THE MISSION OF THE UPSHIFT MOVEMENT
A statement on the occasion of the founding of
The Global Upshift Foundation
The series of crises we experience have deeper significance. They are trials of our ability to survive on this planet, but they are also more. They indicate the unfolding of a deeper process: the evolution of the human community. The Global Upshift Movement is created to respond to this epochal development by bringing together concerned and responsible people to think and to act with imagination and creativity, and also with realism and responsibility.
What is the nature of the deeper evolutionary process? What destiny lies in wait for us — and what can we do about it? To paraphrase Mark Twain, everybody talks about evolution but nobody does anything — or anything really effective — about it. Yet we live at a period in our history when we could do something about our evolution, not the evolution of our brain and body, but the evolution the evolution of the human community. We could bring about a more sustainable and “thrivable” unfolding of this process. Let us look at what avant-garde science can tell us about the nature and the potentials of our current evolution.
Advances in understanding the physics of the universe indicate that we live in a nonrandom, coherence-oriented universe. This universe — “Nature” with a capital ‘N’ — evolves from a state of universal chaos toward the order we find today: an order that enables life, mind and consciousness to evolve on this planet, and perhaps on myriad other planets.
This is a remarkable, quasi miraculous universe. It evolves constantly and consistently but not smoothly and evenly. Its evolution is “nonlinear” — beset with periods of breakdown and even reversal. But these epochs are often followed by leaps to new heights of development.
The overall course of evolution in the universe is discernible. It is a consistent progression toward a condition scientists call “coherence” (coherence in this context means finely-tuned contact and communication among the parts of a system.) The systems themselves are distinct and maintain their identity, but they are deeply connected with each other and are fundamentally one.
The universe evolves complex integral and connected entities — “coherent systems.” In the absence of this evolution space and time would still be what they were in the wake of the singularity known as the Big Bang some 13.7 billion years ago: randomly swirling inert gases, with “no-thing” emerging and persisting in them. Yet in the span of time since the Big Bang the universe brought forth myriad coherent systems on both micro and macro levels — systems of quanta evolving toward molecules and crystals, and the macromolecular cellular systems in which life appears. On the astronomical scale the universe brought forth stars and planets, and stellar systems forming galaxies and systems of galaxies.
The “driver” of this coherence-oriented process is an impetus present in space and time: a “bias” in an otherwise random sequence of physical and physico-chemical interactions. This bias is what spiritual people call the divine love that permeats the world — an orientation toward complexity and coherence foreseen by the “Tao” of the Eastern deligions. This evolution joins distinct elements in larger wholes, in molecules and macromolecules, and cells and organisms, and multi-species ecosystems.
The universe we inhabit is not, and cannot have been, the product of random interactions. While it is true that everything that is in the world could have been produced by random interactions, it could only have been produced in infinite time. In the finite span of time that elapsed since the Big Bang, not even the DNA of a fruit-fly is not likely to have emerged through a random mixing of its elements. The probability that organic life would have evolved through random interactions is similar, according to astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle, to the probability that a hurricane blowing through a scrapyard assembles a working airplane.
In the language of science, we can describe the mysterious bias, the “difference that makes the difference” as the presence of an attractor. (Attractors are dynamic tendencies inherent in complex systems. They are postulated by scientists to allow them to decode the system’s developmental trajectory.) The attractor that appears in the universe orients interactions toward creating systems of progessively higher levels of coherence. We can say that the attractor at work in space and time is holotropic (from holos, meaning whole, and tropism, meaning attraction toward some states or conditions in preference to others). Living systems on Earth are advanced manifestations of the holotropism that orients evolution in the universe.
The current period of crisis in our world is part of the evolution that unfolds in the biosphere of the planet. Underlying the surface manifestations of strife, breakdown and chaos, there is a consistent development that brings more and more people and communities into contact and communication with each other. Networks of information and communication join formerly comparatively separate individuals, groups and cultures in embracing ecological, social, and sociocultural systems.
The drive toward coherence is a crucial impetus in the living world. It is a factor in the evolution of human groups and communities as well. It is real and unfolding, but strongly nonlinear. The crises and breakdowns we experience are among its manifestations.
However, the outcome of our descent into chaos and incoherence is not fated. It is a danger, even a survival danger, but it is also a window opening for change and transformation. It weakens the hold of established institutions, values and aspirations and provides fresh opportunities for innovation.
In the natural course of evolution, a downshift into incoherence is followed by an unpshift to higher levels and forms of coherence. This would be the case in the human world as well, but in our case the advent of a timely upshift is not assured. We have enormous powers at our disposal, and we do not always dispose of them in a coherence-favoring fashion. Thresholds of irreversibility are reached, and negative outcomes surface. Fortunately, we can still intervene in the process. We can contribute to the advent of a sustainable upshift knowing that it is a feasible and normal development, part of the evolution that hallmarks the history of human life on the planet.
Enlightened action at the present juncture of the evolution of the human community calls for furthering the upshift phase of this evolution, consciously and purposefully connecting individuals, groups, organizatons and cultures in coherent embracing systems. Current projects for peace, sustainability, and cooperation at both local global levels are indications that this development is on the way.
Furthering the evolution of the human community is the mission of the Upshift Movement. This Movement pursues it mission by promoting the evolution of the dominant consciousness of the modern world. The specific aim is to advance “holotropic consciousness” — the consciousness that inspires oneness and love among people. With the advent of holotropic consciousness we would focus our energies and aspirations on building communities and networks of communities that bring people together in cooperative and coherent wholes. The communities we would form would be driven by the attraction of each of its members for all of the others, and for nature. This would be catalyzed and nourished by the empathy, compassion, and ultimately love people would feel for each other, and for our shared environment. There would not be need for social and political authorities to impose rules and regulations “from above” — humanity’s evolution would be guided from below, by the emerging holotropic consciousness of its members.
The above condition may appear utopian, but its coming is not unassisted. It is supported by the wholeness-oriented universe, by the search for wholeness it inspires in awakened and responsible people. With this evolution backing us, we “go with the force” — with the cosmic and perhaps divine tropism toward oneness and belonging that permeates the living world. We could pursue our cosmically assisted evolution with a well grounded expectation that it will not fail us.
Advancing the development and spread of holotropic consciousness is the noblest and at the same time most practical purpose we can embrace at this time. It is the mission of the Upshift Movement, launched and carried forward by the Global Upshift Foundation, an initiative of the Laszlo Institute of New Paradigm Research.
29 August, 2022