The Evolution of Life and Form

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The Evolution of Life and Form

By Annie Besant

Evolution of Life

My Brothers,--We have reached a point in our study from which we may begin to trace the Evolution of Life in our own system that evolution takes place on the various planets, but it is similar in its general outline, though modified in its details on the different globes. We shall chiefly confine ourselves to our own world and our own humanity at the outset we shall be obliged to go somewhat further afield, but for the greater part of our study we may confine ourselves to the evolution of life on our earth. Now we are seeking in our study to find a common ground of agreement on which co-operation may arise between peoples of different faiths and of different schools of thought. If we are trying to find a meeting-place for western and for eastern Science, if we are seeking in the light of Religion to understand some of the mysteries of life, it is right and fitting that we should remember that no one religion has a monopoly of truth, and that any one who is seeking to expound the truth should be able to fortify his position from the different religions of the world, and to show that on all great, essential, and fundamental truths they speak with a single voice, they teach an identical lesson. Therefore in dealing with my subject this morning, I shall, as before, draw your attention on the main points where challenge might arise to the consensus of religious opinion, to the definite statements of the world's Teachers; so that the tendency towards unity, on which the future evolution of life depends, may be helped to develop amongst us. And there is a special reason for that just now. We shall see, as we trace out the evolution of life, that we are in the very crisis of the intellectual evolution, and we shall find that the characteristic of that stage of evolution is division and separation, and the placing of the individual apart from, and somewhat in conflict with, other individuals. And we shall find that the next stage in the evolution of life is the seeking for union amid the individualised units; that the next divine aspect that man has to develop in the Self within him is the aspect of union and not the aspect of diversity; and it is of importance that those who are seeking the light, those who are striving to co-operate with nature by understanding her hidden ways, should realise the next step of evolution as well as the present, in order that they may co-operate with nature by themselves taking that step, thus quickening the possibility of similar taking for all mankind.

Now with regard to life in its relation to forms, change at the present time is coming over the thought of western Science. I pause on this for a moment in order to substantiate that assertion, for it is important in the search for the means of drawing together the two kinds of science, ancient and modern, to notice how much the position of the leading scientists of the West has been modified with regard to life and form during the last ten years. I take as a declaration on this subject of life, issued some years ago, the article on Biology in the last edition of the _Encyclopædia Britannica_, written, as all the articles in that _Cyclopædia_ are written, by a prominent man in the scientific world. In dealing then with life, the writer of the article in question distinctly states that "a mass of living protoplasm is simply a molecular machine of great complexity, the total results of the working of which, or its vital phenomena, depend, on the one hand, upon its construction, and on the other, upon the energy supplied to it and to speak of 'vitality' as anything but the name of a series of operations is as if any one should talk of the 'horologity' of a clock." That is to say, that to regard life as being in any sense a common existing principle, as anything more than a mere succession of phenomena in connection with a particular apparatus of matter, is as foolish and unreasonable as if, looking at a clock, you should separate its going property from the mechanism of the clock itself. A purely mechanical view of nature is thus taken, and life-processes are regarded as being due to the unstable equilibrium of protoplasm; the series of these life-processes is brought about merely by mechanical and chemical changes, the actions called vital being thus mechanical in their character. But at the last meeting of the British Association, the President of the Chemical Section--chemistry having been the very science to lead the scientific world towards materialism in this respect--has taken up an entirely different standpoint, a point that brings the question into a line with ancient thinking, and that starts the investigations of western Science along a road whereon the most fruitful results are likely to be encountered. Dr. Japp, the President of that Section, compares the action of life to the action of an operator who is deliberately working with a purpose, using knowledge and will in order to bring about a definite result. "The operator," he says, "exercises a guiding power which is akin, in its results, to that of the living organism," and, going on to explain in very technical language the ground on which this view is based, he concludes by saying: "Every purely mechanical explanation of the phenomenon must necessarily fail. I see no escape from the conclusion that at the moment when life first arose a directive force came into play--a force precisely of the same character as that which enables the intelligent operator, by the exercise of his will, to select one crystallised enantiomorph and reject its asymmetric opposite." That is the declaration: that with the arising of life there is an arising of consciousness which exercises a directive force in nature, as we see it exercising a directive force in the choice exercised by men. Put those two statements side by side, see the entire reversal of the attitude, and then you will be able to measure to some extent the change that has come over western thinking--the recognition of life as identical with consciousness, a position which has ever been taken in the hoary Science of the East.

Now let me, before going into details, suggest to you the path that we are to follow. From the One Existence, that One without a second, arises, as we saw in our first study--Íshvara, God in His creative and manifested aspect, Íshvara clothed in Mâyâ, out of which a new universe is to be builded. Threefold we found Him to be in His manifestation, threefold in the aspect that He showed forth; so that a Trimûrti, or Trinity, is the aspect towards this universe of the manifested God; His working will show this triple character, and the evolution of life is threefold, whether we study it in nature or in man. I know the thought that arises in many of you, accustomed to the broad statements in eastern literature. You think of the building, the sustaining, and the disappearing of a universe. Perfect, you say, is the One Existence, infinite, unchangeable; perfect in the ending is the universe, as perfect in the beginning; why then this long evolution of life with all its struggles, with all its imperfections gradually and slowly transcended. Why from the perfect should the imperfect come forth? Why should it be trained into perfection, and then return into that perfection whence it came? That question is based on a fundamental misunderstanding which it is necessary to correct; a misunderstanding which never could have risen amongst you if the Scriptures had been read in the light of the Yoga-developed consciousness, and if the broad outline which is presented had been followed out carefully in thought so that its stages might be marked. You will remember how it is written in the _Chhândhogyopanishad_ that the One willed to multiply; and the moment you grasp the idea of multiplication, if you think of what it means instead of merely repeating the word, you will realise that multiplication must necessarily mean division and therefore limitation, and that limitation necessarily implies imperfection. But having gone so far, you would then have proceeded to ask: By what words is the universe described, and what idea is hidden beneath the words? And you would find that when God is spoken of as a Fire, the universe is not spoken of as a Fire, but as a spark, and the lives of men are described as millions of sparks that come from the illimitable Fire. Not only is that word "spark" used, showing you the limitation that comes with manifestation, giving you the idea that the spark, fed by suitable fuel is to be developed into the likeness of the Flame whence it came; but as the spark is of the same nature as the flame, so we are told "Thou art That," the Self in man is identical in nature with the Self that gave it birth. You will remember another word which is constantly used to describe alike the universe as a whole, and also the parts of which it is composed--the word germ or seed. Let me ask you to turn to the _Bhagavad Gîtâ_ so familiar to every student amongst you, and to listen for a moment to the words chosen by Shrî K?i?h?a when He desires to convey the idea of the nature of the universe, and its relation to the Supreme What does He say?

Mama yonir Mahad Brahma tasmin garbham dadâmyaham.    
Sambhava sarva bhûtânâm tato bhavati Bhârata.

"I place the germ in the womb of Mahad Brahma." What do these words imply? for the whole turns on our understanding of that word "germ." Mahad Brahma is the matter of the universe, vivified by Brahman in His third aspect--that which Theosophists call the Third Logos, which in the Trimûrti is spoken of as Brahmâ. Looking on Brahman as the _One_, Mahad Brahma is the third aspect of His revealing, which vivifies and makes atomic the matter of the universe, the womb of the seed of the Eternal Life. In that, brought into manifestation by Brahmâ, or the Third Logos, the Second, the generating Father, Vishnu, places that germ of life that therein it may develop; not Himself in all the might of His Deity, not Himself in the force of His unfolded powers, but the seed of His life--capable of evolution, containing everything within it potentially, but showing forth nothing in manifestation at the beginning of the universe. True, the child is the father revived; true, the child is the same as the father. None the less, the life which the father gives is the seed containing the power of development, and the universe is but the seed of Deity, with every power involved within it, and capable by its evolution of becoming the image of the Supreme: none the less is every power germinal, not developed, potential, not actual; only at the ending will that seed, grown into perfect manhood, show forth the image of its generating Sire, and give a new Íshvara to the future from whom further universes may evolve. That is the answer to the question: Why this long evolution? It is this evolution that we are to trace from the germ to the perfect, life given as germ to grow to the God.

