Voices of the Emerging Movement for Conscious Evolution
Barbara Marx Hubbard is one of the great elders and visionary pioneers in the fields of conscious evolution and future studies. A colleague of many 20th century pioneers like Abraham Maslow (founder of Humanistic Psychology) and Jonas Salk (creator of the polio vaccine), for decades she
- co-founded leading-edge organizations like the World Future Society and the Association for Global New Thought;
- co-produced more than two dozen large conferences to uncover innovative synergies for whole-society evolution;
- promoted Soviet-American dialogue;
- wrote a number of books including Conscious Evolution, Emergence, and The Evolutionary Journey; and
- had her name placed in nomination for US Vice President on the Democratic ticket in 1984.
Her current work as president of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution includes creating evolutionary networks, educational programs, videos, radio programs, and various initiatives to bring together people of diverse ideologies to revision world crises in co-creative evolutionary ways. She has been invited by Wisdom University to establish a chair in conscious evolution with the purpose of co-creating the new field of conscious evolution. Her main websites are barbaramarxhubbard.com and evolve.org.
Several months ago I wrote to this remarkable woman, asking her to please "write up something about your development of your ideas / vision around conscious evolution, and how it has evolved." She kindly wrote the following fascinating account of how this vision emerged in her life before most of us had any idea of its scope and power.
-- Tom Atlee
by Barbara Marx Hubbard
I believe my start, born of a Jewish, agnostic secular father, was good. When
I asked him what religion we were, he said, "You’re an American.
Do your best.”
I interpreted that to mean that everyone has potential and being an American means finding the way to realize that full potential. He was a Horatio Alger type, and I was imbued with indomitable hope. One of the pressures within me was to find out what I was hopeful about!
After the bombs were dropped on Japan, I asked the question which has guided my life: What it the meaning of our new power that is good? What are images of our future equal to this new power?
I couldn’t find the answer in philosophy or religion – until I read the New Testament.
“Behold I show you a mystery, we shall not all sleep, we shall all be changed." ….”You will do the work that I do, and even greater work than this will you do.” … "The suffering of the present cannot be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." ... “The former things are passed away." … etc.
That’s IT, I thought. I’ll join the church. I went down to the local Episcopal Church in Scarsdale, New York and asked the minister: "Is any of this true? Did Jesus really ascend? Will we be able to do the work that he did and greater work, really?"
I saw he did not know. He enrolled me in Sunday school!
Learning the Biblical story of the image of the jealous and violent Lord God Yahweh and Eve's supposed guilt for wanting knowledge, and even for being attracted to the Tree of Life, the tree of the gods, deeply repelled me. I felt that Eve was right and that this story was fundamentally wrong. I left the church.
Yet the “hunger of Eve” awoke in me. I realize now it was the hunger for union with the divine, but that I could not tolerate that image of the Divine as the “mythic God.”
This left a vacuum of meaning.
Then I tried being an existentialist in Paris during my junior year abroad for Bryn Mawr College. I tried to believe that the universe had no meaning except what I personally gave it, and that it was inevitably going down to a heat death. I became depressed.
In 1952, my father took me to see Pres. Eisenhower in the Oval Office. “What can I do for you, young lady?” he asked casually. “Mr. President,” I said, “I have a question for you. What is the meaning of our new powers that is good?”
He looked started, shook his head, and said, “I have no idea.”
Then we better find out, I thought.
Thus quest for a vision of the future equal to our new power became the driving question of my life.
I realized later that every religion is coded with such an image of a radical new quality of life, but it had to be encoded in the metaphysical or mystical realm. With the advent of awareness of our new capacities and our potential for conscious evolution, I see now that what has been intuited, as life after death, may indeed be life after this stage of evolution. Not as some perfect Utopia, but as a state of being that normalizes direct apprehension of the divine, of the implicate order, and that sees ourselves as expressions of that unfolding pattern of creation, cocreative with it. When you put together our full potential -- spiritual, social, and scientific/technological -- you see a quantum jump, a new species, a universal humanity that in fact may embody many of the characteristics of spiritual visions of life beyond this world... a new heaven and a new Earth, a new Jerusalem, beyond sorrow, beyond death, the former things passed away...
Perhaps we are indeed coming to the end of this world, to the end of civilization, the end of separate self consciousness as we have known it. And this is good. We are being instructed by Failure – the failure of war to win, the failure of consumerism to satisfy, the inevitable rise of the seas in response to global warming brought on in part at least by human destruction of nature. All of these evolutionary drivers may indeed be the impulse needed to jump our species to a higher order, or to self destruction.
But this is getting ahead of my developmental path.
