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 The Creative Cosmos:

Begetting Evolution and Spirituality

 Skolimowsky & the Delai Lama

Henryk Skolimowski


I have written extensively on the meaning of participation and of the participatory mind. We do not always understand the beauty and complexity of the participatory process. There is, of course, superficial or pseudo-participation, like playing Bingo, or choosing one of many brands of shampoo in the super market. And there is deep participation, like being in love or cooperating with evolutionary forces to bring about the next stage of evolutionary unfolding. Each stage of this unfolding represents a tremendous number of agents and forces cooperating and participating together. Each page of evolutionary history is an expression of the true magic of participation. There is nothing in the universe that happens without it, both in the living universe and in pre-biotic universe. It is through this process of exquisite cooperative participation that the universe holds together. Participation and cooperation are essential to the coherence of the universe, or any significant fragment of it.

Participation is so important that hardly anything could happen in evolution without an enormous array of forces and events participating together in the spirit of cooperation. Each and every biological structure is so exquisitely complex that its existence may be deemed a miracle of participation. Therefore, one of the conclusions is that the selfish gene is a fiction created by Neo-Darwinism. The lan of life and of evolution is cooperative, participatory, symbiotic and sharing. Such is the nature of ethics embedded in life itself. All the selfish theories of human nature, as well as attributing aggression to creatures of nature, are the creation of modern man, Homo aggressivus, who has lost touch with the Divine and alienated himself from the sharing and cooperative lan of life.

Closely linked with participation is transcendence. Participation provides the vehicles through which the articulation of forms take place, leading to new forms of life, to new sensitivities, to new stages of self-realization. Transcendence is the force, the engine that propels participation and moves it forward and upward. And transcendence cannot be truly understood if we do not have some sense of what creativity means. Transcendence is a peculiar form of creativity, and the meaning of creativity and of art at large cannot be understood unless we comprehend that they happen in the context of the universe guided by transcendence. Thus transcendence and creativity beautifully complement and balance each other. Both these forces always occur in the participatory universe. The cooperation of various elements in cosmic and human configurations is so exquisite that the process of participation can be seen as a creative one. This is one of the reasons why we consider Creativity, Participation and Transcendence to be a triad of forces.

Creativity, participation and transcendence are the elements which are running through our blood, are part of our evolutionary memory, and it is thus possible to see cosmic evolution as incorporating the human domain. The highest achievements of the human species are congruent with and, in fact, part and parcel of evolution of the cosmos at large. By distinguishing the field of transcendence combined with participation and the creative lan of the cosmos, we can bring to a new coherence the whole picture of the universe in which all moves in a stupendous dance, on an ever-ascending spiral of self-actualization. The creative lan of evolution has been bursting through the universe for billions of years. It has flowered with great effervescence in biological forms. It has blossomed in manifold ways in human culture, art and spirituality. If there is continuity and some coherence in evolving forms of the universe, then it is quite clear that the forms of human culture are a continuation of evolution at large.

Spirituality is a late acquisition of evolution. It represents a new level of consciousness of the human species and of evolution. We are the articulating edge of evolution, its sensitive extensions, its powerful antennae through which new sensitivities and new powers are brought into being. Spirituality is quintessentially a new form of seeing and through its prism the whole universe and we ourselves acquire a new depth and meaning. It is a new refinement through which we not only gain a new understanding but the whole universe changes its nature. The creation of spirituality in the life of the universe was perhaps as important as the creation of life. Through the existence of spirituality the universe is much more alive. We might ask a naive but perhaps an important question: Why has the universe done it? Did it have to do it? And if so, why? The simple answer is: because it is in the nature of the universe to transcend and transcend. Why didnt amoebae stay where they were? Because they were a part of the evolutionary process which had to move on, further and further. The force of transcendence is relentless and irresistible.

What kind of evolutionary advantages, if any, does spirituality offer to human beings? This question could be expressed in simpler terms: why is it important to us? What does it do for us? Spirituality is important to us for many reasons. It is important for our happiness. Spiritual bliss is the highest form of happiness. Other forms of happiness are pale in comparison. All-fulfilling happiness has spiritual roots and dimensions. Other forms of happiness, such as sensuous satisfaction or earthly fame, are really superficial, are substitute forms of happiness. True happiness is to possess what is the deepest and most precious in the human. A comparison with non-human forms of life may be illuminating. Spiritual bliss for the pig is to eat so much that it finally cannot walk any more. This is not the form of happiness evolution designed for us.

