences, technology, in the way we do fertilization, the way we grow food. If we actually begin to play and engage this enormous Unique Self Symphony the possibilities are endless. The nature of Unique Self Symphony is every person playing their unique instrument to perfection, even as they listen deeply to all the other instruments. One instrument playing by itself, clenched and deaf to the larger symphony produces only discordant noise. An instrument that tries to hijack the symphony by ignoring the other instruments naturally gets thrown out. Rather it is from the diversity of uniqueness that we create new music. That new music is the ground of hope. That Unique Self Symphony has all the music we need to meet the challenges that threaten our very survival. But it is more than that. Our unique creativity is not motivated by fear. It is motivated by the love. Love is expressed as the creative Eros of the evolutionary impulse, which comes alive in us. It comes alive in us easily and naturally when we make a simple decision to align with the personal face of the evolutionary impulse that lives as us–our Evolutionary Unique Self.
The creative advance into novelty, which allured quarks into becoming atoms and atoms into molecules, is at work not merely in technological, scientific or business. It is pulsing in your unique creativity in this very moment. It is awake in every person and every community’s process of evolutionary self-transformation. As you awaken and draw wisdom from diverse places, you bring together ideas in a new way which becomes the operating system for your Unique Self emergence. Your life is successful if you awaken to your originality and live your unique essence. You live your uniqueness both by receiving and giving, and simply by living your unique essence. You show up by showing up as your unique taste and by giving the gifts that naturally well out of your unique perspective.
Actually, there’s enormous ground for hope. This is not a mindless sense of techno-optimism, which blithely ignores reality. It is the awakening of our deepest nature as Outrageous Lovers expressing through us the unique creativity that is our most essential self. It is true that we have limited resources, there are limited resources, but there’s infinite resourcefulness. Infinite resourcefulness is grounded in Source. To live as Source is to live from your Unique Self. Unique Self as the womb of evolutionary creativity is the ground of hope and optimism.
Creativity is the most natural expression of selfhood in the world. What specialization ultimately means is that you specialize as you. It is about reclaiming your own innate specialness. Specialness not at the level of ego which is comparative. “I am more special than you” which has an edge of aggression and even violence underneath it. But rather specialness at the level of Unique Self which is your essential nature. “I am special and from the place of my specialness I honor and delight in your specialness.” Your specialization is God having a Lori experience. God having a Jeff experience. No one can do Jeff like Jeff can. And if Jeff’s willing to have a Jeff experience — if he’s willing to move beyond the fear, and to step up — if Jeff is willing to step out of limitation, and live the full, infinite, creative glory of Jeff-ness, then there’s going to be a unique gift emerging from Jeff’s life that’s going to galvanize Terry. Because when Terry meets Jeff in the full awake aliveness of his Evolutionary Unique Self something’s going to be born from that meeting. Terry’s going to be moved and awakened, because when authentic Unique Self encounters occur, in a place beyond the politics of the contracted ego self, evolution happens. The reason reality occurs in this way is because we each have a piece of each other’s story. We each have a piece of each other’s creativity. When we meet as creative artists in the Evolutionary Unique Self Symphony, an Evolutionary We Space is formed.
The cultural goal of Evolutionary We Space is no less than the evolution of the good, the true and the beautiful. That is the evolution of consciousness. The inside of consciousness is love itself. To foster Evolutionary We Space through the coming together of Evolutionary Unique Selves is to participate in the evolution of love. It’s the ability to address poverty; the ability to ensure that there is not a child on this Earth who doesn’t have food. It is to guarantee that there is no youngster who doesn’t have full access to education. It’s the ability to honor the unique dignity and story of every unique human being. It is to know that every story deserves to be lived and heard, and received, and told, and engaged. That’s a full possibility — if we but live from the consciousness of Unique Self and commit the outrageous acts of love that are the natural expression of our deepest unique identity. Together we form a larger collective We Space that can move anything with the power of collective Outrageous Love.
Let’s now walk this last step together. How do we change the world? How do we create a global consciousness that can truly change everything?
The answer we have given to this point: We open our heart and awaken as Outrageous Lovers committing the Outrageous Acts of Love that are a function of our Unique Selves.
But how is it possible my sole Outrageous Acts of Love can cause a shift for billions of people?
Because self-organization, with its key component of specialization, is the core mechanism of Evolutionary We Space and the full awakening of Outrageous Love, healing the planet and rising all people above poverty is an entirely possible future.
Self-organization is probably the single most important, new element of love disclosed in a whole new way, for the first time, in the mid to late twentieth century. It’s an evolutionary realization rooted in ancient wisdom that has emerged anew from the sciences in in the last fifty years. The Belgian physicist and noble laureate, Ilya Prigogine, showed that many non-living systems and all living systems are dissipative structures, meaning they maintain their organization by the continuous flow of energy throughout the system. The flow of energy keeps the system in a constant state of flux. For the most part, the fluctuations in a system are small and can be adjusted for by negative feedback. However, according to Prigogogine the fluctuation occasionally become so great that positive feedback takes over. When the fluctuations overwhelm the system the system either collapses or it reorganizes itself. Upon reorganization the new dissipative structure will often exhibit a higher order of integration, complexity and flow-through then its predecessor. This process of a system reorganizing at a higher level of order is a key self-organizing structure of evolutionary development.
The other seminal figure in the study of self-organization is, unquestionably, Alan Turing. Turing, the great code cracker of World War II*****, launched the study of self organization in an essay he wrote only a couple of years before his tragic death. Morphogenesis may well be one of the most important essays ever written in the history of ideas and is essential to the evolution of love. Virtually no one picked up fully on its seminal importance when he wrote it. Ten years after he died, the essay was picked up by a woman named Evelyn Fox Keller, a Harvard PhD in physics. She was trying to understand how slime molds operate.
