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Cosmic Conscience

by Andrew Cohen

What is the moral context for the human experience at the beginning of the twenty-first century? Most importantly, for the minority who are privileged and educated, for those at the leading edge—us—what is the moral context for our relationship to life? The fact is, for most of us, there isn't any. That's the problem, really. But it's not our fault. We are all products of our own time and place in history, and ours is the age of the individual—a time when our own personal desires and concerns are almost always the determining factors in making our most important life choices. In this time when we have almost infinite options, when many of us are dubious of notions of higher truth and experience an aversion to any sense of obligation, it's no wonder that morally we find ourselves at sea. So self-focused have we become that we've literally lost touch with the moral dimension of the human experience. And the only way that a new, authentic moral context will begin to reveal itself to us is if our fixation on our personal desires falls into the background. It's for this reason that spiritual experience is so important.

The traditional teachings of enlightenment tell us that only when we are willing to let go of our personal desires will we be able to directly experience the grandeur, glory, and awe-inspiring mystery of Being that transcends life and death. The living revelation of enlightened consciousness itself is so extraordinary, so liberating, because freed from the tethers of the personal sphere, our awareness expands to what feels like infinity. And in that infinite embrace of everything that is, a care and concern, a love and passion for everything that is reveals itself quite spontaneously. And we recognize that that care and concern is not in any way separate from consciousness itself, and is in fact our own deepest care and concern. There is nothing that gives greater conviction in the inherent goodness of the creative principle, or the source of life itself, than the direct discovery of the passionate care that emerges naturally when consciousness has been freed from the endless desires, fears, and concerns of the personal ego. That care, we discover, is not only an innate quality of who and what we are, but is who and what we become when we authentically begin to evolve beyond ego. And the most thrilling part of this evolutionary transition is the emerging intuition of a living moral context that exists in and as a fundamental part of the fabric of creation itself.

This cosmic moral context becomes apparent in and through the evolving consciousness of the awakening human being. In fact, the higher moral dimension of the life process only reveals itself when the awakening human is able to see beyond not only the desires of the personal self but also any and all notions of self-identity, individual and collective, that are less than limitless. A new enlightened moral framework for the human experience—one which we as a race are so desperately in need of—will become apparent only when more of the privileged minority who have already been given everything are willing to let go of our attachment to our good fortune to make room inside ourselves for the gift that consciousness itself is waiting to bestow upon us.

Ironically, we're in a double bind. Never have so many of us been in a position to understand how much the universe needs our evolution beyond ego, our enlightenment. And at the same time, because we're all products of the age of the individual, never has our attachment to our personal ego or self-sense been stronger. In fact, it is because of this that even in sophisticated contemporary spiritual circles, the perennial challenge from the greatest masters throughout history—ego death—is dismissed as an outdated relic of our less-enlightened past. So what are we going to do? The next step really does depend on each and every one of us.

It's urgent that we begin to define a new moral context that will, in its depth and breadth of vision, be able to embrace the multidimensional nature of the human predicament in all its complexity at the beginning of the twenty-first century. And some bold pathfinders are already well along in that endeavor. But the most important part of this project, and I'm sure few would disagree, is actually being willing to pay the price for self-transcendence, as individuals, so that more and more of us will be able to directly intuit the contours and parameters of this new moral ground from the core of consciousness itself.

Andrew Cohen, founder and editor-in-chief of What Is Enlightenment?, has been a spiritual teacher since 1986, and is author of numerous books, including Living Enlightenment and Embracing Heaven & Earth. For more information, visit


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