Friday, April 22, 2011

Andrew Cohen and Rupert Sheldrake: Is Evoution Sacred?

In a thought-provoking dialogue (below) between spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen and the innovative biologist Rupert Sheldrake, two voices from the leading-edge of our post-modern culture discuss whether evolution, itself, may perhaps be sacred.

Noted biologist and author,
Dr. Rupert Sheldrake.
"We can become aware of our connection to the cosmos and this vast evolutionary process," says Sheldrake," but the question is: 'Where is it going?' Does it just go ever and onwards and upwards forever until we get more and more enlightened and more and more cosmically aware? Or, does there come a point where there is some kind of a culmination of the whole cosmic evolutionary process?"

Noting that the Judeo-Christian tradition, which gave us "the vision of a progressive evolution in time," always had an explicit goal in the future, Sheldrake asks Cohen (a proponent of the teaching he calls "evolutionary enlightenment") what an 'end-state' to the evolutionary process would be.

In observing that it is a "big picture" answer that frankly verges on "the realm of fantasy," Cohen notes that the "direction or the 'teleos' of the evolutionary process is towards consciousness itself."

Spiritual teacher, Andrew Cohen,
Editor-in-Chief of EnlightenNext
Cohen posits that, "it would seem that the urge towards consciousness would be fulfilled, or would be ultimately completed, when all the matter in the cosmos had become enlightened - which means conscious. When all the matter in the cosmos had become fully enlightened," he observes, "we would say that the primary urge - if that's what it is - would be vanquished, that it would be fulfilled."

Noting that the process has "barely begun," Cohen  observes that we are at the very beginning of a process that is of such infinite proportions that it is nearly impossible to conceive. Nevertheless,  he calls this "urge to become conscious" our primary driving motivation.

For his part, Sheldrake - an innovative biologist who is noted for his theory of 'morphic fields' - observes that "there is already a large degree of consciousness throughout the  universe, and perhaps that extra awareness comes from us, rather than somehow by our own conscious development we are going to inject consciousness into the rest of the universe."

Their discussion is a fascinating leading-edge discussion of concepts that have long been an integral aspect of the ultimate teachings of both Mahayana Buddhism and the Advaita Vedanta, as two of the most innovative contemporary minds approach what may be thought of as "the biggest question" from two very different directions . . . and nonetheless come to agreement.

"When consciousness awakens to itself, Cohen concludes, "that's when everything comes alive." A point which is acceded whole-heartedly by Sheldrake.

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