The Evolution of Consciousness as Recorded in Ancient Times (cont.)
These earliest of genuinely enlightened beings were the forerunners of a new human race that populate the planet in ever-growing numbers to today. And these initial few pointed the way, as best they could in their day, for others to follow: not follow personally, like sheep following a shepherd, but follow inwardly, intelligently, transformationally into greater Awareness in Consciousness in this life now, not in a life hereafter.
The essential problem that enlightened beings inevitably face, however, when communicating their teachings to others – especially in ancient times – is that only a rare few are prepared to receive it, and even then, to varying degrees. At worst, the majority remain unenlightened, therefore blind to the living Truth of which they speak or at best, are considerably less enlightened than the awakened ones pointing the way. Consequently, the majority – especially in ancient times – rarely understand, if they understand at all, what enlightened beings truly mean when they speak of the ending of sorrow, denying self, realizing Nirvana, or of entering the Kingdom of Heaven. Most, even today, remain in the dark in this regard. The relative few who are drawn to such teachings, however, likely sense something of the underlying Truth, even though the Absolute Reality of what they are about has yet to awaken from within.
If we trace the history of certain milestones in the evolution of conscious Awareness, as revealed in scripture, we might come to realize that just as the material world evolved from the simple to the more complex, so also conscious Awareness evolved from the simple Awareness of the Animal to conceptual awareness in early Man, followed by awakenings unto Pure Awareness within what Jesus called the ‘Son of man,’ which is to say, within those ‘ … blessed of my Father [to] inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’
According to biblical lore, the first humans to experience the arising of conceptual awareness are pointed to in the story of Adam (which interpreted means ‘mankind’) in whom the capacity to think first emerged. This milestone occurs when Adam begins to ‘name’ that which he perceives, conceptualizes, and articulates, as evermore concepts of Mind arise. Thus, the grunt, bark, and growl of the Animal evolves into the language of humankind.
Later in in the story, Noah appears, who is said to have lived ‘five hundred years … and was perfect in his generations,’ for he ‘found grace in God’s eyes.’ This is to say that ‘generations’ of ‘Noah’ were inwardly sensitive to and thereby inspired by a ‘level’ of conscious Awareness beyond that of early Man. Unlike Adam, Noah is less entangled in concepts of Mind and more attuned to the Heart, therefore less focused on himself and more compassionate toward others. God ‘speaks’ to Noah and Noah obeys in ways that Adam did not. The generations of Noah represent kindness, compassion, and Love coming to Light in humankind.
After Noah, another milestone is revealed in the story of Abraham, which interpreted means ‘exalted father of many.’ God, in this story, declares to Abraham that if he maintains his faith, which is to say, maintains his patience in the evolutionary process then, even though Abraham will not likely realize (be made Aware of) the unseen evolutionary work of the Holy Spirit maturing within him, God will nevertheless create future ‘nations out of thee,’ as Consciousness evolves. And sure enough, generations later, out of Abraham arises Jacob, later known as ‘Israel’ or ‘those who struggle with God,’ which is to say, those who ‘struggle’ to understand the true nature of God-Consciousness or Pure Consciousness in themselves.
Later again, out of ‘Israel,' standing on the shoulders of those who had come before, Moses, the first acknowledged prophet of the Hebrew people, appears. Unlike his storied predecessors – Adam, Noah, Abraham, and the like – rather than a metaphorical reference to ‘generations’ of people, Moses seems to have been an actual, historical personage who was designated the first Hebrew prophet (meaning, ‘seer’) of his time. In him, insights arose, which he shared with others in the form of behavioral teachings for them to follow with the expectation that they might one day awaken unto the Light within. Even so, he was not the first prophet the world had ever known, for inspired ‘seers’ had appeared in other cultures in other parts of the world prior to Moses’s time, as well. First one, then two, then four, and so on; all proclaiming a similar, if not identical message, rendered in different languages and different metaphors, but pointing to the same cosmic Reality in conscious Awareness that was just then awakening in humankind. Those early few began to ‘see,’ if only dimly, that over the horizon from where they stood (consciously speaking) something wonderful was about to occur, even though they knew not what that cosmic Reality might actually be.
Following Moses in the Israelite tradition, a series of enlightened souls the likes of Saul, David, Isaiah, and Jeremiah later arose, many proclaiming a new Kingdom yet to come; a Kingdom unlike any they had known before. And lo and behold, some hundreds of years after their time, a person by the name of Jesus was born, who, at about age thirty underwent a sudden transformation in Pure Conscious Awareness in which ‘the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove.’ This transformational moment that occurred within the embodiment of Jesus fulfilled ancient, Jewish prophesy that foretold of a new Kingdom yet to come, even though it was not known exactly what that meant or when or how it would appear or unfold. Then, lo and behold, in an instant, the new Kingdom, as proclaimed by Jesus, turned out to be a Kingdom in Heaven, rather than on Earth, that is within Man, rather than ‘out there’ somewhere, that is realized when one awakens unto the present moment in this life now, not in a life hereafter.
