Andrew Cohen is an American spiritual teacher, bestselling author, and founder of the global nonprofit EnlightenNext and its award-winning publication, EnlightenNext magazine. His original teaching of Evolutionary Enlightenment redefines spiritual awakening within the context of cosmic evolution and highlights a new understanding of God or Spirit as the creative impulse toward change in both self and culture.
His bestselling book, Evolutionary Enlightenment: A New Path to Spiritual Awakening is the product of his 26 years of work and has garnered praise from some of today’s leading spiritual and cultural figures as one of the most important spiritual works of our time. Andrew lives and works at the EnlightenNext headquarters in Western Massachusetts and spends much of his time travelling around the world giving retreats, seminars, and public talks about Evolutionary Enlightenment.
Question: What is the authentic self?
Andrew Cohen: The authentic self is the conscious experience of an ecstatic sense of urgency and egoless passion that is one with and synonymous with the energy and intelligence that initiated the creative process, and just the simple definition is I say that the easiest way to understand what the evolutionary impulse is is first to- is we realize that when a human being experiences a sexual impulse that’s the biological- it’s a biologically felt command to procreate. And the sexual impulse is really synonymous with the big bang, with the fundamental urge to create or to become. In this case it’s to procreate our own species so whenever a human being experiences the ecstatic urgency that is the sexual impulse we are experiencing the big bang, but we’re experiencing it at the lowest level. Human beings are the only species that experience an urge to innovate and to create things that are new. There’s no other species that experience this, a compulsion to innovate and create things that are new, and of course this started millions of years ago but now we know that the- our capacity to innovate and create has reached an exponential speed, but if we ever meet a truly inspired or passionate or gifted or talented engineer, artist, poet, scientist, spiritual teacher, public servant, but an individual who is passionately committed to creating something new in their presence one will feel a sense of ecstatic urgency, I must do this. And all these individuals are committed to making manifest these potentials that are just- that are just at the verge of entering in to the present. And they see them and they feel them. They see and they feel these potentials and they feel ecstatically committed to giving them birth. So the ecstatic urgency that we feel as the sexual impulse and the ecstatic urgency, the deeply creative genius’ experience, is at the highest level experience as the spiritual impulse. And the spiritual impulse is the urge towards consciousness, the desire to become more conscious, the felt- or the mysteriously felt urge to become more conscious, I must become more conscious, I feel I have to, I must. And we say, “Well, where does that come from? In a secular culture where our values are fundamentally materialistic and narcissistic, where could such a strong compulsion comes from?” Well, it comes from the very process that made it possible for us to have the experience right now and so the leading edge of that original intention to create a material universe is when a human being experiences this mysteriously felt compulsion towards consciousness, I must evolve level of consciousness, I must become more conscious. So that experience is what the authentic self is.
Topic: The higher "we"
Andrew Cohen: Well, the higher “we” is when any two or more individuals awaken to the consciousness of this authentic self in the same time and in the same place because the authentic self is the- or the urge to become more conscious, this passionately felt, ecstatic sense of urgency, is egoless. So when I awaken to that state of consciousness and that future oriented compulsion that’s not personal and you would awaken to that future oriented compulsion that’s not personal we experience what’s called intersubjective nonduality. Intersubjective means between subjects. It’s the shared space between individuals. And what we experience in this state is that- is there are no ego boundaries so there would be a sense that there’s literally nothing between us, that we are in fact one being, one consciousness, while at the same time and in the same space recognizing and appreciating the fact that we are actually two different people. And it’s a paradox and it’s a contradiction but in the experience we experience both at the same time and in the experience there isn’t any contradiction. It’s simply true that we are absolutely one and at the same time we are different. And this makes it possible for us to share a sense of intimacy and communion and trust and also creative engagement that’s absolutely impossible in any other kind of circumstance.
Recorded on: 04/28/2008