HJ: The beauty of spiritual evolution is that it is at once our ‘destiny’ and also brings with it happiness, fulfillment, joy and the end of suffering. We simply need to shed those habits, beliefs and perceptions which stand in the way of recognizing and expressing our true selves. When we begin doing so, we step into the flow and life becomes an exciting journey rather than a struggle to survive. We begin manifesting everything we need as we align with our own life purpose and therefore begin to live in harmony with the spiritual laws which govern everything in the universe.
Spiritual evolution is not some abstract, intangible thing, as the general mainstream confusion around the topic would have you believe. It is quite well understood and mapped (in a certain sense) by many spiritual traditions and more recently by Integral Theory developed in part by Ken Wilber and expanded on by many of his students. They all (both Integral practitioners and also ancient/modern spiritual traditions) all describe the same process from their unique perspective — where they overlap we can find the core tenets of spiritual evolution. And many of these are beautifully elucidated below by Craig Hamilton.
These are advanced perceptional shifts for accelerating your spiritual evolution and therefore are very powerful, but ironically, no more difficult than even the most basic steps towards increasing awareness. As we always say here on the journal, everything is as easy as you make it for yourself — meaning that when we cling to the past/what’s comfortable we suffer and when we embrace the natural flow, change and growth that is consciousness and all life, we move into ease. What Craig presents in the article below are the keys to effortless change. What a beautiful gift.
Seven Ways to Accelerate Your Evolution
How does the radical shift beyond a life rooted in the habitual egoic patterns of the past–into a life propelled by the positive, conscious stance of the evolutionary self– really change things day-to-day?
With access to the evolutionary self, what will you be able to do? And how will things be different?
Turn glimpses of possibility and clarity into lasting change and sustained momentum, with motivation that doesn’t falter
One of the universal challenges on the path of spiritual development and personal growth is converting our insights into lasting results. Despite hard work, glimmers of tremendous potential, and deepening awareness–and even periods of significant progress–many of us are frustrated by our tendency to slide back into old patterns.This waning of consistency and commitment is an inevitable byproduct of the limitations our unevolved nature–inherited from our ancient animal past. But when we are able to access the evolutionary self, we discover resources of will and motivation that are enduring and powerful enough to sustain our practices, truly embody new possibilities, and move us to act on what really matters.Imagine tapping into a source of inspiration and motivation that so powerfully transcends the drives of the small self that you just can’t go back to the way things have been. With a larger and more compelling perspective, we are reliably and consciously spurred to apply what we learn in our most inspired moments.The result: an active, newfound robustness and rigor in our commitment to our spiritual practices, our lives, and our highest aspirations in the world.
Create deeper, more authentic relationships, and find community with others who share your values and aspirations
Stepping up to trailblaze meaningful change in the world and pioneer a new way of being human is an exciting and enlivening prospect, but it can also be lonely out on the leading edge. And unless we surround ourselves with others who share our highest values and aspirations, we almost inevitably find ourselves battling a kind of invisible but powerful social gravity that draws us back into the unenlightened, unevolved “world mind” we’re trying to break free from.That’s where evolutionary partnership with kindred spirits becomes essential. One of the most consistent forms of feedback we receive from course graduates is gratitude for the supportive context provided by the course, and for deeply connected friendships and partnerships that continue long after the program ends.In addition to support, we stand in a moment of extraordinary evolutionary potential regarding how to cooperate and unite to solve problems. The greatest challenges of our time will not be solved merely by separate individuals, but an enlightened collective. As an evolutionary, you can both give and receive in this emerging model of high-level conscious collaboration.
Discover a spiritual practice that is relevant to our modern world and can be lived 24/7
Many people’s spiritual longings are scarcely fulfilled by a half-hour-a-day meditation practice, and we wonder how to live spiritually when life’s demands don’t allow for extended retreats and pilgrimages.And although traditional paths and practices have helped humans all along, they’re reaching their limitations, having been created for life in an ancient world that has little in common with today’s environment.Evolutionary spirituality is relevant to the complexities and challenges of modern life–an engaged, wholistic approach that turns everyday life into a spiritual practice, 24/7. We don’t sequester ourselves to prepare for a later return to living. It’s evolving human nature–in action.When we step into the evolutionary impulse, conscious living is the practice–how we relate to our experiences, situations, and other people. The result is a practical, grounded spirituality that has a far greater impact on yourself and the world–and a daily life infused with meaning and purpose.
Learn how to de-fuse your ego and its undermining strategies
It’s no secret that the ego is a major obstacle for any of us who are attempting to live a conscious, awakened life, because the human interior hasn’t caught up with the complexities and opportunities of modern life. Although humankind has evolved in many remarkable ways, we remain driven by ancient, outmoded software driving impulses that long ago ceased to be appropriate or necessary.When these unproductive habits and instincts run the show unconsciously, nothing really works the way we sense it could–not in our lives or in the world.What’s more, many spiritual and psychological disciplines have taught us that this human nature is fixed and must be accepted, offering little hope for anything more than “small change.”But the discovery of the evolutionary self changes all that, offering a path beyond ego that’s simpler and more direct than most of us can imagine. By aligning with that pure and powerful part of ourselves, which is already beyond the ego, we literally bypass its outmoded impulses. We liberate ourselves from the inner “software” of our primitive ancestry.The drives toward safety and survival, stasis, certainty, avoidance of truth and responsibility, and other universal “faces of ego” lose their grip on our lives. They don’t go away, but they cease to be compelling. The voice of limitation no longer captures our attention; the temptation to play the victim loses its charge.With these primitive tendencies no longer in the driver’s seat, you’re free to take creative healthy risks, lean into positive change, face truths without resistance, and focus on the flourishing of our highest human potential.
