“In the beginning…” – the first three words of some of the most famous and historical religious texts of humanity – initiates the unfoldment of the universal questions we, as humans, have sought to answer through science and religion across millennia. Who are we? Where did we come from? What is our purpose? Where are we going? And, because of cultural traditions and religious stories passed down throughout history as well as the growth of various scientific schools of thought, serious attempts have been made to answer these questions.
Simplistically, most answers follow a similar theme: God created humans, we are born, we live, we die and, depending on how we lived, we are either reunited with God, are reborn to try again, or end up burning in hell. Again, simplistic views, given the complexity of our universe and humanity in general.
From a transpersonal perspective, however, we can begin to discover and reveal the complexities of the intertwining of our mortality and immortality. Edgar Cayce, Clare Graves, Don Beck, and Ken Wilber, among many others, have offered strikingly overlapping models of consciousness evolution that propose to answer our eternal questions of who, what, where, and why.
According to Roger Walsh and Frances Vaughan (1994), Ken Wilber views the evolution of human consciousness as consciousness creating matter (involution) and then evolving through successive physical, biological, mental, and spiritual (consciousness) levels of self-recognition. His timeline begins some 3-6 million years ago with primitive physical beings living without consciousness, ruled primarily by instincts and biological drives (uroboric) and extends to the present day (solar ego) when a dissociation between mind and body has begun. According to Wilber, the ego is between subconsciousness and superconsciousness. His timeline extends into the future, moving us toward superconsciousness, transcendence of the soul, and oneness/immortality/timeless eternity with God.
Clare Graves and Don Beck similarly view the evolution of consciousness through various stages, depicted along a spiral, beginning with an instinctive/survivalist stage spiraling up and out toward a harmonizing/contemplative stage, although my impression is that this has less to do with soul evolution from a transpersonal perspective and more to do with human development in general within sociocultural constructs.
Edgar Cayce’s readings yield a much more comprehensive view of the transpersonal nature of our soul’s evolution. Condensing the information provided by John Van Auken (2005), humans first came to earth 4.6 billion years ago as pure energy/spirit form and shifted into some semblance of a three-dimensional form around 12 million years ago “losing their awareness of the realms of energy, spirit, and the cosmos.” The first physical body, although not as dense as the present day’s, appeared over 200,000 years ago, with separate male and female bodies appearing 106,000 years ago. Our present human form came to being around 12,000 years ago. The evolution of the physical form was to allow incarnating souls to “be better able to awaken to their divine nature and origin.” Our future appears to be ending as we know it in about 1700 years as we “regain awarenesses and higher vibrations,” lifting ourselves back into pure energy and becoming one with God.
The difference between Wilber’s model and Cayce’s is one of semantics. In Cayce’s model, the emphasis is on physical evolution so that we can reawaken to our divine consciousness and remember our co-creative role, whereas Wilber’s tends toward an evolution of consciousness in lockstep with the evolution of our physical being, with both models leading toward transcending it all and becoming one again with God.
The linearity of these models poses some problems as archeology, anthropology, and other branches of science unearth more and more ancient mysteries. For example, Wilber’s linear timeline excludes the possibility of advanced civilizations such as Atlantis and Lemuria. The discoveries of the 110-million-year old hand print and the 2.8-million-year old human jawbone (Klein, 2015) fall outside of Cayce’s timeline.
But what if their theories are considered from a more cyclical, dare I say alchemical, point of view instead of moving in one direction with a past, a present, and a future? Would this give us a better representation of “the very core of our purpose for being” (Christy, 2013), which is to be “companions and co-creators with God” (Christy, 2015)?
