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     Constantly bombarded by the monstrous political-economic-social annihilation happening all about us, it's particularly important that we maintain the broader perspective of the Higher Dimensions of Reality within which human life occurs.

     This essay deals exclusively with spiritual evolution, whereas previous essays have dealt with:
  • Physical evolution Humans (homo sapiens) have evolved into the most powerful species because of our machine-building capabilities. A machine is a manufactured device which transforms one form of energy into another, decreasing entropy. Tools, language, and social organization are examples of machines. Human social organization is a machine in which the components are living beings. Machines have enhanced human evolution by decreasing entropy in their concepts, actions, and organizations, increasing the amount of useful energy at our disposal.

  • The evolutionary development of supra-humans Though ordinary humans are rapidly losing the ability to understand reality, a small contemporary group is accessing supernormal knowledge through portals into Higher Consciousness. They are making knowledge available concerning what is actually going on in the world--beyond what media propaganda says is going on. And, of critical importance, they are preserving higher knowledge in books and Web sites which will be available when conditions have degenerated to the point where a rudely awakened mass of people will suddenly say: "How can we get out of this intolerable situation? What knowledge do we need to re-build a sane and progressive world?

  • The process of human evolution We develop understanding, creativity, magnanimity through functioning: actively using whatever knowledge, ability, and power is ours at the moment. We grow in understanding by making decisions, solving problems, and answering questions--functioning. Creativity isn't achieved merely by contemplating or wishing--we have to do something, including making mistakes and improving through experimentation. Any new element must be acquired by action, by experience--beyond knowing the words or the ideas.It is only in functioning that we experience reality at all.

  • Language and human evolution Homo sapiens unlocked the awesome power of their brain through the invention of language. Language enables humans to develop such internally directed activities as reminiscing, imagining, thinking rationally, and being self-aware. With humankind's development of language it became possible to pass down one generation's accumulated understanding to the next generation, to create what we now call a culture.
         Encompassing the Spiritual, Metaphysical, and Terrestrial domains, human spiritual evolution is eternally operating to raise every human being to the supreme state of Unity with the Divine. As we attain unity, we are reassimilated into the Divine Quintessence from which we descended when born into a terrestrial body.

      Stated in another way, humankind's spiritual evolution has two connatural objectives:

     Perennialist 1 seers such as the author of the Bhagavad Gita, Hermes, Plato, Jesus, Boethius, Rumi, Francis of Assisi, Shakespeare, and contemporary sages and initiated harbingers guide humankind's spiritual evolution.

  

Higher Purpose

     While modern tyrants increasingly wreak havoc in the world, human spiritual evolution is continuing apace in the realm of Higher Purpose. Within a single lifetime, persons who work to gain discernment pass through a number of evolutionary stages, from ignorance, to awareness of self and the world, to comprehension of the metaphysical and spiritual planes, to realization of Higher Consciousness. Overall, the direction of human evolution has been an upward helical path with each new cycle achieving a higher advance.

Level of Being  Characteristics   Entities   Faculties   Manifestation 
Spiritual
Supersensual
Eternal
Unchanging
Forms
Ideas
   Higher Reason   
Higher Intellect
 Spiritual Body
Metaphysical
Psychic
Intellectual
Nonmaterial
Concepts
Symbols
Reason
Intellect
  Subtle Body
Material
Empirical
Measurable
Tangible
Persons
Objects
Thought
Senses
  Physical Body

     The Divine provides the opportunities for our spiritual evolution, but we must act on these possibilities to realize (actualize and manifest) these fortuitous effects. We must learn to move our center of consciousness from our physical body to the subtle body and to the spiritual body. We learn to leave the physical body and locate our consciousness in our subtle and spiritual bodies through "learning to die" as explained by Plato in his Phaedo: leaving the body and living in the higher metaphysical and spiritual realms.

Physical body Subtle body Spiritual body

"There is an intermediate world, the world of Idea-Images, of archetypal figures, of subtile substances, of 'immaterial matter.' This world is as real and objective, as consistent and subsistent as the intelligible and sensible worlds; it is an intermediate universe 'where the spiritual takes body and the body becomes spiritual,' a world consisting of real matter and real extension, though by comparison to sensible, corruptible matter these are subtile and immaterial. The organ of this universe is the active Imagination"

Henry Corbin, Alone With the Alone:
Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn 'Arabi

Spiritual Ascent

     To reach the metaphysical and spiritual domains, we must enter other, higher modes of consciousness: reason/intellect and Higher Reason/Higher Intellect. In other words, to dwell in the metaphysical and spiritual realms we must STOP using our customary means of apprehension: sensations and thoughts. They can't get us where we want to go. Now, saying we must stop using these ordinary means of cognition and learn to use other modes of consciousness is easier said than done. How do we do this?

