by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet
[A paper prepared by Thea for a symposium on THE HUMAN CONDITION;
New Delhi, Dec.1986, and published in The Vishaal Newsletter in May 1987.]
‘At present mankind is undergoing an evolutionary crisis
in which is concealed a choice of its destiny.’
˗ Sri Aurobindo
The malaise of our civilisation is not an inchoate or unpredictable development. Rather, it is the logical, foreseeable result of thousands of years of partial and ineffective spiritual visions and incomplete philosophical systems. These have always been the driving force behind the evolution of higher mental forms. Therefore, if our civilisation stands at a critical juncture at present, it is not in the secular and scientific domain that we must search for the cause of the decay. We must discover what has been lacking in the dimension of existence that moulds the more external and material patterns which condition life on this planet.
Once the root of the problem is located in its true area of causation, necessarily a change must be introduced in that sphere before the more external levels can be influenced. Thus if we can locate the root cause of the decay in that more essential domain, our task of bringing about a change in the individual and in society and of establishing a new world order on Earth is greatly facilitated.
Indeed, the crux of the problem lies here: for thousands of years sages, saints, yogis, philosophers, and men and women of wisdom have described the purpose of birth on this planet as simply a passage to a reality beyond not only our planetary home but entirely out of the cosmic dimension. The course our civilisation has taken can therefore be directly connected to this factor. The influence a vision of this nature has wielded has been devastating–for it has carried the planet and its multiple societies to the brink of total annihilation.
We may call this development a conspiracy of the spiritual elite which gradually influenced the whole tenure of life on Earth, spreading its tentacles of influence through religions and philosophical systems during the past several thousands of years, but now through scientific, political and socioeconomic systems. The latter can invariably trace their inspiration to some spiritual or philosophical source. For even our most material ideologies that apparently deny the higher realities of existence and focus entirely on the physical dimension, have done so by virtue of a reaction to those more metaphysical postulations.
Many profound thinkers throughout the world have perceived that it is only a spiritual renaissance that can save our civilisation. Only if we attain a different consciousness, rooted in some higher seeing, can there be any real change, they feel. This may well be true, but what is not appreciated is that the present chaos is a direct outcome of our past mystic and spiritual perceptions. There are two aspects to this development. One is the course spirituality took in the West, which founded itself on a certain form of negation of life; and the other is the Eastern orientation, in its own way equally a denial of life.
In the West, out of denial and suffering there developed a certain strength. Believers had been encouraged to accept suffering as a way to God and the means to attain a heaven beyond this life. Indeed, life on Earth came to be considered a prison and the fall of the soul. Salvation, through negation of life, could only come in a beyond, namely in some transcendent Heaven. The final outcome of this negation has been the materialistic philosophies and political ideologies which the West has given to the world. Presently there is a clear dichotomy on the planet, whereby western civilisation has aligned itself clearly and decisively with what has come to be called in spiritual circles the ‘materialistic consciousness’.
However, in the East we find a similar denial of life, also as an outcome of its spirituality. Interestingly, this negation took hold of the consciousness of eastern wisemen at about the same time that a similar denial caught hold of their western counterparts. About the end of the first millennium Indian spirituality veered fully toward a quest for otherworldliness: the philosophies of the day made the conclusive proclamation that all creation in matter was an ‘illusion’, a deceptive veil that seekers of Truth must tear through in order to reach the immutable, immobile, transcosmic and static Brahman; or a Self devoid of all relations in this material web of time and space.
Thus at approximately the same period in history, the stamp of otherworldliness and denial of life and the planet’s own truth of being and purpose as a home of an evolving species, became firm pillars of our civilisation. This conditioned everything. This denial coloured all our perceptions and gradually moulded every pattern we evolved for the regulation of our individual and collective life. And what we are faced with today is simply the ultimate display of that denial and negation of life. The human being has carried the formula of this negation to its fullest extremes: What was seen as the highest spiritual poise has been carried over to the material realm, or the stage upon which all the ideals and more ethereal concepts of humankind are played out; with the predictable result that now science has furnished the race with the ultimate powers for its own destruction. If the only purpose of life on this planet is to escape it somehow, never more to return, then we are wholly justified in seeking means to destroy this springboard base as the ultimate and conclusive ‘solution’.
It is important to see clearly that the root of this problem is directly connected to the religious dogmas and spiritual visions that have conditioned our living since time immemorial. Spirituality is not a static expression. It has evolved pari passu with the material evolution. In fact, there is only ONE evolution, one principle evolving through the myriad forms that constitute our world. This ‘consciousness’ has two facets, material and spiritual. But both respond to the same underlying energy and drive.
