Evolution of Forms and Beings and Transcendence of the Process of Evolution

Sri Aurobindo translates Shwetashwatara Upanishad, Chapter Five, Verses 12-14:  “Forms gross forms subtle, forms many, — the Spirit in the body evolveth them all by His own nature in its working; by the law of action of His works and the law of action of the Spirit in man, by these he evolveth them.  But there is Another in Whom we behold Cause whereby all these meet together. (Or, But there is yet Another in Whom we see the cause wherefore all these stand as one whole and have met together.)  Without beginning, without end in the welter and the chaos, who createth the world by taking many figures and as the One girdeth and encompasseth it, He is the Lord and if thou know Him thou shalt break free from all kinds of bondage.  Shiva, the Master of all becomings and not-becomings and from His this whole creation floweth and it is only one part of Shiva, but He is not named after any next of the winged Spirit, and the heart alone can apprehend Him — they who know Shiva, the Blessed One, abandon body for ever.”

Long before Darwin, Rishis identified the process of evolution of forms.  There was however a major difference.  While Darwin focused solely on the outer physical forms and their transformations over time, the Rishis identified the underlying cause, the One Spirit, and the mechanism, the law of action and the chain of consequence, called the law of karma.  They recognized that forms do not appear of themselves and there had to be a first cause, the One, who set the entire creation in motion.

They also addressed the question of both the Judeo-Christian and the Graceo-Roman  creation stories.  In both of these, forms were placed in the world fully formed in their actual shape that we see now before us.  In the case of the Judeo-Christian tradition, the various plants and animals were created and eventually mankind was created and set into action.  In the case of the Greek, there was the story of Minerva being born full-grown out of the head of Jupiter (Athena being born out of the head of Zeus).  The Rishis saw that forms undergo change and transformation based on the combination of the law of action of the Divine at the “macro” level and the law of action of the Spirit in Man at the “micro” level.  All of this is dependent on the One, Eternal, Infinite, unconditioned by time, space or circumstance.

When the seeker is able to shift his standpoint to the divine standpoint, he is released from the bondage of birth and death.  The Transcendent incorporates both the manifest and the unmanifest, the forms and beings conditioned by Time, and the pure Existence-Consciousness-Bliss that stands outside Time.  This being is “auspicious” (i.e. Shiva).  Shiva cannot be perceived by the senses of perception nor by the mind.  The shift in standpoint creates a status of Oneness between the seeker and the sought, and there is then an intuition of the One.  Such a seeker is no longer bound to the transitory creation as he has moved beyond.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Shwetashwatara Upanishad, pp.369-384


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