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Conscious Evolution – Q and A with Barbara Marx Hubbard

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Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of our Social Potential

What is conscious evolution?

Conscious evolution means evolution by choice not chance. For billions of years nature has been evolving through five mass extinctions, but no species was aware of it. Now, we are aware that we are facing the sixth mass extinction, and that humanity has some role to play in this crisis. We are affecting our own evolution by everything we do; the food we eat, the cars we drive; the number of babies we have; the energy we use, etc.  We have entered the first age of Conscious Evolution. The book is a vital manual and guide for our entire generation facing species-wide evolution or devolution together for the very first time. It offers us a new way through together.

What is the social potential movement?

The human potential movement was founded on Abraham H. Maslow’s genius to study well rather than sick people.  He called them self-actualizing. He found every such person had one thing in common — chosen work they found intrinsically self-rewarding that was of service.  He mapped the characteristics of self-actualizing people and launched the positive human potential movement. In Conscious Evolution we begin to map peaks of social creativity, innovations and projects that are now working toward a positive future. We begin to see the outlines of the self-actualizing society. Conscious Evolution is a vital step in launching a social potential movement.

What is the “New Story” that Conscious Evolution is based on?

It is the newly discovered universal evolutionary story based on the recent discovery of cosmogenesis, the scientifically based awareness that the universe has been, is now and will ever be evolving — and so are we.  It is also obvious, when looking at the whole 13.8 billion years of the New Story, that nature is like an evolutionary spiral.  It takes jumps toward higher consciousness, freedom, and order through forming new whole systems, as from single cell, to multicellular creatures, to large animals, to humans and now to humanity developing a new nervous system, a global brain, a “noosphere” or thinking layer of Earth through the Internet, 7 billion cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Linked-in, etc. We are being connected to one another as one living system — which is the next whole system jump.

What do you mean by co-creator with the process of evolution?

The same process of creation that creates the universe is within us, motivating us to be more, to do more, to love more. This tendency within us is the Impulse of Evolution motivating us.  Our atoms, genes, brain, organs together are a resume of the whole story of creation. Within each of us is an Impulse of Creativity, a yearning to realize our potential.  A co-creator is a person who feels this impulse within as an expression of his or her own life purpose. It is one who says yes to this impulse and begins to seek fulfillment through expressing his or her own unique creativity. Co-Creators are the next step after Paul Ray’s definition of “cultural creatives.” Co-Creators are deeply attuned spiritually and to to their vocations, or soul’s purpose. They are learning to co-operate with one another co-creatively as co-equals, outside of the current top down pyramidal system. They are innovators of a new culture and a new society now arising in the midst of the dysfunctional world.

What do you mean, “problems are evolutionary drivers.”

Stress causes evolution. Problems force us to seek new solutions – to discover emerging potentials within the system – like new clean energy, new health practices, etc. We find that the solution to problems is not more of the same.  Every time nature hits a crisis that cannot be resolved by doing more of the same, it begins to innovate and transform. This is what is happening now. As crises mount, innovations are increasing in every field.  What is needed now is to connect what is working by developing greater synergy among innovations. On a personal level, each crisis we face, especially depression, can also be seen as a driver to find out what wants to be expressed and what potential is emerging within us.

You talk about A Spirit-Motivated Plan of Action.  What is that?

Given the immediacy of our environmental and social crises, especially global warming, it is obvious that we need a coordinated plan, as great or greater than the technological plan for the lunar landing. John F. Kennedy proposed that we place a man on the moon and bring him back alive “in this decade.”  I propose that we take the next step.   We declare that within this decade from 2015 to 2025 we, humanity, will scan for, map, connect and communicate what is working in the world toward a sustainable, evolvable, spiritually fulfilling world for all. Conscious Evolution is a call for social co-creators and pioneers to join together to undertake this great social necessity.

What kind of new educational system does Conscious Evolution call for?

It calls for the opposite of the current model of education, especially at the masters and PhD level.  Instead of specializing into ever narrowing fields, evolutionary education requires us to take a holistic, evolutionary, big picture perspective. We must see the entire process of creation from the Big Bang to the present and beyond as one continuous process of innovation and transformation with specific laws of chaos and transformation that can be applied to enter our own process of evolution consciously.

