Man more than animal
What is man? This is the most important question which has ever been put before the mind.
The idea of man which exists in and is eternally known by the World-Mind is a master-idea.
When we can learn what the true worth of man is and wherein lies his real salvation, we shall learn the most practical of all things. For this, more than anything else, will show us how to live on earth peacefully, prosperously, healthily, and usefully.
If a man does not know what he is in the very essence of his human beingness, he does not really know what he is talking about.
Scientific concepts of the nature of man which leave out the intuitive and spiritual element in it as existing independently and in its own level, will always remain inadequate to explain man, however brilliant they themselves admittedly often are.
If man's life were nothing more than a physiochemical process, then man's highest aspirations and intuitions, unselfishness and aestheticism would still need an explanation.
For more than a century we have been listening to what men think about the universe. It might be more illuminating, now, to learn what the universe thinks about man.
The more he perceives the immensity of intelligence behind the World-Idea, the more he perceives the insignificance of his own entity in relation to it. This increasing humility is in striking contrast to the increasing pride which so many intellectuals develop.
It is not arrogantly to overrate the function of man in the universe to say that he has a co-operative and creative role to play in it. Those who point to his insignificance and helplessness do well, but they do not do enough.
If experience teaches anything at all, it teaches the littleness of men but the greatness of Man.
Science frightened man when, in the last century, it told him that he was not the constant attention of God, as he believed, but a most insignificant particle in an immense universe.
Against this immense cosmic background, we may see the paltriness of human pride, the ridiculousness of human conceit.
Although it is not possible to offer irrefutable scientific proof of the doctrine of spiritual evolution, it can be shown to be as reasonable a doctrine as any of its rivals. And for those who have had mystical experience of the divine presence behind the mind, of divine wisdom behind the cosmos, it is the only acceptable doctrine.
The Darwinian idea of evolution as a struggle for existence is blind; the philosophic idea sees it as rhythmic unfoldment, following a spiral pattern and accompanied by involution.
A different view of the descent of man may be obtained if we start with the theory that the human form was born out of a pair of apes, that it originated by a process of natural selection. But we still need the Missing Link. This is something which will never be found by the methods of scientific investigation. There is evolution only in outward appearance but unfoldment in inward reality. The human entity paradoxically contains within itself all lower forms of life from the very beginning, although they are quite different from the one it manifests when fully developed. The living, intelligent human entity preexists elsewhere, and takes up its physical residence on earth only when that is ready for it. From the moment this specific unit of life separated from the cosmic Life, through all the different experiences whereby it developed, and through all the different kingdoms of Nature, its spiritual identity as Man was predetermined.
The materialistic belief that man has evolved from the monkey is not accepted by philosophy. The race of apes came from a conjunction of primitive man and female beast. It was a degeneration, not an evolution.
It is true that we got our bodies, as Darwin says, from the best type of animals on earth through a utilization of them at the time of conception. The progeny was animal plus human.
The monkey did not precede man, as so many materialistic biologists assert, but appeared after him. Had it really preceded him it would not have been in existence today, for in every case of the evolution of species the predecessors die off and disappear.
There is a long evolutionary arc between a thinking animal in human form and a beauty-inspired man.
According to philosophic tradition, we are in the "monkey" stage of development where our relationship toward the full "human" stage is as far away as that of a monkey is to a present-day man.
The "half-ape," half-human being which passes today for a real "man" will one day give place to the real thing. Only then will it deserve the appellation.
The grossest humans, not far from animals in habits and ways, and the most unrefined primitive communities contain this possibility of eventual development. But its realization can come only with time, with birth after birth slowly and spirally unfolding the World-Idea.
Is man only a reasoning ape--a creative animal? The religious instinct, the ethical conscience, the metaphysical faculty, and the mystical intuition proclaim, with one voice, the answer: "No!"
Man is the keystone of the arch of material life, whereas an animal lives solely under the impulses of self-preservation and self-procreation. Only in man can this Divine Being arrive at Self-consciousness, because only man can develop intelligence in its fullness. The intelligence which animals possess, however excellently it suffices them, is after all one which is concerned purely with objective things. Animals cannot move in the realm of abstract ideas, but man can escape from the concrete through his developed reason, his religious feeling, his mystic intuition.
So far as man is an animal body, he shares with the other animals their interest in eating, drinking, and copulation. But their interest does not go beyond this point whereas his does. He wants to know about other things and to express what he knows or to receive communications from others concerning what they know.
No living creature in the kingdom of animals knows more than its immediate surroundings or cares for more than the sustenance of its immediate existence. It lives in an immense and varied universe but that fact is lost to its mentality and outside its interest. Only when the evolving entity attains the stage of developed human beings does this unconsciousness disappear. Then life takes on a larger meaning and the life-force becomes aware of itself, individualized, self-conscious. Only then does a higher purpose become possible and apparent.
Is there any animal which tries to understand the meaning of its life, much more the meaning of life in the whole cosmos? Only when its consciousness has advanced to some extent into the human kingdom does the beginning of such an attempt become noticeable.
When Consciousness in any creature reaches by successive periods of growth the stage where it asks itself "What am I?" thus betraying developed intelligence of a kind which no animal possesses, it is ready to seek the Spirit.
The moral idealism and metaphysical thinking which is possible to man is impossible to animals.
What animal could hold any metaphysical theory, could generalize ideas about space, time, and mind, could analyse situations and relationships, could be seriously concerned about a higher ethical problem?
No animal has the capacity to get outside itself and to perceive itself quite impersonally. Some humans do have it and more will have it as they develop their potentialities.
A self-conscious creature is one that not only knows its own individual feelings and thoughts, its own mind, but can also reflect upon them. The animal has not reached this stage but the human has.
Tied to the physical body as he is, the outlook would seem bleak for man if there were no way of going beyond it. For then he would be but an animal. But he has mental and emotional possibilities and capacities, imaginations and sensitivities, which can carry him where animals cannot penetrate.
There are certain ideas which belong exclusively to the higher part of man's nature. We would look in vain into any animal's mind to match them.
Man is the only creature among earth's animals which aspires to reach beyond himself, which has the inner urge to grow. He also is the only creature which desires to know what life is here for. The human animal is unique.
Yes, let it be admitted that man moves and acts with an animal body but let it not be forgotten that he thinks with a human brain and feels with a heart capable of responding to calls for charity. More, there is something in him which aspires to spirituality.
Growth is the characteristic of the plant kingdom, movement of the animal, thought of the human.
The mineral, the plant, and the animal have the infinite Life-Power within them, too, but they do not know that they have it. Man alone can know his own divinity. Indeed he is not truly a man until he has known it.
What the fishes and flies cannot attain, the human can. And that is the Supreme Awareness, the Divine Being discovered under the cosmic masquerade.
The animal's active possibilities are limited to eating, drinking, sex, and obedience to, or service of, human masters. It has no cultural possibilities, no aesthetic faculty or artistic appreciation, no intellectual development. But the highest possibility which separates man from beast is attainment of insight into truth, experience of his divine source.
All animals must reincarnate but men may take to the Quest and with time stop the process.
A tension holds all things in equilibrium between coming together of their elements, temporary maintenance of their forms, and passing away into dissolution. This includes the mineral, the plant, the animal, and the human. But when we look at the last-named, a new possibility opens up which could not have happened to Nature's earlier kingdoms. All things dissolve in the end, I wrote, but man alone dissolves consciously into a higher Consciousness.
We are not just higher animals and nothing more but are possessed of something that the other animals do not possess--a self-consciousness which can be developed until it matures into a thinking power as well as a totally superior kind of awareness--that of the Overself.
