In the previous article at Omtimes by this same writer, titled, The Advaita Vedanta, Science and the Theory of Evolution, it was shown that the science of evolution originated by Charles Darwin around the mid-nineteenth century CE is a perfect tool for explaining some of the complex concepts of the Advaita Vedanta originated by Adi Shankaracharya in the eighth century CE. By merging the theory of evolution with that of the Advaita Vedanta, a hybrid concept can be derived, which makes the wisdom of the Vedanta timeless. Here the concept will be used to find the clues to some of our most pressing problems.
Shankara summarized his entire philosophy of the Advaita Vedanta in one Sloka(philosophical verse):
Brahma satyam jagat mithya, jivo brahmaiva naparah.
In a nutshell, it means, the Brahma(Brahman) is the only truth, the world is an illusion, and there is ultimately no difference between the Brahman and the individual self of a person(Atman). When this philosophy is merged with Darwin’s theory of evolution, the resulting hybrid concept unites science and spirituality. It explains one of the most fascinating but perplexing areas of the Vedanta, which says, ‘jagat mithya’, meaning the worldly affairs are just illusions or temporary realities or ‘Mayas’ - implying the presence of a purpose behind them. In the previous article of this writer at Otimes as mentioned above, it has been shown using logic and science that this important purpose is to promote evolution of life on this planet. This wisdom seems absolute and timeless, which basically says:
All life forms are the products of the same supreme cosmic energy shrouding this planet, whose purpose is to promote higher evolution of life. This immense energy source is creating the ‘illusions’ or the temporary realities of the worldly affairs or Mayas, which are constantly enticing life forms with rewards of happiness in some form to be earned by getting engaged in the activities of life. The right activities promote the survival of the species, and, in turn, promote evolution and deliver the reward of happiness(/pleasure).
Perhaps, this new concept should be called the Naba Vedanta meaning the new Vedanta, as it incorporates science and logic in its wisdom. The concept is saying that the Nature’s directive to all life forms is to use appropriate activities to increase the survival of the species, thus promoting evolution. Therefore, instead of discouraging people from getting involved in the worldly affairs for the fear of getting corrupted, this hybrid concept encourages people to get engaged in them - but in the right ways, using appropriate activities that promote the survival of the human species. The concept also gets the support of the Upanishads as they say that enlightenment can be reached through different paths of activities. It seems that this concept can have profound implications on human cultures.
This concept says that the right acts promote evolution by supporting the survival of the species, and are rewarded with happiness in some form. Science says that the survival of a species is promoted by positive changes occurring in the status of the species through the random natural biological changes, which are utilized by appropriate activities of the life form, and converted to positive changes. Thus, it can be said:
beneficial biological change x appropriate activity => Evolution
The idea of this concept can be used to check to see if the humans are using the right activities to promote evolution! First of all, the behavior of the lower animals can be analyzed to have a base of comparison. There, at the lower levels of evolution, the process seems much weaker but perhaps purer, because the advanced intelligence has not developed yet to interfere with the natural instinct, which seems to be a product of the influence of the supreme cosmic energy source. These animals have a simple and basic routine of activities, consisting mostly of eating, mating and protecting their territories. When these acts are analyzed, it is found that all of them promote the survival of the species and deliver happiness(pleasures) to them. And then, when a minute potentially beneficial physical change happens, their basic list of physical activities is generally adequate to utilize the change to advance their survival capabilities, which are also mostly physical in nature. Thus, the lower animals are satisfying the hybrid concept, and are obeying the directive of Nature quite faithfully.
We, the humans, on the other hand are sitting on the highest perch of the evolutionary ladder, and are using advanced intelligence to plan most of our important activities. Our potentially beneficial biological changes are probably happening in the area of intelligence, which are difficult to detect and then utilize with the right activities. Our capabilities to promote evolution have increased immensely, but so have our destructive activities, which have increased significantly creating serious problems. Looking at the accomplishments of the human race, we see numerous acts of tremendous innovations, but many of those innovations have not improved our chances of survival as a human species as much as they have created threats to our survival in the future! They are accumulating fast and blinking on our horizon as warning lights!
Thus, it seems that in spite of our tremendously advancing intelligence, we are going wrong somewhere, and the Naba Vedanta concept finds a possible clue! It is that many of the major human activities are not focused to promote evolution by promoting the survival of the species. In the next article, we would like to explore some of the elements that may be adversely affecting the human evolution.
Author’s brief bio:The author emigrated to USA from India, in 1968. He has a couple of Masters in Science and Engineering. Though his profession has been in Technology, his real passion has been in Philosophy and Spirituality.