Let us look first at the matter in which this life is to be clothed--not in detail, that is to-morrow's work--but just as to the principle involved in the evolution of the matter through which the life is to express itself. We heard the first day about tattvas. We found that they were modifications of Prakriti, the primary matter, brought out one after the other as the regions of the universe were builded. All that we need for our purpose this morning is to remember that five of these are concerned with the present evolution, that the highest of these is the A'kâsha in the highest sense of the term, then Vâyu, then Agni, then Apas, then Prithivî; all these are kosmic and they represent vast planes in the universe, but have their correspondences in the physical globe--ether, air, fire, water, earth, these being only the reflections in miniature of their great prototypes in the system at large. The only other thing we need to remember this morning with regard to matter, is that the whole of these are animated by the life of the _third_ aspect of God. Here is a point where we may pause for a moment and look at other religions, and we shall find that they all tell us exactly the same. Not only do we find in Hinduism, in such a book as the _Vishnu Purâna_ that the Divine creation was from Mahat--the third manifestation--that these great tattvas were evolved by modifications from the principle of individuality which is the characteristic of that aspect; but if we turn to the Hebrew teachings we shall find that it is distinctly stated that the "Spirit of God," the third aspect, or Wisdom, moved on the face of the waters. Translating the symbol of water we have matter; it is so used in every great religious scripture, and when it is said that the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters, we have the picture of a brooding life, brooding over and permeating the ocean of primeval matter, giving to it the life that will enable it to serve as the womb for a higher life; the divine energy that thus vivifies matter comes from the third Person of the Christian Trinity. That Hebrew statement dominates the whole of Christendom, inasmuch as the Christian Churches take the older part of their scriptures from the hands of the Hebrew people; and in quoting that, I am not quoting it only as an authority from the Hebrews but as including the authority of the whole of Christendom, bound by that Hebrew teaching. I might show you, did time permit, that other great Teachers have spoken in the same sense; the outcome being that the matter in which evolution is to take place--of which our world of organisms, including our own bodies, is to be formed--that matter is permeated by the Divine life, and the aspect of Divine life that permeates it is that of the third manifestation of God. That is the fundamental reason why Brahmâ is no longer worshipped. That is why no temples are raised to Him and why worshippers do not throng to His shrines. His work was dominant in the earlier stages of the universe, but is now overshadowed by the working of another aspect of the mighty God, Vishnu as Preserver, as Sustainer, and as Organiser. He is the life which is active in all organisms; and the life which animates the atoms of matter having been given and partially evolved, the continuing aspect of that work is hidden at the present stage of the universe; the main evolution of life that is now occurring is carried on and directed by other aspects of God.

Sometimes in theosophical literature, that vivification and building up of matter is spoken of as the work of the first great life-wave in the solar system; as a wave rolling forth so does the life of God go forth for the building of the atoms whereof the system is to be composed. The critical point is this: that the life is veiled over and over again in a five-fold involution; we find it said that Prâna five-fold divides itself, for five are the types of the atoms, five are the great divisions of the materials, and in each successive type, the previous type permeates and encloses it, as we found we could read in the _Vishnu Purâna_, dealing with the building up of the tattvas. (It will be remembered that the types are really seven, but that two are concealed.) One important result comes from this which I will deal with more fully to-morrow, that the form--being built up from matter containing within it this involved and concealed life--has the power of unfolding to the highest possibility of the life thus concealed. Sheath after sheath is made in order that sheath after sheath may be brought into activity as a vehicle of the Self, and that five-fold ensheathing for the human Self is wrought in order that it may have a vehicle capable of responding to every vibration that it sets up or that it receives. As the vibrations become subtler and subtler in their character, sheath after sheath becomes active and responsive, and enables the life to function externally by means of the sheath. Let us however turn--for that will be fully worked out to-morrow--to the next great life-wave with which we are concerned; it is the life of the second aspect of Deity, spoken of in Hinduism as the life of Vishnu, spoken of in Christianity as the life of the Son of God by whom all things were made. As that life outpours into the universe prepared to receive it, as that life begins to draw together the matter which, vivified by the first out-pouring, is now ready to respond to the vibrations of the life that organises and sustains, vibrations are sent out by this Divine Life into the higher regions of the universe, beginning the task of drawing the matter together into forms. The earliest stages of these are the ante-types of what shall be in evolution--not such forms as we speak of in the lower world, concrete objects which can give rise to concrete ideas, but that which dimly we are trying to reach in the mind to-day, when we abstract from a great class of concrete objects its uniting quality, its common characteristic, and formulate this apart from the objects themselves. I have sometimes taken the triangle as the very simplest image which thought can form. You may have triangles of any size, you may have triangles of almost any shape, provided only three lines are used, and those lines are right lines, or unbent. What is the governing characteristic of the triangle? That its three angles, formed by the meeting of enclosing sides, must be equal to two right angles. Now supposing that you have the power of brain, the power of abstraction, to take ten, twenty or thirty concrete triangles and hold them in the mind as though you were looking at them in outer form, to create their mental images so that every form is present in your mind, you directing your attention to them all at the same time, then--if out of these many concrete objects that have the particular properties in common of the three right lines that enclose and the sum of the three angles equalling two right angles--if you can draw out the idea of that common property, separated from every concrete triangle, and make it an object in consciousness, then you will have risen from the concrete to the abstract, and will have some idea of what is meant by an archetype in the higher world. The earliest actions of the Deity in evolving a system are of this nature; He generates certain types or archetypes, and by the sub-division and multiplication of these the whole universe of concrete objects is formed; each one of them is capable of generating innumerable forms that reproduce its own characteristic amid endless diversities of subsidiary properties.