A human life presents the only opportunity for attaining the realization of Overself. It ought not to be taken away from any man, however evil he may be, and however remote from this goal, in punishment for his crime.
How can men be so blind to the truth of their very being? Their quality of consciousness provides the clue, but it must be followed up, which few--and no animals--do. This is no shame for the animals, for they cannot, whereas men can but do not.
It is questionable whether the advantages of being a human creature are outweighed by the disadvantages. The Buddhists think they are, the Epicureans think they are not, but the Vedantins think man is an immensely fortunate creature. Why? Simply because he may use his human faculties to transcend his present level and, as they call it, "realize himself."
The choice between submitting or not submitting to his animal genes and hormones belongs to man, but the tendency to follow them belongs to the earlier stage; it is very, very ancient and is coming under his control very, very slowly. He fulfils himself as truly human when this transcendence of his ancestry is complete.
If man walks upright, and most of the animals do not, it is because this upright posture is symbolic of his gradual progression into ruling his animal body and animal nature.
The ordinary ego-driven unenlightened man is acted on by lower cosmic Nature, just as plants and animals are. But in a human animal, individuality and intellect are additionally present--whether slightly in the savage or markedly in the highly civilized person. The enlightened man is also acted on, but in his case it is by higher cosmic Nature. Instead of being guided by passion and desire, he is guided by intuition. The changeover from lower to higher requires his contribution, his effort to control nature, to discipline individuality, and to achieve self-mastery.
It is not only in the possession of reason and the reception of intuition that the human form of life is superior to the animal, but also in the exercise of will.
Man, by contrast with the animal, is an individualized creature. He is aware of his own separate identity and special personality. The animal is not individually responsible for its actions, being entirely responsive to its surroundings and herd instinct. If man feels the same responsiveness, he modifies it by his own particular characteristics.
Whereas the animal and even the plant are moved solely by instinct--unless they have lived closely with man--the human being adds a new urge, that of conscious development through intelligence.
The impersonal and eternal part of us is the god in us, symbolized by the upper half of the Sphinx's head, as the lower half symbolized the human part, and as the body itself symbolized the animal part.
We cannot separate the importance of the body from the importance of the mind. We are animals in one part of our nature, human beings in the second part, and sometimes angelic in the third part. All make one creature. We learn what our bodies are through the physical senses. We learn a part of what the mind is through our thoughts. We learn still more about the mind's deeper phases through our non-thoughts--that is, intuitions.
Such is the triple nature of man--a lower self of animal instincts, a middle self of human thoughts, a higher self of divine nature.
We may well wonder how animal lust, human cunning, and angelic nobility can come to be mingled in a single entity. That indeed is the mystery of man.
When the whole cosmos shows its double-face of Yin and Yang, shadow and light, we must expect the individual creature to show the same. Hence man is half animal and half god, with reason as their link; he fulfils himself only when he establishes an equilibrium between them.
Nature is what it is--bipolar--so existence involves struggle and conflict for all of us until the genius in a million finds the point of equilibrium between the two opposing pulls, between the savage and the saint in him.
The animal nature is naturally selfish, the spiritual nature unselfish. Between these two poles, man is brought more and more into conflict with himself as he evolves.
Because they are human animals tied to a divine spirit, we see men and women as erratic in their behaviour and irrelevant in their purposes.
They bear the human form externally but are largely predatory animal internally. Mind--that is, character and consciousness--is the real essence of a man.
There is the brute and the angel in almost every man. But how much there is of the one and how little of the other, differs with every man.
Divine essense of Man
The ideas in a man's mind are hidden and secret until he expresses them through actions, or as speech, or as the visible creations and productions of his hands, or in behaviour generally. Those ideas are neither lost nor destroyed. They are a permanent part of the man's memory and character and consciousness and subconsciousness, where they have been recorded as automatically and as durably as a master phonograph disc records music. Just as a wax copy may be burnt but the music will still live on in the master disc, so the cosmos may be annihilated or disintegrate completely but the creative idea of it will still live on in the World-Mind. More, in the same way a man's body may die and disintegrate, but the creative idea of him will still remain in the World-Mind as his Soul. It will not die. It's his real Self, his perfect Self. It is the true Idea of him which is forever calling to be realized. It is the unmanifest image of God in which man is made and which he has yet to bring into manifestation in his everyday consciousness.
If the world is a thought in the mind of God, then men are thoughts in the World-Mind, who is their God in reality and in logic. If all thoughts must go in the end, this is true also of the World-Mind, except that here millions of years are involved.
The World-Mind works in and through everything. The World-Idea reveals a mere hint of its wisdom and intelligence to that projection from Itself which is man.
Every law of the universe and every principle of its operation can be found reflected in the nature and life of every man.
In the complicated structure of the human personality, we find different levels of being, with different forces operating at each level.
Man is what he is. Nothing can alter that. Out of the immortal, benign, eternal Mind he came, to It he shall return. Meanwhile It is his very essence, that is, It is life.
Man is Mind individualized.
We must see in each man the beginning of a fresh and unique attempt of the Infinite to express itself in the finite world of space-time.
The Unseen Power, Al (without beginning) lah (without end), is One. Every other kind of power derives from It. And this holds true even of the little power which a little ant shows. Hence the energies of a human being are linked with It. From this we may deduce that he is unaware of, and not using, all his potential resources.
Though it seems entirely our own faculty, this thought-making power is derived from a hidden one, the Universal Mind, in which all other men's minds lie embedded. What he does with this power is a man's own concern, for better or worse, yielding him more knowledge or more ignorance.
The man who, according to the Bible, is made in the image of God is not the earthly man, visible to all and speaking in a voice that sounds in physical ears. He is to be found in the deep centre of consciousness, where there is only a Void, and he speaks in silence to the attentive mind, not to other persons.
The man that is made in the image of God is not physical man or desire-filled man or thought-breeding man but he who dwells behind all these--silent, serene, and unnoticed.
Here, and here alone, is the real meaning and true portrait of a man.
Purpose of human life
What is the inner purpose of human life as apart from its outer object?
What is the highest end of the life of man?
We may not be able to comprehend the universe's meaning--why it should come into existence at all--simply because human capacity is too limited; but we should be able to comprehend some meaning--enough for practical purposes--in our own personal existences.
To enquire into such matters is very far from being a remote and unimportant affair, for on its final results depend the answers to such questions as: "Does this earthly life exhaust all possibilities of human life?" "Is there anything more than death for man to expect as the final experience life offers him?"
"What are we here for?" asked Empedocles, and several reflective thinkers have since supplied their answers. Each is different, but each is only a single part of the total answer.
If we begin at some time to wonder at the starred sky and go on to speculate at our human destiny, there will be moments when a feeling rises that there must be something behind it all. They pass and mystery engulfs us again.
If we do not know the "why" of universal existence, we do know the "why" of human existence. It provides the field of experience for discovering the divine soul. The integral quest which ends in this discovery is, consequently, the greatest and most important of human undertakings.
Where is the possibility for the puny intellect of human beings to hold in its consciousness simultaneously and all-embracingly the innumerable stars, planets, suns, systems, galaxies, and universes? Yet man's curiosity cannot be stilled; his eager mind insists on knowing more and more, his ever-upwelling stream of questions never stops flowing. What do these two conflicting situations mean when put together? The answer is simply that there is something which he can and must know in order to fulfil himself, but it is not a piling-up of numbered facts; it is nothing other than his relation to the source of the cosmos.
Man's experience is so limited and his mental equipment so small that his attempt to understand the universe would seem impertinent were it not for the assurance of great prophets and seers that where intellect and sense fail, intuition succeeds.
