Do we exist because the Universe exists or does it exist because we do? Before you deride the question for its overbearing pomposity, consider this age old question – If there were none one to comprehend this wondrous, complex and infinite universe, would it have mattered if it existed or not?
Science theorizes that there could be other universes where the “environmental conditions” (such as the mass of a Hydrogen atom or the measure of electron volt or some such other constant that leaps out at you whenever you open a physics book) are ever so slightly different. But even that slight difference makes life as we understand it impossible there. So the Galaxies, the nebulae, or whatever else one may find in those universes may spin, dance or fox-trot around till end of time without having truly existed, since no sentient eyes falls on them, no intelligent mind wonders at the creation.
Undervaluing our place in the Universe
So far as we can conclusively tell in this infinite universe, it is only our planet, that life and the capacity to look up at the night and wonder who stuck those millions of twinkling candles up in the sky, exists. The capacity to feel inspired by beauty exists, the capacity to hold another in an embrace of pure love exists, and the capacity to bow down head in reverence to the enormity of creation and its creator exists.
How lightly and with how much disdain then do we take our charge? Ceaseless fighting, Greed for material wealth and hurting the nature which gave us all have marked human kind since the time a misfit ape decided that it could look further if it stood on its hind legs. And unless the little Gray or Green men show up in their saucers one fine morning, Folks, we are it. We are the finest creation of Universe as far as we know, since only we know it is there.
In my naivety I often asked some rather childish questions:
Should life not be spent in pursuit of knowledge? Would greed for knowledge not be more fulfilling than making money by Spot fixing. Should the aim of birth not be to seek a personal bond and intimacy with the creator? Would that not be a more worthy goal then trying make others follow some dogma that I call my religion and blowing them up when they brandish their own dogma. Most of all is it not our right to be at peace and leave others at peace as we try to establish our relationship with this universe?
For a long time I truly believed that all that was missing today was someone to point out to people engaged in warmongering, corruption, or religious intolerance, the wonder that is our Cosmos, the fragility of nature and the uniqueness of mother earth. All people needed to see was Carl Sagan’s touching piece on the pale blue dot that our planet is or listen to the thought provoking Rabindra Sangeet – Tahare Aaarati Kore. With proliferation of the Internet, youtube and inspiration seemed just a click away.
But that didn’t quite work out that way, did it? No Siree.
The Greedy Gene
Actually asking us humans to give up Greed is asking us to go against our basic instinct, the behavior encoded in our DNA. Evolution happened through eons of hoarding, consumption and gene propagation. After all, the theory of the survival of the fittest doesn’t have self denial, altruism or generosity as the highly sought after virtues.
Even today, in our basic nature, we are no different from the apes that we descended from. We are cruel, territorial, greedy, and xenophobic. We socialize, live in groups, love our young, and communicate. We terrorize those weaker than us and run away from those that are stronger. We do everything that an ape with a bigger brain would do.
But exactly because of the fact we have a bigger brain, we can’t remain apes. If we do we shall finish ourselves and perhaps with us, the only planet where life exists. And that sure would be a shame.
That’s where a need for Spirituality and a Spiritual Evolution comes in. Not just as means establishing a connection with the divine, but also as a way of surviving as a species. As a mean of making sure this earth remains.
Spiritual Evolution as the way of Survival
Spirituality in my books is the ability to be more than what our DNA would allow us to be. It more than just praying to God seeking boons. That, btw, is nothing bad. Many up us do it. I too pray to my Lord Krishna constantly and I know He listens.
Spirituality is being able to establish a connection with the divine and thereby raise oneself to a higher plane of consciousness. Being able to break the shackles of the instincts encoded in our Gene. As a Hindu, Spirituality is the path that leads me to Moksha. Spirituality is not about denying anger, greed, or envy. We are humans and it is in our nature to feel these emotions time to time. However spirituality is about being able to keep a check on these and not let them dictate our actions. It is strengthening our spirit so that it can win the battle with the Gene. With that comes Spiritual Evolution, a subject that has been spoken about in great lengths by seers including Rishi Aurobindo.
The DNA cries – Hoard, the Spirit counters - Share, the world survives. The DNA cries – Compete, the Spirit counters – Collaborate, the world becomes a happier place. The DNA cries – My Way, the Spirit Counters, All paths lead to the same goal, Joto mat tato path, the world doesn’t descend to a fiery hell of people fighting to impose their dogma.
But the question of course is will we wake up? Will we feed our spirit to strengthen it? Important questions, since our existence as a species depends on it. Even acknowledging these questions is a big step towards the Spiritual Evolution, for by that act we start thinking of the interests of entire humankind and not just ourselves.
The first step towards believing in – Loka Samatha SukhinoBhavantu.
A Collective Leap
Spiritual Evolution can’t be something that happens to a few individuals or even a group. It is something that has to happen to the whole species for it to make any sense. We have had Spiritual Giants like Ramakrishna, Chaitanya, Buddha and Vivekananda who have come unto us. We For a while the lucky people in the proximity were raised up, but soon after they departed the world went back to its old ways. We need something a little longer lasting to fight our DNA until Spirituality becomes part of our DNA, like using tools have become.
What is that cosmic event that would nudge our species towards such an evolution? Will there even be one? Or will the Spiritual Evolution see us being replaced by a more advanced species?
I don’t think we know the answer yet, this is a play that still has to be played out.
For my part I repose my faith fully in Lord Krishna.