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Evolving


And I quote, “In the smallest fraction of a second (along the lines of a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a millionth), space expanded in an unfathomable release of energy, generating temperatures of trillions of degrees at speeds exceeding that of light itself.


“And this expansion continues today.


“And from this initial moment of devastating destruction, life began to reorganize itself in ever-higher ways. Galaxies were born. Planets were formed. And residing at the very pinnacle of this long, evolutionary process is you – reading this essay.


“You’ve come a long way, baby.


“And whether you ascribe to this popular theory or one of the other credible theories (yes, there are several credible theories), let us understand that in any case, the story inherent in the macrocosm is the story inherent in the microcosm.

“This story is our story.


“Let us be reminded in our own lives that operating just beyond any destruction is life, reorganizing itself in ever-higher ways; that operating just beyond the death of a loved one, beyond the loss of a relationship, beyond the devastation of a retirement account, beyond the deterioration of a body is life, reorganizing itself in ever-higher ways.


“Let us be reminded that while destruction and creation are enemies from an earthly perspective, they are lovers from a spiritual perspective.


“Find hope in this. For whatever is ending in your life is truly a new beginning.”


Isn’t that a beautiful piece?


Perhaps you’ll join me in recalling a childhood memory. It was some 2 billion years ago that the only life on this planet were bacteria called prokaryotes whose physical size was limited by a rigid membrane. So, when these prokaryotes maximized the limits of their physicality (after all, no expansion of that rigid membrane was possible), evolution momentarily stopped.


And this necessitated a change in evolution’s tactics.


And what happened is that individual bacteria began to reorganize into collaborative, coherent communities which expanded awareness and intelligence. And in so doing, evolution lunged forward again.


These bacterial communities created a variety of mechanisms to communicate with each other and over time, a new form of biological cell called a protozoan emerged. You’ll recall one such protozoan from your early biology class. You called it an amoeba. So, while the amoeba might be perceived as a new organism, in truth it’s just an evolved form of bacterial community.


Now, the problem was that these new protozoans resembled water balloons. The protozoan membrane, like the skin of a balloon, could stretch only to a point. And like an over-filled balloon, the membrane might rupture, causing the death of the cell. And because of this physical limitation, evolution momentarily stopped.

And this necessitated a change in evolution’s tactics.


And what happened is that these individual protozoans began to reorganize into collaborative, coherent communities which expanded awareness and intelligence. And in so doing, evolution lunged forward again.


In the earliest of these communities, protozoan cells started by performing the same jobs but ultimately developed specialized functions which led to the creation of differentiated jobs and skills which gave rise to even grander communal organizations we would recognize to be dandelion, and dog, and dolphin, and Danny Devito.


So, while it’s accurate to say that a human being might appear to be a single entity, each of us is, in fact, an advanced community of 50 trillion specialized cells.


When the human nervous system reached something of a stopping point, however, evolution momentarily stopped.


And this necessitated a change in evolution’s tactics.


And what happened is that individual humans began to reorganize into collaborative, coherent communities which expanded awareness and intelligence. And in so doing, evolution lunged forward again.


Like the protozoans, in the earliest of these communities, humans started by performing the same, hunter-gatherer activities but ultimately developed specialized functions which led to the creation of differentiated jobs and skills which gave rise to even grander communal organizations we would recognize to be tribes, cities, states, nations – all multi-cellular organizations of sorts.


And here you are today wondering just how this could possibly have any application in your life.


Well, I would suggest that while Darwinian understanding would describe this evolution from the prokaryote to the human as a fluid and consistent process of random mutations, today’s understanding would describe this evolution as life – moving ever-so-nicely along over a period of time before arriving at a point of upheaval, necessarily reorganizing into collaborative, coherent communities that enable expanded awareness and intelligence, then lunging forward into new and higher ways of being.


I would suggest that an evolution marked by competition and contest has given way to an evolution marked by cooperation and contribution.


And maybe you can relate to this in your personal life. If normal has given way to upheaval, let this conversation be one of comfort. A couple billion years of cosmic education would suggest that new and higher ways of being are on the horizon!


I imagine we can all relate to this in our collective life. Scientists and spiritualists alike believe we may well be at a point of upheaval right now – social, ecological, technological upheaval. Certainly, one might find this quite believable simply by watching the evening news.


And again, while it might be tempting to be frightened or discouraged, let us glean some encouragement. That couple hundred billion years of cosmic education would suggest that new and higher ways of being are on our collective horizon.


The great Unity teacher Jack Boland might say that humanity’s current position represents our, “Worst/best moment.” If things are a mess, it’s because upheaval is part of the process.


And whether we consider life from an individual or a collective perspective, what is it that stands between normal and new and higher ways of being? How are we to respond to upheaval? By reorganizing into collaborative, coherent communities that enable expanded awareness and intelligence.


Individually, this teaching might suggest that you reach beyond the circle of your current understanding. Socially, this teaching might suggest that you reach beyond the circle of your personal comfort. Collectively, this teaching might suggest that we reach beyond the circle of our known worlds.


From the Jewish tradition, it’s said this way: two are better than one. If either of them falls, one can help the other up. If two lie down together, they will keep each other warm. If one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.


From the Muslim tradition, it’s written this way: the world is one stage of the journey to God Most High, and since the destination of the journey of this caravan of travelers is the same, we are all one; and among these there must be friendship and unity and mutual aid.


From the Hindu tradition, it’s depicted in the story of Bhagavān Rāma who collected a team of wildly mismatched creatures like bears, monkeys, apes, and even a squirrel to build a bridge across the ocean from India to Sri Lanka. Certainly, a bear cannot build a bridge across the ocean. Certainly a monkey, an ape, a squirrel, cannot built a bridge across the ocean but together, a sum far exceeding their individual contributions found them successful.


So, while there’s this funny mindset that would place wisdom teachings and scientific discoveries at odds, they aren’t. Our wisdom teachings have long intuited what our scientific discoveries have revealed. Our wisdom teachings say new and higher ways of being call us to come closer together, not farther apart. Our scientific discoveries say new and higher ways of being call us to come closer together, not farther apart.


New and higher ways of being will come as they have for 2 billion years: through cooperation and contribution, not competition and contest.


So, if you find yourself drawn by curiosity to a spiritual community that embraces all spiritual paths, maybe that’s evolution longing to lunge forward through you. If you find yourself growing in compassion for all manner of life on our planet, maybe that’s evolution longing to lunge forward through you.


Are you exhausted by divisiveness? Are you weary of cruelty? Are you really quite finished with classism and sexism and racism and ageism and able-ism and beyond? Well, maybe that’s evolution longing to lunge forward through you.


Maybe you’re not so much exhausted and weary and finished because you’re good but because you’re listening.


If you find yourself pulled toward collaborative coherent communities that enable expanded awareness and intelligence, whether that be in education or religion or social justice or animal rights or otherwise, maybe that’s evolution longing to lunge forward through you.


Our wisdom teachings and our scientific discoveries say the same thing: it’s not through a coming apart that we’ll find our way forward. It’s through a coming together.


I like to think that the official motto of the United States of America reflects such an awareness: “e pluribus unum,” translated, “Out of many, one;” that while the traditional interpretation might suggest from many states or colonies can emerge a unified nation, another interpretation might suggest from ancient races, from countless religions, from varied languages, from distant geographies, from disparate ancestries – from many peoples - must emerge a unified Humanity.


Our wisdom teachings and our scientific discoveries say the same thing: a miraculous lunge forward awaits this planet once we accept the call to collectively tend the Garden rather than fight over the turf.


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