Miracle of Being and Becoming
By Grace F. Knoche
Mountains Reflected in a dragonfly's eye. -- Issa (1762-1826)
This exquisite Haiku brought to mind the striking words of a Japanese sage that "the very mountains can become Buddha." If mountains have a buddha-nature, then the host of lives that compose a mountain -- boulders, waterfalls, trees, shrubbery, grasses, lichen, and the thousand and one creatures that aerate its soil -- must each have a buddha-nature which, in the course of ages, could become Buddha. And the dragonfly? Surely its metamorphosis from larva to the lovely winged thing that swoops low across meadows and ponds is an epitome of being and becoming.
What is the impelling force behind the process of becoming? This is a large theme, and elicited from contributors to our 1995 Special Issue on "Evolution: Miracle of Being and Becoming" a number of articles bearing directly and indirectly on this absorbing topic, each open-ended so as to leave our readers free to weave the varying strands of thought into a harmonious whole by the light of their own intuitive wisdom. Abandoning an either-or approach, they have sought viewpoints which embrace neither the stance of creationists nor that of materialistic evolutionists. The questions are as challenging today as they were 150 or more years ago: Did man ascend gradually from the monkeys to the apes, with mind, spirit, and consciousness as by-products of a series of chance mutations? Or is each of us the handiwork of a Supreme Being, a Personal God who continues today as since the Garden of Eden to create a new soul for every human being born on earth, so that there is no evolutionary history behind each individual soul? Are there other alternatives?
Addressing the scientific view, the article reviewing The Hidden History of the Human Race should be read by the evolutionist only if he seek truth uncluttered by prejudice, while microbiologist Catherine Roberts challenges the California State Board of Education to "recognize the inseparable link that exists between biological considerations and spiritual questions of ultimate cause and purpose." The theory of "an inherent evolutionary impulse" rings truer today than when Alfred Russel Wallace first proposed it in 1858; a few avant-garde scientists are searching out "the hidden face of consciousness as the motivator" behind all evolution and beginning to perceive our earth as a living, sentient being, whose rhythmic processes move in harmony with solar and galactic cycles.
Along religious lines, the story of Adam and Eve and the Serpent receives fresh and appealing interpretation; instead of blaming Eve, Adam, or the Serpent, the Garden of Eden episode becomes a triumph of self-awakening. Other traditions view this event in terms of higher beings than ourselves lighting the fires of mind in early humans, and depict human sexuality in an evolutionary context where the methods of reproducing our kind have varied from "ethereal nonsexual beings, to more material androgynous ones, to today's sexual mankind," with a probable return over millions of years to androgynous and nonsexual forms of human reproduction.
What keys are offered to elevate the human race, a part of our nature still animal-like, another part portraying traits and qualities of soul and spirit that might outshine the angels? "Know Thyself!" said the Oracle at Delphi. Did we have knowledge of ourselves, we would glimpse in broad strokes not only our beginnings when divine beings imparted to us the elements of harmonious and creative living, but also something of our wondrous future as co-workers with the gods. The times are demanding that we view ourselves and every portion of the cosmos from within out. Regardless of outer form, we and every entity, micro and macro, are essentially beings of light, "sparks of eternity," imbodying on earth as part of an aeons-long journey of self-discovery.
All the articles in this issue, while delineating different approaches to the Evolution theme, have as their basic motif the ultimate attainment of full self-awareness and godhood. Consciousness -- whether we call it life, divinity, mind-stuff, or whatever -- is viewed as "the ground of all being," composing a chain of "interrelated consciousness-centered beings," which undergo the full range of possible evolutionary experiences before ultimately returning home "to unconditioned be-ness consciousness." Underlying all is the "irresistible urge" within its heart that propels every entity to find its "spiritual identity with the divine Self of the universe." As the dynamic cause of evolution, consciousness undergoes a "constant ebb and flow of various activities of life, cosmic to human," with destruction and regeneration of form being vital to progress and the means of releasing our spirit-soul to higher realms. Of great import is our need for "role models with a unified vision, a worldview that allows us to . . . sense the fundamental inner unity of all life."
In truth, could we perceive the full death-and-birth cycle of every atom in nature we would see enacted before our inner eye the awesome miracle of divinity infusing and suffusing every portion of the universe. All is in motion, urged ever forward and onward by an impelling force that keeps every being, from protozoon to human, seeking to better itself and its environment, as it strives toward humanhood on its way eventually to imbody in full awareness the light, power, and energy of godhood.
(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 1995; copyright © 1995 Theosophical University Press)