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Namah Journal


Evolution Next — III

Dr. Alok Pandey


Is evolution a mechanical senseless unfolding or is there a mysterious ‘Something' at the root of it that is unfolding Itself through evolution? Normally, while being on this side of the fence, it is hard to envisage 'Something' beyond the boundaries that Nature has drawn around us. It is like a magic circle that prevents us from seeing further. We are left with our beliefs and non-beliefs, rational or otherwise. But those destined or ready for the next evolutionary adventure find these boundaries split up and a wide horizon opening, teeming with new and old possibilities, with all its dangers and delight. For when the magic circle unfastens the doors we may either slide to the previous level or else go up the ladder. This is the evolutionary risk we face at the moment.

What we need to reckon with is that human consciousness moves within a narrow spectrum of consciousness. In fact, this is true of every species. It is as if a magic circle were woven around the limits and capacities of a species so that it does not express all the powers and potentialities of Nature. At the same time, each species is given a particular type of strength out of Nature’s seemingly inexhaustible store. This particular power ensures the species survival against the other species and creates a healthy balance. With the advent of man, however, Nature seems to have herself introduced a strange tendency, — to try breaking the limits! Unlike other species who are content to live within the limits imposed by Nature and seldom break the fence drawn out for them, man carries within him an incorrigible explorer who is not happy with limits and barriers. He wants freedom, vastness, limitless expanse, total mastery, undiluted bliss, absolute Truth, perfect knowledge, ultimate Power. But in doing so he not only looks up and above towards higher levels of consciousness, greater sources of Energy and Power but also plumbs into the abysses to draw upon himself the forces that lie chained in the dark subconscious terrains of our past animal evolution. He can take his flight of evolution towards godlike heights or else plunge down and grow in power by a downward turn towards the titanic type of humanity, full of brute strength and brilliant cunning, cruel and ruthless. This too is superhuman if we like, but not the true evolutionary impulsion since such a turn will ultimately end up destroying the very species that evolves this way due to the inevitable backlash of Nature but do much harm and damage to the totality of creation in the process. Nevertheless, whether this way or that, evolution has to reckon with the past gyres and grooves through which evolutionary forces have carved their way. This is the great evolutionary challenge, to uncover and integrate or to annul and dissolve the past that stands in the way of the evolutionary emergence.

Towards this end, Nature uses two processes. First it opens up the magical circle and lets in a host of forces from the past and the future to enter the ring in which the species is enclosed. This leads to an increase in abnormal phenomena, even strange creatures with different patterns of behaviours. There is also a period of confusion that follows since unexpected forces have come in and disturbed the balance. It is a moment of transition but from our scale a moment that may stretch through a few centuries. The magic circle of Nature is actually nothing but a bundle of habits, habitual ways of reactions and responses from the brain and nerves, feelings and impulse, will and emotion, in fact, from the entire gamut of our physical and psychological apparatus. These habits are strengthened further due to collective suggestions, mental formations and then quite simply by life experiences which are nothing but a faithful rendering of these habits! Eventually we begin to regard these as laws of nature and fundamental truths. But Nature herself shows the way at times that there is nothing absolute about these truths. She gives us a glimpse of alternate processes and other possibilities through the appearance of the abnormal and the anomalous.

Of course the habitual physical mind of man reacts to these abnormalities and anomalies either by disbelief or else a defect. On the other hand, the mind of the credulous tends to build a superstition around it. But there is another way than being either credulous or suspicious of what appears to us as ‘unnatural’ and abnormal. It is to try and understand it. But more often than not we simply tend to explain it away on the basis of our known paradigms. We rarely challenge our premises and our theories. Our scientific framework becomes a cult in its own right where transgression becomes heresy. But there are always a few individuals who challenge these premises and undertake the adventure into the New and the Unknown without any presumptions, — scientific or otherwise. They break into fresh grounds of thought and experience and begin to live by another way of being. They discover a new Law, a higher rule of Nature than what they had known so far. These geniuses, often misunderstood and mocked during their lifetime become harbingers and pioneers of a new change. After a while the rest follow as anomalies abound and Nature accepts the change slowly through a growing number of such seemingly ‘madmen’. The old paradigms get overturned and new laws get discovered. Or shall we say uncovered!

The double-road

Here too, we see the double-road appearing before humanity. When the safe boundaries that confine humanity are broken, we have an increasing number of madness, or for that matter, even an increase in physical illnesses and social pathologies. But not all madness and pathologies are indicative of the future type. When the boundaries crash around our humanness strange and unprecedented forces rush into the arena to occupy the field. Most of these are simply forces from our bygone past, the subconscient energies that belong to our past evolution and had been tied down and hidden carefully in the folds of darkness that lurk in our entrails. At the same time, however, there is also a window of opportunity for the forces of a higher and more luminous order to also enter the arena of the world and use our humanity as a base to project upon the earth. This too breaks the established order since these forces follow another law than the human. The result of this luminous influx is sometimes noted as the phenomenon of the eccentric genius. Though misunderstood ‘freaks’ in their own time, they yet pave the way for the future. The coming dawns see them multiply until their type becomes the common lot.

