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Evolution Next XIII — a perilous bridge

Dr. Alok Pandey


The evolutionary journey has its own dangers and perils. It is full of the unpredictable as our past and present formation of nature adapts to the new. Nature tries and tests our limits, creating a number of sub-types and abortive sub-species before finally yielding the old and arriving at a new poise. It is this we seem to be passing through now.


Evolution means crossing a perilous bridge in Time. It is a bridge from the past to the future, negotiating through a narrow gorge of the present. What we mean by this is that Nature has evolved certain capacities and functioning in us, in each species. And while these capacities and functions help us navigate through life, they also become our limits. Take for example, at the purely material level, the action of lungs and breathing or of the heart and circulation. They are crucial and even critical to our functioning. These devices have evolved over millions of years and have been slowly and systematically perfected so as to serve us well through the thick and thin of our living. We cannot even imagine living without these organs except perhaps for a short while and supported by machines. However these organs have been set with a timer embedded in our very genes and the entire physiological apparatus. Slowly the watch of life unwinds, slows down or more correctly deteriorates and eventually ceases to work. We call it death. But then we are also conscious of an inner being in us that remains young even when our body is growing old, a mind that may still want to learn and grow, a soul that yet aspires to fulfill its deepest seeking. But the body sets the limits to these other parts in us. The life-force in us does not die, the mind in us does not really stop working, the immortal soul within us continues to seek and aspire, but the body refuses to co-operate. The result is that the inner being has, at some point of time, to choose either to dwell in the same body, accepting the slowing down due to the limits imposed by the physical apparatus or else decide to leave this device for another. In this case we do not say that we die but very simply we, the true ‘I’ is unable to function anymore in the body. It is hampering and hindering our growth in other dimensions and hence it is perhaps better to go in for a complete change of the device we use. Normally Nature has created provisions for the same. But the problem is twofold. The true ‘I’ has to go through the complex process of death and rebirth, a transit during which quite a bit of what we have accumulated through our efforts is lost and goes back into the store-house of Universal Nature. However and thankfully the essential gains are preserved and kept intact in the soul. It is a different mode of information and is not destroyed by the disintegration of matter. It is, if we like, in the form of energy and consciousness. However when we come back again, this information we carry over from our past in our soul must once again use the device and machinery of Nature to be able to express itself through the new body and under new and changed circumstances. The good news is that this allows us to advance afresh, to come out of certain grooves of Nature in which we were stuck and which were preventing our soul-growth. It is like a fresh opportunity, a new lease of life, so to say. But the bad news is that all this entails a cumbersome process, a loss of time, a forgetfulness of the past (which is in some ways a blessing) which may lead to repetition of the same tendency, and through all this, a tremendous waste of time and energy. At the same time we return to the same device, a similar apparatus heavily dependent upon the complex and intricate machinery of Nature with all its attendant problems. It is like the traveller who steps out of a car that has broken down due to wear and tear and after resting for a while boards a new car which is however very much the same model and with the same risk of breakdowns and thereby punctuating our journey. This may not matter so long as we are unconscious travellers who are spending our time mostly asleep while the car of life moves on guided by some unseen hands or by a mechanical auto-pilot setting, if you like. But the problem starts when one is awake and knows the distance to be covered, the dangers to be overcome, the safer routes and the tortuous paths and seeks to reach rather safely and smoothly and consciously without the interlude of rest and sleep. Also the traveller may now like to have a better model of car that may serve his needs better and not be subject to so much breakdown and repairs that hamper his journey. This is the second problem that even when the essential information is preserved, the return is very much in a similar body with all its attendant issues, its heavy dependency on food, its animal-like propensities (since the human body is at best an extension of the animal and shares a lot in common with it), its proneness to disease and decay. To this is added the vagaries of unchanged life-energy that only sharpens the prick of our animal instincts and turns the animal wants and needs into lusts and greed. We are as if trapped in an animal body. The inner being has gone far beyond in its travel towards divinity but the body denies the leap. We are as if caught with one leg in animality and the other in humanity while our mind and soul is rushing to go towards divinity! This is not a happy state once the soul and mind in us have awakened to a new possibility and seek to go beyond our human limits.

