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EVOLUTION AND THE
SCIENCE OF CONSCIOUSNESS

(Chapter 2 of Yoga -- A Vision of Its Future)

A thousand more years of daily technological triumphs and oceans of temporal knowledge,gained by science, can never succeed in calming the fever of the intellect caused by itsinability to know itself. Continued evolution of the intellect and continued extension ofall the treasures of art and philosophy, possessed by mankind, would not tend to diminishthis fever but, on the contrary, make it more acute. The ferment in the hearts of theyouth in all parts of the world is a symptom of the exacerbation of this malady. There isno possibility for man to explore his own mystery, save by further development of hisbrain, and the activation of the center designed for it by nature.

The evolutionary process tending towards this development cannot be neglected orignored with impunity. It would be like neglecting or ignoring the growth of a child.Nature has taken every precaution to ensure that human beings do not by their ignorance orrecalcitrance impede or obstruct the operation of the great law. Deep-rooted urge fortranscendental experience, hunger for occult powers, curiosity about the supernatural,lure of magic, thirst for spiritual knowledge, love for religion, desire for worship andprayer, and the impulse of self-reformation are all devices installed by nature to drawhuman beings to the target of evolution without exactly knowing the reason responsible forthe urge or the hunger which they experience.

Yoga is designed to fulfill this unspoken demand of nature and to meet this unwrittenlaw by prescribing a way of life which is in conformity to the process of evolutionworking in the system. It is therefore obvious that Yoga is not what it is or has beenheld to be-a system of discipline for personal salvation, efficacious on account ofcertain unknown or magical properties, dependent for its success on the favor or grace ofa guru. The actual position is that Yoga, as we know it at present, is merely the firststep of a long process aimed to enlarge the capacity of the human encephalon, ultimatelyresulting in the establishment of a super-science for the exploration of transcendentalrealities. This exploration, conducted through Yoga, of the super-sensory planes ofexistence, which are the real cause of creation and the basis of the extremely complexphenomenon we call life, will have far greater fascination for the intellectual elite atno distant future than exploration of the material world has for them today.

There are millions upon millions of people whose love for religion is only skin-deep,whose attendance at the church or temple is motivated merely by desire to conform to aconvention, or whose interest in God or the Hereafter is only superficial, withoutexerting the least influence on their daily thought or act. There are millions uponmillions of other people whose interest in Yoga or the occult or the supernatural iscursory, the outcome of a passing curiosity, when they observe others' interest in thesesubjects. In contrast to these there are others deeply imbued with love for their faith orkeenly interested in Yoga and the transcendental who make serious efforts to conform theirlives to the ideals of their creed or the disciplines they undertake.

On the other side, too, there are legions for whom Yoga, worship, prayer, as alsodabbling in the occult or the supernatural, or interest in magic represents merely apeculiar bent of mind in some people or a hobby or fad and they allow them to indulge intheir fancies without evincing any desire to imitate or emulate their taste. There isanother category of human beings, including statesmen, industrialists, scholars, thinkers,scientists, writers, teachers and others whose number too is large, for whom religion,God, Yoga, occult or the supernatural have no significance. They often applaud their ownmental acumen in not being led astray by what they believe is an irrational pursuit, amental aberration, hysteria or superstition from which they are happy to be free. Thereare millions of practical, hard-headed men and women who do not even give a thought to theoccult or the Beyond and continue in their round of duties as if they do not exist at all.This disposition the Indian masters ascribe to tamas, the downward pressing force whichretards evolution.

On the other side, those who practice some form of spiritual exercise or regularlyattend the church as a duty, with faith and love, or daily worship and pray carried awayby the ego, not unoften congratulate themselves for their observances and faith in God. Insome cases this self-applause has the adverse effect of increasing vanity which makes themconsider themselves more blessed and privileged than others for their good way of life andconduct which is denied to the rest. These attitudes of mind and active thinking have aspronounced an effect on the evolutionary career of human beings as spiritual disciplineand cultivation of virtue. The law of gravitation operates uniformly in every nook andcorner of the universe. Similarly do the laws of light and motion and similarly the lawsof life.

The Law of Evolution acts precisely in the same way in every human being and in allintelligent forms of life in all parts of the universe. The skeptic who applauds himselffor this practical common-sense in not subscribing to, what he calls, superstition orsoftness of the brain in the religious-minded, is as under the operation of the law as theone who flatters his ego for his piety and goodness, thinking himself superior to thosewho lead a different life. Whatever the idea and way of life of a human being, he isalways under the operation of this mighty Law. Just as, while sitting, sleeping, walking,running, or flying in an airplane, we are every moment under the operation of the law ofgravitation and can never escape its force all our life. In the same way, from birth todeath, every human creature, thinking, acting, sleeping, waking, laughing or grieving isunder the sway of the Law of Evolution, ceaselessly working in his body and brain.

The force of gravitation penetrates to each particle of earth and into every atom inour system, holding every cell and molecule in its place. A sudden cessation of this lawwould create an inconceivable situation, an explosion of which no one can visualize allthe consequences. In the same way a sudden cessation of the law of Evolution will haveunpredictable results and gradually transform mankind into an inconceivable species oflife, making its survival as an intelligent creation entirely out of the bounds ofpossibility.

In order to obtain a clearer idea of how the forces of life and the Law of Evolutioncan be conceived of, in the context of the current theories about the elemental forces ofmatter, it is sufficient to say that the classical concepts of extremely minute solidobjects which combined, like diminutive bricks, to form molecules and compounds has beendemolished. The material world has now to be imagined as a stupendous ocean of wavelikepatterns of probable interconnections of which it is not possible to form a precise imageby any means possible to man.

"A material particle, such as an electron," says Hermann Weyl," ismerely a small domain of the electric field, within which the field strength assumesenormously high values, indicating that a comparatively huge field energy is concentratedin a very small space. Such an energy knot, which by no means is clearly delineatedagainst the remaining field, propagates through empty space, like a water wave across thesurface of a lake; there is no such thing as one and the same substance of which theelectron consists at all times."1

From this plain description of the invisible levels of matter, we can readily form theimage of a human being as he actually exists-as a fluidic field of interconnected andinteracting forces devoid of the form, shape, size, color and substance, presented to ourmind by the senses and the brain. With this picture the world of name and form vanishesaway completely. This dissolution of the objective world into Consciousness is aphenomenon known to yogis for thousands of years. Universal Consciousness (Brahman) withits maya-Shakti, existing behind the energy-field of the universe, lies completely beyondthe range of our observation, the real source of all creation, yet entirely aloof andunaffected by its constant movement and activity. The Law of Evolution springing from themaya-Shakti of the Creator is operative at the finest levels of our organic structures,subtler than the neurons and their constituents or, in other words, in the invisibleenergy fields to which they owe their existence, shape and form. The issue has beentouched in passing to bring out the colossal implications of the law of Yoga as adiscipline designed to remodel the human brain at its deepest levels, completely hiddenfrom our knowledge and sight.

We are seldom conscious of the Grace that keeps us alive every moment of our life."My delusion is destroyed . . . and I shall do your bidding," says Arjuna at theend of the Gita because, humbled by the Vision, he sees the Lord in every atom and eventof the Universe. The mighty discipline of Yoga, by melting the ego and extending thehorizon of human consciousness, reveals the ineffable Presence of one OmnipotentIntelligence behind the infinite variety and ceaseless activity of the cosmos-a Vision sooverwhelming and magnificent that the human mind reels under the impact.

The all-embracing Cosmic Law of human evolution is still unknown to modern savants. Thereason is preponderate attention to the outer world at the cost of the inner. Man hasforgotten himself in his excessive love for the body. It has been an error to explain theorigin and evolution of different species of living creatures with hypotheses andassumptions which completely ignore the fact that a superintelligent cosmic law, governinglife, is in operation throughout the universe. There is no awareness that it is a naturallaw and not accident that brought about the change in the storm-swept surface of the earthand made it the abode of the marvelous organic kingdom, full of the variety and wonder wefind everywhere, each form perfectly suited to its habitat. The reason for it lies in thefact that the Almighty Force of Life is imperceptible and will continue to be so until thecapacity of the brain is enhanced to include super-sensory perception of other levels ofcreation.

Even at the present advanced state of science, apart from its action on the body, wecannot, by any means whatsoever, perceive mind or consciousness in a living creature, as atangible reality, visible to the eye or to the most delicate instrument devised so far.From this constantly observed fact, it should be easy to infer that it is equallyimpossible to perceive, by any means, the all-pervading Ocean of Consciousness andIntelligence, present as an invisible medium in every part of the universe, and in everyatom and molecule of matter of which it is composed.

