The idea that the present form of human life is the limit of what nature can accomplish is as doubtful as it is depressing. Not to diss the human phenomenon, but the case could be made: we need to evolve further than we have so far to survive as a species. If so, we might ask, are there clues that might help us imagine our possible future selves?
I believe there are. Certain reported albeit rare facts of human experience do help us imagine a leap of stunning evolutionary potential. What follows are a small number of examples to flesh out the idea of an emerging Supernature. Sources of these claims may be found in my book, The Man Who Could Fly: St. Joseph of Copertino and the Mystery of Levitation.
Here we can throw off the shackles of scholarship; we’re just out for a leisurely stroll into the future.
Levitation – Let’s get into it and start with a whopper. I have a special interest in people who can fly. The star mystic aviator I’ve studied and enjoy channeling, Joseph of Copertino, was the most frequent flier on record. In a clear sense, this performance is super or ‘above’ nature, gravity being one of the four basic ‘forces’ of nature. Actually, and symbolically, levitation is a foray into Supernature. It signifies a cutting loose from the gravitational ‘glue’ of the universe.
Bilocation -- Joseph was seen tending to his mother on her deathbed in Copertino while he was in another city. This is super or above nature in a different way, which involves escaping the constraints of space. In Supernature, nearness and distance cease to be spatial; they operate through an emotional metric. Time and space will not be obstacles to the life of consciousness; the obstacles will be social and psychological. The concept of travel, of movement itself will evolve along with our mental faculties. Good news! The airline industry will be remembered as happily extinct with the emergence of our Supernature.
Precognition. If transcending space is a feature of Supernature, there are facts that also display the transcendence of time. The super side of this next evolutionary step seems to involve escaping the two variables, space and time, which define and limit our present existence. The literature on precognition is extensive.
Odor of sanctity – This is a well-attested phenomenon, especially among saints, yogis, and that sort. In this supernormal reality it appears that internal states and values materialize in the external world. Joseph’s purity of will becomes a fragrance in the atmosphere. The space around him is suffused with smells that are symbolic, therapeutic, extraterrestrial. We glimpse here a new kind of physical nature that is infused with qualia that incarnate in the sensorium. Aside from the super-olfaction, accounts speak of supernormal luminosities. Again, the light phenomena are rich in symbolism and transformative power. A sign of this new reality will be a greater capacity for expressing the internal in the external world. This will entail new modes of social interaction, and new art forms are also likely to result as our super-capacities emerge. Another way of saying this is that in Supernature, existence will be more imaginal than conceptual.
Inedia – It is widely reported in traditions the world over that some exceptional persons can live without food and drink, for extended periods of time, even indefinitely. In such phenomena we see another profound break from the natural order. Living nature is a perpetual orgy of mutual killing and consuming. So far, then, we can begin to imagine a future of freedom from gravity, time, space, and the compulsion to consume.
Consciousness on Fire – The discovery of fire was a landmark of human evolution, the hearth of civilized life. But among the annals of super-ordinary performance, we find accounts of walking on fire, immunity to fire (Joseph’s levitating feet dangling in candle flames unsinged), and the generation of heat, rays, and tongues of fire. Tibetan yogis are masters of tummo or heat-generating practices. The records of Catholic mystics abound in reports of hyperthermal phenomena. Soon after his death, an autopsy of Joseph’s body revealed that his heart was shriveled into a tiny piece described as toast. Many a female mystic is described as ripping their clothes off from the unbearable burning of divine desire. Indeed, an array of reported facts and their evolutionary potential point to the end of the energy crisis, for the future body we’re imagining will be able to generate energy from itself.
The Anarchy of Abundance – As our Supernature begins to emerge the ruling institutions of today will fall to pieces, ceasing to serve human needs. A kind of divine anarchy will reign over the new dispensation. Living from the center of our new super identity, we will be less driven to appropriate and consume and more disposed to emancipate and create. The revolution will be non-violent; the anarchy creative.
‘Virginity’ -- Evolving Supernature will entail a radical break from our normal physical and biological constraints. How that will work out in detail is unknown and we can only speculate. But one thing is clear. The paradigm shifts also foreshadow transformation in social relations, especially sexuality. In Platonic or Tantric terms, this will entail transcending ‘pandemic’ sexuality (cf. Plato’s Symposium; also Schopenhauer’s Essay on the Metaphysics of the Sexes; and try Balzac’s Seraphita).
In short, copulation will no longer be about replication but about ecstasy and transformation. No longer enslaved by the compulsion to “make” a living, life will be free and abundant, and the task will be to explore, enjoy and enrich the ever-self-transforming tapestry of life-forms. The emergence of Supernature will give rise to a new and vast poetics of the erotic.
A Global Near-Death Experience? Finally, what might help us imagine how this quantum leap in evolution could get kick-started? Here again we have an empirical model to contemplate. It is a repeatable fact of experience that people near-death sometimes undergo radical transformations of their entire being. It’s not that difficult to imagine – given the massive destructive forces welling up from all sides today – that something we could call a global near-death experience occurs and gives rise to the collective transformations of mind and body I’m suggesting are possible.[i]
[i] I’ll stop here with this mini-sketch. Just want to call attention to the idea of Emerging Supernature and its roots in extraordinary human experience, the topic of our conference at Esalen’s Center of Theory and Research, May 29-June 3, 2016. Led by Michael Murphy, author of the monumental Future of the Body, we are a group of scholars, scientists and free thinkers anxious to emancipate the full potential of human consciousness.