An Enlightened Humanity

Facsimile of the book.
I write this blog on the eve of the September 11, 2001 commemoration. I just came across a new book whose authors, I perceive, have caught the vision of an emerging enlightened humanity. It seems that they have also succeeded in understanding the plight of the human condition vis-a-vis the human ego, which they point out is the root of human suffering. The title of the book is “Ego: The Fall of the Twin Towers and the Rise of an Enlightened Humanity.” Its authors are Peter Baumann and Michael W. Taft. Their book caught my attention for the manner in which the book resonates with our own vision of humanity’s future in terms of spiritual unfoldment (or evolving human consciousness) and the ascension into a mystically transformed humanity. Rather than simply writing this blog as a review of and commentary on their book, I have opted to use their own words to feature the book. The following statements, therefore, are reproduced from their book and from their Web site.

About the Book

Ego”… is the first book to explore the positive evolutionary potential hidden in one of the most destructive events in history. In their examination of the evolutionary implications of 9/11 and its aftermath, the authors contend we are not falling into the grip of a new dark age at all, rather we are on the verge of a much brighter one as the Darwinian process of natural selection continues to advance humankind.

The authors’ inquiry led them to the roots of human suffering: the ego. That the ego underlies our problems as a species may come as no surprise. But a deeper look into the ego’s origin and history is full of unexpected revelations:

  • The modern human is dominated by a Stone Age brain
  • Energy consumption and the environmental crisis is nothing more than the evolutionary drive to survive gone haywire
  • Evolution has wired us to be riveted to bad news, bad outcomes, and worst-case scenarios
  • When beliefs are challenged it triggers a life or death stance in the human nervous system
  • Emotions are mostly physical, not mental

The self we identify with — along with its biases and beliefs — turns out to be an evolutionary tool that made its first appearance some 50,000 years ago during what’s called the conceptual revolution, arguably the biggest developmental leap in human history. The emerging ego accompanied our ability to construct complex tools, create art, and redefine social structure. For the first time as a species, we were able to imagine the future, consider the thoughts of others, and picture ourselves in our own minds. The ego is a cognitive trick of natural selection intended to insure the survival of the individual. Baumann and Taft say the problem comes when we take the ego’s conceptualization of reality as the truth about who we actually are.

Using the latest research from neuroscience, evolutionary biology, psychology, and paleontology, Baumann and Taft show that modern humanity may be on the verge of an expansion of cognitive abilities akin to the development of the ego.  This next step will free the human mind to see beyond the confines of the prison, and open the vast potential of conscious awareness. (Emphasis is mine.)

The Book’s Take on the Human Condition

Albert Einstein wrote of the human condition:

A human being is a part of a whole, called by us “universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Trapped in a complex web of emotion and thought, we understand ourselves as a cluster of identifications with race, nationality, religion, political beliefs, age, gender, and profession. Alone, these concepts would be ephemeral, but they are underpinned by knee-jerk emotional reactions, intense pleasure-and-pain conditioning in our bodies that resists any change or insight. Cobbled together, these concepts lock us in a sense of permanence and isolation, disconnected from the visceral common sense that would tell us at every moment just how wrong we are in our daily apprehension of reality.

Evolution acting through the mechanism of natural selection created the emotions that motivate and direct our behavior, as well as the imagination we use to model possible outcomes for that behavior. Over millions of years, these developed in our animal and proto-human ancestors into an extremely potent combination. As a system our thoughts and feelings have ratcheted our species up the escalator from harsh, brutal survival in the dirt to the comfort, cleanliness, and convenience of sipping tea on a transcontinental flight.

And yet, like any technology — our body/brain system represents a highly advanced biological technology — there is almost as much of a downside as there is an upside. The same imagination that allows us to build jet airliners can dream up a plan to crash them into skyscrapers full of people. Our religious feelings motivate us to feed and clothe the needy, or to kill nonbelievers. The same empathic emotions that allow us to care for our families and children can motivate us to annihilate anyone we think threatens our loved ones. This downside doesn’t just drive international terrorists or even the murderer down the block. It drives the anxiety, depression, and alienation that plague us today.

Given that our bodies and brains, and therefore our thoughts and feelings, are the result of evolution, it is likely that evolution will also adapt in us a trait or capacity that provides a way out. Our genetic makeup is not written in stone, and is constantly changing. And although Einstein talks about taking individual responsibility to free ourselves from this prison — he was, after all, writing this quote in a letter to a rabbi — it may turn out not to be a personal matter at all. Perhaps it is more an issue of humanity, as a species, slowly marching toward an escape hatch.

The evolution of our species has not come to an end. Human beings are not a finished product, but instead a perpetually unfinished process, a moving target, and our current state, the human condition, is not the final word on the subject. Humanity is in motion as the wave of evolution continues to push us forward. The expansion of awareness that originally allowed us to become conscious of our thoughts and feelings is still under way. The rise in brainpower has not only created an explosion of skills — inventing tools, language, medicine, technology, civilization — it has at many times during the last two thousand years allowed some random outliers to glimpse something shocking: that who we think we are — our mental self-concept, or ego — is not actually what we are. Our self-concept is a symbol, an idea like any other. As evolution stumbles forward in its blind march of accidental brilliance, this radical insight that was once the province of a special few will slowly become the normal viewpoint: nothing special.  The unfolding of the physical universe, the laws of nature, and evolution of life are generating the expanded perspective that will allow humanity to make the biggest prison break of all time — escaping the prison of ourselves. (Emphasis is mine.)