The structure of the human being--his bodily senses and mental faculties--does not permit him to get more than a limited awareness of his environment. The remainder--which may be very large--is not only unknown but likely to remain unknowable. This means that what he does know, being neither complete nor completely true, concerns a world that is only relatively real. The world as it really is in itself escapes his knowledge and remains the greatest mystery. Only those who are piqued by their ignorance of reality look beyond science, beyond the intellect even, for truth.
If human life has any higher purpose, it is that the human ego should find its way back to that harmony with the Overself which has become disturbed but never disrupted.
We must all give life what it demands from the human--that it shall seek to transcend its present state, that is, transcend itself in the end. For life as we know it is only one expression of the World-Idea, the inexorable will of the World-Mind.
Everywhere in the advanced countries specialists, experts, and scientists are seeking more knowledge of the human body and its world or are applying this knowledge to practical use. Yet the highest work in which intellectual power can engage is to seek the reason for human existence. This will lead it to discover, and bow before, the World-Mind.
If a creature is capable of conceiving the highest purpose for human life as something which transcends physical existence and even overpasses its ordinary thinking and image-making existence, there is here a phenomenon where this creature is either intuiting or predicting its own destiny. And it must be something glorious, something whose nature few cultures and civilizations have yet enjoyed.
The goal of life is to be consciously united with Life.
Man's need is twofold: recollection of his divine nature and redemption from his earthly nature.
If it be asked whether there is any purpose in life, the answer must be "Yes!--to perfect ourselves and know ourselves; to find the happiness which comes as a fruit of such fulfilment."
Attaining to our manhood is good chiefly as it provides us with the chance, during subsequent years, of attaining to our higher selfhood.
The higher purpose of existence is to advance man until he can live in the awareness of his divine selfhood.
It is within the ultimate capacity of man and part of the higher purpose for him to achieve this awareness.
Revelation establishes that the sequence of events in our universe is an orderly one, while observation confirms it. They do not just happen by chance, and chaos is not their background. Many will admit this but yet they are unable to admit that this orderliness is not limited to stars and planets alone, nor to the chemical elements also, nor to the physical forces of Nature in addition. They are unable to extend it to human life, to its birth, course, fortunes, and death. But the philosophic revelation tells us that law and order are here not less than elsewhere. It is unreasonable to suggest that although they rule all the lower kingdoms, they do not touch us. Our experiences too are controlled by heaven's laws.
There is order in the starry systems, on the planets, and on this earth, because the World-Idea provides law and pattern. What is true of the universe is true also of man, of his body and his inner being.
There is an orderly structure in the universe and an orderly pattern in the lives of its creatures. If everything else is governed by laws, why not the growth of man's spirituality?
All personal fates are fulfilled within the larger predetermination of the World-Idea. And only within that larger meaning can men find any real meaning in their own lives.
The divine pattern is there not only in Nature but in Man, not only in inspired written revelations but in secret unwritten meditations.
You are part of the World-Mind's World-Idea. Therefore, you are a part of its purpose too. Seek to be shown what that is, and how you may realize it, rather than mope in misery, frustration, or fear. Look upon your situation--personal, domestic, career, mental, emotional, spiritual--as having significance within that purpose, as teaching you some specific lesson or telling you what to do or not to do.
It is nonsense to say that any man is alone in his trouble. He is in the great World-Idea, part of it, belonging to it, sustained by it.
Men imagine they are acting for their own personal objectives only and for their own personal choices. They believe that they are moving through their life-scenes by their own freedom. But the fact is that, all unwittingly, they are acting for the World-Idea and moving by the power which inheres in it.
What are we to say of the many whose lives evince no purpose, whose years show no progress? This judgement is a surface one. All people respond to the power of God, and perform their role in the idea of God, however slight be the measure of their response or however hidden be their role.
Every person is unconsciously trying to fulfil a higher purpose set for him by the Overself, and all the purposes fit together and combine to form a part of the World-Idea.
Humans are part of the World-Idea; most of what comes to them is within that part too: much of what comes from them likewise. They are free only within the World-Idea.
Whether we like it or not we must submit to the World-Idea. It is there and must be accepted--reluctantly, resentfully, or blindly and devotedly. None of us has total freedom; that is an illusion, for it could never exist in a world based upon orderliness and equilibrium.
The World-Idea contains from the beginning to the end each individual life in its picture. How much freedom that life really contains is a matter for seers to say, not for intellectuals to debate.
How old is the series of experiences through which we moved unknowingly towards our present evolutionary position! How lofty is the level toward which we have yet to climb! How ironic is the discovery that what we thought was being done by free personal choice was merely blind obedience to universal force; that where we believed free will was exercised, there we merely conformed to the World-Idea!
The World-Idea is the ordained will of the World-Mind. Within its large outlines, change is impossible. All its parts serve them. But it would not be correct to assert that we humans are slaves of that Idea. Somewhere within each part some sort of freedom is possible.
That in the end nothing that the human will can do can sway human life into divergence from the World-Idea, that All is fixed by it, is not quite correct. The main outlines of World-Idea can certainly not be affected, however, for they are inherent in the nature of things.
Every man is offered a chance to live again, not once but as many times as will bring him to his diviner being and establish him in that. Human existence is a kind of bewitchment; we experience what we are made to experience. All is simply the expression of the World-Idea--that is, of God's will--but we share in the making, participate in the divine ideation.
In the end the World-Idea triumphs as, in reality and actuality, it is doing at every moment. Even man's own personal will unwittingly prepares itself for such eventual conformity.
The pressure of the World-Idea shapes his tendencies and his circumstances, denies him any other freedom than the mental position which he finally takes up, than the alliance with or rejection of moral conscience.
The World-Idea's end is foreordained from the beginning. This leaves no ultimate personal choice. But there's a measure of free will in a single direction--how soon or how late that divine end is accomplished. The time element has not been ordered, the direction has.
Both the ordinary man and the enlightened man are playing the role allotted to them in the divine World-Idea. Neither could change that part of the planetary fate. But whereas the first is doing it unwittingly, blindly, and at times rebelliously, the second is doing it knowingly, perceptively, and submissively.
There are no mistakes anywhere in the World-Idea, nor even accidents. But there is enough flexibility in its human part, enough freedom there, to make it seem as if there were some mistakes and some accidents.
The meteor which moves across the earth's orbit is as much beyond man's control as is his larger part in the World-Idea.
Is the human race nothing else than God acting out a multitude of different parts in a tremendous play?
If this were so, all men would be no different than the mere figments of imagination of authors creating characters in novels. But living men are different. If they were just as illusory as those creations there would be something wrong with philosophy, with mind, and, let it be said, with God. It is needful to penetrate reflectively more deeply to bring light upon this point.
Glimpsing the World-Idea
When one is allowed a glimpse of the World-Idea, he feels that he understands at last why he came here, what he has to do, and where his place is. It is like an immense enlargement of the mind, an escape from the littleness of the ego, and a finding-out of a long-hidden secret.
When the fact of the World-Idea flashes into his mind, he stands like Hillary on Mount Everest. At last this bewildering enigma which surrounds and entraps everyone everywhere assumes pattern, the countless events and things and processes leave their isolation, their useless chaos, and fit together.
He has come to the inner sight of the World-Idea's meaning for him: that he is to use the human self to lift his nature up from the animal one, and that he is to put himself at the service of his angelic, his best, self, to lift his nature up from the ordinary human. In this way he co-operates with the World-Idea. This is the use he is to make of his life on earth: his personal life, his family relations, his professional career--all must become subject to the higher purpose. The resolve made, the matter of success or failure is no longer urgent, for every subsequent embodiment will point in this direction. Philosophy has instructed him in the unreality of time and has revealed to him his indissoluble connection with the Overself. All this was seen by the sages long ago and symbolized by them in the Sphinx and the Pyramid.
