The evolution of man

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During the last few thousand years man has made great steps in his evolution.. The early nomadic forms of man were primarily concerned with survival, with obtaining the basic necessities of life and protecting himself against environmental hazards. Since then man has been more and more able to control nature in accordance with his own needs and whims. In other words, nature has increasingly become the servant of man instead of the enemy. Particularly in modern times man has been able to devote more time to affairs outside mere survival. People are able to think about such questions as existence and happiness. Furthermore, whereas primitive man's evolution was determined by the external environment, modern man is able to decide the direction of his own evolution. The direction of man's evolution so far has in general been physical and mental. That is, the human body became an increasingly efficient instrument and the mind more capable of heightened intellectual sophistication and deeper thoughts. This process is still continuing. Yet at the same time, this path of evolution appears to have come to a dead-end. Or rather we should say that this evolution process seems now to be suspended above an abyss. The path continues on the other side of the chasm, vet to continue on this path one must build a bridge. This bridge is meditation. Each of us have reached a certain point in our evolution, vet at the same time our present condition and values seem to be lopsided. Something is missing from our lives. This missing link is inner, spiritual evolution. This is the whole point of meditation.

Evolution is a continuous progression from the unrefined to the refined, from the disorderly to the orderly and from the gross to the subtle. The present time is a crossroads in the path of evolution. We can either continue our present physical and rational development and fall into the abyss, or we can develop and untold our more subtle inner faculties to land safely on the other side. In other words, we can continue to concern ourselves only with the external world to the exclusion of our inner being, or else we can realize our inner potential while still expressing ourselves in the outer environment. This is the choice. The first choice leads to chaos and unhappiness as is prevalent in the world today. The alternative leads to knowledge, happiness and a harmonious interaction not only with yourself but with others. Furthermore, the first choice has limitations in its scope, whereas the second offers infinite possibilities, for it leads into new and higher planes of existence, new planes of consciousness, and to indescribable states of happiness. The second choice is the spiritual path. It does not lead to abandonment of the external world. On the contrary, it leads to even more growth, enjoyment and accomplishment in day to day activities.

This alternative path of evolution has been known and explored by large numbers of people throughout history. It is not something new or recently discovered. It is not a path that has been taught and practised by a few deluded people with their 'heads in the clouds'. On the contrary they were very practical people. They were the saints, prophets, mystics, sages and yogis who have existed in all places, eras and in all societies. They all knew that the path each of us must tread lies in awakening our inner potential.

Let us consider a few of their sayings: Christ said, "The kingdom of God is within you." And this same idea was declared by another great sage, for Buddha said: "Look within, thou art the Buddha (pure in consciousness)." This was echoed by the Greeks, for they wrote above the main door of their temples the following sentence: "Man, know thyself, and thou shalt know the universe". In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna affirmed this when he said: "Meditation is far better than knowledge (intellectual knowledge)." In recent times tbis was beautifully phrased by Ramakrishna Paramahamsa as follows: "The fabled musk deer searches the whole world over for the source of the scent which comes from within."

How is it possible that these different people, living at different times in different parts of the world and with different languages and social backgrounds could utter exactly the same idea, though clothed in dissimilar terms? The answer is obvious: they were speaking about a basic truth of existence. These people knew that the path of evolution of higher awareness lies in unfolding the inner realms of our being. It does not lie in totally absorbing or losing ourselves in hectic external actions. It is possible for everyone to learn from their experiences and from the knowledge that they tried to pass on to other people.

Infinite dormant potential exists within each of us. It is there waiting only to be discovered. To find it, however, we must plunge into our inner being. In a sense we must be like an explorer; but instead of exploring outer unknown territories we have to discover the inner uncharted environment. Like the first explorers of the world, we don't really know where it will lead us. We must be like Marco Polo, for example, unknowing of the nature of our journey and destination. Marco Polo had strange but wonderful experiences on his journey and fabulous riches at his destination - China. It is the same with meditation. We cannot tell you the wonderful experiences that you will have on your inner journey; only that you will surely have them. Many people did not believe the stories and experiences that Marco Polo described when he returned home.

It is the same with meditation; no one will believe people who relate their experiences unless, of course, they have made a similar journey themselves.

The choice is yours: either you continue to devote all your attention to fumbling around in the outside world as most people now do, or else you try to evolve in a new direction -inwards, following the advice of those who have already made the same choice and quest. The choice is easy because you do not have to give up your present lifestyle. All you need is the interest to make the innerjourney of self-discovery and to back it up with yogic practices, including meditation.

We all deceive ourselves. We assume that what we see around us is all that there is. Further, we think that our personality is the totality of our being. People wander all over the world trying to find themselves, not realizing that the greatest marvel lies within. This was clearly pointed out by St. Augustine when he lamented: "Men travel to gaze upon mountain heights and the waves of the sea, broad flowing rivers and the expanse of the ocean, and yet pass by themselves, the crowning wonder."

Consider a calm, still lake in which is reflected a big full moon. The image of the moon looks real and if the real moon was not in the sky to remind us otherwise, many would mistake the reflection for the moon itself. The reflection cannot exist by itself, yet the moon can exist without reflection. It is the same with our personality - we see only the reflected personality and mistake it for our real nature without realizing that the personality manifesting at present is dependent on something deeper. To find our real Self is higher meditation.

Even modern scientists acknowledge that there is far more to each person than is commonly believed. Many eminent scientists have echoed the words of the ancient sages. They have said that the majority of our potential remains untapped. Some quote ninety-five percent of our latent capacity lies dormant, others ninety percent. Actually these are only random figures to illustrate that we are definitely not utilizing much of our potential. Some of these scientists are now sounding like mystics. They say that the greatest discoveries and explorations of the future will be in the mind and not in the outer world. Instead of exploring space, we will start to make deeper and deeperjourneys into inner space. This is the direction of the evolution of man.

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