If you’ve ever been in a dense suburban park or rural part of the world, chances are you’ve been near a growing slime mold. Next time you walk through a normally cool or damp section of a forest on a dry or sunny day, sift through the bark mulch that lies on the garden floor. You will probably find a somewhat grotesque substance coating a few inches of rotting wood. On first inspection the reddish, orange mess suggests that perhaps the neighbors’ dog ate something bad. However, if you observe the slime mold over several days, or even better, if you capture the slime mold with time-lapse photography, you’ll discover that it is not stationary. The slime mold is alive and moves ever so slowly across the soil. If weather conditions grow wetter and cooler, you can return to the same spot and you’ll find the creatures disappeared altogether. What happened? Did the slime mold wander off to some other part of the forest? Did it vanish into thin air like a puddle of water evaporating? It turns out that the slime mold does something far more mysterious. It’s a trick of biology that confounded scientists for centuries, until Keller and a scientist named Lee Segel began their collaboration. They based their work on Alan Turing’s essay, Morphogenesis.
The slime mold behavior was so odd that, in fact, to unravel it required thinking out of the boundaries of traditional disciplines. It turns out that there is no disappearing act that happens on the garden floor. The slime mold actually spends much of its life as thousands of distinct, single-celled units, each moving separately from its other comrades. Then, under the right conditions, all of those cells coalesce into a single larger organism which then again begins its leisurely crawl across the garden floor, consuming rotting leaves and wood as it moves about. When the environment is less hospitable, the slime mold disperses. Then as the environment becomes more hospitable again it comes back together. In essence the slime mold oscillates between being a single creature and a diverse swarm. How does that happen? Science assumed there must be, what they called, pacemaker cells which gave the orders to all the cells thereby organizing the process. The pacemaker cells were thought to send a kind of cyclic chemical as a signal to rally or disperse the troops. After all someday must be organizing all the elegant action. Somebody must be in command. As science writer Steve Berlin Johnson puts it, they assumed the general must be somewhere in the mix, they just didn’t know what the uniform looked like. The problem was, no one ever found the pacemaker cells. Scientists searched to no avail.
Love Your Neighbor
But Keller and Segel took a completely different approach. They were inspired by Turing’s work on morphogenesis which had sketched out a mathematical model where simple agents following simple rules could generate amazingly complex structures by addressing and following the instructions of their neighbor, or addressing a particular invitation of their neighbor. I want to emphasize the word neighbor — to which we will return shortly — because that is the word used in much of the scientific literature. Keller and Segel figured out, based on Turing’s model, there were no pacemaker cells organizing the action through their top-down commands. Rather the slime mold was self-organizing! The interior intelligence within the slime mold self-organized. That’s shocking. It turned out however that slime molds are far from the only examples of self-organization. We used to think the queen ant organized the colony. After scientists deployed more subtle research methods, we realized it’s absolutely not the queen ant as her sole function is to reproduce. Rather an anthill is radically self-organized.
Perhaps it is worth reminding ourselves at this point that ants are not insignificant. Indeed ants and termites have given us a bit of a run for our money in terms of evolutionary success. Measured by sheer numbers, ants and other social insects, termites for example, dominate the planet in a way that makes human populations look like an evolutionary afterthought. Ants and termites make up 30% of the Amazonian rain forest biomass. With nearly 10,000 known species, ants rival modern humans in their global reach. The only large landmasses free of ant natives are Antarctica, Iceland, Greenland, and Polynesia. Take that human. Now it is of course true that ants have not written Beethoven Sonatas. But that was not their intention or the nature of their consciousness. Ant species have a massive environmental impact, moving immense amounts of soil, distributing nutrients in even the most hostile environments. Clearly, they lack our forebrains. But human intelligence is only one measure of evolutionary success.
As you recall, ants self-organize using what the scientific literature refers to as local information. Local information means that ants think locally, and they act locally. From their local action, a collective, global behavior is produced. Self-organization in action. It took later research to realize that ants are self-organizing in wildly fantastic ways that were unimaginable from a scientific perspective before Turing introduced his mathematical model. For example, the ants are able to create cemeteries at the precisely farthest geometric distance from where they store food. Every ant is doing a very specific function. They shift functions seemingly automatically. It is not clear where the order is coming from to shift functions. The ants may then respond to new conditions and shift functions again, and again, and again. They engage in an incredible, precise array, apparently without interior consciousness.
The latest scientific research of the last decade reveals a self-organizing process in which the ant is actually paying attention to its neighbors. Very simple acts by each ant are then multiplied. They create a ripple effect similar to the global economy that according to the iconic economist Adam Smith is run by an invisible hand. The invisible hand, of course, is but Smith’s term for what he could not yet name, the inherently intelligent property of self-organization.
Another example of self-organization from a different arena is the emergence of modern cities. Friedrich Engels, Marx’s famous cohort, already noticed this property of self-organization when he went to visit Manchester in the mid-nineteenth century. This theme of self-organizing cities was later picked up by Janet Jacobs in the early 60s. Both cities and ants self-organize says Jacobs–influenced by Turing’s work–through an inherent process of self-organization. Individual local decisions are made at street level which ultimately manifests in stunningly self-organized cities.******
Cities self-organize. Ants self-organize. The global economy self-organizes. The human body self-organizes. The human body itself is very much like bees in a hive or ants in an anthill from the perspective of self-organization. The ancestors of your cells were once individual entities. At some point they made an intelligent, erotic, evolutionary decision to cooperate. Now remember, modern epigenetics have taught us that your body is not just run by DNA. Cells draw selectively on DNA. The cells then learn from their neighbors how to act and interact. Ants use the chemical secretion of pheromones to inform each other of their activities. Pheromones are chemical substances produced and released into the environment by an animal, especially a mammal or an insect, affecting the behavior or physiology of others of its species. Just as ants use secret pheromones to inform each other of their activities, cells communicate with their neighbors through salts, sugars, amino acids, even larger molecules like proteins and nucleic acids. Messages are transmitted through cell junctions, neighbor to neighbor. Through the intelligent messages communicated at the street level of local organization, a single cell knows to organize into your arm and not your leg. It knows to become your breasts and not something else. It knows to become your nose and not something else. DNA provides an intelligent pattern. The intelligent cells do a selective reading of the DNA. This catalyzes a process of radical self-organization.
