February 27, 2012
Evolutionary Enlightenment in India
I arrived in India on Friday to launch the Indian edition of Evolutionary Enlightenment. Since landing three days ago, I’ve met audiences in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and New Delhi, and talked to students in 900 colleges in a satellite broadcasted e-classroom (see mini updates and photos on Facebook). The Times of India is graciously supporting some of these events. For a mainstream newspaper, they are unusually committed to bringing spiritual thinking to the daily reader along with national and world news. In every Sunday edition, they publish an 8-page insert called The Speaking Tree, which is filled with spiritual and self transformation articles. They invited me to be guest editor this week and I took the opportunity to highlight evolutionary spirituality and an evolutionary worldview in this land where traditional Enlightenment has its most established home. The piece below is my guest editorial—the rest of the issue includes articles originally published in EnlightenNext magazine with some of today’s great evolutionary thinkers, including theologian John Haught, cosmologist Brian Swimme, and others.
Evolve with the Universe
Speaking Tree Editorial
February 26th, 2012
I’m a 56-year-old American Jew from New York City. Like so many others of my generation, instead of seeking God in my own tradition, I came to India seeking enlightenment and she generously gave me that gift in 1986 when I met HWL Poonja, master of Advaita Vedanta and disciple of sage Ramana Maharshi. After 10 minutes at his feet, he answered my first question and I was catapulted into another state of consciousness where time and history were obliterated and the truth of my own inherent liberation became miraculously apparent. At the end of three short weeks in his company, he told me he had taught me everything he had to teach and now he wanted me to be a teacher in my own right.
The world is changing quickly. India is very different than she was when I first landed in Delhi’s International Airport on my spiritual adventure in 1986. The country is embracing modernism at a ferocious pace and much of the world is in awe at the speed of her development and growing prosperity.
Accompanying this fantastic leap into the future is a change of values. Millions of industrious future-oriented Indians are embracing modern values as quickly as they are acquiring a Western lifestyle and tastes. The lauded spiritual principles represented by the mystical deities of the Hindu pantheon are being replaced by material idols of the modern world. While these changes are in many ways positive, at the same time I’ve noticed that with the loss of traditional values, many pathologies of contemporary living have begun to plague Indian men and women — emotional and psychological stress, narcissism, alienation, and rampant materialism. Many modern Indians seem to be suffering from the same problems that I suffered from as a young man growing up in Manhattan.
As powerful and as liberating as the traditional enlightenment I discovered in India is, I boldly wonder if it alone continues to be the most potent spiritual medicine for rapidly changing times.
Science, the religion of modernism, has revealed to us an important truth about reality: evolution. It tells us that our universe emerged from nothing 13.7 billion years ago, that something fantastic and extraordinary is happening in this creative process.
As cosmologist Brian Swimme describes in his “Awakening to the Universe Story” titled Milky Way’s 200,000,000,000 Galaxies, one of the articles I chose for this special edition of The Speaking Tree, “If you take hydrogen gas, and you leave it alone, it turns into rose bushes, giraffes, and humans.”
That means the creative process is going somewhere and so far where it’s come to, is us. This is deeply significant and should compel us to come to a new modern conception of God or Spirit or Brahmn. In this conception, the Divine is now recognised to be the driving energy behind the creative process. In this evolutionary spirituality, the creative aspect of Brahmn becomes more important to us than it has been in the past.
As theologian John Haught declares in A God-Shaped Hole To Fill, “When we think about ourselves and our destiny, we can’t dissociate them from the destiny of the whole universe.” Indeed, in our technology-driven, ever faster-paced speed of existence, I believe that embracing an evolutionary orientation to life will enable us to better adjust to the new world we’re creating. And most importantly, both in the East and the West, it will help us to give rise to new spiritual values that are in alignment with the truth of evolution. From this new vantage point, you and I are that God-like creative drive in human form, shaping our world in ever-new ways.
Deeply awakening to this truth changes everything. We become what I call “evolutionarily enlightened”. Now, instead of being frightened and overwhelmed by our rush towards the future, we are aligned with the cosmic inspiration that is driving it. And in that light, our every choice and action takes on a far greater significance. As the great Indian spiritual sage Vimala Thakar states in her piece on awakening to total revolution titled Revolution, “When an individual takes a step in the direction of the new, the whole human race travels through that individual.”
Click here to see the full schedule for my trip in India.
Also, you can see pictures and updates from the trip here: