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Do Here Now!

Introduction to this issue
by Andrew Cohen

I've always been a very controversial spiritual teacher. Why? Because I tell people there is something to do! I have always told my audiences, seekers who have come to me to hear the good news about liberation here and now, that if they want to be free, then there is a lot to do. And in certain circles these days, any talk of doing is equivalent to blasphemy. Enlightenment is supposed to be about Being, not doing! "Wake up!" teachers of enlightenment proclaim. "You are lost in the stream of time and becoming, convinced there is a self who is doing this and doing that. That is the very problem. Wake up and realize there is only Being—not only is there no doer, but there is also nothing to do except to realize this simple yet absolute truth. Rest in Being forever and be free."

But they're lost in the past—the ancient past. Ever since the end of the tired old sixties, when hundreds of thousands of us found out about enlightenment, we've been hearing the same relentless refrain: Be Here Now, Be Here Now, Be Here NOW! Just BE. God IS—don't you get it? Okay—so some of us did get it . . . and then what? Oh yeah, I remember—just BE. Okay . . . I'm back—I'm Being . . . All I have to do is stay here and rest and make sure I don't think too much or worry about the past or the future, and if I'm lucky, well, maybe I could just Be some more. But wait a minute! I've been doing this for years and years, and why is it that part of me is starting to feel suffocated by all this Being, Being, Being? Oh yeah. It must be my ego rising up again, wanting to steal the show. Rest in Being, rest in Being, rest in Being. But wait a minute! It's not just my ego, that nasty, narcissistic self-(small 's') absorbed bastard. There really does seem to be another part of me that is here in this world and that strives not only to Be (which we all already are anyway, right? That's the enlightened state) but to do, to CONSCIOUSLY PARTICIPATE IN THE LIFE-PROCESS, to actively contribute. That's the truth too, isn't it?

First there was Nothing (Being), then there was Something (Becoming). Who and what we are is both of these things—Being and Becoming, something and nothing, manifest and unmanifest, form and emptiness, human and God. Right? Isn't that the whole picture? I mean, without the manifest universe, of which this crazy world is a part, without any doing or becoming, just Unmanifest Being would be pretty boring, wouldn't it? Not much action or life around. Resting only in the Unborn, in nirvana, it would be kind of quiet. Maybe too quiet, with nobody but our own Self to talk to . . . about what? Well, nothing . . . because nothing happened to talk about. That's why we Became, to ENLIVEN our own Self. That's why we got off our rear ends, so we could actively participate in our own Becoming. Becoming what? Becoming the whole Universe! But, oops . . . then we forgot who we were, forgot our roots, so to speak. We got lost in Becoming. We forgot that we were always already free, perfect, whole, and complete. We got lost in the show. And so then we began the search for our Self. And then we found it (be here now . . . remember?) but then in that finding, we also seemed to forget that we were never separate from the universe, from the stream of time, from Becoming, from the world. We are that also, fully and completely. We are all of that, and yet we're also free from all of that. Too many of us who got bitten by the enlightenment bug (back in the ancient past) forgot that we are the world as much as we are free from it. We are creating the world because we are not separate from the Creator or the creative process.

So what does enlightenment mean for today? What is enlightenment for the twenty-first century? It is Evolutionary Enlightenment! Be here now? Of course, but also, DO here now. Realize your own inherently free unmanifest Self as the ground of Being and, at the same time, recognize your own incarnation as the ceaselessly evolving body of the changing universe—a universe becoming ever more and more conscious of itself as Being and Becoming. What is enlightenment for the twenty-first century? Profoundly conscious and deeply passionate egoless participation in the life-process, ever free from attachment, always resting in Being.

So what's new about all this? Well, the evolutionary part, to be precise. In the old days, enlightenment was only about Being in the moment, free from attachment. At times we were told to embrace the world of doing, but only in order to use it to achieve our own liberation. But evolutionary enlightenment calls for egoless participation in the life-process for the sake of the evolution of consciousness itself. We are all desperately needed right now. For what? To truly awaken, to become enlightened, so that we can consciously participate, as liberated souls, in the life-process. What is the point of the experience of incarnation? To finally be able to give ourselves wholeheartedly to the life-process—to EVOLUTION—to conscious evolution, so that we can make a real difference in this crazy, divided, suffering world. Yes, enlightenment for the twenty-first century calls us all to participate wholeheartedly—that means with everything we've got—for everyone else's sake, for the upliftment of all of life, RIGHT NOW, as liberated beings. Yes, we are all needed, by our very own Self. Desperately.


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This article is from
Our Evolution Issue