Act on your highest aspirations, wisdom and callings even when you don’t feel like it
From the evolutionary self, you experience an un-linking of the bondage between your feelings and your actions. You discover the liberation of your capacity to consciously align your behavior with something other than your feelings.Instead of being thrown off course by strong feelings, you find the will to act from your highest intentions consistently. Instead of waiting for spiritually enlightened feelings to move you, you move in spite of how you feel.You cultivate the capacity to be good and do good whether you feel good or not–to live as an expression of your highest ideals on the outside, no matter what’s passing through on the inside. You give up the notion that “I couldn’t help it.” Emotions such as fear are no longer obstacles to action.This doesn’t mean suppressing your feelings. You can feel all your feelings deeply–even more so, with an expanding care for the whole–and still see clearly in the face of them. And, you learn to read your feelings more accurately and obtain the wisdom and data they contain without getting sidetracked by them.The result: Better choices and decisions, steadfast commitment, and a life of integrity and presence. We hear from many of our participants that the discovery of emotional freedom is one of the most liberating and powerful transformations of the course.
Enlarge your circle of care to “draft” on the momentum and energy of evolution
When we don’t seem to be getting the results our spiritual practices were intended to deliver, many of us begin to doubt that the ideals we once set out to manifest are even possible. Unfortunately, much of contemporary spiritual thought supports this reduced vision, suggesting we “call off the search” and accept that this is as good as it gets.One of the pitfalls most people don’t even realize they’re stuck in is a context for our spiritual work that’s simply too small. An unfortunate byproduct of our individualistic culture is that spiritual growth is often seen as being strictly personal–for our own fulfillment, happiness, and enlightenment.Entire generations have thus been earnestly working on themselves chiefly to obtain happier, more peaceful lives–and wondering why this doesn’t catalyze significant change.What if the purpose of a spiritual path includes you, but doesn’t end with you?When you activate the evolutionary self, an intense care for something beyond you is ignited. You become accountable to and profoundly connected with the role your own progress plays in the great game of evolution–the way that, as evolving beings in an evolving universe, we can participate in the advancement of humanity and consciousness itself.The evolutionary self sees that our future depends on our willingness to evolve as a species, and that we’re either contributing to the whole–or holding it back. When your own radical betterment becomes an evolutionary imperative and not a personal project, you awaken the depth of passion and conviction required to propel you into genuine–and permanent–change.
Find the resilience, perspective and genuine optimism to face the biggest challenges confronting humanity today
Evolutionaries often feel passionate about serving and improving the world with all its critical issues. But we may feel daunted by the scope of massive global problems and institutions that seem omnipotent. It can feel overwhelming and paralyzing to care deeply about our planet given the challenges we face today.Thankfully, the context of evolution provides genuine hope for change. The evolutionary worldview helps us understand and navigate our problems and challenges more accurately, and offers a perspective that is the ultimate antidote to cynicism: we realize that everything can and will change.The practices of evolutionary spirituality infuse us with resilience, inspiration, creativity, and energy. With the evolutionary self leading the charge, we’re tapped into the limitless, positive and unstoppable momentum of the cosmos itself. Rather than take on issues alone, as individuals or even as a community, we’re fueled by something much larger.We can also take heart in the fact that by developing ourselves, we are “being the change” and doing perhaps the most important work of all–contributing to a cultural shift that may ultimately instigate more improvement than tackling any one issue on its own.
These are a few of the ways in which your experience of being alive can shift when you step into what I call “an evolutionary relationship to life”–the fundamental shift in your orientation that is generated when you awaken this deeper part of the self and learn to give it the reins.
When you are able to cultivate these very real capabilities, you find that your deepest hopes and ambitions for a better self and a better world weren’t a pipe dream after all. You learn that we can evolve what it is to be human–not modestly, but radically–in a way that not only better serves our work, families and lives, but fulfills on the highest promise of humanity’s potential.
A free online seminar with Integral Enlightenment founder, Craig Hamilton Listen to the online seminar “Awakening the Evolutionary Self” – you can download it here at no cost.
Craig Hamilton is a founding member of Ken Wilber’s Integral Institute, a member of Deepak Chopra’s Evolutionary Leaders Forum, and was a participant in the Synthesis Dialogues, a 35-person interdisciplinary think tank presided over by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His celebrated conversations with other luminaries form the basis of the acclaimed webinar series’, “The Great Integral Awakening: Pioneering A New Spiritual Path," and “Awakening the Impulse to Evolve: The Birth of Evolutionary Spirituality." He has also been a contributor to Shift magazine and co-authored IONS’ 2008 Shift Report. Craig lives with his wife, Claire, in San Rafael, California. Visit his website here: Integral Enlightenment