My Thoughts on the Book

What more need I say, the book is on track.  Just one thing, though: Evolution is not “stumbling forward in its blind march of accidental brilliance,” as the authors put it.  An enlightened humanity is emerging in accordance with the divine scheme and plan underlying creation.  Humanity’s transformative evolution is being guided and moved by the very infinite intelligence which set it in motion in the first place and which constitutes the very essence and drive with which humanity evolves.  Enlightenment is not an accident in the face of the human condition’s fundamental helplessness and hopelessness.

About Marc of Contemplative Pathways

Marc teaches contemplative meditation in the context of "contemporary mysticism" under the style of "Contemplative Pathways." His spiritual work is backed by a profound understanding of mystical teachings and the mystical life, that is rooted in fifty (50) years of personal study, practice and spiritual unfoldment (inner realization and spiritual experience).  In the course of his spiritual journey, he has received the gifts of mystical discernment and spiritual transmission. Marc has been conducting classes and meetings on contemporary mysticism and meditation at the San Francisco Bay Area for over fifteen years, usually in a classroom, lecture, seminar, workshop, online meeting, or group practice setting. He has facilitated study groups and workshops for centering/contemplative meditation practice meetings since the 1980s. Marc's teaching work meaningfully shifts consciousness in students through the process of spiritual transmission and mystical transformation.  He enables others to embark on the spiritual journey by understanding the Truth teaching and by living its principles in their daily lives. His methodology of instruction is divinely inspired and firmly rooted in pure, authentic mysticism.  Marc's approach to the subject of contemporary mysticism is essentially nondenominational, nonsectarian, culturally interfaith, transreligious, definitively unitive, and unequivocally nondualistic. Within the context of the great shift in consciousness presently occurring all over the planet, Marc’s work focuses on individual and collective spiritual instruction and transformation. He promotes the practice of contemplation or meditation as the vehicle for spiritual transcendence and ascension to the higher dimensions of mystical consciousness. His other contributions to worldwide spiritual awakening and the global contemplative movement include spiritual mentoring, spiritual direction, and spiritual healing work. Marc is firmly committed to the vision of a global spiritual awakening and the divine promise of humanity’s mystical illumination. His brand of mysticism is the only true contemporary mysticism born of 21st century illumination and spirituality.  
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3 Responses to An Enlightened Humanity

  1. Sugel says:

    Peter Baumann, a former member of the internationally acclaimed band Tangerine Dream and founder of the Private Music record label, is a trustee of the California Institute of Integral Studies, a fellow at the Mind; Life Institute and founder of The Baumann Foundation, a San Francisco-based think-tank dedicated to studying the human condition.


  2. Hi, Marc. Thanks for the interesting review. I’m glad you enjoyed our book.

    As for your comment that an enlightened humanity is “emerging in accordance with the divine scheme and plan underlying creation,” all I can say is “wouldn’t that be nice.” The idea of a divine plan is not something that either Peter or I negate because nobody actually knows the answers to the questions of ultimate reality. Human beings may be constitutionally unable to conceive the answers to the biggest questions. So a “divine plan” isn’t strictly out of the question. Who knows?

    On the other hand, I see no clear evidence of such a plan in action. I suspect that the divine plan is probably just another concept that we create in our minds, and then latch onto with strong emotional attachments. It sure is attractive!

    Of course, I could be wrong. All the best to you. M.


    • Thank you for dropping by and posting your comments, Michael. I am honored to have you, the book’s co-author, visit the site.

      I cannot argue with your view that you “see no clear evidence of such a plan in action.” I admit that clear and convincing evidence of such a divine plan for all of humanity may be difficult to present conclusively at this point in time, when a final and unmistakable evolutionary outcome is yet to be experienced by us.

      It is for this reason that my most recent blog 2012: Year of “The One Power” — Dragon Power speaks cautiously, but not hesitatingly or tentatively, about what I perceive is the series of increasing, accelerated, multi-faceted changes occurring on the planet, changes that heavily impact its human inhabitants. What is evident is the breaking apart and the collapse of paradigms, beliefs, constructs, systems and relationships which cannot be upheld and supported by the human condition anymore — a development and result of spurred growth reminiscent of the infant who does not revert to the locomotion of crawling on all four limbs once it learns effectively how to stand and walk on two legs. The old way(s) is being abandoned even as the new one is being formed.

      I can only speak for myself here (and perhaps also for a few others I know personally) when I advance the notion of a divinely-ordained plan, based on the life changes and shifts in integral states and stages of consciousness I have experienced as a student and practitioner of mysticism and higher consciousness for many years. In terms of mystical transformation and spiritual growth, a pre-ordained pattern unfolds step by step on the spiritual journey along the mystical path.

      The pattern is not determined by blind chance or accident: It is not something that is being “made up along the way.” It does not appear that segments of the picture are being drawn as improvisations at every turn of the way. Rather, it seems that the canvas has already been painted extensively and filled with a complete picture; however, the canvas has been folded many times over thereby concealing the entire picture. And now, in the unfolding of the canvas and its picture (the unfolding of spiritual consciousness), only the segments of its many folds are being revealed gradually one segment at a time. It is the one Self’s way of contemplating Itself into self-awareness and experiential knowing (The Mystical Path of Life: The Self Contemplating Itself).

      More power to you, Michael, in 2012 — the Year of The One Power. Again, thank you for visiting and posting.



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