An artificial evolution

It is to this deeper need of the soul that Nature has now begun to work upon. Due to the long period of evolution, more and more souls are waking up. The mind itself has accelerated in its development and the force of life seeks to go much beyond what has been or can be accomplished given the restrictions of the human body and its intricate anatomy. This deeper need is declaring itself in imagination and fictions but also in efforts of science to prolong life, to perfect the human apparatus, even to find ways and means to create or manufacture new devices. It will not be surprising if science prompted by Mother Nature, disclosing some of her secrets, actually ends up finding ways and means to bypass the heart and lungs without the cumbersome machinery that is needed now. We may even be able some day to replace each part and organ with some other kind of matter that is more durable and lasting. However this process has one inherent danger. Once science develops something it is eventually available for general use. Besides practically this general use, generally means that the richer will be able to access these possibilities more than the poor ones. After all these devices need money and resources and even if the scientists are well-intentioned the sheer economy-driven society will end up with this gap. This means that we will have a situation wherein a better body with replaced organs is at the disposal of a man with an undeveloped mind and a crude life force and a yet-to-awaken soul. One dreads such a civilisational misadventure as it will most certainly lead to the destruction of the human race given as man will end up with gigantic appetites which he will have now at his disposal the physical apparatus to satisfy. The natural limiting factor of age and disease and who knows possibly eventual disintegration of the body will no more be there. But even if that does not happen there is another problem. As of now, Nature has created processes for the transfer of information from a living body to the soul converting it into soul-values after whatever time it may take. But the occult and subtle means are there. However with the switching over to more inorganic substances, say a silicon chip and modified plastic or rubber into an organ, there will be a disconnect between the soul and the body even though the body itself may function very well. This may be even more frustrating since the human body is not just for survival but also a means for evolution. This will defeat Nature’s deepest intention which is to evolve matter itself under the pressure of the soul. While it is natural that the intention of Nature may well be misread and scientists try to develop synthetic organs, it is unlikely that Nature will allow it as anything more than a passing means, a means to keep the urge for bodily transformation alive in man. But if the experiment goes too far it may either simply find ways and means to destroy the human species as it has done in the past or else it may abandon the effort with man to divinise matter and choose some other species, the dolphins for instance, for her grand and greatest of all adventures or even move over to some other planet capable of upholding the psychic flame for the evolutionary adventure. It will be a sad loss to earth, a forfeiting of her destiny if that were ever to happen. Hence this may well be at worst a last resort, for Nature does not give up the secret Will that drives it and is ready to work for another billion years to achieve its purpose. But for man as we know today it will simply be a catastrophic end to a brilliant start. Let us hope and trust that this will not be the route mankind will take beyond a point. But one cannot deny that the danger is not there. Man has always mistranslated the intention of Nature and hence great and far advanced civilisations have plunged suddenly into darkness and gone into utter oblivion so much so that not even traces are left of their existence except in some psychic memory of the race.

