"Fearlessness is the first requirement of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Conscious Evolution: Learning From Our Mistakes

"Out of suffering may come the transmutations of value, even the transfiguration of character. But these developments are possible only if the man co-operates. If he does not, then the suffering is in vain, fruitless."

-- Paul Brunton --
Just as the survival of the fittest is the mechanism of physical evolution, so the survival of suffering is the mechanism of psychical evolution, or the evolution of consciousness. Where our thoughts, words and actions take us further into the bondage of the small 'self' or ego, we produce karma and we suffer. Where our thoughts, words and actions are in accord with our higher 'Self,' we burn off karma and evolve painstakingly into a new state of consciousness and being. But the quest for such higher consciousness is neither assured nor necessarily seamless. The failure to seek out and overcome the root causes of suffering is, quite literally, a failure to evolve on a psychical level.
"A single mistake in the rejection of an opportunity or in the choice of direction at a crossroad may lead to a quarter-lifetime's suffering," observes philosopher, Paul Brunton. "The student may quite easily discover by analysis the smaller lessons embodied in that suffering and yet may quite overlook the larger lessons, for he may fail to ascribe major blame to the early rejection or choice. He may still not realize how it all stems out of that primary root, how each error in conduct that naturally happens after it becomes a channel for a further one, and that in turn for still another, so that the descent is eventually inevitable and its attendant sorrows become cumulative. Thus all traces back to the initial foundational error, which is the most important one because it is the choice of wrong direction, because such a wrong choice means that the more he travels through life, the more mistaken all his later conduct becomes."
[Paul Brunton, "The Notebooks of Paul Brunton," Vol 1. p. 158.]
It is possible - and may ultimately be inevitable - that we can learn from our mistakes, and thus renew our transformation into beings of consciousness and light, rather than remaining "in the dark" from the perspective of evolutionary enlightenment. But this requires willingness, insight, and inevitably a certain grace, so that we can fearlessly face our ego and the consequences of egoic wrong actions. Such accurate self-survey may be frightening and painful, but so were the life and death actions that led to the survival of the fittest on the physical level, actions that were necessary for physical evolution. For the evolution of consciousness itself, we must face and face down the only barrier there is to our further growth, the actions and attitudes of the smaller 'self.'

"When we are brought face to face with the consequences of our wrongdoing, we would like to avoid the suffering or at least to diminish it," Brunton observes, yet "(i)t is impossible to say with any precision how far this can be done for it depends partly on Grace, but it also depends partly on ourselves."
"We can help to modify and sometimes even to eliminate those bad consequences if we set going certain counteracting influences," notes Brunton. "First, we must take to heart deeply the lessons of our wrong-doing. We should blame no one and nothing outside of ourselves, our own moral weaknesses and our own mental infirmities, and we should give ourselves no chance for self-deception. We should feel all the pangs of remorse and constant thoughts of repentance."

"Second," he points out, "we must forgive others their sins against us if we would be forgiven ourselves. That is to say, we must have no bad feelings against whatsoever and whomsoever."

"Third," says Brunton, "we must think constantly and act accordingly along the line which points in an opposite direction to our wrong-doing."

"Fourth," he notes, "we must pledge ourselves by a sacred vow to try never again to commit such wrong-doing. If we really mean that pledge, we will often bring it before the mind and memory and thus renew it and keep it fresh and alive. Both the thinking in the previous point and the pledging in this point must be as intense as possible."

Fifth," Brunton observes, "if need be and if we wish to do so, we may pray to the Overself for the help of its Grace and pardon in this matter; but we should not resort to such a prayer as a matter of course. It should be done only at the instigation of a profound inner prompting and under the pressure of a hard outer situation."
[Paul Brunton, "The Notebooks of Paul Brunton," Vol 1. p. 159.]
"If you live inwardly in love and harmony with yourself and with all others, if you persistently reject all contrary ideas and negative appearances, then this love and this harmony must manifest themselves outwardly in your environment," Brunton concludes. Inward love and harmony expressed into the environment is, thus, the process of conscious evolution.

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