The key here is life isn’t just transcribing static passages from our genetic scripture. Cells figure out which passages to pay attention to by observing signals from neighbor cells around them. They then self-organize from a cell into an entire organism. Those local cell interactions self-organize and form neighborhoods of cell types just like neighborhoods of cities are formed. It’s not based on an external creator god manifesting via arbitrary divine fiat, rather the inherent self-organizing intelligence. Let’s now see how Unique Self motivates the self-organizing cosmos.
Love the Stranger
When apes meet stranger apes, they famously move to kill the stranger ape. The stranger is virtually never welcome in the animal kingdom. Human beings have evolved love and developed a revolutionary idea. It’s called, “love the stranger”.
Love the stranger is not a casual idea. It is the single most important ancient mystical idea, repeated thirty-six times in the central canon western spirit, multiple times more than any other single notion. The original expression of this idea is the famous commandment: “love your neighbor as yourself.”
This principle or law is given a special term in the sacred texts which unpack what we might call the physics, or the interior face of the cosmos. It is called, Klal Gadol Ba-Torah, The Great Principle of Torah, meaning the foundational principle of inner and outer reality. Loving your neighbor is not merely a sweet ethical injunction, it is the core principle of evolutionary Eros. It is kelal gadol ba-torah because it is the great organizing principle of reality. Why? As science proves, loving your neighbor is no less than the guiding principle of self-organization. This is true in two distinct ways. First, to love your neighbor is to recognize and give the unique gifts that are yours to give that address a unique need in your unique circle of intimacy and influence. Second, the principle, which guides the self-organizing universe, is Eros or love by any other name. Love is expressed as the creative advance of novelty. Newer and ever higher levels of complexity are produced by reality’s ceaseless creativity. Evolution is a process initiated and driven by Eros towards higher and higher levels of complexity, depth and uniqueness.
Indeed, in some profound way, Eros, Uniqueness and Creativity are but three faces of the one. The universe is both driven by Eros and births more Eros as it evolves. Eros or love, is the drive to ever-higher levels of mutuality recognition union and embrace.
From a third person perspective the universe births more and more reality at higher and higher levels of complexity. From a first person or second person perspective, the inside of complexity is consciousness. Consciousness expresses itself in the ability to think, self-reflect, build hospitals, create music, poetry, and art, foster goodness, truth, and beauty, and so much more. A dog is more is more complex than an amoeba. A dog is also more conscious than an amoeba. A human being is more complex than a dog. A human being is also more conscious than a dog. Dogs are beautiful with enormous depth of their own. But when was the last time you saw a dog building a hospital, curing cancer or going through a psychological or spiritual transformation? A dog has a greater ability to love more of reality than an amoeba. A human being has a greater ability to love more of reality than a dog. The natural trajectory of evolution is both driven by love or Eros and at the same time produces more and more love and Eros*******.
Love awakens at a new level at the beginning of cultural evolution, that is to say the beginning of the human story. Both in individual human stories, in the life of an individual and in the life of culture, love evolves. In human beings love, through time and development, gets deeper, wider, richer and more nuanced. The core principle guiding love at the human level is love your neighbor. At the simple evolutionary level what evolves is the definition of who is your neighbor. As we saw the understanding of who your neighbor is evolves from the egocentric to the ethnocentric to the worldcentric to the cosmoscentric level of consciousness. This is the trajectory of the evolution of love. At the same time love evolves by deepening its clarity, purity, intensity or depth within any particular level of consciousness.
But love your neighbor is even more than that. Love your neighbor is –Klal Gadol BaTorah– the “great principle of reality” — because it is the organizing principle which guides the self-organizing universe.
What does this mean? On one level it means that love or Eros is the driver of evolution which produces more and more uniqueness. In this sense one might say that the ever higher levels of uniqueness and depth are the strange attractors which draws evolution forward.
Science is now clarifying an evolutionary theory called emergence. Emergence recognizes that evolution is not simply generating higher levels of complexity by recombining the constituent parts of yesterday to form a new whole. New emergents are greater than the sum of their parts. There is a higher wholeness, a higher complexity, creativity and Eros all expressed as more evolved uniqueness, which may be seen as the evolutionary attractors constantly drawing evolution forward. That is what it means when we say that love and uniqueness are both the result and the motive forces of evolution.
Love your neighbor is also the guiding force in manifesting the self-organized Unique Self Symphony, which commits Outrageous Acts of Love all over — in relation to every dimension of reality. To understand this clearly let’s look again at the nature of love itself.
As we have seen love is not merely an emotion. Love at its core is a posture, a perception and an action. Let’s briefly remember this dharma for the sake of this last set of insights.
- Love is a posture. To be love is to be open and not closed. This is the basic posture of love. You open to be lived as Outrageous Love by writing Outrageous Love Letters.
- Love is a shift in perception. In writing Outrageous Love Letters you shift your perception. To love is to have eyes to see. To love is to shift your perspective from that of small self to that of big mind and big heart. Said simply to be a lover is to see with God’s eyes. To see other is to see their essence. Essence is Unique Self, the irreducibly unique expression of the love-intelligence and love-beauty that lives in you. Love is a Unique Self perception. To love a person is to see their Unique Self. Love is not just a generic cosmic force of Eros. Love penetrates essence. Love sees the uniqueness that lies at the core of essence.
- Love is an action. To love is to give. Particularly, to love is to commit the Outrageous Acts of Love that are yours to commit. These are the Outrageous Acts of Love that are a function of your Unique Self which address a unique need in your unique circle of intimacy and influence.
