Excerpt from an evolving work

Chris Knight, a Marxian anthropologist, has discussed in detail an evolving aboriginal orientation that revolves around monthly rituals featuring dance, song and sex - rituals acting as the cement of social relationships - rituals created and maintained by a matritocal promiscuous social structure characterized by females ovulating in synchrony providing sex in exchange for meat brought back by males. Jane Goodall, in two deeply moving passages, observed adult male chimpanzees participating in proto-rituals, demonstrating to other members of their band when confronted with the overwhelming power of a thunderstorm and at another time a waterfall. Proto ritual evolved to actual ritual propelled by experiences of feeling part of something larger than the self - the arts of dance and sound making were the medium in this process. Sex was the payoff.

You can not underestimate the power of spiritual experience when discussing the dynamics of human evolution. The deep desire to feel part of something larger than the self is an integral part of the art/sex loop that drove our evolution. If we assume that the experience of feeling part of a larger consciousness reveals that a larger consciousness actually exists (this thesis can be approached, of course, on an ‘as if’ basis), then the process of human evolution becomes not just the changing of one species’ physical form and behavior, but the manifestation of the larger consciousness’s experience siphoned down into a specific species, a specific individual, as she or he is engaged in a dynamic that craves the experience of feeling part of something larger than the self.

In other words, consciousness manifested in humans in a self-aware fashion as part of a human or biological drive to experience consciousness. We are surmising that consciousness already existed as humans evolved. That consciousness became uniquely self-aware as human evolution unfolded. There is no differentiating between art, sex, and spiritual experience in our evolution. They are one and the same. They are all three part of the same deep desire to feel part of something larger than the self. And that deep desire, that compulsion, became more intense as consciousness continued to split, as individuality evolved.

It may seem like a large assumption that the human experience of feeling part of something larger than the self, intuiting the presence of spirit or larger consciousness, means that the larger consciousness does exist. This is not a matter of faith. Just as we experience consciousness as a feature of our own existence, for many the experience of the larger consciousness is just as direct an experience. Not to note the effects of this directly perceived reality on a theory of evolution would be negligent. Yet this experience of a larger consciousness is not a consensus reality. To ground a theory on information limitedly available is neither prudent or scientific.

This orientation explores our evolutionary foundations from an anthropological, sociological, biological, neurological, artistic and spiritual point of view. All are important and, in the end, undifferentiated. We give these different facets of experience different names to better understand cause and effect relationships as we specialize to explore specific areas. Removing spirit from an exploration of this nature diminishes our understanding by limiting an additional perspective. Note that we are defining god or spirit as larger consciousness. Other features, characteristics or accompanying myths associated with god are not being explored as necessary to this exposition. It is simply that we as individuals are self aware, we are often aware of the larger consciousness that is greater than ourselves, and that the relationship between the two is integral to understanding how we evolved as a species.

There is a seeming paradoxical element to this exposition. This riddle reveals a most confounding feature of being human.

If a larger consciousness already existed before and during human evolution (which we here hypothesize because we can experience the larger consciousness now), and humans beings evolved partly by a desire to experience this larger consciousness, then human individual identity or separateness from this larger consciousness had to be evolving at the same time. The further from god that we evolutionarily wondered the deeper our cravings to reunite. There is this hidden dynamic feeding the dynamo of our unfolding. The bigger our brains, the more facile we became with the manipulation of mental space and time, the deeper our craving for less individual identity and a reuniting with the larger consciousness. A major factor in our evolving so quickly was the tension between independent mental life and interdependent larger consciousness. The quicker our brains grew the more we were compelled to engage in the process that resulted in larger brains. In a very real sense we became addicted to experiencing separateness from the larger consciousness in order to have the deeply satisfying experience of reuniting with the larger consciousness. This addiction process is at the root of what it is to be human. Hence, the craving for altered states is a distinguishing feature of our species. The addictive qualities of the courtship process as it manifests in our attachment to romance is another facet of this dynamic. The obsessive aspects of the artistic process as it searches for moments of integration shows this from another angle. The deep craving of the neurotic for an opportunity to feel whole, the desire to feel happy, these feelings are at the foundation of what it is to be human. These feelings made us human. These feelings are at the center of how we evolved.

Art, sex, rapid brain growth, neotenous trajectory, loss of sexual dimorphism, cooperative behavior, spiritual accompaniment - dancing and sound making in a communal content - human bodies, brains and minds all changing - spoken language about to hit. The social structure that most supports and is supported by this unique alliance is matrifocal. The females dominates, and generational relations are through the mother since paternity is unknown. Sexual relations are promiscuous with father not knowing which of the group’s young are his own. Promiscuous sexuality is the environment where the dance/brain growth/sex availability nexus best thrives.

When the fossil record exhibits a decrease in sexual dimorphism it can be estimated that matrifocal social structure has established itself and the approach to magical thinking is underway. And when magical thinking finally arrived, it was the females that likely walked the walk and talked the talk on the bridge from sound to song to word.

- Andrew Lehman

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