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The path before us will not be a bed of roses. We know that a transformation of global dimensions has already started, and we know that its unfolding is not predictable. We can be certain that it will be challenging: we will live in the midst of constant and profound change, our very survival will be constantly at stake.
Will we achieve the understanding, the wisdom, to survive this challenge? And what difference will the reassessment and re-valuing of spiritual experience make to our chances of survival and flourishing?
The time has come to consider the deeper implications of our science based re-assessment.
LOOKING BACK: Three Big Bangs Behind Us
This will not be the first time in history that a period of global-level transformation has dawned on humankind. Philosopher of science Holmes Rolston pointed out that our “big history” includes three such transformations—veritable “big bangs.” [Three Big Bangs: Matter-Energy, Life, Mind]
The first was the physical big bang that is believed to have occurred about 13.8 billion years ago. It gave birth to the manifest universe with its quantum particles, multiple kinds of energies, and billions of galaxies. It led to the formation of solar systems, with suns and planets, and energy flows that prompt the formation of more and more complex systems on “Goldilocks” (fortunately situated) planets associated with active suns.
Another basic transformation—the “second big bang”—was the emergence of living organisms among the complex and coherent systems that evolved on Earth, and presumably also on other planets. This transformation is thought to have taken place about 3.8 billion years ago. It began with the emergence of single-celled prokaryotes in the primordial soup that covered the surface of the planet.
The “third big bang” is dated to have occurred about 120,000 years ago. It fundamentally changed—“evolved”—the consciousness of our species. Homo is said to have become sapiens. The evolutionary advantages of evolved consciousness included a more flexible and rapid form of communication.
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Communication was no longer limited to semiautomatic responses triggered by recurring conditions and events; instead of limited to signs, human communication became based on consensually developed symbols.
The evolution of symbolic language was a major leap. On the one hand, it gave birth to social structures based on collectively acquired meaning, and on the other, it produced enhanced manipulative skills among people. Societies could evolve on the basis of shared cultures wielding ever more powerful technologies. Homo sapiens began to dominate other species and became a key factor in the evolution of life in the biosphere.
The third big bang produced an explosion of the human population, but it did not produce the wisdom that would ensure that the expanded population could maintain the balances essential for the flourishing life on the planet. The basic balances became ever more impaired.
The short-sighted use of technology and the disregard of natural checks and balances brought humanity to where it is today: to a “chaos point,” where the choice is stark: it is between breakdown and breakthrough.' [The Chaos Point: The World at the Crossroads, Ervin Laszlo]
Now another global transformation has become inevitable: a fourth big bang. It is time to learn the lessons of history. The continuation of our reign in the biosphere may depend on it.
SEEING FORWARD: The Fourth Big Bang Ahead
We are one of more than one hundred million species in the biosphere, where each species encompasses millions, in some cases billions, of individuals. Among all these species and individuals, we are in a privileged position: we have a highly developed brain and associated consciousness. This enables us to ask who we are, what the world is, and how we can and should live in the world.
An advanced consciousness is a unique resource, but we are not making good use of it. We are not asking the right questions and seeking the right answers, just moving forward trusting to good fortune.
We have increased our numbers, but did not increase the benefits our conscious mind could confer on those whom we bring into the world. We have developed sophisticated technologies and applied them to serve our needs and wants, but have damaged or driven to extinction the majority of advanced species. Fifty percent of all wildlife on the planet has disappeared, and forty-four thousand populations of living species are vanishing day after day.
We have become a danger to all life in the biosphere. How did this come about?
History teaches us that big bangs, global transformations, do not necessarily bring about an equitable and flourishing world; they can also lead to breakdowns. We have reached the threshold of a fourth big bang and we are not doing what we can to reach a breakthrough and avoid a breakdown.
The bulk of today’s population is frustrated and depressive, and is turning violent. People suffer from a changed climate, pollution, and myriad forms of ecological degradation. Large masses roam the planet in search of a place to survive.
The lessons of history are before us, and we could, but so far do not, make use of them. We should know that a breakdown is not inscribed in our genes. The way we go is neither a natural nor a good way. History tells us that we had better correct it.
Fortunately, mending our way is possible. We are perfectly capable of living on this planet without destroying the balances and resources needed for a healthy life for ourselves and for all other species. No species would have to be decimated, subjugated, or driven to extinction to keep us alive. We could live sustainably, coexisting with other species and respecting the limits of life in the biosphere. So why do we drive countless species to extinction and damage the environment not just we, but all living species, need to exist?
The first thing to realize is that whatever went wrong with the way we behave did not go wrong for all of humankind. The great majority of the people who inhabit the planet are not the creators of today’s problems, but their victims. Given a chance, most people would live on earth without destroying each other and the environment. As Aristotle said, we are social animals. We are coded for survival, and our codes include co-existence with other species. We are not instinctively destructive and exclusively selfish.
The very fact that we managed to survive as a biological species for five million years, and as a conscious species for about fifty thousand, is evidence that our basic nature is not the problem. It is not the bulk of the human population that is responsible for becoming a scourge of life on the planet, only a segment.
The question is, why did this segment create unsustainable, and now critical, conditions for the higher forms of life on earth? And can it change and transform in time to avoid a major catastrophe?
Theological and mystic assumptions have sometimes been cited as the reason for our having become what we are, but ascribing our behavior to divine or other transcendent causes is not the correct answer. We are neither angels nor devils, and certainly, we are not fundamentally evil.
It appears that we became the scourge we have actually become unintentionally. Like other species, we are wholeness-oriented, naturally holotropic beings in a wholeness-oriented universe. Our forebears reached out to explore and make use of whatever they found in their surroundings, and for millennia their instinctive inclination was to build things and make them serve their existence.
