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Jivamukti Focus of the Month

Evolution is an Intelligent Plan

Evolution is an Intelligent Plan

(Humans) are transitional beings. (They) are not final. The step from (human to superhuman) is the next approaching achievement in the earth’s evolution. It is inevitable because it is at once the intention of the inner spirit and the logic of Nature’s process.

— Sri Aurobindo

There is neither evolution nor destiny; only Being.

— Albert Einstein


The Maasai peoples’ creation myth involves the god Nigai first sending down his cows to inhabit the earth, and later sending down the Maasai people to care for and herd the animals, and also to depend on the cows’ blood and milk for sustenance. Our Maasai friend told me that there was no time in the past when cows and humans were without each other on Earth. He insists that there are no old stories about a time when the cows were not present in the same form they take today. I became curious and tried to find out the archeological idea of when and where the first cows and humans appeared in Africa. The supposed cow progenitor is called the Auroch and the oldest evidence of their existence comes from India about 2 million years ago. The Auroch migrated to Europe and Africa about 270,000 years ago and formed new subspecies. It is estimated that early human family members inhabited Africa 6 or 7 million years ago. It seems like humans have been around many millions of years before cows! The historical evidence is from various dating techniques and fossil evidence, but in both cases – the Aurochs and the humans of 2-7 million years ago did not look like humans and cows do today – they have definitely changed! In the Maasai myth both humans and cows arrive in their present form and remain unchanged to this day.

In the conversation between evolution and creation both sides see the other as absurd. Our Maasai friend could not understand any other possibility than the myth he grew up with and believed in. Even more, it seemed that he could not even frame the question for consideration. From my side, it is difficult to believe that humans and cows arrived together and remain unchanged to this day.

In Samkhya philosophy the word parinama is used to describe the evolving universe. The Dashavatara, the 10 principle avatars of Vishnu, could symbolize sequential evolutionary progression of fish, turtle, boar, the man-lion, and the dwarf, (the rest are human.) In the Ramayana we find ape-like species with human intelligence, the Varanas.

Our expanding universe seems to indicate a moment of creation – called the Big Bang. Could both ideas be true i.e. that there was a creation moment, and an integral aspect of that ongoing creation is evolution? A new paradigm called “intelligent design” describes evolution as a very orderly and directed sequence of change issuing from intelligence, rather than a series of fortunate or unfortunate random events within an environment that lead to changes in organisms. This idea tries to incorporate both the god of the creationists and the observations of an evolutionist.

There are those who believe that the next evolution of human consciousness will be to transfer our consciousness out of the physical body and into computers that are immortal. We already see body and brain parts being replaced with computer-operated spares. Some hold that the intelligence of the computers will soon far exceed their human creators intelligence – making human beings completely obsolete. Are we witnessing evolution at work? Or, are we evolving ourselves out of the picture? Stephen Hawking said, “Artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” He believes that super computers may design new weapons that we will annihilate ourselves with.

If we put bodies and intelligence aside for now, the central issue seems to be whether consciousness itself evolves. From the spiritual point of view Consciousness cannot evolve simply because it is already fully evolved. Consciousness is covered or shrouded with ignorance. As avidya (ignorance) is diminished – we evolve back toward a fully revealed Consciousness. This evolution of Consciousness through yoga is the rising serpent Kundalini who moves from the base of the spine toward the crown chakra. This spiraling journey upward is the real story of evolution; the spanda. It is much more than computer spare parts for your body – it is enlightenment!

Teaching Tips

  • Review the image in the Jivamukti Yoga book of Surya Namaskara mandala of the evolution of a child from crawling to standing on page 146. Use this model for teaching Surya Namaskara:
    1. The child is in a fetal or forward bending position in the womb.
    2. The child learns how to stretch out on a flat surface.
    3. The child lies on the abdomen in an upward-facing dog position.
    4. The child pushes back on hands and knees.
    5. The child presses to a downward facing dog pose.
    6. The child walks feet toward hands in Uttanasana.
    7. The child stands in a wobbly Samastittih.
  • From a yogic point of view we are evolving a body of light. This is not the same as the physical body, but the work of evolving that body of subtlety takes place in the physical body and affects the physical body. (To illustrate this concept teach the 3 bodies, 5 sheaths.)Actually, this work takes place on the borderline between the Mahabhutas and Nature. This is the realm where form forms. In this realm tanmatras (infra-atomic potential) determine the form that the Mahabhutas take in Nature.In other words the work of evolution takes place in subtle realms before the form appears in Nature. The tanmatras are sound potential, touch potential, sight potential, taste potential, and smell potential. By penetrating to the potential moment of being the evolutionary appearance of the being involved can be affected.
  • We also evolve and refine consciousness toward subtlety in meditation. As the fascination for the material world drops away, we are more closely aligned with the way that the subtle realms convene to shape matter.
  • Do a vocal exercise called the Shepard Tones. This gives the effect of a constantly rising tone. Visualize the sound spiraling upward from the group toward the sky. Each person sings a range of notes from lower to higher in pitch, and then taking a breath, listens for someone else’s sound and joins in with their voice to carry it higher again. When everyone’s voice overlaps it seems that the sound constantly evolves upward.

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