Does being more evolved, mean more active, engaged, doing more, serving more? Yes and no. Or more accurately, Yes, then No, then Yes again.
Developmental research shows that adults grow in their own consciousness through stages, and the latest research is mapping those stages into more and more complex and evolved levels. Often times we think of later stages of development being more engaged and service-oriented. In some sense this is true, in that our evolving consciousness will expand in the time and space in which we consider. As we grow, we consider a greater and greater scope in our care, from our self, to our family, community, all humans, all sentient beings, and so on.
But this doesn’t necessarily imply an active, engaged service orientation. We know from our research and experience supporting individuals in their development, that as we develop through stages, we progressively take on wider and wider perspectives. As we do that we tend to go through cycles, first integrating a new perspective, then acting on it. In other words, we go through alternating stages that have an orientation to either being or doing.
To someone in a more being-oriented stage, all these people trying to save the world seem hyperactive and stressed. They are missing some essential sense in which things are OK just as they are. In one of these stages, you might be questioning your previous motivations for action, challenging your assumptions, or wondering about the duality that sees a world that needs to be saved.
To someone in a more doing-oriented stage, the folks who have ‘seen the light’ can seem at times self-absorbed and indecisive. In one of these stages you realize that while exploring your insights and perspectives can be a rich experience, now you are driven to make a difference with what you see. You’ve woken up to something important and now you want to take that out into the world in some way. You feel a more urgent impulse to create, impact, and engage the world around you.
The key understanding is that as we move into and engage our transformative journey, it is difficult to say exactly what you will find. We project forward some ideal about evolution and we are often surprised, which ultimately is the nature of the experience of the evolution of consciousness. While we can map this path in retrospect, as it is happening to us, it is a series of surprises!
The impulse to evolve is nevertheless always whispering in our ear as it leads you to greater depth and breadth of perspective. Whether that means you will next want to serve the world or are headed for a time of shedding old skins and exploring new insights, depends on where you are right now and what grace has in store for you.