The diversion of evolutionary energy

This is however only one of the dangers of the effort to create a new body more suitable for the indwelling deity. A similar danger arises because Nature has accelerated the evolutionary impetus within herself and man is feeling its heat. It is like the burst of a tremendous energy being given to us for a New Creation. But the question is whether man is ready to receive this energy boost or not. So far he has misused whatever new thing has come to earth. This may not matter much since that is always the first step, as long as he eventually learns fast enough to course-correct himself and diverts this Energy for the real purposes it is given. Nevertheless there is the danger that mankind may simply misuse and mis-spend this Energy in recreation and procreation rather than in New Creation. Here however we need not assume that the entire race will use it for the true purposes. It is enough if there are a critical number of persons who are inwardly awake and conscious enough to use it for the true purposes, that is of transforming the human consciousness and along with it the very human body. Fortunately, thanks to the tremendous efforts and tapasyā of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, the pioneers of this Evolution Next, there are a growing number of human beings who have not only reached this turning point but are being led in the intended direction. I say led, because it is not so much their effort but the Unseen Hand of Grace that seems to push them towards the Future even when everything in them is not collaborating. What we have to see is whether the misusing section gets the upper hand and destroys Nature in the process or those in whom the evolution is being worked out intensely, picking up a more and more rapid pace depending upon how much the person allows and can withstand the evolutionary heat and the pressure, the oestrus of a new creation so to say. Evolution is not an easy process, especially in the early batches of humanity where it is a bit uncertain which way the evolutionary experiment will go. Once it is stabilised then it is a different matter. It will become standardised and easier for others. But for now we, even among the best, are still in the making, half-baked, half-willing, half-resisting but flowing with it nevertheless! This is a crucial period and let us hope that the race between mutual destruction and the New Creation will be won by the yet-to-come super-humanity of the future. There may even be a conflict, who knows, between the old and the new species as distinctive differences emerge in ways of thinking, feeling, living and being. After all humanity itself evolved through this conflict between two sub-species of a pro-humanity that no longer exists except as a fossil. Possibly much of what we call or recognise and identify today as humanity may eventually be left aside as a fossil as the super-humanity evolves with some connecting links remaining here and there for the evolutionary energy to find its way from matter to the Spirit. But the risk of a conflict cannot be excluded. Of course the danger is there only up to a point after which one has negotiated the troubled waters.

The problem of adaptation

There is however yet another danger and it comes from the very nature of evolution. All evolution is eventually an adaptation of the new and the old. The old body has to learn to adapt to the New Consciousness and increase its receptivity towards the change. However in the process it may experience many disturbances, which to a superficial way of seeing may appear as diseases and even be diagnosed as such, but they are actually evolutionary passages, a curve or bend where one mode of functioning is ending or fading away while the other mode is developing. Thus for example, we can envisage that the need for food and sleep may reduce and that source of pleasure called sex becomes no more pleasurable but even painful. The pressure of evolutionary forces in these corresponding organs may increase the risk of their breakdowns. The nerves and the circulation may also undergo changes at the cellular and molecular levels which may find full expression later on as new ways of functioning. But during the passage the human physiology and biochemistry may take a hit, especially when the transfer is taking place between the old and the new mode of functioning. Our heart may become increasingly sensitive to our inner states and eventually be driven by some central will and energy within us. But meanwhile and before that happens, it may become prone to rhythm and other disturbances. The lungs themselves may develop new modes of absorbing energy and the complicated breathing apparatus may be slowly replaced by a direct drawing of energy from all around us. The body may become increasingly light-sensitive and many of its ailments may simply be healed by light-infusion. Still further, it may become more and more open to spiritual and higher forces with a corresponding molecular shift leading to self-healing through mere invocation of Peace and higher energies. These things are not entirely new to humanity. Certain spearheads of humanity have experienced these things in higher states of consciousness but these have been more as a promise, individual freaks rather than as something generalised in the race, which is what evolution is eventually about. The individuals multiply and eventually there is a shift in the functioning of the larger group. Each individual realising and working out the shift within himself makes it easier for others. He takes upon himself as it were, the burden of those who will follow. His successes set the tone and the pace and increase the momentum of change, but even his failures pave the way.

A word of hope

This is as far we can envisage now. For the rest we have to leave it to the Eye of Wisdom that is ever awake within us and the all-fulfilling march of Time to unfold in its own way and through its own means. For once the mandate has gone by then eventually nothing can resist and whatever stands in the way will simply have to pass away into the shadows, for the march towards the future is the one certainty regardless of the perils of the passage. The evolutionary adventure is bound to eventually succeed but let us hope and try that it be here and now rather than later and hereafter. Let us hope that our humanity paves the way for the future species rather than becomes merely a hurdle to be removed thereby plunging an entire civilisation or large sections of humanity into the darkness of destruction. Let us hope that the dance of New Creation will eventually pick up pace and outdo the dance of destruction and the mad fury of blind forces that yet drive matter and deny to earth and man the higher and greater possibility of a divine life in a divine body.

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

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