It is unfortunate that a fact, observed and understood more than three thousand yearsago, should be lost on those savants who reject consciousness as a subject beyond thescope of science. The position has been anticipated by the enlightened and the answerprovided. "How can we know the Knower, how can we hear the Hearer, how can we see theSeer, how can we smell the Smeller . . ." sang the Upanishads, at least a thousandyears before the birth of Christ. In fact, how can we apprehend and study the intangibleprinciple which, acting as the observing mirror in us, reflects the visible universe withall its numberless constituents, perceptible to our senses or conceived by our intellect?To hold that a marvelous stuff, like mind, is purely the product of neuronic activity inthe brain, is to stick to an absurdity which has perhaps no parallel. As Plotinus put it,it is a fallacy to suppose that awareness can be born out of insentience.

The tragedy is that, even at this stage of advancement, scholars have only arudimentary knowledge about neuronic activity. The structure of the brain is so elaborateand complex that it has to be treated as a universe in itself. Every neuron of the brainis connected with other neurons by means of hundreds of microscopic fibrils, and the wholemarvelous structure has a possibility of combinations and permutations which exceeds thenumber of atoms in the universe. Neurons are the smallest working units of the brain. Theypossess incredible powers. When stimulated they discharge fusillades of tinyelectrochemical pulsations whose shifting patterns, in a mysterious way, find expressionin our fields of consciousness. To believe that such a staggering instrument ofobservation and thought could be developed and perfected by a blind force, i.e. matter, isto hurl an insult at intelligence itself.

The last picture of the extremely complex mechanism of the brain, the most organizedlump of matter in the universe, presented by neuroscientists, will remain only a picturewithout explaining Mind which creates it. Here we are at the last frontier intellect canreach. "It now seems highly plausible," says Keith Floyd, "that the 'seatof consciousness' will never be found by a neurosurgeon, because it appears to involve notso much an organ or organs, but the interaction of the energy fields within the brain.These patterns of energy would be disrupted by surgical intervention, and have long sincedisappeared in cadavers. Neuro-physiologists will not likely find what they are lookingfor outside their own consciousness." 2

Human consciousness will remain inaccessible to observation except through the methodsadvocated by Yoga. From the mind-body dualism, an essential feature of our very existence,we have failed to draw the conclusion that there has to be duality in their methods ofobservation also and that the methods of one cannot be applied to the other. Thesubjective and objective worlds, in our normal state of cognition, lie distinctly apart,constituting the duality which, from ancient times, has been classed as the 'Knower' andthe 'Known'. The pool of consciousness we name as the 'Knower' has an extremely complexand marvelous territory of its own.

It is now an accepted premise that emotions like anger, grief, passion, hate, joy,excitement, and the like, have no existence in matter or the objective world, but are aproperty of life itself. There might be physical or physiological factors to cause theseemotions, but the effect is a construction of consciousness itself. In the same waycolors, sounds, smells, tastes, shape, form, figure, time, and distance are thefabrications of mind. All that we know, still very imperfectly, is that certain peculiarstates or conditions in the energy fields, we call matter, give rise to these events,images, and ideas in consciousness.

Any intelligent human being, well-informed about the latest advances in science, whenreflecting on mind, cannot but come to the conclusion that we have in it an element ofcreation entirely different from the physical universe of which it is the mirror and thereceptacle.

We often fail to notice the wonder of consciousness, the wonder of our being, as theKnowers, or the wonder of the multiple power of observation which we possess, because weare accustomed to take our existence for granted and seldom care to reflect on it. On theother hand, we are thrilled, astonished or amazed when we come across a wonder-excitingphenomenon of the objective world. The sight of a grand spectacle of nature, as forinstance of a cascading waterfall, a storm-swept sea or a panorama viewed from the top ofa mountain, not unoften creates a sense of awe and wonder which thrills a susceptibleonlooker to the core.

But do we ever stop to think that this thrilling joy, wonder or amazement does notreside in the scene or in the elements behind the scene, but in our own self-that is, inthe 'Knower'? The present world is almost dead to the most wondrous plane of creation,namely, the plane of mind and consciousness which does not, in reality, consist ofseparate points of awareness, thought and observation, in the form of individuals andpersons, but is one stupendous Ocean of Intelligence, spread everywhere, of which eachindividual is an infinitesimally small drop. The wonder of Yoga lies in that it is theonly way by which this tiny droplet can become cognizant of the boundless ocean which actsas the 'Knower' in every form of life from the most lowly creature to man himself.