“…there is no individual consciousness” ~ Ken Wilber, 1997
Thus enters alchemy, fractals, and the uroboros. In Robin Robertson’s book Indra’s Net (2009), alchemy is described as a circular process beginning with “prima materia” – the first matter (the seed) – which goes through a series of repeated stages of dissolving, thickening, separating, joining, sublimating, mortifying, and circulating while being heated at different points, allowing the alchemical mixture to be “fed back into itself in complex ways.” For some reason, I always think of bread dough being kneaded when thinking of the alchemical process—kneading the dough to activate the yeast so the dough will rise, and repeating this process a few times before baking the bread.
The uroboros is an ancient, circular symbol of a snake swallowing its tail, one that was similarly found across time and cultures, and is an excellent representation of the alchemical process, of which inherent in its meaning is that “the end is already contained in the beginning” (Robertson, 2009). With the uroboros, the end is the new starting point for the next cycle.
A fractal is defined as “a curve or geometric figure, each part of which has the same statistical character as the whole” (Fractal). It is self-similar. Fractals, although mathematic, have characteristics of holons (from Ken Wilber, a whole that is simultaneously part of some other whole). Concretely, fractals are found throughout nature. More figuratively, they are found throughout the cosmos, for are we each not a fractal of the Divine? To say otherwise is to say that the physical universe and the spiritual realms are separate and distinct.
How do these relate to the evolution of consciousness? I propose that the evolution of human consciousness is in lockstep with the evolution of consciousness as a whole. One argument that can be postulated from this is if God is all there is and is completely evolved already, then being a self-similar, divine spark of God, are we not already completely evolved? Another thought is that we are fulfilling our purpose as co-creators with God; thus the physical and spiritual worlds continue to be created and evolve together. Wilber’s and Cayce’s models could simply be a temporal representation of our current evolutionary cycle around the uroboros.
Imposing a more alchemical view on the evolution of consciousness, it could look like this: God is the prima materia, containing all possibilities; that we are fractals of God, being self-similar, also considered prima materia and containing all possibilities; and that we are an active participant in the co-creative process, continuously fulfilling our purpose of being “companions and co-creators with God.” Because of the feedback loop found within the alchemical, creative process, with information being “constantly fed back into the system” (Robertson, 2009), the starting point is always changing, a new physical and spiritual universe is always beginning, and we are always creating and being created. Maybe there is no beginning, and maybe there is no end.
© Karen W. Newton. Karen has a Masters of Transpersonal Psychology from Atlantic University, Virginia Beach, VA.
Klein, C. (2015, March 11). Discovery of Oldest Human Fossil Fills Evolutionary Gap. In History in the Headlines. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/news/discovery-of-oldest-human-fossil-fills-evolutionary-gap
Paine-Clemes, B. (2015). Spiral Dynamics and Evolutionary Consciousness. From Creative Synergy. Fourth Dimension Press.
Paine-Clemes, B. (2015). Summaries of Ken Wilber’s Up from Eden. Retrieved from http://moodle.atlanticuniv.edu/mod/page/view.php?id=22816
Robertson, R. (2009). Indra’s Net: Alchemy and Chaos Theory as Models for Transformation. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House.
Sparrow Christy, L. (2013). Beyond Soul Growth: Awakening to the Call of Cosmic Evolution. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press.
Sparrow Christy, L. (2015, Jan.-Mar.). How Evolution Reshapes Our Approach to Spirituality. Venture Inward 31(1). Retrieved from http://moodle.atlanticuniv.edu/pluginfile.php?file=%2F30966%2Fmod_resource%2Fcontent%2F8%2F2015Jan-MarVentureInward1.pdf
Van Auken, J. (2005, Sept.). How Old Is Humanity? In Ancient Mysteries. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E.
Walsh, R., & Vaughan, F. (1994). The Worldview of Ken Wilber. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 34(2), 6-21.
Wilber, K. (1997, February). An Integral Theory of Consciousness. Retrieved from http://moodle.atlanticuniv.edu/pluginfile.php?file=%2F30958%2Fmod_resource%2Fcontent%2F1%2Fwww.imprint.co_.uk_Wilber.pdf