Evolution – part 1

Evolution is the unfolding of a continually increasing power to respond, or power to be sensitive to, or aware of, the surrounding world…. evolution affects not only the development of human beings, but every form of life on Earth, including the animal kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, and even the mineral realm down to the atomic lives.

Robert: Hello and welcome to Inner Sight. Our theme for today is evolution. All of our dialogue emanates from the works of Alice Bailey and the volume that our discussion comes from today is Consciousness of the Atom. The thought we will be discussing today is that the entire story of evolution is the story of consciousness, and not of form. That’s rather astounding to me because as a student in high school and college, I always thought of evolution as being one form progressing to another more sophisticated form. Actually, when we think of it, the evolution of consciousness within humanity is very interesting and not really spoken about too much. How would you define evolution? 

Sarah: Evolution literally is an unfolding from within, outwards, or an unrolling from an inner centre. That’s what it means to evolve in terms of our discussion today. Evolution is the unfolding of a continually increasing power to respond, or power to be sensitive to, or aware of, the surrounding world. That’s the view in the Ageless Wisdom of what evolution means, and this process of evolution affects not only the development of human beings, but every form of life on Earth, including the animal kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, and even the mineral realm down to the atomic lives. Everything we’re told is unfolding this responsiveness, this inner awareness of being part of a larger whole—which I find fascinating to think about. Obviously, the awareness is different on the level of an atom than it is on the level of a PhD human being, but the capacity to be sensitive to the larger whole in which the life exists is the force of evolution. 

Dale: Another one of those definitions in the Alice Bailey books is that evolution means a steadily increasing sensitivity to light and illumination. That is an aspect that comes from within. It’s the soul factor, the soul principle within every form, whether it’s a human being, an animal, or even a plant for that matter. There is this soul, the anima mundi in the lower kingdoms and the soul principle that is actually urging this being, this form or person, to move forward in his or her life, and that’s actually what’s driving evolution. It comes from within, and as you say, it works outwards. 

Sarah: And probably another important point to bring up early in the discussion is that evolution could be said to be a process, and not the effect of a force applied from the exterior. In other words, evolution isn’t something that happens because of some greater overpowering force manipulating the life in whatever structure, whether on the atomic or human level, but it’s a process of unfoldment and it’s generated, as Dale said, from within. It’s an effect of responsiveness and not something that’s coerced or applied by, say, God or whatever. 

Dale: It’s actually also a law. It’s a spiritual law or a divine law that sets in motion this long process of unfolding, of consciousness. So, we can’t avoid this whole theme of evolution because we’re bound to it by law. 

Robert: It’s been such a controversial topic, there’s almost been warfare over evolution. Why has the theory of evolution been so controversial? 

Sarah: Well, you know, it’s still controversial. I don’t think it’s allowed to be taught in the public schools of states like Kansas, and probably other states too. It’s simply not allowed to be taught as a theory even. I’m not sure why it’s so controversial, but I think it might have to do with the fact that it’s focused on the form, and in looking at the form rather than at the consciousness aspect, the urge to reconcile the evolutionary theory with what is said in the Bible’s book of Genesis seems—and I say seems—to come into conflict. People of deep religious beliefs sometimes conclude that the theories, particularly Darwin’s survival of the fittest, cannot be reconciled with what is said in Genesis, which is that God made the world in seven days and then rested. But when we look at it as an expression or an unfoldment of consciousness, I don’t think there is controversy. In fact, I think there’s really a mutual agreement between creation and evolution. 

Dale: Well, yes, I think there’s controversy because the creationists and the evolutionists seem to be at loggerheads, and they seem to think that it has to be either one or the other, either creation or evolution. I believe, and I’m sure a lot of other people believe too, that it’s really a question of both! It’s both evolution and creation, because as far as I’m concerned, there is this great Deity that ensouls our planet; there is this one life that gives us all life. And when He did create this planet, what he did was set in motion an evolutionary force; a process was set in motion. So, as I see it there is truth in what they both say, and it’s simply a matter of coming together and realizing what they both have to contribute to this controversy. They should resolve it! 

Sarah: Part of the problem is that Darwin’s theories focused, as far as I know, on the evolution of forms in the animal and human realms. And when you think about it, that’s probably far less significant than the evolution of the consciousness dwelling within the form. I think it’s said that the physical form of human beings is pretty much a finished project. I think I’ve read that there might be a few more changes; maybe we’ll give up our appendix or our tonsils in future millennia. But basically, as far as I know, we’re a done deal. The human form is pretty much worked out for whatever purposes God wants to accomplish through humanity. But the consciousness within the human kingdom is very much in a state of evolution. And when you look back just over the past century and you see the tremendous changes that humanity has been able to effect, it’s remarkable. You can see consciousness is evolving. 