But Jesus was not the first to fully awaken unto the Light, nor would he be the last. In India, some five hundred years before, another by the name of Siddhartha Gautama was born, who, like Jesus, awakened unto the Light. Following his transformation, this newly enlightened sage (known as the Buddha, ‘the awakened one’) proclaimed the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path to enlightenment. In essence, the Buddha taught that to realize enlightenment is to end the sorrow of humankind. This realization of Pure Awareness that he called Nirvana is the same realization that Jesus proclaimed is the Kingdom of Heaven through which the sorrow of humankind ends.
At about the same time as the Buddha, Lao Tzu, in China, was yet another who awakened unto the Light. But unlike the Buddha and Jesus, rather than offering a teaching via the oral traditions of his day, Lao Tzu authored a book entitled, Tao Te Ching, in which he pointed to ‘the way’ of awakening unto Pure Awareness, absent attachments to constructs of Mind that was beginning to bud and flower within humankind. While these three proved preeminent in their day, they were not the only ones to awaken unto the Light, for others were also revered as enlightened sages of their day, albeit to a lesser degree than they.
Not long after the crucifixion of Jesus, a zealous Pharisee and persecutor of Jesus’ followers named Saul, while on his way to Damascus, experienced a sudden and thoroughly unexpected awakening of his own. Years later, the Apostle Paul, as he was then called, spread the word throughout the ancient Mediterranean world that a new dispensation, which he called the Christ, was not only coming, but is now here. And those who eschewed traditional systems of belief in favor of new possibilities in conscious Awareness might likewise awaken unto the Light, just as had happened in him some years before.
Thus, Consciousness has evolved – from Atoms to Molecules to Minerals to Plants to Animals to Humans – from early Man (Adam) in whom conceptual awareness emerged to and through the Prophets, followed by the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Jesus, Paul, and others in ancient times in whom Pure Conscious Awareness awakened, flowered, and bore fruit. And as Consciousness evolved in humankind, so also allegorical stories and parables were told, all pointing to the same, fundamental Reality – that a new ‘level’ of conscious Awareness is coming to life in humankind. Follow the Eightfold Path, declared the Buddha, and you will be transformed unto Nirvana wherein the sorrow of the world ends. ‘If you open yourself to the Tao,’ wrote Lao Tzu, ‘you are at one with the Tao and you can embody it completely.’ Follow me, proclaimed Christ Jesus. Love God with all your heart, obey the Commandments (as inwardly prescribed) and enter the Kingdom of Heaven where the sorrow of the world ends. Trust this that I say, proclaimed Paul, ‘for now (prior to transformation) we see through a glass, darkly; but then (following transformation) [we see] face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.’ And why Love? Because Love transforms humankind.
Over the past few thousand years, personages in ever-greater numbers from all cultures and walks of life have been transformed and thereby liberated from attachments to constructs of Mind by means of awakening unto Pure Conscious Awareness within. This being so, it can now be said with a high degree of certainty that Consciousness has likely been working toward this evolutionary goal since time began. And humans, as of this moment in evolutionary time, are the principal instruments in whom conscious Awareness is currently advancing toward the ultimate goal. The breakthrough that established the foundation upon which humans would ultimately evolve from the simple consciousness of the Animal unto self-conscious awareness in Man, and later Pure Conscious Awareness in what Jesus called the Son of Man, is metaphorically pointed to in the book of Genesis when ‘the Lord God … breathed into [Man’s] nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.’
The initial evolutionary milestone (from simple consciousness of the Animal to self-consciousness in Man) noted in the story of Creation commenced with the emergence of conceptual awareness in Adamic Man about four million years ago. At that moment in time, this newest of capabilities emerging within humankind was beyond all that had come before. Even so, Man’s unique capacity to think was clearly not intended as the end game of the evolution of Consciousness. Rather, conceptual awareness was apparently intended to be a springboard upon which Pure Awareness, which is not limited to thought, would ultimately bud and flower in humankind. The fulfillment of this higher ‘level’ of Awareness coming to Light in human beings is what enlightened Beings have been pointing to since ancient times as the ultimate destiny of humankind. And this evolutionary unfolding from conceptual awareness of self unto Pure Awareness Other than self is dramatically portrayed, rather than scientifically presented, in numerous parts of ancient scripture and is a story that continues to play out on the world stage to this day.
The idea of an evolutionary progression had not yet been formulated in ancient times. This being so, the earliest of enlightened beings were at a significant disadvantage when it came to articulating and communicating the nature of an evolutionary progression from conceptual awareness to Pure Conscious Awareness of the Whole that was coming to Light within them. Thus the story of Creation, while luminously inspired and beautifully written, lacks a description of the origin and evolution of the universe and of life in terms of the evolution of Consciousness, which we now know, based on scientific inquiry, occurred through billions of years of evolutionary time, rather than seven days, followed by ‘generations’ of Adamic man. Accordingly, the Creation story dramatically and metaphorically portrays (rather than scientifically presents) the advent of the universe and of Man absent any real notion of an evolutionary unfolding through time. Even so, the authors seem to have recognized that conceptual awareness was the single most significant factor that differentiated Man from his Animal ancestors.
