The new spirituality is all about evolution....
In Evolutionary Enlightenment: A New Path to Spiritual Awakening, Andrew Cohen redefines spirituality for our contemporary world - a world characterized by exponential change and an ever-expanding appreciation for the processes of evolution. Based on 25 years of groundbreaking work as a spiritual teacher and the editor-in-chief of the award-winning EnlightenNext magazine, Cohen has synthesized an original path, practice, and philosophy focused entirely on aligning yourself with what he calls "the evolutionary impulse". His message is simple, yet profound: Life is evolution, and enlightenment is about waking up to this fundamentally creative impulse as your own deepest, most authentic self - so that you can play an active role in creating the future.
Embracing change as your spiritual practice....
Change is a constant in today's world. Technology is accelerating, globalization is making the world more and more complex, and the pace of life seems to be speeding up every day. While many popular forms of contemporary spirituality offer ways to feel better in the face of overwhelming change - to discover greater equanimity, detachment, or compassion - Andrew Cohen says that change is not something to be avoided, or merely tolerated, but an essential aspect of reality that needs to be consciously embraced. Through his five fundamental tenets for living an enlightened life, Cohen empowers you to wholeheartedly participate in the process of change as your own spiritual practice. In doing so, he not only makes deep sense of life today; he shows you how to play an active role in shaping the world of tomorrow.
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When I read the write ups for this book I was hopeful about it being useful as food for thought on my life journey. I played with the fact that what was said was promising against whether it had the ability to deliver. I checked out his website, watched a couple of videos on utube ... and decided that I would buy it on the basis that if the book delivered in the same vein it would be interesting, and if it didn`t I`d have to put it down as another `new agey` jumping on the bandwagon and missing the spot attempt.
I am pleased to report that it does what I hoped and more.
I was at a spot where I felt existential very alone and was aware of the need for a massive shift of consciousness in humanity. I was consciously aware of how tough it was for me to stay connected with the mass agreed reality to make a difference and at the same time be fully centered and rooted in what I knew about the nature of existence ...
I was crying out for a bridge, a connection with humanity that was directly fulfilling together with a connection with the infinite. Tough call yes? This book does it.
"interesting ideas but could be presented better"
Andrew Cohen argues that evolution is the expression of a fundamental universal drive in which the ground of being attempts to manifest all of the possibilities inherent in creation. As self-aware conscious beings we are the leading edge of this manifestation and have a part to play in the evolution of the universe.
This is an interesting insight but far from original with Andrew Cohen. These basic insights were first developed almost a century ago in the Process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and the work of subsequent process theologians, such as John Cobb. The evolutionary aspect of his ideas are similar to those offered by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in the 40's and 50's.
Cohen seems to be trying to apply the insight from these earlier authors (even though he doesn't cite them--at least in the audio version of the book) to the practical level of how they impact one's behavior and choices, individually and as members of a community. He talks in generalities. While I can't argue against the points he is trying to make because I agree with them, he is so abstract in his discussion of his points that practical application of his points is unclear. Less talk about the "one not followed by two" and more concrete examples of what evolutionary awareness looks like in practice would be helpful.
There is a danger as well in the idea that culture is evolving. That same idea was popular in the 19th century as justification for slavery, colonialism and a dozen other forms of oppression, including the Holocaust. The economically and militarily dominant culture views itself as the most advanced culture and justifies its oppression of others as the right of the evolutionarily advanced culture whose manifest destiny is to lead the world into the glorious future (third riech, etc.). How are we to judge the direction and thrust of evolution? Is cultural evolution just an excuse to impose our values and world view on others?
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