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Evolution Next — X

Dr. Alok Pandey


Adaptation and change are the guiding principles of evolution. The great game of life seems to favour co-existence and co-habitation over survival through exclusion of other types. But this adaptation is of various kinds and depends upon the level of our inner evolution. An evolutionary ladder exists within us through which we must climb to discover the right law of our being and living. At the lowest rung of this ladder is a life lived for oneself and one’s selfish survival and growth. At the other pole is a life that is lived taking into account the value and importance of other forms of life on our planet.

One thing is obvious, if experience and empirical evidence counts, and it is this, that evolution is unstoppable. It is in the very fabric of the universe, interwoven in its texture and design. We are mistaken when we say that evolution is about survival. Survival is only an end-result, the crucial element is adaptation. Adaptation implies a holistic growth. It is not about the strong and mighty species wiping out the rest. Nature does not seem to favour it. Otherwise the mammoth and the dinosaur would not have become extinct and the tiger stand on the verge of disappearance while the preyed-upon deer thrives and multiplies. The survival of a species, like the survival of an individual, is favoured only if it is in sync with the existence of other individuals and species. This is simply because there is nothing really separate and isolated in this grand universe. All is interconnected with a web-stream of forces and energies, each seemingly separate unit is held together in a vaster collective consciousness. That is how the game of life goes on where each must adapt to the presence of the ‘others’ which are none other than different aspects of the ‘Same’. Each and every unit of creation is built up of the same essential building-blocks. The difference is on the surface but the basic constitution is the same. Oneness is behind everything and hence, even for mere survival each must adapt to the other units.


But what is adaptation? It is the ability to accept and adjust and accommodate, to create space for one another, to stretch out time until all that comes as your share of life slips into it. This is difficult when we live too much in the sense of our separateness. In that state we want more and more space exclusively for ourselves. We use all the time given to us only for ourselves. It is sad that we as a human species also exhibit this behaviour, unlike animals that are instinctively with this wisdom and hence keep their own well-defined boundaries. Man however is meant to expand and go beyond his limits. He may do so through one of two means. He may expand his limited ego-self, thereby living only for himself and his selfish needs. Or else, he may thus expand as to break free from his ego-self and embrace and include ‘others’ as part of himself or his extended self. Those who expand in the ego-way end up experiencing acute limitations within. They feel psychologically imprisoned and suffer with the consequences that this state of narrowness brings, namely, anxiety, agitation, ambition, greed, lust, anger, restlessness, excitement and depression, etc. They grow only to become less, they expand only to become increasingly smaller. Nature does not seem to favour this type. Despite the temporary success, such persons soon end up with various forms of physical and psychological imbalances.

On the other hand, those who take the other line of growth become happier, increasingly stress-free and thereby disease-free. Besides they have multiplied their resources and have enough people and things to fall back upon in times of need and crisis. The former are caught in a downward spiral of more and more unhappiness like a self-fulfilling prophesy that has been unfortunately engineered by oneself. The latter enter the evolutionary loop and are selected by Nature to go further to the next evolutionary tier. Ancient Indian thought typified these two modes of nature as rajo-tamasic and rajo-sattvic. The sattvic man is the one preparing for evolution next. The rajo-tamasic type slips down the ladder, gravitating towards the dark end of things. The predominantly rajasic is waiting on the threshold and depending upon which way he takes, he will end up gravitating or ascending. This is the evolutionary ladder of Nature that all must climb through.

We see today both these trends emerging at the forefront of human quest and evolution. There is, on the one hand, an increase in self-assertion, a cry for individual freedom to do whatever it wants even if it be at the expense of all else. It is a need for self-assertion at any cost. At one end of the pole of this movement are extreme ideologies that advocate the absolute right of an individual regardless of the cost his actions may entail to the larger growth of the collective humanity and of planet Earth and other species. At the other end, stand ideologies that exert the absolute right of a group to exercise supremacy and hegemony over all other forms of group-life. These group-egos, in their will to dominate other groups can go to the extent of wiping out and exterminating all other groups and ideologies not toeing their line or not in accord with their own. Though at war with each other, if we take a closer look, we shall discover that this extreme form of assertive and aggressive individuality is no different from the fanaticism of certain groups that try to dominate and crush others. The aggressively self-assertive and uncaring individual snatches the liberty of others indirectly and is harmful to the group-life. The aggressive groupings of mankind that thrust their ideology on to others and fight for its world-dominance with the barrel of a gun are two sides of the same coin! Still they fight with each other because it is their nature to fight and dominate! The spirit of the dinosaur and the mammoth is still alive in them.

On the other hand, we also see an increasing trend towards mutual growth and co-operation, a lauding of friendship and love even at the expense of strong familial egos, a breaking down of barriers of caste and religion for a larger good, a cry for space and time to be oneself in the truest and deepest sense of the word. The true individual hidden behind the ego-self emerges out when a person strives to be what he truly dreams of and sees as his self-expression, his unique contribution to the world, his best that he brings out and offers at the world-stage. In return, the world forces favour him and he gets much more than he would need for his survival, inwardly as well as outwardly. There is another happy trend in group life as well. Individuals are breaking free from the fixed prisons of institutionalised and fixed religions and ideologies, they are going beyond sects and cults and grouping together freely for the greater good of humanity and earth. True, they may be ignorant about what really is the greater good but the urge and the aspiration, the will and faith are in the right direction and if they walk this way sincerely, they are sure to find it.

The Promised Land

In short, we may say that what we are witnessing today is a massive resistance of the old world trying to assert itself beyond limits in its need to expand. On the other hand we are also witnessing the first stirrings of a New World taking an alternate route, charting a new voyage beyond the convention and the norm in search of the Promised Land. But they are breaking free not in order to destroy the ‘others’ but to find a better way to safeguard them. They are breaking free not to live the life of an unbridled ego and desire but to adapt in a better way to the multiple challenges that humanity has faced and continues to face in an increasing measure. They are not breaking free to create islands but to join one another and reconnect and form a larger chain. These are the harbingers of the New Faith and Will in life, a faith that the Earth must be saved from man himself and a will to find lasting and radical remedies for man’s maladies of which man himself is the most challenging of all.

(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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