Additions on Nov. 11 are in purple.
Invitation to a Second-Tier Conversation about:
Urgency, Nonduality, Eros, and Conscious Evolution
I hereby re-state (see sidebar on right) all the usual caveats about my writing: it is aimed at being generative, catalytic, provocative, rather than accurate and especially in this blog, rather than being complete. This is a broad-brush over-simplified swing through a complex topic. What kind of conversation could we have about this? I offer some seeds.
Is Urgency Always a Sign of Fear?
It's easy to assume that a person who feels a sense of urgency about what they do in life, is motivated by fear. In fact, it's easy to assume that no other motivation is possible when urgency is present and to assume that anyone who says otherwise is in denial of the fear.
I'd like to explore this matter and propose some other ways to view "urgency" of motivation, and a possible source of the assumption.
This exploration seems to be timely and a "live issue" among folks interested in "Second-Tier Integral" matters; see below about the context from which this exploration emerged.
One Possible Source of the Assumption
One possible source of the assumption is a common assumption which can arise in the "Everything is empty" phase of awakening which began with the "Everything is One Form" realization. A person can get "stuck in Emptiness" before a truly nondual awareness arises. To make a long story short, in my own wording, a person in this "stuck" phase assumes/believes that anything which shows up in the world of form which is not silence, total peace, total calmness, total serenity, with no movement of any kind outside of the eternal "Now," represents a dualistic awareness. However, that view itself is a kind of dualistic awareness.
After the realization of Emptiness, can be the re-joining: "Form is Emptiness and Emptiness is Form." Not-One, Not-Two. It's the "Not-One" part which is characteristic of, and unique to, the final Nondual awareness. Not only is the world of Form Not-Two, but Emptiness and Form themselves are Not-Two. Conceptually distinguishable, but not separate.
One way this realization shows up for people is the realization that "Everything is God," that Emptiness itself can manifest as fear, as hatred, as dualistic awareness, as so many things we don't like and often are not willing to include in our spirituality. It shows up as the resolution to the classic spiritual/religious "problem of evil."
Therefore, people not yet at the non-dual phase of awakening seem to automatically assume that anything which looks like urgency, must be generated from the realm of "Form" which they equate with dualistic-awareness.
Another version of the same illusion is that "if everything is perfect as it is, then there is no motivation to do anything." Most spiritual teachers address this error, pointing out that included in the perfection of what is, is any sense of impetus to action, urgent or not, which arises.
Plus, action inevitably happens; the world of form is the world of change. Change includes some creative tension between what is, and what is becoming, and that tension can have the paradoxical "effortless effort" flavor, of total urgency and also total stillness or calm. That flavor is more like the "Eros" alternative described below: No move toward or away from a particular future, just the powerful flow of the Infinite Power of Creation, creating "because it can," in the fundamentally eternal "Now."
Three Possible Sources of Urgency
I'd like to explore several ways I can imagine that a sense of urgency could be generated from sources other than "fear."
For this purpose, let's define "fear" this way: It is the emotional/feeling aspect to the experience of imagining a future situation which one doesn't want, wishes to avoid, and yet feels not fully capable of preventing or avoiding. (That definition is the result of years of contemplation but that's another story.) That experience-complex lends a flavor to all actions taken to prevent or avoid that unwanted future situation, a flavor which indeed when it is present, we can label "urgency."
That kind of urgency involves certain somatic elements, such as various patterns of muscle tension including shallow breathing, certain patterns of biochemicals, various kinds of thoughts/feelings (often called worry, anxiety, lots of imaginings of the unwanted future situation) etc.
Those people who are motivated by "conscious evolution" often show up in the world with a sense of urgency, which they often label as "passion." Are they really motivated by fear and denying it?
What else might be going on, instead of fear (or in addition, complex creatures which we are?)
Imagine a seedling growing from the seed upward, encountering a crusty soil barrier to emerging into the air and sunlight. It might not succeed, and thus die. It doesn't have self-awareness, nor a sense of being separate from the Infinite Intelligence running the show, or it might go into fear "Can I? Will I be able to? I don't want to die."
Might it, as its DNA unfolds and it expresses the Infinite Intelligence in its actions, simply experience certain biochemicals appearing, and certain cells being generated, one by one, which push and push on that hardened soil? (Thanks to a friend [exactly whom, I will remember shortly] for this model of a kind of "urgency.")
Here's the relevance to "urgency:" if it were conscious, would there be a sense of urgency in that, or would it have the same inner experience as a seedling whose topsoil was completely loose with no barrier to its natural future? How would that extra, unusual effort in the face of a challenge, be subjectively felt? Would there be total calm, or something more?
Is it possible that the simple momentum of something in the world of form along its natural trajectory, toward its next position on that trajectory, could include an inner conscious component which we might label passion or urgency, but with no fear involved? It might be something we could label "will" or that people into "conscious evolution" might label as "Eros."
The word "urgency" could be broken into the notions of "urge" and "agency" neither of which is necessarily related to fear, and seem to be more related to the Eros kind of "urge" I am trying to describe here.
Another angle on this type of urge-agency is captured by looking through the metaphor of "actualizing of potential" -- like the seedling image above. When there is intensity involved, we could call it urgency, but it can be, I suspect often is, neither negatively nor positively motivated; it is simply a sometimes-intense drive within potential, to become actualized. More specifically, the very expression of aliveness, when intense, can be "urgent."
[That there is an inherent joy in actualizing potential and expressing aliveness, means there probably is, subjectively, some positive motivation toward experiencing that joy. It seems to me, that is a secondary kind of motivation, though, and the Eros is primary.]