It is not without interest that some of our scientific men have tried to find unity amidst diversity, and to discover the types of the animal kingdom amid the innumerable diversities of the separated animal forms. One of the most famous of those men, Sir Richard Owen, tried to formulate an archetype which should represent every fundamental characteristic of the vertebrate, like no particular vertebrate but showing forth the qualities present in every vertebrate; he worked this out from a study of vertebrates, setting aside the characteristics in which they differ and synthesising into a single form the qualities possessed by all. The reverse process is what really occurred; the archetype which came forth from the Divine Mind generated in the world of matter myriad different types in each of which it is itself expressed. That gleam of genius which illuminated the mind of the modern scientist is interesting as a ray from the conception of creative action given in our sacred literature; and you will find, if you study carefully, that the earliest forms are not concrete objects but generative powers, and that these coming forth from God make models for the future types, each type being related to its ante-type, each concrete object to its abstract idea. Thus also the Greeks taught, Pythagoras and Socrates and Plato; thus also many of the Hebrews taught, the doctors of the Kabala; and both the Greek Philosopher and Hebrew Kabalist have declared that the visible world of objects could never have come into existence had not the invisible world of Ideas preceded it, so that the objects repeated in multitude what an Idea presented in unity. That Idea thus coming forth from God and drawing to itself forms in subtle matter, produces the types of forms that are gradually to be worked out in evolution; and those of you who have studied the _Secret Doctrine_ of Madame Blavatsky may remember that the archetypal world is therein spoken of as the first which is created, and as that on which the whole of the evolution of denser worlds depends. It is made of the A'kâsha which contains within itself the possibility of all forms as we are told, and these Ideas are drawn forth and reproduced in greater detail by the Builder on the A'kâshic correspondences of Agni. Life is evolved by the modifications in consciousness which Íshvara brings about; the modification in the consciousness of Íshvara preceding the moulding of the matter. As that life-wave descends into denser and denser matter, it draws together more and more separate forms, that become denser in their nature, until at last, through kingdom after kingdom, it comes down to the mineral forms, where life is most restricted in its operations, where consciousness is most limited in its scope. This is the process of the involution of life in matter, the descending arc. From this lowest point the life ascends, revealing more and more of its powers, and ordinary western "evolution" begins here, the earlier process being ignored.