Now is the moment to remind ourselves that there are four commandments to love in the classical texts of the western mystical cannon.
- Love your neighbor.
- Love yourself.
- Love the stranger.
- Love God.
In the first step of the evolution of love, the sacred text’s natural command to love your neighbor demanded that you also love yourself. Self-love. In the second step, love your neighbor was extended to include the stranger. Thirdly, however, you can only love the stranger if you love all of yourself. For as tenth century mystic Rashi points out, if you do not love yourself–that is to say love the stranger in yourself–then you will project your own anger at your inner stranger on the other. This is where the demonization of the other, the external stranger, begins. Love the stranger in yourself and in the world. Realize the stranger is also your neighbor. Lastly, loving your neighbor who is also the stranger is what it means to love God.
As we saw the understanding of who your neighbor is evolves — that is to say it expands to ever more inclusive circles of people who are more and more distant from the inner egocentric circle that gives you security and safety. This is again, what we mean when we say that love evolves from the egocentric to the ethnocentric to the worldcentric to the cosmoscentric level of consciousness. This is the trajectory of the evolution of love. To love the stranger means to recognize the stranger. To recognize the stranger is to know what the stranger needs. This is what it means to love the stranger.
This principle of self-organization is critical in understanding the Outrageous Love which motivates an evolutionary Unique Self and animates every authentic evolutionary we space! It brings us directly back to the beginning of our reality consideration.
All of us know of the world’s suffering. We know that we live in a world of outrageous pain. It is overwhelming. Our senses are flooded. In an effort to merely survive, we close our hearts. We contract into the narrowest version of ourselves. We’re unable to engage the immensity of the global challenge until we reopen our hearts and once again stand for healing and transformation.
Clearly, there is no simple top-down solution. There is no great leader or savior nation that is going to make it all right. But that does not mean there is no hope. That does not mean we cannot source our divine potency and power. We can reclaim both our personal and communal potency and power in the face of significant personal global suffering and dire collective challenges to the core structures of society.
We are God’s verbs in a world crying for liberation, and we are supported in this journey. We live in the lap of an Outrageous Love intelligence that is whispering “I love you” to us in every moment. Love drives and animates the evolutionary process all the way down and all the way up.
A new social vision based on Evolutionary Unique Selves forming Evolutionary We Space emerges from the frothy edge of spirituality, psychology and evolutionary theory. Based on the core principles of specialization and the multiplication of labor, which emerge from the core Unique Self principles of unique perspective and unique quality of intimacy, the idea is very simple. Your unique insight births your unique gift, which address your unique need in your circle of intimacy and influence.
You do not have the ability to heal everything. It is all way too big. The gap between your ability to heal and feel is simply too big. So you close your heart. But when you understand the deeper nature of reality you realize that you do not need to heal everything. You only have to heal what is yours to heal. You have to commit the outrageous acts of love that are yours to commit. Uniqueness is the organizing principle of reality. Uniqueness — precisely –the nature of your Unique Self -tells you what is yours to do. When you commit your unique outrageous acts of love you regain your potency because you are able to heal that is which is yours to heal. This is true even in the face of the enormity of suffering.
Your evolutionary creativity emerges from your Unique Self. It is precisely your unique perspective, which catalyzes and manifests your creativity. If Unique Selves are acting as Outrageous Lovers, manifesting their unique creativity, then a Unique Self Symphony begins to play its music. The Unique Self Symphony is self-organizing outrageous acts of love which are driven by the principle of uniqueness and love. Love, a Unique Self perception, opens you to the unique need of others that can only be addressed by your outrageous acts of love.
Self-organization is the core principle of evolution. Unique Self guides the process of self-organization. In an ant colony, chemical secretions transmitted to neighbor ants guide the process. Each ant sees what its “neighbor” is doing at street level. The ant then responds to that local need. By acting locally in thousands of simple ways a global effect is created, as Turing’s mathematical model revealed. For human beings the process of self-organization can only take place consciously. It does not take place through the secretion of pheromones as it does with Ants. Rather it happens through Unique Self recognition.
Imagine what it would mean of every human being actually recognizes that there’s a unique need they can address. What might it mean for every human being to know there is a unique need in their circle of intimacy and influence that can be addressed by them and them alone? Love your neighbor as the guiding mechanism of self-organization means that you take the cues from your neighbors, just like ants do, just like slime mold cells do, just like cells in the body do.
The larger social organism of the anthill or the slime mold is clearly intelligent. The universe is nothing if not intelligent. Love-intelligence and love-beauty are obviously not human properties alone but are sourced in a larger field. But, at the level of cultural evolution, at the level of the human being, the love-intelligence and love-beauty guiding self-organization becomes conscious. That is what it means to love your neighbor.
More precisely, love your neighbor as yourself. Every human being is an irreducible Unique Self, with unique creativity and Unique Gifts. Jeremy Rikin reminds us in his great work, Empathic Civilization, only deepening your sense of self opens and widens up your sense of empathy for other. The deeper your own sense of self, the deeper you are able to love. It is the eyes of love–the Unique Self perception of love–that allows you to identify the unique need that is yours to address with your outrageous acts of love.
Unique Selves enacting outrageous acts of love all over the world generate the Unique Self Symphony. The Unique Self Symphony is but reality self-organizing into an Evolutionary We-Space of Outrageous Love. Such a We-Space has the power to successfully address virtually every personal and social challenge we face.
When we get stuck in our narrow selves, trying to address some grasping greed, which we crave to fill an empty hole, then we inevitably stop giving our Unique Gifts. Our ego hijacks our Unique Self. Desperate grasping and the survival of the fittest become the evolutionary paradigms. But the deeper model of evolution is Evolutionary Love, the movement toward higher and higher levels of mutuality, recognition, union, and embrace in which each level of evolution gives its gifts and self-organizes through the natural intelligence of reality to a higher level.