Consequently, to posit the ultimate solution in either the spirituality we know today or in materialism, with its own brand of denial of life, is inadequate. Indeed, such attempts have consistently failed. Spirituality can only offer old solutions which were themselves largely the causes of the decay. Likewise, materialistic answers are prisoners of the same insufficiencies; and continuing as we are, they will drive us to a total destruction in order to play out the drama of denial of life that spirituality has constantly espoused in one form or another, under one disguise or another.
To accurately assess the situation it is required that we examine the problem deeply, in an effort to reach the core of the matter and discover the fount from which both science and spirituality receive their driving force. Therefore, it is necessary to perceive what stands behind the play of forces; and to do so we must come to a more enlightened understanding of the evolutionary process itself. This will provide us with a more holistic assessment of the condition of the highest instrument nature makes use of for the purpose of the evolution of the species, in order to effect this upward march to ever better forms of consciousness and life: the mental human being.
For this is the self-evident purpose of evolution. It is to bring forth evermore perfect forms in order to create more complex and sophisticated networks or patterns of structured energy that can express more harmonious states of consciousness-being. Our present stage is merely one step along the evolutionary way, albeit a decisive one. We have reached a major evolutionary turning point. There is a choice: Before us lies a totally new way of life and by consequence a new world order. For this, a finer, more refined instrument has to manifest. And this is the major focus of the present crisis. We are in the process of evolving a human instrument capable of sustaining the greater cosmic forces at play through life and matter on this planet, without experiencing destructive collapse of energies or succumbing to the old ways of escape through outdated solutions and methods the world has known until now.
The human instrument as it is presently constituted pivots a void. At its centre lies a ‘black hole’ into which energies collapse, cave in, dissolve; resulting ultimately in decay and death. And out of this condition of the instrument ,through which the human consciousness perceives the reality beyond, came the projection of a world in chaos and collapse and hence the perception that salvation, of whatever order and under whatever guise, lay beyond this material universe and, above all, away from this woeful planet Earth. The demon of the drama was seen to be the senses, which wisemen understood to be the limiting factor which distorts a reality that somehow could be disconnected from the body and experienced separately, free from our physical organs of perception and hence disengaged from the world of material creation, out of which and within which these senses have evolved. Thus, ways were devised to liberate the seeker from the physical, sensual instrument, limited by its own apparently untransformable insufficiencies.
To be more specific, such projections and perceptions of our condition are the logical outcomes of a species ill-poised, but for reasons quite different than those given in current religious, mystic and spiritual explanations. The human being has an off-centre pivot of his bodily instrument, which results in a distorted perception of our world; but which is, paradoxically, caused by the perception itself. Consequently, to alter that perception it is required that concurrently we shift this axis of being–in the species–and allow evolution to carry us to a new and higher destiny.
The human instrument, an intrinsic part of the solar system and the universal harmony, is structured energy just as any other microcosmic or macrocosmic body. The human being has its ‘axis’ also, around which the individual frame is organised and because of which a separate entity can come into existence and sustain itself without dispersion, adding to this magnificent display of multiplicity within unity, which is the key feature of our material world. But because we are as yet merely a transitional species, albeit evolving to a higher form, the present ‘axis’ and its location within the body, which has come into being in accordance with certain evolutionary laws, encourages atavism as the single most important driving force of the species.
Over the ages, wisemen, philosophers, seers, mystics, have sought through various means to alter this condition. In place of the inertia of atavism they have sought to install a higher purpose. But the inadequate condition of the instrument through which perception is made, provided only a partial understanding of the problem; and hence the techniques which were devised in order to help the human being to find release from this limiting function were in themselves inconclusive and did nothing to alter in any way conditions on the planet. Matters progressively worsened, until finally, seeing the gravity of the situation, all those who in some way have been concerned with this problem, came to a dramatic impasse. Finding that it was apparently impossible to change this evolutionary determinism, all spiritual and religious paths proffered methods of escape from the ‘coils of this corruptible flesh’ as the only way to salvation, and to seek dissolution of the consciousness in a transcendent Beyond or a nirvanic Void. Not only has this done nothing to change conditions on Earth, it has complicated the task of discovering the solution. And finally we find ourselves, as a species, facing possible annihilation.
Let us demonstrate the subtle ways in which this notion of irredeemability has penetrated the thinking of even those philosophers whom one would expect to perceive the position differently, primarily because they are indefatigably engaged in the task of instructing men and women the world over on the ways to a better life. But a better life where? If it is here, on this planet, then the flaws that emerge in these teachings must be pointed out, which will serve to expose the fact that on the basis of just such erroneous visions the human condition is what it is and cannot hope to change. Rather, the condition becomes compounded.
To illustrate, we may quote a statement of one of the most eminent thinkers of our times, the late J. Krishnamurti:
‘Truth cannot be exact. What can be measured is not truth.’ (Krishnamurti’s Notebook, Harper & Row, 1976, p.24.)
