Origins & Development
It is well known in embryology that the development of an embryo exhibits stages that reflect its prehistoric evolution, such as a progression that reminds of fish, amphibian, reptile and mammalian stages.
What is perhaps not so well known is that human development, from the womb to maturity and death, also reflects the race’s own ancient past from its very origins in the Godhead, its progression through manifestation, and its final return to the Godhead. We will discuss this matter in some detail here, which is also meant as an exercise that will help interested readers to tease out (meditatively) further detail on this question of origins. We do not intend to repeat what is already covered in the chapter Ovum of our book The God Principle, where we discussed cosmic origins in relation to the process of embryogenesis. Here we continue the discussion into soul origins, in what we call as the ladder of development.
So allow us to paint a picture for the reader, which to many minds may appear as nothing but pure fantasy.
The Great Being which we know as humanity once rested like a baby within the depths of what may be called the Body of God, an amorphous ocean of spirit from which emanates most life streams. This Great Being during this long past epoch of creation knew little and was aware of little. It did not know itself, did not even know that self-knowledge is possible, nor that there is anything to be known or experienced at all. It was not aware of its own immense faculties lying latent within and waiting to flower, to be drawn out and crystalized. This Great Being simply existed with an almost umbilical identification with the Body of God , for it drew its nourishment and sustenance from there, and was, for all purposes, one with it. But deep within that shimmering being of brilliant light there existed faint stirrings - a mix of sensations, emotions, desires and thoughts, totally unfocused and unconscious - waiting to express and manifest. This then was the human race, i.e. the spiritual lifestream that currently manifests through the species of homo sapiens sapiens , before it was birthed into manifestation from the Great Body of God, and sent out on an adventure of a lifetime.
The reader might notice how close this description is to that of a baby in the womb of its mother.
Learning to Be
When in due time this Great Being was birthed from its state of repose in the body of God, the experience came as a shock. All of a sudden awareness of manifestation flooded in, much like a baby discovering new senses that were hitherto lying dormant. It found itself bound to a vast physical body through which it first experienced manifestation. Sensations streamed into the inchoate and in-flux consciousness, at which it was totally and absolutely bewildered. This was the beginning of a slow formation of identity, where a faint understanding began to set in that there is indeed something called being, that existence is possible, and that being held potential. This formation of the glimmerings of an identity within it required binding the Great Being to very dense matter, to help bring the incoherent consciousness to some kind of coherent integrated feeling of itself. The solidity and integrated-ness of dense solid matter allowed those same qualities to *seep into the Great Being* and to create and then reify its own sense of being. A suitable material form dense enough and large enough to bind it was thus required. The densest on earth being mineral formations, the Great Being found itself bound to a mineral manifestation of very high density, a great mountain range not unlike the Himalayas.
Now it is not enough to just experience being, but there must be a desire to *continue to be*, a sense that being is *desirable*. This is a prerequisite to enter the cycles of manifestation. A baby, once it starts developing its own sense of being in a few months, finds that identity is being reinforced through a frequent threat of *deprivation* of that identity. We are talking about sleep, which periodically and unceremoniously pulls the developing selfness or identity of the baby into seeming oblivion. The baby starts fighting this biological onset of sleep, fearing that it may lose its own self and often resists hard by trying to keep awake. But each sleep cycle and return helps reinforce that notion of identity, and there arises an understanding that its self does exist as a coherent entity, across periods of slumber. This reinforcement of identity (or any desirable attribute for that matter) through a threatened destruction or eroding away of that identity (or attribute) is a very common pattern of learning.
For our Great Being, this reinforcement came through the onslaught of weathering by the elements, where boulders cracked and split away, chasms formed, with heat, wind and water constantly eroding what it considered as its identity – that great mountain range. Throughout each such experience of erosion the Great Being clung on to its primitive sense of identity and learned to cherish it, thus making that identity even stronger. We should state that for a consciousness at this level, which is close to its origins and still coming out of a state of repose, the sense of time is very different. Time and events literally seem to flash by, with moments amounting to centuries in human terms. The onslaught of the elements over millions of years felt equivalent to some lifetimes of experience of a human being.
The next challenge of the baby is to gain control and eventual mastery of its voluntary bodily functions. This is a constant struggle as the baby tries out movements, grasps objects, crawls, learns to voice its sentiments, and finally stands up and walks. Each of these control tasks calls for great concentration on its part. The mastery slowly extends to more functions of the body, the final stages of this found in bowel and bladder control.
For the Great Being too, the next step from a mineral experience which provided an understanding of what it meant to *be*, was to learn to control a physical form, starting with simple forms that allow limited movement. Such learning and experience is provided by the vegetable kingdom - the trees, shrubs, grasses and so on which have rudimentary to complex growth patterns. Though these growth patterns are by and large determined genetically and by the environment, growth itself is directly influenced by the indwelling entity, such as in the opening of buds, specific placement of flowers and fruit, and simple branching decisions. While these may appear as trivial tasks, the challenges for the indwelling being are momentous, for it is its very first experience of controlling a form of any kind. The tasks can get progressively complex considering factors like the play of light and shade, the onset of the seasons, periods of drought, attacks from insects and herbivores, the need to cooperate or compete with neighbors; these all have a significant impact on how a Being in the vegetable kingdom needs to adapt and tend to its physical form. In general a form where mistakes in controlling and decision making need not prove fatal (i.e. regrowth is possible), is ideally suited for this phase – and thus we have the vegetable kingdom as the next phase of experience. In this phase, foraging by beasts is particularly significant, for the indwelling being develops a stronger sense of identity by cherishing that which was lost, but being able to regrow and continue even stronger.
While mastering control of a physical form continues into subsequent phases, the next major milestone in progression for a baby is that of emotional experience. Every parent is more or less acquainted with the development phase of a toddler known as the terrible twos (or terrible threes). The child at this stage is a constant flux of emotions, where every conceivable emotion such as joy, frustration, anger, sorrow and many others are tried out and experienced. The toddler has little control of its emotions, does not even know that emotional control is desirable or possible, and is still learning to experience raw emotions albeit in a chaotic fashion. Progressive emotional development at this stage is comparable to that of the animal kingdom. Indeed, one of the key experiences and lesson of the higher animal kingdom is that of working with emotion in various degrees. Particularly in warm blooded animals (which can regulate their body temperature, and blood is a major carrier of emotional energy) emotion has manifested and is in progressive stages of refinement through various higher species.
The Great Being we talk about experienced its first thrill of emotion in certain long bygone species which existed millions of years ago; species that could regulate its body temperature to a limited extent, sort of straddling cold and warm blooded phenotypes – indicating primitive or lower stages of emotion. This age was marked by such an excessive outpouring of base emotions such as anger, fear, exultation of power, ruthlessness, lust and others - so much that the collective memory of the race still taps into the tremendous emotional energy of that experience, unconsciously. Even today pictures, models, and stories of these great beasts create tremendous fascination in children who struggle with emotional control and who unconsciously tap into memories of that equivalent stage of life stream evolution. For them these beasts become iconic symbols of raw power and excitement to which they are irresistibly drawn. We of course refer to the age of the dinosaurs and mankind’s fascination with these great beasts. Not only do those long bygone experiences of the human life stream continue to serve as a source of emotional energy and drive from the unconscious, they also contribute energies at the physical level as amply found in today’s fossil fuels. And it could not have been otherwise.
We have written earlier about mankind’s journey through the oceans of emotion, and its goals – which need not be repeated here. Suffice here to point out that a developing child is in more and more control over its own emotions, but is very far from mastering it. In parallel with emotional development, its mental faculties also begin to flower.
For a child, mental development happens in stages beginning with a grasp of working with familiar objects, by rearranging, sorting and making shapes, and understanding basic cause and effect. For our Great Being, the phase of mental development came primarily with experience in the human life form. The animal phase provided only rudimentary mental understanding, such as the ability to survive, adapt, and to find food. This learning was reflected in very early stages of human civilization which was primarily composed of hunter gatherers.
For the child, the above phase is followed by a more creative one, with the ability to repeat or make copies of what it sees, such as drawing or cutting shapes, coloring pictures, and rudimentary art work. For the Great Being, the agrarian phase came next. This is one which develops the ability to essentially observe and reproduce what is already found in nature - for the farmer essentially duplicates, orders and directs growth processes inherent in nature.