When we self-organize to higher levels of complexity and consciousness it is because more and more specialization is coming online. More and more uniqueness is emerging. You could actually view the history of evolution as the evolution of uniqueness. It is the movement from unconscious uniqueness to conscious uniqueness that creates Evolutionary We-Space. At the level of anthills every ant needs to fulfill his particularly function. The same is true at the human level. It doesn’t mean that human beings are ants. Here’s the difference: The ant is driven by the imperative, instinctual intelligence built into reality. The human being, who is awakened as Evolutionary Unique Self, evolves from unconscious uniqueness to conscious uniqueness. The human being can only create heaven on earth by consciously choosing to incarnate and live Unique Self.
When you consciously choose to evolve and awaken as Unique Self, and give your unique gifts committing outrageous acts of love then everyone around you, inspired, attracted by the strange attractor of your example, begins to move toward their Unique Self. Reality self-organizes.
Communism said, “Let’s solve all the problems of reality top-down.” If we realized anything in the twentieth century it is that top-down doesn’t work. Adam Smith had an intuition. It was the intuition of capitalism. The intuition was, the invisible hand of the market. What Adam Smith was talking about, before the words existed, was self-organization. Smith writes in 1176 in The Wealth of Nations, “Every individual is constantly exerting himself to find out the most advantageous employment for whatever capital he can command. It is his own advantage, indeed, and not that of society, which he has in view. But the study of his own advantage naturally, or rather necessarily, leads him to prefer that employment which is most advantageous to society.” Without using that language, Smith suggests the markets will self-organize and create a just system. However, in his first book, Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith outlined the core ethical impulse in the human being to awaken as love. Historically, Smith has been read only through the lens of his second book, producing a tragic mis-reading of the nature of self and what he means by ‘his own advantage’. But Smith clearly understood the potent concept that global economy, based on a series of simple principles like supply and demand, is an extremely sophisticated self-organized system.
Smith’s assumption from The Wealth of Nations is people are acting solely for their own advantage. His earlier work, however, is talking from the perspective of separate ego self. Separate ego self was the classic consciousness of the 18th century western European enlightenment from which Smith lived and wrote.
Self-organization at the level of Unique Self looks very different than self-organization at the level of separate ego self. The latter is driven by the legitimate but limited deficiency needs of the separate self. Developmental thinker, Abraham Maslow, included survival, belonging, self-esteem and self-actualization in what he called deficiency needs. All of these are core ego needs of the separate self. But if you awaken into higher level of consciousness, first true self, then Unique Self and then Evolutionary unique self Unique Self, then the entire nature of self-organization itself evolves.
It’s not just the markets that are self-organizing, but actually the good, the true, and the beautiful are self-organizing creatively in higher and higher levels, guided by the principle of uniqueness. You begin to get a vision of how Unique Self becomes the psychoactive structure that actually liberates human potential, human creativity, and allows us to address every single challenge we face today.
Through the power of love — in this case, self-love which is self-perception, you sense the taste and embrace the perspective of your uniqueness. You identity what acts of Outrageous Love flow from your uniqueness. Through the power of love you further identify the unique needs in your unique circle of intimacy and influence that can be addressed by you and you alone. To know what your neighbor needs is to love your neighbor. To love the stranger is to know what the stranger needs.
There is an old story about love which was told by Unique Self masters in the late 19th century. A Russian peasant named Ivan is drunk in a tavern. “Do you love me?” he says to his friend Alyosha, in the way that drunkards often do. “Of course I love you,” responds Alyosha. “Tell me what you need, anything, and I will do it for you”. And says Ivan to Alyosha with the sadness that comes from the depth of inebriation, “I see that you do not really love me, for if you loved me you would know what I need”.
To love you neighbor is to respond to the person right next to you. It is to identify the unique need in your unique circle of intimacy and influence. It is this consciousness that manifests the Unique Self Symphony of Outrageous Love. Just like ants in an ant colony, you are not moved by the global issues but by what is needed at street level. You think locally, are impacted by local needs and you act locally. What is manifested however through each Unique Self acting locally is the globally transformative Unique Self Symphony, with each Unique Self playing her instrument, committing her unique acts of Outrageous Love.
Unique Self catalyzes the emergence of the highest and most elegant level of Outrageous Love — Evolutionary We Space and the Unique Self Symphony. This Outrageous Love, which explodes as a new level of consciousness, has the power to heal and transform both the personal and collective suffering–the outrageous pain which defines our world.
Insight: The irreducibly unique love intelligence of your Evolutionary Unique Self is the guiding principle of the self-organizing and self-actualizing cosmos. Evolutionary Unique Selves form Evolutionary We Space. In Evolutionary We Space a Unique Self Symphony is formed. As a participant in the Unique Self Symphony you feel potent, powerful and intimate with all of reality. This creates the communal form of Outrageous Love, which is called Evolutionary Intimacy.
But the Evolutionary Intimacy which is emergent from the Unique Self symphony is more than even that.
Unique Selves come together in the Unique Self Symphony and larger and larger networks of collective intelligence and wisdom. Unique Selves who are vocationally aroused in the same direction collaborate to create new nodes of love intelligence, which address unique needs in their unique circles of intimacy and influence. Peer networks are formed which are based on the irreducibly unique nature of each of the participants’ Unique Selves. These Unique Selves come together and constitute distinct movements and overtures in the Unique Self Symphony. These diverse Unique Selves form potent and powerful Evolutionary We Spaces, which are capable of catalyzing the evolution of love through their own awakened activism.