This declaration is sure to appeal to all those who have become disenchanted with life in the body and in the material universe of which measure is the salient feature, and who have subsequently posited the goal of their quests in some extra-cosmic heaven or transcendent Beyond. For, what is Krishnamurti really stating?
It is simply this: the higher reality is not of this world, measurable in time and space, and any such attempt to find truth within this material (measurable) universe is futile. Hence this statement is a denial of life and fosters a totally divisive consciousness (certainly not the aim of his teaching efforts on the surface), whereby truth is OUTSIDE of time and space and hence beyond our world. God, the supreme Reality, or Truth is not, according to Krishnamurti, found in what is measurable.
It is this sort of postulation that has carried us to the point of such a tremendous evolutionary crisis. And lamentably, it is men and women concerned preeminently with the spiritual well-being of humankind who have contributed most to this situation, either by encouraging the faithful to live rightly and morally–but only for the purpose of reaching ‘heaven’ after death; or else by subtly and more often unknowingly, as in the case of Krishnamurti, consolidating the perception of an untransformable, irredeemable material creation, into which the soul and spirit of the human being has fallen and out of which some form of escape must be found in order to know truth in its transcendent, pristine and uncontaminated purity.
Krishnamurti, provides us with another example of the way in which this vision has permeated the intelligentsia, in quarters that one could not have anticipated. Of late two books have appeared with transcripts of his conversations with the physicist David Bohm. It is interesting to observe that Krishnamurti succeeds in carrying Bohm, a physicist and hence a person supremely trained in the art of Measure, into his vision of a featureless void, in which time is an illusion and there is no becoming. A portion of their conversation will suffice to illustrate the nature of the problem:
JK: I am asking you as a physicist, is this universe based on time?
DB: I would say no, but you see, the general way…
JK: That is all I want. You say no! And can the brain, which has evolved in time … ?
DB: Well, has it evolved in time? Rather, it has become entangled in time. Because the brain is part of the universe, which we say is not based on time.
JK: I agree.
DB: Thought has entangled the brain in time.
JK: All right. Can that entanglement be unraveled, freed, so that the universe is the mind? You follow? If the universe is not of time, can the mind, which has been entangled in time, unravel itself and so be the universe?
And further on, Krishnamurti makes this revealing statement:
‘…to be free of becoming? That is the root of it. To end becoming…Of course, there is only complete security in nothingness!’ (The Ending of Time, Harper & Row, 1985.)
This clearly, is the perception that must change if at all a new species and a new world order can safely take their place upon the planet for which they are destined. This calls for a complete readjustment in the ‘lens of our seeing’, precisely our ‘instrument of measure’, whereby the Earth comes into focus not as some eternal, irredeemable Hell that a chastising Creator has condemned us to, but rather the planet that serves a noble purpose in the cosmic order. This purpose is to evolve continuously higher and better forms of life. At present the human being is in transition toward a new condition. The breakdown we witness about us, inclusive of the marvels of technology that the human mind has brought into being, is an indication of that new order that is arising. The axis of the human instrument is being encouraged to shift to a higher pivot, whereby the present atavism is no longer a rigid cross to which we are nailed as a race. Rather, the new species is liberated from this compelling drive and begins then a more conscious participation in this grand act of Becoming through which a new instrument is being wrought. But for this to occur, the orientation of our quest and its consequent goal, based on a truly new perception of the higher reality of existence, must shift. The direction must cease to be otherworldly, no matter how camouflaged this may be, as noted by the example furnished above. The answer lies here, on Earth, in the body–but transformed by the power of a new seeing.
How is this achieved? The new axis is not metaphysical. It is a pivot that comes into being in accordance with precise evolutionary laws involving time. By working with time in a particular manner, it is possible to restructure the consciousness, and ultimately the physical being, around a higher pivot. This cannot be accomplished while religions and the old spirituality block the process by emphasis on a metaphysical experience that disengages the human being from any spiritually and materially meaningful contact with the physical world, and consequently absolves him from any responsibility therein. According to these now outdated ways, the purpose of life was to somehow find escape from it, to either expiate one’s sins and reach heaven, or to work out a karma and thereby become freed from taking birth again on this woeful planet. In the midst of such a conditioning, it was not possible to alter the evolutionary pattern, insofar as the means to do so, in particular a conscious work with time, were denied their truth and the part they played to attain a higher reality.
The new world is a world in which both the being and the becoming are harmonised in the vision. Therefore Sri Aurobindo describes the choice of destiny that faces mankind at this crisis point as an accepting and embracing precisely of the becoming, as the means to attain the ultimate apotheosis, an evolutionary leap to a totally new status:
The significance of our existence here determines our destiny: that destiny is something that already exists in us as a necessity and a potentiality, the necessity of our being’s secret and emergent reality, a truth of its potentialities that is being worked out; both, though not yet realised, are even now implied in what has been already manifested.If there is a Being that is becoming, a Reality of existence that is unrolling itself in Time, what that being, that reality secretly is is what we have to become, and so to become is our life’s significance. (The Life Divine, Chapter 28.)
