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Evolution Next

Dr. Alok Pandey


Evolution is not finished. In fact if evolution ever happened, then it can never stop. New challenges are bound to appear on planet Earth and along with it new possibilities of adaptation and change. This change is bound to involve all levels of our humanity, — spiritual, intellectual, emotional, vital, nervous, sensational and ultimately the very physical, a cellular change so to speak. This article attempts to explore some of these evolutionary challenges we face today and how we can consciously participate in them.

It is now common ground for both science and spirituality that evolution has not stopped with man. While the theories, causes and possibilities envisaged may differ, the essential truth remains. At a smaller scale it is easy enough to understand. Our mind, for instance has an enormous capacity to develop and evolve. It has also been amply demonstrated that the mind can, in certain exceptional states, exhibit capacities that border on the miraculous. In fact the entire science of Rajayoga is based upon this possibility of undoing and re-doing the mind and its capacities. Our limitations are really the limitations of the mind that have been inbuilt and programmed through centuries and millennia for Nature’s limited purposes. But always there are people who have displayed that these first limits set by Nature and the bondages imposed by habit and conditioning are not something permanent. They can be undone and redone. Even ordinarily, though at a lesser pitch, all education is basically about a reorganisation of our being, including an emergence of possibilities that would otherwise remain latent, undeveloped and unused. The genius and the yogi are simply Nature’s attempts to exceed herself, though at two different levels, one unconscious and without active collaboration of the individual, the other with the conscious collaboration of the person.

A new species  

If this be so, then it is only logical to assume that with the passage of time, especially with increasing challenges emerging from all around us, we as a race are moving ahead towards a new becoming, a new species so to say. The various pressures that we see and experience in today’s life are not so much physical as psychological. We have found ways and means to provide enough physical ease and comfort for ourselves but our minds are being increasingly tested by pushing the limits of our psychological comfort-zones. While on the one side, it is increasing the risk of breakdowns under the mounting stress, on the other, it is leading to new ways of adaptation to the novel challenges. It is only a question of time when a whole new generation, distinctly different in its ways of thinking, feeling, reaction, understanding, even in its capacities of thought and action, emerges, that we will begin to experience a clear evolutionary divide between the humanity of the past and the humanity of the future. The present, of course, is a mixed bag and will be so until the transition is complete. But the trends are obvious enough if we care to see. Of course, the physical body may remain the same for a long time since it is much more difficult to undo the physical grooves of nature than the mental ones. But here too the first indications are that there is a change underway, a change in terms of an increase in height, a blurring of gender identities, a change in the brain, a change even in the eating, sleeping and mating patterns, including a general decline in fertility rates. We may debate whether the change is for good or for worse as always but the fact of change cannot be denied any more unless we choose to remain wilfully blind. Perhaps it is only when the transition is complete and Nature has achieved her purpose, hidden to common sight, that we shall see and know how she worked and laboured with an intuitive intelligence at every step, including even those that appeared as fumbles and errors. Later we shall learn how even randomness is a path and ‘chance’ and ‘accidents’ are simply steps of a conscious Power that far exceeds our limited intelligence and which therefore completely eludes our understanding. We call it chance since we have no clue about the many wondrous forces at work within the heart of the spheres. The ancients simply worshipped these powers and approached them with awe, respect and fear. The moderns have discarded them in thought and belief, having renamed them as ‘chance’ and ‘accidents’! 

Be that as it may, it would be interesting and important to see how this change is taking place and what are its implications upon our individual and collective lives; what are the apparent by-lanes, possible bypasses, unexpected departures, unseen abysses and hurdles that await this journey. This is all the more important since unlike the previous evolutionary leaps, Nature intends to use conscious means and processes this time, at least partially. She expects humanity to collaborate and that is why she has given us the sense of a ‘free will’. It means that we have a role to play this time and therefore it is helpful if we can somewhat at least understand the process and know what lies ahead in terms of possibilities and difficulties, the delight of a leap as well as the danger of a precipitous fall. This is not to say that the whole path towards the future can be seen. Least of all can it be predicted by any logical analysis or an extension of logic from the present chaos where the future and the past are locked in a mix of wrestle and embrace. We have to be guided here by an intuition and experience, even perhaps a luminous faith that becomes the spearhead of the shaft of knowledge lying in wait. It is only a few steps that can be thus revealed. The rest must necessarily wait for its disclosure in its own time. In this sense it is a real adventure into the unforeseeable, an adventure of colonising a new space and mastering a new mode of time. 

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are among the foremost who have not only foreseen this ‘Evolution Next’ but also worked actively upon it, day and night, pouring Their combined Energy upon this work which They saw as the one most important task before nature and humanity, arranged for us by the All-Knowing Guide who works behind the scenes of earthly life to turn everything, each event and circumstance, into a means towards the great evolutionary leap. Call Him or Her or It by whatever Name, for scientific purposes we can call Him as the Evolutionary Energy and Power or the Conscious Wisdom and Force that works in Nature to push things towards their far-off destined goal. Recognition of this Wisdom and Power is perhaps the very first step towards a conscious collaboration, for then our task becomes easy. All that we need to do is to align ourselves in thought and feelings, in will and impulsions to this inner push from within, obey its tremendous impulsions, follow its subtle intimations that whisper to our souls in some silent ground of our being. But we may also play at cross-purposes to this ‘Power’ by disobeying the demands of the Time-Spirit, refuse to hear the word of the Zeitgeist and as a result end up awash or a castaway on the shores of a bygone world, left behind to battle in the simian world while humanity emerges slowly from the ape and steps into the wild and looks anew and faces the danger and delight of the Unknown with new eyes and a new mind. So too we have the ‘choice’ to either belong to a past humanity that is soon losing its context or to belong to a fast-emerging future that is evolving out of the human carapace. It needs a leap of faith, a leap of courage, a leap of love for all that we wish to be and to leave behind all that we do not want to remain. 

A window-glimpse 

Evolution is a complex process. It is not about turning human beings into little saints or endowing them with ethical and moral qualities. It is not about a genius with exceptional capacities. These are no doubt beautiful and admirable things but they are still human. They indicate a higher kind of humanity that has been able to break through the morass of earthly nature and its hundred bonds that keep us tied to ignorance, error, suffering and pain. But this something is a small little window-glimpse of what yet may come. The rest of our being remains submerged in darkness even as our sight looks out of the little niche into the vast expanse outside. No doubt this little glimpse brings us new perspectives, even new powers of which we are unaware in our closed-door life. It inspires and entices us to greater things. And yet we have not yet definitively stepped out of the room of Ignorance and learned to walk freely into the vast expanse or soak our very bodies in the luminous gold of the sun whose gentle rays we have witnessed. We have seen the strip of sky above and our sight has scanned a bit of it but our wings have not yet grown wide and spanned the distant horizons. We have also looked at the mud and the forest that lie outside our neat and clean rooms but have not yet felt the true touch of Earth that invigorates and strengthens even as it draws us, sometimes close enough to perilous domains. Even when we do open a door, not just the window and step out a little, we return to the safe house, our accustomed place of shelter that guards us against the dangers of the Night as well as an excess of the Light, both of which may blind and threaten us. In short, we still remain a prisoner with only a limited and partial freedom, a conditional freedom so to say. A yet greater possibility, a yet higher soar, a yet wider sweep of flight awaits us with our spiritual evolution, or to put it more broadly and in general terms, with our ‘Evolution Next’. 

It is unfortunate that the term ‘spiritual’ has been defined in a certain limited way, creating an inability to look at it with a large and catholic vision. Many still confuse it with a certain religious bent of mind or an ability to juggle with metaphysical ideas and abstract philosophical conceptions. Still others take it for techniques and processes that allow us to open the window of the mud-house of our body and then enthralled with the grand vision that greets us, discard the rest of the house as a needless encumbrance whose function and purpose is over with the opening of the doors and the windows. Such glimpses and early short miraculous escapes are only preparatory steps; they are neither the main body nor the essence of evolution. These strolls into the Unknown enrich us, leaving their distinctive stamp upon our nature but they do not transform our earthly life; it may set free the soul of a few but our nature and mind and body and life remain, largely out of habit and sense of comfort, a slave and prisoner of the old and accustomed air. Evolution will take up these human possibilities and give them an ampler scope and a greater fulfilment. But more importantly it would mean not only a radical change in the way we see things (a new conception of life) but a new way of doing and being. It is a total change right down to the very cells of our body, a new species emerging out of the old, a breaking away from our human-animal past and its habits and laws and way of life.   

(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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Planet Earth


Psychological comfort-zones


Apparent by-lanes


A window-glimpse


Cells of our body