Consciousness evolves. This isn't a controversial statement, because we all accept that the awareness of a toddler is only the beginning of life's journey, leading to the greater awareness of adulthood. What isn't widely accepted yet is that evolution or personal growth—choose whatever term you will—becomes voluntary once a person reaches biological maturity. You must choose to grow into insight, wisdom, love and compassion. Our brains can adapt to all these states. Experiments with Tibetan monks have proved that their brain functioning is different and more intense in the prefrontal cortex where higher thought is centered.
At the moment, such findings seem exotic, but they shouldn't. Our remote ancestors didn't speak complex languages (so far as anyone knows), do mathematical calculations or delve into quantum physics, but as soon as modern humans wanted to pursue those areas of inquiry, the brain kept up and adapted to make math, physics and every language in the world possible. The same is true of spiritual experience. If you want to have it and believe that higher consciousness is real, your brain will be able to allow the kinds of advanced spiritual experiences that traditionally belonged only to saints and sages.
I have never thought of saints as another species of human but rather as scouts into an unknown territory. The role of a scout is to show the way to others, not to ride back to camp and prevent anyone else to cross the frontier. Happily, we seem to have reached a spiritual divide. If more people are peering into the field of consciousness (that's how I'd describe it without using loaded words like "religious" and "mystical"), then the field itself is opening up. As it opens, more and more seekers will venture in. The great thing is that in the future, and hopefully the near future, there will be much less confusion, struggle and resistance about consciousness. No longer stuck in outworn religious assumptions, expanded awareness will become something unheard of in prior generations—it will become normal.
Deepak Chopra is the author of more than 50 books on health, success, relationships and spirituality, including his current best-seller, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul, and The Ultimate Happiness Prescription, which are available now. You can listen to his show on Saturdays every week on SiriusXM Channels 102 and 155.
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