2.15 Does the higher consciousness refer to the soul or the spirit?
No, the higher consciousness simply implies certain universal planes of consciousness with a greater range of powers and possibilities and a greater and more complete truth than what we find in the mind. These planes are many and are universal, that is to say, they exist independent of any individual element. Yet the forces, energies and beings of these planes influence and mould the individual elements. Something of them is concealed in each individual element of the material universe that is released by a reverse process of evolution.
The soul is not a plane of consciousness but a miniature seed of the Divine Consciousness. It is the individual divinity in us and if developed and brought to the forefront of human evolution, it can unlock the mystery of this universal play. It is also the master key to open the doors of the Divine in us and beyond this universe thereby calling down an intervention from Above. This evolutionary journey of the soul from its spiritual infancy to a full spiritual adulthood is not possible in one life. It has to come again and again, gather earthly experience of contact with all the planes and grow towards fullness and mastery through a process of rebirth. The soul is that element which does not die with the disintegration of our physical body. It is the true spiritual individuality in us which though individual is yet capable of universality. It is covered however by the ego-individuality, just as a seed is covered by a hard outer crust. The soul individuality is eternal and immortal while the ego-individuality is a temporary construction of Nature, much like a cradle that protects a sleeping baby or scaffolding that supports a building until it is complete.
2.16 Does all this knowledge have any practical implications for real life, say health and illness? How does all this ‘soul’, ‘higher consciousness’, etc. relate to our everyday life
To understand, we may have to dwell a little on the evolutionary process. All evolution involves two things. First (from the point of our appreciation), we see a change in the form. Secondly, we see a development of capacities or capabilities, apparently to meet the evolutionary challenge and adapt to it. But this does not necessarily explain everything. For example, what would be the real adaptive use of human speech over a monkey or a chimp, especially when in the process we have lost much of the robust vitality of the gorilla! But the process makes perfect sense if we posit instead that evolution is essentially about the bringing forth of certain latent possibilities in Nature. The environmental challenge is only an excuse or an occasion. Of course the difficulty of this hypothesis is that it assumes that Nature is conscious and there is a method and a meaning in the seemingly mad and random processes. But this assumption is at least as plausible (if not more) than the other assumption that freak accidents and chance events and random processes execute the evolution of dust to man!
This view is a reversal of the whole process. It means that the physical concrete reality is only a shadow or a symbol that is trying to express something, some Idea or a deeper hidden Image, an archetype if we like. At first this Idea or Image catches up in the ideative world, then it comes down in stages, moulding matter through a series of ordered steps till it completely precipitates in the physical. There is nothing philosophical or religious about it. It is a plain fact but of another dimension although not less useful for that reason. The fact that animals use pheromones to communicate is not known to the animals themselves (they follow instincts and sensations), yet this knowledge is helpful as man can then devise practical equipment and appliances to attract or repel certain animals. They can even extend the application to human beings and discover and utilise a science of odour and aroma to which many of us are yet unconscious. So also a knowledge of the higher worlds and their systematic exploration including ways and means to enter into relation with them can become a powerful science of the future.
There is a vast and infinitely complex Intelligence and Power and a Consciousness-Force behind the works of Nature. If we carefully observe we shall see how an infinite Intelligence works within its range in any given species directing its movements with a precision of knowledge and assured power that even the highest human intelligence cannot easily secure for us. Look how an ordinary single-cell organism mutates when faced with the threat of extinction, so much so that it bounces back powerfully and defeats man, the most complex and intelligent of creatures! What the most sophisticated laboratories achieve with so much money and much difficulty, the bacillus achieves with a rapid certainty and precision as if it could read the molecule that is threatening to destroy it. Even of the atomic world, it could be said that the behaviour of atoms itself can be seen as an intelligent behaviour in some ways.
So what is the game all about? As we have seen, the earth is the field of a vast and complex evolutionary experiment undertaken by Mother Nature under the impulsion of this infinite Intelligence and Power that works within it. This experiment involves the progressive release of higher and higher levels of consciousness from matter, but always keeping and using matter as its base.
It makes it possible for the physical form to manifest the forces and energies of higher and higher planes with the obvious ultimate objective of manifesting the very highest planes of the Divine Consciousness, so that the one Consciousness of truth-existence-bliss can have free play within its own multiplicity.
