Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Remote Control for Conscious Evolution

Deepak Chopra yesterday issued a call for a more conscious approach to evolution, drawing on the Bruce Lipton book The Biology of Belief, which documents links between subjective experience and genetic expression. Random evolution, after the Darwinian style, is part of what we are, but it won’t solve the problems the world faces today, Chopra says. We will need to evolve more intentionally.

This seems like a lot to ask. Many of us are still trying to sit up straight, and now you want us to evolve too? When we struggle year after year just to get voters to vote in elections, how can we expect them to vote in the much more complex realm of personal and collective evolution?

But perhaps the issues of evolution are not so murky as those of politics. They are fundamentally questions of priority. Almost anyone can offer an answer to questions posed in the form, “Which do you want first?” These distinctions come naturally to us all day long. For example, in the previous paragraph I mentioned sitting up straight and voting in elections. Some readers automatically drew a comparison between the two, deciding that one or the other of those initiatives makes a bigger difference or is more easily done. Every day, people are choosing between tea and pumpkin pie on a menu; between physics and French in a curriculum; between “Did you see the New York Times?” and “Limited Time Offer - Free Shipping” in an email in-box.

Evolution will become more conscious if we can make it more automatic, so that more people participate more often. How to make that happen is another question, and a big one. But perhaps it is no bigger a challenge than the question, half a century ago, of how to control the television from the sofa. Can someone create a remote control for conscious evolution? Considering how rapidly our way of relating to the world is changing already, I won’t be surprised if someone writes to tell me that such a thing already exists.