By Tapas Mukherjee
The Vedanta - As I understand it
The history of major inventions down the millennia starting from use of fire, tool making, and fabrication of wheel etc. to present day digital electronics highlights Nature's own program of progressively producing some geniuses among her brand icon, the human beings. The pioneering contributions by the geniuses in various fields towards human development have, however, overshadowed a barely noticed upshot. It is an inexorable fact that even ordinary children, that is, those other than the potential geniuses, have generally been and continue to be smarter than their parents. In other words, Nature is not finished with the product 'human' yet.
Nature's mould churns out improved versions slowly and gradually. Having equipped human beings with the cerebral system, her endeavor could perhaps be to share some of her responsibilities with her brand icon. The evolutionary process harped on living creatures at all stages of development to "differentiate and integrate" in order to ensure "a greater grip on the environment," points out Swami Ranganathananda. The modern human, the culmination of millions of years of this better grip searching evolution, has actually emerged as an able partner of Nature to aid further progress. In the Swami's words, the human beings themselves have now become the "trustees" of further evolution.
In earlier phases progress could have been achieved by instinctive urges inherent in beings; but at the human stage intellect took over the responsibility. Today human endeavor finds expression in manufacturing the means of further progress much faster than the Natural process. Simultaneously, successive generations produced smarter and even smarter children as the level of understanding had to match technological advancement. Otherwise the confusion would be as great as that of a caveman fast forwarded by a time machine on to the roof of a sky scraper.
The epoch making progress in physical and intellectual arenas continues. This is indicative of the Nature's movement, with the power immanent in itself, towards perfection. The Vedanta informs us, Swami Vivekananda took pains to make the world believe that, "Evolution involves involution; for something cannot come out of nothing." That in other words would mean that human physical and intellectual progress remains rooted in the species.
This at once raises a stupendous question. Does the Nature's movement towards perfection contain the seeds of the goal to be achieved? The Vedanta says, yes. If the mollusc or the protoplasm was the beginning of life, the human was involved in it, and developed to be Nature's best over millions of years. It also stands to reason that the perfect human, that is, the manifestation of God in human, one who manifests his/her innate divinity is involved in all of us.
But what holds the chain reaction through various forms of life during the evolutionary process? The Vedanta says that different kinds of life are manifestations of divine consciousness limited by their forms. The impassioned urge of the entire gamut of healthy fauna and flora without exception is to progress, and in this activity they display consciousness. And the Vedanta insists that the formless Supreme Brahman is pure consciousness. Therein lie the key to understanding the Vedanta philosophy which holds that all living forms and inanimate objects together is One existence in and through Brahman which is Sat-Chit-Ananda (Sachchidananda), that is, Existence Absolute-Consciousness Absolute-Bliss Absolute.
"For there seems to be no reason why Life should evolve out of material elements or Mind out of living form, unless we accept the Vedantic solution that Life is already involved in Matter and Mind in Life because in essence Matter is a form of veiled Life, Life a form of veiled Consciousness. ...Mental consciousness may itself be only a form and a veil of higher states which are beyond Mind," reminds Sri Aurobindo who devoted his life developing 'Integral Yoga' to help humanity to seek Perfection.
1. Practical Vedanta And The Science Of Values by Swami
Ranganathananda, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata.
2. The Complete Works Of Swami Vivekananda Vol 2, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata.
3. Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry.