Book reviews

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The Story of Our Time: From Duality to Interconnectedness to Oneness

The Story of Our Time: From Duality to Interconnectedness to Oneness. This book by the American psychology professor emeritus at the University of Southern Maine, published in 2017, quickly attracted awards and the recognition of foremost progressive figures. The book was called “A must read by the widest of global audiences”.

Atkinson offers a unique a macro-historical perspective on the qualitative evolutionary shift in collective consciousness during the last century and a half, and on its accompanying cultural and socio-historical processes of gradual transition toward unity in diversity. The book draws on a wealth of scientific, spiritual and historical sources, all converging in pointing to what Atkinson sums up as the seven basic principles that characterize this process.

  1. “Consciousness is a potentiality set in motion by an organic process.” The more purpose and awareness we bring to seeking to understand reality, the more we evolve from undeveloped, local and fragmented toward fully developed universal consciousness.
  2. “Love is the underlying force of evolution”, which propels us “to evolve personal and collective potential to its highest degree.” The mother of all emotions, it is at the core of our spiritual nature, and of all spiritual teachings over the ages, which have guided humanity in creating an increasingly moral, just, and compassionate civilization for all.
  3. “Justice maintains the inherent balance of life.” The more populated our planet becomes, and the more complex our societies, just and sustainable solutions for all become that much more necessary. This cultural evolution toward a more just society is the result of the tension between conservative and dynamic forces.
  4. “Unity is the result of the conscious confrontation of opposing forces”, which serve to lead us ultimately out of dualism. However painful the convulsions of this developmental transition may be, this global fermentation generates renewal and advancement.
  5. “Reality is one, and global harmony is inevitable.” Even as this process of transformation toward the harmony of the human family may be extremely difficult, it helps to remember that, at its core, consciousness is one, even as it manifests in an infinite variety of individual minds; the essence of reality is one. Because of our interconnectedness, neither health, nor poverty, nor hunger are simply personal experiences. All phenomena are interdependent and require complex solutions.
  6. “Revelation is continuous and progressive.” The periodic historical “release of spiritual energies” is the primary force of the advancement of civilization. It ennobles the hearts, creates new institutions and “widens the circle of unity”. In our time, religion needs to be rethought as a progression of Manifestations of the Eternal and Unknowable Essence, each of which has renewed eternal spiritual laws. Religion evolves along with collective human consciousness, and it replaces earlier social teachings with new ones that correspond to the needs of the time.
  7. “Consciousness evolves toward wholeness and unity.” In this process, science and religious and spiritual understanding are two knowledge systems, parts of the same whole, and cannot be opposed. When they contradict each other, either one may be wrong, as neither is absolute – they both evolve with human consciousness. The pioneers of quantum physics found that “at our essence, we exist as a unity, a relationship – utterly interdependent, the parts effecting the whole at every moment.”

Even though these principles may sound abstract, they are fundamental to how we address the urgent global problems we face. If we reflect upon the major global ecological, financial, immigration, climate, religious fundamentalist, and most recently health crises we have faced over recent decades, we find that a breakdown in these core principles – justice, unity, love, consciousness – is responsible for each of the social, political and economic ills that we have faced.

Atkinson’s book provides a rare and beautifully articulated synthesis of the understanding and educational perspectives we need as global citizen in a complex millennium fraught with both problems and opportunities.

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