This new system activates a new community of evolutionary leaders, innovators and co-creators in every field and function and invites all students to learn from these innovators as to what is working toward the next stage of evolution, mentoring and guiding the young. It is drawing together a new “memetic code” for the future. As genes build bodies, memes build cultures. Currently our leadership at the head of existing systems, such as politics, organized religion, economics, and the arts do not have memes to guide us toward a positive future equal to our potential. This lack of images and ideas and visions to move toward must be filled by evolutionary education, including self-education and by curriculum. Conscious Evolutionary education is a life-long process of gaining ever greater guidance from within oneself, and from the process of evolution as to how each person on Earth can realize their full creative potential for self and society.

What can an individual do about all this? How do I participate personally in conscious evolution?

Excellent question.  The best way to participate in evolution is to discover your deepest life purpose, the impulse of creativity within you and to say yes to that.  It is to follow your inner “compass of joy,” learning that when you feel joyful, on purpose, alive and creative you are participating in both self and social evolution, provided that your actions are also of service to at least one person as discovered by Maslow’s study of self-actualizing people.   Another key is to form small groups of two or more who resonate with these ideas and learn how to cultivate a field of “resonance,” heart coherence, resounding to each other your highest traits and aspirations.


Futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard is a prolific educator and author of seven books, including a revised and updated edition of her seminal work Conscious Evolution. She is an evolutionary thinker who believes that global change happens when we work collectively and selflessly for the greater good. Visit her online at www.evolve.org.

Excerpted from the book, Conscious Evolution. Copyright © 2015 by Barbara Marx Hubbard. Reprinted with permission from New World Library.

Discovering the Importance of the New Story

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An excerpt from Conscious Evolution by Barbara Marx Hubbard

It was a cold November day in Paris in 1948 during my junior year abroad from Bryn Mawr College. Somehow I had separated myself from my classmates and wandered into Chez Rosalie, a small café on the Left Bank. A wood fire was burning and the smell of Gauloises cigarettes filled the air.

I sat at one of the wooden tables and ordered my lunch. A tall, handsome young American man opened the door, letting in the cold. There was only one place left for him to sit, opposite me. I smiled at him, immediately attracted, and introduced myself. He told me his name was Earl Hubbard. He had such a special intensity that I decided to ask him questions that had dominated my thoughts ever since the United States dropped the atomic bombs on Japan three years earlier, when I was fifteen years old, in 1945. My horror had stimulated these questions: What is the meaning of our new scientific and technological powers that is good? What is the purpose of Western civilization? What are positive images of the future commensurate with these new powers?

In my quest for answers, I had read through philosophy, science fiction, and world religions. But amazingly, except for brief glimpses in science fiction and mystical revelation, I found none. The philosophers looked back toward a golden age, as the Greeks did; or were cyclical, as in Eastern thought; or were stoical, believing there was “nothing new under the sun” as the Roman philosopher Marcus Aurelius said; or were existentialist, like Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, proclaiming that the universe has no inherent meaning except what we give it as individuals. Finally, I read the materialistic philosophers who proclaimed that the universe is nothing but matter and is inevitably degenerating to a “heat death” through increasing disorder or entropy as stars burn out, and with them all life will die. Although some visionaries and mystics foresaw a life beyond this life, beyond death, I found no positive visions of the future to work toward in this life.

With these questions I became a metaphysical seeker. My upbringing had been Jewish agnostic. I was a spiritual tabula rasa — a blank slate with no religious beliefs. When I asked my father “What religion are we?” he answered, “You are an American. Do your best!” But at what? I wondered. My father was a Horatio Alger type, a poor boy from Brooklyn who had become the toy king of the world. He told his children that the purpose of life was to win, to make money. But I couldn’t believe him. I knew that even if everyone had money, everyone would be as frustrated as I was, seeking the meaning of life but finding nothing. Material comfort alone could not be the goal of existence. I had grown up with so many toys that by the age of six, I knew that more toys would not make me, or anyone else, happier.

