Unitive Consciousness

A unitive narrative Perspective Paper

 How a Unitive Narrative Grounded in Unitive Consciousness

Came About and Why it is a Sign of an Emerging Unitive Age

 Robert Atkinson, PhD

In the beginning was unitive consciousness. This is the meta-principle upon which the entire universe was formed and still guides its ongoing evolution. The first peoples observed the harmony, unity, and wholeness of creation and expressed this in their guiding narratives. Unitive consciousness is eternal and the ground of all being. But as communities grew and became more aware of their diversity, stories emerged that supported separation. After many millennia of conflict and chaos, we are approaching the stage of humanity’s collective maturity. This period of our collective evolution can be characterized as the Unitive Age because the greatest need now is for the human family to live as one in unity. 

Yet to achieve the promise of our time, many on-the-ground expressions of unitive consciousness are needed. Practical, everyday embodiments of unitive consciousness, such as unitive narratives, unitive justice, unitive economics, unitive education, and many more, are essential in making it clearer to all members of the human family that all things are linked together in a chain by one guiding principle in a consummate design that governs all of existence. This perspective paper offers a basic framework for visualizing exactly what is needed for its fulfillment.   

An Emerging Unitive Age

As we move into an age that will bring about unity on all levels, from family to community to region to nation and the entire world, our challenge is assisting the birth of a holistic, unitive worldview. As we now come to understand that everything on the micro level reflects everything on the macro level, this perennial wisdom was captured by Plato when he noted, “Perhaps there is a pattern set up in the heavens for one who desires to see it, and having seen it, to find one in himself.” 

This unitive principle defines and directs a singular evolutionary impulse. It addresses the divide between duality and nonduality, confirms that the individual and the collective mirror one another in their essential nature and processes, and explains how all things are interconnected. 

To illustrate this unitive principle through the nonduality of knowledge systems, science and spirituality, for the longest time at odds with each other, are now converging as the latest scientific breakthroughs confirm long-held spiritually based teachings. Understood now as complementary ways of knowing the mysteries of the universe, both recognize a common force guiding evolutionary progress toward a consciousness of wholeness. Both emphasize the interconnected nature of all things as part of the same reality. This unity at the base of our understanding of reality embraces all other knowledge systems as well.

The emergence of the Unitive Age is the culmination of an evolutionary flow that has brought about periodic leaps of consciousness throughout humanity’s history. The origin of this current leap in consciousness may be traced back to a time of widespread discord, division, and inequality in the mid-19th century that created the conditions for many unifying human rights advances to follow, like the end of slavery, women’s rights, and the coming together of the world’s religions in the first Parliament of the World’s Religions of 1893 which led to the interfaith movement. 

Since this time, a focus on unity as the way of healing the ills of an ailing humanity has been much more apparent. Unity is the all-encompassing, over-arching principle that all progress in the world depends upon. It is the natural outcome of an organic process of restoring seemingly opposing forces to their inherent wholeness. 

A unitive world view is the reflection of the understanding that all things in the entirety of existence make up an interdependent whole, a oneness in which everything in the whole is an inseparable part. 

In this unitive consciousness, reality is one and all seeming differences and distinctions are imaginary. What brings us to this unitive consciousness is directly experiencing this wholeness in our own lives. This experiential understanding brings with it a recognition that all things are deeply interconnected, that our inherent potential cannot be fully realized without the experience of this wholeness-in-motion and its subsequent unity-in-diverse-belonging, and that this understanding is what we most want to pass on to others. 

What may be most important to remember about the evolutionary process we are involved in is that in 1948, when philosopher Karl Jaspers coined the term “Axial Age” (referring to the broad universal changes in religious and philosophical thought from the 8th to 3rd centuries BC) as the time when the spiritual foundations of humanity were laid, he also saw this as “a base for the unity of mankind.” This means that an “age” in this sense can and does take centuries for its fullest expression to unfold and reach its promised fulfillment.  

We are at a time now when we can not only visualize this unity, but are in a position, with all the tools and unitive principles needed, to literally assist and manifest this in the world. For us now, the realization of the unity of the human family is a necessity for our very survival and is therefore inevitable if we are going to survive.

What we are also witnessing now is the necessary full and complete breakdown of the conditions of the previous age that were not able to realize its fulfillment, though the potential had been recognized. 

The Unitive Age is emerging now and taking hold while there is still widespread disunity in the world, but more and more people are all the time now coming to the recognition of the interdependence and interconnectedness of all things through their own experience of wholeness. And the stories we tell have always been central to the endeavor of understanding the unitive nature of reality.

Humanity’s Narrative Heritage 

We are the storytelling species. We think in story form, speak in story form, and bring meaning to our lives through story. Telling our stories in a recognizable narrative form, structure, and pattern is central to our identity. 

Here is a storyteller’s history of the world that illustrates the evolution of narratives:

There was a time when people gathered to share stories that embodied the values and principles they lived by. These stories held the community together and gave them a shared purpose. They were unitive narratives, essential to their individual and collective wellbeing.

Then there came a time when communities expanded, spread out, became more diverse, and experienced conflict and disorder. Out of this discord emerged divisive narratives that maintained separation. 

Today, as we approach a consciousness of global integration, a new story of our wholeness is needed to frame this interconnectedness. It is necessary now – for our own survival – to come together again through unitive narratives, to share our own stories of living into wholeness.

This concise history of the world illustrates that nothing may be more vital right now than a healing vision that clearly guides us from the illusion of separation toward the wholeness of all things. This is exactly where unitive narratives come in. The emerging unitive age won’t come to fruition without narratives that bring about unity. As mythologist Joseph Campbell noted, the only narrative worth thinking about now is one that is about the planet and all beings on it. Unitive narratives facilitate a process of transformation by expressing and representing the unified nature of reality. 