Subsequently, the child’s *imaginative* faculty is called into action to create pictures, stories and such that do not exist in its everyday experience – a leap into the world of imagination as the child learns to creates its own world of fantasy. For the Great Being, this phase came as the ability to adapt and work with nature to create new forms that did not exist before, such as through carpentry, weaving, pottery and other vocations – a more demanding exercise on the mind than that of the farmer. It must be borne in mind that these phases were not quite cut-and-dried across all the souls within the Great Being. Various individuals tend to be at different stages (a reference to the normal curve might be interesting at this point). We are painting a picture of the norm or the average as it were.
In further development the child begins to acquire a grasp of principle, of laws underlying everyday objects and phenomena, including mathematical and physical laws – and acquires the ability to apply those principles to derive, understand, solve or deal with new situations and problems. For the Great Being also development matured into an understanding of principle, the ability to create something new and non-existent in nature by changing its chemistry, such as through metallurgy, glass making and so on. This made serious demands on the imaginative faculty, requiring a capacity to accept a supposition as a principle without being able to point to a visible thing as the cause. Onward development then reached into the atomic and sub-atomic worlds where phenomena not directly derivable from nature had to be understood and became foundations for new developments. In general, evolution of culture, science and technology have followed such a development of mental capacity.
These four main categories or stages of mental development continue to be explored today by souls of the human life stream, with each category occupied by millions of souls. Experience of each stage is often an indication that the soul has mastered the previous stage of development, and has moved on higher. This is not to say, for example, that the agrarian stage always represents a lower phase of development. Many souls do benefit from sojourns back and forth through these stages – such as a rediscovered connection with nature, which an agrarian experience can teach. But as a rule these stages do reflect progressive soul development and advancement on the mental plane.
Much of the mental development of the child happens through schooling. Schooling per se has very close parallels with the incarnational pattern and development of the human life stream. This has already been discussed in the final chapter of our book, The God Principle, and need not be repeated here. Instead we will cover some elements which were omitted in that work.
The child by now has entered the teenage phase. This phase is characterized by emotional and mental turmoil, rebellion and conflict, and a deep search for meaning and purpose. Though it looks to find guideposts on the way, it also dives recklessly into all kinds of tumultuous experiences. But by the closing of its teen years the child has developed much of the mental and emotional capacity that it needs to go forth, choose a vocation, and be productive in the world.
The Great Being is also in its teens, going through the teenage equivalent of those challenges, stresses, confusion and turmoil. It has, on the average, little sense of purpose or direction and grasps flailingly at various guideposts. It has no understanding of whence it came, whither it goes, what it should do, or about the nature or purpose of its own existence. And yet the Great Being is not without assistance or guidance, for just as teachers and other adults are always there to work with the troubled teenager (who rarely understands them!), there are systems and hierarchies in place to guide the flailing human race through its tumultuous teenage years.
Purpose & Vocation
Then comes purpose. Like a maturing teenager, the Great Being is also preparing for its own transition from the schooling phase, to that of a creative vocation with its own greater purposes. It is a transition during which it finally discovers its place in the greater scheme of things. In doing so it places all its development, knowledge, experience and talents into the service of the greater universe. We have mentioned some of these purposes before, particularly in relation to its emotional journey. But the greater vistas ahead are far grander, and as yet they stand veiled beyond human comprehension. Little is known or talked about these adventures ahead for the race, other than some broad sketches or strokes - just as most teenagers too have little conception of what the future may hold.
At the end of a lifetime the adult self (or personality) returns to its higher source, sometimes called the higher self from whence it came. At this time all experiences, memories and so on are assimilated fully into this greater whole. Likewise the Great Being at the end of its journey through manifestation returns back to the Godhead and becomes one with it. In this process all the fruits of its experiences are now returned back to the Godhead.
Here we have attempted to trace for the reader a summary, nay a caricature, of the evolution and destiny of the Great Being of humanity - from its unconscious beginnings in the Godhead to its superconscious return to the Godhead. It is a summary consistent with the Principle of Reflection that we have discussed before. The intent of this exercise is to assist the reader to arrive at an understanding that his or her human life is highly purposeful, and that there is great value in struggling with the apparently mundane activities, challenges, and struggles of everyday existence. It is important to recognize that it is through *you*, dear reader, that the Great Being of humanity progresses towards its goals. It is through *your* efforts and contributions that any difference that can be made is made. This is such a momentously significant truth that its importance cannot ever be overstated.
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p.s. In debt to Hilarion for his description of the ladder of development.