What if the evolution of consciousness, rather than an adaptive quirk of the brain, was actually the central drama, purpose and point, of our whole show? There are, we shall see, philosophers and psychoanalysts, mystics and physicists who propose that this is the case. Inner development is an eccentric process, advancing in certain jumps, in revelatory sparks and fizzles--each person is his or her own private universe. Strengthened by suffering and crisis, consciousness does does not reach a new intensity according to any predictably linear progress that can be graphed by the tools of modern science. It follows its own wayward path.
What if this deepening of awareness takes place in the margins, in the nooks and crannies of contemporary life, like a weed flowing out of the thinnest sidewalk crack? Could it be, as the somnolent masses and the professional classes press forward in the old direction, seeking the same old rewards, that the new thing self-organizes out of chaos and noise, asserts itself in fragility and silence, then takes root and vitalizes until it suddenly manifests as established truth? If something like this was the case, we would be surprised at first-- even shocked--but then it might occur to us: Perhaps it has always happened this way.