Dale: And as consciousness evolves, then the form follows suit. It doesn’t work the other way, at least as far as our teachings are concerned, and as far as I believe myself. It is the consciousness aspect within that determines the outer expression. You said that the form has just about run its course, but I think there will be more refinements in the form. 

Sarah: Maybe they’ll all be thinner or have better hair! (laughter) 

Dale: Sure! I think it depends on the refinement of the consciousness. As we become more attuned to the higher spiritual values, this in turn will reflect the outer physical form, not only the personal human form, but the form of life that we live and what we do with the material world. The refinements that we make in the material world will be as a design of the inner spiritual life. 

Sarah: Maybe this relates to something that I think we all feel the poignancy of, and that is the disappearance of different forms within the animal realm. Some of them are such tiny little lives: the snail darter, the endangered spotted owl. When these disappearances in the animal kingdom and the vegetable Kingdom happen as a result of human action invading territory, which doesn’t permit these lives to live any longer, then we feel the wrongness of that. But there’s another aspect to evolution, as I understand it, that phases out certain animal and vegetable forms as part of a plan that to God and nature makes sense. Not every life within every species necessarily has to continue forever and ever as a necessity for our planet to function. 

Dale: No, they have to make way for the new, more improved forms that must take place. 

Sarah: It’s a very controversial issue and it brings out passions in people. And rightly so. We should care about these things, and we should think deeply about them and really bring our best understanding of ethics to the question. 

Dale: It’s also incumbent upon us to understand the full range of evolution and that if forms disappear, then better ones will come about in time. I think we have to see the bigger picture here and perhaps that would help us to define really what’s happening. 

Sarah: I don’t want people to misunderstand us. When these forms—for example, one would be the manatee in Florida, which is an ancient aquatic animal that is very endearing and completely harmless and is being killed off in very large numbers by speedboats in Florida waterways. It’s an ancient animal species, very bulky and probably it’s the kind of species that isn’t destined to continue terribly much longer. But on the other hand, when that species is being phased out by human beings unnecessarily causing suffering and the elimination of this species—then it seems really wrong. So, there’s a lot to be evaluated and I don’t know what the final answer is. 

Robert: Well, Dale certainly gives credence to the biblical phrase “as you think, so shall you be.” And it’s interesting the comment that you made about form following consciousness; that gives rise to all sorts of interesting thoughts. How does evolution progress and unfold? 

Sarah: According to the Ageless Wisdom, evolution progresses through cyclic development. Everything in manifestation proceeds according to cycles of breathing out and breathing in, to use the science of the breath reference. Evolution progresses through choice, through discrimination, through constant mutations being made, not only upon the form but upon the consciousness. We learn through trial and error. We learn through experience. We learn through pain and suffering. All of these are aspects that bring about a change and an expansion of consciousness, because essentially evolution is an ever-increasing power to respond to a higher vibration. Life in its essence being a vibratory pulse, evolution is the increasing responsiveness to higher and higher rates of vibration. 

Dale: That’s right. And I like to think of evolution always in the larger scope of things, a long sweep of history, because that gives me a big picture. We talked a lot about evolution, but there is also—going back in our ancient history—that stage called involution. Involution and evolution is related to the whole story of the prodigal son. As you know, the Prodigal Son left the Father’s home, went into the world and experienced the pain and suffering of the dense physical world, and finally became so dissatisfied that he picked himself up and started on his journey back to the father’s home. So, we have this cyclic thing, as you mentioned, this whole process of coming and leaving. A stage of perfection coming into a dense world of imprisonment and a stage of deep pain and suffering, and then working oneself out of that stage and starting on the upward journey back home. And so, you have a cycle. On the evolutionary side there is this long cycle of ever-increasing perfection, and that’s another way of looking at it that’s meaningful to me. 

