Each of us is now born into a new and rapidly changing
world that demands we evolve in consciousness.
– Barbara Marx Hubbard
Barbara Marx Hubbard, in her 2001 book, Emergence: The Shift from Ego to Essence, attempts to take us to a new understanding of the self. I admit I am still working on fully integrating her vision, but I am attracted to it because of its holistic nature, and its ability to bridge the divide between science and religion. As the book title implies, Marx Hubbard’s vision does require a radical shift on several fronts:
- in our understanding of our Universe,
- in our understanding of who we are and our purpose in that Universe, and
- in the way we image and speak about our God (however you might understand that term).
Drawing on what science now tells us about the evolutionary journey of our Universe, Marx Hubbard concludes that our Universe appears to be directional in its unfolding, fulfilling as it moves forward a tendency or drive toward greater complexity and greater freedom in both its physical and psychic dimensions. At the heart of that directional unfolding is the “Impulse of Evolution,” present throughout the entire Universe and its processes. This impulse is also present in us, operating deep within, as our “Essential Self”(p.5). This is Marx Hubbard’s way of speaking about the presence of the Divine within us, a view consistent with that of spiritual mystics in all the world’s religious traditions (p. 16).
Another dynamic present in this unfolding process of evolution is what Marx Hubbard terms “synergistic” relationship. In other words, the directional unfolding has taken place because of the joining of elements previously present, resulting in something previously not present and unimagined.
As humans, we embody this “emergent” process. In us, our Universe has achieved a level of complexity and freedom previously nonexistent. However, as we are now becoming aware as a species, with this greater complexity and freedom comes greater responsibility for the way we live in relationship with all the rest of creation. How we choose to be in relationship will greatly determine our ability to cocreate what comes next in the Universe’s evolutionary journey, at least as it unfolds here on Earth.
On one level, our complexity, freedom and responsibility require us to become ever more self-aware of “what makes us tick.” Each of us needs to commit to dedicating the time and reflection required to become aware of the events and processes that have shaped and continue to shape our individual consciousness. Only in this way, can we act in the freest, most beneficial way possible.
This level of self-awareness – reaching a level of knowing ourselves well – is key. However, Marx Hubbard, in her image of the self, goes far beyond this important need for a self-awareness focused on understanding and healing our experiences, and promoting healthy relationships with other people. Based on her own lived experience with spiritual practices such as meditation and journaling, Marx Hubbard suggests that each of us, at our core, carry the ability to access the “Essential Self,” what some might call “The Ground of Our Being,” that connects us to all of creation.
In her book, Marx Hubbard details her personal journey to this self-awareness and offers guidance and practices for moving through the stages of this process. She suggests that the crises of our time are an invitation to move intentionally toward this version of the “Universal Human” – one who understands the self as “connected through the heart to the whole of life.” Marx Hubbard further writes: “Above all, a Universal Human has shifted identity from the separated ego self to the deeper self that is a direct expression of Source”(p. 4).
This Universal Human also bears incredible, previously unimagined responsibility for Life itself to continue. For this human now holds “in our own hands the powers of co-destruction or co-creation” (p. 26). She suggests that we need daily practices that help us to connect to “Source” in order to navigate successfully the challenges of the present and future.
The implications of Marx Hubbard’s vision again affirm me in the creation of this blog site. For as she suggests “To become a Universal Human is to evolve consciously, choosing a path of development that has never been mapped before in a world that has never existed before” (p. 4).
This site charts the major influences (called “steps”) in the evolution of my own consciousness, beginning with my first experience of an awareness that my “self” is held within “a conscious, universal level of awareness” greater and more loving than my own. Marx Hubbard refers to this origin of our “Essential Self” as “Source” and also as “the Beloved” (p. 19).
Taken together, the steps have helped evolve in me a conscious self-awareness of how to connect consciously to the Beloved, whose presence I first experienced as a small child, and to all of creation. They also daily help me to embody positive, life-affirming, co-creative actions in my relationships with others.
Marx Hubbard, B. (2001). Emergence: The shift from ego to essence. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads [opening quote p. 7].