How did that Divine life and consciousness, in the first upward stage of evolution, evolve in the germinal life the power to respond? The life within the stone has the capacity to respond, but in a very limited fashion, partly owing to its germinal nature, partly owing to the rigidity of its surrounding vehicle; therefore the brooding life of Vishnu, nourishing this germ, at once stimulates it by impacts from without and gradually modifies the rigidity so as to make progress possible. Long, long remains the life imbedded in this rigid material, working from within outwards, as all life works, playing upon and thus softening the rigidity, and slowly giving the form more plasticity in response; we can sum up the whole of the working of the life, as the receiving of vibrations from matter without and the answering of vibrations from itself within. Notice in the earliest stages how tremendous are the impacts; if you go back to the time when the world knew not humanity, how gigantic are the operations of nature showing herself in her mineral forms; earthquakes, eruptions, crushing and grinding of materials, disintegration and reconstruction, all on the mightiest and most gigantic scale; under all that, the life, trying to make the matter more plastic and able to answer more readily; and inasmuch as there is life, there is consciousness, _i.e._, the power to respond, that power is developed within it, stimulated by the brooding life of Íshvara. He dwelling within, and enveloping and permeating all objects, makes the seed of life extend and grow by his nourishing warmth, that it may become finally an independent centre. We see the life within the stone beginning to vibrate more actively as these tremendous blows come upon it from without; and mass is thrown against mass, and mountain is piled upon mountain, until at last these mineral materials gain larger power of transmitting impulses to the life within; the impulse coming through more strongly because of the lessened opposition from the form, the life responds more actively and begins to evolve, developing more definitely the power of response. As this process is repeated over and over again, the life within the minerals vibrates with ever increasing rapidity, and the matter yields to it with ever greater readiness, until a stage of plasticity is reached at which the beginnings of the vegetable world can be brought into existence. Between mineral and plant in the lowest stages no definite dividing line can be drawn by science. So general is this absence of dividing lines in nature that a separate kingdom has been recognised as including low types of both vegetable and animal, and between the vegetable and mineral kingdoms a class is recognised in which the rigid crystal which belongs to the mineral kingdom has become the plastic crystalloid that belongs to the vegetable; maintaining the outline of the mineral form, but showing the plasticity of the vegetable, and thus yielding far more readily to the moulding influences of the life within. The life thus encased in more plastic material receives vibrations from without more easily and responds more strongly, until in the ascent that it is beginning to make, it adds the early beginnings of a power of consciousness that in the mineral was not present. We call it sensation: the power of feeling pleasure and pain, the power of responding to the outside impact by a feeling within the life. After the life in the mineral has developed the power of response, then the next stage in evolution is that the response takes on the sensations of pleasure and pain, appearing as that within the life which responds severally to harmonious or discordant impact from without. As the life develops this power of sensation, progress becomes more rapid. The animal kingdom is gradually builded and the power of sensation is the great characteristic which is developed through that kingdom, until--the animal forms having been rendered plastic through many ages by the impulse of life, and the life having formed and strengthened the power of responding by pleasure and pain to harmonious and discordant vibrations--the next stage is ready to be taken, the building of the vehicle for man.

That outer body in which man is to dwell resembles closely in its nature, in some of its fundamental characteristics, the animal bodies which the life had vivified before man was called into existence. "Out of the dust of the ground," says the Hebrew scripture, God formed the body of man, a symbolic way of saying that out of the material that had made the lowest forms of life, was also to be made the outer coating of that vessel, into which a new flood of Divine life was to be outpoured, forming the human Self, or Spirit. We learn, when we study occultism, that this third outpouring of Divine life comes neither from the Third, nor from the Second, but from the First Logos, therefore called Mahâdeva, the Great God, the Supreme. From Him comes the third impulse which is to complete evolution, the third outpouring of life, that only accomplishes its final evolution in this age by methods of Yoga; therefore is He often represented as the great Yogî, the great Guru, under whose instructions the latest stages of evolution are to be carried out. When that life-force comes down, and the human Self is sent forth to occupy its tabernacle, the ancient process is again repeated, and it is only the germ of the highest life that is given and not the completed life. Round it are vehicles that are able to respond, round it are vehicles that have the power of developing more highly, that are already capable of sending in vibrations arousing feeling in the life that they enclose, and now--enwrapped by the life of Vishnu--this germ of the Divine Self begins to stir and live as man.