If I did not know life’s larger purpose, how could I know my own purpose? I felt an intense need for meaning and was obsessed with these questions, reading through world literature on a passionate quest to find an answer. I had asked my questions of every young man I dated. What is the purpose of our new powers? And what is your purpose? They had no idea! I never received a good answer — until that day in Paris.

We talked casually for a few moments, then I gained courage and asked the young man my question: What do you think is the meaning of our new power that is good? He looked at me with gray-green eyes, took a long drag on his Gauloises, and said, “I am an artist. My purpose is to seek a new image of humanity commensurate with our new power to shape the future.”

I was stunned. There it was! A response to my deep life question. I was completely captivated by him.

I’m going to marry you! flashed through my mind…and I did.

As we sat at the little table that afternoon, the chestnuts roasting above a fire in the café, he explained that when a culture has a story everyone understands, it gives direction and meaning to that culture. When people no longer believe the story, the culture disintegrates.

For example, when the Homeric legends — the stories of the gods and goddesses, the heroes, the Trojan War — were written, fifth-century Greece was born. As time went on, the legends no longer seemed believable and a new story emerged. That story was the Gospels, which told of one man whose life and promise changed the world. We may never know the accurate history of Jesus’ life, but we do know that the written story created a faith and expectation in the human heart that brought forth a new culture, one in which the individual is sacred, the kingdom of heaven is within us, and life everlasting is promised through love of God and one another. Christendom was born, and in a variety of forms it dominated the Western world for more than a thousand years. But gradually, with the advent of science and democracy some three hundred years ago, the literal interpretation of the Gospels was no longer possible for millions of people.

In the Renaissance a new story emerged. It was the story of progress through knowledge, through awareness of how nature works, and through the liberation of individual freedom. In 1486 Giovanni Pico della Mirandola wrote in Oration on the Dignity of Man, “We have made you a creature of neither heaven nor Earth, neither mortal nor immortal, in order that you may as the free and proud shaper of your own being, fashion yourself in any form you prefer.”1 Earl described the importance not only of a new story but also of a new image of humans. He vividly explained how the last great image of a human was in Michelangelo’s famous sculpture David. He traced modern art through Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Picasso, and Jackson Pollock, ending in the art of the absurd, images of degradation and despair. We had lost not only our story but also our self-image.

From the Renaissance until the twentieth century the story of human freedom and progress had carried us forward. But as we sat there in the tragedy-laden environment of post–World War II Paris, we could see that the twentieth century so far had been the most violent and cruel in the history of humanity, with the destruction of millions of innocent people in wars and genocides perpetrated by the most sophisticated nations on Earth. The story of hope that had created the modern age seemed absurd. We knew that more of the same use of power and knowledge would destroy us.

In the postwar world, we were between stories — and we still are. We are wielding massive powers; we are overconsuming and overdefending while children starve and our environment and social systems deteriorate. Many say we have reached the point of “evolution or extinction.” In the midst of our confusion, however, a new story of evolution is emerging that has the potential to inspire us to creative action.

Earl and I married. In our “breakfast dialogues,” we began to piece together this new story of our potential for conscious evolution. The story is coming from the combined insights of many disciplines: scientific, historical, psychological, ecological, social, spiritual, and futuristic. But it has not yet found its artistic or popular expression. We discover fragments in journals, poems, books, lectures, conferences, seminars, and networks of those interested in it. We see flashes in science fiction films. But it has not yet been pieced together and told with the power required to awaken the social potential within us and to guide us in the twenty-first century toward a future of infinite possibilities.

Understanding the new evolutionary story is a first critical action necessary to carry us — without greater violence and suffering — toward a future equal to our full potential. Understanding gives us a sense of direction, hope, and meaning, providing us with a new self-image and positive visions of a future we choose and toward which our new powers can be used.


Futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard is a prolific educator and author of seven books, including a revised and updated edition of her seminal work Conscious Evolution. She is an evolutionary thinker who believes that global change happens when we work collectively and selflessly for the greater good. Visit her online at www.evolve.org.

Excerpted from the book, Conscious Evolution. Copyright © 2015 by Barbara Marx Hubbard. Reprinted with permission from New World Library.