In fact from a certain perspective and line of experience, any given form is nothing else but the condensation of forces and energies which again are simply the processes that Nature uses to manifest a certain type of consciousness or an Idea-Will if you like. Thus seen, we have at least three levels of understanding a phenomenon.
The first that corresponds to the sphere of physical or modern science is the phenomenon itself, that is, the visible properties and qualities of the phenomenon. By knowledge of this kind we can manipulate the surface of things and, as modern science has shown, even achieve admirable and immediately visible results.
The next level is the play of forces and energies and here, there is an increasing complexity, a layer after layer of the interwoven play. Modern science has only now begun to touch this layer. But the larger part of the play is still occult.
Finally, we have still deeper to these forces and energies, the One Consciousness, which can manifest itself into infinite states, each carrying the potential of a whole world in a seed form. These states are simply the various modes of the One that come into existence by a special process of self-limitation just as a human being can limit himself to play a certain role by getting into a particular state. To touch this bedrock, one must have not merely an occult or a scientific knowledge but a special spiritual knowledge and a power that comes from living in a spiritual consciousness. At its highest this knowledge and power can completely undo and recreate the entire play of cosmic forces and their energies and thereby change the whole phenomenal world or even make it disappear completely, as some mystics indeed experience it. Following this line, we can actually arrive at the frontiers of form where the formless essence of things is given concrete shape. This power to cut out finite forms by a throwing out of certain forces and energies was called in the ancient spiritual traditions as the power of Maya that measures out the infinite. Naturally, this power that stands at the highest frontiers of any form and phenomenon or energy or force or a system of world, is beyond the reach of the human mind which is itself a form or a phenomenon!
This power of Maya is not an illusory creator as some believe. It is actually creating real forms with a view to stabilise higher and higher levels of consciousness of the One Infinite in finite multiple forms. It is creating infinite forms out of the One Infinite, if one may say so. Since it is behind everything and it is a conscious power, it works from within the form itself to release progressively newer and newer possibilities.
So far, matter has released out of itself the powers and possibilities of life and mind. This has been a long and arduous journey, accomplished with great perfection. Yet this is only a small beginning. For what is still hidden in matter is the possibility and powers of the Supramental (the Perfect Consciousness of the Divine that contains in Itself the Truth of oneness as well as the Truth of multiplicity in a perfect equilibrium) Truth-Consciousness and the three major planes of bliss, consciousness-force and truth.
Now, the emergence of each plane involves a double process. Firstly, this implies the preparation of matter to adapt to these new forces and secondly, the new plane and its forces and energies have to harmonise with the old planes. This process of adaptation is complex and involves many intermediate steps that may well emerge as a sub-species, not all of which may survive. In other words, there is a period of hectic evolutionary preparation with all the ‘so-called’ ‘errors’ and ‘wastages’ followed by a sudden evolutionary leap. This preparatory period is a time of disharmony and disorder that often gets outwardly translated into many social, psychological and physical pathologies and diseases. At our human level for example, the emergence of mind disturbed the natural harmony of animal life in a number of ways.
Firstly, with the arrival of mind came the mental ego, the sense of a separate individuality quite distinct from the collective identity of the species. Man has to adapt to life around him not only as a species but also as an individual, vis-à-vis others of his own kind. Secondly, the life-energies in man have to now feed not only the body but also the mind and mental functions. Thirdly, the mind is still evolving and has neither reached its full apex nor fully adapted itself to a world where the intervention of mind itself is constantly changing. All this leads to frequent disharmony to which man is most susceptible. Therefore, we find illnesses arise much more frequently in human beings since man lives in a state of almost perpetual disharmony.
Once we understand this, it is fairly easy to observe that whenever there is an increased evolutionary pressure, there is bound to be an increase in various forms of human pathologies, even new forms of disease which are basically the result of resistance to the evolutionary demand in the individual or group.
Now, once again, Nature seems to have entered an evolutionary mode with a hectic preparatory activity. On the one hand, we see the signs of decay and disorder everywhere, stretching and taxing the human body and mind to their limits through various evolutionary challenges. On the other, we can observe the first signs and hints of a new dawn, the early glimpses of a new consciousness at work.