At first there comes from it very little response to the life that is transmitted, very little answer to that which is outside; but what are the characteristics of this infant Self, this spark of the Eternal Fire? Triple in aspect is the life in man as it is triple in the Deity, and its characteristics are the same, Sat, Chit, Ananda. We speak thus of Brahman, and if we study the human Self we shall find these three aspects present also in that human Self; and the first to develop in man, as in the Kosmos, is Chit or knowledge. All the earliest stages of human evolution have to do with the evolution of Intelligence; it is that with which we are now concerned, as we climb this mighty ladder. We are evolving intelligence or intellect, and if we trace its stages from the earliest germs as they appear in the primeval races of the humanity of our globe, and as fostered in those races by the Great Ones who came to us as Teachers from other worlds, we shall find that the dawning intellect in man was but very slightly responsive to anything that came to it from without, and that at first every effort of the intelligence was stimulated by the promptings of the animal nature, by the sting of desire, by the passions which belong to the animal part of man. Consider a savage. When is a savage active? Only when some animal desire awakens within him. If he is hungry, yes, then he will begin to think, "where can I find food?" If he is thirsty, he will ask, "where shall I find liquid?" Any animal prompting that arises within him, his dawning mind applies itself to satisfy; and the germ of mind is stimulated by the promptings of animal desire. In that stage he knows not right from wrong; right and wrong for him have no existence; hunger and thirst, sexual desire, and the need for sleep, these are the things that make up his life and that move his dawning consciousness; these only are strong enough to stir it into activity; it cannot yet initiate activity from within. But as these play upon it, life after life, birth after birth, century after century, in successive incarnations of this germinal but growing life, as these vibrations continually arouse, awaken the life of the intelligence, which is the third aspect of the Self, these repeated vibrations, repeated over and over and over again a thousand times, by that very repetition bring about an internal tendency to repeat it again without a fresh stimulus from outside; and we find in the next stage of the evolution of intelligence, still in the savage, that the savage does not wait for hunger in order to search for food, but that the memory of hunger and the memory of food are enough to send him out, before the hunger strikes him, in search of the meal that to-morrow he will require to satisfy the needs of the body. But what a change is there if we consider it, small as it is in appearance. The man is no longer stimulated by an outer impulse coming from the animal nature; he is stimulated by a mental image, a connected picture of the painful state of the body wanting food and of the food which is able to change that state into one of pleasure; that is, he is now able to form mental images, and these stimulate him into activity. How great the change! No less than a change of the centre of consciousness from the animal to the human, one of the most significant changes in the evolving life. Now, for the first time, he does not wait to be pushed from without. He begins action from within, and the body obeys the impulse that comes from the centre, instead of the impact that strikes the centre from without. Now evolution becomes more rapid, for as this great change, one of the hardest of changes, is made, the intellect in man begins to cognise itself, and Self-consciousness begins to arise. Separation is recognised between its own centre, that thinks, and the things outside that make it think; the "I" and the "Not-I" arise, and the centre begins to shape itself and to be capable of growth.

How shall the growth go on? By conflict. This is the characteristic of the intellect. It has to make the "I" a strong centre, a separate centre, otherwise no further evolution is possible. You may say that this looks like going downwards; nay, it is the germ of a new centre of life in which Divinity itself shall unfold when evolution is complete. There must be a clearly defined centre of consciousness, else how shall it work onward to perfection? And that centre grows by struggle. All strength comes by struggle of one kind or another. If you want your arms to become strong, it is no good to lie on a sofa and leave the muscles to grow merely by the nourishment that you give them. They want more than nourishment, they want exercise; and it is the law of all growth of form that the life must be drawn into the form, for only then can the form expand and become capable of receiving a further impulse of life; if the muscles are to grow, the cells that compose them must be stretched by exercise, and the life must flow into the expanded cell; only then does it become capable of multiplication, so that there may be many cells where before there was only one. The difference between the weak man and the strong man, the man who is feeble and the man who is athletic, is the difference brought about by exercise and struggle, by pulling against resistance, by taking up a weight and whirling it round and making the muscles strain against the weight. That is a picture of the way in which all life is working for development of form; the impulse of life leads to the exercise of the form, the exercise makes it plastic and increases the form, through which the life is thus enabled to flow more largely. That is as true in the mental world as in the physical world; for the mental world is also a world of phenomena. It is not the One; its characteristic is diversity, each being standing by himself, and regarding other things as separate. I know an object. How? By its differences from some objects and its likenesses to others; otherwise I could not know it. You cannot think of unity until you have seen variety; you cannot recognise likeness until you have seen unlikeness. The characteristic of intellectual evolution is the discrimination of differences followed by the recognition of likenesses; thus the intellect recognises object after object, each of them by its own characteristic marks. Analysis precedes synthesis. Differences are seen before an underlying unity is recognised.

