…Continued from Part 1
Enlightenment in its original core is a premodern idea that exists in all the great traditions. Uniqueness is a modern and postmodern idea – a modern idea in terms of the affirmation of the infinite dignity of the individual; a postmodern idea in terms of a realization that every human being has a unique perspective. More than that – democracy is a realization of enlightenment, of Western enlightenment. It’s the realization of a higher structure of consciousness in which there’s this realization across the board in culture that every human being has a right to participate in their own self-governance. That is a momentous leap in the evolution of consciousness.
And so as we develop a World Spirituality based on this emergent evolutionary principle, this evolutionary emergence of the Democratization of Enlightenment, we recognize that what we’re doing is bringing together the best of premodern, modern and postmodern. Premodern wisdom traditions affirm enlightenment, the ability to move from small self to True Self. Modern traditions affirm democracy, and democracy is a higher stage of consciousness. It’s a higher level of consciousness. It’s to grow up to a higher and higher level of consciousness. So let’s say before democracy (in levels of consciousness), you might have an earlier level which is about being part of a larger unit in which you’re defined by that larger unit. It’s being part of a mythic membership society. You’re part of the church, you’re part of the empire. Your value derives from you being part of the church, the empire or the religion. That’s one level of consciousness.
A higher level of consciousness is the emergence of democracy in which you derive your value, not from your place in the feudal empire, not from your place in the religion, although you clearly have that place, but your value is intrinsic. I have an obligation to love you, to affirm your dignity, to not reduce you to an object for someone else’s subject, to a means for someone else’s end — merely by the very virtue of your existence by itself. That’s an emergent that’s an evolution of consciousness – democracy which affirms the individual is a momentous leap in consciousness.
So that’s the contribution of modernity. So modernity says, “Grow up to your higher stage of consciousness, your higher level of consciousness.” Premodernity says, “Wake up. Wake up and realize that you’re not merely a Separate Self, you’re a True Self.” And when Wake Up and Grow Up come together, then we can begin to Show Up as Unique Self, and Unique Self is the highest awakening of my state of consciousness. First, I realize I am part of the All. Then I awaken even higher and I realize I’m a unique expression of the All – and that is my highest awakening. My highest awakening of my highest state of consciousness actually is my Unique Self. The highest stage of consciousness or the higher stage of consciousness that modernity invites us to is to move from a mythic membership society to a democracy, and in a democracy I have rights and I have dignity, and that dignity derives from my being unique, not from my being separate from the All – but from my being a Unique Self.
And so the democratization of enlightenment says that every human being has the capacity to transcend their limited identity, their limited belief that they’re a Separate Self in which they need to grasp for resources and to brutally oppress others, and to brutally oppress parts of him/herself in order to feel like he/she is eternal. I can actually embrace all of who I am. I can actually embrace all of who you are, and together we can actually move towards a higher level of Being and consciousness. Wow! So that’s amazing. In the democratization of enlightenment, every human being has the potential to actually live this consciousness of enlightenment — of Unique Self enlightenment — and because every human being has this possibility, Unique Self enlightenment becomes the obligation of every human being.
So at the core of a World Spirituality is the invitation, which appears for the first time today in the history of consciousness, to actually evolve, to evolve love. Because what is love? What does it mean? To be love is to uniquely express love through my being.
Love is both an emotion and a perception. It’s a Unique Self perception. I see you in your infinite dignity. I see you in your True Self. I see you as a unique expression of True Self, and that’s not only true for a small group of elite people living on a mountaintop in Nepal or in the backstreets of Jerusalem. It is actually the obligation to realize my Unique Self and to give my unique gifts in the world, to express and incarnate my unique Being and Becoming; that obligation, that possibility, that invitation is democratic, and it’s extended to every human being on the face of the planet — because only then can we create a shift in consciousness which will allow us to thrive as a people, and to thrive as a civilization.
The invitation to thrive only comes from the shift in consciousness in which every human being is invited to affirm the infinite dignity of their unique story that deserves to be told, lived and received. That is the democratization of enlightenment which is the core of the evolution of consciousness, which is the evolution of love.