We never stop to think that we are the universe which overawes us with its complexityand size. Seldom do we know that we are the lovely landscape before our eyes, the dulcetmusic that we hear, the delicious fragrance that we smell, the tasty dish that we eat, thesoft, voluptuous body that we caress in the transport of love. A body stricken dead by asudden total failure of the heart or a damage to the brain, with all its sensory organsintact and whole, while still flooded with impressions from the outside world, now lacksthe ponderous element that interpreted those impressions to create the marvelous world ofour thought and imagination, the world of desire, passion, anger, joy, beauty, and thethrill of love. It is for this reason I say that we miss the wonder of consciousness, aswe lavish all our care and attention on the 'Known' and not the 'Knower' which creates itfrom the diffused, unaesthetic energy fields that make up the Universe.

The testimony of hundreds of sages, seers, and mystics, born in different countries anddifferent periods of time, brought face to face with this inner marvel, providesunshakable evidence for what I say. "I am the Vedic ritual," says Krishna(Universal Consciousness) in the Bhagavad Gita. "I am the sacrifice, I am theoffering to the departed, I am the herbage, I am the sacred formula, I am the clarifiedbutter, I am the sacred fire and 1 am verily the act of offering oblations and thesacrificial act . . . I am the sustainer and ruler of this universe, its father, motherand grandfather, the Knowable, the purifier, the sacred syllable Om and the threeVedas-Rig, Yajur and Sama . . ."

Toward the end of his discourse, Krishna explains the surpassing nature ofconsciousness in these words: "The Lord dwells in the heart of all beings, O Arjuna,by His illusive Power causing all beings to revolve, as though mounted on a potter'swheel." The importance of the teaching is lost on the world because an expression ofthis nature is treated either as an act of Divine favor or a state peculiar to yogis andmystics having little relevance to the common man or woman. But what would be the impactwhen it is demonstrated that every human brain is being pushed up from within to reachthis marvelous state of perception which brings meaning and homogeneity to the cosmicscene? The spark of divine fire which knows, hears, sees, thinks, and plans is the wonderof wonders and the secret of secrets of the Universe. The herculean discipline of Yoga isdesigned to explore the stupendous mystery of man himself and to experience the wonder ofthe 'Knower' in him face to face.

In spite of the fact that millions of people have deep faith in religion, and millionsmore practice spiritual disciplines in one form or the other, the misfortune of our age isthat almost all of our activity and thinking is directed towards the outer world. Exceptfor a few notable exceptions, does any man-made institution of today, devoted toeducation, politics, science, literature or social issues recognize the basic fact thatthe study and exploration of this mysterious inner world is as necessary for human welfareand progress as that of the outer one? How can the advance of Knowledge of all thesesubjects be conducive to harmony and a balanced view of creation when the 'Knower' isbasically ignorant about himself? Humanity, as a whole, is completely extroverted andone-sided in its approach not only to the riddle of existence but also to the solution ofits everyday problems of survival and its efforts to create happiness and fulfillment forthe species. The present-day world is in a precarious state of imbalance, in danger ofdestruction by self-created monsters, because of pronounced partiality for materialwell-being at the cost of the even more important inner harmony.

Yoga, or by whatsoever name the discipline comes to be called, provides the only key toopen the door that bars our passage to the marvelous universe of consciousness. The'wonder' which mirrors the universe and serves as the repository for all our knowledge andart, of our emotions, passions and thoughts cannot be approached by extrovertedapplication of our senses, but only by introspection which turns the attention of the mindon itself. This is what Krishna means when he addresses Arjuna with these words at theend: "Fix your mind on Me, be devoted to Me, worship Me, bow to Me, and in this wayshall you doubtlessly attain to Me. This I truly promise you for you are very dear toMe."

The advice of Krishna is designed to draw the attention of the devotee from theexternal to the inner world, for the Lord, the intangible and ineffable 'Knower', thewonder of creation, resides in us. The crude material instruments of science, howeverdelicate, precise, and sensitive they might be, cannot reach this holy of holies, thisKnowing principle which, lying disguised in the brains of the savants, is himself theirinventor, designer and architect. It is not material science, but a loftier disciplinethat alone can hope to explore this most mysterious inner universe. Present-day Yoga,cultivated with love, dedication and reverential care would slowly flower into the newSuper-Science of consciousness, the guiding light of mankind in the near future, for it isonly this Sovereign knowledge that can harmonize the present imbalance and ensure a morejudicious and disciplined use of the products of exuberant technology.

Written by: Gopi Krishna


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