The narrative form we are all most familiar with is designed to do just that. Beyond the basic story pattern of beginning, middle, and end, there lies a hidden deeper level within the structure of story itself that is a formula for transformation on both the individual and collective level. All good stories take us through the pattern of beginning, muddle, and resolution. The muddles, or challenges, we face represent the core of the pattern that brings the process of transformation to its completion, or resolution.

This is a pattern found in mythology, mysticism, ritual, and psychology that centrally locates transformation within its core, connects us to the cycles of nature, and at the same time heightens our desire to “give back” and “lift up” others in whatever ways we can. This is what Kabbalists call Tikkun Olam or the work of repairing and restoring the world to wholeness. 

This pattern defines a life lived deeply, by confirming that all are governed by the same natural law, what Pierre Teilhard de Chardin called “a single energy at play in the world.” It shows how evolution in all realms is tied together, and all of Creation is an indivisible wholeness. 

Since humanity’s spiritual evolution began with unitive narratives, those stories that maintained harmony and unity by keeping people aligned with the nature of reality, and as we now reclaim our identity as conscious storytellers, ensuring that the stories we tell bring about unity, it is fitting that the unitive age is framed by unitive narratives providing the needed groundwork for a unitive approach to all actions throughout all of society that will result in world unity, a prerequisite for sustainable peace in the world. 

Expressions of a Unitive World

This transformative view of the world is based upon current evidence that evolution is not driven by randomness and chance but rather by purpose and direction. This unitive principle of evolution is designed to guide us from simplicity to complexity, toward ever greater levels of interdependence and interconnectedness.

The process moving us to each new expanding level, though, is never a straight line. Its movement is spiral, like the cycles of nature. The unfolding of evolution includes phases of ups and downs, periods of strife and chaos, that ultimately lead to and bring about transformation resulting in further progress. This holistic - and realistic – worldview accounts for and explains why a recurring process of personal and collective transformation is necessary throughout the cycles of evolution.  

As we enter humanity’s unitive age, culminating in uniting humanity as one family, we will see more of a desire and deep commitment to carry out our lives in service to the whole. The use of “unitive” in describing various parts of the unified nature of reality is just now beginning to be understood and applied. As this further unfolds, it will be more common to approach all forms of relationships and interactions as ways to bring about unity.

Unity in the grand diversity of all that exists is the primary characteristic of the wholeness of all things. Understanding and applying this in everything we do, in the language we use, the stories we tell, and the relationships we nurture, will help us live into the understanding that wholeness is all there is.

Here are a few examples of the many derivatives of a unitive narrative approach that will bring about unity in all aspects of our lives as this becomes the norm throughout society. 

Our emerging unitive age depends upon achieving and maintaining harmony and unity in all endeavors. Unity most characterizes the spirit of our age. Unity cannot be achieved without wholeness; wholeness requires equality between women and men, balance between wealth and poverty, freedom from all forms of prejudice, harmony between science and spirituality, and protecting nature as a divine trust. 

These unifying principles are so interdependently tied together that the realization of one depends upon the realization of all the others. Each one is also a prerequisite for fulfilling the age-old vision of peace on Earth.

Unity is the Outcome of the Evolutionary Impulse

The good news, and what gives us hope for the future, is that consciousness evolves toward unity and wholeness. Humanity’s spiritual evolution is directed toward unity. Unity of purpose is central to the evolutionary impulse. Humanity will reach its apex of consciousness when we collectively reflect the perfect harmony, unity, and wholeness that already exists in all the diversity of creation. 

The Unitive Age we are entering is the climax of a long evolutionary process founded upon a vision of reality as one. Only narratives guiding us toward wholeness serve this evolutionary impulse. Unitive narratives, those that organically complete the process of helping us unite the opposites around us, are essential in bringing the human family back together.

We now have before us a cosmological foundation for a holistic worldview that will serve and support humanity’s evolution of consciousness toward unity on all levels and in all social realms. As we tap into this unitive consciousness, we become the social artists needed today to ensure Earth’s well-being as a living organism of collaborative relationships and dynamic coevolutionary partnerships on a planetary scale.  

What a unitive narrative and all its derivatives acknowledge is that consciousness is not something we have but rather what we and the universe are. Thus, the physical realm we exist in cannot have created itself. In fact, a unitive narrative recognizes our fundamental interbeing, interconnectedness, and interdependence with the whole community of our planetary home, Gaia, and with the entire Universe, which have all arisen from deeper non-physical causes. 

The knowledge of a hidden thread of wholeness connecting, supporting, and uniting all things in existence is at the mystic heart of all sacred traditions and is now the leading edge of scientific understanding. We are on the verge of this unitive world view becoming as commonly accepted in our time as nationalism was in the past. 

Our own heart-felt subjective experience of unity and wholeness will put us in a unitive relationship with all life and give us a felt sense of unity with the ineffable source of all being, uniting us with all things. 

A unitive narrative invites us to embrace the wisdom of the complementarity and wholeness of seemingly opposing forces, such as feminine and masculine attributes. This is how we are enabled to recognize, honor, and achieve unity in the diversity of expressions on our way to a consciousness of wholeness through which we carry out our unitive actions in the world.

This empowers us to envision and co-create a love-based rather than separation-based future in which regenerative and sustainable development leads to peace as a natural outcome of a world that works for all beings and our planetary home.

Adapted from www.unitivenarrative.org,


A New Story of Wholeness (Light on Light Press, 2022) by Robert Atkinson, 

“The Emerging Unitive Age” by Robert Atkinson, 

in The Great Upshift (Light on Light Press, 2023) by Ervin Laszlo and David Lorimer, and