Observations on the Nature of Higher Consciousness and the Experience Called “God”
Today our creative and intellectual energy focuses on science and technology, while our emotions tend to direct our spiritual quest – if there is one. As a result, we are left vulnerable to indoctrination rather than spiritual growth. We need a new understanding of “God” – God 4.0 – one that will help us appreciate our mind’s great potential for change and development.
“The desire to cultivate a sense of the transcendent may be the defining human characteristic.”
Karen Armstrong, The Case for God
God 1.0: A Tiered Cosmos
From about 35,000 years ago and over the next 25,000 years, facing the extreme hardships of the last Ice Age, our Paleolithic ancestors engaged in shamanistic rituals deep inside protective caves to induce altered state of consciousness and connect with the spirit worlds above and below.
God 3.0: One God
Beginning about 3,000 years ago, exponential growth of populations forced tribes formerly isolated from one another to come into close contact with others of very different backgrounds. Different beliefs and values became more obvious; conflict, war, disease and death became more frequent; and human beings over the world began to reflect en masse about the meaning and purpose of life and death. This spawned the rise of the Axial Age sages and the great monotheistic religions, each of which began with an enlightened prophet but then morphed into the institutions that continue to dominate our religious world today.
God 4.0: Conscious Evolution
Findings in psychology, neuroscience, genetics, and paleontology, along with post-war discoveries of ancient religious texts, now help us see how a transcendent shift in consciousness that some have called “seeing God” is produced. Locked inside one’s brain and mind is a reality that people have sought forever. Learning to unlock this reality could shift our imagination of who we are and what is possible, and help us unite around a common higher perspective.
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From Shamans to Priests to Prophets
Stephen K. Sanderson
Throughout history, at least from Paleolithic times to the present day, religion plays a part in all human societies. Why is this? What drives this universal aspect of the human experience?
Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect
Matthew D. Lieberman
Our need to connect with other people is even more fundamental, more basic, than our need for food or shelter. Understanding the neuro-cognitive functions underlying this need can help us rise to the unique challenges we face today.
Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them
Joshua D. Greene
Our innate moral behavior evolved over millions of years to promote cooperation within our group. Each group has its own moral code, which provides a map for how individuals can live successfully within it. Our other innate tendency, to favor our group over all others, is something we need to understand and mitigate to address the existential challenges of our modern global society.
Moving Toward Conscious Evolution
Robert Ornstein and Paul Ehrlich
Over millions of years, our minds evolved with quick reflexes to deal with sudden threats, which makes long-term threats like pollution and overpopulation invisible to us. Our survival now requires that we consciously evolve a new mind and new perceptions to adapt.
Frans de Waal
Both reciprocity and empathy – the two pillars upon which morality is built – are found in bonobos, apes and other social animals. But only humans are able to “abstract” the value and extend the behavioral constraints of “one-on-one” morality to the larger society, including strangers. Rather than being in conflict, both religion and the scientific pursuit of knowledge are motivated by a similar inspiration to find meaning and a sense of purpose.