Sarah: Another cause of evolution is the effects of spiritual stimulation, which I think is really what Dale is referring to. Spiritual stimulation, or the energy of divinity, makes an impact on forms and on consciousness in varying ways. It creates an effect that we know as radiation in the mineral kingdom and it’s said that the element radium is the most advanced of the mineral kingdom. There’s another theory that says the diamond is the most advanced stage within the mineral kingdom because of the brilliance and the beauty and the hardness of the mineral. I don’t know, but radiation is seen in the mineral radium. It expresses as beauty and diversity in the vegetable, and we see that in the tremendous variety and beauty of trees, grasses, flowers, plants, and the food that they supply to the animal and the human kingdoms. We see evolution in the elimination of pain and suffering in the animal kingdom, and that’s where humanity’s role comes in. The importance of the human being in relationship to the animal is to help eliminate the pain and suffering experienced by animals. 

Dale: It is also said in the Ageless Wisdom that the power of love to drive onward—call it evolution, or the inherent urge—but it is love causing motion and urging onward to completion, and that’s essentially the principle of the soul. The power of love and this inherent urge within every human being is actually driving us forward to some more perfect state. 

Sarah: And apparently this recognition isn’t only found in the Ageless Wisdom, because the great philosopher Immanuel Kant said something very similar to that. He said matter, which appears to be merely passive and without any form or arrangement, has, even in its simplest state, an urge to fashion itself by a natural evolution into a more perfect constitution. Even the simplest material forms have this urge, he thought, to create a more perfect expression of themselves. So, it’s a belief or a recognition that is not limited just to the Ageless Wisdom. 

Robert: So, what I’m assimilating from this, is that every aspect of being is interested in perfection and self perfection. Is that correct?  

Sarah: Striving towards it, yes, from the smallest, tiniest lives, onward. Somehow that strikes me as true. 

Robert: Yes, it feels right to me too. 

Dale: Even at the level of the atom, this is probably going on. It’s more difficult to see, but I think it’s there. 

Sarah: And not only is every tiny fragment of life striving toward perfection, but it’s also striving towards union or reunion with the larger whole. It’s said that everything in the universe is composed of smaller parts and at the same time part of a larger whole. And human beings are part of the human family; we are part of the planet. The same is true for all atoms of life, from the macrocosmic to the microcosmic level, evolution works out as an urge to rejoin the larger whole. 

Robert: This idea that we sometimes have of dissatisfaction about our life—that might be a healthy concept because that dissatisfaction might be bringing us along the path of personal evolution. Is that correct? 

Sarah: Very often, yes. That discontent can be divine. 

Robert: Is death a necessary part of evolution? 

Sarah: Yes, it apparently is, because as Dale mentioned, there’s evolution and involution, and death is a part of that cycle. And death, of course, affects only the form side; it doesn’t affect the eternal consciousness aspect. But all life progresses through the occupation of form, grows, and expands through its experience in form, and eventually grows beyond the confines of the form. So, in the end, death can be liberation of the indwelling life. It’s necessary to release the life within the form when the form is no longer able to serve the purposes of the indwelling life. 

Dale: Yes, death makes way for a more improved form which can contain the greater expression of life. And life is always trying to express itself in the world, and it must keep replacing old, worn-out forms that have served their purpose, with better ones. 

Sarah: And that’s why I’ve never understood this idea of cryogenics, where you have your form frozen for eternity. Why would you want to hold on to it—well, speaking for myself, I would never want to hold on to my form forever and ever, because it couldn’t possibly serve my soul’s interests. 

Robert: Well, it’s actually not the entire form. Most of the time it’s just the head. Walt Disney’s head is in cryogenics and the intention is one day there’ll be a robotic body and—well, that’s another story. Is there a spiritual goal to evolution? 

Sarah: Very much so. Spiritual evolution depends upon the evolution of life. The expansion of consciousness for the subhuman kingdoms—the animal, vegetable, and mineral—the goal is to evolve into a kind of self-consciousness. And for human beings, the goal of evolution is to evolve into group consciousness. Maybe we need more time to discuss this subject, because really there’s so much to consider. Could we continue this discussion another time? 

Robert: Yes, I’d like to know more. In closing, we invite you to ponder on this thought: Goodwill is the touchstone that will transform the world. Goodwill is love in action. It is the energy that draws us together in right relationship. There is a world prayer called the Great Invocation. It is a call for light, love, and goodwill to flow into the world and into our hearts. Let’s listen for a moment to these powerful words. 

Sarah: Closes the program with the adapted version of the Great Invocation

(This is an edited transcript of a recorded radio program called “Inner Sight”. This conversation was recorded between the host, Robert Anderson, and the then President and Vice-President of Lucis Trust, Sarah and Dale McKechnie.)

(Transcribed and edited by Carla McLeod)




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