Harvey Kraft is author of The Buddha from Babylon, DOUBLE WINNER of USA Best Book Awards in 2 categories: HISTORY - General (nonfiction) & RELIGION - Eastern Religions

Evolutionary Shift Theory: Why Do We Need to Consciously Direct the Next Leg of Human Evolution?

Buddhist Principle of Relativity: All lifeforms and environments are intricately, although temporarily, related and integrated in a continuous process of dependent origination. This is called the Inseparable Oneness of Existence.

PART I - Symbiosis

In earlier eras, the evolution of our planet’s species reflected an ongoing genetic reaction to their external world. Our surroundings and circumstances, and their environmental impact on us, often a threat to our existence, have continuously stimulated the internal biological mutations and adaptations that allowed the evolution of our human species.

What a marvelous discovery! Life comes with a built-in program that we call Evolution.

Do you believe that evolution has an intended destination? Or, do you prefer to see it strictly as a random process that uses probability to engender results? Could it be neither, or both?

From the beginning of our evolutionary journey, the environment, the natural world we exist on, and that we depend upon, has represented both the challenger to our existence and our nurturer, as this is the case for all lifeforms in our biosphere.

Species that managed to still be here are the ones who evolved the qualities and skills they needed to survive. Through adaptation activities across generations, they evolved in the face of relentless waves of hardships and threats to life in their environment.

Out of this cauldron of evolution, human beings have emerged as masters of the globe. With a multi-billion population, in a relatively short time, we have turned the tables on Nature. The result of our new found domination of the planet is that we have reduced the power that environmental influences can have on our evolutionary development.

The domination of Nature over our internal change appears to have slowed. At the same time, the direction of evolution has shifted. It’s a 180-degree flip in the polarities of evolutionary impact, along with a substantial quickening in evolutionary pace.

Today, we are witnessing a directional tidal shift in the cause and effect functions of evolution. Currently, the historical driver of evolutionary leaps and adaptations is the human being. Going forward, human evolution is more likely to be stimulated by human beings.

Now the human species is the new challenger to and the nurturer of the environment. We are building cities and farming to feed billions, inventing materials, making products, transports and technologies. We created social, religious, political and economic structures designed to reshape our relationships to each other, but in the process we’ve reshaped our surroundings to suit our numerous desires. As we continue this progressive effort “our” environments become less natural, but even more threatening.

From today’s modern-world perspective, it should be obvious that our world is the product of a symbiotic evolutionary system. Now that we’re boss over the natural environment, it is the one feeling threatened. Now the pressure is on Nature to survive or perish.

PART II - Domination

Evolution may be more than a natural system operating on the principle of countervailing forces. It may be a cosmic mechanism embedded in the software of life itself. But it’s purpose, if it has one, is elusive, or perhaps, we just can’t yet figure out where it’s heading.

Our collective environments are now evolving and adapting in a myriad ways due to the “human threat to Nature’s survival.” As human beings dominate the environment, we are creating “new threats to human survival,” composed of the corruption or misuse of well-intentioned social, technological, economic, political and spiritual environments. Human-dictated environments are the result of an evolutionary shift in direction that may produce the most serious threats to date.

To entertain this theory of an evolutionary shift, scientists should examine the possibility of an expanded evolutionary scope. But even so, will leaders know how to deal with it before the pendulum swings back again? In our earlier history, we survived our surroundings. But in the current, post-shift phase, humans prevail over the world…the human species rules like the king of Earth. We are redesigning the world’s environments, at will. But due to the symbiotic process of evolution, simultaneously, we are redesigning the human species.

Are we aware of that? Are we ready to have an ethical conversation about our heading in this regard?

Due to the directional shift in evolutionary influence, nowadays the environment has to bend to our will, and, in our hands environmental evolution is quickening at a substantially faster rate than the earlier phase of natural genetic-response.