Spirituality is very important for our survival and well-being in these turbulent and fractured times. It may be contended that evolution is the survival of the fittest. To survive well in our times, full of stresses and tensions, requires psychic resilience and inner peace. These qualities are an outgrowth of our spiritual qualities. Thus, in our times only spiritually strong people have a chance to survive, for they have the requisite resilience and distance, while others, sucked into the whirl, break like match sticks in spite of their apparent toughness which may only be superficial. In the third millennium human beings will have to be spiritually strong. Dwelling in the spiritual space of our own being has a distinctive evolutionary advantage. It enables us to bear the mundane, the silly and the oppressive magnanimously and compassionately.

The possession of a spiritual dimension is important for every human in his/her own quest of self-realization. The process of self-realization is the actualization of our deepest potential, our deepest nature. After it had articulated life, after it had articulated consciousness and self-consciousness, the universe had nowhere to go but upwardtoward articulating spirituality. Such is the path of self-actualization of the universe, and within it, such is our own path. The spiritual matrix within which we live is also important for our sense of connection with others, for our sense of belonging, for our sense of empathy with others, for our sense of participation in joint projects which are important to us all. This spiritual matrix is not a luxury which a chosen few can afford but the ground of our social being.

Finally, if we contemplate the possibility of the thermal death on our planet, the result of the sun exhausting its energy in some five billion years, then the question is: how can we survive and continue our evolutionary saga? Certainly not through developing more resilient and tougher bodies, for all biological bodies will perish. The way is exactly through articulating new domains of spirituality whereby life, and certainly consciousness, can survive and continue in trans-biological conditions. Thus by evolving spirituality on this globe and within human beings (and perhaps other beings), life may have been already preparing itself for its post-biological stage; which in a curious sense will be a post-life stage. Certainly biological survival is a necessary conditionto start the process going. But the real game of evolutionary flowering starts after this condition is satisfied. Biology is only a vessel within which the spiritual evolves and flourishes.

Thus spirituality is a natural extension and continuation of our evolutionary journey, and it is a collective term covering a large range of human sensitivities. Spirituality includes a well evolved ethical sensitivity, the sense of the right and of the wrong and a determination to pursue and implement the right. It includes aesthetic sensitivity, and particularly a highly developed sense of inner beauty. When this sense of appreciation of inner beauty and of the beauty of the entire cosmos becomes overwhelming, it manifests itself as awe, or the sense of the sacred. Thus spirituality includes the sensitivity for the sacred. On its highest level this sensitivity manifests itself as the identification with the ultimate transcendent reality, which goes beyond all human senses and precepts and which is sometimes described as dwelling in God. This indwelling is a rare capacity. It is the attribute of the saints whom we so much admire. We inwardly know that they symbolize the highest attainments of humankind and show us the road to our own destiny.

What is the place of spirituality in the field of transcendence-participation-creativity? Spirituality is the daughter of creativity, one of the highest forms of its flowering. Yet, at the same time, it is the result of the inexorable process of transcendence, which, while transcending all the earlier attainments, was bound to upgrade itself by going to a higher realm, precisely to spirituality. Yet spirituality is not merely a resultant which just happened as a consequence of the combined pressure of creativity and transcendence. Viewed in a more subtle light, with a true empathy for all evolutionary process, spirituality can be seen as a mini-omega point, the point which was inexorably pulling the whole development toward itself. The universe had nowhere to go but to the spiritual realm. In this sense spirituality is an inevitable consequence of evolution as we know it. The universe had to develop God for God (or the divine) was in the bowels of the universe to become its crowning glory.

Transcendence and creativity connect all processes of life, including human life. They enable the processes of healing, as well as the creation of all art forms which have been so powerful and important in the ascent of life combating entropy. Art has not only been a realm of human delight but a healer, an articulator of spirituality, a luminous force in the self-realization of the cosmos and ourselves. In the rituals of many traditional cultures, we seem to be presented with the stage on which unique cosmic dramas are taking place. In the physical space, which at the same time is trans-physical, a unique enactment of energy is taking placethrough dance, song and other ritualswhich ultimately heal, re-energize, renew, reaffirmboth the community and the individualsand reconnect them with heaven and other important forces of the Cosmos. In the aura of total participation, creativity and transcendence, healing and self-healing occur. These rituals, particularly at their best, may be seen as groping expressions of the existence and of the glory of the field of Transcendence/Creativity/Participationwhich we laboriously attempt to put in words, while traditional cultures attempted to express through jubilant, ecstatic and orgiastic cosmo-dramas in which the whole cosmos participated while human beings were its denizens.

