Hopefully, we all become more conscious as we go through life. Yes, I accept that it’s easy to think of exceptions, such as some current world leaders! Generally speaking, however, I believe that growing in consciousness is a natural part of life’s journey. As we get older, we notice and experience things that we had not noticed or experienced before – about ourselves, other people and the world. This growth in consciousness is normally accompanied by a corresponding growth in knowledge and understanding. In other words, as we notice and experience more, we understand better what we are noticing and experiencing. There is a growth both in quantity and in quality!
That much seems clear. The question I want to address today is this: is our normal growth in consciousness one and the same as evolution of consciousness? The short answer is yes, it could be, in certain circumstances. This needs a little explanation.
Conventionally, we call something “evolution” if it is permanent change, and if it applies to the whole species. Thus, the next generation is born with whatever has evolved in previous generations. A topical example of this is the remarkable ability of very young children (as young as 2) to use technology, such as mobile phones, TV remote controls, and to access their preferred YouTube videos, all without the help pf adults. My grandchildren, aged 3, can easily do what I found hard to do only a few years ago. There has undoubtedly been a generational change, and we are probably justified in calling this “evolution in ability”.
But does this also apply to consciousness? Is my grandchildren’s generation naturally more conscious than mine? For me, the jury is still out. I accept that something does seem to have changed in human consciousness. For example, as a species we are more conscious than ever that everything is connected to everything else, and that the familiar physical world is only part of a much bigger picture. We are also more consciousness of the “human family” and of this planet as a living entity. The problem is that a big part of this “greater consciousness” is knowledge and understanding, which have grown immensely over the last 100 years or so. Only part of what we call “greater consciousness” is actually consciousness! So, to be clear, what I am talking about here is not the fact that we notice and experience more. There can be no doubt that we do. What I am talking about is our capacity to notice and experience more. For me, it is only when that capacity itself grows that it counts as the evolution of consciousness.
Just to sum up, we are certainly evolving in ability, and we are certainly evolving in knowledge and understanding. There are many examples of this. It is also true that most of us growth naturally in consciousness as we get older. The only thing I am unsure about is whether there have been permanent generational shifts in consciousness. Has the youngest generation been born more conscious than mine? Despite my uncertainty, I am more than happy to give evolution of consciousness the benefit of the doubt and assume that it is happening. In any event, doing what we can to increase our capacity to be conscious can only be for the good!
29 July 2018