In the past, Nature exerted its dominance over all lifeforms through sudden and dramatic climate shifts, effecting food shortages, or epidemic diseases. The elements were called Gods, and Nature could smite us…wipe us out. Although this possibility is still viable in the modern world, the ability of the human species to survive a natural catastrophe today is stronger than ever. Now we have the knowledge to deal with weather and the dynamics of climate, and, despite the evolutionary capabilities of the viral realm, our medical knowledge is on the verge of dominating it. Today, the human species is so ubiquitous, and we are so advanced in our abilities to survive Nature’s threats, that we are much more likely to preserver through any major natural disasters, even in the event of a global catastrophe that might cause high casualties.

Humans have taken over the shaping of the world, and in doing so we are driving the evolutionary imperatives that will characterize our future. Civilization itself is the builder of a “new world,” and it has brought forth an environment composed of artificial elements. But humanity, having survived through cleverness and brutality, has created a new “threat environment”— capable of graver assaults than Nature had ever been able to conjure in the past. These include the veiled threats of a nuclear holocaust or the climactic consequences of runaway pollution. Unfortunately, our “civilizations” still carry forward many of the old, instinct-based human institutions from times when threats were external. Even our modern societies appear oblivious to our role in creating detrimental human-made environments.

It’s ironic that our current environments, the ones we are now creating, may pose our greatest threats ever. It’s the new reality of evolution: we are creating the threats to our survival. We have yet to understand that our world has shifted to a new stage in our symbiotic relationship with the “Mind of Nature.”

What will be the impact on us all? How will we shape the evolution of our environment?

Are we to go forward blindly, or do we need to develop foresight regarding our evolutionary future? Can we come to terms with our collective power to shape our world: Will we create a future that fosters harmony or threat?

PART III - Consciousness

Unless we put forth the effort to design our environments to be harmonious, literally take stock of our symbiotic relationship with Nature, we could destroy the planet’s ability to nurture us.

The Evolutionary Shift Theory recognizes that across the globe we have many dynamic and symbiotic relationships with our many environments. Collectively, our local interactions constitute a “global policy” that reflects humanity’s dominant role on this planet. But, as we have learned many times before, power and ignorance can be a lethal cocktail, and, as such, it should come as no surprise if and when the Laws of Nature make a course correction in an effort to balance the skewed relationship now unfolding.

Nature, its elements and lifeforms, are programmed to evolve under pressure, resist, survive and adapt, just as we have. By forcing it to conform to the human will, the world is changing into an artificial expression of human desires and conflicts. But, should we continue to dominate our environments in this way, we may well be on our way to creating a symbiotic reaction. Can we wake up to our evolutionary accountability in time to forge an alternative path? Our awakening is the key, and it can be triggered either by desperation or wisdom.

Wisdom is the power to trigger humanity’s evolution to higher consciousness, an expansion of our natural capacity for insight, foresight and farsight. Think of it as a secret ingredient, present but largely overlooked, that could direct the next leg of our self-propelled evolution. Is it wishful thinking that we humans are capable of using our conceptual gifts to drive our next evolutionary stage?

Just as we survived thousands of years ago due primarily to the evolution of our conceptual brain, now as then, we should pursue the need for greater consciousness. Now is the time to focus the attention of the human species on evolving from an instinctual response model to a self-transforming model.

Yes. We can direct human evolution. How? By raising our consciousness of the cosmic system we live in, so that we may design a world based on “harmonious” relationships among conscious humans. Can we use our collective intelligence to develop a deeper and larger scope of consciousness that is balanced with the development of our global environments?

Awareness! The Evolutionary Shift Theory is an example of it. Extraordinary as this may sound, the view of humanity from the perch of higher consciousness may reveal that Life’s evolutionary program is of cosmic proportion. Such awareness could be used to trigger a change in perspective regarding the scope and dynamic orchestration of evolution. Wisdom, as an evolutionary driver, provides us with a thoughtful path.

From the natural evolutionary model of desperation and countervailing forces, higher consciousness could catapult us to a prescient model of evolution. Should the human species be enabled with the talent of self-transformation, we may find a way to balance evolutionary progress with environmental harmony.