The evolutionary intimacy, engendered by the Unique Self Symphony, includes however not only all those living beings who show up in virtual space. The intimacy of the Unique Self Symphony transcends the barriers of time and includes all those who came before who contributed towards the multiplication of ideas that led to this particular creative moment. In this sense we might say that the Unique Self Symphony is not only improvisation, it is also the best in classical music. It receives with reverent love the authority of all previous cannons of wisdom even as it builds upon them, transforms them and evolves them. The Unique Self Symphony is the collective wisdom of all the great levels of consciousness from all the great previous eras of history, traditional, modern and postmodern. The Unique Self Symphony receives them all and integrates them all into a higher vibration. In effect the Unique Self symphony is a network of awakened lovers which includes all of the awakened lovers of the past and present.
A Politics of Outrageous Love
We began the book with the core of our post-post-modern, post-dogmatic, sacred creed. We live in a world of outrageous pain. The only response to outrageous pain is outrageous love. We then developed the distinction between ordinary love and outrageous love. Outrageous love is Source itself. We outlined the path to awaken as an outrageous lover — to commit the outrageous acts of love that are yours and yours alone to commit. We unpacked the practice — beyond meditation and prayer — of writing outrageous love letters. We then outlined the other key laws of love necessary to overcome the obstacles to awakening as an outrageous lover. We articulated the verbs of love, the stages of love, and the distortions of love that create shadow. We then turned to the great question: Why we close our hearts in the face of outrageous pain? We realized that our hearts close in the gap between our ability to feel and heal. To love is unbearably painful. Not to love is even more unbearably painful. When we close our hearts to outrageous pain our hearts close to their true feeling in every part of our life. To open our hearts we must close the gap between our ability to heal and our ability to feel.
This begins with the realization that it is not yours to heal it all. It is yours to respond as an outrageous lover — committing outrageous acts of love — that address a unique need that arises in your unique circle of intimacy and influence. You awaken as outrageous love by giving the unique gift that addresses this unique need in your unique circle of influence. Your unique gift is a natural function of your unique self — which is comprised of your unique perspective and your unique taste — the unique quality of intimacy that incarnates as you. In giving your unique gift your reclaim your potency. You reclaim your power to heal. By reclaiming your power to heal you reclaim your ability to feel the pain. You are able again to live with an open heart. You remain awake as outrageous love. You know that you cannot heal all of the pain. But you can hold that for you are able to powerfully address the pain that is yours to heal. That is the pain that can be addressed by the potency of your unique self.
We then took our final step. We articulated an outrageous social vision, in which each person committing their unique outrageous acts of love participates in enacting a Unique Self Symphony that has the capacity to heal the entire story. An emergent politics of outrageous love began to take form before our eyes. A politics of outrageous love that is as practical as it is lyrical.
We see now how the evolution of specialization is a key structural mechanism in fostering infinite creativity and innovation. Linking specialization with the mating of ideas through exchange, what Matt Ridley called Idea Sex, accelerated by technology, we began to discern the possible path for the evolution for culture. Idea sex is the engine for cultural evolution just like sexual selection — as Darwin pointed out in this later work — is a critical engine of biological evolution. But how does this all come together in a coherent and organized fashion? Who is calling the shots in deep time that generate the genuine evolution of the good the true and the beautiful? Is it a mythic creator God who lives outside of reality pulling the strings? Or does the mythic god live as the evolutionary impulse, the inherent ceaseless creativity of reality itself? We began to understand that we live in an intelligent self-organizing universe. The universe organizes to higher and higher levels of complexity, consciousness and ultimately, love. Evolution itself is love in action.
Well before sexual selection kicks in as one of the possible mechanisms for biological evolution, the Eros of evolution is doing its work. Eros is driven by a ceaseless creativity, an Eros that moves, transcends and includes randomness and entropy. The core principle of evolution is, as Eric Jantsch famously phrased it, self-organization through self-transcendence. That simply means that reality moves to higher and higher levels of complexity with each level transcending and including the level that came before it. The inside of complexity is consciousness. And the inside of consciousness is love. Love is the inside of the inside.
The inside of the inside was the mystical name for the inner sanctum in the ancient temple in Jerusalem, which was said to be the seat of Eros and love. For love is, by its very nature, the inside of the inside of reality itself. The more complex the evolutionary emergent the more conscious and in potential the more capable of love. Each level of evolution includes more and more of reality. Nothing is left out. Quarks are transcended and included in atoms. Atoms are transcended and included in molecules. Molecules are transcended and included into complex molecules. Complex molecules are then transcended and included into cells. Cells are transcended and included into organisms and so the process continues all the way up the evolutionary chain. Each level is a new emergent which includes and adds to the previous level. Each level is thus including, caring for, and nurturing more levels of reality than the previous level. Each level loves more than the previous level. This is the path of evolutionary Eros. Eros is the movement, as we have seen, to higher and higher levels of mutuality, recognition, union and embrace. This is precisely the path of evolution. This evolutionary path continues up from Eden all the way until the advent of the first human beings. As we have seen, this is the beginning of cultural evolution. Here again we can trace the path of evolution as a process of transcending and including the previous level.
Let’s look again for example at the four major levels of moral development roughly termed egocentric, ethnocentric, worldcentric and cosmocentric. Each level transcends and includes the level that preceded it. At the egocentric level you have a felt sense of love only for yourself and your immediate circle. As you evolve you move to the ethnocentric level in which you have a felt sense of love for you and your entire tribe or nation. In healthy evolution you transcend and include. You still love yourself and your peeps but now you can feel love for your entire tribe. You then transcend and include one more level up towards worldcentric consciousness. At this level you have a felt sense of love not only for yourself and your people, for your tribe, but for all human beings. Finally you transcend and include one more level up to cosmocentric. Here you have a felt sense of love and concern for all the previous levels and for all sentient being and for all of reality. The meandering trajectory of evolution from quarks to cosmocentric consciousness is no less than the evolution of love.
