Scientists have known for a long time about the ‘biological imperative’, an inherent mechanism that engages the drive to survive. How it’s activated is unclear, but every organism, from a bacterium to the most advanced creature, can read the environment and sense whether its life is in danger or not. If it’s under threat, the system engages the imperative, which activates behaviors that will ensure survival. The immediate imperative for personal survival is to breathe air, drink water, and eat food—all the activities that support life. When forces outside the body threaten life, the imperative will read the situation and engage life-sustaining behaviors. These functions are not only activated in the brain, but are also experienced in the gut as a feeling that the situation is in some way life-threatening. I believe that’s what civilization is experiencing right now.
The biological imperative is directing people to discover how to become more secure, and the fundamental resolution to that quest is to form community. It is important to understand that this drive to be in community is not just an expression of our biological imperative; it is also our evolutionary imperative. Our consciousness is driving us to assemble and survive through the creation and support of a global community.
The evolutionary imperative is simple to understand, and it can be profoundly liberating—a way to transcend fear. Let me explain:
Over 30 years ago, my research as a cell biologist revealed that the genes are not the key to organismal evolution. Instead, the studies revealed that the cell membrane, the ‘skin’ of the cell, is the ‘brain’ that controls behavior and gene activity. Protein switches in the membrane respond to environmental signals by translating the information and creating a life-sustaining biological response. The relevance of this insight is that these protein switches represent units of ‘perception,’ and the number of perception units in the membrane is directly proportional to the amount of awareness expressed by an organism.
According to this understanding, the nature of ‘consciousness’ can be directly correlated with the number of perception units that can be deployed within what we might call the cell ‘mem-brain.’
This means there are physical limits to awareness. The first limit is that perceptual protein switches cannot be stacked up in the very thin cell membrane; they can only be distributed in the membrane as a monolayer.
Picture an olive sandwich, where the olives represent perception. Once the surface of the bread is covered with olives, you can’t stack more olives on top. To add more olives, you need more surface area—a bigger slice of bread. Evolution of consciousness is directly proportional to the number of protein ‘olives’—therefore, evolution is focused on making a bigger slice of bread, increasing the surface area of the cell’s membrane.
Another physical limitation of awareness is reached when a cell maximizes its amount of membrane surface area. For example, the most primitive cells, bacteria, are surrounded by rigid ‘capsules’ (the equivalent of the exoskeleton found in insects, clams, and lobsters). The physical limitation imposed by the exoskeleton limits the amount of membrane a bacterium can possess. Once the maximum amount of membrane was packed into the bacterial capsule, evolution hit a wall. You can’t make a ‘smarter’ bacterium.
But evolution didn’t stop—it changed paradigms. Once you’ve made the smartest bacterium, the next level of evolution is to create a community of bacteria, wherein the bacteria can share their awareness. On the physical plane, bacteria can communicate with one another through the use of secreted chemical signals (similar to hormones). Bacteria can also communicate by releasing viruses that contain nucleic acids (DNA or RNA programs)—information that can be picked up and utilized by other members of the bacterial community. In addition, bacteria can communicate by broadcasting vibrational energy fields.
Over time, communities containing a variety of different bacterial species, each with specialized traits, learned to support each other’s lives. These communities surrounded themselves with a membrane, taking control of the conditions in their shared environment (for example, salt balance, pH control, temperature control, and so forth). In understanding the relevance of community, consider that each bacterium has a membrane awareness of 1X consciousness, but a community of 100 bacteria would have 100X+ amount of consciousness. With greater consciousness, a community of bacteria has a better chance of survival than an individual, free-living bacterium. These microbial communities are called bacterial films.
We see a human as a single living organism. In truth, a human is an integrated community of around 50 trillion amoebalike cells.
With further development, the bacterial film communities became specialized and integrated, a development that led to a new organism, an amoeba. While the amoeba is recognized as a single cell, in truth it is a modified version of a bacterial community. For the next million or so years, the amoeba was able to continually expand its cell membrane surface area to an extent that an amoeba’s awareness is 1,000 times greater than that of a single bacterium.
Then, evolution stopped again because the amount of membrane an amoeba can contain also has a size limitation. The amoeba, which possesses an internal cytoskeleton, is somewhat like a water balloon: You can fill a balloon with a small amount of water and throw it around all day. But if you overfill the balloon, the pressure will cause the balloon to rupture. Similarly, if an amoeba’s membrane-bound mass of cytoplasm becomes too large, the membrane will rupture. The profound point is that an amoeba can only grow to a certain size—and no bigger. You can’t make a ‘smarter’ amoeba.
But evolution didn’t stop here, either. When amoebas maximized their membrane surface area, they came together to form communities of amoebas to share awareness and advance evolution. All the visible plants and animals are actually integrated communities of amoebalike cells. For example, we see a human as a single living organism. In truth, a human is an integrated community of around 50 trillion amoebalike cells.
How the Human Brain Increases Awareness
Like the rigid capsule that limits the ‘mem-brain’ of the bacterium, a mammalian brain is limited by the size of the skull. In more primitive mammals, such as a rat, the brain is a round and smooth vesicle filling the cranium. But in human evolution, expanding the human brain’s surface area resulted in folding the brain—the characteristic furrows and ridges. The more folds in the brain, the greater the surface area the skull can accommodate—and consequently, the more awareness it manifests.
