Recently I've been reading material on various New Age websites proclaiming an imminent spiritual ascension of the human race, or at least a fortunate portion thereof. Drawing on concepts such as "12-strand DNA activation", or on astrology, Christian prophecy, cetacian consciousness, or ascended masters, these sites share the belief that humanity is undergoing a profound and unprecedented shift in consciousness.
While the details of most of these websites are easily dismissed, or even internally contradictory, they nonetheless strike a chord of truth in thousands of readers. I'll admit it, they strike a chord in me as well. The convergence of crises that threatens to overwhelm our civilization is unprecedented in its thoroughness and its universality. Much more is at stake than a shift in political systems, or economic systems, or healthcare systems, or agricultural systems, or technology. All of these will undergo dramatic changes, it is true, but none would be unprecedented.
The truly momentous shift that "ascension" spirituality taps into is the shift in our self-conception, the end of the regime of the discrete and separate self. Chapter Seven of my book profiles some of the concrete changes that will follow in its wake: the end of the Age of Fire, the end of interest-bearing money, the end of the concept of waste, and the primacy of earth-based, mind-based, body-based, and water-based technology.
Everyone can feel it coming, the convergence of crises and the new age of humanity that will follow it. People of different ideological or religious persuasions express this premonition differently, but the underlying truth is the same. The spiritual interpretation is especially compelling though, because the coming transformation will include our basic self-definition, the way we understand ourselves—both individually and collectively—in relationship to the world. To me, that's the essence of spirituality.
Unfortunately, under the influence of Cartesian dualism many still see the spiritual realm as something above and apart from the physical. But the coming ascension won't be an abandonment of the world of matter that we call planet Earth. We will not leave earth to enter heaven, but will bring heaven here to earth. We won't see the most enlightened among us shedding their mortal form and turning into beings of pure energy.
We are already beings of pure energy.
Charles Eisenstein, 2005