Evolutionary Edge

Voices of an Emerging Movement for Conscious Evolution

July-August 2006

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* A New Newsletter for Conscious Evolutionaries
* Lead Article on "Being Evolution"
* Poetry
* Fascinating Cosmic and Evolutionary Facts
* Evolutionary Topics in the Mainstream News
* Conscious Evolution News
* News from Our Favorite Evolutionary Evangelists
* Evolutionary Ritual
* Evolutionary Process Arts
* Evolutionary Quotes
* Reader Participation Question
* Book Reviews
* Brief, Powerful Written Testimonials Requested
* Questions of Scale (and a touch of humor)
* A New Evolutionary Group
* Evolutionary Events Calendar


What is Evolutionary Edge?

Evolutionary Edge is a bimonthly newsletter for those of us inspired by sacred, meaningful understandings of the evolutionary story of the universe. This story calls many of us to seek a more conscious role in evolution. What should we do with this understanding? How do we sustain our insight? How do we bring the evolutionary worldview into our daily lives and the world? We can use this newsletter to share news, insights, activities, and resources. It can become an evolutionary leading edge where we gather to inspire, inform, and delight each other, and thereby become more aware of ourselves as the healing, transformational movement we are. (For more, read here...) -- Tom Atlee

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Learning to BE Evolution

by Tom Atlee

If we attend to how evolution works, and what it means, we will be better able to play consciously creative roles in it, healing our world and its crises and co-creating a different kind of civilization -- more sustainable, enjoyable, just and wise -- than has ever existed on Earth. This article explores what it might mean to actually become conscious evolution, and what lessons we might learn from evolutionary dynamics and natural systems to guide us in this unprecedented adventure.

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Hieroglyphic Stairway

by Drew Dellinger

it’s 3:23 in the morning
and I’m awake
because my great great grandchildren
won’t let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the earth was unraveling?

            read the rest of this poem here

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How special are earthlings?

We Earthly inhabitants are part of the quirky creativity of the Universe. The more we get to know about ourselves and our cosmic situation, the more oddly special -- even unlikely -- we seem to be. This link offers four examples of how we are special beings living at a special time, place and scale, adapted from Joel R. Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams' new book THE VIEW FROM THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE (reviewed below).

An Extraordinary Evolutionary Fact: "Earth is Gonna Have Cats!”

There is something about a mammalian carnivore with retractable claws, a foreshortened face, and other catlike features that seems destined to present itself on Earth.  Consider this: the cat form evolved in 3 separate lineages.  First, the Nimravid cats (40 million years ago, vanishing 23 million years ago); then the Marsupial cats of South America (vanishing 3 million years ago); and finally the cats of today, Family Felidae (evolving 17 milliion years ago).  Learn about other examples of convergent evolution here.

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Graduate Programs on Conscious Evolution

The Graduate Institute has two accredited academic programs on Conscious Evolution, one centered on the work of systems philosopher Ervin Laszlo and the other on the approach of evolutionary enlightenment guru Andrew Cohen and integral philosopher Ken Wilber. The latter is a collaboration with What is Enlightenment? magazine. Both 2-year programs include social evolution while focusing on the dynamics and evolution of consciousness. They involve a wide variety of topics, sources, seminars, artistic presentations, web discussions, shared cohort activities, lectures, and discussions.  

Creating the Future: Evolutionary Enlightenment in Action

This new 12-minute video introduces Cohen's work on collective evolution of consciousness through experience of the Authentic Self and pushing the limits of consciousness. You'll hear him and his students describe their experiences and explore the meaning of those experiences. A fascinating adventure on the evolutionary edge... (And Cohen's What Is Enlightenment? magazine's website got a prestigious Webbie award.)

"Moving the Edge: Conscious participation in the further unfoldment of The Great Story - a practitioners perspective"

by Finn Voldtofte
       What happens when we engage in conversations and inquiry in which we deliberately let go of our personal egos and stories and instead focus on sensing into the impersonal field ”in the middle,” opening ourselves to a greater wisdom waiting to emerge among us? An ONGOING inquiry into the role of collective intelligence has come into existence, has been seen, and is being kept alive.

Four Evolutionary Salons in fourteen months!

