By Caitlin Johnstone
You run into a lot of despair in this line of work. The more you learn about the mechanisms of power, the more hopeless things seem at first glance.
The political system is totally locked down, with anyone who tries to upend the status quo being aggressively sabotaged by the mass media and their own political party.
Technology, which futurists have long heralded as the deus ex machina which will liberate humanity from its self-destructive ways, is owned by plutocrats with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, and is pervasively infiltrated by murderous intelligence agencies from top to bottom.
Even attempts to circulate information about the dangers of war, ecocide and oligarchy are consistently sabotaged by internet censorship, blanket de-platforming and mass media propaganda, and even imprisonment if one’s truth-telling becomes too successful.
Still, I remain unwaveringly hopeful. Not because I foresee any of those massive obstacles vanishing at any time in the near future, but because I see an escape route that none of them are blocking.
I have had a great many bizarre and utterly unanticipated experiences, some of them ongoing, which assure me beyond a shadow of a doubt that humanity is capable of far, far more than our consensus worldview about ourselves accounts for. Most of those experiences I will probably never share publicly, because, while I often venture well off the beaten path in my commentary, if I discussed those experiences people will think I’m way more insane than they already believe me to be. But I don’t mind sharing here that I know from my own experience that humans are capable of radically and permanently shifting into a much healthier and efficacious relationship with mental narrative, which happens to be the mechanism by which existing power structures keep us locked down.
But so what, right? Just because an individual is capable of exiting the fearful egoic state of consciousness which propagandists and social engineers exploit to manipulate us into consenting to the status quo doesn’t mean that everybody is. People have been writing about spiritual enlightenment for millennia, and still we remain collectively asleep. Believing that such a shift is possible on a mass scale is childish and absurd. Right?
Well, maybe. That objection certainly makes sense from the perspective of our consensus worldview about what humans are capable of. Except people who’ve been coaching others into this shift for a long time say in no uncertain terms that it’s becoming more and more common.
“For the first time there is a large scale awakening on our planet,” spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle said in an interview last year. “Why now? Because if there is no change in human consciousness now, we will destroy ourselves and perhaps the planet. The insanity of the collective egoic mind, amplified by science and technology, is rapidly taking our species to the brink of disaster. Evolve or die: that is our only choice now. Without considering the Eastern world, my estimate is that at this time about ten percent of people in North America are already awakening. That makes thirty million Americans alone, and in addition to those people in other North American countries, about ten percent of the population of Western European countries are also awakening. This is probably enough of a critical mass to bring about a new earth. So the transformation of consciousness is truly happening even though they won’t be reporting it on tonight’s news. Is it happening fast enough? I am hopeful about humanity’s future, much more so now than when I wrote The Power of Now. In fact that is why I wrote that book. I really wasn’t sure that humanity was going to survive. Now I feel differently. I see many reasons to be hopeful.”
Tolle is easily the best-known teacher on the subject of enlightenment in the western world, and he’s been doing it for decades. There’s not much research available on this topic, but if anyone in the west has interacted with enough people and gathered enough experience to make such a declaration, it would be him.
But what if he’s wrong? Well again, maybe. But he’s not alone in this perspective.
“There’s a phenomenon happening in the world today. More and more people are waking up—having real, authentic glimpses of reality,” writes Adyashanti, another longtime popular awakening coach. “In the beginning of my teaching work, most of the people who came to me were seeking these deeper realizations of spirituality. They were seeking to wake up from the limiting and isolated senses of self they had imagined themselves to be. It’s this yearning that underpins all spiritual seeking: to discover for ourselves what we already intuit to be true— that there is more to life than we are currently perceiving. But as time has passed, more and more people are coming to me who have already had glimpses of this greater reality.”
Adyashanti gets a bit more specific than Tolle, saying that it’s non-abiding “glimpse”-type awakenings in particular that are growing more common, which often happen spontaneously without having been sought out.
“This glimpse of awakening, which I call non-abiding awakening, is becoming more and more common,” he writes. “It happens for a moment, an afternoon, a day, a week—maybe as long as a month or two. Awareness opens up, the sense of the separate self falls away—and then, like the aperture on a camera lens, awareness closes back down.”
Jac O’Keeffe, another awakening coach who’s been teaching for some time, has more to add on the subject. She said in a 2015 interview that the awakening process, which used to be a difficult and much more physiologically gruelling ordeal for humans, is coming to us more easily not just as a process, but in terms of how physically taxing it is as well.
“We live in an interesting time, and whether it’s a leap in the evolution of consciousness, or whether it’s because of the industrial age and the quickening that has come about in how we function as human beings; whether it’s unusual, or whether it’s a part of the pattern, I’m not sure,” O’Keeffe said. “However, what’s happening right now is that there’s a mutation happening because we’re not changing fast enough for the changing mechanisms that we have created in the world. And so the shift in consciousness that’s happening now, it’s phenomenally more rapid than how it used to be. Things are not as concrete and as solid, not as difficult to shift in folk’s perception as it used to be. That’s for sure, for sure.”
“The mechanism of which through this is seen also, there seems to be less of a trauma or a dramatic shift,” O’Keeffe added. “Spiritual shifts used to be really difficult on the body, really difficult on every level — they’re not now. And what is that? How come? It’s like our whole cellular structures are more susceptible to transformation, to the embodiment of a higher frequency, a higher vibration. And you know, while we have more toxicity, we also have more availability of hearing what’s beyond all of it, of information, of new influences, of education, you know? We’re learning how to use the mind at last. And so this is bringing about a quickening in the evolution of consciousness.”
