Journal of Conscious Evolution


Goerner, Sally


Evolution did not stop with life per se. At the very least it built brains from which sprang minds from which sprang consciousness, the greatest of the world’s many mysteries. This chapter takes up the question of brains, minds and consciousness. The not-so-surprising implication here, is that these greatest of creation’s wonders are also part of the story. No longer in long, slow, cycles of blind self-organization, somehow the Great Ordering Oneness found a way to build a system which consciously shapes the world and itself as if by plan. More self-aware and more potentially powerful than anything that has ever existed, thinking beings are a world-transforming force in their own right. There is, of course, a reason I haven’t mentioned much about mind. Mind is even more incomprehensible to clockwork thinkers than life. Early clockwork thinkers thought that we were merely separated, mind from body. Later ones described mind as an epi-phenomenon, an illusion of a few lifeless chemicals. After all, when you break brains down, there is no mind to be found. Traditional evolutionary theory has essentially ignored mind, preferring genes instead. All of this is likely to end in the relatively foreseeable future. Currents of change can already be seen. Once a taboo topic, consciousness is becoming an increasingly common subject in the popular press. Books such as The Celestine Prophecy, for instance, paint a picture of humanity reaching a new level of consciousness. People trapped in the cloying maze of modern reality, suddenly discover an invisible web of awareness growing within themselves and others. Individually and collectively, human beings are struggling precariously toward a new, more integral perception. The potential is high. So is the need. The birth of a new level of consciousness seems to be part and parcel of the project to save the world. Now, I am not going to tell a romantic tale of New Age seers in the Andes. I think it is important to stay more grounded than this, lest the realists in the audience run for the hills. Yet, I also believe there is a valid intuition behind such works. Books like The Celestine Prophecy are part of the same instinctive reaction to clockwork omissions seen elsewhere. Clockwork bleakness strikes again. Millions of highly educated people the world over now read such books and harbor secret hopes that they are true. Understanding the science behind this intuition, gives human hope a better foundation. Thus, brain researchers too are hoping that new understandings of consciousness will help bring about a global civilization which is less apt to destroy itself and the world. Their hope seems particularly reasonable since mind and consciousness are so central to the human condition. Indeed, I would make a stronger statement — one cannot understand our condition or our times without understanding the phenomenon of mind, including ways of looking at the world and patterns of collective knowing. Today, powerful new views are building which will have a profound affect on our sense of ourselves. They quite literally redefine what the human project is about. Not a lumbering automaton or a ruthless beast, here human beings (one and many) become the ultimate learning system, the finest and foremost spark of a learning world. That is the story that will unfold here, it will simply be much more integrated into the larger story of evolution than most people imagine. The theory of mind presented here is new in its fine points largely because I include the energy connection and other rarely-popularized points. Yet, the core image is again remarkably old. Mind is a natural, interwoven outcome of a much larger flow. What is interesting is its implications for our times.