I got a speeding ticket on my way to a spiritual retreat. Now, if this was a buddhist retreat I was heading to, the fact that I was going 80 miles an hour in a 55 mile per hour zone would seem very unpeaceful – counter buddhistic you might say. But since I was heading to a retreat with evolutionary spirituality guru Andrew Cohen, it was somehow fitting. Peace? Forget peace! Cohen teaches that the evolutionary impulse wants creative friction, it wants to burn. Be a human bonfire, make trouble, get out and change the world. So the fact that I had a sense of urgency, that I was in a big hurry to get to the retreat, is very appropriate. Even if I have to pay a price…
I’ve read Cohen’s magazine, What is Enlightenment? (now EnlightenNEXT), listened to audio recordings of his teachings, and befriended some of his students, teachers in their own right like Carter Phipps, and I’ve always been inspired. I feel a natural and deep resonance with these teachings. They are contemporary, fiery and liberating in a way that few other teachings are. But coming here to Foxhollow in Massachusetts and listening to Andrew in person took it to a whole new level. It was a direct transmission.
By the end of the weekend retreat, called “Changing the World from the Inside Out”, I had the sense that my spiritual bonfire had a barrel of jet fuel poured onto it. Andrew teaches that all of us have, at the deepest level, an Authentic Self. This is our original face, and it is the evolutionary impulse which began some 14 billion years ago with the Big Bang, and continues to unfold to this day, in each and every one of us. We just need to wake up to this fact, and own it, and the tremendous responsibility it leaves us with – the responsibility to transcend the confines of our limiting ego, that seperate self sense, and step into the drivers seat, and start consciously evolving, co-creating the universe. When you really get this, that you are one of the many faces of God – yes You – at a deep, deep level, it is nothing less than awe inspiring. Inside you is a fiery force, a creative force, an emerging urgency to unfold, to blossom, to move through this world with uncompromising authenticity. Everything changes from this perspective. You have a limited amount of time here in the manifest realm, and there is no more time for procrastination, no more time for playing the victim, for licking your ego wounds, for whining your life away- your extraordinary life begins today.
Andrew doesn’t coddle his students, he urges us to step on the gas and go for it. One of the excercises he asked us to do was to imagine the ego from the perspective of the authentic self. What does it look like, what does it feel like? This simple exercise is quite profound when you really give it a go. First of all, it requires that you take the perspective of the authentic self. Far too often (for many of us, all of the time), we identify our “I” as the ego. Flip this around, and realize that your true “I” is your authentic self, your God self. Your original face. Then, from this perspective, have a look at your ego. What do you see?
I saw my ego as a huge, over inflated hot air balloon. Distended, taut and puffed up. And then it just popped – kaboom! – shrivelled up to it’s true size, a wrinkled little piece of rubber. A bit like a used condom. Not that it was gone – it’s still there, and most likely it will always still be there. The ego has a purpose, it emerged for a reason- that sense of seperation from the One, allows Us to step back, and see Ourselves, to celebrate creation, and to engage in a way that singularity can’t. One of the unique gifts of human consciousness, is that we “know that we know.” We are G-d seeing Herself. The ego helps to make this possible. But it isn’t the be all and end all – it’s just a small slice of who We are, a tool, and we’ve over inflated it, made it into our everything. Instead of allowing it to drive, what if you were to (as spiritual cowgirl Sera Beak suggests) give it one of those little toy steering wheels and a baby rattle, and put it in the back seat, where it belongs. Don’t let it drive!
Tommorrow producer Cher Hawrysh and I are going to interview Andrew for Fierce Light Films new feature documentary project, in the early stages of development, called “Evolve Dissolve: Another World is Here.” This is the very first shoot of the film, and a fitting launching pad as we set off on a new journey.
“Evolutionary enlightenment calls for egoless participation in the life-process for the sake of the evolution of consciousness itself. We are all desperately needed right now. For what? To truly awaken, to become enlightened, so that we can consciously participate, as liberated souls, in the life-process. What is the point of the experience of incarnation? To finally be able to give ourselves wholeheartedly to the life-process—to EVOLUTION—to conscious evolution, so that we can make a real difference in this crazy, divided, suffering world. Yes, enlightenment for the twenty-first century calls us all to participate wholeheartedly—that means with everything we’ve got—for everyone else’s sake, for the upliftment of all of life, RIGHT NOW, as liberated beings. Yes, we are all needed, by our very own Self. Desperately.” –Andrew Cohen
It’s an incredibly positive vision, in which the Big Bang, and everything that’s come since, including human consciousness, is seen a great big Yes!
So what about you? Are you ready to start living an extraordinary life? What does your authentic self look like, taste like, feel like? How about your ego? Who would you rather have in the drivers seat?