Gradually I began to realize that our image of reality -- and of the future -- affects our reality, affects what we do. I began another study of images of the future and their effect on cultures. This made of me an active “meme seeker.”
I had five children and felt lost and depressed…until I found the memes I needed to awaken my evolutionary consciousness.
The combination of frustration, depression, innate hope, and a profound yearning for life purpose, for what to do my best at, pressed me forward. I began to hear an inner voice. Its first signal was: “I won’t let you die.”
(I have 162 volumes of Journal tracking self-evolution, started at the age of 18.).
It started with reading Maslow’s Toward a Psychology of Being. He said that every self-actualizing person has one thing in common: chosen vocation they found intrinsically self-rewarding. Here was a great clue to conscious evolution. It is the need to find innate life purpose that transcends mere selfish desire to prevail. Vocation is a vital way of directly experiencing the Life Force of evolution.
Then came Teilhard de Chardin. This was the real opening. I could tell from his Law of Complexity/Consciousness -- the understanding of God in evolution rising to higher consciousness, freedom and more complex order, that my own impulse to grow, to be more, to realize my potential was not the musings of a neurotic housewife, but rather, it was the universe unfolding in me as me.
This was the next key. Our own impulse to create and evolve is the direction of “God” in evolution, not just a human need, not just a blind effort to survive or reproduce, but in fact an implicate order of growth, the urge to self-evolve. I realized that each of us is the universe in person. Our motivation to evolve is the "soul of evolution" experienced as our subjective desire for self-evolution, for communion with others, with nature and with Spirit.
Then came Buckminster Fuller who told us that we have the resources, technologies
and know-how to make of humanity a 100% physical success without destroying
I began to develop a vocation. At that time I called it “An Advocate for Humanity.” I felt that the current philosophical and art worlds (in the 1960’s) were giving us a deathly image of our self that could in fact destroy us. My husband was an artist. And together we began breakfast dialogues seeking our new story and a new image of humans that comes forth out of the evolutionary story.
Then I read Sri Aurobindo's great work, The Life Divine. He was the great Indian sage that fixed evolutionary consciousness within me. I realized that what he called the Consciousness Force is the dynamic, progressive aspect of God, or the supramental intelligence of the universe, leading to a new kind of human, a gnostic human, he called it. He saw that "man is a transitional species."
I remembered Teilhard’s description of Homo progressivus. He wrote that some of us had a “mysterious sense of the future,” a “flame of expectation,” a sense of the future progressing toward the unknown. He said if even one person had that “flame” in a crowded room he would be drawn to that person, and no difference of age, background, color, religion, or class could keep them separate.
I realized that I was a Homo progressivus. But I had never met another. I felt so lonely.
Then I got a call from Dr. Jonas Salk. I had written something to Jerry Piel, editor of the Scientific American about Jonas’s idea of a Theater of Man. He said to me, “Mrs. Hubbard, you and I are two peas in the same genetic pod. May I take you to lunch?”
Those words reverberated in my soul. It was the first voice of an evolutionary that I had ever heard, and I knew intuitively that something momentous was about to happen.
As we talked I told him all the things that were “wrong” with me. My desire for the future, the sense of something great coming, the yearning to connect, etc. “Barbara,” he said, “That is not what is wrong with you. That is what is right about you. You combine the characteristics needed by evolution now. You are a psychological mutant. I will introduce you to a few others.”
This started me on the path.
Within a few months I was transformed. My daughter drew a picture of me as a horse hit by the lightening of inspiration!
This led to many things, but the key next step was the next question I asked.
It came from all my reading but it had not yet become a gestalt within me.
It was February 1966.
I asked the universe a question: “What is Our Story? What on Earth is comparable to the birth of Christ?” What I meant by that is the Gospels were such an amazingly effective story. What could be our story comparable in power to that?
In one instant my mind’s eye shot up into outer space, I become a universal being for a moment. I had an out-of-earth experience and saw us all as members of one living body.
The planet was like a Disney film, speeded up. We were struggling to coordinate, running out of energy, etc. Suddenly there was a moment of shared pain. We all paid attention, and there was a mass opening of the heart. Resonance. Love flashed through our nervous systems, like pent-up love in the heart suddenly released. People poured into the streets, like on VJ Day at the end of World War II. I felt mass healings occur. It was ecstatic. The media was healed by covering people being healed. Suddenly, all systems were shifting – political, economic, education, etc. All the innovations now under the surface of the current systems were being coordinated by the same power that brought atoms with atoms and cells with cells. I saw a few frames ahead in the movie of creation. I felt the coming together of the planet as one living body. I felt light surround the planet -- the light that mystics see. The light was both beyond us and within us. I heard a tone, a harmonic. I felt that the light was intelligent, but that we were still too young to understand it.