Urgency is often characterized as "Must, or else....." I can see a fear version of that, and a non-fear version more like this Eros component. "Must, or else an unwanted future will happen" is likely to be fear-based. "Must, or else an opportunity for growth, toward which there is a lot of momentum in me, will be missed" is likely to not involve fear, and more likely be this passionate-Eros-flavored kind of urgency.
Opportunity and Flow
It's relevant here to recall that the Chinese language encourages us to translate "risk" or "threat" or "crisis" as "opportunity." Even actual threats do not automatically generate fear, if they are regarded as opportunities/life conditions conducive to, or demanding of, growth/evolution.
Another way of looking at this motivation is "being in flow." In a flow, there can be a sense of urgency, which is both a push from behind and a pull from ahead, in time, and neither is motivated by either fear or positive motivation. It is simply the urgency felt inside of a fast-moving, powerfully-flowing river, which if you are flowing within it, seems like a completely calm experience! However, if that river gets backed up -- urgency definitely shows up then! (People are acting from inner guidance often look like this, too, the urgency of flow.) If there is a firehose at your back, you are not necessarily urgent because of future-tripping, either the avoidance kind or the positive motivation kind!
In humans, that "Will" kind of urgency shows up in the embodiment with very different somatic patterns from the ones which show up when fear is present. I don't know of any research, but I'm betting big bucks that the patterns of muscle tension are far less damaging to the person's well-being, and that more health-enhancing biochemicals get generated, and I am even more sure that the kinds of thoughts which show up are not what we would call fear, worry, or anxiety.
They are more like the extra energy summoned by athletes who are meeting a challenge of the moment. We could label it passion or urgency; subjectively I suspect it's simply a feeling of high energy-excitement (See Irmeli's comment below) with a feeling of inexorable, undeniable momentum moving through one's Being, generating actions moment by moment, just like the laying on of cells.
In the context of Emergence, those who have participated in "Second-Tier We-space" experiences recognize the inner and outer aspect of that experience which can be described as passionate, exhilarated, high-momentum sensations/energy which is Will to Emergence at one of its most intense expressions. The intensity of this "drive" seems not originated in human fear nor positive motivation, it is the Infinite Creative Impulse/Emergence/Evolution gushing into the present moment toward the next moment.
In people who are consciously evolutionary, all this is more perceptible in subjective experience, which is why there is more talk of "urgency" -- leading to this conversation about it!
Here's a third possible scenario around urgency. Motivation by fear is motivation by a "negative" -- avoidance, prevention, of something imagined and unwanted. On the other hand, there is motivation by "positives" -- achievement, attainment, something imagined which is wanted, desired -- being pulled forward toward a future situation, rather than scrambling to push away a future situation.
Could that appear and feel flavored with urgency? I doubt there is anyone who has not experienced that. I suppose the momentum toward sexual orgasm is the most common example. (Though it could be argued that that particular urgency could sometimes be a simple will to the next moment on a natural trajectory, like the seedling, not so much attain a specific desired future situation.)
Destroyers and Builders
A further distinction can be made which I think is relevant (and described more at length if you click on the link just above.) Some people focus their attention, energy, and actions on removal of old "forms" in the LR and LL worlds which are no longer viable or are harmful. Other people are focused on actual building of the new forms which are more desirable. The latter are usually motivated by positives, but the former can be motivated by either fear or some Will-positive combination.
What is the attitude of a farmer tilling the soil, turning under the old plants so the new can grow? If the attitude is one of rejection, pushing away, avoiding, then there is probably fear. But if the attitude is that this "destruction" is a PHASE of the creation process, merely a necessary step, part of the building, and the focus is on "making way for what's coming next," then I would say the motivation is Eros or positive, or some combo. Does that make sense?[The triads of Brahma-Saraswati (Creation), Vishnu-Lakshmi (Maintenance, Ripening) and Shiva-Kali (Destruction, Dis- Creation) point to these recurring phases of life's cycles, and show their necessary relationship to one another and to the whole of life.]
This kind of motivation might show up in an embodiment with a lot of energy, perhaps with a sense of time-pressure if the challenges are great, but I believe the somatic elements are far more akin to the Will motivation than to the Fear motivation, if we were to introspectively or objectively assess them.
I believe it's primarily this motivation which shows up in healthy "Second-Tier" awareness of people who subjectively (and to others) feel "urgency" around matters of conscious evolution, of action in the world, of creating a different and more-desired world, etc.
SECOND-TIER POSITIVE MOTIVATION
In addition to the kinds of somatic and experiential manifestations of positive motivation in First Tier, folks, I suspect there are additional ones unique to this kind of motivation in "conscious evolution" Second-Tier folks.
Somatically, there is probably less overall muscle tension, as the paradox of "effortless effort" kicks in. Biochemically, and probably in brain-wave patterns, there would probably be more characteristics of inner calm, rather than "activity-related" patterns, even while there is "urgent action" going on.
And there might be a sense described as "falling forward" through life, underneath any external signs of passion, intense feelings, etc. There might also be even less angst about decision-making than most positively-motivated people: a sense of trust and serenity visible only if one looks beneath the surface waves of the person's appearance and action.
Obviously all these kinds of motivation can be present in a person. To the extent they are, the entirety of the person's motivation could be dismissed as "fear." I am suggesting the situation could be more complex than that, requiring a deeper inquiry for which I am offering some distinctions I think would be useful to look for.
These contemplations were stimulated by my participation in "the best conversations of your life" at the recent Integral Living Room in Boulder, Colorado. I'm sure more expressions will emerge from that awesomely rich experience, for me and others.
This topic was one of the juiciest and most energized in the entire event. Do leave your comments below and add your views!
by Rev. Alia Aurami, Ph.D., Head Minister, Amplifying Divine Light in All Church
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