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How a Divided Consciousness Evolves

All things evolve through maturation toward their inherent potential.

If all things are part of the same web of wholeness, why do we live as if all things are separate, and even at odds with each other? This illusion of separateness causes just about every problem, conflict, and even war, that humanity has ever known. It is also what has sustained a dominant divided consciousness.

Robert Atkinson
One power has dominion over all things
Source: Robert Atkinson

This web of wholeness also means all living things in the universe find realization through just one power that has dominion over all things. Any seeming differences in this world, and all the divisions they create, are essentially due to an incomplete investigation of reality. But this is where the evolution of consciousness comes in, and why it enables us to identify guiding principles that can help us grasp the reality we live in.

One of those guiding principles is evolution itself. Much of how we understand and respond to what we see is determined by our view of evolution. While some people live with a consciousness that only certain things evolve, others see all things as evolving. This basic difference in our understanding of evolution points out humanity’s greatest need — transcending a prevailing, unsustainable consciousness of duality that separates us, creates hierarchies, and endangers our very survival. A crisis of consciousness threatens the way we relate to each other and the natural environment around us.

A holistic, or nondual, perspective has been at the heart of the world’s mystic traditions forever. As the Buddha expressed it, “All things originate from one essence, develop according to one law, and are destined to one aim.” Yet it wasn’t until 2016 that an article in Science magazine verified this view by determining that the most astounding fact about the universe is everything in it obeys the same fundamental laws of nature. This means, as Teilhard de Chardin noted, that a single energy is at play in the world. Evolution in all realms is thus tied together. Evolution follows a gradual process of unfoldment that is cyclical, with ups and downs, but nevertheless purposeful and progressive. In all realms, all things change and evolve through a process of maturation, decline, and eventual renewal, always moving toward their inherent potential.

The other guiding principle for how a divided consciousness evolves is consciousness itself. One way of understanding consciousness is as an innate potentiality that is dependent upon the initiative we take to investigate reality. The search for truth expands our consciousness. When we independently investigate reality, this begins a process of unleashing our full potential that unfolds in degrees and stages.

This is a process embedded within our biological and psychological development, just as the blueprint of the acorn tree is embedded in the acorn seed. In our case, it is a desire, or even an unconscious yearning, that propels us toward something greater than ourselves. This is because the more we search for truth, with an open heart and mind, the deeper will be our understanding of reality.

Evolving a divided consciousness to a consciousness of wholeness is in part a matter of experiencing the wholeness that is all around us, which is a potentiality we are all born with, and which comes with our effort to understand the reality we are part of. Combining the two principles of evolution and consciousness, we see consciousness as innately designed to evolve toward wholeness and unity.

This holistic view is amplified, and even simplified, by Deepak Chopra, MD, in his chapter in the new book, Our Moment of Choice: Evolutionary Visions and Hope for the Future. He challenges us to consider whether the question of wholeness is even a choice at all!

He says consciousness ties everything in the entire universe together; it gives light its brightness and color, creates images in our mind’s eye, and adds meaning to everything. Our overarching challenge in healing this false separation, which is the cause of all suffering, is making a complete shift in how we relate to reality.

If we can see the outer world as a distraction, an illusion, as ancient spiritual traditions did, we can focus on the one reality, which is a complete wholeness already, with everything existing within it.

This is how he makes it all quite clear: “When consciousness created something out of nothing, two tracks emerged and separated as the objective and subjective domain. The “real” reality dawns when the illusion of separation is replaced with wholeness. Wholeness lies beyond any kind of split or fragmentation. Wholeness is everything. It is the One, the All, or Brahman, as it was known in Vedic India. Wholeness offers only the possibility of choiceless awareness. In choiceless awareness, you experience yourself as whole: as pure existence and pure consciousness.”

Here, in this connection field where all things come together as a whole, we continue to do all the things in the world we would ordinarily do, but everything we see and do is a seamless, unified whole.

A divided consciousness evolves because it is the innate nature of consciousness to evolve toward its own inherent potential. When we consciously investigate reality around us with an openness to what it shows us, and when we replace the illusion of separation with wholeness, which is everything there is, we experience ourselves and the entire Creation as whole.


Atkinson, R., Johnson, K., & Moldow, D. eds. (2020) Our Moment of Choice: Evolutionary Visions and Hope for the Future. New York: Atria/Simon & Schuster. 157-163; 265-268.

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