Dr Jeffery A Martin, who has been gathering data on awakened individuals for the Center for the Study of Non-Symbolic Consciousness, told me via email that “We see an uptick in our data that starts about 1996. By this I mean the number of people saying they transitioned after that time versus before.”
“However it is important to note that we have a snowball sample, not a full population sample, so that could be a bias in our data,” Martin added. “If it is not, the only correlate we’ve been able to think of is that the Internet was reaching a level of connectivity and information sharing maturity starting about this time. So practices that were formerly secret or soloed were starting to become more available, and one of our key findings is that the best way to make progress is to find your fit from a practice standpoint.”
“I’m reasonably confident that significantly more people are coming to see True Nature than any other time in human history,” said awakening coach Fred Davis when I asked him for comment on the subject via email, adding, “I do think there are more clear beings on the planet than there were even ten years ago.”
Now obviously awakenings becoming more common than they used to be wouldn’t by itself mean much; humanity overall remains deeply unconscious and we appear to be bound for either extinction or Orwellian dystopia if we continue on our current trajectory at its current rate. But the fact that this phenomenon seems to be getting more common and more easy in various ways indicates that something is up. Something entirely unanticipated, from way out of left field which neither the revolutionaries nor the propagandists have foreseen.
But why would we be experiencing a sudden shift in consciousness? Darwinian evolution doesn’t explain it, since if this phenomenon is real it’s moving far too quickly and without natural selection eliminating the unenlightened from the gene pool at any noticeable rate.
Well, maybe as O’Keeffe suggested it’s got something to do with the industrial age and how it’s changed the way we function as a species, or as Martin theorized is due to the increased availability of spiritual teachings online. We now after all have over 4.5 billion human brains connected to each other by the internet with well over half our world’s population now online, which by itself is per definition a shift in human consciousness without adding any fancy stuff about spiritual enlightenment. It’s hard to imagine such a drastic change not having a significant impact on the way our minds operate collectively. So that could be part of it.
It could also have something to do with the fact that, as Adyashanti once suggested in an interview, we’re all aware on some level that we’re at a point of crisis where we’ll either change or go extinct.
“Crises are often the catalyst for change,” he said. “And I think as humanity is in general we can all start to agree, I hope we’re starting to agree, that we’re coming to a place of crisis. That… we’re coming into contact, not just with our own personal mortality, but our mortality as a species. That we as a species may not survive. And that can provide, just like individual mortality, [that] can lead to a change of consciousness because we realize time’s run out. There is no more time. So in that ‘no more time’ sometimes consciousness can shift. And as humanity I think we’re rapidly approaching that same kind of imperative. Time is running out and so quite naturally there is tremendous pressure on humanity and on humanity’s consciousness right now. We all feel it, right? This tremendous pressure to evolve, to awaken, because somehow intuitively everyone knows that if there’s not some rather dramatic shift in consciousness then this opportunity will be missed.”
Another potential explanation for our apparent “quickening” is the possibility that we’re all a lot more interconnected than we assume we are. Some strange and unexpected anomalies in scientific studies have poked a few uncomfortable holes in the consensus worldview about organisms existing as wholly independent individuals on this earth, which opens up the possibility that one person’s awakening could in some ways inform the level of consciousness of the whole of humanity.
Scientist Rupert Sheldrake has been documenting the curious way animals sometimes appear capable of picking up new skills in ways that learning and genetics don’t seem to account for, like the strange case of laboratory rats around the world suddenly getting better at navigating water mazes from generation to generation following a water maze study in the 1920s by psychologist William McDougall. Sheldrake’s theories are often rejected by mainstream scientists with an extreme emotionality which reveals an egoic fixation on dogma rather than scientific objectivity, but if you’re curious about his ideas he had an interesting appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience a few years ago which outlines his thinking more clearly than any other video I’ve found.
If this is true, if humans are interconnected in such a way that one person’s awakening could be informing the rest of the species, then this could indicate that we are on track for a exponential awakening event of the kind that could transform us as a species overnight.
When futurist Roy Amara said “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run,” he wasn’t really making a statement about technology, he was making a statement about human cognition. We’re pattern-seeking creatures whose minds tend to think in linear terms within the near future, a tendency which served us well in our evolutionary history when trying to predict when it’s safe to reproduce and where the mammoths will be, but which is absolutely useless in predicting large-scale movements which may be nonlinear. It’s possible that the only reason the predictions the hippies were making about the “great awakening” that started in the sixties was solely because of this cognitive bias Amara spoke of. Perhaps we overestimated the short-term effects of that shift and underestimated its ongoing effects in the long term.
I personally don’t know quite what to make of any of this, which could end up being a good thing. If our future depends on us finding a way out of this ecocidal, omnicidal status quo that the propagandists and manipulators can’t anticipate and slam the door on, it’s going to have to come from an unexpected and mysterious direction. Something does appear to be stirring deep within our species, and for me that’s enough reason to hold out hope and keep pushing for real change. Maybe this shift isn’t what it appears to be from my point of view, and even if it is that doesn’t mean it will necessarily start happening quickly enough, but it’s enough to take a stand on. I believe we’ll either transcend our old self-destructive patterns or perish, so we might as well say “Damn the torpedoes” and sprint toward that transcendence at full speed.