He sees that life is encircled by a great Being, that the Mind behind the universe--although so still and uncommunicative and, apparently, unconcerned--is in reality sending its messages in varied ways all the time.
The world is no longer merely itself. Henceforth it is the expression of a divine Idea.
It is then that the awareness of the World-Idea comes to him, explaining his planetary surroundings and enlightening his situation therein. Every relationship and every event is then seen to be significant, falling into place in this amazing pattern.
He sees the world forever changing its forms, forever in process, and he himself as part of it under the same doom. All is appearance, not reality. But he sees also the Essence.
This is the world as my experience showed it to be, the world as it was revealed to me by the Overself.
In those divinely captured moments when ego is loosened and Overself is present in awareness, the amazing pattern of the World-Idea shines clearly.
He becomes awed, through such heavenly glimpses, by the tremendous intelligence behind and within the Cosmos.
He will begin to see an intelligence moving in and through the universe which he had not seen before. The universe will no longer be a strange symbol without any meaning.
There is a wisdom within the cosmos beyond our telling or knowing, but we may feel its presence in tranquil moments if we turn in reverence to it or in remembrance of it.
To feel the divine presence is much more common an experience than to perceive the divine purpose.
The World-Idea authentically exists but not in the way that physical things exist. No human mind can receive and hold it in the same definite way it can receive and hold all other ideas. Even in those exalted psychological states or mystical experiences when the world's meaning is perceived, its inner drama understood during a brief glimpse, the seer gets only the fragment which his mind can take in, limited and conditioned as he is.
The vast coverage of the World-Idea, coupled with the microscopic spaces in which it is equally manifest, transcends human grasp. A few have been lifted out of themselves, like Buddha and Arjuna, to receive the Cosmic Vision for historic purposes. The others receive glimpses, at best, of parts only, but even these are awe-inspiring.
What they may expect to find with intellect is at most the slow uncovering of little fragments of the World-Idea: but with intuition the subtler meanings and larger patterns are possible. These include but also transcend the physical plane. A few fated persons, whose mission is revelation, are granted once in a lifetime the Cosmic Vision.
The six darsanas are ways of looking at the world, of seeing it metaphysically: a darsana is the vision a man has of revealed truth of the universe, God, and man.
No human mind is capable of ultimate knowledge of all the universe's secrets, nor of absolute comprehension of what is in the World-Mind, no matter what the Indians claim or what the Westerners assert so glibly about God.
Co-operating with the World-Idea
Wise men co-operate voluntarily with the World-Mind before they are forced into going along with it and its expression, the World-Idea.
Only to the extent that he unites his own little purpose with the universal purpose can he find harmony and happiness. Its strength will support him firmly in adversity and misfortune, as it will carry him triumphantly through misery and hostility.
He who begins to sense the World-Idea, as expressed through him and his environment, has still to put aside self--with all its short-sighted emotionality and sentimentality--if he is to accept the Idea as perfect.
The more one learns about the World-Idea, the more one wonders at it. To go farther and co-operate with it is to find peace.
To bring himself consciously and deliberately within the World-Idea is a holy act. He is within it anyway, but without the consciousness.
His personal share in the World-Idea is limited to reception of it in every corner of his conscious being.
If Nature keeps her lips inexorably shut to the questions of those who abuse her, she graciously opens them in perfect response to those who ask with a quieted, co-operative and harmonious ego.
We can be co-workers with the World-Mind only to the extent that we withdraw from our ego. Then only are we able to receive correctly the wonderful revelation of the world's meaning and laws, so that we can participate intelligently and lovingly.
When he sees the meaning of life, he cannot help but give it his acceptance. Circumstances previously rebelled against now fit into a reasonable place in the pattern of things.
Nature gives her message to man, and gives it all the time all at once. But man hears it only in bits and pieces, even when and if he hears it at all.
How to live well while in this world does not only mean how to live comfortably, nor even morally, but also how to live in harmony with the World-Idea. To be unaware that there is any such meaning to existence is to be unable to live really well and truly wisely as a human being.
Bring in a single light and there follows recognition of several objects in a room; there is knowledge of their existence, their form, and often their function. In the same way, some knowledge of the World-Idea makes possible the clearer comprehension of human existence, its hidden purposes, goals, and enigmas.
I have only a very partial knowledge of the World-Idea but it is enough to throw a practical working light upon our business here on earth.
Only when man finds out his correct relation to the universe and to his fellow creatures will he find his own well-being.
We too are elements of the world like the mountains and flowers around us and need to understand it in co-operation with the need to understand ourselves. The two cannot be separated without loss to our own fullness of understanding and practicality.
Since the human being is one among many other creatures existent in the cosmos, if he is to know himself properly he must know enough cosmology to enable him to do so.
"He who knows not the world-order, knows not his own place therein."--Marcus Aurelius
Because the World-Mind is here the cosmos is there. Because the cosmos is there you are there.
Such knowledge will enable him to make the best use of himself and his environment, for its beneficial influence will pervade his general life and work.
To what ideal ought the young advance? This is where foreknowledge of the World-Idea is helpful to them.
The value of a knowledge of cosmology is that it makes a man feel, intellectually at least, that he is part of something immensely great and immensely significant.
The highest mystical teachings end, and can only end, in proclamation of the One Reality or, more properly, the Ineffable, the One-without-a-Second. Nothing much can really be affirmed about It other than that It IS. But revelation cannot end with this affirmation. For man finds himself subject to the necessities of a physical body living in a physical environment. The higher laws governing such earthly existence affect him vitally. He ought not to remain ignorant of them, if he is to live in harmony, not conflict, with these laws.
All spiritual study is incomplete if it ignores the facts, truths, laws, and principles of cosmogony. To attempt to justify this neglect with the accusation that they belong to the world of illusion is silly and useless. For the accuser must still continue to live in an illusory body and use an illusory self governed by those laws. After every such attempt and for each violation of those laws--upon which the order and harmony of the universe depend--which his neglect brings about, he must pay the penalty in suffering.
As knowledge of the true facts about the world in which we live becomes available (and I mean by knowledge not only scientific knowledge, but also spiritual knowledge and psychical knowledge), more and more the human race will discover that it has obligations to the cosmos, and that they cannot be ignored without retribution.
It is not possible, and it is not necessary, for any human mind to learn all the higher laws governing life. But it is possible to learn some of them and also the archetypal ways in which the World-Idea manifests. With them, one has something of a key to the unknown laws.
It must be remembered that these higher laws are established throughout the cosmos, not merely in our part of it; that this higher truth can never undergo any alteration in itself, whatever way different men of insight may speak about it; that we human beings have the privilege, when purified, of partaking in the real holy communion which alone fulfils our highest prayers.
Those who seek to do God's will must first seek to discern it not only within themselves but also in their environment outside. For this a study of the pattern of the World-Idea is necessary.
Spinoza saw that the whole universe conformed to a world-order under what he named "laws of necessity." But the source of these laws was God. He saw too that Man, in the effort to understand all this, and drawn by an intellectual love of God, would unfold intuition and come closer to God.
Learning what these cosmic laws are and trying to live in obedience to them is the only way whereby humanity can do what is best for itself. It will have to come to such obedience through the lessons of experience and cannot escape it.
The more a man learns what laws move this universe in which he exists, the better will he find the universe to be and the happier will his existence be.
