We have had a wonderfully full schedule at Sunrise Ranch in the past week. For me, personally, it has been a very rich and full time. After my 19-day trip to Norway, England and Wales, I turned around and traveled to Edenvale and Kamloops in British Columbia.
Upon my return to Sunrise on May 18th, I attended the concluding session of a Unitive Justice training and then a Synergy Forum of the Global Purpose Movement. GPM is a collaboration of various organizations and individuals, including The Fetzer Institute, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, the Foundation for Conscious Evolution, Greenheart International, and Sunrise Ranch.
Fifty-five people participated. Many of them are becoming friends, and we are exploring collaborative possibilities.
Barbara Marx Hubbard’s visionary leadership played an important part in the Synergy Forum. At 86 years old, she is an inspiring voice for an emerging vision of the future.
On Friday afternoon of the Forum, Ken Wilbur addressed the group via Skype and presented fascinating insights into the evolution of human consciousness. Ken is a philosopher and writer who is best known for his Integral Theory, which attempts to synthesize all human knowledge and experience.
Ken’s talk addressed two elements of the evolution on consciousness: waking up and growing up.
It was deeply insightful and contained ideas that are familiar to me in my own observation of people.
Waking up is spiritual activation. It happens through meditation, through prayer, or in a myriad of other ways. Not everybody who is religious or on a spiritual path comes to a place of spiritual awakening, but some do. It’s an awareness of transcendence, however that may be described.
Ken was making the point that when a person wakes up, spiritual awareness is activated through whatever level of maturity is present in the individual. So you could have a person who is undeveloped from the standpoint of their own human growth, but yet awakening spiritually. In fact, you could have a culture of people who are undeveloped and yet awakening spiritually.
He poses that there are levels of development for the individual. The study of human development has been described by people like Abraham Maslow and Jean Piaget over the past century. Those levels of development are relevant to culture as well.
At a lower level, a person or culture is egotistically oriented—all-about-me. As a person or culture develops, they can become all-about-us. This is an ethnocentric point of view.
Ken describes the more evolved state of consciousness and culture as integral. It integrates all the levels below it. A name I would use for a more evolved state of consciousness is universal. In that state we are aware that all the levels of human experience are included. We are also aware that while any experience may be relevant to me and to us, it also has a universal dimension. It relates to everyone and everything.
Waking up illuminates whatever state of growing up a person may have achieved. If a person is ego-centered and they have an experience of waking up, they may have a degree of spiritual inspiration. But it is seen in terms of me and mine. I’m enlightened and no one else is. I am illumined and no one else is. I am virtuous and no one else is.
When an ethnocentric person wakes up, they become inspired about something they see as relating to their group—their creed, their path, their culture. It is easy to see how there are people from many religious and spiritual paths who believe that only they have found the path to God, enlightenment or salvation. Others may be seen as going to hell, or as part of an alliance that is fighting the good people. Religious war is created by the intersection of waking up and an ethnocentric state of consciousness.
Growing up matters. When I assumed responsibility for leadership of the Emissaries in 2004, I was trying to figure out what the heck was going on. What was going on with Sunrise Ranch at the time? What was going on with Emissaries of Divine Light? And why were things going the way they were? And why were people who were spiritually awake, to some degree anyway, not always acting with maturity? I cared deeply about the project I was leading. And so I asked some deep questions.
I came to exactly the same conclusion that Ken came to: that spiritual awakening doesn’t guarantee growing up, and that we really need both. If a person is developmentally immature, do you really want to light them up with high levels of spiritual awakening? As Marianne Williamson points out, the terrorists who perpetrated the horrendous acts of 9/11 had no lack of inspiration and commitment. They were lit up. Yet they were in an ethnocentric state of consciousness and culture.
The people at Sunrise Ranch in 2004 weren’t terrorists or anything like it. Nonetheless, there was plenty of evidence of limited states of human development. We came to the conclusion that we needed a program of education that addressed both the development of selfhood—growing up—and spiritual awakening, or waking up. And so we developed our Full Self Emergence program. It is based in the idea that before we light up the human being, we ought to have a substantial state of human development that can stand the flame.
Back along the way, I was criticized by some in my spiritual leadership for not being quite as brilliant and enlightening as I should be. I remember thinking, Do you really want to light this up? I want to build something that could take a charge. I want to build something in consciousness and in the experience had by myself and others in which there is enough maturity, enough substantiality that we could allow fire to fall from heaven and we would light up in a beautiful way. I want to be Emissaries of Divine Light, not Emissaries of Burnt Humanity.
In reality, waking up and growing up can happen together, one feeding the other. The more growing up there is, the more capacity there is for illumination. For that to occur, the people involved have to be willing to keep waking up and to keep growing. As they are, universal awareness is activated in a person. They have more and more capacity to influence what is happening at the individual and group levels of human experience, which have previously been characterized by egocentricity and ethnocentricity.
Ken made the point that spiritually awakening of itself doesn’t allow a person to see the limited states of human development that may be present. Interesting… From my observation of people over many years—and from my own personal experience—I would have to agree. At least if you define spiritual awakening in a limited way. My experience tells me that it takes a keen interest to gain perspective on your human experience to begin to be able to see it for what it is, without judgment. And then to do something about it.
More broadly defined, a true spiritual practice includes this kind of work. It doesn’t happen just because you meditate, do yoga, practice attunement, go to church or pray. It happens because you shed light on your own ego states and your own culture-bound states—your own ethnocentricity. It takes that to burst into the transcendent and universal.
What do you think constitutes a critical mass of people who are spiritually awake from a universal perspective? What percent of the world population would it take to lead the whole population into that experience? I can’t say for sure myself. I can say that this is what I am dedicated to personally.
As we ascend into that experience, we converge. We come together. Rising to the apex of the pyramid of consciousness, we find each other there. We’re not wandering around at the base of the pyramid of consciousness, occasionally bumping into each other but feeling separate and not knowing how we fit together. Rising to the universal, which is found at the apex, we are transcending ego and human culture. No longer enmeshed in those levels of experience, we become masters of them—masters of individuality and masters of culture. No longer enmeshed in ego, we are not tripped up by the ego of others. We are no longer enmeshed in our own culture and not tripped up by the culture of others.
On this basis, we are together as human beings, awake to who we are and awake to our destiny as humanity: to truly be homo universalis, the universal human being.