In sweeping terms we might say that each of the six big bangs that we unpacked in chapter X, transcends and includes the big bang before it. Each level transcends and includes its previous level. Each level then is holding more, including more, loving more of reality. This is the process of the evolution of love. For evolution is once again seen as love in action. Biological evolution, the second big bang, transcends and includes cosmological evolution, the first big bang. Biology includes all the elements of chemistry and all the laws of physics. Cultural evolution, the third big bang, transcends and includes both biological and cosmological evolution. Cultural evolution includes all the laws of chemistry, physics and biology. Evolution awakening to itself, the fourth big bang, transcends and includes all of the previous levels of cultural evolution as well as all of the laws of biology, chemistry and physics. Evolution awakening as Your Evolutionary Unique Self, the fifth big bang, transcends and includes the fourth big bang — which is evolution awakening to its own self-awareness as a process, even before the individual awakens as the engine of evolution. It also includes all of cultural, biological and cosmological evolution. Finally the emergence of evolutionary we-space, the sixth big bang includes Evolutionary Unique Self, evolution awakening to itself, as well as cultural, biological and cosmological evolution. Each great flaring forth, each big bang transcends and includes all the big bangs that came before it even as it adds an entirely new emergent. The creative advance into novelty runs like a thread throughout, motivated by the evolutionary Eros itself.
There is only one way to heal the collective trauma of our generation, which lives in you profoundly and personally. You must close the gap between your ability to feel and your ability to heal. How can you do that? You become potent and powerful. You claim your greatness. You wake up to your true identity. You begin to play a larger game. At this point you know our next sentence. You realize that you are not merely a skin-encapsulated ego.
You are an irreducibly unique expression of the love-intelligence and love-beauty that is the initiating and animating Eros of all that is, that lives in you, as you, and through you, that never was, is, or will be ever again. You are a Unique Self. You are not merely a fingerprint. You are a Soul Print. You have a life to live and a gift to give which perfectly co-responds to a Unique Need in the world of un-love that can only be addressed and healed by you. When you awaken as Unique Self you are awakening into your own enlightenment. You are not meditating or praying your way to enlightenment. That rarely works anyways. You are loving your way to enlightenment. That never fails.
In the old world of top-down intelligence, we waited for Godot. This was the name of Samuel Becket’s famous play about waiting for a messiah to come and heal us. A messiah who will never come. In our new sacred evolutionary understanding of reality we realize that God both holds us and lives in us, as us and through us. Christ, Spirit, Love-intelligence, Love-beauty, Wisdom all awaken in our awakening.
The leading edges of science are now recognizing that the universe has an inherent, self-organizing quality of Eros. This quality of Eros or love-intelligence moves reality towards higher and higher levels of mutuality, recognition, union and embrace. This is not a top-down quality imposed by a king, a mythological, cosmic vending machine god imposing external and arbitrary laws. It is rather the sacred natural law of reality itself as recognized by all the great mystics in all the great traditions.
To get a sense of what we mean by self-organizing intelligence think, one last time of an anthill. As the pioneering work of E.O. Wilson already pointed out, a king or queen ant does not run the anthill. The gorgeous and precise orchestrated complexity and effectiveness of the anthill comes from “each ant ‘seeing’ at street level what is needed by its neighbors”. This is the principle of self-organization that the leading edges of science are now recognizing as the inherent nature of reality.
With a deep bow to anthills we as human beings have the capacity to awaken exponentially beyond the capacity of ants. It is true that we have limited resources as the political pundits or dire prophets remind us so often. But we have infinite creativity when we awaken as source.
No human beings need to heal the whole story. You cannot heal the whole story by yourself. Your desperate, yet beautiful desire to heal it all creates that gap between your ability to feel and your ability to heal which closes your heart. But, as a uniquely tuned instrument in the great self-organizing Unique Self-symphony, you can heal it all.A person is aroused to identifying their unique gift through the practice of writing outrageous love letters. The writing of outrageous love letters awakens the person to their essential identity as an irreducibly unique expression of the love intelligence and love beauty of all.
When you awaken as the irreducibly unique verb of the love-intelligence living in you and as you, you begin to play your song. You sing the song that only you can sing. You write the outrageous love letter that only you can write. Deeper still you become the outrageous love letter that only you can be. You participate in the Unique Self-symphony of reality’s infinite creativity by playing your instrument, which is utterly necessary and needed by all that is. By acting locally as an outrageous lover within your circle of intimacy and influence, you play the notes, which begin to go viral.
Moreover by sharing these outrageous acts others are inspired to commit outrageous acts of love and the Unique Self symphony of outrageous love is deepened and expanded. The outrageous acts of love are shared organically through their being witnessed in every person’s circle of intimacy and influence. The outrageous acts of love are also shared however by a person writing the story of their outrageous act of love in an outrageous love letter. The personal heart opens again and again in outrageous love. The heart of reality opens again and again to the outrageous love that is both source and destination.
This completely shifts our relationship to self, the world and love. Instead of constantly looking for the right person you look to become the right person. The right person means not right in any externally imposed code but right for you. Right for your soul’s code. Right for you means for Your Unique Self, which is an irreducibly unique expression of love intelligence, which lives in you and as you. Since there is only One Love and One Heart then a person’s opening up to their own irreducibly unique manifestation of outrageous love directly participates in the evolution of love.
By committing the outrageous acts of love that are an expression of your Unique Self you awaken the music of source which needs you to heal reality. You are filled with energy, joy and creative Eros. Your heart explodes in passion and emotion. Your beautiful mind is awake, creative and elegant. You have awakened as an outrageous lover writing outrageous love letters to all that is through your very being and becoming. This is a vision of evolutionary intimacy.
One of the laws of reality with which we began was, “we live in an intimate universe.” To be intimate meant to be both witnessed, recognized, seen and addressed. But it also meant mutuality. Both mutuality of action and mutuality of identity. Evolutionary intimacy is realized through the symphony of evolutionary Unique Selves each committing outrageous acts of love. In this, the human becomes God’s partner and a mutuality of partnerships is formed. Deeper still when the human being awakens as Evolutionary Unique Self realizing that he or she is an irreducibly unique expression of the love intelligence and love beauty of all that is — with unique outrageous acts of love to commit — the mutuality of identity between the human being and God is achieved. The human being becomes God’s verb.
