Integral Enlightenment 2012 - Craig Hamilton
31 May 2012 at Wellbeing Meditation Kingston and New Malden
Part 1 - Awakening to the Call of the Cosmos
The significance of our moment, in my eyes, has to do with the reality that there is a new spiritual impulse arising, that we are waking up to the reality of evolution, into our role in it.
We’re realizing that evolution is not just something that is happening to things. It’s not just something that happened, that there wasn't just cosmological evolution and then biological evolution that created us, and now there is like technological and social evolution. All of those things are true. But to me, the kind of extraordinary moment in our planetary history, really, is that… and there are two ways to put it. One is to say that we are realizing that we are evolving.Meaning that our consciousness and our culture that are interior have evolved and are in a process of evolution, and that we can actively participate in that process.
The other way of looking at it is to say that the evolutionary process that has been going on for 13.7 billion years as far as we know, is waking up to itself. It’s becoming conscious. It’s attaining the power of free choice. Not in some mysterious, disembodied, esoteric, transcendental way, but through you and me. The you and I are evolution, this grand adventure of evolution becoming conscious of itself. The potential for that is unimaginable. That the process that’s been going on basically, unconsciously, for 13.7 billion years, that’s just been kind of proceeding along by kind of the following of a certain trajectory and kind of laws of the universe if you will, is now waking up. We’re waking up, too.
This evolutionary awakening is giving birth to a spirituality that’s no longer about leaving the world or transcending the world while we’re here. It’s about fully engaging with and evolving the world. This is no longer about our private enlightenment. It’s about a relational enlightenment, a collective enlightenment that lives between us, and that propels us into co-creative participation in shaping the future. Because we realized that none of it is set, that the future is not set. Destiny is not determined. The fact that it’s all evolved, means that it can evolve. The fact that you evolved out of something, means that you can evolve. The fact that human nature evolved over time, means it can continue to evolve. Now that we’re conscious of it, we can guide this evolution through our simple choices, through our choices in consciousness, choices of how we relate to our feelings, our thoughts, each other, our precious lives.
I think that the core of this awakening is a kind of emerging recognition that contrary to the message of our individualistic culture, our lives are not about us. My life is not just about me having a good time or being successful or even being fulfilled - although those are all good things. It’s great for me to be happy and successful and fulfilled. Ideally, we’ll all have that, as many of us as we can. But deep down, we know that that’s not the deeper purpose of life. It’s not why I’m here. When we get in touch with this greater depth, we discover they are about participating in something much bigger, something we can’t even entirely grasp with our mind. We’re awakening to a calling to come into alignment with what you might call the spiritual act
of the cosmos, this deeper order.
To creatively participate with this evolutionary impulse that’s ever-driving toward the manifestation of the good, the true, and the beautiful. That’s the spiritual impulse, the evolutionary impulse. I think most of us have probably recognized that there are different levels of what it means to participate in evolution. That on the one hand, anything good that we’re doing to change ourselves or anything good we’re doing to change the world is in one sense, evolutionary work, and it’s all-important. So to the degree that we’re doing anything to promote positive change, we should feel good about that. But I think most of us here have probably sensed that there’s a much bigger game to be played. Because the structure of the world as it is are so deeply embedded in primitive, un-evolved patterns and habits, that simply trying to fix the world or even fix ourselves within the current sort of world frame or self-identity or collective mind, it won’t be enough to get us where we need to go. It won’t be enough to truly evolve individually or collectively.
We’re beginning to recognize that if the human predicament or what’s been called the human condition, if it’s going to change in a meaningful way, some of us have to be the pioneers to evolve ourselves, evolve our own humanity, our own individual nature, and our collective habits. That if we just let evolution happen… because some people will say, “Well hey, evolution’s happening already. We can’t really do anything. We’ll just let it happen.” If we just let it happen, it’s going to take a really long time. It’s probably going to take too long, in fact, given the challenges we’re facing. So it’s going to require us not being passive and just letting it happen, but us stepping into activity and making it happen within ourselves first, then as we do it in our collective, within our relationships, within our organizations, within our communities and so on and so forth, ever rippling out.
