Envisioning the earth's future is an exercise in paradox. For while it's hard to imagine a future planet earth dominated by anything other than Homo sapiens
, it is perhaps equally hard, given our current course of multilateral destruction, to imagine just what kind of future the earth will have if Homo sapiens continues
to dominate. In our quest to find out if and how enlightenment might resolve our global predicament, we came across one intriguing thinker who has dared to stretch his own imagination through and beyond this apparent double bind and has arrived at a solution that is nothing short of evolutionary. According to consciousness researcher John White, despite all trends to the contrary, humanity and the earth do indeed have the makings of a promising future together. But the form of human being that will be here to participate is a primate of a very different order than the human as we know it today. He calls it Homo noeticus
—the next step in human evolution.
Called to the spiritual life in 1963 by a spontaneous experience of what he describes as 'God realization,' John White has never had a problem telling others he's enlightened, provided he can quickly follow up with the qualifier, "but just barely." And for the past twenty-seven years, that "just barely" has been the fuel behind his insatiable interest in exploring our higher human potential. Ask him about his achievements in this domain, and one of the last
things you'll hear about is the enlightenment experience that sparked his journey. First, you'll learn about his alliance with Apollo 14
astronaut Edgar Mitchell, whose spiritual experience in the space capsule led him to found, with White's help, the now internationally renowned Institute of Noetic Sciences. Then there was the book manuscript he received from a struggling young writer named Ken Wilber back in 1974 entitled The Spectrum of Consciousness.
The book so impressed White that he devoted himself to getting it published, a task which he eventually accomplished, thirty-three publishers and four years later, launching Wilber's rise to become one of the most highly respected spiritual thinkers in modern times. A freelance writer and editor for much of his career, White might also mention that he has himself published dozens of articles and over fifteen books, including The Meeting of Science and Spirit, A Practical Guide to Death and Dying
, and the anthologies Kundalini, Evolution, and Enlightenment
and What Is Enlightenment?
In his forthcoming book, Enlightenment 101
, White describes the radical evolutionary shift that his research and experience have convinced him is already under way in the human race.
Living at the forefront of consciousness exploration, in the company of many of today's leading spiritual visionaries, has given White an unusual appreciation for our higher human capacities and no doubt an inside look at where we might be headed as a species. But, White confesses, the source of his conviction in our imminent evolutionary potential does not lie ultimately in his research and study but in that first spiritual experience he had back in 1963. As he tells it, "There was a flipping over in consciousness which showed me the illusion of the separate self and the identity of true Self. It was a moment of cosmic consciousness. My sense of body self was just absolutely blown away and there was only 'I' as the universe, as the cosmos. Now that didn't confer all sorts of omniscience on me, but it conferred certitude. I knew beyond any
doubt whatsoever who I am, why I'm here, where I'm going, what the way home is, to God. And in that, I saw that if there's any such thing as human nature, what was potential for me was potential for everyone. I saw in my past, the human past. I saw in my future, the human future."
One day last fall, we had the pleasure of a neighborly visit from John White, who drove up from his Connecticut home to our center in western Massachusetts and spent the afternoon sharing his vision of an enlightened humanity.