As this intelligence develops, we find the recognition of the Self and the Not-Self giving rise to struggle all over the world, social struggle as well as mental struggle. In every civilisation in which the intellect is developing from its earlier stages, you must have struggle without in order to stimulate the evolution within; it is a necessary stage, although it be a passing one, and it need not distress us, who see its end, in a world guided by the Gods. All the stages through which a nation passes are necessary for its growth, and need not be condemned merely because of their being limited and imperfect. In practical politics condemnation is useful as a stimulus, as one of the agents for bringing about the evolutionary changes, but the philosopher should understand, and, understanding, he cannot condemn. The worst struggle that we may see, the most terrible poverty, the most shocking misery, the strife of man against man and nation against nation--all these are working out the Divine purpose, and are bringing us towards a richer unity than without them we could possibly attain.

Let me take one instance which seems to be the most hopeless of all--the instance of war. What can be more inhuman than war, what more brutal and more terrible, stirring the angriest passions of man and making him like a wild beast in his rage? Aye, but that is not all. Let us look at the life within a soldier which has been evolved by this terrible discipline without. What is that life learning as its vehicles are plunged into strife, into blood-shed, into mutilation, into death? It is learning lessons that without that stern experience it could not learn, without which its evolution would be checked and be unable to proceed it is learning that there is something greater than the body, something greater than the physical existence, something higher, more noble, more compelling, than the guarding of the physical vehicle from injury and even from death; and the poorest soldier who goes out on a campaign, who goes through hardship after hardship, who finds himself frozen with cold or burnt up with heat, who plunges through frozen river or toils across sandy desert, who learns to preserve discipline and submission under hardship, who learns to keep cheerful under difficulty, so that his comrades may not be depressed, who is moved, not by the thought of the body which is suffering, but by the great ideal of the military renown of his regiment, and the safety of the country which he is serving, who is learning thus to sacrifice himself for an ideal, is developing thereby qualities invaluable in lives to come. Need I say this to you, who know the place of the Kshattriya in human evolution? Did Manu when he described these different castes demarcate a caste that had not its place in the evolution of life, that had not something to teach? Was not a man kept in the Kshattriya vehicle until he had learned that life was not dependent on the body, that life was to be held at the service of the ideal, at the service of the mother-land that gave him birth, of the king who ruled him, and who to him stood, as to every Hindu the king should stand, as an Avatâra of God? He learned that when that king called him to the battle-field, he had to give his body to mutilation and to death, because the life that was in him recognised the service of the ideal as evolving the real life, and the body as a mere garment to be thrown aside when duty called? Without that training, no Brâhmana could be; no man could come into the caste of the Brâhmana, save as he had gone through that discipline in the ranks of the Kshattriya; because until he had learned that life was everything and form nothing--and that is the lesson which war teaches when it is rightly understood--until that lesson was learned, he was not prepared for the far harder evolution of the life, which is to master the lesson of unity beneath diversity, of love beneath antagonism, of being the friend of every creature and the foe of none.