While the old degenerates into chaos and begins its collapse, there is simultaneously a work in progress to evolve a new species. The process entails, however, a laying of correct foundations. That is, a new ‘blueprint’ is being evolved, the lines of which are drawn by time, the power of evolution for the gestation of any new form.
The new ‘blueprint’ being established at present is a pattern of harmony. Indeed, its inspirer is the closest, most complete pattern of harmony that we can observe and of which we are an intrinsic part. It is the solar system–seen with a new eye and an entirely new and different instrument of perception and measurement. This blueprint of a new consciousness-being will provide the basis for a new world order. The outcome is a planetary society, inspired in its governance by the very harmonics of our System and in particular founded upon a vision that sees and accepts the Earth as the place where upon this progression is destined to occur.
But foremost in this evolutionary leap is the question of the purpose of evolution; and by consequence the purpose of our planetary home within the scheme of the cosmic order. It is clear that while we continue to turn to the old spirituality for solutions to our present state of collapse, we are only compounding that collapse, insofar as all spirituality considers life in this cosmos to be a fall and posits salvation in some form of a Beyond, unevolving and static. The dramatic shift that is required is then the complete refocusing of the lens we are provided with for evolution on Earth, and the resultant consciousness that introduces an entirely new direction in our perceiving. We cease to deny life and material creation as channels for expression of the highest truth principle. Rather, we see these as instruments on Earth of what Sri Aurobindo has called, the ‘life divine’.
There is a tested method to establish this new blueprint. It utilises time as the creative power for this revolutionary activity. By a specific knowledge of the mechanics of our solar system and the relation of the planetary harmony to time, as experienced on Earth and in the human body, a shift is brought about in the consciousness-being of the individual practitioner, whereby a new pivot is established in the body, no longer prisoner of atavistic drives but responsive to a higher purpose. On that basis a truly new harmony establishes itself within the individual and his society. There is no longer a collapse of energies but rather a sort of mini-solar system manifests as a nuclear compound from where new influences emerge. Gradually these accumulate and extend and eventually draw into the orbit of the new System an increasingly wider sphere; until finally the entire planet becomes the home of this higher planetary society.
What evolves is therefore neither a new spirituality nor a new science or material ideology. It is something beyond all these known methods but that miraculously harmonises and integrates all the expressions of mind, life, and matter in a splendid act of synthesis. The truth of our world is a magnificent manifoldness, expressing an exquisite diversity. But-this multiple diversity is upheld and sustained by a power of integration and arises in a field of oneness, –just as our solar system is an expression of a superb manifold harmony within an integrating oneness.
This is an evolutionary process which respects the being as well as the becoming. Hence it does not seek to obliterate the cosmic harmony which is rooted in time and is the instrument for the Becoming. Rather, it evolves by the aid of those laws. Thus we can applaud Ilya Prigogine when he declares, ‘I want to feel the evolution of things. I don’t believe in transcending, but in being embedded in a reality that is temporal.’ (OMNI, May, 1983.)
The critical crossroad we have reached is mirrored in the expansion of this very solar system to the observing eye of humankind. During the past several hundred years we have seen the System increase by three planets. While over this same period, pari passu with this expansion, the consciousness of the species and the condition of our civilisation have also undergone singular alterations. An acceleration in the evolution of consciousness never before witnessed has set in during this period, particularly heightened in our century. But what is required now, that ‘choice of destiny’, as Sri Aurobindo has called it, is a conscious collaboration with this process. Prior to this critical juncture the human being was carried along on the crests of the evolutionary wave in an unconscious fashion. But now, with the birth of a new consciousness and species, poised differently, centred on the higher axis of being, the possibility arises that we may collaborate consciously, guided by the harmonics of the very cosmos we inhabit and stand in awe of: an applied cosmology, not another speculative theory.
In the midst of the chaos we see about us a sublime cosmos emerges. Its life does not depend upon the old in the midst of which it stands. It emerges as the old crumbles, uncontaminated by the morose suggestions of purposelessness that vitiate the atmosphere of this dying world. It emerges because the conditions for it are determined by higher evolutionary laws, and is hence a thing inevitable in the history of our planet’s time; even as the present mental being was an unavoidable and necessary circumstance, a step along the way but nothing more, and nobly played its role in the evolution of consciousness. The foundations of this new and higher species are solidly laid in the stratum that is indestructible. But not disengaged from material creation. Rather, these new foundations are rooted in matter and they form the basis for a new species and society.
© Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet 1986