Ethics emerges quite naturally and almost inevitably from our discussion. As evolution develops, unfolds and articulates itself, it wants to safeguard its achievements on the biological level, but also on the human and spiritual levels. It does so through participation, sharing, symbiosis and cooperation. These are the original ethical values, actually embedded in the structure of evolution and in the structure of life. I will thus argue that ethics can be derived from an intelligent reading of the universe, from a deeper understanding of the evolutionary grandeur, its cycles, its lan. We are now ready to propose an ethical imperative which is both cosmic and human, both rational and transcendent. This imperative is the summation of the sensitivity of evolution, but it also gives concrete guidelines for human behavior in this world.

Here are the main formulations of our new imperative:
* behave in such a way as to preserve and enhance the unfolding of evolution and all its riches;

* behave in such a way as to preserve and enhance life, which is a necessary condition for carrying on evolution;
* behave in such a way as to preserve and enhance the ecosystem, which is a necessary condition for further enhancement of life and consciousness;
* behave in such a way as to preserve and enhance the capacities which are the highest developed form of the evolved universe: consciousness, creativeness, compassion, spirituality;
* behave in such a way as to preserve and enhance human life which is the vessel in which the most precious achievements of evolution are bestowed.

These five characteristics of this new imperative are only variations on the same theme. They all follow from the first formulation. This is not only inevitable, but highly desirable. An ethical imperative must be general enough to provide a philosophical foundation for values, but it must be fruitful and open-ended enough to generate specific consequences and guidelines for action. For, ultimately, we have to relate it to specific actions and undertakings in our day-to-day living. The imperative stated above can be seen as the foundation of the ethics of biological survival as well as of spiritual survival. Presented here is natural ethics in the sense in which evolution is natural, spirituality is natural, mans striving for higher reaches of his/her existence is natural. Yes, our ethics is natural and rational but one which is situated in the framework of the universe endowed with the vector of Transcendence. Without accepting Transcendence, no ethics makes sense.

Human ethics is the result of the workings of Transcendence, is the consequence of articulation of ethical sensitivities. But ethics itself becomes in due time a vehicle for further transcendence of the humans on the path of self-realization. Spirituality and ethics are very closely connected. They aid and support each other. Together they aid us in our journey. Spirituality is an expression of the glorious ascent of evolution to the trans-biological level. But it is also a set of strategies for safeguarding the subtle and sublime aspects of evolution. It is a vehicle of further perfectibility of the species. But it is also a part of ethics to help the humans who are on the path of self-realization. It all fits together, if and when we take an appropriate Olympian perspective. Ethics, spirituality and evolution are aspects of the same structure. But to arrive at this all-encompassing perspective, we need to assume a non-pedestrian conception of the cosmos, which is at least as creative as we are, but actually rather more so. For we are only one aspect of its stupendous creativity. All human systems of knowledge have limits. Creativity has none. Let us be mindful of this as we proceed, along with evolution, on the path of further transcendence.

By distinguishing the Field of Transcendence/Creativity/Participation, I have attempted to weave a new pattern of evolutionary understanding. Without acknowledging that the universe is on the journey of transcendence; without realizing that the Cosmos is Artist and we are (including blades of grass) partaking in its creativity; without clearly seeing that Participation is a most significant mode of the existence of lifewe are lost in the miasma of details and atomistic patterns. Every generation behaves improperly by assuming that it has arrived at the acme of human understanding and that it can formulate ultimate syntheses of all knowledge or provide the ultimate theories. Such an endeavor is arrogant and not in the nature of the open universe. The universe is partly knowable. But what unfathomable mysteries it may still hold can hardly be imagined. Dwelling in mystery is part of the beauty of the human condition which may be a delight to the analytical mind but a far cry from understanding the whole picture of the universe.
We are one with the stupendous, creative, cooperative, self-transcending cosmos. To comprehend this is a great solace to our individual life. But it is also a great inspiration to cooperate with this unfathomable, if at times overwhelming cosmos. We are made of the cosmic dust. But we are intelligent specks of the cosmic dust. For this reason we can help evolution and the cosmos to know itself better and to transcend itself further. The more penetrating we are intellectually and the deeper we are spiritually, the more beautiful and awesome cosmos we can discover, thus construct. For the two are aspects of each other; that is, the participatory cosmos and its offspring the participatory mind. By constructing ourselves, our depth, acumen, refined sensitivities, we are constructing the universe around ourselvesaccording to the powers of our comprehension. Yes, the universe and our comprehension of it are very closely knit. We shall not have the answer to it all, to all the riddles and subtleties of the universe, until and unless we are self-realized along with the self-realized universe itself. Then we will not need the answer. We shall be the answer.

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