In the long slow course of development, as it stretches out with time, men will come to understand the true nature of the universe around them and the correct nature of their relationship to it. It will be a logical corollary that as they come thereafter to understand also the harm they do themselves by every violation of the higher laws they will begin to change their thoughts and amend their conduct.
It is not possible to know what lies at the heart of the great mystery, but it is possible to know what it is not. The intellect, bound by the forms of logic and conditioned by the linkage between cause and effect, here enters a realm where these hold no sway. The discoveries of Germany's leading nuclear physicist, Professor Heisenberg, were formulated in his law of indeterminacy. The ancient Egyptian sages symbolized this inscrutability under the figure of the Veil of Isis. The ancient Hindu sages called it Maya, that is, the inexplicable. Argument and debate, ferreting and probing among all available facts, searching and sifting of records are futile here. This is the real truth behind the doctrine of agnosticism. Every man, no matter who he be, from the most knowledgeable scientist to the profoundest philosopher, must bow his head in acknowledgment of this human limitation. He is still a human being, he is not a god. Yet there is something godlike within him and this he must find and cling to for his true salvation, his only redemption. If he does this he will fulfil his purpose on earth and then only he finds true peace of mind and an end to all this restless, agitated, uncertain mental condition. Study what this planet's best men have given us. It is no truer message than this: "Seek for the divine within yourself, return to it every day, learn how to continue in it and finally be it."
World-Idea guides evolution
The forces which move men and bring about events are not always to be found by rational analysis. There is another factor present which eludes such analysis. It may be called the evolutionary intent of the World-Mind.
All things and beings flow forth from the illimitable Power, all derive their consciousness from It. Nor may we stop with this acknowledgment. For they derive whatsoever they have of intelligence from It, too. Is it not a grand thought, full of promise and hope, that in the gradual progression of this intelligence from minute cells to celestial beings, it passes upward through man, enabling him in time to attain and know his own Divinity?
The World-Idea is drawing us little by little after the pattern of its own infinite perfection.
To say that man is unconsciously seeking God, or rather his Higher Self, is the truth. To say that God is seeking man is an error based upon a truth. This truth is that in the divine idea of the universe, the evolutionary development of life-cells will bring them slowly up to an awareness of the diviner level; but the Higher Self, having no desire and no emotions, cannot be said to be seeking anything. Indeed, the evolutionary pattern being what it is, there is no need for it to seek, as the development of all beings from primitive amoeba to perfect spiritual consciousness is assured.
We may call it evolution if we wish but the actuality is not quite the same. The universe is being guided to follow the World-Idea--this is the essence of what is happening.
The pattern of evolution is an endless one. The meaning of the pattern could not but be a wise one.
Because mind is the basal reality, all this majestic progression is nothing else than an evolution from lower to higher forms of intelligence and consciousness.
Within the Overself, the infinite absolute principle of mind, there arises the idea of the cosmos, and from this original idea proceed all other mental constructions that constitute a universe. Because the Overself is formless and unindividuated, we have to picture it under the glyph of darkness. The cosmic idea will then appear as a primordial germ of light, called by the Hindus Hiranyagarbha (the golden embryo). The entire panoply of suns and stars and creatures is contained latently within this point of light. This first-born God is the primal Idea.
World-Mind, concerned only with Its own larger purposes, which are hidden from us, directs us in that light.
We must begin by recognizing that this planet exists for a specific purpose and that the evolution of all creatures upon it is part of that purpose.
This earth, with the varied experiences of good and evil, joy and suffering, peace and peril which it offers us, is a school of initiation leading primitive animal man into the development of awareness until he reaches the first discovery of his Overself.
The world exists for the training of ever-ascending living things--from their early start as protoplasmic cells to their later development as human beings.
Despite the pious assertions of our Western theologians, the world does not exist solely for the benefit of the human species. It is a means of development and expression for all kinds of creatures, a development in which the humans share so largely.
Who can calculate the number of years which shaped the primal atom into its latest form--the modern man?
The differences in consciousness between an amoeba, an insect, an animal, and a human represent a line of growth.
Because evolution is not merely a physical matter of size and shape, because it is primarily a mental matter of intelligence and consciousness, philosophy finds the ant nearer to man than is the panther.
Animal life climbs ever higher in the scale of evolution, reappears in forms of a more developed type. That is one compensation for the manner of its death, which is so often to be devoured by other forms.
Everything that has feeling or awareness, however dim, is capable of developing to higher and higher forms of existence. But only when it is individuated and attains the human form does it fulfil its possibilities.
The human foetus grows through various stages, each of which corresponds to a parallel stage of the whole human race's own previous evolution.
Examine any living organism you choose and you will find that its conception, birth, and growth show an innate evolutionary trend. The process of passing from an embryonic stage to a more evolved one involves considerable differences physically. It is equally true, although less apparent, mentally.
The nature and functions of man are reflected in miniature in the cells which compose his body, while he himself reflects those of the Universal Mind in which he is similar to the cell.
There is not one cell in the whole organism of man which does not reflect in miniature the pattern, the proportions, and the functions of the immense cosmos itself.
The microorganism has within it all the varied possibilities of becoming a human entity.
The body's physical cells disintegrate into the earth and become part of the soil until they take new forms in plant and animal life. Just as a class in school one day breaks up and all the students go their separate ways, and in its place another class is formed, so the units are fully individualized only when they enter the human stage. Until then they very, very slowly approach this release, just as an embryo in the womb approaches the form of a newborn baby.
The human body is composed of millions of tiny different intelligences, each having its own specialized life, all having developed from a single generalized cell. Some cells die within hours, others within days or even longer after the body's own death.
The fertilized egg contains all the organs of the human being in miniature. They merely grow and become big to produce the adult.
It is an astonishing thought that the entire human body, from its head to its feet, is contained in miniature in the cell from which it starts existence. No microscope can see it, for it still is only an idea. But given time the idea finds expression in a form.
In our bodies, the phagocyte cells follow the very opposite path to all the other cells, scattering and moving restlessly where the others are settling down into groups.
There are millions of living cells which, in their totality, compose the human body. Each has its own separate birth, life, and death.
Nature extravagantly spends large fragments of time on outworking her high purpose; a million years to her are nothing remarkable. We poor mortals, however--being helpless prisoners in the captivity of time, whose tyrannous character we have yet to understand--are eager to see improvement and progress before the same day's sun has set. We need but to consider the enormous duration of the aeons which have straddled the globe since the first Lemurian lived and loved.
Those who get discouraged by seeing how slow is humanity's moral growth, and how few are the signs of its spiritual awakening, may gain fresh hope if they study the World-Idea.
There are different stages in the development of people: some stand on the lower, some on the higher ones--and others fill in the space between. There is no equality among human beings, in character or manners, in intelligence or intuitiveness. Those who resent this fact may deny it, thereby revealing their incapacity for understanding truth. Exploitation of the lower types by the higher ones has bred the resentment, and this in turn has blinded the eyes or the mind.
By his own reaction to the fragments of knowledge of the World-Idea which come to a man, he reveals himself, his kind of character and stage of development.
The wise and the foolish, the enlightened and the ignorant, the good and the bad, dwell on the same earth outwardly but on different planets inwardly.
The human being slowly unfolds its possibilities through the workings of manifold experiences. In this there are to be seen conscience, guiding it along ever-higher moral paths; capacity, expressing its active power and creative talent; and intelligence, teaching it to discriminate between foolishness and wisdom or to penetrate through appearance to reality.
It is significant that animals tend to live in herds. As man matures, he reaches more and more individuality.
Slowly, at times pleasurably and at times painfully, the human entity builds up its consciousness and capacities through the ages.
If human needs brought us thus far, human curiosity is bringing us into another kind of cycle.