The Great Awakening

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An excerpt from Conscious Evolution by Barbara Marx Hubbard

The world is ready for the advent of a new stage of human consciousness and action. It is time for a “planetary birth experience,” a collective awakening, an experience of shared empathy, love, and creativity. Just as we once evolved from Neanderthal to Homo sapiens through a mysterious set of circumstances, not fully understood, so now we are emerging as Homo universalis, a species capable of conscious evolution on Earth and beyond.

What are signs of the emergence of a new era of evolution? Ken Carey wrote in The Third Millennium:
A mother never knows exactly what hour she will give birth to her child, but she has a “due date,” an approximate time when the baby is expected and will most likely be born. For millennia now there have been those in various traditions of both East and West who have known that the earth has a due date sometime during the second decade of the 21st century. Though there will be much awakening of individuals prior to the first unified movement of the awakened planetary organism, this movement, like a first breath, will occur in but a single moment.

Such a planetary awakening is happening now because the timing is right in relationship to our planetary life cycle. Let’s continue with our biological analogy. A newborn baby awakens at a specific time in its life cycle, just after it has made its journey from the comfort of the womb into the harsh and strange world. The child finally rests at peace. At one delightful moment, which cannot be predicted yet is expected, the infant awakens, relaxes, opens eyes that have never seen — eyes that were created in the darkness of the womb. For the first time the womb-veil thins, light floods in, and the infant focuses and sees its mother. A radiant glow of recognition and joy crosses its face and animates its body. It has come home to the new world, never to go back again.

Let’s compare ourselves as a planetary organism to a biological organism just after birth. We are facing a trauma that could be compared to the trauma a baby faces after birth. We are Generation One, the first generation on this Earth to consciously be aware that we can destroy ourselves by our own actions or evolve ourselves by our own choices. We are struggling to coordinate ourselves as one global system, feeling the panic of running out of Mother Earth’s resources. We are learning to change our energy consumption, to grow our food in healthier ways, to handle our own waste, to stop overpopulating and polluting, and far more. As we do so, we are beginning to recognize we are all members of one planetary body.

For the first time, in the 1960s during the Apollo program we opened our Earth-bound eyes, saw ourselves from outer space, and were amazed at the beauty of our Earth as a whole. For one brief moment we saw no boundaries, no nations, and no walls to divide us.

Now, millions of us are awakening to our participation in the whole, as our planetary body integrates and links up throughout the world. The internet, mobile phones, social media, and many other elements of our rapidly growing planetary nervous system are connecting us as individuals and groups, beyond the confines of time and space.

The process is unfolding. Let’s imagine that the Internet is informing us of what is now working to evolve our world. Let’s assume that the NewNews in all its forms is communicating to us the news of who we are becoming. But we are still in a postnatal torpor, traumatized and confused by the abruptness of the changes we are undergoing. Many of us are without hope, without the sense that our future is desirable and attractive, forgetting that each of us has a part to play. Yet, as Teilhard de Chardin writes in The Future of Man, “The whole future of the Earth, as of religion, seems to me to depend on the awakening of our faith in the future.” At times, we live with an ominous sense of impending doom, which is realistic. We have never seen another planet go through a transition period wherein its inhabitants were able to create so many offspring, so much technology, and such high levels of pollution and waste. If we do not quickly adjust to our new condition, we may die. Our birth could be a death. The dangers we face are life threatening, just as the newborn infant faces critical problems that must be quickly handled or it will die.

Something more is needed to awaken us as a whole — an infusion of life, love, appreciation, and security to comfort us in our time of trial. Remember, everything that rises converges. The planetary dissipative structure is reaching maximum instability. Everything we do counts, especially in this critical time. Will the impulses of health and creativity prevail soon enough to counter the acceleration toward environmental and social breakdown?


Futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard is a prolific educator and author of seven books, including a revised and updated edition of her seminal work Conscious Evolution. She is an evolutionary thinker who believes that global change happens when we work collectively and selflessly for the greater good. Visit her online at www.evolve.org.

Excerpted from the book, Conscious Evolution. Copyright © 2015 by Barbara Marx Hubbard. Reprinted with permission from New World Library.