Evolution and the Bodhisattva.

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.



About ashok z

Currently living in Shanghai, freelancing both as a model and journalist. Committed student, instructor, and practitioner of Meditation over the past 16 years. Patron of inner-life, casually alarmed observer of global trends, and seriously irreverent. Or is that irreverently serious? Either way, one inevitably to follow the other.


  1. NerDharma

    Wow, reading this it shows just how far I have to go! Well done! Extremely well done!

    • Thanks! I’m very happy that you liked it! Actually, I’m already seeing more that I could add… the fact that we see mainly extinctions in nature now, also speaks loudly of our future if humanity chooses to remain within our current ordinary mental boundaries. Just the fact alone, regardless of what or who is responsible.



  2. Brilliant! I think you are correct – WE are the warrior-sages who must confront the all pervading ignorance in ourselves, and bring about awakening from this dream (nightmare).

    More thoughts on evolution (and extinction): if other species are radically shifting their consciousness to adapt to changing cosmic conditions – might they not depart from this dimension of physical reality altogether? And might that not appear to us as if they just “died off?” And when that moment comes at last when the collective consciousness of humankind is ready for the next leap of evolution – might it mean leaving behind this level of reality completely, and becoming “extinct” ourselves?

    May the warrior spirit live in you!

    ~ Ben

    • That we are!!

      There are many who have taken Bodhisattva vows throughout the ages (or follow different but parallel trajectories in other traditions in their relationship to ‘existence’), and so have a vested interest in the enlightenment of others. But, the ordinary mind will want to project the ‘story’ as happening out there ‘to us’ like the climax of a great movie. Or, that it’s just all nonsense. We are the conscious agents by which deeper consciousness reveals itself, awakening happens in us, only if we want it to.

      As to you questions, I don’t see the animal kingdom as being capable of self-awareness and inner-reflection like us, they aren’t conscious agents in the same way that we can be. As beautiful as nature can be to us, and as much as we can learn a lot from it, the animal kingdom is not exactly a friendly place. Eat or be eaten is generally the rule. And that is still very much alive in our consciousness too, at the instinctual, subconscient level. Nevertheless extinction says something about what is happening in deep consciousness, and as you intuit, it can well be the reflection of a withdrawal from the prevailing conditions here, of deep spiritual forces that express through nature and its beings.

      There are lots of different scenarios portrayed in various mystical writings about the next step. I reckon if you got into reading Rudolf Steiner it would appeal deeply to you, he had lots to say about all this and his writings are extremely insightful and quite a trip!!

      Yours with Spirit,


  3. Pingback: Super 8 and the Compulsive Explainer. « The Beyond Within

  4. “The necessary and welcome economic growth within our Sangha, in the form of business operations and commercial and domestic investments, has brought along as a by—product an increasing frequency of disagreements and disputes. There is a need for our society to provide resources for the sane, nonagressive resolution of such conflicts in keeping with the principles of Dharma and the Great Eastern Sun. Accordingly I have decided to institute and appoint the Upaya Council. The function of the Upaya Council shall be to mediate and/or arbitrate commercial and domestic disputes among members of the Vajradhatu community, as individuals, groups, or businesses. It shall be the initial task of the Upaya Council to propose to me and my Privy Council a set of guidelines under which it shall operate. There shall be no internal hierarchy within the Upaya Council and each member shall have an equal voice; the findings of the Council shall be arrived at by unanimous consent.”

    ~ Vajracarya the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, Spring, 1979.

    Upaya Council

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