In May 2005, 35 evolutionary scientists, spiritual leaders, and social thinkers came together to explore "evolutionary directionality and the future of humanity" -- and emerged with a vision of a "movement for the conscious evolution of increasingly conscious social systems."  Open evolutionary salons in January 2006 (85 people) and May 2006 (57 people) nurtured that vision by bringing together people from widely diverse fields for free-wheeling exploration of the full spectrum of evolutionary topics under the themes of "collective intelligence" and "listening into the future", respectively.  Both salons generated dozens of new partnerships, projects, and inquiries within an intense cauldron of heartful conversation, unsettling disturbances, and deep, profound community.  Then in June 2006, 39 transformational philanthropists, evolutionary experts, and social visionaries gathered around the theme "philanthropy, love, and evolution" -- discovering a deeper understanding of philanthropy as loving service in an age of unprecedented challenges, creative risk-taking, and distributed networks supported by continually evolving technologies and relationships.  All four evolutionary salons opened up new pathways and partnerships for evolutionary work.  We'll talk about plans for future salons in upcoming issues of Evolutionary Edge.  Click here to see bios and pictures of salon participants, reports, etc.

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The Great Story: Report of 4 Years on the Road

by Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd
       In this richly illustrated log of their third and fourth years of life on the road as “North America's evolutionary evangelists," Connie and Michael summarize their major accomplishments: speaking in 250 different venues in 33 U.S. states; initiating 4 “evolutionary salons”; producing 4 new DVD sets of their presentations; developing several new program titles; creating 2 new websites; establishing a web page for accessing children's evolutionary curricula; garnering a quarter million hits per month on "The Great Story" website; and more.

Stories of Awakening

by Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd
       In their 4 years on the road sharing meaningful and sacred ways of relating to 14 billion years of evolutionary creativity, Connie and Michael have fostered evolutionary "awakenings" and other aha! experiences among many who attend their talks and workshops.  Connie has recently posted 32 inspiring anecdotes on their website, pertaining to "Great Story Beads", "We Are Stardust", "Learning the Universe Story" and "Evolutionary Parables".

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“The River of Life”: An Outdoor Evolutionary Walk & Celebration

by Connie Barlow
      A playful and wonder-filled evolutionary walk for KIDS and ADULTS can now be easily conducted by downloading the directions and dramatic scripts.  Using 40 stations, the ritual can be completed in a single 2-hour walk or segmented over the course of several days.  (Based on the 2004 book by Richard Dawkins, Ancestor’s Tale.)

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From Chaos to Coherence: The Emergence of Inspired Organizations and Enlightened Communities

by Peggy Holman
       Many of us are aware that hopes, visions, and clear intentions have transformational power. We may not be as comfortable with the idea that fears, conflicts and crises also carry potent seeds of evolutionary change. Diverse groups that use both their dreams and their dissonance well experience emergence -- the appearance of something new -- something that no one started with -- that powerfully integrates the dynamic tensions in the room. This most often happens in open, powerful conversations about questions that matter. Guided by what is meaningful to us individually, and open to all the voices present, we soon learn that what is most deeply personal is also universal. Out of that comes the inspiring evolutionary dynamic known as "group magic." This paper, excerpted from Peggy's upcoming new edition of THE CHANGE HANDBOOK, describes this dynamic in detail and includes a very clarifying chart about how the process unfolds. 

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Hopeful beacons at Evolutionary Salon 3

This was a very inspiring session that I feel a deep resonance with in terms of how it impacts all the work we are doing. What are the images pulling us forward as strange attractors, as hopeful beacons, as inspiration in the midst of a social ecosystem in transition - old forms dying, new ones being born.

-- Sheri Madrone, ES3 participant

The Very Edge of the Possible

I am endlessly compelled by the notion that higher stages or levels of development do not preexist, that is, they are not “given” but are literally created by brave individuals who actually venture into new, uncharted territory, laying down “grooves” that others follow, which eventually become actual new structures or stages. The fact that the future, even at the most subtle metaphysical levels, literally does not yet exist challenges our most fundamental spiritual/religious notions in every possible way, but if we're ready for it, it can be the source of enormous inspiration and promise. I think potentially what's the most thrilling for the postmodern self is the discovery that we are literally creating the future, which means we are not separate from the creative principle or God-impulse itself—God is evolving as we evolve. And this moment itself, assuming that one is leaning into it with all of one's being, reaching for the future, is potentially the very edge of the possible.

-- Andrew Cohen

Moving the Edge at the center of our lives?

I decided to keep the focusing statement of Moving the Edge in the center of my attention as I co-initiate new projects and live my life:
       "An adventurous inquiry
        into the role
        of collective intelligence
        in moving the edge of evolution..."