When the intelligence has developed, when it has reached a fairly high standpoint, the germs of the next aspect of Deity begin to show themselves in man and that aspect is A'nanda, Joy or Bliss. But in what does A'nanda really consist? It is in the drawing together of separated objects and uniting them into one. That is the essence of Bliss, that the very core and heart of the next stage of evolution. In the old days of Hinduism, this was called the life of the Brâhmana, when the Brâhmana was really a Brâhmana and had no further birth before him on the wheel of births and deaths. In the Christian symbology it is called the Christ stage, that of Divine Sonship, and you will find in a great prayer of Jesus, called the Christ, that in praying for His disciples He asked that "they may be one in me," in union with each other and Himself. There is a grander unity yet, the unity between the Son and Father, a unity of nature not a union of the erst-separated; but before that unity can be reached, man must have realised the union with his brother men, must see humanity as united, and not as separate; that is, he must have changed his centre of consciousness--that responds to the impacts from without--from the vehicles in which the intellect and the feelings were developed to the life itself, which is one and the same in all. No longer is he to think himself as separate, inasmuch as the "I," the separated self, is now to be transcended, is to be merged in the uniting aspect of the Deity, the Vishnu or the Christ. That is to be developed as the life of man, with all its wonderful beauty and power, with its unifying force. Therefore did Shrî K?i?h?a come as an Avatâra to this Eastern world to show forth the life of Love; for the life of A'nanda, or Bliss, is ever the life of Love, and by Love alone may we evolve it within ourselves. The aspect of God that is Bliss shows itself as Love; and in word and in action, in simile and in parable, did the Beloved and the Lover of man reveal that Divine aspect to the longing hearts of his Bhaktas. That was His special work, to show out the Love power of God; and only as that is developed within us can the life take on this lofty unfoldment that knits all selves in the One Self, that sees all lives in Him. Now, in evolution, the Self knows itself as the Life, and is no longer deluded by the ignorance that made it identify itself with the Form; it is life which realises itself as Life. When this stage is reached by the evolving life, the man who was separated becomes Humanity, and is one of the Saviours of the world. There is nothing apart from him, nothing separate to him. He stands in the very Life itself, and sheds his light in every direction into whatever Upâdhi, or vessel, may be in need of it; wherever there is want or cry for his aid, thereto flow his powers. As the sun shines forth in heaven, and may shine unto a million houses, the only condition of his rays entering being that the houses shall lay themselves open to the sunshine, so is the man who has become the second aspect of Deity, in whom that perfection of Divine Sonship is revealed. Man, as the Son of God in Heaven, is above all the distinctions that you find on Earth. He sends down his rays into the waiting hearts of men, and the only condition necessary for his entrance, the one thing that ensures his coming, is that his brother will open his heart to receive him. For he will not break his way in, he will only come where he is welcome. Thus this great life of God shows itself forth now in the man who has become the Saviour, the Son, the Initiate, as a deep compassionate love for all. Every man who reaches that stage is a new force for the uplifting of humanity. Every man who develops that aspect of life is one more wing with which to lift everything upwards. If a man be weak, his life can go to him to strengthen him; if a man be sorrowful, his life can go to him to make him glad; if a man be sinful, his life can go to him to make him pure from sin. To all men he says: "Wherever a man is there will I meet him, and there will I accept him." That is Shrî K?i?h?a in manifestation, that the love that shines forth from the bliss aspect of the Human Self.

One step remains, the last, of evolution for this rapidly perfecting life. Again I take up my Christian symbol and venture the quotation:-- "As Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us." The Son becomes in fact what he has ever been potentially, one with the Father. He enters into the mighty realm of Self-Being, where God, in the Christian phrase, is "all-in-all." Do not let the narrower presentations of Christianity that here meet you blind you to these fundamental identities of the deeper and more spiritual Christianity with our own ancient faith. Shall these pettinesses, or even outer divergencies, separate those whom the living Spirit would unite? We learn, as we study the Hindu Scriptures, that man after having reached the second stage rises by Yoga, until he attains the last, and becomes one with the Deity Himself in full power of eternal Self-Being. It was because your own Svâmi T. Subba Rao knew this occult truth, which too many know not, that he spoke, as I before mentioned, of the innumerable Centres, or Logoi, in the One, every one of which could be the beginning of a new universe, of a new out-pouring of life. The building of those Centres is a purpose of Life-evolution. The building them up stage by stage is done as the life passes from form to form; and end or ending there is none in the infinite series of the future. What that life holds for us we cannot tell; how should we imagine that far off land, those distant reaches? But this we know: that no will of the Eternal is ever frustrate, no purpose of the Eternal lacks its fruit or misses its goal; and if our eyes fail us in the dazzle of the light wherein we see our unity with the Eternal Father--that unity that transcends our dreaming, when we shall know ourselves to be one with Him--it is enough that at last the evolution of all lives leads into that unimaginable splendour, known only to Íshvara Himself, who pours out His life that we may know it also. And Mahâdeva shall return to It with all the centres that His life has brought into existence, with all the new lives and joys that His imprisonment in His universe has made. That is enough for us to give us the hope--hope, do I say? it is too feeble a word--the joy inexpressible and the certainty which are founded on the very Life of God; for is He not the Truth, the Foundation of the Universe? And when we enter into SAT we shall know the future as we see the past, for we shall be not only immortal but Eternal.

 

 

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