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Evolutionary Spirituality

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EVOLUTIONARY LIFE

The Context

In every human society, the largest of all contexts is the story of how the world began, how everything came to be as we find it today, and — crucially — where everything is going. This story, a people’s cosmology, is the “big picture” that gives meaning to existence in every facet of individual and communal life. It helps us understand the mysteries of birth and death. It is the soil out of which all of our beliefs, customs, behavior, traditions, and institutions grow. Such an account guides people in each culture toward a shared understanding of what is good and what is bad. It tells them what is to be avoided and what is to be pursued. After several centuries of modern science, the world now has a new ground for constructing cosmological stories -- as always, using the best evidence of the time. Biologists Julian Huxley and Edward O. Wilson have called this aesthetically rendered story “the epic of evolution” (or “evolutionary epic”). Most recently, geologian Thomas Berry has called it “the Great Story.”

The Great Story is, quite simply, the sacred story of everyone and everything. No human story, no cultural story, no religious story is left out. The Great Story of evolution can thus serve as a way of understanding natural and cultural history that honors and embraces all religious traditions and creation stories. It is the sacred narrative of an evolving Universe of emergent complexity and breathtaking creativity — a story that offers each of us the opportunity to find meaning and purpose in our lives and our time in history. -- Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow


Our Purpose

We believe (a) that humanity is a part and expression of the great story of universal evolution, (b) humanity represents the possibility of evolution becoming conscious of itself and (c) that the extent to which humanity takes the leap into conscious evolution will determine humanity's existence and quality of life during the 21st century and thereafter.

We believe that inspired conscious evolutionary behavior can be an everyday experience and that humanity is limited largely by its perceptions of the story it is living. We intend to help humanity expand into consciousness of its role in the great evolutionary story so that, rather than destroying itself, it can progressively live into its most life-serving possibilities.

We will nurture humanity's evolutionary role in three fundamental areas:

  • learning, research, and teaching the reality and dynamics of evolution
  • celebration, support, and community grounded in the spirit of evolution
  • practice, service, and transformational action that embodies evolution at all levels -- personal, relational, social systemic, and planetary.




Within this broad purpose, our initial focus is on hosting conversations that matter. We choose this focus because interaction underlies all evolution, conversation is humanity's primary -- and rapidly evolving -- form of interaction, and conversations that matter play a profound role in the evolution of human systems. Furthermore, since human systems now impact everything on earth, the conversations we have now will effect the future of all life as we know it. We might as well make the most of them.

Conversation is an evolutionary force of extraordinary potential, offering rich opportunities for bringing consciousness to the evolutionary process.


Rationale

Based on the recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we have about ten years in which to radically shift our human systems (e.g., financial systems, educational systems, health care systems, transportation systems, etc.) to be more benign and environmentally friendly. From an evolutionary perspective, these dire times are actually an opportunity for much more than surviving climate change. Evolution teaches us that times of crisis are opportunities for dramatic shifts for the better. This is a time in which we can conceivably awaken to the role of humanity in the conscious, collective evolution of the whole of life.

When friends and colleagues ask us where they can devote time or money to accomplish this Herculean task, we are struck by the growing abundance of options, solutions, activities -- accompanied by a disturbing sense that it all isn't enough! Despite so much good work going on -- efforts like WISER Earth and World Changing -- the underlying means by which whole systems change are so seldom addressed. Our work pioneers initiatives that focus on developing society's collective adaptive capacity -- to ensure our ability to creatively address all our collective challenges, opportunities and dreams.

Ecological systems thinker Donella Meadows identified twelve points of leverage for intervening in a system. Her top four points, in ascending order, are:

  • The power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure
  • The goal of the system
  • The mindset or paradigm that the system's goals and dynamics arise out of
  • The power to transcend any such mindset or paradigm, as needed.

We believe that by focusing on such high-leverage projects -- by improving the quality of human interaction -- how people talk, think, respond, and create together -- by creating strategically targeted opportunities for conversations that could make a profound difference, and by enhancing society's capacity to consciously transform its assumptions, values, visions, stories, and paradigms -- we can dramatically accelerate the urgently needed co-evolutionary shift of all of human systems simultaneously.


Our Projects

Bound by our purpose, we are hosting conversations that matter in a variety of strategic areas.

  • The Storyfield Conferences - storytellers shifting the master narrative of our culture
  • Journalism that Matters - journalists evoking community conversation and engagement
  • The Evolutionary Spirituality Movement - ordinary people awakening to the profound evolutionary journey they are co-creating
  • The Collective Intelligence Convergence - those who know how to access the wisdom of the whole, coming together to share that knowledge and work together
  • The Nexus for Change - process artists co-evolving the capacity for powerful human conversations and other forms of interactions
  • Images of the Future - Cultural Creatives, Integral leaders and other ‘people of the future’ work with futurists to systematically access and collectively shape their most positive and magnetic vision of our next civilization
  • Evolutionary Revivals - community organizers staging artistic and educational celebrations in their towns and regions


Like putting a human on the moon, we know the human capacity to rise to seemingly impossible challenges. We know that with focus and commitment, and the means at hand, together, we have the capability to make the shift in our collective systems. The resulting "wisdom culture" will be our gift to future generations and, itself, an unprecedented evolutionary leap.

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