progression oriented vs. reductionist nondual spirituality

Evolutionary Spirituality, as I relate to it, is about presence and progression, dipping into the absolute alone as a means to progression, rather than reductionist spirituality's regression and taking up of permanent residence in absolute-only consciousness.  It seeks repair and reformation through conscious, mindful action, doing balanced with being, without valuing one over the other. Spirituality that values evolution encourages us to lend our individuality and personal strengths to improvement but also coming to see and accept the way that things are, so that improvement is not the only goal, but comes more naturally when we see clearly the ways in which, often unintentionally, we hurt ourselves and others. It's not an obsession with improvement, nor is it complacency. It wants to rev

eal our human potential for benevolence, grace, change, and resilience. It wants to be a catalyst for wonder and awe, for a deep appreciation of how an impersonal causeless cause, "the absolute" evolved to express itself as things like mountains and streams, skin and bones, friendship, and subjective experience itself! For how it actualizes more and more of its potential as we, as manifestations of it, realize more and more of ours. 

    It doesn't seek to negate or reduce anything to nothing, at least not beyond having experiences of unconditioned Beingness that can lead us beyond our limited sense of self to recognize the totality/whole of our being that our egoic self is a part of. It views the transcendence of our limitations as fixed constructs as important experiences because they so powerfully reveal the fact of our ability to eventually re-form and re-condition them, so that seeing through conditioned narratives isn't a step towards devaluing all mental constructs and the edifice of a personal self. Again, it sees in their illusory, truly un-fixed nature the possibility of reformation, of claiming choice where there was once automatized thought and behavior, and harnessing the extent of the control we do have instead of denying the existence of any control over our lives which can leave us with a false sense of powerlessness, of resignation, fatalism, complacency, the apathy of "why bother?" This reductionist approach strips the individual of agency, denying not just their choice, the capacity to control what is within their power, but also denies the individual their very reality, their existence, and ultimate worth as an individual which it sees not as a wondrous manifestation of the absolute, but as an unwanted tumorous outgrowth of it to remove. 

    Whether the sense of personhood is amorphous, un-fixed, illusory (real, but not in the way we usually think) intangible, it is an experience of subjectivity, one through which the universe can know itself! And it is a real phenomenon that clearly affects actions, measurable change. All you need to do is consider how thoughts impact the body - anxious thoughts directly lead to elevated levels of cortisol. Neuroplasticity shows how changing our thoughts literally changes the structure of our brains! We don't deny the wind even though you cannot grasp or see it, because you see and feel its effects, see it rustle leaves, decimate homes in hurricanes, and make you feel cold.  The little control we do have is actually quite immense- the power we have to change and choose our attitudes, which changes our behavior and our very experience of life. So reductionist non-dualists, please stop saying that all choice, all control, all power to affect change is a falsehood to be given up to know "truth," to be replaced with "not my will, but thy will be done," handing it over to an impersonal universe. 

    Tell me where the greater benefit lies - in teaching others to give up any sense of personal choice, and power over what they do in life, that agency itself is a delusion, or that we have more power to positively influence our lives, the lives of others, and the state of the world than we know? How does stripping ourselves of personal agency benefit us any more than does feeding grandiose self-centeredness and overblown egocentrism? Tell me how can believing we are inconsequential nobodies who don't matter be any better than needing to be seen a certain way, than self-righteousness and obsession with vanity, fame? 

    And what real value does it serve to conflate something's inherent limitations with its utter non-existence? Evolutionary spirituality, as I understand it, sees this as a way of absolving oneself of the ability to make any kind of difference rather than getting sober on what we can change and what we cannot. On spiritual paths, especially when arrived at through one's life not turning out as planned,  there's often a grieving (an important one) of the loss of a sense of total control over the outcomes of our efforts, to totally control our future - "man plans and God laughs." But instead of denying all control, this can bring us to a middle way of learning what we can do, and what is a better use of our efforts than rigid, precise planning and building an illusion of immunity to disaster, disappointment, regret. We can then continue to steer the ship in our desired direction despite knowing the inevitability of unpredictable storms that can set us off course at any moment. Because we're always at the mercy of the sea and possible shipwrecks, doesn't mean we should stop tacking and jibbing altogether. Resigning ourselves to the passenger seat of our lives, or ripping out the steering wheel is no better than gripping it so tightly that your knuckles bleed. We do need to accept the fact that not everything is up to us and we can't control what obstacles may present themselves on the road ahead. What's most important is to discern when it's wiser to let go and step back in life, to ride the flow for a while, without deteriorating our autonomy and will to be our own authority. To lose this is the tragic end of intentional living! 


    Spirituality that celebrates evolution as an astonishing process of the universe expressing its' potential through us, calls upon humanity to recognize this, that the "absolute" is blooming, and coming to know itself through us, as non-dual realization shows us how the "absolute" is the relative world of form, and vice versa, co-arising inseparably. It doesn't see one instead of two, it sees the one IN two. And It finds proof of personal power in the fact that the world is actually better today than it ever was, statistically if you look at things like poverty, unemployment, hunger, these are all at all-time lows! And why is that? It's because of individual action, intention that comes with wielded agency and will. It started with caring more about what happens to one another and wanting to play a role in reducing the suffering not just of ourselves, but of others. It's because more of us are seeing through our conditioned limitations, and disempowering beliefs that we can't make a difference, and evolving them, replacing narratives of apathy and meaninglessness with calls to action saying we are more than what we think we are, not less, and if we want to, each of us, as unique expressions of the universe, can play a valuable role to play in its evolution.


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