Yet this perception of the ultimate goodness behind life, the ultimate triumph of light and love, need not keep us from recognizing that there are evil tendencies in many men. We may recognize them as motes in the beam, as dust in the sunray, for we must not lose our perspective about them; but we may still regard them as temporary phases of human vicissitude that will be over-passed and left behind as the slow course of evolution carries out its work upon the human race.
There is no immediate guarantee that the good man may not become a vicious one. The evolutionary arc does not rise with utter smoothness; there are strayings aside, fallings down, and erratic jags. But there is an ultimate guarantee that the experiences of life are so ordained as to open the eyes and direct the will of every man at some point, and to repeat this process at intervals until he does so of his own spontaneous accord.
Easy hopes about perpetual progress and shallow optimism about scientific improvement are alike going to be frustrated so long as the higher development of man himself is less valued.
Things and information are accumulated. This is naïvely called progress, although the man who uses them is as bad as before--as his inability to stop warring clearly shows.
The mere movement in time does not automatically bring progress.
If left to their own capacity, many would fall back and fail to grow. But life or Nature does not leave them unassisted like that. For there is the World-Idea, the vital spark, the germ born of World-Mind, the mental picture held by the higher power, which pushes each living cell to fulfil itself. But there is also ignorance opposition and deterioration. Man must make his contribution and in the end does so. He has to. As the World-Idea unfolds, he gets more self-control and gains self-knowledge until he discovers the Overself.
There is no choice in the matter, ultimately, although there is immediately. The entire human race will have to traverse the course chalked out for it, will have to develop the finer feelings, the concrete intellect, the abstract intellect, the balance between the different sides. If men do not seek to do so now, it is only a question of time before they will be forced to do so later.
Man will be redeemed and saved. This is not mere pious wishful thinking but ineluctable destiny. The divine World-Idea could not be realized if this redemption and this salvation were not eventually possible and inescapably certain.
It is easier to transform a wilderness into a garden flourishing with plants and flowers than to transform humanity into a spiritual race. But time and life, evolution and experience will all combine to do it. The movement up to higher levels will be slow and painful, the maturation of human character retarded and halting, but they will be sure because they are written in the fate of man.
Set, in the Egyptian religion, was the Destroyer, the leader of the powers of darkness, the opposer of Life and the adversary of aspiring man; hence he was turned into Satan by the Christians, into Shai'tan by the Israelites. But just as Set was defeated in the end, his power broken and his submission as a penitent accepted, so man, the prodigal son, will return and will be saved, despite his sins. The covenant has been made: there is ultimate hope for all.
The World-Idea is operative on every level. It invites savage humans to outwit their fellow animals by beginning to use brain-power through arrows, slings, and primitive traps; at a higher level to compete with fellow humans and rise economically and socially by using the same power; at a still higher level to reduce sufferings and self-made miseries by practising control over self and avoidance of injury to others; then, at a still higher level, to discover and nurture their spiritual nature.
Men are what they are. We have only to look around and see how the great Avatars have not much saved the human species. It is still more or less what it was thousands of years ago. If those men of light and power could not change the masses, how can others do so? Is this a doctrine of hopelessness? No! Men will have to change despite themselves, but it will be under the inexorable pressure of the World-Idea, which will be their teacher, their guide, and their enlightener, because it is the expression of the World-Mind.
As the two interact--the human purpose and the World-Idea--each man slowly unfolds his intelligence, which is the fusion of intellect with intuition, and this culminates in Enlightenment, the ultimate and revelatory Insight.
The movement upward from the ego's "me" to the real "I" consciousness is as sure as the movement of the planets themselves.
Human life does not escape the working of divine law. Human thought, feeling, and action all fall within its circle. The law is unalterable and absolute, universal and sure. It always operates, even when its operation is quite unseen and unknown, because the development of human entities is a part of its own reason for existence.
In the end, and whatever his heredity or environment may predetermine and irrespective of his own free choices, the development as well as the history of man must move in obedience to the World-Idea. What that is is known in its completeness only to the World-Mind, but sudden or fleeting glimpses of some tiny part of it have come to a few seers. Yet they have been received, recorded, and handed down as tremendous revelations--and quite rightly.
The compulsion exercised by the World-Idea is a secret obscure one, but it may become clearer and plainer as events unfold and experience increases.
The achievement of these goals is not left to the effects of chance or the whims of men. It is the half-hidden, half-declared purpose of Nature, and as such is quite compulsive.
The mass of people are like blind worms wriggling through the earth. They toil but do not know that the real value of their labours is not in the passages they make for air and moisture or in the fertile mould they carry to the soil's surface. No!--it is in the evolutionary consequences within themselves.
They have tried and tried to find their own substitute for the higher-than-animal life, but it is ordained that satisfaction of the physical needs of the human species is not enough to give them fulfilment, and that not even the satisfaction of their cultural needs can do so. They are forced in the end to push onward and upward.
Life is governed by its own mysterious laws, driven in certain directions by its own mysterious momentum, conformed to a hidden scheme by its own mysterious quality. Nature is significant. The human entity is not just drifting. It will certainly arrive somewhere.
Human beings are not only what their past births have made them but also, in the most popular and least accurate language, what God has made them.
We have to pass from prattling about man's long-past Fall to declaring his newly possible Rise. It is time to take a better view of him, and certainly of his prospects.
Recognizing this, humanity will within a certain time--not in our time--humbly submit as it once did in prehistoric times to rulers guided by true sages and adopt the higher forms of government inspired by the true facts of life. Philosophers will then be not merely the witnesses of their age but also its activators. Then only will humanity at last prevent outer war, even though its own moral nature will still need much more growth. With that recognition, Nature herself will grow kindlier and the area of other forms of human suffering will diminish noticeably.
Even though we reach a higher kind of civilization one day, human differences will continue to express themselves.
Nobler and wiser types of humanity, standing at loftier altitudes of consciousness, will begin to emerge from the mass. If they are all too few today, they will be more numerous tomorrow.
We are very far from the true man which we are destined to become, the evolved masterpiece of Nature. We possess only rare inklings of the day when the ego's "I" will be transformed into the Overself I-ness.
The waves of life have moved across other planets before arriving on this earth and, when this has outserved its usefulness, will move on again.
The inhabitants of each planet belong to different stages of evolution: some higher and some lower. This applies not only to the human inhabitants but also to the animal and even the plant inhabitants. They pass in great waves from one planet to another at certain stages of this evolution, going where they can find the most appropriate conditions either for expression of their present stage or for the stimulation of their next immediate stage. Consequently the stragglers and laggards who fall behind pass to a planet where the conditions are of a lower nature, for there they are more at home. On the other hand, the pioneers who have outstripped the mass and can find no conditions suitable for their further development pass to a planet in a higher stage.
The notion that God created this world spectacle for the benefit of man alone is an absurd and unwarranted anthropolatry, but the notion that life first attains individual self-consciousness in man is justified in philosophy and by experience. What is it of which he alone is conscious? It is of being himself, his ego. In all earlier stages of evolution, consciousness is entirely veiled in its forms and never becomes self-aware. Only in the human state does individual consciousness of being first dawn. There may exist on other planets creatures infinitely more intelligent and more amiable than human beings. We may not be the only pebbles on the beach of life. Nevertheless the piece of arrogance which places man highest in the scale of existence contains the dim reverberation of a great truth, for man bears the divine within his breast.
Human beings have made too much fuss about themselves, their own importance in the cosmic scale. Why should there not be other forms of life superior to them, conscious intelligent beings higher in mentality, character, and spiritual knowledge, better equipped with powers and techniques?
