Love Is the Underlying Force of Evolution

Posted on in Healthy Living by Robert Atkinson


Evolution in all realms is tied together. Deep down, all of Creation is an indivisible oneness. It is developing according to one law, originating from one Essence, and is destined to one aim, as the Buddha said. Although everything in the universe is interconnected, there are also natural patterns that govern the ups and downs, or dips and expansions, overseeing our inevitable yet precarious progress. This creates core oppositions—like light and shadow, win and lose, love and hate—that appear to be opposing forces in a world of dualities, even when they are still part of the same reality. Seeing beyond these dualities, and recognizing the oneness that embraces all, is the challenge of our time.

The forces of attraction, altruism, and love have altered the course of civilization many times. Their power and influence have been increasing over time. Even with a constant ebb and flow, the direction of evolution’s arrow has been toward ever-wider circles of collective unity. Greater social complexity has resulted in more complex systems of cooperation, charity, and harmony.

Altruism Evolves

Love, as the most powerful attractive force in the universe, is understood as the primary principle of a divine order. Across the epochs of human history, altruistic love has evolved from a feeling of emotional warmth toward others to the practice of unconditional love toward seemingly unconnected others.

This is a transformational process seen in the history of religions, as well. When Jesus went beyond earlier spiritual teachings and told his followers, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you” (Matthew 5:44), he expanded the consciousness of his followers while opening them up to three centuries of persecution and martyrdom in the name of advancing authentic relationships. Ultimately, the principle of altruistic love is built upon acting according to the knowledge of the oneness of all creation.

a lot of hands together

Reciprocal Altruism Leads to the Elimination of Prejudice

A rising tide of humanitarianism in the late 18th century, with the founding of the Royal Humane Society in England, ushered in a new era of caring for and giving altruistically to any and all members of humanity in need. This trend toward compassion and justice expanded during the 19th century with the founding of the profession of nursing, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the outlawing of slavery worldwide. A long, protracted process, fraught with tremendous struggle, nevertheless unfolded further with the first series of Civil Rights Acts of the 1860s and 1870s and a second series in the 1950s and 1960s. Though the struggle continues, the evolution of consciousness is undeniable.

In this context, we can envision that compassion and altruism, or love in action, would ultimately eliminate all forms of prejudice, given a chance. The understanding of the biological truth of our unity as a human race has advanced and become clearer with each civil rights movement of the 20th and 21st centuries. The essence of the transformation of consciousness we have undergone was summed up by President Obama following the 2011 earthquake in Japan: “For all our differences in culture or language or religion, ultimately, humanity is one.”

This is the consciousness—a selfless, altruistic caring for all other members of our family, with love as the most powerful of all forces—that will bring about the rise of a spiritual civilization. All the prophets uphold love as the strongest of universal forces and teach the principles of a morality built upon compassion.

Prejudice is a manifestation of love’s opposite force. When love prevails, any form of its opposite will be stifled. Love’s celebration in story, myth, and poetry across time and place means it is in the unique and powerful position of bringing about the realization of oneness in those who truly understand its meaning and purpose.

Love is the safeguard for human diversity. The realization of the oneness of the human race eliminates the notion that any one group is in some way superior to the rest of humanity. This will further shift society as a whole, enabling all individuals to contribute to an ever-advancing civilization. As Robert Wright has said, “Give evolution long enough, and reciprocal altruism will arise yet again—and again and again and again.”

Love Binds Together the Universe

Love is a transformative power. Mystics and saints have long known that love is the highest truth, that the universe comes from love, and that the universe is sustained by love. Love is the primary expression of Creation. The power of love unveils the illusion of the physical world and takes us beyond birth and death to the world of spiritual wonderment.

Abdu’l-Baha captured the meaning of love as the underlying force of evolution that will ultimately overtake and dissolve all forms of prejudice: he calls love the living link that unites God with humanity, that assures the progress of every illumined soul.

From all this we can say, as many have, that we are hardwired to connect, cooperate, be empathic, compassionate, caring, and altruistic. We see expressions of these virtues daily. In all its forms and disguises, love still flourishes in a world wounded by hatred.

As we consciously integrate this divine force into our lives, we feel the unifying force of love evolving personal and collective potential to its highest level possible. Loving all beings with a pure heart is the spiritual activism of our time.

Robert Atkinson, PhD, is the author of nine books, including The Story of Our Time: From Duality to Interconnectedness to Oneness (February 2017). He is professor emeritus at the University of Southern Maine and director of Story Commons. Book signings March 4 at East West Bookstore (Mountain View), March 5 at Book Passage (Corte Madera), and March 7 at Friendly Favors/IONS (Petaluma).

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