     First, we must WANT to experience the metaphysical and spiritual domains. And we can't assume that just because we have a vague curiosity about things metaphysical and spiritual that we possess a genuine desire to discover these realms. A genuine desire to experience the spiritual realm comes only with a deep dissatisfaction with living exclusively in the material/empirical domain.

     Why would we be dissatisfied with our ordinary experience? At unique moments--hearing a particularly transformative piece of music, viewing a phenomenal art object or scene in nature, or experiencing an overwhelming act of human kindness--you may get a clear intimation that there are higher domains--and that you'd like to experience those domains more frequently than by happenstance.

      You may also reflect that in a few years--after death--you will have your being in the spiritual domain beyond the terrestrial plane. It might seem reasonable to begin now to experience that domain, to become acquainted with its features and to understand what qualities we bring to that new state of being from this life. You might also find that the teachings of adepts within the Perennial Tradition provide new incentives for wanting to experience the higher realms.

     We enter into the metaphysical and spiritual realms by learning to utilize portals leading to those dimensions:

               
  • Exercises

  • Rituals

  • Philosophy: dialectic interchange

  • Meditation

  • "A first condition of the soul's complete emergence is a direct contact in the surface being with the spiritual Reality. Because it comes from that, the psychic element in us turns always towards whatever in phenomenal Nature seems to belong to a higher Reality and can be accepted as its sign and character."

    Aurobindo, The Life Divine

         We begin our spiritual evolution by training our mental being to rise above itself--to refine and raise itself--to a metaphysical realm. Agreeing with Plato that physical objects are continually changing, we contemplate their forms as the constant, eternal elements. All things are made up of metaphysical, nonphysical, nonspatial, nontemporal, universal, eternal Forms (ideai, eide) manifesting in the physical universe as individual objects.

         While the world of physical objects in space and time is known through sense perception and ordinary thought, the metaphysical world of Forms is known only through philosophic reflection, dialectical interchange, and contemplation--beyond ordinary experience and requiring special capabilities of apprehension.

         After attaining the discernment of the metaphysical world of Forms, the ascent of the mind from ordinary consciousness, we strive to expand our consciousness into our spiritual body, with its own dynamic and sovereign mastery free from the mind's limitations.

         We begin the development of a higher center of awareness in the spiritual realm. This involves "dying" to our old terrestrial consciousness and being born into a new spiritual body with its own faculties of awareness. We awaken--as an infant in a new realm--to the powers of discernment of this new body.

         We learn to focus our consciousness on subtle, almost indiscernible elements, apprehended through impressions which are completely different from those of the physical, sensory world. We develop a new spiritual awareness with a new focus of consciousness within the soul, apart from our ordinary bodily awareness. As we harmonize the various powers of this new awareness center, we realize that there has occurred a transmutational descent of the Supramental Consciousness into our new being. We begin to understand Rilke's passage in his poem: "God wants to know Himself in you." and Mansur Al-Hallaj's statement: "I have seen my Lord with the eye of my heart, and I said: 'Who are You?' He said: 'You.'"

    "This consecration of the will in works proceeds by a gradual elimination of the ego-will and its motive-power of desire; the ego subjects itself to some higher law and finally effaces itself, seems not to exist or exists only to serve a higher Power or a higher Truth or to offer its will and acts to the Divine Being as an instrument. The law of being and action or the light of Truth which then guides the seeker, may be a clarity or power or principle which he perceives on the highest height of which his mind is capable; or it may be a truth of the divine Will which he feels present and working within him or guiding him by a Light or a Voice or a Force or a divine Person or Presence. In the end by this way one arrives at a consciousness in which one feels the Force or Presence acting within and moving or governing all the actions and the personal will is entirely surrendered or identified with that greater Truth-Will, Truth-Power or Truth-Presence."

    Aurobindo, The Life Divine





    Notes:

    1 See the author's recently published book The Perennial Tradition