Inevitably, the human brain could no longer enlarge because it completely filled the skull, and evolution hit another wall. But, of course, it didn’t stop. Once the smartest human was created, the next level of our evolution led humans to form communities to share awareness. First there were clans, then tribes, then states, and then nations as humans assembled into larger communities. When humans were in small, scattered tribes, their shared awareness led them to create simple technologies, such as spears and flint cutting stones. When human groups grew into massive communities, their shared awareness led to the creation of computers and rocket ships. Right now, human civilization is on the verge of creating a new multi-human organism. What we experience as upheaval is leaving behind more primitive versions of human communities to create a new, more inclusive version where each human is a ‘cell’ in the evolving super-organism, humanity.
This evolutionary jump is facilitated most recently by the development of a global human nervous system—the Internet, a nervous system that can connect 7–8 billion human ‘cells’ into one giant community with shared awareness. The Millennial generation that grew up with the Internet is not a local community, but a global one. The old divisions between humans—not just borders and physical walls, but the psychosocial barriers like sexual orientation, religion, and race—are collapsing. The next leap of human civilization will be the realization of the United States’ logo: E pluribus unum, “out of many, one.” We are all in this together; we are all cells in the body of an evolving humanity.
In fact, we are now living healthier, happier, more peaceable lives, and for far longer than ever before in history. The level of violence in the world has rapidly decreased, and yet we are as frightened as ever—perhaps more frightened. We are becoming more sensitive to our global ‘autoimmune’ disease. Our increasingly interconnected community is leading us to experience the anguish of every terrorist attack, every death by famine, every act of abuse. The deaths of a handful of people can now spark the worldwide outrage that once required thousands or even million of deaths. For our evolution to continue, this self-destruction must cease.
The Elephant in the Room
Five times in the history of Earth, life was thriving, and then some event—an asteroid crashing into the planet or a massive geologic upheaval—upended the environment and anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of all life forms died out. Today, human behavior has precipitated the sixth mass extinction, and we’re losing species faster than previous extinctions. One survey estimates that 62 percent of the animals that were on Earth in 1970 are already gone. A recent international report predicts that by 2048—just 30 years from now—there will be no fish in the ocean because of human overfishing, destruction of the breeding grounds, and human-derived pollution of the seas. One NASA report predicts that industrial civilization will experience an irreversible collapse within two to three decades. One way or another, change is happening.
Every citizen and every country is now a player in this process. For example, thanks to improved technology and increasingly strict regulations, air pollution in California has steadily declined over the last three decades. But now it’s rising again because the air pollution of the developing industrial nations of China and India is being delivered to California by global airstreams. We are all aboard the same ‘spaceship.’
Environmental catastrophes in one country inevitably cross geographical barriers and borders. Such problems are global threats, affecting humans everywhere, and they require global solutions. The fact that our civilization is on the verge of a massive breakdown is the impetus to build a global community on a new and sustainable foundation. This is our next evolutionary step, a participatory evolution wherein all of us must work together to create a new, sustainable organism.
I’m not saying we’re going to make the evolutionary leap to survive. For example, most history books say that civilization started 5,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Recently, however, the remains of an advanced civilization has been discovered at Göbekli Tepe in Turkey—a civilization that ended over 10,000 years ago. But natural processes did not cover the city; it was manually buried with rocks and dirt. Who were these people, why did they leave, and where did they go? We don’t know. However, by dating the artifacts, scientists have established that they left after the onset of global climate change. When the city existed, the environment provided food to feed a large population. Today, the region is a desert. Apparently, climate change altered the environment to the extent that food was no longer available and the population had to move on. The difference is that we, in the 21st century, don’t have another place to go.
What to Do Now
Each of us is living in a field of energy—and each of us contributes to that energy through our consciousness. Each human is like a tuning fork whose brain is vibrating at a specific frequency. Therefore, a whole community can vibrate in harmony. By definition, the collective community manifests an energy field that is powerful and palpable enough to support the individuals sharing that field. When you experience this energy, it has reassuring and calming effects that will make you want to stay in this field for your safety and security. And increasing the size of the field is clearly the evolutionary path toward a sustainable new humanity.
Fear and fighting and protest cannot build the field.
The Don’ts and Dos of Evolution
Because you are an energy field…
1. Don’t try to change other people
If you go in to change negative energy with your positive energy, it’s called destructive interference. You lose your energy, they lose their energy, and nobody gains anything in the process.
Do: Focus on yourself and finding like-minded people to create a community in which all your energies are enhanced.
2. Don’t try to change the system
If you charge in with your wonderful energy to try to change it, your energy will be canceled. You’ll come out with your tail between your legs, asking, “What the hell was that all about?”
Do: Put your energy into constructing a new system. If you build a better system, people in the old one will gravitate to the new one.
3. Don’t spend your life protesting
Your life is energy. Too much protesting will cost you your life, because the system is not going to feed the energy you need for your protests.
Do: Find out who’s protesting with you. Gather them together and step out of the system. Use your energy for construction rather than destruction, and find other compatible communities. That’s constructive interference; when energies come together and multiply each other.
4. Don’t become frightened or angry or burned out
These responses create walls that block your evolution and everyone else’s.
Do: Create the best and healthiest and happiest experience for yourself—and share it with the community.