In fact, these geniuses and prodigies may well be forerunners like a promise held up by Nature as a possibility of the future. The first step is the difficult task, the great challenge and Nature sometimes achieves it by forcibly overleaping her boundaries. In the process imbalances occur. Something is left behind; something is broken in the process. It is a price for the great leap. But later, with the passage of time, the idea-force they unleashed, the new emotion that they released in the earth atmosphere, the new motive and impulse that inspired their actions, the new sociology they brought into the play become the norm. The strong initial resistances to the new approach give way to a more general acceptance and a more varied application of the truth they brought down into the earthly play. Like Prometheus, they pay the price for the great discovery, but the average humanity benefits from this sacrifice. The history of earth is full of this progressive march of mankind wherein an individual leads, a few follow, but later, the movement builds up and masses participate in it turning it into the norm rather than an anomaly. The thought and impulse, the action and achievement that seemed exceptional become commonplace with the passage of time.

But here too a word of caution is needed. All that comes in the garb of a new truth is not necessarily the future and all that reappears out of the ashes of the old is again, not necessarily the past. During such evolutionary moments that stretch through a few centuries, the past and the future mingle freely, that which must go and that which must replace often sit and eat at the same table, that which is rising in the morning sky and that which is setting as the dreams of the night look upon each other and are often visible together. These are dangerous moments, troubled times, times of evolutionary transition. What one needs most, what one lacks most to steer during these unique hours that come to earth is a Wisdom that can see behind appearances, a calm heart that is patient and willing to wait and watch and learn, a strong and persistent will that is ready to endure as evolution negotiates through the narrow gorge and the dangerous passage. Or perhaps all that is needed is faith, a faith that carries us on wings of courage and hope, facing every challenge until we are delivered into the ‘promised land’ of the future.

The challenges are many; the difficulties legion. Imagine the constricting feeling of a caterpillar pupa moulding into a butterfly or the suffocation felt by the mudfish transforming into a turtle. It is a phase when nothing works. The old notions and ways and processes fail and at best give us only a partial relief. The new methods are yet not in sight and even when they are, work sometimes and at other times do not work. The old means are no longer sufficient; the new means have barely been glimpsed but not yet fully developed. It is a period of confusion wherein the luminously mad and their dark double come close, sometimes together within a single breast, so that the latter may find its final release by the touch of the former. Depending upon the strength and balance of the bright and the dark, one is carried onto this side or the other, either to dissolve back into a bygone past or to be uplifted towards an emergent future. Despite the chaos and the confusion, one can see, if one looks carefully and deep enough that this is not a sudden process but a deliberate one. Each individual who is ready for the great transition, each group that has some possibility of going through is given several chances. Each chance prepares it a little more, brings it closer to the definitive choice which yet has to be made one day. It is a long period of preparation followed by a sudden leap. The pressure of Light and the pressure of the dark both oppress the human heart and prepare it.

But the majority of humanity forget one thing and that is Grace: that mysterious something which defies definition and yet, to the eye of an awakened humanity, is so much more real than all that is visible and sensible. Or shall we say that it is felt and sensed and known through another kind of sense, another faculty of recognition than what we are usually accustomed to. For even from a strictly scientific view, and with that we mean a materialistic science, it is easy to understand that our methods of feeling and sensing and thinking are simply one set of processes and devices used by Nature for our present stage of evolution. Just as the animal uses other faculties than the human to ‘know’ and ‘sense’ and ‘feel’ so also it is logical to assume that there would be other means and processes, other faculties and instruments that are yet asleep as possibilities in Nature, waiting to emerge at an appropriate time. It is here that we see a divergence between two different approaches to the problem of human evolution, — the secular scientific and the spiritually scientific. For if we are not to confine the use of the term ‘science’merely to a repetition of certain methods of knowledge and application as we have so far evolved and habitually use, much as an ant, a bird and a fish use its own set of processes and science, then we shall discover that neither knowledge nor science is limited to the fields and means presently given to us.

The divine Grace

The first approach to the evolutionary conundrum leads us to hypothesise and believe (rationally or otherwise) that evolution is a meaningless, mechanical process that happens through random processes and ‘accidents’ of time. Perhaps one day some such accident will eventually blow up the evolutionary laboratory called earth! The only kickback of this evolution is a strengthening of certain survival mechanisms or the emergence of new mechanisms to survive better. The goal of human life therefore, if such a term has any meaning where all is a play of devious chance and the random affair of chemicals flowing in tubes of modified clay called arteries and veins and nerves, is to somehow further augment our survival strategies. The logical aim of education then becomes to teach children better survival strategies and equip them for a neck-to-neck fight and competition in the modern jungle called cities. But if we take the second view, then there is a different conclusion we can draw for our humanity with the same data. In that case, the ‘goal’ of existence, human and others is to grow and evolve, progress and develop so as to express ‘That’ which is hidden at its roots as the seed of creation. This ‘something’, hidden in our roots as a secret seed developing into the tree of creation, is termed the divine Consciousness by the spiritual scientists. And what is called Grace is the fiat of this divine Consciousness that reaches out and leans down to every particle of creation, like a life-giving sap informing it of the marvel that lies hidden in our own depths. The recognition of Divine Grace opens another doorway of evolution for mankind, a door that many have used and their experiences testify to Its presence and the possibility of conscious evolution by plugging into this Power that runs through the warp and woof of creation as its secret support and saviour.

(To be continued)

Dr. Alok Pandey, an editor of NAMAH and member of SAIIIHR, is a doctor practising at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

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Evolution next




The new and the unknown


The great leap


The great transition


The divine Grace