What if convening teams, and other members of every evolutionary initiative, in every sphere of social (or business) life, could rightfully describe the essence of what they do/are as that?

-- George Por

Now that we have powerful telescopes...

Only now can we see with clarity that we live not so much in a cosmos [a place] as in a cosmogenesis [a process], a cosmogenesis best presented in narrative -- scientific in its data, mythic in its form.

 -- Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, THE UNIVERSE STORY

Courageous surrender into "The Great Work"

My portion of the great work, like that of any other person, creates its own synergy. My job is to be vigilant to the fact that the world creates neither coincidence nor accident — only opportunity. I need only have the courage to ask for what I need and the valor to accept it once it appears.

-- Ed Collins

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What do we need to know, realize, feel, be and/or do to turn crises -- personal and collective -- especially societal and environmental crises -- into evolutionary opportunities?

Hard times are most likely coming that will impact us on many levels. Extreme weather, rising oceans, dysfunctional social institutions, economic disruptions, heated political battles, technologies gone awry... the coming decades will be challenging, indeed. 

As students of evolution, we know that challenges -- even catastrophes -- often stimulate dramatic evolutionary leaps. As aspiring "conscious evolutionary agents" who want to preserve ecosystems and species (including our own) and to assist the evolution of humanity and society wherever possible -- we need to use this fact wisely. It is a powerful fact -- one that can help us make all the difference in the world -- IF WE KNOW HOW TO USE IT.

Send your thoughts and references on this subject to Evolutionary Edge editor Tom Atlee at <cii@igc.org>. We will share reader responses online and in upcoming newsletters.

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The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era - A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos

     by Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry

Introduced to an evolutionary worldview by Michael Dowd, I asked him where to start to learn more. He didn’t hesitate: Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry's 1992 book THE UNIVERSE STORY was the book to read. Within the first few pages, I was hooked. I “got” the role cosmology plays in providing a context for how we, as humans, live our lives. The poetic and inspired language of the book drew me in, infusing the story of evolution with new and sacred meaning. I highly recommend Jane Blewett's review as a great introduction to this fabulous story. -- Peggy Holman

The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos

     by Joel Primack and Nancy Abrams (just published!)

Finally, the Universe Story goes mainstream: This book -- The View from the Center of the Universe -- was picked by NPR's "All Things Considered" as one of ten summer reading selections for 2006.  Highly recommended, as well, for folks already steeped in the works of Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme.  Brian Swimme expanded my sense of family from Earth out to the stars.  Primack and Abrams have expanded my circle of care once again: now even dark matter feels friendly!  Primack’s world-class physics legacy, combined with Abrams’s insistence that metaphor and symbol are central to human understanding, have yielded a book that is destined to propel this worldview shift into popular culture. -- Connie Barlow

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....for Michael Dowd’s new book, Thank God for Evolution!

Michael is in the process of writing a book for general audiences (available in March 2007) that will include a dozen or so personal stories of how people from different religious and non-religious backgrounds (including atheists) have come into a sacred, meaningful (religious) understanding and experience of evolution.  If you have a fascinating or moving personal story to tell, or if you know someone else who does, please email Michael at MBDowd@bigplanet.com by August 1, 2006.  Suggested flow:  

Please be as concise as possible without sacrificing juicy details.  What Michael is especially looking for are heart-touching and inspiring testimonials in the range of two paragraphs up to 1000 words at most.  Don’t worry about how well written your paragraphs are.  If your story is a good one -- that is, if it will touch or encourage others -- Michael and his editor at Council Oak Books/Page Mill Press will work with you in order to polish your story  to perfection.  And who knows, maybe Oprah will ask you to join Michael on her show when his book becomes a best seller. :-)  But don’t let that scare you!  You can always say, “No thanks.” ;-)

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QUESTIONS OF SCALE (and a touch of humor)

Joel Primack and Nancy Abrams' "Cosmic Uroboros"

The Uroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon swallowing its own tail and forming a circle. It has been used to represent many things over the ages, but it most generally symbolizes ideas of cyclicality and primordial unity.  In THE VIEW FROM THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE, it represents the size scales of physical reality ranging from the smallest sub-quantum phenomena to the vast superstructures of the universe. The largest scales (at the head) and smallest scales (at the tail) co-exist (symbolized by the serpent eating its tail). We earthlings live in a tiny range of scale half-way through this great cosmic yardstick. Primack and Abrams write, "When we come to understand that we are central to the universe, 'we' can mean humanity, all intelligent life, the Galaxy, even luminous matter. 'I'm human' can mean 'I stand here on the Cosmic Uroboros, mid-way between the largest and the smallest things in the universe. I can trace my lineage back 14 billion years through generations of stars.' ... The Cosmic Uroboros is a bridge between the spiritual and the physical. The Cosmic Uroboros gives not only meaning but a context to those exotic size-scales of the universe that no one ever had a connection with before. Amazingly, in this interpretation the difference between spiritual and physical becomes — in an approximate way — quantifiable with powers of ten. Things larger than about 10 to the 12th cm, or smaller than about 10 to the -12th cm, can only be known through science and only experienced spiritually. This includes most of the universe."

Comparative planetary and stellar sizes

How big are we here on Earth when compared to other planets, the sun, and some of the other stars around us? I just received a graphic email about this very subject...

Cosmological Humor and Song!!!

Count on Monty Python to find a way to put our tiny terrestrial lives in perspective, with a jaunty poke at cosmic funnybones across the Galaxy ....

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Unity in Marin's "Evolutionary Story In Practice" Group

This new group reports on its cosmology study activities (which you can attend) and their visit to a local military base that is evolving into civilian uses, with natural ecosystems returning -- which inspired a poem about that transformation...

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July 20 - LIVE PHONE TELECLASS WITH BARBARA MARX HUBBARD - open to all members of Barbara's "Evolutionary Edge" community, which also offers the audio lectures, message boards and online journal of this pioneer of conscious evolution. 9:00pm Eastern / 6:00pm Pacific. See <http://barbaramarxhubbard.iamplify.com> to join, or for more information.

July 29-August 5 - EMERGENCE: NATURE'S MODE OF CREATIVITY, the 53rd Annual Conference of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, with Brian Swimme, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Stuart Kauffman and others, at Star Island, New Hampshire. <http://www.iras.org/conference.html>

August 18-20 - CULTURAL DYNAMICS: The Deep Human Codes That Impact the Forces of Change, Regression, and Transformation - an introduction to Spiral Dynamics Integral, with Don Beck in Austin, Texas.

August 18-20 - THE POETIC COSMOS: Poetry, Spoken Word, Cosmology, and Activism as Spiritual Paths - a weekend workshop at Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California, with evolutionary poet Drew Dellinger - "The poetic imagination flows from the depths of the universe itself."

September - ANDREW COHEN'S EVOLUTIONARY ENLIGHTENMENT teaching schedule - Sept 14-16 Tel Aviv, Sept 17 London, Sept 20 Amsterdam, Sept 21 Berlin.

October - MOVING THE EDGE, Denmark (see News item by Finn Voldtofte, above)

July 23, Unity in the Rockies, Colorado Springs CO (MD)
July 23, Spirit-Keepers Interfaith Fellowship, Boulder (CB)
July 25, First Plymouth UCC Englewood: Camp LaForet at Colorado Springs (MD)
July 26, Freethinkers of Colorado Springs, CO (MD)
July 30, First Unitarian Society of Denver CO (MD morn + eve)
August 2-5, Villa Maria Retreat and Conference Center, Frontenac MN (MD, CB)
August 6, Plymouth UCC, Milwaukee WI (MD morn + eve)
August 6, First Unitarian of Milwaukee WI (CB morn)
August 7, Sophia House, Milwaukee WI (MD)
August 10, Zahner Conservation Lecture Series, Highlands NC (CB)
August 13 & 14, UU Congregation of Hendersonville, NC (MD)
August 15-20, family in Michigan
August 17 & 20, UU Church of E. Liberty, Clark Lake MI (MD)
August 22 - Sept 5, writing retreat, Great Barrington MA (MD, CB)
August 27 & 28, First Unitarian, Worcestor (Second Parish) MA
September 2 & 5, UU Society: East in Manchester CT
September 6 - Oct 28, based out of cabin near Portland, Maine (MD, CB)
September 10, UU Church in Ellsworth, ME
September 17, First Parish UU, Portland ME

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This newsletter has no official relationship with Barbara Marx Hubbard's The Evolutionary Edge virtual community. We have tremendous respect for each other's work and both feel that the term 'evolutionary edge' should be available for use by all who feel their work arises out of and advances that edge.

Send submissions of evolutionary news, groups, quotes, websites, and other references and materials to editor Tom Atlee <cii@igc.org>.

And please tell us what you really like about Evolutionary Edge and how we could improve it.