What does conscious evolution look like?

Now that I’ve returned from my Evolutionary Leaders’ retreat, I thought I’d share with you some of my observations about what happened there. 

The Evolutionary Leaders’ is a collection of leaders in the consciousness movement, set up in 2008 by Deepak Chopra and the Association of Global New Thought.  It was Barbara Fields, the director of AGNT, and Diane Williams, of Source of Synergy Foundation whose long-term dreams — to create a ‘super group’ of thought leaders who would work together to catalyze ‘conscious evolution’ — inspired our first meeting in July 2008. 

 Thirty-five of us met for a day at the Chopra Center and created the ‘call to conscious evolution’:  http://evolutionaryleaders.net/acalltoconsciousevolution/our-moment-of-choice

All of us recognized that the seemingly continuous crises besetting us in modern times are symptoms of our I-win-you-lose dualistic and increasingly polarized way of thinking (us vs them, Muslim vs Christian, Democrat vs Republican, man vs nature):  http://evolutionaryleaders.net/acalltoconsciousevolution/context-for-conscious-evolution

Einstein’s catchphrase
Our catchphrase has become Einstein’s famous quote, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

The idea is to help to shepherd a positive evolution, largely by inspiring inner and outer transformation.  Here’s a brief history of our own evolution as a group http://www.evolutionaryleaders.net/our-story

The EL website (www.evolutionaryleaders.net) also quotes Willis Harman’s book Global Mind Change: The Promise of the 21st Century: “Throughout history, the really fundamental changes in societies have come about not from dictates of governments and the results of battles but through vast numbers of people changing their minds. By deliberately changing the internal image of reality, people can change the world.”

Since that time, we’ve met twice more in successive summers, each time for four-day retreats, to discuss what we mean by conscious evolution and what we might do collectively to help shepherd in its arrival.

We’ve grown to 57 members, and we’ve divided into a variety of committees.  There are a number of ambitious plans afoot:  an EL online ‘university’, a huge event on November 1, 2011 (11-1-11) in Washington, D. C. and many more.

Los Angeles event
This year’s retreat started on Monday, August 30.  We decided to make this group officially public on Tuesday August 31, by staging a evening event at Royce Hall at UCLA.  Luckily, one of the ELs happens to be spiritual director/writer Emily Squires, now involved with making spiritual documentaries but former director (for thirty years) of Sesame Street.

As to be expected of someone able to hold small children continually captivated, Emily had created a fast-paced, multi-media event. Only 10 of us had speaking parts and others were on stage supporting others, who read one of the eight aspects of the Call to Conscious Evolution. Of the 10, each of us was given only 10 minutes to do our bit.

Those of us with a small speaking part recognized that we had to represent the group, rather than ourselves.  This meant putting the call before our own usual agendas or speaking styles.

For a group of seasoned speakers used to commanding the stage on their own with a highly dedicated fan base, this in itself was nothing less than a revolutionary act.  Many of us went into the evening highly uncertain that this approach was going to work.

Setting the intention
I was one of the 10 asked to speak, and I’d been given the task of engaging the audience in a collective intention.  I’d headed off to the retreat with a firm, specific intention of what I thought we ought to do: heal Pakistan from the aftershock of the flood.

But as I thought about it, I realized the subject of the intention shouldn’t just come from me.  I was representing the ELs at the event, not myself, and we needed to speak with a unified voice. 

We also needed to create a ripple effect – a contagion of evolutionary change.

On our first evening, I took some ideas from the floor, then solicited extra guidance over lunchtime from two EL sages: James O’Dea and Jean Houston.

The group decided on a call to action, to activate the audience to themselves become evolutionary leaders, so that they may inspire and catalyze change, in order to create a peaceful, just and sustainable world.

Until we were called on the stage to do our bit, we sat on the floor in the green room, cheering on all of the speakers coming before us. Under the direction of the highly skilled veteran Emily, the staging and direction of the event were flawless.

Bruce Lipton, Gregg Braden, Jean Houston and Barbara Marx Hubbard spoke of the fact that the earth and its inhabitants spontaneously and regularly evolve and that we can make conscious choices to make that change positive or negative.

Each of us played our well-choreographed part, conscious of our need to support all the others. During my intention, when I asked the audience to stand up and join hands, our speakers backstage and even the stage crew did likewise. Uncharacteristically I did not make use of music (Jonathan Goldman’s Choku Rei is my usual choice for our big collective intentions).  Nevertheless, the room descended into a few minutes of perfect, sacred silence.

Feeling of unity
By the end, when all 50 of us were on stage holding hands, it wasn’t an act.  We’d experienced a palpable moment of unity, when we were all selflessly speaking with one voice and one heart. 

After the reception, in our bus bound back to the retreat, toasting each other with paper cups of red wine, we were as moved and inspired as the audience had obviously been.

By the following afternoon, it was back to business as usual. We wrestled with a better understanding of exactly what we meant by ‘conscious evolution’ and which variety of new initiatives we were going to support – and how.  We debated and disagreed – and even sometimes even stepped on each others’ toes during that 13-hour day.  The superorganism we’d been the day before had divided back into our individual and separated selves.

For four exhausting days, we searched to find our purpose and goal, when the answer may have already been found.  What we experienced that Tuesday night afforded us all a little glimpse of what happens when human beings look to the larger, overarching goal and really take on board the fact that we’re all in this together.

By keeping mindful of those two simple facts, we effortlessly came together.