I think many of us sense that there’s an entirely different order of being human that’s possible to embody. Maybe we’ve glimpsed it in a moment of spiritual experience or in a collective context. Hopefully, we’ve recognized it, when enough of us do this together, engage in this different way of being, we’ll be giving birth to authentic, enlightened, evolutionary humanity and culture, that will be a literal demonstration of the solution to most of what ails us as individuals and as a human community, and that in making this move, we become what you might call vessels or agents for evolution itself. By the way, you’ll notice on this course, I’m going to speak at times a little more scientifically, using terms like evolution and evolutionary impulse. At times, I’ll swing over into a little bit more into religious language, using words like spirit or God or the Divine. I just want you to understand that I hold both sides of that lightly. Meaning, I mean the same thing by both of those things. In my integral lens, I can contain both. You may have a reaction to either side. Sometimes, I’m speaking more scientifically. You might think, “Oh, where’s God in that?” Or if I’m speaking a more spiritual language, you’ll say, “Well, where’s the science in that?”
I just want you to understand that I’m… we can talk more about it in the Q&A sessions if you want to get into it. But I really am standing in a place where this is all one thing. It’s profoundly spiritual all the way through, and it’s something that we can actually also understand and learn and know a lot about with our minds, with our scientific inquiry. We sense that it’s possible for this radical change to occur. Then as we begin to take that possibility seriously, would come up against the question, “Well, what can really change and how does change happen, spiritual change, authentic human transformation?”
Many of us have been on the spiritual path for a while. Maybe we’ve even had deep spiritual experiences, enlightenment experiences. One of the things that have always revealed itself when we have experiences of what’s called enlightenment or spiritual illumination or awakening, is there’s this moment where we sense that we can make an instantaneous, profound shift into something completely different, a completely different way of seeing and being. There’s a sense in that, that we can even choose to be free. That’s part of the realization, “Oh wow, this is just a choice. I’ve just been making a different choice. Now I can make this choice.” Then, many of us have also experienced that over time, our growth is actually something that happens more gradually. That even though there seems to be this possibility for a sudden, radical shift, our actual growth and development proceeds a bit at a time, a bit at a time, week after week, month after month, year after year. That then makes us wonder, “What about that sense I sometimes have of a possibility for a radical shift?”
This work is really founded in the recognition that there is a specific shift that we can each make, that we can’t necessarily choose to be enlightened like we sense in that experience. I mean, we could, maybe we could, but also we can’t just simply choose that. But that there is a choice we can make that’s actually in some ways more important than that. That’s the choice to align our will and our intention and our power of choice with the deeper and higher part of who we are, that we can choose to bring our will, bring our actions, bring our whole life into alignment with spirit, with what’s traditionally, sometimes been called the will of God. But what we could also simply call the evolutionary impulse or the evolutionary trajectory. That there’s something that exists inside of us. It’s a deep, profound, and spiritual and moral compass that we can awaken to, and then begin to follow and align with.
What I’m talking about is, is really what it’s like to experience from the inside this evolutionary impulse. Because this evolutionary impulse is something we can see around us. We can look around at the world and see how evolution has been moving and is continuing to move in all these ways. But it’s also a force we can feel moving within us. What I’m pointing to here is, it has an interior. When human beings awaken to it, we can awaken to the self of evolution, if you will, the interior of evolution. What it’s like to feel
7 June 2012 at Wellbeing Meditation Kingston and New Malden
Part 2 - Activating the Evolutionary Self
So what I’d just like to invite you to have your journal and a pen, have something to
write with, write on next to you as we move through this. You don’t need to write
anything now. Okay.