But, as also evidenced by ancient scripture, the evolution of Consciousness did not end with the advent of mental constructs of Mind, for the capacity to think proved to be the forerunner for an even greater degree of Awareness yet to be revealed. Consequently, in more recent times, measured in thousands, rather than millions or billions of years, an ever-growing number of enlightened beings have experienced, and continue to experience, realizations of Pure Awareness, and as a result, are quick to recognize that Pure Awareness is quite Other than thought. They are also quick to realize that Man’s ultimate purpose in Life is to rise above previously established, self-centered ideas and behavioral tendencies unto a cosmic Reality that is above and beyond the limitations of a world created by thought.
As regards the evolution of conscious Awareness, the authors of the Creation story dramatically and metaphorically point out that Adamic Man was so enamored with the capacity to think that he fell (as in the ‘fall’ of Adam) out of alignment, so-to-speak, with the intended evolutionary goal. He fell into the trap of believing that his thoughts encompassed the totality of who he was, as in Descartes,’ erroneous declaration, ‘I think, therefore I am.’ This declaration fails to recognize the Truth of I AM, as rightly expressed in other teachings of scripture. The images and thoughts that arose in Adamic Man’s newly thinking brain thus became the false gods that he worshiped and adored. As a result, humans developed an inordinate degree of identification with, and dependency on, the overall thinking process. More than a mere distraction, it led Man astray, which continues to this day. Man was no longer righteous in God’s eyes, which is to say, no longer rightly aligned with the intended goal.
To think is not to Be – it is not I AM. The present moment of Creative Energy (which is I AM) cannot be conceived by thought. Conscious Awareness of thought is not the same as Pure Awareness of I AM in the Present Moment - Now. Man’s ultimate destiny, as regards conscious Awareness it turns out, is forever linked to the actualization of Pure Conscious Awareness, which is not limited to thought. But to realize this (which is to say, for this to be real in you) the self must come into service to, and thereby be aligned with the Whole. Laws that govern the evolution of Consciousness are as applicable today as they were in ancient times. It was never intended that Man be bound to the world, as conceived of Mind. It has always been intended that conscious Awareness be liberated from attachment to all aspects of Mind and thereby be in righteous alignment with the Whole.
The fact that the majority of ancient people lacked enlightenment made the teachings of a few enlightened souls seem all the more incomprehensible, mysterious, otherworldly, and unclear. To compound the problem, lesser lights, failing to understand the deeper meaning of profound teachings, added their own spin to the original meaning and message long after the enlightened ones were gone. Consequently, as such teachings were passed down through tradition, what was originally powerful and profound tended to be corrupted over time. Accordingly, instead of pointing to living Truth, unenlightened followers eventually established doctrines, rituals, and systems of belief to inadequately transmit to others what they did not rightly understand in themselves. This, in turn, tended to entrap others in the snare of mental constructs of Mind all the more.
Regardless of obstacles that lead to ‘darkness’ (absent Light), Pure Consciousness continues to bud and flower, as evidenced by an ever-growing number who are awakening unto the Light. The earliest of these tend to be revered, even worshipped beyond the rest, as the forerunners of a new race who were resurrected out of an egoic sense of self unto a cosmic Reality that is above and beyond self and thereby discover what Jesus called, ‘Eternal Life.’ Those who fail to respond to the call devolve into what the ancients called ‘hell,’ and are thus ‘cast out into outer darkness’ where ‘there [is] weeping and gnashing of the teeth,’ for they do not ‘hunger and thirst after righteousness,’ as they are called to do. As human beings, then and now, we either support the evolution of Consciousness in the present moment (which is ‘good’) and thereby awaken unto the Light or resist the evolution of Consciousness in the present moment (which is ‘evil’) and thus are ‘cast into outer darkness’ unable to ‘see’ the Light.
The teachings of enlightened sages, both ancient and new, point to the same fundamental Reality; an evolutionary unfolding unto Pure Conscious Awareness that is just now budding and flowering within humankind. And humankind’s primary role in this ongoing evolutionary movement is to patiently allow this most recent evolutionary development to unfold and mature from within. They point to the way, ‘the Tao’ that allows transformations in conscious Awareness to occur, as in, not ‘my will,’ but ‘THY WILL BE DONE.’ They encourage us to ‘love the Lord thy God with all thy heart … all thy soul, and … all thy mind’ and to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ as the means by which sorrow ends, which in turn encourages Peace, Love, and Joy to arise and come forth in us and thereby into the world of human affairs.
The flowering of Pure Conscious Awareness is the story of the evolution of Consciousness bearing fruit, ‘some an hundred, some sixty, some thirty fold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear…. Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice.’ The death of the old allows for the birth of the new, which is a birth ‘not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of [the will of] God.’ ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ ‘He that findeth his Life shall lose [his life in self]: and he that loseth his life [in self] for [the sake of Christ] shall find it.’ One day ‘ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with … but it shall [only] be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father,’ which is in Heaven. ‘Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’