Sunday, October 23, 2011

Two Views on Andrew Cohen's "Evolutionary Enlightenment" - Marilyn Hamilton vs. John Landon

Marilyn Hamilton is well-known in integral circles for her excellent book, Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive. John Landon, as far as I know, is completely unknown and has nothing to do with integral theory. He is the author of World History And The Eonic Effect - in fact, I suspect he could dismantle Ken Wilber's conjecture on evolution better than most of the integral critics.

Anyway, they both have reviewed Andrew Cohen's new book, Evolutionary Enlightenment: A New Path to Spiritual. Needless to say, they each have very different perspectives on the book - and I am not against the idea that each is partially true.

Evolutionary Enlightenment: 5 Tenets for the Human Hive

October 23, 2011 by Marilyn Hamilton

Evolutionary Enlightenment, by Andrew Cohen is a refreshingly enlivening read that aligns well with the Evolutionary Intelligences of Integral City.

Cohen, starts with the traditional path of enlightenment as the starting place for practitioners to achieve a deep knowing of the evolutionary experience of the “Big Bang”. His description of this as not only a scientific proposition, but a spiritual reality, underlies a deep and abiding recognition that all Life started as ONE. That as living systems, humans – both in their manifest form and their inner consciousness – arose from a singularity. As Cohen, reiterates, “something came from nothing”. This is both the greatest discovery and the greatest mystery of our 14 billion year old universe.

And yet, in his own path as a spiritual teacher, Cohen has come to the conclusion, that as profound as the traditional experience and teaching of enlightenment is, it is not the end of the story. For the impulse to evolve that sparked the journey of emergence in the universe, is still alive and emerging. In fact it is alive and emerging as humans. We are not only human ”beings” but we are human ”becomings”, and as such humans represent the evolutionary impulse’s leading edge (at least on this planet).

Cohen, conveys his deep inspiration and commitment to all that this evolutionary impulse demands. In fact, he proposes that as we realize the implications of our relationship with the evolutionary impulse, we are obligated to grow up from our egocentric, ethnocentric and even worldcentric preoccupations and mature into a cosmocentric collaboration with it.
Read the whole review.

The muddle over evolution

September 28, 2011
By John C. Landon

The idea of evolution suffers from a certain incoherence due to the multiple almost predatory efforts to close in and control the idea for a certain agenda. The social Darwinist and economic ideologies claiming Darwinism are apparent from the study of cultural history. Beginning in the nineteenth century with Blavatsky, and a critique of Darwin, a new version of the attempt to control the evolutionary concept took off at the beginnings of the modern New Age movement. The figure Gurdjieff, in a rival but parallel equivalent, also adopted an unstated and crypto-social-darwinist version of the idea, not entirely distant (though not the same as) Nietzsche's take on the idea. The occulted aspect of this genocidal and fascist legacy is hard to untangle. Cohen's interpretation seems to resemble this second tradition in a deliberated innocence of the interpretation, but stating nothing about the complex and dangerous background to the muddle of evolutionary thought.

The usage of Cohen (which resembles various strains of 'conscious evolution' in several New Age figures, e.g. Barbara Hubbard) is as false as what it replaces, and leaves the reader somewhat nervous about what is omitted. We need more than New Age platitudes given the dark legacy of 'evolutionary enlightenment', e.g. the mass murder envisioned by the Nietschean on the way to the 'overman'. Nietzsche, as we can see, was hopelessly confused by Darwin, even in his critique of that figure. The idea of evolution has thus become almost schizophrenically muddled from different sides. The idea of 'spiritual evolution' is not necessarily a false one, but the attempt to make it into some kind of adjunct to spiritual practice, indeed, as here, the path of enlightenment,confuses the whole idea. The fact of evolution is visible in deep time in the progression of fossil forms. The dynamic behind this remains elusive and still unknown to us. The issue is not 'spiritual evolution', but the evolution, as Alfred Wallace sensed it, of the human potential to self-realization, in the complex instrument of consciousness that emerged with homo sapiens. The potential to 'enlightenment' so-called clearly became a difficult but marginally realizable possibility for this new 'chimpanzee' (the third, pace, Jared Diamond) who arises in the wake of homo erectus. Understanding this moment of organismic transformation (which looks awfully like the 'spiritual evolution' Cohen is striving to understand) is simply beyond our science, and beyond our New Age gurus. The dynamics of that potential and the 'how' of its evolution remain unknown to us. But to posit some 'evolutionary impulse' behind this is simply metaphysical speculation on Cohen's part.

Another line of analysis lies with J. G. Bennett's depiction in Vol 4 of The Dramatic Universe, where he distinguishes 'animal consciousness' and the 'cosmic' factor of universal conscious energy, the lowest energy in a larger framework. That speculative matrix is entirely up in the air, but it suggests a cogent solution to the riddle: consciousness doesn't evolve at all, rather, man evolved to the point where he experience a a new form of consciousness, the groundstate of a trans-natural cosmic energy. This consciouusness (which yogic treatises call self-consciousness) is built into the evolutionary emergence of homo sapiens. This is admittedly as speculative as the rest of it (I am not as such in agreement with Bennett), but Bennett suggests a number of clues to what is really a HARD problem, in the phrasing of the scientific psychologists studying consciousness: understanding how consciousness evolved, and its relationship to the different, but essential vital energies of 'life consciousness'. More generally the 'evolution' of man is a 'becoming into material realms', while the potential to endlightenment is a countermovement against evolution into enlightenment, liberation. Enlightenment is not the same as a higher state of consciousness.
Read the whole review.


Anonymous said...

great review by landon. its good to know ,that at least someone else is aware as to the dangerous "teachings" of cohen. in fact the whole integral movement is getting more and more into some very dark waters. if we are not carefull history could repeat itself .soon.

Theofilia said...

'Evolutionary impulse' is NOT a "metaphysical speculation".

Kundalini Shakti 'enlightenment' discloses EXACTLY what that means/is about -- said She who KNOWeth. . .


Martin Gifford said...

Landon wrote: "The usage of Cohen (which resembles various strains of 'conscious evolution' in several New Age figures, e.g. Barbara Hubbard) is as false as what it replaces, and leaves the reader somewhat nervous about what is omitted."

What was omitted, I think, was that Cohen's evolution is about his ideals and his morality. In other words, Cohen thinks evolution means becoming more like Cohen. Cohen even reckons he is helping God evolve!

Anonymous said...

People cannot 'evolve' if used as objects, whether the usage is adoration (putting a guru on a pedestal) or contempt (Adi Da, Cohen and Gafni's use of students for ego relife.