So what I want to invite you to do is just again find yourself sitting in a very still place
where you’re able to really go on a journey with me. And we’re going to go on a journey
right now far beyond the self we’ve known ourselves to be. So I want to invite you in
this moment to just leave yourself behind. Leave behind everything you think you know
about yourself, all of your ideas of who you are, who you’re not; all of your wants,
needs, fears and concerns. Just for this next half hour, leave it all behind and join me in
exploring who you are beyond that small self.
And to begin this exploration, I want to invite you to join me in a contemplative exercise
in which we’re going to review the history of the cosmos from the point of view of the
evolutionary impulse. And since this is a part of you, maybe the deepest part of you, it’s
not hard to step into it and simply take that point of view.
I’d like to invite you to follow me far back in time, back to the very beginning, 13.7 billion
years ago, when all of this was condensed into a single point smaller than the head of a
pin. Let’s call it the singularity. All the energy and matter in the universe all in that
single point, which means we were there then. You were there then. So what did it feel
like before the beginning? With everything so densely concentrated and nothing
happening. What restlessness arose in you? What was it that had to become, that had
to create, that must’ve grown so strong and so intense that at some moment just let go
and burst into existence? What was it like to let that great cosmic “yes” that’s you
explode into existence, into this cosmic firestorm that just burned in a kind of wildness
and chaotic fury for a million years? And then what was the impulse to take the remains
of all of that, this amorphous cloud of hydrogen gas and gradually begin to coalesce into
a hundred billion galaxies and start producing these balls of hydrogen that burned with
great intensity? Hydrogen and helium. And then somehow inside those primal stars, to
let the heat get so intense that they would explode and these supernovas giving birth to
all the higher elements like carbon and oxygen, and then scatter these across the
galaxy in these enormous explosions. These higher elements that could eventually
become the building blocks of a planet like Earth, and could eventually give birth to
what’s been called the “second big bang,” the big bang of life in which your dazzling
creativity that had given birth to this whole cosmic evolutionary process now took the
form of an even more brilliant and nuanced and complex display of creativity in the form
of biological evolution, of life. Again, another explosion of biological diversity, giving rise
to some 50 million different species and all the color and character of all of those
species unfolding over time, over billions of years.
And then what was it like when about 35,000 years ago life undergoes a dramatic shift
in what’s often been called “the third big bang” or the mind’s big bang; this moment
when one of these creatures, one of these species becomes self-aware? Who begins
to reflect on its place in the cosmos, begins to ask questions of meaning to begin to try
to make sense of its own story. Begins to try to make sense of life and death. This is
when artwork appears on the cave walls, ornate beads, people placing flowers on the
graves of the dead, and the beginnings of human creativity.
And from this moment forward evolution begins accelerating at a much more rapid rate.
This is the birth of culture, and the evolutionary dynamics that have been now unfolding
through cosmic evolution, biological evolution, suddenly begin to express themselves
through the evolution of culture as human beings go from the hunter-gatherers to
agrarian to the Industrial Age to the Information Age. As our organizing structure goes
from the family to the clan to the tribe to the city-state, to the nation state, to now this
reaching toward a global village.
Watching the evolution of technology go from the simple hand ax to the plow to the
crane to the space shuttle to the internet. Just feel your creativity on this upward spiral
from the cosmos to the biosphere to the human-sphere, the sphere of culture, and
consciousness and this movement that’s been going on which life emerged toward
greater unity. What is that about? How first these cooperating groups of self-replicating
molecular processes come together to form the first cells and then cooperating groups
of individual cells form larger and more complex cells. And then groups of these
complex cells come together and cooperate to create the first multi-celled organisms.
And then these groups of multi-celled organisms like us combine to form clans and
tribes and societies. And the societies then continuing to reach toward widening circles
of cooperation, this arc toward higher orders of unity, cooperation, complexity.
