“Evolution is an ascent toward consciousness.”
– Tielhard de Chardin
When asked, I say I don’t do psychotherapy any more. I do evolution. Ever since I decided ten years ago to expand beyond the practice of psychology, I have searched to find a way to describe the new paradigm for personal growth and healing that I believe in and practice. For a long time, I used the term “Zen Therapy”. This is a good term since Zen Buddhism is a major source for my conceptualization and approach, but it doesn’t quite capture the full vision that inspires me.
Zen calls on us to reclaim our “original nature”, and while I believe our original nature is the fundamental guide to healing our hopelessly befuddled personal identities in the modern age, the concept doesn’t include and integrate the forward reach of humanity’s irreversible symbiosis with technology, an essential factor in humanity’s evolution. Zen is generally taught within the context of an earlier time and different culture than modern Western society, and so, “Zen” seems to miss the mark I am aiming at. For all the respect I have for Buddhism and Zen, the image of its transmission in the West continuing to imitate its cultural origins in Asia, always seems to me to neglect the true intent of Zen, which is to be beyond culture in our consciousness, fully awake and responsive to the circumstances of life wherever, whenever, whatever, exactly as it is.
My first academic training was as a cultural anthropologist, and I have always been strongly influenced by its instruction. It was as an undergraduate student in anthropology that I was introduced to the writings of the legendary French Jesuit priest/paleontologist, Tielhard de Chardin, and the idea that the study of the evolution of humanity is not only a look back in time, but also forward. Oh yes. Another of our egocentric traits is to assume we represent the culmination of evolution (or are exempt from evolution entirely).
Chardin was interested in the future of humanity as can be projected by understanding the evolutionary traits of its past. Consciousness, he concluded, is humanity’s evolutionary trait, and “convergence”, meaning an ever-expanding sense of unity, is its direction. He envisioned a time when humanity would recognize its essential unity, not only within itself, but also with all of Creation. He called this realization the “Omega Point,” Omega, meaning culmination. For what can lie beyond consciousness that realizes its fundamental universal unity? As a theologian, he saw this realization as humanity’s reconciliation with God, as the coming home. And so it is, and will be.
I have always been deeply inspired by Chardin’s vision. As a cultural theorist, I find it liberating to examine and analyze the currents in human cultures and societies using this visionary lens. As an instructor of personal growth and healing, I can use this macroscopic realization as a way to look at individuals as processes of evolution. Expanding convergent consciousness is not only the evolutionary trait of humanity; it is the necessary experience for healing individuals. As our sense of self expands to enfold others and the mystery of Life itself, our neuroses resolve themselves.
We are each evolving, and it is this process of converging individuals evolving that will manifest in species evolution. It thus occurred to me to name the process I bring to individuals and to my social writings, in honor of Chardin, “The Omega Journey.” Evolution as a healing paradigm, “an ascent toward consciousness.”
For a person to heal from the wounds of life in this fractious society of competing egos, it is not enough to understand or ameliorate the wounds. Buddhism is correct. True healing comes with realization of the illusion of finding our identity in the fractious ego. We are not the distressed contents of our minds. We are the consciousness that is aware of, and has the capacity to transform the contents.
Reconciling our chaotic frightening separateness in a process of expanding convergent consciousness is the healing journey. And so, as we heal individually, let us also enlist our individual lives in the service of humanity’s destiny, pioneers journeying toward Chardin’s Omega Point. Let us bring humanity’s genius for technology finally into harmony with Nature, rather than attempting to master it for our own shortsighted exploitive purposes. Along the way, this journey that evolves individuals into a new level of harmony with their own nature, also enlightens their relationship with Nature. I invite all who are ready, to embark upon the Omega Journey, the journey of consciousness, the journey of evolution as healing, for individuals and for all humanity.