Even a partial awareness of what it means to be a man--as above an animal--capable of thinking abstractly, conscious of the vastness of the universe and the littleness of the ego, asking the age-old questions about meaning and purpose in life, sometimes getting a glimpse of a few words of the answer through religion, art, Nature, mysticism, joy, suffering, or intelligence, even this is enough to make him wonder what follows in development after him, higher than himself, if not here then perhaps on other planets or in a fourth dimension. Such beings must already exist somewhere. Are they the gods of ancient fable and myth, disfigured or miscomprehended in human narratives by the passing of time? Were they visitors who helped infant humanity reach its teens and then left it, withdrew, except for rare appearances as avatars, angels, or lawgivers?
There are existences for beings on levels and in times and spaces different from ours. The level we know and the humans we see only partially manifest the World-Idea.
The multibirthed nature of human experience fits in with the shimmering galaxies of the multiverse itself. "We are not alone" could be echoed back by this planet Earth itself.
There are beings not subject to the same laws as those governing mankind's physical existence. They are normally not visible to men. They are gods.
The Gods are both symbols of particular forces and beings dwelling on higher planes.
Evolution's goal is not merger
Can it be true that all this vast travail, all this long long ingathering of experience, all this travel to the farthest limit, is only to end in negation, in unlearning all knowledge and returning to where we started? My heart does not believe it, my reason cannot accept it.
The human entity has travelled through joy and suffering, experienced birth and death, experimented with good and evil for the very purpose of becoming a fully conscious entity. How then could annihilation--Vedantic or any other kind--be its ultimate fate?
Is it for this, that man should end as a mere speck of dust, that he was born? Consciousness, aspiration, insight, and inspirations, artistic creations and scientific revelations, the noblest ethical feelings--all useless because the being they serve is destined to vanish utterly? If all man's seeming progress comes to an end with his death, his own end, how futile it is! It helps little to say that others will benefit by it, for this merely shifts the futility to them, for they too will die. The human situation is unsatisfactory, as the Buddha tirelessly asserted and as the Biblical Psalmist succinctly lamented.
We have not come from oblivion. All our past is present in our characters, capacities, and tendencies; therefore we shall not go into oblivion. There is no death--only a change of state.
We know that the cosmos manifests itself out of the divine Mind, and within it, too. But why there should be such a manifestation at all, we do not know. Many students raise this query and are dissatisfied at the failure to obtain a good answer. But the fact is that such questions cannot be adequately answered on the same plane as that on which they arise. If we could shift our consciousness to a higher one, we would find that they simply do not exist there. However, although complete adequacy may be unattainable, some sort of working answer can be formulated and used for and by those who are unable to effect such a shift. If the human entity has no other purpose to fulfil on this earth than to return to the sphere of its origin, then it had no business to leave that sphere. There must be something to be gained by its earthly journey, if the universe has any sense in it at all.
His destination is also his origin. But to say that he was born in the eternal Spirit starts the question, "How can time, which is placed outside eternity, bring him to eternity?" The answer is that it does not bring him there; it only educates him to look for, and prepares him to pass through, the opening through which he can escape. Need it be said that this lies at the point where ego surrenders wholly to Overself?
The Goal towards which man is slowly travelling by successive steps is a threefold one: the fully developed environment, the fully developed intelligence, and the realized soul. The last is the best and the other two are but servants of it, for here he comes first to a comprehension and then to a realization of himself. Yes, he is on his way to the grand awakening into full self-consciousness.
All this vast evolution of environments and their entities has but one ultimate aim from man's point of view and so far as he is concerned. It is to bring him into a miniature likeness to his divine Parent, to make him into an image of godlike beauty, power, wisdom, and being.
Yes, the earth has been, through this long travail of countless ages, bringing forth the mineral, the plant, the animal, and the human kingdoms. In man, she has given birth to a child who is destined to rule with her when his Intelligence becomes perfected and consequently when he is able to rule himself.
The process of human evolution serves a twofold purpose. The first is to develop the physical, emotional, and intellectual characteristics. The second is to lead the individual to enquire into, and become fully conscious of, his divine origin.
The journey of life is both an adventure and a pilgrimage. We pass from body to body to collect experience. The fruit of experience is Enlightenment: the knowledge of Overself, established awareness of its presence; and knowledge of the Unseen Power behind the universe, established connection with it.
We are here in this world for a higher purpose than the obvious physical one of self-preservation, for even that is contributory to it. We are here to evolve into the consciousness of Overself. Every physical experience is only a means toward such spiritual development.
Students who have come finally to philosophy from the Indian Advaita Vedanta, bring with them the belief that the divine soul having somehow lost its consciousness is now seeking to become self-conscious again. They suppose that the ego originates and ends on the same level--divinity--and therefore the question is often asked why it should go forth on such a long and unnecessary journey. This question is a misconceived one. It is not the ego itself which ever was consciously divine, but its source, the Overself. The ego's divine character lies in its essential but hidden being, but it has never known that. The purpose of gathering experience (the evolutionary process) is precisely to bring it to such awareness. The ego comes to slow birth in finite consciousness out of utter unconsciousness and, later, to recognition and union with its infinite source. That source, whence it has emanated, remains untouched, unaffected, ever knowing and serenely witnessing. The purpose in this evolution is the ego's own advancement. When the Quest is reached, the Overself reveals its presence fitfully and brokenly at first but later the hide-and-seek game ends in loving union.
What is the use, ask many questioners, of first, an evolution of the human soul which merely brings it back to the same point where it started and second, of developing a selfhood through the long cycles of evolution only to have it merged or dissolved in the end into the unselfed Absolute? Is not the whole scheme absurdly useless? The answer is that if this were really the case, the criticism passed would be quite a fair one. But it is not the case. The unit of life emanated from the Overself begins with the merest glimmer of consciousness, appearing on our plane as a protozoic cell. It evolves eventually into the fullest human consciousness, including the intellectual and spiritual. It does not finish as it began; on the contrary, there is a grand purpose behind all its travail. There is thus a wide gulf between its original state and its final one. The second point is more difficult to clear up, but it may be plainly affirmed that man's individuality survives even in the divinest state accessible to him. There it becomes the same in quality but not identical in essence. The most intimate mental and physical experiences of human love cast a little light for our comprehension of this mystery. The misunderstanding which leads to these questions arises chiefly because of the error which believes that it is the divine soul which goes through all this pilgrimage by reincarnating in a series of earthly forms. The true teaching about reincarnation is not that the divine soul enters into the captivity and ignorance of the flesh again and again but that something emanated from the soul, that is, a unit of life that eventually develops into the personal ego, does so. The Overself contains this reincarnating ego within itself but does not itself reincarnate. It is the parent; the ego is only its offspring. The long and tremendous evolution through which the unit of life passes from its primitive cellular existence to its matured human one is a genuine evolution of its consciousness. Whoever believes that the process first plunges a soul down from the heights into a body or forces Spirit to lose itself in Matter, and then leaves it no alternative but to climb all the way back to the lost summit again, believes wrongly. The Overself never descends or climbs, never loses its own sublime consciousness. What really does this is something that emanates from it and that consequently holds its capacity and power in latency, something which is finited out of the Overself's infinitude and becomes first, the simple unit of life and later, the complex human ego. It is not the Overself that suffers and struggles during this long unfoldment but its child, the ego. It is not the Overself that slowly expands its intelligence and consciousness, but the ego. It is not the Overself that gets deluded by ignorance and passion, by selfishness and extroversion, but the ego.