And now so recently, it’s almost like a blink of an eye in cosmic time, something new yet
again begins to emerge, which is more than simple self-reflective consciousness. It’s
not just humans being able to be aware that they’re human and ponder their story,
create meaning, but it’s the awakening to depth, to spirit itself. It’s this creative power
that you are now beginning to become self-aware. This creative dynamic that’s just
been unfolding as a kind of thrust since the beginning of time now in individual human
beings becoming self-aware, humans waking up to themselves as agents of your
creativity, agents of evolution, wanting to participate at the highest level in this creative
unfolding process. For the first time giving you arms and legs and hands to write with,
mouths to speak with. What is it like to have this opportunity to move into form, begin to
What is it like to feel in the human heart this impulse to care for the greater good, to be
love in action, to feel this impulse toward goodness, toward creativity, this impulse
toward fairness, toward rights and freedoms for others, this impulse toward self-sacrifice
for another or for a greater good? Just feel your care awakening in the world, in
humanity; this desire to elevate the whole event into something that’s never been. What
does it feel like to be an individual human being awakening to who you really are?
What are you going to do with this life that you have in your hands?
Now as an individual expression of this impulse, I want to invite you to see how this
creative principle has been arising in your own experience; to connect with the part of
yourself that’s been propelled forward throughout your life toward spiritual awakening
and evolution. The part of yourself that cares for the whole of life and for the future.
The part of you that recognizes that what you do with this precious life really matters.
The part of yourself that thrives on change and stepping into the unknown. The part of
you that cares about the truth, that feels like truth needs to be spoken even when it’s
uncomfortable because it wants to be in integrity with reality. The part of you that wants
to be an expression of the highest possibility in this world.
Just allow yourself to fully step into and identify with this part of the self as your deepest,
truest self. See how this part of yourself is none other than the creative force of the
cosmos, this divine evolutionary impulse. That this is you.
I am now going to invite you to do a little writing in your journal. I want to invite you to
stay right here in this place. And I’ll give you a little time – a minute or so – to respond to
each one. I’m going to give you a series of sentences to complete, to just reflect on.
And I want to invite you to write from the point of view of this evolutionary impulse. So
in this you don’t have to feel anything in particular. It’s not about having a particular
spiritual experience, although you may be having one. This is about shifting your
vantage point to a part of yourself that already exists and just expressing from there.
So just step into this evolutionary impulse, this part of you that cares deeply about
higher evolution, about unfolding goodness and truth. You don’t need to feel that you’re
there. Just assume you’re there and respond from there exactly as you are.
So the first one is: As the evolutionary impulse, what excites me is _________. And
you just complete that and write as much as you want in the next minute or so.
As the evolutionary impulse, my purpose is ____________.
As the evolutionary impulse, what I want is ____________.
As the evolutionary impulse, what I am most passionate about is ___________.
As the evolutionary impulse, what I have no patience for is ___________.
As the evolutionary impulse, my nature is ___________.
And now I’m going to ask you a few questions and you can continue responding in the
same way. They’re not sentences to complete; they’re questions.
As the evolutionary impulse in human form, how do you feel about the personal needs,
fears, concerns and self-conceived limitations of the individual body/mind that you’re
inhabiting? How does their neurosis look to you? So how do you feel about all the
needs, fears, concerns and self-conceived limitations of this person that you’re
inhabiting right now? How do you feel about their neurotic tendencies?
What does a human life look like when you, the evolutionary impulse, are in the driver’s
seat of that life; when the individual has allowed you to become the driving force and
motivator for that life? When the individual has identified with you as self? What does a
human life look like when that happens? What does a person express? How do they
And now that you’ve awakened in this individual body, in this person’s body, what
purpose do you want to use this life for? What’s the biggest game you can play in this
form, as this individual that you are right now?
And what’s one thing you would do differently with this life than you’ve been doing up to
this point, now that you’re identified with the evolutionary self?
So, we’re almost to the end. I’m going to share a few concluding words to bring all of
this together and then we’ll move into the interactive portion. In the first part of that we’ll
do as a large group; the first part of the interactive for anybody who wants to stick
around. We’ll take some sharing on this before we go into smaller groups. And you’ll
be able to do that online as well.