It was a kinaesthetic imprint of a "planetary birth experience," a collective awakening.
I heard the words coming forth from the cosmos: “Our story is a birth of a universal humanity… What Christ and all the avatars came to Earth to reveal is true. We are all members of this one body. GO TELL THE STORY OF THE BIRTH OF A UNIVERSAL HUMANITY, BARBARA.”
That was it. The vocational signal I needed. The experience I longed for.
In the next few minutes I saw conscious evolution as the next stage of evolution itself. It is the evolution of evolution from unconscious to conscious choice. I realized that we are literally in a crisis of birth of the next stage of our evolution. We are outgrowing the womb of self-conscious humanity and planet-boundedness. We can learn to restore the Earth, free ourselves from scarcity and move forward into an immeasurable future as a co-evolutionary cocreative species. Like a newborn infant, we innately know how to do this…. when we have the right story to guide us.
Once we know that our crisis is potentially the birth of a new human and a new humanity, we can move forward through any difficulty.
This wonderful experience transformed my life.
I dedicated myself to learning the story and to telling it in every way that I could.
Maslow is right. A true vocation is a key to participation in conscious evolution.
I see vocation as the enfolded implicate order, the process of creation localizing and unfolding in each of us as our own passion to create. Once that happens the Consciousness Force internalizes and we enter the process of conscious self-evolution. We become conscious evolutionaries.
I call it the birth of the universal human. This is a human connected through the heart to the whole of life, and awakened from within by Spirit to express unique creativity for the good of the self and the whole community and the whole world. This human has been gestating for thousands of years, but the crisis we are facing is bringing us forward en mass. Each of us is coded with some image of the future, and some impulse to express unique creativity. This motivation is as powerful as the drives for self-preservation and self-reproduction. It is the drive for self-evolution. It is "suprasexuality," the yearning to express our unique creativity out of love, through joining not our genes to have a child, but our genius to give birth to our full potential self and our work in the world. This passionate drive to self express, to fulfill life's potential within us, is, I believe, the wellspring of the life force on earth, the passion that, in response to the crises and opportunities we face, will carry us toward the next stage of our evolution.
Many wonderful events follow which I won’t describe in detail here, many of which are recorded in The Hunger of Eve, my autobiography.
We formed the Committee for the Future in Washington, DC, and invented a new social synergy conferencing process called SYNCON for "synergistic convergence." People meet in a wheel-shaped environment based on functional interests, such as Health, Education, Environment, Government, seeking common goals and matching needs and resources in the light of the growing new potentials of the whole system. We took walls down between sectors. Edgar Mitchell, the astronaut, who attended one of the SYNCONs, said that if we had had a spiritual Geiger-counter, it would have gone off the charts. The experience felt like a mini-version of the actual experience of the planetary birth, in that it allowed the coordinating process of nature to connect us in a new whole system as we sought common goals and matched needs with resources.
I ran for vice president on the Democratic ticket in 1984 on the themes given by Fuller, Maslow, and Teilhard, calling for the establishment of a new social function in the office of the VP -- a “peace room” as sophisticated as our war rooms to scan for, map, connect, and communicate what is working in America and the world. Over 200 delegates signed a petition to have my name placed in nomination for the vice presidency along with Geraldine Ferraro.
I discovered a plan as to how to run a political campaign, which can model synergistic democracy, and work for the transformation of the American presidency. I believe this is possible by 2012 and am seeking to give this idea to the next VP candidate on the Democratic ticket.
I co-founded The Foundation for Conscious Evolution with Sidney Lanier, and become an evolutionary educator with a myriad of projects to bring forth the "templates" and practices of conscious evolution now. See "Gateway to Conscious Evolution" at www.evolve.org.
I am developing a Chair in Conscious Evolution for Wisdom University, in an effort to cocreate the new field of conscious evolution.
I am producing a series of DVDs called Humanity Ascending: A New Way through Together. The first is called “Our Story” and is now being sold all over the world, a seed story of our emergence as a universal humanity (www.humanityascending.com).
My own cutting edge is in the realm of evolutionary spirituality. I have co-founded a Communion of Pioneering Souls and have co-produced with Carolyn Anderson a new book called 52 Codes for Conscious Self Evolution taken from the universal consciousness, to guide us on the new developmental Path of the cocreator.
It feels as though evolutionary consciousness itself is deepening and that the unfolding "Implicate order" is arising as our own intuitive guidance as to how to navigate though the great period of transition to the next stage of human evolution.
Join the conversation with me at The Evolutionary Edge by going to http://barbaramarxhubbard.iamplify.com.