As above, so below, and that which is below is as what is above.
– The Emerald Tablet
As it is outside, so it is within the body.
– The Kalachakra Tantra
And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.
– Chogyam Trungpa
In Threads from the Whole, I had mentioned that evolution must be taken into account in contemplating the Dharma for the next millenia. That it’s not just happening in nature, but also in consciousness. In The Person and its Awakening, the sense of separation, the hard-line dividing inner-life from outer-world has grown along with the emergence of the Person within the sphere of our ordinary mental being and life. Yet no matter what it is we turn our ordinary thinking and sensory attention to, the life of the mind is inextricably there. As the egoic mind softens and drops away, so too the percieved barrier, a wider consciousness becomes apparent everywhere. This of course applies also to nature as it appears to our sensory life as well.
That evolutionary forms appear to our sensory (scientific) research of nature, speaks deeply of some kind of evolutionary process in consciousness. The character of which when contemplated mindfully is endlessly profound. Hints can also be found in the ancient writings of nearly all traditions, including Buddhism. The Kalachakra Tantra of the Vajrayana comes to mind, with its particular vision of cycles. While not overtly postulating an evolutionary movement in its cyclic vision of ages, it remains that in its portrayal of the lowest ebb, the conditions for human beings to grow in enlightenment and realisation have virtually disappeared, and nothing short of a revolution of warrior-like Bodhisattvas come to banish and dispel the darkness can restore this human realm of existence back to one in which favourable conditions arise again, as if pulling it closer to Shambhala or reflecting a realm like that of a Pure Land.
The useen assumptions of the dominant materialist view of ourselves, even among those of us who don’t subscribe to them consciously, are unimaginably pervasive. As long as we continue to give a false reality to sensory life, limits, and appearances in our egoic-based perceptions and conceptions, the real character of these enlightened conditions also eludes our ordinary thinking.
The egoic thinking mind tends to entertain visions of our evolved future as a kind of turbo-charged Person, and mindlessly pursues progress towards that aim, augmented by our super-intelligent calculation machines, doing away with primitive touch-screen and keyboard operation in favour of more direct, ‘intuitive’, mind to machine interfaces. It’s not implausible at all, advance towards this is happening unabated and fast. Multi-lines of information and feedback, sensory inputs and outputs, sensory stimulation and thrills is the total human being that this view proposes for our more evolved future, for we are in the end just a skin-bag of electro-chemical impulses. What better way to keep that ‘happy’?
And what of the conditions for enlightenment and realisation in that future scenario? It is bit like, as mentioned in The Person and its Awakening, the Person transposed ‘out there’ like a phantom in virtual reality, no longer in touch with the inner-life that makes us human. One way or another, our mode of existence in the future is likely to change. An enlightened shedding of our current ordinary mental limits and its inhuman projections or not, it will be our doing.
One way or another, I don’t think we realise just how much we really are going to miss the Earth.
Addendum: I realise that the character of this evolution mused over doesn’t really resemble the Darwinian model of natural selection via an accumulation of chance reproductive mutations in response to external conditions. When I mentioned ‘observed in nature’, it is more something that has been left to us in the record of nature. Right now, all we observe actually happening is a lot of extinctions without any higher-order organisms taking their place, as far as I can gather. Most of the evolving was done long long ago, in leaps. Perhaps science will also acknowledge one day, some kind of deeper order at play, and not just random chance.
Postscript: Just like most religious thinking, the mind wants to make the Boddhisattva warrior myth and Shambhala some kind of impossible movie, a fantasy to believe in or dismiss. If the conditions for realisation and enlightenment in our human realm are going to face real threat, who are these Bodhisattva warriors going to be? If it is anyone, it will be us. Now and in the future. Awakening is in our hands, it is our choice. In the face of an increasingly belligerent, sensory-bound, materialistic mind entrenching itself evermore into our everyday life and outlook, how fitting then the warrior-like character of awakening that must arise in us to meet it. The threat pervasive ignorance, the weapon radical Opening and uncompromising Love.