Then at the dawn of the Neolithic, a segment of humanity began to use the things they found, as well as the things they created, in a narrowly focused way: to enhance their own comfort and their own power. They began to put themselves above and beyond everything and everyone else.
In a finite and interdependent planet, this produced unsustainably unbalanced conditions. It “sub-optimized” the use of the available spaces and resources, concentrating them to serve the perceived interests of the dominant segment.
The self-centered use of spaces and resources damaged the networks of relations and the distribution of resources on which the web of life depended. The dominant segment of the human species became a threat to all life on the planet. It became a threat also to its own existence.
The flourishing of the web of life is a precondition of the flourishing of human life as well. This is a relatively recent realization. For millennia, people in all parts of the world pursued the tasks of their existence without being conscious that the unreflective pursuit of their own narrowly conceived interest is a bane for all life around them.
How could we have become we become a bane for life on the planet? The answer may be given by an insightful remark by Mark Twain. For a young boy with a new hammer, he said, the whole world seems like a nail. Hammering away at the world may be well-intentioned to begin with, but without attention to its secondary “collateral” effects it is risky. It can create highly destructive conditions.
The technologies of the modern age enable us to hammer with great speed and power at whatever we believe will bring us wealth and power. We are making the world into a planetwide toy-shop where we build the toys that serve our own interests. We play with our toys regardless of whether this truly serves our needs, and without taking into account the needs, and even the survival, of others.
We liberate the energy of the atom, and use it to power systems that satisfy our wants. We channel flows of electrons into integrated circuits and use the circuits to command the technologies that serve our requirements for communication and information. We play in the global toy shop without regard for the consequences it has on others, on us, and on the entire shop.
This is a shortsighted and dangerous way to behave. Energy and information are fundamental elements of the world; as we said, we ourselves are complex configurations of in-formed energy. Now we access energy in ways that do not serve our real needs, only our short-term self-centered aspirations.
We manipulate information in a similarly short-sighted way. The nuclear bomb and the nuclear power station on the one hand, the computer with its network of global chatter on the other, are examples. They are technological overshoots that may end up damaging our life, and all life in the biosphere.
Can we blame those who operate the new energy- and information-toys for using them indiscriminately? We cannot blame them any more than we can blame a young boy for hammering away with his new hammer.
People are not evil, just self-centered and short-sighted. But this cannot go on: the time when we could naively play with powerful toys is over. The unforeseen “side-effects” have become a threat to all life on the planet, including our own.
We have arrived at the threshold of the fourth big bang. Where do we go from here?
THE WAY FORWARD: The Future Is In Your Hands
If we are to flourish, and even to survive, on this planet the consciousness of the dominant segment of humanity must change. If it fails to do so, the next big bang will be our last.
A global transformation is a risky process: if it is to culminate in a breakthrough rather than lead to a breakdown, it has to be guided.
A good way of guiding the fourth big bang on the horizon is to motivate people to listen to, and heed, the message of their spiritual experiences. This helps them to reconnect to The Source.
When a critical mass reconnects, the rest may follow. This is more than a pious hope. Crisis catalyzes transformation, and in the crisis of a transformation, the intrinsic holotropism of our consciousness can rise to the fore.
We need to begin the guidance of our evolution by following Gandhi’s advice: don’t tell others what to do; become yourself what you want them to become. Become the transformation we need in the world.
The call is to become the transformation to our own true self: to regain our nature-encoded wisdom. We need to become an expression of mature and healthy life in the universe.
The hero myth of ancient Greece needs to be updated. We don’t want lone heroes projecting strident individualism; this role-model has exhausted its utility. The time has come for the collective hero, as we find for example in the mythology of the Ubuntu.
Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” needs to motivate the evolution of humanity’s consciousness. Then our individual consciousness could transform into a species-consciousness.
If a critical mass regains its natural holotropism, the “fourth big bang” will not mark the end of human life, and perhaps of all life on the planet. It will still be a disruptive global transformation, but not a destructive one.
The lesson for Homo sapiens, a species with a highly but as yet not adequately evolved consciousness, is evident. We need to reconnect to The Source and regain our natural inclination to live in accordance with the “in-formation” that shapes and orients all things in the universe. We need to become the empathetic, unconditionally loving beings that in our heart we already are. This is more than a felicitous option: it is a precondition of our continued existence on earth.
To put it in plain language: we need to change. We can change, and we can change in the right way because the change we need is to change into what we deep down already are.
The way forward is open. The task is clear. Wake up and become the change we need. The future of a remarkable species on a precious planet is in your hands.
Copyright 2020 by Ervin Laszlo. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission from Reconnecting to the Source.
Publisher: St. Martin's Essentials,
an imprint of St Martin's Publishing Group
Reconnecting to the Source: The New Science of Spiritual Experience
by Ervin Laszlo
This revolutionary and powerful book will challenge you to reconsider the boundaries of our own experience and change how we look at the world around us. It is a unique, never before available resource for people who want to know how they can consciously align with the forces and “attractors” that governs the universe, and brought us, living, conscious people on the scene in the great processes of evolution that unfold here on Earth.
Click here for more info and/or to order this paperback book. Also available as a Kindle edition, an Audiobook and an Audio CD
About the Author
Ervin Laszlo is a philosopher and systems scientist. Twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, he has published more than 75 books and over 400 articles and research papers. The subject of the one-hour PBS special Life of a Modern-Day Genius, Laszlo is the founder and president of the international think tank the Club of Budapest and of the prestigious Laszlo Institute of New Paradigm Research. He is the author of Reconnecting to the Source (St. Martin’s Press, New York, March 2020).