The belief in the merger of the ego held by some Hindu sects or in its annihilation held by some Buddhist ones, is unphilosophical. The "I" differentiated itself out of the infinite ocean of Mind into a distinct individuality after a long development through the diverse kingdoms of Nature. Having thus arrived at consciousness of what it is, having travelled the spiral of growth from germ to man, the result of all this effort is certainly not gained only to be thrown away.
Were this to happen then the entire history of the human race would be a meaningless one, its entire travail a resultless one, its entire aspiration a valueless one. If evolution were merely the complementary return journey of an involutionary process, if the evolving entity arrived only at its starting point for all its pains, then the whole plan would be a senseless one. If the journey of man consisted of nothing more than treading a circle from the time of his emergence from the Divine Essence to the time of his mergence back into it, it would be a vain and useless activity. It would be a stupendous adventure but also a stupid one. There is something more than that in his movement. Except in the speculations of certain theorists, it simply does not happen.
The self-consciousness thus developed will not be dissolved, extinguished, or re-absorbed into the Whole again, leaving not a trace behind. Rather will it begin a new spiral of evolution towards higher altitudes of consciousness and diviner levels of being, in which it will co-operate as harmoniously with the universal existence as formerly it collided against it. It will not separate its own good from the general good. Here is part of the answer to this question: What are the ultimate reasons for human wanderings through the world-process? That life matters, that the universe possesses meaning, and that the evolutionary agonies are leading to something worthwhile--these are beliefs we are entitled to hold. If the cosmos is a wheel which turns and turns endlessly, it does not turn aimlessly. Evolution does not return us to the starting point as we were. The ascent is not a circle but a spiral.
Evolution presupposes that its own possibility has always been latent within the evolving entities. Hence the highest form is hidden away in the lowest one. There is development from the blindly instinctive life of animals to the consciously thinking life of man. The blind instinctive struggles of the plant to sustain itself are displaced in the evolutionary process by the intelligent self-conscious efforts of the man. Nor does this ascent end in the Vedantic merger or the Buddhistic annihilation. It could not, for it is a development of the individuality. Everywhere we find that evolution produces variety. There are myriads of individual entities, but each possesses some quality of uniqueness which distinguishes it from all others. Life may be one but its multitudinous expressions do differ, as though difference were inherent in such expression.
Evolution as mentalistically defined by philosophy is not quite the same as evolution as materialistically defined by Darwin. With us it is simply the mode of striving, through rhythmic rise and fall, for an ever fuller expansion of the individual unit's consciousness. However, the ego already possesses all such possibilities latently. Consequently the whole process, although apparently an ascending one, is really an unfolding one.
Although the possibility of this discovery and awareness of Overself and establishment in it has always been with every man at every moment, the probability has not. For he has to develop the equipment for maturing from animal through man's gathered experience to this full establishment in full union with his highest being. The savage may get the glimpse, and does, but this is only a beginning, not an end. The teaching favoured by Indian metaphysicians that we came from God and shall return to God is an oversimplification which generally leads to misunderstanding. Then all this long pilgrimage with all its sufferings becomes a senseless waste of time and an idiotic expenditure of energy--if not on our part then on God's. It is like banging one's head against a wall in order to enjoy the relief which follows when the action ends. Through lack of a cosmogony the proponents of this teaching are compelled to explain away the purpose of all this vast universe as non-purpose, using the term maya, one of whose two meanings is "mystery." The Infinite Being, whose Consciousness and Power is behind the universe of history, can itself have no history, for it is beyond time, evolution, change, development, can have no purpose which is gainful to itself, cannot be made the object of human thought correctly because it utterly transcends the limitations of such thought. But all this is not to say that the World-Mind's activity is meaningless, Idea-less, and fruitless. The very contrary is the case.
But because causation is shown to be illusory, and the cosmos uncreated and unending, this does not mean that our cosmology denies the truth of evolution. It denies only the conventional attitude towards evolution. For it takes all change and hence all progress out of the realm of ultimate reality and relegates them to where they belong, to the realm of immediate appearance.
Just as there have been misconceptions about the role played by the personal ego and the physical ego in the life of mankind--misconceptions which have arisen by holding on to ideas which are out of their time and place--so the question must be asked, did these egos come, as the Orient mostly believed, by a process which launched them on a path where, as the poet Sir Edwin Arnold has beautifully put it, "The dew-drop slips into the shining sea" where the ego is utterly annihilated, where the personal self is completely dissolved in a sort of mass-consciousness, where all that it has gained from experience, all that it has learned from intelligence, is to be dissolved and thrown away as futile and useless although ages upon ages have been taken for the process? Or will there unfold a higher type of individuality, one that is free because it has earned its freedom; free to exist in harmony with the universal harmony, with the Universal Mind. If nonduality, the goal of Advaita, is to be the end of it all, the vast work of time and space seems to have been in vain, a ghastly repetition of what was not worthwhile. Or is there another explanation which philosophy offers? The answer is: there is.
If anyone finds anything in this universe about which to complain, if he criticizes its defects and deficiencies, its evils and imperfections, let him remember that a universe which is perfect in the sense that he means does not and could not exist. Only God is perfect. Anything else, even any universe, being distinct from God, cannot also be perfect. Consequently it will display tendencies and situations open to human criticism. Even though a universe is a manifestation of God, it cannot become as perfect as God without becoming God--when it would itself vanish. Nevertheless its divine origin and sustenance are revealed in the fact that all things and all beings in it strive for perfection even if they never attain it. This is what evolution means and this is the secret spring behind it. For in seeking to return to their source, they are compelled to seek its perfection too. That is, they are compelled to evolve from lower to higher states and forms, from evil conditions and characteristics to ideal ones.
It is not a game of hide-and-seek that God is playing with man, not a sport for God's own amusement as some Hindu sects believe, but a process of evolvement intended to give man insight into the Real and power for co-operative participation. It is a treasure-hunt through many earthly lives.
We murmur against the world's obstructiveness to our aspirations: the body is our stumbling-block. Yet if we had to live always as disembodied spirits, our spiritual development would need an immeasurably longer time to accomplish itself. The sharper focus of physical consciousness quickens our pace.
Man, in his earlier phases of being, was connected with the Overself and aware of it. But his connection lacked his own control. Eventually, to fulfil the purpose of evolution, he lost this connection and with it his awareness. Now he has to regain the connection and reawaken this awareness by his own efforts and out of his own inner activity, through his own desiring and in his own individual freedom. What has he gained by this change to compensate the loss? His consciousness has become more sharply focused and consequently more clearly aware.
Our source is in the Overself; our growth is but a return to it, made fully conscious as we were not before.
The immediate purpose of human incarnation and evolution is to develop a true and full self-consciousness at all levels from the lowest to the highest. The man who does not know himself beyond the physical intellectual ego is still only half-conscious.
As a man truly evolves, he is guided more and more by intelligence and consciousness. It is a false evolvement which guides him into cunning and selfishness.
The idea of human perfection would mean the attainment of a static condition, but nowhere in nature do we find such condition. Everything, as Buddha pointed out, is in a state of becoming, or as Krishnamurti number two calls it: Reality is motion. Buddha never denied that there was anything beyond becoming. He simply refused to discuss the possibility, whereas persons like Krishnamurti two stop there and affirm it as being the ultimate. There were very good reasons why Buddha refused. He was living in a country where the intelligentsia were lost in fruitless and impractical speculations, and where the emotional were lost in religion, endlessly ritualized and filled with superstition. The mystics were lost in the impossible task of making meditation their whole life. Nature forbade it and brought them back. Becoming and motion are processes, but Being, pure consciousness, is not. In the experience of a glimpse we discover this fact. Being transcends becoming, but it is only the Gods who live on the plane of Being; we humans may visit it, even for long periods, but we must return.