Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Further Evolution of Consciousness

The greatest change that a man or woman can effect is a change in the state of their consciousness and being. All external challenges fade into simplicity compared with this one internal challenge, yet an evolutionary change in the internal consciousness and being of mankind may be what is required to deal with the plethora of existential challenges which mankind faces now and the immediate future. As Einstein famously remarked: "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." Our collective challenges, therefore might only be resolvable with an evolutionary change in our collective consciousness.

"We must recall," writes Gerald Heard in "Pain, Sex and Time," his masterwork on the evolution of consciousness, "that the problem which has confronted man during history is how he may forward his evolution. He has unused still within him such pent vital energy that he can still evolve. His evolution, however, is no longer physical but psychical. If then he is to evolve, it will be through an extension of consciousness. His development demands such an extension because the world, as he now sees it with sharpened animal senses, gives him no sanction for using his immensely heightened animal powers. The guards of instinct have been removed, but the guidance of vision has not been gained."

Heard's book, originally published in 1939 (and republished in 2004), highlights the historical systems and methodologies that have been used down through the ages in an attempt to evolve human consciousness. Yet even as we have gained a broad and comprehensive understanding and mastery over our external world, as a species we have exhibited (it seems) but little mastery over the consciousness which is central to our being. Will this change of necessity? Will there be a conscious psychical evolution of consciousness itself?

In a probing inquiry that is just as relevant today -  or, perhaps, more relevant now than ever - Heard asks: "If there is an evolutionary future for mankind, if humanity is to surmount its present impasse and enter on a new order, is that future for all, through a gradual infiltration of the light from the highest lit to the most dimly aware, or is it for the few who alone can take it in fully?"

"Is evolution," he asks, "to continue with its iron rule, 'many called, few chosen,' a minute number solving the Sphinx's riddle and the rest flung back into decadence and destruction? Is there to be progress, a pervasive salvation, a steady rise of each grade until all are ready for complete transformation, or do society and civilization end here and now and the few go on to an utterly different condition of consciousness?"

"Can evolution still be psycho-social," he asks, "or must it be now, if it is to continue at all, purely psychological? With self-consciousness do we attain the highest degree of consciousness compatible with life? Beyond that must the body become untenable, the blend of soul and flesh unviable?"

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