So this has been obviously a brief exercise, a brief dip into something. I’m sure for
some of you it gave you a very tangible sense of how this shift in perspective, shift in
attention can give birth to a very different sense of self and a very different reason for
being, a different drive, different sense of purpose. I’m sure for others of you, it
probably may have not had that effect, and we all have different experiences. Different
things give us access, so this is just one piece. But the point of this exercise is not for
us to have had a spiritual experience of a deeper part of the self, although that
happened for some of us and that’s great and fine. Wonderful if it did.
But the point here is to see that there is this deeper part of who we are and that we can
shift our identity to that. That’s really the muscle that we were just trying to start to
strengthen there, this muscle of being able to shift our identity to a different part of who
we are, to identify with something different than our personal history, our personal
body/mind, and just beginning to get a sense of the posture that makes that possible,
this different relationship to life.
So how do we begin to bring this into our daily lives, begin to make this a place that we
practice from? Because clearly this is not about trying to be in a certain state all the
time, a certain state or experience of feeling all evolutionary, if you will. But how do we
begin to live in a way that will invite this part of the self to come forward. That’s really
the question. That will make it welcome. That will begin to bring it forward. That will
begin to align with it.
So earlier in the evening I spoke about this inner posture of not assuming it’s far away
but also not assuming that we know it either. But there’s another posture that we can
take as well, and that posture is one of constantly stretching in our daily life to see
clearly, to see the truth and respond in an evolutionary way to whatever life throws at
us. So, in other words, stretching to see clearly in each moment, which means without
the distortions of ego, and then stretching to respond to the clarity we see, stretching to
have an evolutionary response to life. So stretching to see things clearly means looking
beyond our assumptions, always questioning our conclusions, asking deeper questions,
trying to see reality as it is free of our distorting lenses. And then stretching to have an
evolutionary response means asking, “What’s the most evolutionary response to this
moment? And the next moment?” And then through that practice, when the
evolutionary self does emerge, even slightly in our experience, we respond to it
because there’s always a call. There’s always a direction in it. It’s always pointing
toward a particular response, often one that’s taking us toward greater authenticity,
greater depth, deeper alignment with truth. It often has risk-taking accompanying it.
And so to the degree that we become aware of this call, of this direction, we respond to
it, we align with it, even if it’s just a whisper amidst many louder voices inside us. We
listen intently to that whisper and we’re willing to take decisive action in alignment with
it. And if you do this, you will begin to find this part of the self evermore present,
So for all of us, the big question in relation to this is, are we willing to step into a larger
perspective that makes our own personal wants, needs, fears and concerns pale to
insignificance, meaning they don’t away but they kind of come into their rightful place in
proportion to everything else? Are we willing to let a greater intelligence begin to take
us over? A deeper motivation, a deeper care would be another way to talk about it.
And what would it mean to live from this greater orientation, whether we feel like it or not
on a given day, whether we can see it today or not? Because, of course, that’s what it
means to not have a feeling-based or state-dependent relationship to life. Regardless
of how we feel, we’re orienting from a greater self.
So the way this works is that we consciously choose to begin to align with this larger
viewpoint that maybe we tasted tonight, like this new set of values, this new sense of
what’s important, this new orientation. And then we revaluate our choices in life from
within this new framework. And when we do this what happens is that we begin to
create a new momentum in a new direction, in a direction that’s aligned with our higher
evolution. And it might be challenging at first, but each choice we make to align with
this makes it easier to make the choice the next time. And each choice breaks the
momentum of all the choices we’ve ever made from our ego and ultimately liberates us
from that egoic momentum altogether.
And my last word is just that I think the simple way to look at this is that no matter how
we feel in any situation, we have the free will to be navigating life from inside this
deeper part of the self, from these higher values and reference points and motivations
that emerge in this deeper place. And it’s exercising that free will to navigate from this
different place that gives us the ability to be a liberated human being, to be an
awakened human being. And it does not have to take time. This is something we can
practice in every moment.