(Excerpted from an August 2012 Living on the Edge of Evolution Course Session)
I’ve been championing the power of collective awakening for a long time because it played such a vital role in my own spiritual journey.
And now that we have some years of experiencing it in a virtual context, I feel compelled to make it clear how important and profound I’ve experienced it to be, and encourage everyone to experiment with it and see what you can discover in your own experience with it.
Something different is possible in the collective. It’s not that we can’t get anywhere spiritually profound as an individual. Look at all the great saints of the past, the sages and enlightened masters—they’ve been extraordinary examples of human virtue and awakening.
But there are dimensions of who you are and who I am that only come into being in enlightened relationship. There are dimensions of self that a person might never experience on their own. Not just dimensions of we, but dimensions of you that can only come into existence in a higher emergent awakening collective.
That may be a controversial thing to say, but it’s actually been proven so many times in my experience and that of others I’ve worked with.
I realize I just said something that’s scary to the individual self—which is that there are parts of you that you’ll never even know if you can’t open to a higher collective awakening— so I want to clarify something.
The reality of this collective experience that we’re going to be exploring is that our individuality does not go anywhere in this. In fact, you become more yourself.
Meaning: individuality in a good sense is actually heightened in this letting go of ego boundaries. We actually become individuated, more unique, more distinct, even as we let go into the part of us that we share with everyone. So there’s no loss of individuation, even as there’s such a profound merging. It’s a total mystery, but that’s also been my experience.
Just to say a little bit more about why I feel this is so significant—not just the work we’re doing in groups here, but collective emergence itself, the entire potential for awakening together.
On an individual level, this spiritual technology, if you will, has the power to dramatically accelerate our personal evolution. It really does. I’ve seen it over and over again. I’ve heard it from so many people with reports of how it’s happened, and I’ve seen it in myself. I’m doubtless about it at this point.
There is an exponential transformational kind of vortex that happens when we practice together that propels each of us far beyond where we would go if we were just sitting and practicing alone.
So if we need individuals to awaken and evolve, the fact that we can access a collective consciousness and power that rapidly accelerates the individual awakening is pretty relevant. Even if that were the only thing that collective practice was for, it would be more than significant.
But there’s also another reality here. It’s that we don’t just need individuals to awaken. We need to enlighten what it’s like to be together. In other words, we need groups to start to discover, experience, and chart new pathways of enlightened engagement, post-egoic interaction. What is it like? What would heaven on Earth look like?
Well, it would look exactly like what it’s like when a group discovers what I’m talking about. Because instantly, all the things that normally trouble groups and collectives start to fall away. All the “my agenda versus your agenda,” “how are we going to negotiate between our competing needs and desires and agendas”— it all becomes secondary to a larger unity that we’re aware of, that is guiding us, and that motivates us to want to care for the whole. We care for ourselves only in the context of a greater care for the whole.
This has evolutionary significance. It’s significant for the evolution of how we are together, the evolution of culture.
The evolution of consciousness is also trying to move into this new arena—this new awakened arena where, from a sacred or spiritual or God perspective, there’s a sense that God gets to know itself in form through this collective awakening. When I’m awakening to that and you’re awakening to that, there’s one sacred consciousness that’s awakening in both of us, and it’s seeing itself. This mysterious thing is happening and it’s an utterly holy event. There’s no other way to describe this. It’s almost beyond words, but there’s a sense that the Divine is knowing itself through us.
And finally, just practically, humanity needs models for different ways to be together. We can try to think our way into it, but as long as we’re all coming from our individual egos, we won’t be very good at it, even if we could map out, say, “ten things we need to do to come together in a more enlightened way” or something like that. It’s ultimately not going to work. We actually need to see living prototypes of groups who are able to function in higher ways, and then social learning will happen. Groups will start to have models for this, and then be able to map it. This is helping create pathways to the future.
For all of those reasons and many others, to me collective awakening is arguably the most significant emergence that’s coming through in this unfolding of evolutionary spirituality. It transcends and includes all the individual components of this spiritual path. They’re not lost at all. But they’re included in a larger embrace and recognition of collective awakening’s significance.
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About Craig Hamilton
Craig Hamilton is a pioneer in the emerging field of evolutionary spirituality and a leading voice in the movement for conscious evolution. As the guiding force behind Integral Enlightenment, Craig offers spiritual guidance and teachings to a growing international community spanning 50 countries around the world.
His introductory and advanced courses have more than 6,000 graduates to date. These courses are designed to support people who are committed to evolving themselves and our culture, yearn to make their greatest contribution, and seek to develop themselves to embrace this calling.
To provide effective support for these pioneers, Craig created the Academy for Evolutionaries, offering practical spiritual tools and training that are in step with our times and informed by an up-to-date understanding of the human condition. In this unique training ground, Craig brings together core insights and approaches based on decades of on-the-ground research at the leading edge of spiritual practice and inquiry.
Craig’s programs integrate decades of intensive spiritual practice with insights gleaned during his eight years as Senior Editor of the award winning What Is Enlightenment? magazine.
Craig’s work is highly acclaimed by thought leaders and spiritual teachers ranging from Ken Wilber, Michael Beckwith, and Barbara Marx Hubbard to Don Beck and Jean Houston, among many others. He 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.