Sometimes I am asked about the title of my book and what it really means. I know how grandiose it may sound. What evolution is it that I am addressing? Certainly not the biological transformations to our species that take place over very lengthy periods of time. We appear to have very little control over these. So what is this title about?
The short answer to that is this: Human beings evolved powerful mental processes that have moved us to the top of the food chain. But the same processes that enable us to be the most hyper-functioning of all mammals, are also the source of our suffering and conflict. Almost every issue we face as individuals or as a species emanates from the same systems that have created our successes. We can’t change these mental processes: the automation/habituation of mental imagery and the scripting of our emotions which deeply impact our day to day experience of self, others and the world. Even if we could we wouldn’t want to because they provide such amazing capacity.
What we can change are the ways that we participate in those mental processes.
I believe that the next evolutionary leap for humans is already in process. This evolution begins with an awakening to the limited nature of our experience. We simply don’t know what we don’t know. All of our images of people, places, and meaning are incomplete.
The evolution continues as we awaken to our scripted emotional dynamics which profoundly impact our perspectives and our choices. Then with this awareness we become capable of questioning, moving alongside these mental processes, utilizing particular practices that provide balance and mindfulness. It is a complex process made much easier by the ground breaking work of a variety of thinkers over the past century.
Silvan Tomkins famously said, “Life is a dream we learn to have from a script we did not write.” I believe this book shows that we really can awaken from the numbing automation brought about through the nature of our mental processes. We can learn enough about those systems to notice their impact on our lives, our relationships and our culture. Then and only then, do we have the freedom to change. We can Choose to Evolve.