You are an Outrageous Love Letter. The actual process of writing can help, but you are a LOVE Letter. Your life is a love letter. Your everyday actions are a love letter. Your energetic vibration in the world becomes a love letter.
In this vision personal love and intimacy and activism are seamlessly merged which is the critical need and invitation of our generation. The natures of the challenges that confront us are insoluble in the old top down model of government and the ruling elites. It is only a bottom up model of a self-organizing universe rooted in the Unique Self principle of Outrageous Love that shows us a profoundly hopeful path forward.
Everywhere one looks there is outrageous pain. There is public pain and private pain. Seventeen million slaves exist in the world today — that’s more than there were at the height of the slave trade in the US two hundred years ago. Today 17,000 children die every day from starvation and twenty million children die of starvation every year. Billions of people are brutalized by loneliness and alienation. The list of public outrageous pain goes on and on.
Then there is the private outrageous pain. This is the stuff from your personal life that hurts so badly. It may be something that was done to you or that you did. It might be the pain of betrayal, where you were either the betrayed or the betrayer. Or both. It might be the pain of a part of your life that is unlived or unloved. When you really face the pain, it is excruciating. So your turn your face away and get busy. We’re so frightened by outrageous pain that we’ve completely shut down. We close off our hearts because ordinary love cannot hold the pain.
The problem is, that we only have one heart. We cannot consistently shut down our heart and still remain openhearted. We think that we can selectively open our heart only to the channels of life whose programming appeals to us. That, however, is not the way the heart is designed. When you shut down you lose the signal and nothing comes. The result of repeatedly closing our hearts in face of the pain is loss of aliveness, depression, addiction and an unrelenting yearning for more.
The first step on the journey to awakening as an outrageous lover is to not hide from the pain. As a first step we need not to solve it, but turn our face towards it. Not all the time, but for only five minutes a day. The evolutionary mystics called this, “participating in the pain of love in exile.”
To carry out this practice, ordinary love is not strong enough to allow us to hold the pain. We need a larger love, wider and deeper love. That is outrageous love. But for now just locate outrageous love. Take a brief moment to think back on the largest love you have ever felt. Remember how in the embrace of that love there was room for everything? Now step into that love and double it. Triple it. Quadruple it. That is enough to locate the feeling tone of outrageous love. You can only respond to outrageous pain with outrageous love.
Now, from that place of outrageous love, think of a pain you are avoiding. Turn into the pain and stare directly at it for two or three minutes. Do not turn your thoughts away. Do not avert your gaze. Hold the outrageous pain in outrageous love. That’s it. You have already done it. This is the first step to awakening that most people never take. Congratulations!
The next step is to wake up. Wake up to your true nature as an irreducibly unique expression of outrageous love. Who are you? You are an outrageous lover. What does an outrageous lover do? An outrageous lover commits outrageous acts of love. Which outrageous acts of love does an outrageous lover commit? Those that are a function of your Unique Self. It is only your outrageous acts of love emergent from your Unique Self which come together with other outrageous lovers committing their unique outrageous acts of love that have the capacity to heal the entire story.
That, my friends, is the basis for a radical hope. It’s the basis for a realistic but radical optimism. For it is the natural expression of human nature and evolution itself. The sacred technology of evolutionary intimacy–another way of saying outrageous love — has the potential to create heaven on earth. I have spent the last several decades intensely searching and studying everything I could lay my hands on, reading tens and tens of thousands of pages in every tradition, pre-modern, modern, and postmodern. This is I know, way and above, the most realistic and hopeful vision of the evolution of love that we have today. We live in a world of outrageous pain. The only response to outrageous pain is outrageous love. Let’s awaken together and transform our world.
Taken from a first draft text from the forthcoming book The Path and Practice of Outrageous Love by Dr. Marc Gafni and Dr. Kristina Kincaid. This article elaborates on a critical advancement of the Unique Self Dharma that Dr. Marc has developed after Your Unique Self was published.
*The only exception was Bill Clinton’s bombing of Kosovo. In Powers well-documented analysis, however, Clinton on issued the bombing because his presidential rival, Bob Dole, had made Clinton’s inaction in Kosovo a campaign issue.
**A key exponent of these ideas is from Matt Ridley in his book the Rational Optimist. Ridley is operating in a materialist flatland paradigm with little awareness of either waking up or growing up. However his presentation of human evolution, particularly the evolution of ideas rests in part on an implicit Evolutionary Unique Self principle. We are following his argument in the paragraphs below.
***Of course as we have seen this cumulative explosion of innovation has demanded an energy outlay from reality that has led us to the second shock of existence. The second shock, recall is the inability of the environment to sustain itself in the face of the energy demands and imbalances introduced by the cumulative creative technological explosion of ideas and their enactment in the world.
****Citing Hayek does not imply a blanket endorsement of his unregulated God of the Market perspective.
*****This story as I unfold it is told by Steve Berlin Johnson in his excellent book on innovation. I am paraphrasing the story from his words.
****** Whenever we move from the physical sciences to the social sciences care must be taken in making analogies. Turing’s implied mathematical points is that all of these modalities self-organize through elemental simple principles that are not looking at the whole system but at the local immediate interaction. Exponentially multiplied local interactions, which take place in integrity exponentially multiply to great global integrity. Naturally however seemingly local violations of integrity at street level exponentially multiply at the global level. This was the cause of financial crisis induced by the mortgage collapse in the United States in the late nineties. A mixture of creativity run rampant in the creation of new financial instruments, greed, and a failure of local responsibility, exponentially multiplied into an international crisis.
*******It is no less true that the greater complexity the more potential for suffering produced by the pain of love’s distortion. Dogs have never built gas chambers for other species of dogs.
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